November 30, 2013

Rosemountphilly's Back Again

Just cooling on Dodd Blvd. lies a restaurant called T.O.P.S. Restaurant and Bar that is live and direct from Philly town thanks to a family who immigrated from Greece, through Philly and ultimately ending up right here in Minnesota. So, when it comes to food, What is Philly known for the most? You guessed it, Philly Steak Sandwiches!

It's long over due, but now Rosemount is slammin' thanks to Boys II Men and I bet they would appreciate the Philly Steaks being served at this, once little hole-in-the-wall. Today and 20 years later, T.O.P.S. Restaurant has expanded it's store front with a full service bar, brought on son Steven and his wife Joelle and providing Rosemount with some outstanding food. In fact, as the story goes (found on their own website), Owner Markos had a dream, but could dreams just fade away? Are you singing the whole song yet? Markos opened his doors in 1990 and on day one, not one person showed up. He said he would close the doors and try a new city to start his dream in if no one was to show the next day. A man walked in to order a pop for 40 cents and he has stayed open ever since. I guess we can thank that mystery man that allowed Markos' dream to come true...

Okay, okay... I'll stop rapping BIIM and talk about some delicious food. My wife and I just moved to Rosemount and looking to try the restaurants in town. After ordering a mediocre pizza on a random Sunday for football, I was on the hunt for something better. T.O.P.S. popped up in my search and after browsing their site, the pictures alone were making my mouth water. Pizza, Hoagies, Gyro's and you guessed it, Philly Steak Sandwiches. I looked to my wife and said, "We must go!" I had just one thing on my mind for our first visit and that was to order the Philly.

#14 it was! Their original Philly classic; bread, finely sliced and chopped steak seasoned to perfection, fried onions and cheese. One bite in and I was absolutely happy! By the way... While I'm writing this, I'm enjoying my leftovers... You might be thinking, if a sandwich is so good, how was there any leftovers????? Well, there were two options to choose from; half or whole. In other words, 9" or 18" respectfully and I for some reason in the heat of ordering said whole and completely forgetting about the actually sizes. My wife went with my exact sandwich, but with pepperoni added to it or also known as the #16. It gave it a nice spicy flavor and still one of the best Philly's I've ever had. Seriously... You're wasting your time eating at some chain restaurant that serves what they think is a Philly Steak Sandwich. You're just eating some crappy roast beef that looks like the roast beef at your family Christmas potluck sitting in the crock pot water all day... STOP! Get to T.O.P.S.! Check out the Philly rankings to see where T.O.P.S. ranks at On The Streets Of Philasota!

Their Philly's aren't the only thing that was good though... My parents came with on this trip and my mom decided to order a Gyro. The family is from Greece, so of course they're going to have Gryo's on the menu and we're glad they did. They're Gryo's were outstanding and by far better than a number of places around the Twin Cities who claim to be serving superior Gyro's, but they're just not like T.O.P.S. You may be thinking, it's just lamb, but it's all about the seasoning and quality of lamb and T.O.P.S. is doing it right! 

As I mentioned earlier, my wife and I were searching for a pizza in town after ordering a mediocre one from a place called Bella's and not wanting to order from Pizza Hut or Carbones which is far too greasy. By photos alone on the T.O.P.S. website, the pizza looks amazing. It's definitely going to be a must try on my list and I hope it's as amazing as their other cuisine because when I'm in the mood for a good zza' I have to have a place in town to order from and so far, there's nothing! 

This east coast family never skipped a beat and is doing an outstanding job. We got the opportunity to meet Steven, Markos' son and share some of our remarks that night with him. A really nice guy who said he used to play in the yard which is now the new bar expansion. My wife and I even decided that this is going to be our go to place for a quick "cold one". If you live in the south metro area, T.O.P.S. is a must add to your repeat customers list! 

14533 Dodd Blvd.
Rosemount, MN 55068 

November 24, 2013

What Did The Elk Say?

No really... What did the elk say? Everyone is so concerned about what the fox said and what other animals are saying and I want to know what the elk said! I'd also like to know what the Red Cow and restaurant that is fast becoming an easy favorite of mine said to the elk before putting it on their menu filled with other delicious animals that could have been included in the You Tube sensation Ylvis' song?

Well now that you're annoyed that I got that one hit wonder stuck in your head, it's time to take you through some more delicious cuisine found at the Red Cow. My wife and I made our second trip of what will be many more to come to this fantastic place and yet again, left with a smile on our faces. On the docket for this trip; House Made Potato Chips w/ House Made Onion Dip as a starter, Elk Wellington Burger (just wait for this description), The Grinder (oh man!), House Made Cinnamon Donut Holes and my wife started the evening with their Red Sangria.

My wife wanted to try their Red Sangria our last trip, but forgot to order after we were already getting filled. This time around, she got one and I of course had to try it to make sure it was worth drinking. We both thought it could have been just a tad sweeter, but it was still delicious. The spices and wine were just a tad overpowering, but again, I'm not a red wine drinker at all and I would have ordered one still. As for our starter, the House Made Potato Chips w/ House Made Onion Dip is a must order before any meal. Some places who make their own chips slice the potato the short way and sure, probably yielding more chips, but Red Cow isn't your ordinary place to eat.... They sliced theirs the long way making some rather large chips and down right ridiculously good. And the onion dip.... well that was just an added perk and when our server came to grab the plate I quickly removed the dip to use with my freshly cut fries that came with my meal.

Okay... so we know the cow said moo and when I saw the Elk Wellington being placed in front of me, I said wow, wow, wow! What!? This is how it reads in the menu; elk patty & brie in a puff pastry, served with beer mustard for dipping. What I was trying to figure out was how they planned to make a "bun" out of a puff pastry. When it arrived to our table, the below photo is what made me go wow, wow, wow! So... was it good? You darn right it was good! The pastry was flaky and buttery while the elk was absolutely fantastic and what I was expecting coming from a wild animal that tends to be hunted, but rarely served in a restaurant for others to try. Yep.... That's a burger!

My wife went for a sandwich they called, The Grinder. Basically, it's their take on an Italian sandwich with; genoa & molinari hot salami, pastrami, gruyere, giardinara veggies & pepper aioli on a soft hoagie. The Red Cow should be patting themselves on the back because this thing is better than probably any of the versions I've tried at Italian Restaurants around town. I took one bite and wanted to keep eating it even though I had a delicious Elk Burger right in front of me, that's how good it was! It's got a little kick to it if you're sensitive to hot n' spicy and if you have a gluten allergy, you can enjoy this without worry. Check this sandwich out!

We finished the night with a little desert, their House Made Cinnamon Donut Holes. If you purposely take a trip to the State Fair to get your fix for mini donuts, well...once you've had these donut holes, there's a good chance you'll be visiting Red Cow instead. So, do I have your attention yet and will you be making a trip to Red Cow? Stop wasting your time trying to figure out what the fox said or at some chain restaurant and get to the Red Cow. I guarantee you will be glad you did!

3624 W. 50th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55410

November 19, 2013

Sitting At A Red Cow

Go ahead and sing a song while you’re sitting at the Red Cow, or even think of home while you’re sitting at the Red Cow. What’s a Red Cow? Why would I want to sing or think of home? Red Cow is a classy new gourmet burger restaurant serving some of the finest burgers in town along with a plethora of craft brews and wine on tap. The other answer is, why not? Especially when Johnny Lang is in your head!

Located near 50th and France, the Red Cow is taking burgers to a whole new level and by their own words, “Providing a sophisticated twist on the classic neighborhood tavern…” I would say they’re certainly doing an excellent job doing so and this was just mine and my wife’s first visit. After taking a look at their menu, it was apparent that we would most definitely be returning to try some more of their fine cuisine since we couldn't try all of them during our first experience. 

We started our evening with a couple adult beverages from over 30 craft brews on tap as well as over 30 wines on tap. That's right, I said wine on tap. We were also greeted with bacon caramel corn puffs while we waited to be seated which were pretty darn good. Upon being seated, we ordered an app that caught my eye, their Truffle-Parmesan Hand-Cut Fries - mmmm-mmmm were they delicious! Truffle on anything makes that particular food even better!

Moving on to our mains, my wife decided to go with their Root Beer Pulled Pork Sandwich. The name says it all, but it goes like this – root beer braised pulled pork, coleslaw & BBQ sauce on a Baker’s Wife bun. WOW! Probably one of the best pulled pork sandwiches I’ve ever had and full of excellent flavor. This is also the first time we’ve ever had a pulled pork sandwich that was cooked with root beer and would recommend trying this one. 

Again, after looking over the menu and wanting to try everything I was reading, I finally decided on a burger they called the Royale - Certified Angus burger, pork belly, brie, arugula and tomato jam. I saw pork belly and it was a must try and I sure am glad I did, this one’s a keeper and a must try. Could there really be that many dishes worth trying? Check it out – Lamb Burger w/ mint jelly and jalapeno cream cheese - Really!, how about an Elk Burger w/ brie in a puff pastry and beer mustard dipping sauce - Yep!, maybe the Duck Wild Rice w/ goat cheese, triple berry ketchup and mixed greens will be your selection - Looking forward to it! Sound delicious to you? It doesn’t stop there though; they have plenty of sandwiches and other dishes my wife and I want to try and we’re looking forward to returning. 

The creative minds at the Red Cow are definitely not giving up and wanting to break the mold of traditional burgers and sandwiches. Another positive for the Red Cow is serving several dishes that are gluten free so those with the food allergy can enjoy the same things the rest of us get to. There’s just one question to answer now - when are you planning your trip to the Red Cow? We’ll be going back in the coming couple of weeks thanks to joining their E-Club and receiving $10 towards our next meal just for signing up. Enjoy!

3624 W. 50th St. 
Minneapolis, MN 55410 

November 3, 2013

It's A MisSteak America

I had a craving for some really good rotisserie chicken from one of my wife and I's favorite places, Doolittles Woodfire Grill in Eagan. After stopping by and being told there was a 50+ minute wait, we decided to try another spot with the growling in our tummy's saying, "that's too long to wait". On the way to yet another favorite, Porter Creek Hardwood Grill, I decided to make a call and there was a 90 minute wait there. Running out of options, we ended up at a place you may find Men At Work singing some hits at some day.

What could such a place be? Think of entering an establishment that would combine a VFW, old Timber Lodge, Crapplebee's and a Sports Bar. Add a band with members that could be the parents of the boys from Men At Work and you get Steak America and according to their website, "Steak America Is America's Affordable". I'm no genius in the world of grammar, but I think they forgot something... After being sat and trying to hold back our laughter from the cheesy band playing, I had to head to the bathroom. While in this gorgeous bathroom (insert sarcasm), I heard the band stop playing followed by some applause and I couldn't stop laughing.

I headed back out so I could order an adult beverage to help with this decision to stop by over waiting at some outstanding restaurants and praying the food was good. My wife went with a Ribeye while I decided on the Sirloin. My wife decided to take the au gratin's as her side while I went with the baked potato. We also got a side salad with our meal and instead of two individual salad plates delivered, we received an Olive Garden bowl of salad. This sparked that chatter about my description of the place and I was getting confused fast! 

A good chunk of the interior had the likes of the wood panels found in Timber Lodges, but the brick used for a portion of the remodel was more modern and trendy. The drop down ceiling throughout was old and dingy while the ceiling above the bar was something you'd find at a trendy bar downtown. The furniture was like that of an old supper club with the family atmosphere of a Crapplebee's. Finally, the menu was straight out of a sports bar, but I was thinking it should have had a cover like a book instead. Like I said, I was getting confused... 

Our steaks came out and were served to us by the bartender, not a runner, the same bartender who took our order as well. If you want to be a restaurant, hire another server, the bar tender should remain behind the bar with the guests at the bar. After digging into the steaks, my wife and I looked at each other with looks of, "Meh, it's a steak!" While it wasn't the worst thing we've ever had, I easily could have done a more superior job staying home. They were lacking flavor and I've said this time and time again... salt and pepper go a long way if you're not going to use other seasonings. I devoured my baked potato, lets face it, you can't really screw that up, however my wife took a couple bites of her gratin's and pushed them aside. I had to try these things, they couldn't be that bad, could they? Again, not terrible, but bland and boring. We also received a veggie medley that wasn't all that bad actually. 

After the laughter has died away and we were done eating the GM stopped by to clear our table and made a major no no. She decided to grab our glasses and just reach between patrons at the bar to place on the bar top and returned to grab our plates. time and time again, my wife and I our experiencing no no's like this and it's just something that shouldn't be done. Simple and stupid? Maybe, but if i owned a restaurant, I would expect professionalism at all times. 

So.... The questions is, would I recommend Steak America and would we return? Probably not, but  it's up to you if you want "America's Affordable"!

Burnsville, MN

October 28, 2013

Oh HauteDamn!

Ya'll don't understand, I found a restaurant that makes me throw my hands in the ayer - ay-ayer! This is what happens when Flo Rida is pumpin' in my CD player, player after eating at one of the most unique and excellent restaurants my wife and I have ever had the chance of eating at. The HauteDish located off Washington Ave in the Warehouse District is that said place.

Since hearing of HauteDish just a few years ago, I've been wanting to pay them a visit after reading the menu. I finally got that opportunity during the most recent Restaurant Week put on by Mpls/St.Paul Magazine on an annual basis. There's plenty of great food being served on their everyday menu's, but during restaurant week, it's just a few select items, select items that I was interested in trying any ways. Now, when I say this place is unique, it's an understatement and in an awesome way! 

We started our dining experience with a a couple of drinks and two selections from the first dish list. We went with their House Salad and Char Cuts. This was no ordinary house salad like most other restaurants, this was probably one of the best! I can't really explain every detail of this simple, yet delicious salad, but the dressing (which they simply called a ranch) was nothing like a traditional ranch. If they want to call it ranch though, it's the best I've ever had. The other dish was a plate with three versions of meats with one of them (pink looking stuff) being a chicken and beef pate. We did indeed try it, but decided to save our appetites for the other dishes. The other two were excellent varieties and you'll just have to go check them out for yourself.

Lets keep this "party movin'" with the next courses. Our next two meals were their Mac N' Cheese and Pumpkin Stew. As you can see by the photo below, our stew actually came out in a mini pumpkin and was one of the best soups that I've ever had, hands down! Scallops, King Crab, Blue Prawn and Panang Curry is what you will find in this stew and I can't stress this enough... it's a MUST get! The Mac N' Cheese was outstanding with a completely different twist to mac n' cheese. Made with; Taleggio (white Italian cheese), King Crab, Celery, Truffle Oil over a very large noodle - oh HauteDamn is right! 

We finish up this "dance party" with our final two dishes of the evening. The first dish I'm going to share is the dish that caught my attention and my obsession to want to check this place out. Tater Tot HautDish, but not just any dish and nothing like an actual hot dish that grandma perfected over the years and past down to the next generation of cooks. This one, unfortunately for grandma, is better! Short Rib, Porcini (fungus family), green beans in a house made and amazing gravy and finished off with their version of a tots. I can't explain the tots, but trust me - this dish is absolutely outstanding. The other and definitely not least dish was the Roast Chicken X2. What caught my attention was the description - German Inspired. Yep, I must try that! An assortment of Colored Beets, Carrot, Fried Asparagus Tips, Sauerbraten with a Butterflied Chicken Breast with a Pate in the center. For not being a German restaurant, they nailed it! 

Touch the ceiling baby, because the HauteDish will have you doing it anyways with the cuisine they're serving up to their patrons. We didn't go for a dessert, but I'm guessing those are just as delicious as the rest of the menu. I am indeed looking forward to a return visit to try some their other amazing sounding dishes and ready to, throw them hands up! 

119 Washington Avenue North 
Minneapolis, MN 55401 

October 13, 2013

Got A Little Full Last Night

I might've been a little tired to eat, shoot, who am I kidding, I'm never too tired to eat food especially when it's something good to eat. I reached out to friends through social media in hopes that one of them was going to tell my wife and I about a great new place to eat, Lucky for us, we have plenty of friends that like to try new things just like us. In "Nordeast" Minneapolis off Hennepin Ave. sits a quaint little place called Eli's Food & Cocktails. Wouldn't you know it, the first thing I start sing is an Eli Young Band song!

Walking in to Eli's, my senses were already happy because something that was smelling delicious was making it's way from the kitchen. Something else that I tend to do is look for the taps to see what's being served. More and more locally owned restaurants are starting to tap the locally owned brews and that's awesome. I love the local brew scene and Eli's, like many others, is keeping that alive. My wife and I ordered Boom Island Witness and Brimstone, respectfully and they both were yummy.

Our friend told us that it was a must that we ordered the spicy guac app (Spicy Avocado-Feta Salsa). This app had; Avocado, Tomatoes, Giardiniera, Feta Cheese with Pita Chips and for anyone who knows me, I'm not a huge guac fan. Eli's was able to turn me into a huge fan, well that is if you serve me their rendition each and every time! The spiciness of their version is what made this the best quac I'v ever had. Two drinks in, no hurt and definitely not feeling bad, I was ready to order my entree and see what else Eli'shad to offer.

A couple items caught my eye while my wife was digging one of their specials. Since a decision had to be made, I went with the Jerk Marinated Wild Acres Chicken with Black Beans & Rice and Jicama Slaw. My wife decided to order the Eli Pasta Special with Pan Seared Shrimp & Scallops, Slivered Garlic, Shallots, Basil, Crushed Red Pepper, Lemon, Tagliatelle, San Marzano Tomato and Parmesan Cheese. We'll start with my wife's first.

Right away, we both noticed that the scallops had great flavor. When restaurants put scallops in a pasta, they tend to be smaller and often times the quality is also low and they taste fishy. At Eli's, this is the farthest from the truth - these were awesome. While I wouldn't say it goes down hill from here (I may say that again), it also wasn't eye popping magnificent, but it was good and worth trying. The shrimp was like any other shrimp and the sauce needed just a little more something extra added to it. I will say this... It's better than what some of the Italian Restaurants around town are serving up, so that saying something right there.

My meal can be looked at two ways and I'm going to of course share both approaches with you. If you've never been to Jamaica and have no plans to ever go, the Jerk Chicken might just be an eye popper. If you've been to Jamaica and loved the food down there as much as I did, you might be a little disappointed. Lets break it down! The chicken was juicy, not dry and was delicious, however it was more inline with what I would call a blackened or Cajun variation over Jamaican Jerk. I would like to make a minor suggestion that I think would benefit Eli's, order the jerk sauce from and smoke or grill your chicken with some of the same spices you used. When it's got the prefect grilled look to it, toss it in the jerk sauce then place on top of the Black Beans & Rice and Jicama. What I ended up doing was cutting the entire chicken breast up and mixed everything together and it made this meal absolutely fantastic. In fact, I didn't leave anything on my plate!

Feeling full and very much happy with this culinary find, it was time to head home. However, once we heard the desert list, we were sticking around and enjoying their version of a Banana Cream Pie. WOW! Who's Baker Square? I'm sure glad we finished the evening with this delicious desert. My wife and I didn't get a little drunk that night, but we sure enjoyed some great food and I'm looking forward to going back to try their Coq Au Vin and Honey Soy Wings.

Eli's Food & Cocktails 
Two Great Locations In Minneapolis

October 6, 2013

Giuseppe's Got Whatever It Is

Just a small town Italian restaurant situated in a strip mall in Rosemount where there's definitely a chef cutting things with a knife and plenty of lips tasting sweet red wine and we're glad someone told us to stop by and try it. This small town Italian restaurant, Giuseppe's Pasta Alforno is just the place to check out if you're looking for some delicious Italian food at an affordable price and not a fan of the chain's. ZBB might even like a small town place like this one!

How small is this place? Well, there wasn't much room for waiting and "the bar" only had about four or five stools as well. But hey, it's about the food here, not the bar and people were willing to wait for a seat, that's for sure! Upon sitting down at your table, you're brought a basket of freshly made bread along with some olive oil, but not just any olive oil. Their olive oil looked like they decided to take every last spice that you would put on a porketta and add it to their olive oil instead - I'm glad they did. It was so delicious and the bread was very good as well, it wasn't stale or rock hard like we've experienced elsewhere. 

Looking through the menu, it's much smaller than most places, but that's just fine. There's no need to have 50 different varieties of pasta on your menu, especially for a smaller restaurant. There was plenty of dishes though that my wife and I wanted to try, but a choice had to be made. My wife went with their Mostaccioli and I decided on their Chicken & Sausage meal. 

The Mostaccioli inlcuded; Hot Italian Sausage, Pearl onions, Roasted Red Peppers, Mushrooms and Tomato Sauce over Penne. While this dish was really good and my wife was definitely enjoying it, I wasn't as much of a fan of it as I was my own dish, but the hot sausage was excellent. I would still recommend this dish to try, but there was just something that I wasn't digging. 

The Sausage & Chicken had the following ingredients; Italian Sausage and Chicken Breast in their signature Rose Sauce over Linguine. Now this dish had whatever it is! The Italian Sausage was seasoned and spiced just right and the Chicken Breast wasn't dry either. Their signature Rose Sauce was outstanding and was full of great flavor. 

I'll be honest, I was a little surprised that Giuseppe's could blow me away like it did. If I were you, I would either show up really hungry or consider sharing a meal, well unless you love leftovers as much as I do. They know how to feed you here and you'll definitely leave full, happy and with a doggy bag. So, whatever "it" is...... I hope they keep it in their recipe's! My wife and I are looking forward to trying something new off the menu the next time we're in the mood for some delicious Italian food.

15090 Chippendale Avenue
Rosemount, MN 55068

September 6, 2013

Foie Gras Dynasty

You might be thinking... What is foie gras and what does it have to do with dynasty? Okay, so maybe some of you actually know what it is and are putting the two of them together and figuring out my cleverness. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, here's a little hint, calm down and instead of holding on to your britches, hold on to your feathers!

Are you still confused? Whelp, here it is in plain French. Foie gras is French for "fatty liver", the liver of a duck or goose that has deliberately been fattened up to create an amazing delicacy. I'll say it with you, "ooooooooh, now I get it - Duck Dynasty!" I suppose you're wondering why I would eat such a thing and what it was on? This time I'll spell it out in plain English for you, Heaven! Where can you find heaven? The Icehouse - Minneapolis and it's in a $22 burger. Yep, a $22 burger!

This burger was definitely the most expensive burger I've ever purchased, but after reading the description, it was a must that I try it. Hey, it was my birthday! Here's that description; Icehouse Burger - seared foie gras, truffle demi-glace. That description needed no further information and my mind was made up, I must try! Now, I must say one thing... If you do decide to try this, and you should, remove all condiments from the table, they should not be used. If you do use them, you'll ruin this masterpiece! I mean really... foie gras and truffle demi-glace on a burger..... like I said, heaven!

What did your wife get? Ah yes, she did indeed order a meal as well and that too was one of the best meals I've ever had the privilege of trying as well. Her meal was the Poached Alaskan Salmon served with prawn & potato croquette, chablis and chanterelle - AMAZING! Easily the best Alaskan Salmon I've ever had and a must try. Oh, don't be afraid of the tiny little caviar looking things, they're salmon eggs and they're delicious, so try them!

Life is good and so is food, stop wasting your time at the chains and actually try some real food, good food and food that is actually worth eating. The Icehouse is more on the expensive side, but well worth the money. So the next time you need a place for your anniversary, birthday or special occasion, make your way to the Icehouse. While you're there, try a Ramos Vaporizer, they're delicious!

2528 Nicollet Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404

August 1, 2013

Ice Ice Icehouse

All right stop, collaborate, and listen - The Gnaw is back with my brand new restaurant and that restaurant just became one of our new favorites and we only had two meals and a couple adult beverages. Settled in the Whittier neighborhood of Minneapolis on Nicollet between 25th and 26th Street sits the Icehouse. Just entering the the place makes you want to like it and after reading the menu, there was no way we were leaving.

A friend of my wife's told us to stop by after we had conducted a little business regarding a new restaurant to open in the area in the coming months and I'm sure glad we took her advise. I think Vanilla Ice himself would even pull up in his 5.0 with his rag top down and enjoy this delicious food. Since this was our first time, we weren't really sure what to expect and like I mentioned, after seeing the menu, we couldn't just leave without trying something. As we sat there trying to decide what to order, we were admiring the awesome decor and layout.

Okay, it's time to describe the two meals that we ordered and discuss some of the meals that we'll be returning to try that sounded oh so scrum-digity-umtious. The two things that caught my eye right away were their wings and the Beef Empanadas. To learn more about the all new #1 wing in the Twin Cities, visit, Flying Buffalo's? and you can see why they were #1. As for the Empandas, Awesome!

Their Beef Empanadas were made with chimichurri, broiled provolone, mojo verde and they were some of the best we've ever had. You really can't go wrong with a pastry filled with some delicious beef and amazing garnishments. I would tell you to share these with your friends or loved one, but once you have one, you may be a little selfish and want the other two. The other thing you won't want to share is the broiled provolone that comes with. Just trust me, you won't! 

As we neared the completion of this amazing meal, I turned to my wife and said, "We're coming here for my birthday!" My birthday is August 18th and I'm already itching to return to try some of the other things that caught our attention. How about; Gorgonzola Mac N' Cheese, Chile Rubbed Pork, Halibut with clams, basil, tomato, bacon, vermouth, sweet cream or the Portueguese Stew with linguica, shellfish, chicken, kale. Really... The entire menu sounds amazing and my birthday is too far away! If you like mixology and trying new fusions and crazy drink combinations, this is also the place for that and their taps are all local micro brews.

If there was an appetite problem, yo, I'll solve it - Check out the hook while Gnaw Bleezy revolves it!
2528 Nicollet Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404

July 7, 2013

Zoo Food!

If you have children, you've probably heard this question plenty of times, "Can we go to the zoo today, yeah can we go to the zoo?" You of course want to make their day and maybe even start packing up a lunch for the family and get everyone ready to go and piled in the car.

"What's that?" is being asked numerous amounts of time and you do your best to explain to them what that weird looking animal is. Where it comes from, why it comes from a specific region, how it got here and all the other questions kids love to ask. The family starts to get hungry and you find a spot to enjoy your packed lunch. What if, while you're eating that delicious bolagna sandwich, you were thinking to yourself, "I wonder what some of these animals would taste like?" Okay, so maybe it would just be me and yes, I actually think about these things. But, where would I even find some of these animals?

My crazy brain got started on wanting to try some exotic food after eating at a place called the Safari Restaurant & Banquet Center which we did a blog on, A Safari In The City? and having the owner Sade tell me about the camel burgers he's cooking up at his Safari Express location in the Midtown Global Market building. Months later and completely forgetting all about that, I came across a story about Hell's Kitchen starting to serve Kangaroo Steaks. I told my wife that we must get to Hell's Kitchen to try some hoppy-hoppy. After letting some of my readers know about my excitement, one of them sent me a butcher located in Hudson that might have what I'm looking for. Let the zoo tour begin!

It was a holiday weekend and of course grilling was on my mind. Meat and lots of it was on the menu, but after being told that I might actually be able to find something that tends to only be found in a zoo, the traditional burgers, brats, steaks and chicken were not on my menu. Specialty Meats & Gourmet is that butcher who has some of those animals and I wasn't leaving without something I've seen running around a zoo.

Item number one I wanted to definitely try apparently doesn't stay on the shelf very long and usually if it's out in the wild, one of them is being pursude by the other for dinner. This wild combination is rabbit and rattle snake sausage and it was outstanding! I'm pretty certain that it's the best form of a sausage that I have ever had and can understand why it doesn't last long on the shelf. You definitely know you're not eating your traditional brat or sausage and that is exactly what I was hoping for. The other selection was the animal that Hell's Kitchen was serving, that's right, kangaroo. I purchased my hoppy-hoppy in the form of 4 patties and it was very lean and oh so delicious. I would love to have it in the form of a filet to see what that tastes like as well. I can only imagine, it's amazing!

Will I be going to another butcher? Not a chance! This place has me as a lifetime customer and I hope they continue to serve some delicious exotic cuts of meat and maybe even bring in some additional animals for me to try. More things that fly or are running somewhere in the wild is just fine with me and I'm looking forward to going back for something new. How about something along the lines of Santa's slay pullers, bear, quail, alpaca or yak.

My wife and I finally made a trip to the Midtown Global Market and while we were there we of course had to try that camel burger I mentioned earlier and Safari Express was the first place we went to. "We'll take one camel burger and 2 Sambuza's." and the response back from the gentleman behind the counter was, "Would you like some of our homemade hot sauce?" "Yes please!" Their hot sauce is a green sauce made in house with a ton of delicious flavor and a must have with anything you eat at Safari's. We ate our Sambuza's while we waited for our camel burger to be done and these things are by far the best appetizer my wife and I have ever had. What makes it's so amazing? Get to Safari Express, try just one and hold back the temptation of wanting to order more. I bet you can't! 

Out came our camel burger and the first thing I wanted to do was try just the burger itself and nothing else. I looked at my wife with this look on my face like I had just died and gone to food heaven. The gentleman behind the counter asked us if we wanted ketchup for our meal and I'm sure glad that I never once dipped my burger in ketchup. Instead, I was putting the green hot sauce all over my burger and enjoying it even more. Hands down the BEST burger I've ever had and it was made of camel! Another great addition to this trip, the owner Sade had walked in, came over and asked how our food was and we of course told him our thoughts. I also asked him if he remembered my wife and I and his response, "Yes, yes! Are you going to write another great blog about the camel burger?" My response, "You bet we are!"

I'm definitely a fan of the whole idea of eating something that we only see in a zoo, well at least here in Minnesota and I'm looking forward to trying another creature in the near future and sharing my experience with my readers. Hopefully you'll be brave enough to try something completely bizzare and enjoy it as much as I have. I would say this... It's worth it! On our way out, we stopped to grab a couple tacos from Los Ocampo which you can read about by visiting the Mas Tequila, Por Favor! blog, all about authentic Mexican cuisine, not the Americanized Mexican food that can be found far too often. We also grabbed some Baklava from the Holy Land Deli which is one of my favorite desserts. 

June 23, 2013

Hey Porter, Hey Porter - Creek

Johnny Cash once sang about "How much longer will it be till we cross that Mason Dixon Line?" While I don't have an answer for you Mr. Cash, I do have an answer for how long it will take you to get to a place called Porter Creek Hardwood Grill. It will probably take you around 15 minutes to get there from... Okay, okay, I'm not actually going to start providing directions for the entire Twin Cities. but if you can find County Road 42 in Burnsville, your nose might help you the rest of the way.

No seriously... You should smell the aroma coming from Porter Creek's wood fired rotisserie pit. As my wife and I were pulling into the parking lot, it was sensory overload and we were already excited to try their food. As you enter through the front entrance you're greeted immediately by the open kitchen and rotisserie, oh and a hostess as well. You'll also notice their wall's, yes WALL'S of wine and if you're anything like my wife, that's heaven! Certainly it's beautiful throughout the whole place inside, but it was an awesome day outside, so off to the patio and what a great patio it was.

After ordering a couple cold brews and listening to today's specials (two of which we would be ordering), it was time to look over the menu and figure out what my tummy was going to be stuffed with. My eyes went straight to the Oven Baked Skillets section of the menu (hard not to since it was highlighted for me) and I'm sure glad I did. I saw two words that are definitely a weakness for me when it comes to food (among others) and those two words were - Buffalo and Mac, but first, lets start with the app. 

Our app was one of the specials for the day - Pulled Pork prepared with a Chipotle BBQ sauce (nothing like the BBQ you put on ribs, chicken or wings - not even close, this was much better), some jalapeno's, a little cilantro and lime then placed inside fresh corn tortillas that are made in house. The first thing I told our server Kelly (who by the way was an awesome server) was that - 1. These should be on the menu at all times as an app or a meal. and 2. I would come back and eat these before heading to a very large handful of Mexican Restaurants around town. Oh yes, they were that good! 

Back to those two words I was talking about - Buffalo and Mac. When they're separated, they're delicious. But together? Oh man! Their Buffalo Mac is prepared with a spicy buffalo cream sauce, rotisserie chicken, baked until golden with blue cheese crumbles and was one of my all-time favorite mac's. I'm think I may have to start a Best Mac Challenge Soon as more and more restaurants start to add custom made macs to the menu. I can tell you right now that Porter's Mac will be at the top of that list, that's for sure. My mac also came with a side salad and I decided to go with the Caeser Salad. Sounds simple enough, but there was one thing that caught my eye that made me choose this salad and that was - Polenta Croutons. WOW! Get this salad, you'll thank me! 

On to my wife's meal and yet another very delicious meal indeed. Her meal was the other special for the day - the Hanger Steak Sandwich. This very tender and I mean tender steak sandwich had some amazing flavor. Settled between two slices of ciabatta bread along with some arugula, onions and a delicious aioli. You can also choose a side - french fries, slaw or mashed potatoes. I once heard that nice restaurants just like Porter Creek is, shouldn't serve french fries as a side so I asked my wife to get the potatoes. Some basic taters, but still buttery, seasoned nicely and delicious. Do I have you considering this one too? 

Hey porter! Hey porter! Please get my bags for me. I need nobody to tell me now that we're in... Gosh darn it Johnny, your catchy song is in my head now and I almost forgot to mention one last thing. Like a lot of elegant restaurants, you receive bread and butter prior to any portion of your meal arriving to your table and Porter Creek is no exception. But like other places out there serving a custom flavored butter (cinnamon, honey, etc), theirs was just butter so we decided to have a chat with our server Kelly. We told her that Porter Creek should make their butter unique that would reflect their cuisine and the suggestion was a Garlic-Rosemary Butter. While this in no way will deter my wife and I from returning (why would bread and butter do such a thing?), we just thought it would be a great addition to an already amazing menu.

If Mr. Cash was still alive and singing about a train puffin' smoke and an engineer blowing his whistle, I'm positive that he would thoroughly enjoy stopping by Porter Creek Hardwood Grill for a delicious meal if he was ever in the area for a concert. I know you will too!

14201 Burngarten Drive 
Burnsville, MN 55306

June 9, 2013

Slide Slide Slippity-Slider Squad

Their "ain´t nobody cryin', ain´t nobody dyin', ain´t nobody worried, but everybody ´s tryin'" the tasty and yummy food that the new addition to the food truck world has to offer. Who might that be? B-52 Burgers & Brew's Slider Squad and they've been traveling all over the Twin Cities spreading the food love and maybe you'll even catch them singing a little Fantastic Voyage one-hit-wonderness from the one and only Coolio.

While Coolio's is "tryin' to find a place where he can live his life and maybe eat some steak with his beans and rice" (there might even be a truck for that), you'll be enjoying some delicious Sliders, Waffle Fries and Corn Fritters that the Slider Squad is serving up. I would really like to tell you exactly how these delicious sliders are made starting with the marinating process of the meat, but that's information that I simply cannot disclose, just know it's loaded with some awesome flavor, a generous amount of melted-gooey cheese and a pickle. If you're like me, you'll be going back for another one as soon as you're done destroying the first one. In fact, co-founder J.J. McKay told my wife and I about a gentleman that has been following them around and has been the first one in line waiting for his slider.

Unlike a lot of other food trucks out their serving some form of burger or sandwich and that's all you get for anywhere in Coolio's neighbor"hood" of $5-$8, the Slider Squad adds a handful of waffle fries with every slider for $6. Not in the mood for a slider? That's fine, you can order up a "massive order of fries" for $5 as well. So maybe sliders aren't your thing and that's fine, but don't worry, the Slider Squad added some Corn Fritters to their menu and each and every day they're having to bring more and more product with them because they're selling out of Corn Fritters. I don't know about you, but that sounds like a pretty good problem to have. Now if I could just get my hands on some to try! 

In closing, Coolio and I would like to ask you one last thing - what ya gonna do when the Slider Squad rolls by, you better be ready, so you can...... Eat!?

Follow the Slider Squad crew on Twitter or on Facebook 
and know where you can find them throughout the week. 

June 7, 2013

The Duck Dynasty of Hooters!

You're probably trying to figure out what it would take to make a place be similar to Hooters with a Duck Dynasty feel to it? Whelp, if you've watched Duck Dynasty at all or "Hey!" maybe even listened to some of the great one liners coming out of uncle Si Robertson's mouth, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about! For those of you who don't, instead of orange tank tops, they're camo tank tops - enough said!

The Duck Dynasty of Hooters is actually the The Rack Bar & Grill located in Burnsville and taking over the old Timberlodge Steakhouse just off 35W. And wouldn't you know it, it's right next door to an old Hooters location which is now Hurricane Grill & Wings... Weird! Upon entering The Rack, you'll notice nothing much has changed from the original occupant and straight from their own website, "Not very fancy, but it will do just fine for now." Well, I'm glad they said it, because that's the truth! Si once said, "I gotta work with what I got, its called improv-isavation". I'm wondering if the owner(s) of The Rack Bar & Grill were thinking the same thing? 

I'll get to the food shortly and the reason for our decision to stop here soon, but I do have to mention one more thing unrelated to the cuisine and that was their selection of music. “Stop what you’re doing, cuz I’m about to ruin, the image and the sound you’re used to. Look here, I love that Humpty song. Stop cramping my style, man.” Si, you funny S.O.B. that's not what I was talking about... While I dig the Humpty, it wasn't that genre, it was hair bands from the 80's the whole night and it was awesome! 

Lets get to the reason for the stop and that's their chicken wings. We will rank these at the Flying Buffalo's? blog if you want to see where they stand as well. My wife and I have pretty similar taste buds and decided to go with their medium Buffalo, a new flavor they added - Sweet Chili and the Whiskey BBQ. Right away, I was passing on the Whiskey BBQ after the first wing. It wasn't anything special... Went for the Sweet Chili next and that was pretty darn good and would order that, but it was the Buffalo that got my attention. I've mentioned time-and-time again that places should NEVER simply use Frank's Red Hot for their wings. You have to make it unique and add some additional spices and flavors to it which The Rack did. The wings themselves were cooked just right and they had great flavor. Question is... Where do they rank with the competition?

"You can grill anything on the grill, hog, crab, shrimp, snapper, you could probably shoot a horse and grill him." Yes Si, you can pretty much grill anything, but I don't think The Rack is going to be cooking up horses anytime soon, but if you want to try a pretty good chicken wing and you want to experience the Duck Dynasty Hooters, check out The Rack Bar & Grill. If you show up in a suite and tie, trust me... You're definitely going to stick out like a sore thumb Jack!

The Rack Bar & Grill
13050 Aldrich Ave.
Burnsville, MN 55337 

June 3, 2013

Fishing In The Dark???

If it feels like you’re literally “fishing in the dark” when it comes to sushi, I would like to try and help you figure out where the best place is to go. This is all about the top places to find the best sushi in the Twin Cities for those of you who like it, but hear this, that and the other thing about a place you’ve been wanting to try.

Not every place is good and often is the reason why first timers who are very skeptical to begin with stop enjoying sushi all together. Hopefully this challenge will get you to a place where you can enjoy sushi as much as my wife and I do, because when it’s prepared and served properly, it’s oooh sooo enjoyable! 

We’ve been to some excellent places for sushi and we’ve also been to places that should be forced to stop serving sushi for how bad it really is. Sometimes it depends on the chef as well, because there are some really bad chefs out there who shouldn’t be sushi chefs, but in general, the majority of them do an outstanding job. 

We’ll continue to add to the Sushi Challenge List as we visit new places and if you think there’s a place we need to check out, let us know! If you would rather be lying on your back and counting the stars instead of eating sushi, well that’s okay too...

1. Saji-Ya
Some of the best sushi you'll find in the Twin Cities and my favorite place to go. I'm not a huge cucumber fan, so what sets this place apart is they use shredded carrots in place of the cucumber, but that's not why it's #1. They're number one because they know how to roll a nice tight sushi roll and they cut their fillets perfectly with a sharp knife instead of other places which you will read about below. It looks like some places just tear the fish! We tend to sit at the bar as well because the bartenders have great personalities. What to get while you're at Saji-Ya? Anything! Check out their awesome happy hour menu too.

2. Fuji Grill & Sushi Bar
This small "hole-in-the-wall" located in Rosemount opened in a small strip and I was very hesitant to try it. I kept thinking to myself "fast food sushi, that can't be quality". Boy was I wrong and I am sure glad we gave them a try. This place is serving up some of the finest cuts of sushi throughout the metro. Cut to perfection, always tastes AND smells fresh. They just prepare their rolls perfectly and my favorite is their signature Fuji Roll - Shrimp tempura, salmon topped w. spicy crab salad & chef special sauce. 

3. Kyoto Sushi & Hibachi 
A great all-you-can-eat sushi place with chefs preparing and serving some outstanding sushi. These chefs know how to cut the fish properly and can roll a sushi roll properly as well. You can read more about my take on Kyoto at > Let Me See That Sushi Roll!

4. Seven Sushi & Steakhouse 
Known mostly for their steaks, this place also has some very talented chefs serving some really good cuts of sushi. I recommend trying whatever sounds good to you.

5. Osaka - Apple Valley 
After going to the Osaka located in Richfield, I had no plans on ever going back to another Osaka, but apparently there are 3 different Osaka family run sushi restaurants throughout the Twin Cities and this one is pretty darn good. Head there Monday through Thursday for their discounted sushi checklist for an affordable night out enjoying sushi.

6. Akita Sushi & Hibachi 
An all-around good sushi place and mostly known for their all-you-can-eat selections. It's the place where my wife and I first went for sushi as a couple and where our love for sushi began.

7. Kona Grill
This place could be much higher in the rankings, but the service is terrible! They have some outstanding sushi and it tastes fresh! Might be a good place for take out if they even do that...

8. Tiger Sushi - MOA 
Not all that bad, but not all that good either. Eating sushi in a mall in a little tiny space just kind of seemed like not the best decision, but it's not the worst concept, nor was it the worst tasting either...

9. Crave Restaurant 
Their chefs aren't the best rollers or fillet cutters. While their sushi might not be all that bad, it's impossible to eat one of their rolls because the chefs need to further their education in rolling and filleting.

10. Sushi Tango 
I felt like I was in a fish market with some old fish. was really fishy tasting and smelling a little not so pleasant as well. Nothing really more to mention about this place!

11. Osaka - Bloomington/Richfield 
Like Sushi Tango... This place had some terrible fish! Their chefs weren't the greatest either and I can remember just leaving the majority of our sushi rolls for the garbage and eating just the rice.

12. Origami Restaurant
According to their website, this place is know for - "Best Sushi In Minneapolis" and "Award Winning Japanese Cuisine". Really? Who's judging? My wife thought that this place had some of the freshest tasting fish while I was being reminded of the disgusting fish you would find at Kami in Apple Valley. We had a Spicy Yellow Tail Roll and a Spicy Tuna Roll and after one bite I told my wife, "I wish I had a Juicy Lucy right about now!" Best Sushi? Not even close! One last thing... The happy hour menu needs some attending to as well.

13. Kami Sushi & Steakhouse - Apple Valley 
Downright disgusting! Really nothing more to say, but you can read more about my take on this place by visiting > If I Close My Eyes Forever... 

Again, feel free to share your comments or let us know about a place we should check out that we haven't yet! 

May 19, 2013

Dirty "Mediterranean" Water

I'm going to tell you a story... I'm going to tell you a big bad story and I'm going get some help from The Standells to help tell that story and unfortunately, I didn't love the "dirty water" at the last place my wife and stopped by. This "story" starts at a place called Ansari's Mediterranean Restaurant located in Eagan and it didn't start off the best and we didn't even step foot inside.

As we arrived to Ansari's and made our way to the front door, we had to walk by the patio and this is where things quickly went south. It looked as though the ENTIRE patio was an ash tray as did the sidewalk outside of the fenced in patio area. The last time I checked, brooms were a very inexpensive tool for cleaning and it's a bout time the owners invested in some. It was disgusting! Why does this matter? what if I wanted to sit on the patio and enjoy the weather???? A restaurants patio has become a smokers retreat, making it so you can't enjoy the weather when it's nice out. I'm even starting to see them become smoke free all together which is more enjoyable for ALL patrons and hopefully it catches on statewide!

We've made it inside and made our way to the bar. Trying to have a nicer dining area mixed with what can only be described as a dive bar is not what my wife and I were expecting to find even after the ash tray patio we had to walk by on our way in. Fail! So far, so good, right? We had other plans scheduled for the evening so it was going to be a quick dinner so we decided to pony up to the bar. With two bartenders behind the bar and about eight people at the bar, you'd think it would be easy to get a drink pretty easily. At Ansari's, that's not the case! Not once did a bartender make eye contact with us in the ten minutes we were sitting there so we decided to leave the bar and sit at a high top instead. Is it really that difficult to provide customer service to patrons? It was for this staff!

We were finally able to order some drinks and food, but it really doesn't get much better, besides the food actually tasting pretty good. Once we placed our order for food, which by the way was a Gyro and and the Twin Gyros Wrap (Lamb and Chicken). The food did taste pretty good, but I was hoping to be blown away seeing that it's a Mediterranean restaurant specializing in this cuisine, but it wasn't any better than the Gyro's you can find at Dino's Gyros, the local fast food option. During the whole time we were there, our server came by our table once to check on us and we were done with our meals and ready to leave. Sounds like some great customer service, right?

Eagan, "you're not my home", but I think I would actually go back to try some of the other items on the menu after reading some of the dishes and my wife said the same thing. We also both agreed that the restaurant it self had some major changes to take care of. I would say they're pretty simple things too - cleaning your restaurant and training your staff.

Ansari's Mediterranean Restaurant 
1960 Rahncliff Court
Eagan, MN 55122 

May 12, 2013

The Search Is Over... (Best Pulled Pork)

You're probably wondering what I was searching for to begin with??? Well, I would actually call it more like, I won't have to search at all because I'm pretty sure I found it. What is it? The best pulled pork sandwich I've ever had in the Twin Cities thus far! If you would like to try it for yourself, head on down to Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque and Pirate Bar in downtown Stillwater and give it a try!

Make's it sound like I was living for a dream which by the way I really wasn't, but I was loving for a moment, a food moment and I found it! Not sure when Survivor became my inspiration for a food blog, but it sounded good to me. So how can I can I convince you that this is the best pulled pork sandwich? I guess I'm just going to describe the best I can and tell you to go try it for yourself. 

It's a pretty simple explanation actually... pimento wood smoked pork that is amazingly moist that is combined with the inspiration of the Jamaican culture and I really love that island and the food coming from that culture after visiting Jamaica a couple of times myself. Smalley's definitely knows what they're doing in providing folks with the cuisine from paradise and after my second time now visiting Smalley's, They have me as a patron for life. 

Lets face it... I can't travel to Jamaica as much as I would like to, so I'll head to Smalley's! Don't worry Smalley's, I won't take you for granted with the new friend I have in you and please keep producing some of the most amazing food in the Twin Cities.

Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque and Pirate Bar
423 Main St S., Suite A
Stillwater, MN 55082

April 27, 2013

Valley Tap House in NOT a very, very fine house

You won't find two cats in the yard while dining at the Valley Tap House and you're definitely not going to find Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young either. What you will find if you're as lucky as my wife and I won't please you much and will probably make you not want to go back as well. Lets hope the owners get a chance to read this cause some changes need to be made..... and soon!

This place is owned by the same folks that own the Lyndale Tap House where you'll find an excellent chef serving some outstanding food and yes there's a blog for that - It's PITastic!. The unfortunate thing at least on the day my wife and I decided to stop by is a poor reflection on the entire company and that's not good. As soon as we arrived, it was already going down hill and it's the type of stuff that managers should be able to take care of rather easily. 

As we arrived, the hostess had walked back to clear off a table on the patio so we could sit outside on one of the first beautiful days of the Spring season. After about 10 minutes going by and we see the hostess with an assortment of dishes and dropping them off at in the back kitchen. As she walked back to the host stand, she was immediately stopped by another patron with 4 separate checks in his hands asking for someone to help because his server seemed to have went missing (there was about 4 or 5 couples in the dining room so it shouldn't have been an issue). Finally, she brought us to our table and 15 - 20 minutes later with no one behind us OR waiting. My question - What exactly is her job?

We'll get to the food, don't worry, but this stuff is important. As we approached our table on the patio, I felt like I was being sat next to their dumpster out back. Ever hear of a broom and about 10 minutes of some actual labor? Cigarette butts EVERYWHERE, food all over and right at our table alone, it looked like the trash compactor had a leak. How hard is it to sweep up the garbage before seating new guests or taking care of some of the other trash before you open? Time for some new management or workers that are willing to provide a good customer experience - isn't that what it's all about? I almost forgot, it doesn't look very professional if your hosts leave their cigarette packs out in the open on the host stand next to their cell phone and the company phone, just sayin'...

Okay, lets talk about the food! Lets just say that the chef at the Valley Tap House could use some educational course compared to the chef and his culinary team at the Lyndale. NOT EVEN CLOSE! We saw a pretzel app go by that looked pretty good, but when we got our very own delivered to us, we were wishing we had chose something else. Pretzel? Nope! It was more like a stale bread stick with some salt on it. My wife ordered a Margarita and why do so many bars fail at making these things? Is it really that hard to make a good Margarita? Do we need to send bartenders down to Mexico for some schooling? Far too many times, when I ask my wife, "how's your drink?", she just shrugs her shoulders and says, "it is what it is!" Than she saw a guy at the table next to us with a Bloody and she said, "I should have gotten that!" Than the guy asked the server to return it to the bar because it had no flavor. So far so good, right!?

On to our main meal that we had for lunch and hoping that it could salvage our dining experience. We ordered their Cashew Chicken Salad Sandwich. They CANNOT screw this up! Looked good as it was arriving to our table and thankfully, it wasn't half bad, BUT! Question to the owners if they're reading this - What's with all the onions and why did you forget to add the cashews? It said Cashew Chicken Salad, not Onion Salad Dressing and a little Chicken Sandwich. And another thing... I know you want to get the most out of your ingredients and food items, but do you really need to serve the bottom of the french fries bag? the longest fry was probably an inch if that and the majority of them were probably embarrassed to be called a french fry.

So! Would I tell you to go to the Valley Tap House? Probably not. Would I tell you to instead go to the Lyndale Tap House? YES I WOULD! Until there is some sort of confirmation that they have made some MUCH needed changes to this restaurant, I wouldn't waste your money. I hate to see this happen, because I really like the Lyndale and the Valley is making them look bad and it's little things that are being over looked, so correct them. In fact I'll even help you with one... Someone on the staff actually thought that this fork was suitable to provide to patrons. Sure this is what a fork looks like after crab legs and I sure do wish I had those instead! :)

April 7, 2013

Found Some New Aged Food!

I did find some "New Aged" food and I am going to tell you what it 's like and you won't have to spend a lot of cash like Mary Moon did on her crystal necklace. My wife and I had the opportunity to do a photo shoot for Wild Bill's Sports Saloon for some new food item menus that were added to the menu and for a special ad that is going to run in an upcoming edition of the City Pages.

The day started out as a photo shoot when my wife's creative eye caught the attention of the Marketing Director who went to the same high school together. As we started to take photos of the bar itself, the food started to make its way out and ready to be shot. Plate after delicious looking plate, all I wanted to do was taste what was in front of me, but it had to look pretty. Than, the culinary director said, "what are you waiting for? Dig in!" You don't have to ask me twice, so digging in is exactly what I did!

The first couple of dishes were some new tacos - Calamari Tacos & Beer Braised Pot Roast Tacos. The calamari ones were good, but I don't think it's going to catch on that well. A calamari taco is pretty unique and I have yet to hear of another restaurant doing this, but fish and shrimp tacos are probably more suitable and I think the culinary team can keep the uniqueness there. As for the pot roast tacos, not bad at all! Something different with great flavor and something that could stay on the menu.

Up next was their Deep Fried Pickles and a sandwich known as the Mother Clucker. I'm not a deep fried pickle fan, but I of course had to try these and as I suspected, I wouldn't like them all that much. The breading on the outside is same what they use with their outstanding chicken tenders that I blogged about in my - Wild Bill's... I think I love You, so check that out, but I'm just not a pickle guy. the nice thing about Wild Bill's pickles, they're not the sliced pickles like you get on your burger, they're full length slivers. As for the Mother Clucker, It had some pretty good flavor, but I'll be honest, I just had a couple of bites because they're was something else I wanted to devour and it's my next meal.

As soon as this next plate came out, I knew I had to try it and the Marketing Director told me, "It's pretty much every man's dream on a plate!" What is that dream maker of a food item? It's called, The Dirty Dog Enchiladas! "Two All Beef Smoked Sausages Stuffed With Spicy Cream Cheese, Bacon, Pepper Jack Cheese And Tucked Into Warm Flour Tortillas Then Smothered With Chili, Queso Cheese, And Topped With Tomato Sour Cream. Accompanied With Shredded Lettuce, Tomatoes And Corn Salsa." I don't know about you, but that just sounds awesome! Oh and by the way.... I DID devour this in no time and you gotta try this the next time you're at Wild Bill's!

Onto some sliders and a flat bread pizza. The same great pot roast that was in the tacos, made into 3 sliders with some fries and the meat is moist and delicious just like in the taco option. The Culinary Director told me I have to try their Mac N' Cheese the next time I'm in. What's it made with? How does this sound? "Mexican Beer-Braised Pot Roast On A Bed Of Smoked Gouda Mac-n-Cheese Bites. Served On A Fresh, Grilled Hoagie Roll." Yeah... That sounds good! :) As for the Flat bread Pizza... Well, I didn't try it because there were other things that were on my mind, like finishing off that Dirty Dog.

The next couple of dishes were a burger that I didn't take a bite of, just didn't look like something I wanted to try, it's not to say it doesn't taste good though. That was quickly pushed aside and the next item was their Cheddar & Jalapeno Cornbread with a side of Honey Vanilla Butter. If you're sick of crappy corn bread than you gotta stop by Wild Bill's and try theirs. Man was that good!

The final three dishes that we took pictures of and of course tried were; Sweet Potato Nachos, Saucy Shrimp and Bacon Bouquet. The nachos are made with "Maple Seasoned Sweet Potato Fries Topped With Savory Pulled Pork, Candied Bacon, Pepper Jack Cheese, Carolina Honey BBQ And Slaw." AWESOME! The Saucy Shrimp are a batter and detailed shrimp that you can toss in your favorite sauce and they're excellent. A lot of times shrimp at a sports bar is just too fishy tasting, but these were very good and I went through a good hand full. Last and definitely not least is the bacon. MMMMMMMMM, BACON! Bacon is bacon right? WRONG! How about some hardwood smoked bacon that has been caramelized in Wild Bill's secret blend of spices and brown sugar? Sounds good, doesn't it? How about you dip them in their Dijon-Horsey dipping sauce? Oh my is this awesome!

So what are you going to try first? If you're a vegetarian like Marry Moon is, this probably is the list of food that will interest you, but if you do eat meat and enjoy it as much as I do, than you gotta try some of these dishes and I highly recommend the Dirty Dog, bacon, corn bread and their awesome chicken tenders. Eating a ton of this food  might decrease your chances of outliving all of the septuagenarians, but hey, you only live once, so enjoy it! Yep, I was able to finish with a big word, you'll have to Google! :)

Wild Bill's Sports Saloon
6 Locations to choose from

April 1, 2013

Triple D? Nope, Triple B!

So we’ve all heard of the show, Triple D (Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives) and sure Guy is probably more famous than I am and a bigger deal than I am – lets face it, he has a T.V. show and I don’t! I’m not talking about those types of places, I’m talking about one place in particular that I decided to nickname, Triple B.

So what does Triple B stand for? Bowling, Bocce and Bistro which can all be found at a place called Pinstripes. Located just off France Ave. in Edina and in a 40,000 square foot dining and entertainment complex sits this really cool and unique place and yes, a place to play bocce, hit the lanes for some pin knocking down time or to enjoy some great food. While my wife and I didn’t get a chance to play, we did get a chance to enjoy some outstanding Italian/American cuisine and going back for try more will definitely happen.

My wife was looking for something a little lighter on the pallet and not so heavy, deciding to go with the Angel Hair Pomodoro. Angel hair pasta in a red sauce made with organic grape tomatoes, fresh mozz., mint and basil… I looked at my wife after trying it and the first thing she says after seeing the expression on my face is “No, it’s not better than Inonni!” Ok, so it’s not, but a strong second and she even tricked me and threw a grape tomato in with my bite and it was outstanding. Well balanced flavors, not too heavy and again, outstanding!

I on the other hand was having a hard time trying to decide what to get and kept going back-and-forth between several dishes. I ultimately decided to try something completely different and went with the Chicken & Goat Cheese Pasta. Goat cheese? Yes goat cheese! This amazing dish is made with fusilli pasta, a rosemary cream sauce and fresh cracked pepper. Oh my…….! You definitely have to make trying this dish a priority for someone in your party if you make it to Pinstripes.

Some of the other dishes my wife and I were eyeballing were; Italian “Jambalaya” Risotto, Pulled Pork Sandwich made with a balsamic BBQ sauce (WHAT!?), Spicy Chicken Sandwich, Proscuitto Caprese Sandwich, Pine Nut Crusted Halibut (one of my all-time favorite fish to eat) and pretty much everything else on the menu as well! So, as you can see, we’ll definitely be heading back to Pinstripes to try more excellent sounding food and maybe next time we’ll get to play some bocce.

Yeah, Mr. spiked white hair has T.V. shows where he can showcase the things he loves and all I have is the Gnaw Blog, but lets face it… I’m much cooler, right? :) It’s HIGHLY unlikely, but maybe someday I’ll have my own cable television show and get to showcase the wonders of the Twin Cities… Hey, it could be a Saturday morning special!

Pinstripes (Bowling, Bocce, Bistro) 
3849 Gallagher Drive
Edina, MN 55435

March 13, 2013

It's HURRICANE Season...

Okay, so maybe it's not exactly hurricane season here in Minnesota and probably more like "when is this cold stuff going to leave us" season, but my friends and I found a hurricane that needs to be reported on and unlike most meteorologists, this weather report is accurate. There's a 100% chance of delishisness with the possibility of experiencing some heat.

Where is this place my friends and I have found? That place my food lovers is a place called, Hurricane Grill & Wings. Why do I think my "weather report" is accurate? Because their sauces are amazing and there's over 25 crazy sauce creations to choose from. They also know how to cook their wings and they're good size, not these little pigeon wings found other places. Most of you know that I tend to order my wings extra crispy, naked with the sauce on the side which allows me to really get a feel for the chicken flavor itself and than what it tastes like with the sauce. Welp, I completely forgot to do that and I don't regret it one bit. Loaded with sauce and plenty of excellent flavor!

I suppose you're wondering what sauces I decided to go with??? My friend and I decided to order their Flavor Sampler which provides you with 20 wings (bone in of course) and your choice of four sauces. This provided us with an opportunity to share our meals and get eight sauces and allow us to really experience as much as we could for our first trip. Ok, ok... Here are the sauces we went with; Hot Hurricane, Ancho Chile Lime, Chipotle Raspberry, Boss Sauce, Cyclone Sauce, Jamaican Jerk and Extra Hot Hurricane Sauce. After we were done eating we wanted to try a couple of sauces, so are server brought us out Maple Pepper Glaze and Coco Loco....... AWESOME! These two and Boss Sauce were my three favorite sauces hands down.

If wings aren't your thing, no worries, they have a large selection of other food options for you to choose from and from the looks of some of the dishes that other patrons were having, you won't be unsatisfied. You just won't see me eating those dishes - I'm at a wing place! If you love wings as much as I do, be certain to check this place out and I would suggest ordering my three favorite sauces for sure or maybe just get whatever you like, that's just fine!

Hurricane Grill & Wings 
12950 Aldrich Avenue South
Burnsville, MN 55337

February 26, 2013

Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take you…

To Cozumel….???? HEY! It’s still off the Florida keys, just a little farther than Kokomo, in fact it’s about 600 miles southwest of the keys, and a place the Beach Boys definitely missed out on! But that’s okay, because my wife and her family found it and lucky for me, I got the opportunity to go for my first time recently with my wife, her sister and brother in-law and man is the food on this island outstanding.

It’s a simple life in Cozumel, a life that plenty of American’s now call home through retirement and a place I would love to call my second home someday. To add to that relaxing simple life comes some amazing food that you simply won’t find here in Minnesota unless you know a Mexican-American that now calls Minnesota home. If you do, please let me know! 

Too many people just want to stay at an all-inclusive and never leave the resort, but in Cozumel, that’s not the way to do things. Instead, find a great hotel that offers all-inclusive packages as an option and make the decision to NOT buy up and head in to town to enjoy the homemade greatness. Trust me when I say, you’ll thank me for it! Whelp… Grab a tropical drink that will probably melt in your hand (or maybe not) and enjoy the mouthwatering descriptions. 

La Mission 
Just a block off the main strip and the main square sits La Mission where you can enjoy the Seafood Plate for just $21 that includes; about a 12 oz. grilled lobster tail, 6 JUMBO (and I mean jumbo) shrimp, fish of the day (usually red snapper or grouper) and rice. Okay, catch your breath… Yes I said you get all of that for just $21! What else is amazing here? Take a stab at their fajitas which were outstanding, their Coconut Shrimp which comes in a half cut coconut with some of the best coconut sauce I’ve ever had and you most definitely have to try their Lime Soup. Wondering what lime soup is? Lime soup is a chicken broth base with tortilla chip strips, onions, chicken and lime juice and it’s easily the best soup I’ve ever had in my life! By the way, we ate here twice while we were in Cozumel… 

La Choza 
Head a few blocks into town from the main square and you’ll find a place called La Choza. Here, you’ll find some amazing Shrimp Veracruz, Garlic Shrimp – both of which are jumbo shrimp as well as their fajitas. We also decided to take a stab at their Garlic Soup and I pretty sure that our party of four decided to push it aside and wait for our main courses. You can’t go wrong with your selection(s) while at La Choza, but make sure that one of them includes what I just mentioned to you. 

La Conchita Del Caribe 
Deep in town is where you will find this gem and what a gem it was. I had to run to the bathroom just as we arrived and upon my return, my wife says, “they have Paella as a Sunday special only”, and I said “I’ll take that!” I didn’t even need to see the rest of the menu, because Paella is easily one of my all-time favorite meals ever. What the heck is Paella? Paella is a mixture of rice and seafood that includes; calamari, shrimp (still shelled) clams and white fish. Follow that up with some meats like; chicken, pork and more pork. Finish with your veggies like; onions, peas, peppers, garlic and a large amount of herbs and spices. Man I want some right now! My wife went with their Coconut Shrimp and that too was very delicious, but I’ll take my Paella, thank you… 

Ernesto’s Fajita Factory 
You’ll find this little ocean front restaurant off the main strip near the cruise line port and in walking distance of 3 or 4 hotels as well. This is the place for some delicious Mexican breakfasts like their Burrito Mananero filled with eggs, peppers, onions, cheese and chorizo and it’s ooh so yummy. You know what… Go ahead and order anything on the menu and I guarantee it’s going to be delicious! In fact, make sure you get the cakes! Cakes you say? In Mexico? YEP! Stopped here for lunch as well and their fajitas are some of the very best you can find. Made with their own house blend that includes their now famous cerveza based marinade and I wish I had access to their fajitas every week! 

Coconuts Bar & Grill 
In the middle of nowhere on the south side of this amazing island and perched atop the highest point in Cozumel sits Coconuts Bar & Grill. Lets just get this out of the way quickly…. First, you’ll need to rent a Jeep, car or scooter and it’s well worth it to do so. Secondly, if you’re brave enough to be “free”, you’ll get a free drink (I think you can figure it out). And finally, make sure you have cash with you, because it’s all they take. I recommend you order the shrimp fajitas during your stop and just sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery (ocean scenery that is, get your mind out of the gutter). 

You might be thinking… “You left out what to drink and what about the chips, guac and salsa?” I didn’t forget, but they pretty much all serve the same excellent quality chips, guac and salsa and if you’re daring enough, take a stab at the HOT stuff. It’s no ghost pepper, but man is it hot and somehow still good… Yep, I tried it alright! As for the cerveza’s, margaritas, etc…. That’s simple, DRINK UP and ENJOY! 

I love Cozumel and I'm ready to go back to paradise fast and then take it slow, because that's where we wanna go.... Way down to Cozumel! 

February 10, 2013

TWISTED The Night Away...

Let me tell you 'bout a place, somewhere up - a Minnesota way… Oh Sam Cooke, you inspirational body movin’ song creator that’s being used to describe food instead of how to twist your pants off! That said place is Wyatt’s Twisted Americana located in Hastings, MN and taking over the space once occupied by Celts Pub.

My wife and I have been looking to stop by Wyatt’s since its opening and we finally had that chance. Based on the menu, there’s plenty of things to consider trying and during our first visit, I was talked into taking down their take on a Philly while my wife went with their Fish n’ Chips. Lets start with my wife’s Fish n’ Chips… 

Our server Peach was describing their Fish n’ Chips as a battered and deep fried filet that was full of flavor and they even use an amber brew instead of just a light brew. So far it sounds delicious, right? One thing I do think about is, when a place uses batter it tends to be way too heavy and comes out greasy, disgusting and mostly batter with a small amount of fish. At Wyatt’s, it’s the complete opposite! A nice thin batter, great flavor, a thick fish filet and not greasy at all. If you’re a Friday Fish person during lent, this is one of those places you can head to for sure. By the way, make sure you’re eating the homemade tarter as well, mmm mmm Good! 

Lets dance our way over to my Philly… First, you’ll be able to see where Wyatt’s Philly ranks amongst some of the other Philly’s my wife and I have had by visiting > On The Streets Of Philasota!. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite Philly, but’s it’s certainly not disgusting either. The problem was, you can’t make a Philly with marinated beef tidbits served as an appetizer and in their chunk form. While it’s not a typical Philly, man was the meat tender, juicy and really delicious, but just not what I think of when someone says Philly! I did get a chance to make some suggestions to make it into more of your typical Philly and still have the Twisted Wyatt’s take on it and maybe my suggestions will be introduced when they launch their new menu which you can expect to see around the end of February. 

After talking to our server and one of the owners, my wife and I are looking forward to heading back to try some additional items on the menu that caught our eye… Definitely want to test the wings after the owner had my mouth watering with his description of how they’re prepared and then seeing where they rank on the wing challenge > Flying Buffalo’s?. How about a Grilled Cheese Burger? Two grilled cheese sandwiches with a burger in between! Hitting the gym after this one! Also made some suggestions about improving their Mac n’ Cheese by doing a custom mac with their current five cheese recipe and allowing patrons to select a certain number of add-ons. 

It all sounds good and just some of the items that we want to go back to try. Watusi, fly or twist your way into Wyatt’s Twisted Americana, you’re not going to be let down by the flavors and there’s something for everyone. 

880 Bahls Drive
Hastings, MN 55033

February 1, 2013

Wild Bill’s… I Think I love You…

BUT I WANNA KNOW FOR SURE! Come on chant it with me, WILD BILL’S… Maybe if we do keep chanting, the owner will just appear from out of nowhere with some awesome black spectacles on – yeah probably not though!

My wife and I finally had a chance to get to Wild Bill’s to see what they had to offer after I was hearing that they had some pretty good food. After looking at the menu, It seemed like just another sports bar with the same old menu items that any other sports bar has to offer. I was intrigued by all the sauce options and decided that I must get some wings to see how they fared against the competition and you can see what I had to say by visiting my wings challenge, Flying Buffalo’s?, lets just say that some improvement is needed! 

We like to share our meals and this visit was no different as we decided on a couple things following what our server had to recommend. She suggested that we try the chicken tenders and after she described how they were made to us, we went ahead and ordered them up. Prepared with panko flakes instead of the traditional flower or batter mixture and man were these things awesome! These things were like full chicken breasts, not just little tenders you see elsewhere and they had great flavor and moist instead of boring and dry – probably the best chicken tenders I’ve had.

My wife also wanted to try the Grilled Chicken Ranch Wrap. While it wasn’t terrible, I wish more places would start setting themselves apart from the rest of the field. Try using a homemade ranch dressing, a different flower tortilla instead of the basic, try a different cheese blend or season your chicken differently. Again, I wouldn’t say it was terrible, but it’s just another chicken wrap! We also substituted the fries for the Poker Chips which are whole sliced potatoes that are deep fried (you may have seen this same concept at Buffalo Wild Wings). I like them, but if you like crinkle cut fries, which I do, feel free to just keep the fries! 

I mentioned earlier that they had a wide selection of sauces to choose from, in fact they have 16 sauces to choose from and I would recommend sampling the following; Carolina BBQ and Wild Bill’s Orange Sauce… Delicious! We also tried the Bourbon Teriyaki and Wild Bill’s Buffalo Sauce, but the B.T. was a little lack luster and the Buffalo needed less Red Hot flavoring and more of a unique seasoning added to it as well.

While Wild Bill’s might not be making everything on their menu groovy, I’m sure if The Troggs were in town, they would stop by and I would go back to try some more food on the menu as well. I definitely will be back for some more chicken tenders, man those were good… Don’t forget to check out my take on their wings by visiting my Flying Buffalo’s? wing challenge as well. 

546 Commons Drive 
Woodbury, MN 55125 

January 29, 2013

Apple A Day Keeps The Dr. Away????

Sure, we've all heard the ol' adage, an apple a day will keep the doctor away and it better be a Honey Crisp, Fuji or some other delicious apple because there's an apple out there that is not enjoyable at all! Is there really an apple out there that isn't delicious? There sure is and I prefer to refer to it as Crapplebee's!

Okay, so maybe it's actually called Applebee's, but I'm sorry, the food that is served there isn't worth eating unless it was the last place to eat at because there was a mass genocide of all the other restaurants... You won't find me eating at this place, but each year, my wife and I are given a gift card to Crapplebee's and we look at each other as if we were just given a plastic card with the plague all over it! So why do we still end up eating here? We're hoping maybe, just maybe they've made their food better.

Okay fine, there is one thing there worth eating and it's their new Wanton Chicken Tacos which are an appetizer and they're actually pretty darn good! The best part about our trips to Crapplebee's is when my wife and I look at each other and start rambling off menu items and ask the question... "You think it's worth eating?" I like this question too - "They can't screw up shrimp can they?" I usually respond with telling my wife, "remember, it's Crapplebee's!" To sum it up, the answer is usually a very quick no or I wouldn't eat that.

Is it really that difficult to prepare delicious food? I don't think it is, but the one-time yearly visit, I see people scarfing down their meals like it was the greatest meal they've ever had and I just don't get it. Also, for the price that you pay at Crapplebee's, you could be getting an even better meal at a local, non-chain restaurant like Lone Oak Grill, Casper's Cherokee Sirloin Room in Eagan, The Tavern, Lakes Tavern & Grill, Manitou Station, Lucky's 13 plus plenty of others and if it's a burger you're after, check out all the places I recommend for Juicy's in my Juicy Challenge where the establishments burgers are just as tasty!

Stop wasting your money on crap and start enjoying food! There are some chains out there that serve great tasting food, but Crapplebee's is not one of them. Another place you'll never catch me dining at, unless someone buys it for me and forces me to go is a place called the Outback Steakhouse! You want a good steak? My wife and I will make you one that is 10 times better with our very own secret marinade...

It's true... I'm not a doctor, nor do I even know if eating an apple a day WILL keep the doctor away, but I thnk you should still eat your fruits and veggies just to be safe.