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