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!