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