April 29, 2015

E-I-E-I-OOOO So Yummy!

If Old MacDonald had a restaurant with all of his mooers, oinkers, baaers, cluckers with some swimmers and growing plants on a prairie, you could find it right here in Minnesota. It's not in the middle of nowhere or a small farm town, however it can be found in a vibrant city and in a neighborhood known for a wide variety of cuisine. Uptown is the neighborhood and Libertine is the place to be.

My wife and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary and while we thoroughly enjoy going to some of our favorite spots for special occasions, we're always looking to spread our wings and check out a new place as well. Libertine was on our list to check out and it was the perfect evening to do so. The establishment itself is very trendy and cool looking on the inside and after you sit down, you're greeted by a very enthusiastic server.

You're sitting and you know you want a cold beverage, Libertine has quite the elaborate drink creations, all of them sound superb and my wife went with a Sailor Friend -vodka, blueberry vanilla cardamom. I went the easy way out and with my ultimate favorite drink, Crown and Diet. While you enjoy your adult beverages or non-adults and are a first timer, it's time for a crash course on the menu.

Their amazing chef selects cuts that are typically only known to the butcher world, secrets if you will. Libertine decided it was time to stop with the secrets and let others taste some of the best cuts of meat you'll ever have. I was looking at the menu all day and very much indecisive about what I was going to get and while the server taught us all about Old MacDonald's cherished animals, my mouth started to water. After our five minute animal education class, we were ready to make our selections.

We started with with plants and went with a Avocado Salad. Half an avocado sliced thinly and topped with citrus, blue crab, olive oil and hot peppers. My wife knows me very well and I'm not a big fan of avocado's, but blue crabs and hot peppers on the other hand, well.... I suppose. I would have ordered 10 more! What an absolutely amazing dish and a must get.

My wife decided that her cut of moo moo which originated from the upper leg, back and rear end area. Described to us like only our server could, my wife was all over it - full of flavor, plenty of marbling and the steak version of a slow cooked roast. The Point Steak with herb-marrow butter was very delicious, full of flavor and our server was spot on. Yes, you should try it, but it's the next dish that will have going back for more.

I'm certainly known for my love for Juicy's and a good burger and on Libertine's menu, you'll find their version, but from a baa baa and that immediately grabbed my attention. Lamb and Brie Lucy! Oh, I'll be going back for this bad boy, but I decided to check something else out that my server persuaded me to try and still lamb. The Saddle Chop! After my server told me it was like the t-bones of the steak world and cooked to perfection, as lamb should be, he had me! One bite in and I wanted to order another and another and another. It was hands down the best cut and prepared lamb dish I have had and I have enjoyed plenty of outstanding lamb around the Twin Cities. My wife loved her steak, but kept eyeing up my lamb after just one bite as well.

Your main meal will not come with a side, instead they have plenty of shareables to choose from and went with Baby Potatoes with olive oil, crème fraiche and chives. Here a potato, there a potato, all potatoes are the same! Libertine uses a wide variety of the potato family, they arrive to your table cooked perfectly and are of course, tasty. If you're not an adventurous eater like my wife and I are, then this is must get, but there is plenty on the menu worth considering.

If the founders of Libertine truly had a friendship Old MacDonald, I sure am thankful they decided to team up. A return to Libertine is a guarantee and everyone should consider paying them a visit. If eating animals aren't your thing, no worries, they have a Not Animal section, but I think I'll stick with the runners, swimmers and flyers!

3001 Hennepin Ave.
Uptown - Minneapolis

April 20, 2015

Locavore Hear Me Roar

I used to sit quietly, usually agreed politely and forgot that I had a choice. I decided one day to rock the boat, make a mess and stopped making bad choices with my restaurant decisions. Restaurant chains are being out performed by local owners and my newest favorite lo-cal, Tamarack Tap Room in Woodbury is serving some delicious food.

I was invited to pay the newest edition to Woodbury a visit by the Tap Room's ownership and a friend of mine, Anton, who happens to be an employee of theirs. How could I say no!? I packed up my little guy (can't wait to show him what good food is) and we were on our way to daddy and Easton date night (mommy was on vacation with relatives). I had already been reviewing the menu trying to figure out what I would order and I had a list going. What I ended up ordering tells me one thing, my return is inevitable.

I decided, no, my belly decided that my first meal at the Tamarack Tap Room was going to be a burger known as, the Locavore. Made with local Struass Free range grass fed beef, duck bacon, cheddar, fried egg, pretzel bun. Anyone who knows my appetite knows the one thing that caught my attention with this burger - DUCK BACON! I ordered my burger pink as any good "Locavore" should and my side was their signature house cut fries and like the eye of a tiger, I was digging into this thing. The fries were perfect and the burger itself - PHE-NOM-EN-AL! I've had plenty of pretzel buns that always seem to be far too dry, but their pretzel bun was perfect - little snap to the outside, warm and moist on the inside. As for the Duck Bacon, really, do I have to say anything else? It's Duck Bacon!

I had to of course add a little fire to my burger and of course had something delicious to help wash this outstanding burger down. I asked for a sample of their house made Ghost Pepper Aioli which was amazing and asked my server (who by the way was one of the most considerate servers ever - more on that later) to ask the bartender and my pal Anton for anything German and cold. He brought me a Hefeweizen and 2 small samples that were all cold and oh so delicious.

I just mentioned how considerate my server was and boy was she ever. Traveling with a little one and being a male has its challenges, particularly when it comes to changing said little one. Not enough businesses place a changing table in the men's room which is very frustrating. My server decided to speak with management about allowing me to use the ladies room changing table (once it was of course vacated). They were more than accommodating and respectful of the situation as were other patrons. I thanked the staff and the manager and he was taken back from my experience and is looking into adding a changing table to the men's room now.

You're definitely going to hear me roar again when I visit again and again and again so I can try the other items that were on my list. Suppose you want to hear about that list? Here ya go; Umami Burger - Porcini mushroom crusted burger, seared foie gras, truffle brie, port wine reduction. Short Rib Burger - Surly bender braised short rib, horseradish cheddar, bourbon bbq sauce, brioche bun. Sausage Board - Cilantro duck, jalapeno elk, local cheese, nuts, pickled veg, pear mustardo and ciabatta. Short Rib Mac n' Cheese - Four cheese mac, short ribs, wild mushrooms, rigatoni, ciabatta. Brown butter Lobster Roll - Maine Lobster, brown butter lemon aioli, house made slaw, chips. and I also want to take on their burger challenge, The Big 24 - 24oz triple decker, 6 slices of pecan smoked bacon, 3 slices of American cheese, 3 slices of swiss, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion & pickle, brioche bun, house sauce - Finish this beast in 10 minutes & get a free draft (or t-shirt) of your choice.

I wonder if Katy Perry would ever pay this place a visit???? One thing is for certain... I will indeed be back to tackle my list and enjoy some more delicious food. Now that I have your mouth watering, what do you plan on trying?

Tamarack Tap Room
8418 Tamarack Village 
Woodbury, MN 55125