February 26, 2016

How To Get To 7th Street Social?

On a very sunny day with no clouds to be found and I was on my way to find a place where the air was sweet. An by sweet, I mean some delicious food to consume! I'm not sure if this next establishment would allow a giant yellow bird, cookie monster or green creature living in a garbage can to dine, but we were more than welcome to enjoy a nice family dinner.

First off, I can tell you exactly how to get to this great new establishment, 7th Street Social. It's just off highway 35E and West 7th Street in St. Paul and it was on my radar for Friday Fish Fry after seeing some of the pictures they were posting on their social media page. We're always trying to find new places to add to the Friday Fish Fry list, Time For Me To Fish Fry, places we have visited for fish during lent.

I honestly didn't know what to expect prior to visiting 7th Street, but I always try to keep an open mind. Prior to ordering our fish, my brother in-law decided to order some donuts, I mean onion rings and man am I glad he did. Seriously, they came out looking like donuts, but they were giant onions rings and easily some of my all-time faves. I'm not a huge onion ring fan, but these were awesome!
We of course had some adult beverages and everything on tap is provided by a local brewery which is pretty cool. I went for the Bauhaus Uber Duber which was a twist of some fruitiness with a light pale ale finish and was tasty. My sweetie went for a wheat beer from Tin Whiskers and again, a delicious and tangy wheat brew, while my in-laws went for something a little more laid back, Corona and a Grain Belt. I'll stick with the craft! :)

To the fish... For 8 bucks, you get 3 large fillets, hand cut fries and some homemade tartar sauce. Just how good is it? It took down my champion on my Friday Fish Fry list after several years of being at the top! That's how good it was! Their batter was absolutely insane and made with something I wasn't expecting... Vodka. Yes, Vodka! That was just one of the ingredients... It was also prepared with local icon brew, Summit and together, this is a fish fry you don't want to pass up. As for the homemade tartar, damn! Nuff'. Said.
I wasn't expecting to be blown away like I was and I'm certainly not disappointed that I was either. As we ate our meals, we kept drooling over all of the burgers we were witnessing leave the kitchen and looking forward to a returning visit to try some additional dishes. So come and eat, because everything is A-OK at the 7th Street Social.

7th Street Social
2176 7th St W.
Saint Paul, MN 55116

February 24, 2016

Happy Trails

With very little to enjoy in my little town of Rosemount, my wife and I, and most of my neighbors, venture out to find tasty food that is enjoyable and worth eating. The newest edition is a quick drive north on a trail to a happy place, the type of happy place Roy Rodgers himself might be signing about? Maybe? Probably not, but if he was alive he would enjoy the burgers coming from this place!

The trail is Robert Trail and the new establishment is Trail Stop Tavern. And yes, as I just alluded to, is serving some very delicious burgers, burgers the previous occupants couldn't deliver, that's for sure. After a co-worker told me I needed to check this place out, I took a look at the menu to see what types of food they would be serving. Burgers and Juicy's caught my eye and on Wednesday nights, you can make your own burger for seven bucks (up to two toppings and choice of tater).

I went for a spicy little number - jalapenos and cheddar cheese; served medium with a side of fries. I'll be honest, I was expecting to receive a traditional crappy fry from a giant frozen brown bag like you'll find at most places comparable to the Trail Stop. Instead, out came a fry that could potentially compete with the State Fair French Fry. Always a positive to receive quality fries with your meal, but this is about burgers! 

My creation could easily take down the competition within the Eagan, IGH, Rosemount, Apple Valley area and I think I've finally found a burger joint I can travel 5 minutes to instead of the longer commutes we typically have to, to enjoy some of our favorites. My wife on the other hand decided to go for a traditional California setup and she too enjoyed her burger. Her side was tots and lets face it, tots are tots unless you make them homemade like Lucky's 13. 

Will I be going back to try their juicy's? Of course! I gotta see if they can out perform the competition in the juicy department as well. As for other dishes I'm interested in checking out; I wouldn't mind taking a stab at their wings - I was told all their sauces are homemade instead of just sing something from a bottle. Also, I think they should remove the steak sandwich and take a stab at Philly's. I haven't had the sandwich, I just think they have the potential (with their kitchen staff) to nail it!

I suppose you would like to know how they did against the competition? Check out I'm A Meateater (Best T.C. Burgers) to find out how the Trail Stop did! 

So, until we meet again Trail Stop - Happy trails to you, I'll keep smilin' until then! Happy trails to the rest of you, maybe you'll run into your favorite foodie and we can chat about our love for foods. Check out the Trail Stop Tavern, I don;t think you'll be disappointed. 

525 Diffley Road
Eagan, MN 55123

February 15, 2016

Barley and Vine On My Breath

I woke up with delicious food on my breath from a new place in town, Barley + Vine. So I guess you could say I had beer and wine on my breath! I also had some steak, fish, lobster bisque, brussels sprouts, scallops and ice cream on my breath as well. Don't worry, I brushed my teeth before I left the house!

Alright, I need to pull myself together, stop singing Love and Theft and get down to the nitty gritty and tell you all about our recent visit to Barley + Vine. Ownership is young, inspired to serve only the best food to enjoy and using unique flavors and ingredients with their plates. This combination makes for a great recipe and I'm already a fan of some of their other establishments. In case you're wondering, those would be, Woolley's  Steakhouse (best steak in the T.C. area), Cien Taco (some of the best Mexican you'll find) and Tamarack Tap Room (Some of the very best burgers, sandwiches, salads, wings and beer selection you'll find in the T.C. area).

I really loved the ambiance, decor and atmosphere of Barley + Vine which recently took over the space once occupied by Copper River Fish and Chops in Lakeville. Such a cool space and the food from Chef Smith wraps everything up nicely. Okey, I'll get to the food...

My wife and I decided to stop here for dinner on Valentine's Day and have a family dinner (good tradition to start as a family). We pondered ordering off the evening's V-Day special menu vs. traditional menu items and it was hard to pass on the selections off the special menu so we went for it. What do you think?

We both went for the lobster bisque, chose both main courses (gotta sample both of them!) and a bottle of sparkling to wash it all down. But first, we started with some cooked brussels sprouts with pecorino, bacon and caramelized onions. Wife insisted, while I'm not a fan, to compare them to ones that I did actually enjoy at Cedar + Stone inside the Marriott Hotel - MOA. Only one ingredient missing to make Barley + Vine's just as delicious - Brown. Sugar! That's just me, but if you like sprouts no matter how they're prepared, I'm guessing these will hit the spot for you. 

We of course had to have some adult beverages to start our evening with the sprouts we ordered. My wife went with a glass of house riesling while I of course went with a cold brew. Plenty of great craft beer choices and I selected an outstanding Belgian Triple Malt by a brewery out of Quebec, CA - Unibroue. Awesome! That's all I need to say about that... 

As we enjoyed our beginnings, quickly arriving at our table was our Lobster Bisque and Scallop. A butter basted scallop atop a tarragon creme and fried leek - Very good! I really enjoyed the flavor combo the chef created. I would have loved to have some chunks of lobster with my bisque (like we get at Dixie's On Grand), but that's ok because it was still delicious and nothing was left in either of our bowls! Our little buddy even enjoyed the soup and scallop. Yes, he is spoiled if you're wondering!
Before you we could finish our first courses, our main courses were hitting our tables. It looked like we were ordering everything on the menu, but things were just coming out a tad too quickly (no biggy really). My wife went for the Sea Bass, which was actually a surprise to me when it wasn't salmon (one of her favorites) and after a couple of bites, wasn't having it. I however was digging it. Needless to say we switched plates (we'll get to the steak soon enough). The fish was cooked perfectly, very flaky and the blood orange gastrique and spiced tuile was awesome. What I would change about this dish (if it went on the menu since this was a special selection for the evening) would be the addition of a whipped carrot concoction.
On to the red meat... I actually thought the Au Poive Ribeye had a very unique, different, but tasty flavor to it. I thought the bearnaise and cheddar hashcake that accompanied their ribeye was very tasty as well.I asked for it to come out medium, but was a little more on the well done side. Not going to keep me from going back for some of the other plates on the menu that caught our eye. Of course like the fish, I would change it a little bit and what I would change with this dish, would be the addition of maybe a whipped mash - garlic or sweet in nature. Even though we switched plates, my wife still wasn't doing jumping jacks.
Sure, we've had better meals, but Barley + Vine has only been open for 3 weeks and none of the negatives (if you even want to call them that), are deal breakers. Instead, I think as they look at their dishes, consider reviews from people like myself who understand the culinary arts, they'll perfect everything. Minor alterations (like I provided), won't even cross peoples' minds nor will it be needed! 

 No, this isn't the most amazing meal my wife and I have shared with each other. Yes, this is a place you should be checking out! My wife and I are looking forward to another visit. I wonder if Love and Theft would be willing to bring us next time???? :)

17516 Dodd Blvd.
Lakeville, MN 55024

February 6, 2016

Baby Got Craft (Beer)

Oh my god, look at that beer, it is so crafty. It looks like one of those, yeah I don't know what it really looks like, but I do like craft beers and certainly can not lie. If fact I'l try almost anything that is labeled as a beer and variety is key. What's the perfect addition to any delicious ice cold craft brew? Food of course!

You're singing about big butts right now, aren't you? Any ways, the latest place to get my attention is sitting in the former Sunsets location and priding themselves in serving craft brews and great tasting food. Craft Beer & Kitchen is that place and they completely revamped the former Sunsets and it looks great inside with a much needed overhaul.

They certainly have an impressive list of local, regional and national craft brews, but you better like IPA's and heavy body stouts, because their beer guy must think that's all there is to enjoy. Their tap list is heavy on these with very few of the other delicious varieties; Sour's, Cream's, Brown's, Shandy's, Belgian's, Dunkel's, Hefe's, Blonde's - I could go on and on and on... You have to get some better variety. I'm just tryin' to warn you, that the beer they got is way to hoppy!

As for the food... I was just recently getting back from a trip to the west coast (Portland to be exact) and all I could think about was comparing the amazing food I had during my travels to my live for food back home. Fair? maybe, maybe not... My family and I started our evening with some wings tossed in house made buffalo sauce cooked extra crispy (surprise, right!?). These were very tasty and definitely worth ordering if you're stopping by Craft.

As for our main courses, those went as follows; my wife and mother went with their Ribeye Grilled Cheese, my pops went for the BBQ Cheddar & Bacon and while my wife tried to talk me out of it after my recent travels, I decided to check out their Lobster Mac n' Cheese. Lets help Mix-A-lot (and you) decide what you should order.

The Ribeye Grilled Cheese had some decent flavor, but the meat was more on the roast beef side than it was cuts of Ribeye. So lets call it what it really is - Beef Grilled Cheese. The menu states it as; slow roasted prime-rib, cheddar cheese, swiss cheese, caramelized onions, horseradish sauce, toasted sourdough. The radish' sauce isn't overpowering the sandwich and looked delicious. Just wasn't anything to do summer-salts over...

My pops' BBQ Cheddar & Bacon Burger looked delicious and by the time he was done, there was nothing on his plate - guess it was good? He said it was! 1/2 lb. burger, BBQ sauce, bacon and all the traditional fixins' and served with steak fries, which is always my option to go with. Yeah... I really don't have much more to say...

As for my Lobster Mac n' Cheese, I should have listened to my wife... It by all means wasn't bad, actually worth ordering, but it was nothing like the Mac n' Cheese I had during my recent trip to Portland. It was easily the best mac I've ever had and was a Crab & Lobster mac that was just insane. In fact, I've had some other options around the Twin Cities that were better as well. Again, it's worth checking out!

Yeah, when it comes to craft beers, this place has nothin' to do with my kind of selection. IPA - IPA - IPA, only if you like hops... Baby got Craft! As for the food, Craft Beer & Kitchen is worth checking out. I dig their Turkey Burger and Shrimp Tacos along with their wings and I'm guessing some of their other dishes are delicious as well.

Craft Beer & Kitchen
700 Commons Drive
Woodbury, MN 55125