July 29, 2019

Flying Buffalo's? (Twin Cities Best Wings)

Thanks to the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, we get to enjoy tasty deep fried, baked or grilled bird anatomy by the dozens. It seems as though every restaurant and bar across the country has these delicious morsels available for their patrons and when they're prepared well, they so enjoyable to eat.

Not all chicken wings are made equally and since this is one of our favorite items on the food pyramid,  it was a must that we set out to find the best "Sota has to offer. What's it take to make a solid buffalo wing? Well, if you ask us, it's the following;
  1. Preparation of wings (cooked or undercooked)
  2. How well the sauce adheres to the wings 
  3. Flavor quality and uniqueness (not just the use of Frank's)
We're always accepting suggestions, but here is our current top 10 list;

1. Hickory Hut
Why no one told me to check this place out any sooner is beyond me... It may not be in the most appealing and safest neighborhood in St. Paul, but if that doesn't bother you or you believe in your 2nd Amendment rights, than there is no reason why you should be passing this place up. Full wings, long standing house dry rub that they've been using since day 1 and fried absolutely perfectly! I'm not at all a fan of coleslaw, but there are a few places that just know how to make it taste great. Hickory Hut happens to be one of them. I even went back for a second one! I was ready to eat every last chicken wing in the back, but was kind enough to enjoy my meal and let others enjoy their dining experience as well. Seriously, I could just eat the dry rub and slaw, but the fried bird anatomy is just as superb.

2. Icehouse Minneapolis 
These wings were hands down one of the best wings we've had thus far in our journey to find the best. Bleu cheese mousse, red chile, curried pickled veggies and some chipotle aioli accompanying some down right perfect wings. Cooked perfectly with a nice crispy outside (without having to ask) and an outstanding dry rub to boot. Really!? Bleu cheese mousse? Awesome! You can learn more about our full experience by visiting, Ice Ice Icehouse.

3. Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub
If you like anything smoked you'll like these. If you like a heavy smoked flavor with some awesome spices as well, you'll love these! The one thing I talked to one of their managers about, Ryan was that they needed to make their buffalo sauce unique and I know they have a talented team that can easily pull it off. As for their BBQ, something completely different and delicious. Heavy smoked flavor meats aren't for everyone, but for me, these were easy to rank in this position. I would have gave them the third spot, but Lone Oak's sauce is awesome. You can see the full Northbound review at Smoking In The Back Room.

4. Nutmeg Brewhouse
This place is legit and sitting towards the top of my prestigious wing list. What? It is! Because of their preppy process. The wings are the perfect size and they soak 24 hours in their EPA brew and then you get to enjoy them. Homemade sauces set this place apart form other establishments and order the following for an awesome experience; Blackened Dry Rub, side of buffalo (any heat you like), side of ranch, extra crispy. Dip your wing in buffalo, then the ranch and enjoy! Check out my full review of the Nutmeg - Don't Worry, Be Hoppy.

5. Bennett's Chop House
Always enjoy going to Bennett's for their awesome dinner side salad or chop salad among a number of other great dishes they prepare. After a dozen trips, I finally took a shot at their dry rub wings and I am sure glad I did. Perfect size, cooked perfectly and they had amazing flavor. Need an app prior to your meal? Make sure you grab some wings.

6. Trail Stop Tavern
Since this place opened, we've been devouring the wings at Trail Stop. Their Trail Stop Dry Rub is absolutely delicious and their house made dressings make their wings even better. I never have to ask for extra crispy to ensure they're thoroughly cooked and they never hold back from the dry rub. If you're in the Eagan/IGH/Rosemount area and you're craving wings, this is the place to check out.

7. Tamarack Tap Room 
The Tap Room is serving some outstanding wings. They're a good size wing, not these tiny little guys you'll find elsewhere and they cook them perfectly and as always, I order them extra crispy. They're prepped with a great tasting dry rub that just adds to the perfectly cooked wing and while their buffalo sauce is a traditional buffalo, the whole packaged easily beats out some of the competition. Check out my full restaurant reviews of Tamarack Tap Room by visiting; Locavore Hear Me Roar & We're Jammin', Bacon Jammin'

8. Harry's Cafe
My wife and I were out-and-about enjoying the day and decided to stop by Harry's to grab a quick bite to eat before hitting up an antique shop in the area. Wasn't really sure what to order so I asked the server how the wings were. "You gotta try 'um!" Okay, why not! I'm hesitant to order wings because far too many places just open up a bottle of Frank's Red Hot and that's just not my cup of tea. Thankfully, Harry's buffalo wing sauce was not that at all. I got my wings extra crispy as I normally do and they were awesome. They had a nice salty flavor, cooked perfectly and the extra crispy outside just makes the wings that much better. Harry's wings are the full wing you have to break apart yourself and you get plenty with your order. To top it all off, the buffalo sauce was delicious as well. It had it's own unique flavor and I would definitely go back for more. IF you have an appetite, try one of their burger challenges and I'll say this... GOOD LUCK! 

9. Shamrock's
Mostly known for their outstanding juicy lucy's, Shamrock's should start being known for their wings as well. Stopped by with a group of friends and they all know I'm a foodie so of course they were curious what I was getting. We simply wanted an app after having a small lunch elsewhere and my wife and I tend to go for wings to try new places. What caught our attention was the MN Wild Wings. They sat high on the heat index, but no description as what they were. After asking and being told they were a dry rub and full of flavor, we had to try them. OUTSTANDING! They're lucky they were so good, because they were far too small. They were cooked perfectly and again, full of amazing flavor. I may have to go back for their wing challenge - 20 wings in their habanero sauce in a short amount of time without anything to drink. Doesn't sound that difficult after eating ghost peppers and scotch bonnets!

10. Jake's City Grill
The wings' at Jake's are delicious, prepared well and their Jake's Sauce and Dry Rub are super tasty. Whenever my wife and I make a trip to Jake's the wings are usually what I order along with a big bowl of their insane Shrimp and Sausage Chowder. You really can't go wrong with these bad boys. 

Wings that once held a spot on the top 10 list, but couldn't quite hang on to that 10th spot...

B52 Burgers and Brew
Barker's
Blue Door
Buffalo Tap
D-Spot
Doolittle's
Jersey's Bar & Grill
Ray J's
Runyon's
Smalley's
Spring Street Tavern (City Pages says they're the best - Nope)

July 27, 2019

Life At The Northern Taphouse

Ah hey ma ma mommy doo-dine-in-ya, ah hey ma ma ma hey-y-yah, life in the Northern Taphouse… So what is life actually like in this new place called the Northern Taphouse? While you continue to sing Dream Academy, I will gladly share that information with you.

After taking over one of the many Applebee’s locations to close down in Lakeville, Lincoln Hospitality stepped in to revitalize one of those closed down “Neighborhood Grills” and turn it into one of their taphouses. They also own Milwaukee Burger Co, a couple of Grizzly’s and a few other taphouses throughout the region. An environment for the sports minded, beer drinking, burger eating, pizza loving type of person! We really wish they would have made the decision to enter Rosemount instead, but it’s not too far away…

But, there are still questions to be answered. Is the food good? Is the beer list good? Are there enough TV’s with sports coverage? Will the Salvation Army band play? Will the children drink lemonade? I’m not so sure about the last couple of questions, but I have answers for you on the first 3!
First, there are plenty of TV’s with every type of sporting event on for all to enjoy; no matter the sport you enjoy watching the most. Secondly, the food is pretty decent, but nothing that will knock your socks off - still better than Applebee's. Finally, as a former consumer of alcohol, the beer list can hold its own and 99% locally raised beers.

For our first visit to Northern Taphouse, my family and I went for the Garbage Pizza and a Maple Butter Burger, while the kiddos enjoyed some cheese pizza. Their pizzas are stone fired ‘zzas and, had they entered the Rosemount market, would have been the best pizza in town. The Garbage Pizza we had was prepared with; pepperoni, red sauce, mozzarella, cob smoked ham, house fennel sausage, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, and black olives. My wife and I absolutely loved the fennel sausage and the smaller pepperoni slices are an awesome addition as well. Not too spicy for either protein, but definitely full of flavor.
As for that burger, not terrible, but some minor adjustments would make it a better burger. All their burgers are prepared with two fresh Midwest raised Certified Hereford Beef patties and smashed on the flat top. When preparing doubles using thin patties, the process shouldn’t’ take any longer than 3 minutes a patty. Smash, flip, add cheese immediately, remove and construct burger. I would encourage the staff to shave about 30-40 seconds of the cooking time to keep the patties pink and still juiced up.
The Maple Butter Burger was prepared with sweet maple butter, Muenster cheese, thick-cut bacon and a sunny-side up egg which we decided to leave off. All the flavors together made for a pretty decent creation, but a tad dry for being a flat top made burger. None the less, it had some positive burger vibes. The question my readers are probably asking themselves, “Would it make your top 10 list?” Probably not, even if they made the minor timing changes I mentioned above.

But, I would still go back to order up another ‘zza, definitely try the wings next time because every order that went by our table looked darn tasty and yes, I would even order another burger. I would just build my own next time. I would encourage you to check this place out for yourself. It hasn’t been open very long, but if they remain packed like it was while were there, they have a bright future ahead of them.

Northern Taphouse
18404 Kenrick Ave
Lakeville, MN 55044