We have some talented folks here in the Twin Cities. Clearly, I am proud to call Minnesota my home and this is one of the reasons why. We have awesome people here. We have awesome people here who go after their dreams and create really awesome things.
Recently, I had these two Kickstarter projects come across my twitter feed and I couldn’t help but give them a shout-out (Holla). They seem like really great things that I would love to see funded.
1. Brewin’ USA
23 Days left to go and only a couple thousand left before it is funded. There are stretch goals too!
Fund this project here: Brewin’ USA
Do you love beer? Do you love board games? Well than you are going to want to back this project. This is just a really fun idea and I love a good board game. Don’t you? Made by a local guy named Adam who is an Engineer by trade that loves beer and games (my kinda guy). He also won some kinda contest with CAH- Cards Against Humanity so he has to be a badass.
This isn’t the board game you made in the fifth grade that was essentially Candy Land but with the Backstreet Boys*. Take a look at the Kickstarter website for all the game details and instructions on how to play. This is legit. It even uses bottle caps which is sweet.
This idea has to become a reality so you should back it.
2. Brooks High Beer Battered
They have only 5 more days and about $10,000 to go.
Fund this project here: Brooks High
Another food truck! Yes, another food truck. You just need to take a look at the pictures of their food on their Kickstarter page to know that if you are drinking a beer you want to be eating that freaking sandwich. They are doing something different by infusing local brews into their batter. Honestly, I don’t care. The food looks freaking good. I don’t need a reason to eat those glorious sandwiches other than the fact that they taste good.
You know I’ve been hearing some buzz in the food community about how we have too many restaurants and food trucks. Really? Yeah, I agree that there are a lot of them out there but why can’t we have more? This food truck will be serving food that I really want to eat when I go to a brewery. Many of my favorite food trucks such as Get Sauced, WSK, and The Moral Omnivore all stand up to the test. I even ventured on a 20 minute trip once this year to get food from a truck. I think these two will pull this off and I can’t wait to see them at any one of the local taprooms.
If you want to eat one of those sandwiches, back them today on Kickstarter.
If I had unlimited funds I would use it to make the dream of owning your own business a reality for people. That’s what I would do. Hey—if there is anyone out there that wants to give me a large sum of cash I will research and spend it on some awesome projects, ideas, businesses, micro-loans, and non-profits. Just sayin’ you could do that, if you want to do that.
We all can all make living in this city a better place by helping people live their dreams. If you can’t fund these projects, pass the word on. Sometimes, getting the word out can reach people who also want to fund this project and can do it with cold hard cash.
Because helping someone with their dream is cool.
*Side note: Don’t steal my BSB Candy Land idea.
Am I missing another great local Kickstarter? Tell me about it.
Recently, during a hideous Minnesota snow storm when the google maps was colored all red, I decided to just hang out on Grand Avenue for awhile. I say decided like it was a choice. Rather, I was stuck there for awhile until traffic cleared up.
Instead of wallowing because I was not able to get home. I decided to frolic on Grand Avenue. Usually, when I stop by Grand it is for a specific purpose. I stop at the store that I need to get something from and I get out of there. Parking can be a mess and I get stressed out about leaving my car. Was that really a parking spot?
While I was over there freaking out about parking I completely forgot to explore. I had no idea that I was missing a bunch of other stores that I never knew were there. This storm made me make my own fun. After stopping into a few stores by Grand and Victoria. I stopped into Salut.
I have been to Salut a few times and already knew I was a fan of their Pomme Frites and french food in general. I took a seat in the bar and had red wine and ordered some food off the happy hour menu.
I cannot tell you how relaxing it was to sit down and just eat some really good food, alone.
Everything I tried was delicious and the staff was more than accommodating by allowing me to hang out in the bar until I could get home safely.
Overall, the happy hour menu isn’t dirt cheap prices. But, would you really want to eat food that was that cheap to make anyway? I thought the prices were fair for what you got and I really enjoyed the glass of wine that I had.
Because stop in and explore Grand sometime.
What is your favorite store on Grand Avenue?
Tria is a great place to get a meal during the winter in Minnesota, with the real fireplace and the warm staff it was just what I needed to escape the weather for a few hours.
I had been to Tria a few times before this visit and was not impressed. This place has had its ups and its downs, many different chefs have contributed to this. But, they must have gotten it under control. The food I had there was fantastic.
It was the first time in awhile that I ordered mussels and each one was opened. I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to restaurants, even “fancy” restaurants and have received unopened mussels in my bowl, even up to 1/3 of a bowl. Not only is it frustrating because you cannot eat them but, it is a health risk for someone who doesn’t know that they shouldn’t eat the unopened mussels. Frankly, I find it unacceptable to serve unopened mussels. It should be checked before the dish leaves the kitchen. #EndRant
I am glad to say that not only was I served opened mussels but they were tasty as well. The white wine, garlic, butter, and shallots were perfectly balanced. Plus the crispy bread that came with it was seasoned well with garlic. It was simple, but done well. In my view that is what makes a great dish. I would suggest though that they get rid of the variations of this dish. They offer a few variations of the mussel dish on the menu, just keep the one that is the best. No need to make it confusing.
I also had a bruschetta special that was good as well. The highlight of the dish for me was a tomato chow-chow. Obviously, tomatoes are not in season in Minnesota right now but the tomatoes were bright and sweet. It pared well with the garlic bread and had a lot of color.
Overall, the menu was very varied and offered a lot of options. Most of it was comfort food which fits perfectly for the vibe of this restaurant. I do suggest just like the mussel dish that you condense the menu a little bit because it is fairly overwhelming. Plus, I have no idea how your chefs turn out this many dishes in a night.
Another great thing that this restaurant does is offer a free bottle of wine for your birthday. It is equivalent to your age and good within 3 days of your birthday. Plus, a free dessert. It is a fun reason to go out and enjoy a meal for your big day. They have a wedding anniversary special too.
I wonder if this place will keep up the quality of the food that I had on my recent visit or if it will fall again. I guess we will see.
Because comfort food in the winter is the best.
Where do you go for comfort food in the winter?
Every single time I walk into The Rabbit Hole at the Midtown Global Market I cannot believe it isn’t packed full. This place has some of the best food I’ve had in awhile. Right now, they have a strong menu from start to finish with their Bop Bowls, appetizers, and burgers.
Not to mention really inventive cocktails and a great beer menu. These cocktails are much more costly than stopping by your local bar but, they are much more complex. The bartenders and staff are great at suggesting drinks for you, just tell them what you typically like to drink.
I typically order The Gene which is a rice bowl with beef. The spice is perfect and the pickled vegetables are heavenly. I could eat their pickled radishes with every meal. If you haven’t had Korean food before this is the dish to try. The soft poached egg binds the whole thing together in perfect harmony.
Also, don’t miss the fries. You can get them in the poutine which is a great dish to share with 4+ people. It is very rich but, oh so delicious. They know how to make the potatoes crispy and serve them with an aioli that cannot be beat. Trust me on this one, you need to stop in here if you haven’t yet. This is some seriously good food that comes with free parking at the Midtown Global Market (2 hours only). Plus, afterwards you can stop by the Salty Tart or one of the other various places to pick up food for tomorrow.
Because this is some seriously good food.
What is one of the best meals that you’ve had in awhile?
I eat a lot of sushi. Now, I am finally ready to do a post about one of my favorite places to get sushi in Minneapolis–Kiku Bistro.
Kiku Bistro, formally known as Mount Fuji in Uptown is one of my go-to sushi places. I was hesitant to share it until now because this is a place that I go frequently and sometimes I just want a place to myself, but that’s selfish. So, here we go!
Kiku is one of my favorites because they have a great menu that allows people like me who love any kind of sushi to get what I want but still has rolls for those people who aren’t avid sushi eaters. They have several rolls that have more flair and are great for the new sushi eater. This includes well prepared deep fried rolls.
I like it because I have always had fresh fish. There has never been a time where I have had anything taste a “bad” fishy (you know what I mean).
The happy hour is excellent too! With $3 wine and Sapporo and discounted rolls you cannot go wrong. Plus, there is really only one or two hours a night that they don’t have happy hour so you are bound to hit it. The rolls aren’t super cheap. If they were wouldn’t you wonder what kind of fish was in them? Just saying.
My favorite items to order:
Lake Calhoun- This has a lot of flair with special sauces and crunch. Not usually my style but it is very good. Great for the first time sushi eater.
Avocado roll- It gives you a break from everything else. It is fresh and filling.
Spicy California- Good clean taste and is priced right!
Vegas- Deep Fried. This has great flavor and is fun. I am picky about deep fried rolls and they get it right.
Uptown Roll- If you like fish only this is a great option! Good flavor but you only get 4 pieces.
Rainbow Roll- It’s your basic roll with many types of fish. It’s fresh and good!
Overall, if you are looking for a new sushi place to try this is a very good option. I love it and I hope you do too!
Because fresh fish is good fish.
- #Recommend – If my description sounds like something you would like then you need to try this place.
- #Eh- This place is just okay. It would never be my first choice but it will work in a pinch.
- #Avoid- This place is somewhere that I would have a really hard time going even in a pinch. If you go there I might judge you a little bit.
- #4AM – It’s open late the day of the All Star Game
Where have you been eating lately?
I ask this because I was driving around the other day and spotted some chain restaurants with full parking lots. I thought to myself about the last time I had eaten at one and why I ate there. I believe it was at an Applebee’s when I was meeting a group of people that I hadn’t seen in awhile.
Of course, they are much easier to go to if you have a large group, they will split checks, and you already know what is on the menu because they have burgers, sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes, and any other thing you could imagine under the sun to accommodate even the pickiest eater. And you know you are going to have to eat there when you are going out with coworkers or for meetings. (Yes, I know it’s a run on paragraph)
But, why not when you get to make the decision about picking a restaurant to go somewhere local with really good food? Not just a place where the microwave is the main form of cooking.
It can be hard to make that choice sometimes because what if one person doesn’t like the food choice? Or you don’t really know how to order at a tapas restaurant. Give it a try. Because what do you have to lose? You know you are not going to have the best meal of your life at a Buffalo Wild Wings. Although, maybe some people will disagree with me. I’m fine with that.
It’s okay if you like eating at chain restaurants. All I ask is that with all of the wonderful options there are out there, why would you choose to eat there? Why not go out and try something new? Take a chance. Go on an adventure. I am making a bet that if you try somewhere new, you will really like it.
Because it’s fun to eat new things.
Do you agree/disagree with me? Are there any good chain restaurants? I can think of a few. Best place for someone to go to try something new?
Today is going to be one of those days. It is a day that most of us have been waiting for, for months. It is supposed to hit 70 degrees today!
Stop what you are doing and take a second to think about how you want to spend today.
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
My suggestion is do something that you have never done. Explore some place you have never been to before. Try a food that you have never tried before. Why? Because it might just put a smile on your face.
Here are a few things you could try:
– Pick up a picnic at a co-op, Maybe one that you haven’t been to before. I am a huge fan of Seward Co-op because they have many grab and go items. Then head to a park that you haven’t been to before.
-Stop at a library and pick up a book that you have been meaning to read. Or ask the librarian for a suggestion. Take that book to a small coffee shop like Rustica.
-Cut out of work at lunch and take a day trip to Red Wing or Stillwater. Buy something for yourself.
-Go for a walk around Loring Park and stop by Brits Pub for a hard cider.
-Enjoy a meal outdoors on a patio or rooftop. Spill the Wine and Moto-i will have their outdoor sections open today! When you are there try something that you never have tried before such as a wine flight or a new kind of sake.
-Jump on the light rail and go exploring. Seriously, it can be a ton of fun.
because sometimes you just need to switch things up and disrupt your day to day routine.
What adventure are you going to go on today?
Isn’t it great that there is a place out there that doesn’t apologize for what it is? Smack Shack does lobster.
They do lobster because it started as a food truck that sold lobster rolls. But, also because they built a custom tank to hold the lobsters. They also have a huge boiling pot where they cook the lobster. Basically, the whole restaurant is built around the lobster. They unapologetically do lobster well.
So, what should you order when you go here. I don’t know… maybe lobster.
I tried the lobster roll and loved it. As someone who tends to be not the largest fan of lobster, this sandwich just made me happy. The lobster was cooked perfectly and did not have that weird taste that I sometimes get from lobster that has been waiting around awhile to be cooked. It was just very fresh tasting and tastes great with beer.
It was kind of hard to eat, so maybe not a good first date meal. Honestly, I was just munching down on it without caring what people thought of me. So, there’s that.
I also tried the shrimp and grits. It was pretty good but I wanted the grits to be a little bit more creamy. But, the shrimp was cooked well and I don’t have anything bad to say about it. Only that there are a few other things that after watching people order them, I really wanted to try.
Next time I come in I want to try a soup. Someone eating around me was raving about the soup they were eating. I also want to try the fried chicken and waffles. Not something I normally would get from a restaurant but the couple next to me was splitting it and I was extremely jealous.
I should also note that valet parking was only $5 and that made it easy to come and go. Also, make reservations. I was there on a Tuesday which is usually not a busy day at a restaurant. It was completely packed.
There is just something great about places like the Smack Shack. They do lobster and they do it really well. They created this crave-able item that will be something that when I think about eating it, I will head directly over to the Smack Shack because they do it best.
because do something and do it well.
Congratulations to Smack Shack for reaching their 1 year Anniversary! They are having a party tonight 2/10/14 starting at 4PM. 4-6PM they will have complementary hors d’oeuvres and mini daiquiris in the bar plus music all night.
What is better than a warm pizza on a cold day?
This was my first ever trip to Punch and I was not disappointed. Not only did it hit the spot but it was affordable as well.
On a side note, Punch Pizza set its own minimum wage at $10 an hour to provide staff with a higher wage to help gain loyal employees and keep them around. Kudos to local restaurants that are paying their employees well.
As someone who is a fan of neapolitan pizza I had a feeling that I would love Punch since they cook each of their pizzas in an 800 degree oven. I was right, the perfect chewy dough was just what I love about neapolitan pizza.
I had the basic margarita pizza which was very tasty. It is a simple but elegant pizza and the quality ingredients that are used make it stand out. I would order this again any day. But, it also made me want to try one of the more adventerous combinations.
They also have salads which I would recommend. I had the italian chopped salad which was very fresh and complemented the pizza well. I cannot wait to try the other salads. Sometimes at pizza restaurants salads are an afterthought. I think that the Punch salads could stand on their own. Although, I don’t think I would be able to go in there and not order a pizza too.
As mentioned above it was very affordable. My lunch bill for two people came to only about 20 dollars. I felt like I had a very high quality meal that I would have expected would cost much more than that.
My suggestion is to get a pizza and a salad to share. Don’t forget a local brew or glass of wine. If you are still hungry, order another.
because pizza warms the heart.
What are your favorite pizza places in the Twin Cities? What is your favorite item on the Punch menu?