Tag Archive | Foodie

Are people still eating there?


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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.

@mplsgossipgirl

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?

Why Groupon needs to go away


Groupon

I am the first one to admit that I was on the Groupon bandwagon. I loved the idea of getting something for a fraction of the cost.

At first, Groupon was that place where you could find out about something you had never heard about before. In fact, my first purchase on Groupon was a wine tasting. I was extremely excited that I would be the type of person that would go to a wine tasting and that I was the first of my friends to do something like this.

The funny part of all of this was that I never ended up using the Groupon.

I think I liked the idea of it more than actually using it.

But, now I have fallen off the bandwagon. After Groupon started sending daily emails with promotions I would never be interested in, learning about how they treat the businesses that use it, and the restrictions, I wish that Groupon would just go away.

Before Groupon would send one deal a day. Today I receive 3 emails and one was for electronic cigarettes. I don’t smoke. There is nothing novel about the deals that they have and they are not very local any longer.

Why aren’t they local? Because the businesses that have used the service usually end up worse off than they were before. I was told by a business owner that they made only about 25%. So, if it was a coupon for a restaurant worth $40 that you buy for $20 the restaurant only makes $10.

This makes places have to put restrictions on the deals. Cannot be used on happy hour, drinks, tips, or they can only be used for specific items.

Then things like this happen…

I was out to dinner on a Friday night when a group of people who were seated by me attempted to use a Groupon. This Groupon was actually for the restaurant that used to be in the place of this restaurant that closed but, this restaurant said it would accept the coupon anyway because they didn’t want the people to be out of their money.

The only problem was that these people ordered off the happy hour menu.

Does anyone really think that you should be able to use a Groupon on top of really great happy hour prices?

What proceeds to happen was the customers throws a fit. It was an epic fit that basically ruined the meals of everyone around them.  This is exactly why restrictions on coupons hurt the businesses that use them.

People don’t read the restrictions and then blame the businesses.

The staff at the restaurant handled it in the best way possible. Apologizing about the mix up but standing firm that they would not accept the coupon because of the restriction. The fit went on for about 20 more minutes where the customers continued to try and argue with the staff member to get them to back down. All the while yelling about how they would never come back here, that they were going to give them horrible reviews, and tell everyone they know never to come here.

I wished so deeply in my heart that the staff member could say, ” yeah, we think it would be best if you never come back here again too.”

I also hope they are reading this and realize how they were completely inappropriate.

All of us who want to eat great food and are willing to pay for it want coupons with restrictions to go away for good. Or I beg of you, if you are going to use a coupon of any kind don’t argue about the restrictions.

because Groupons just need to go away.

@mplsgossipgirl

What do you think? Do you use Groupon’s frequently and want them to stay? If you want them to go, why?

Punch Pizza on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul


Pizza, Punch Pizza,

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.

Punch Pizza, Flames, Punch

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.

Salad, Punch, Punch Pizza

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.

@mplsgossipgirl

Punch Neapolitan Pizza on Urbanspoon

What are your favorite pizza places in the Twin Cities? What is your favorite item on the Punch menu?

Isles Bun and Coffee


Isle Bun 1

Tucked into a small spot in Uptown, Isles Bun is one of my favorite places to grab a bite for breakfast.

They have the most delicious buns! You cannot go wrong with any of their variations. And don’t forget the cream cheese frosting that they keep on the counter.

Isle Bun 2

For what they lack in space, they make up for with how wonderful everything is. Even the coffee is excellent. If you are coming there on a weekend in the winter be prepared to take your bun to-go since space is so limited. During the summer they have outdoor seating.

If you want to be a hit at your next company breakfast, order buns from Isles. They have an order form on their website and you will be everyones favorite co-worker.

Because on a weekend, a sweet bun and a coffee can relax even the most stressed out person.

@mplsgossipgirl

Isles Bun & Coffee on Urbanspoon

It’s a Pre Fixe NYE


Happy New Year, Pre Fixe, Menu

Okay, don’t take this the wrong way. But, I am having a very hard time finding a place to eat dinner with a few friends on New Years Eve without a pre fixe menu. It is making me a little annoyed.

A pre fixe menu is a set meal with a set price. They usually are many courses and sometimes come with wine pairings. You normally see pre fixe menus at restaurants like La Belle Vie and restaurants that do farm to table.

I love a good pre fixe menu when it makes sense. Although, I don’t have a ton of cash this year to spend on a luxury dinner out for NYE. So, doing a pre fixe menu would be a stretch.

These are my ‘must haves’ for NYE:

  • A place where I can have a tasty meal.
  • A cocktail.
  • It doesn’t need to be fancy.
  • Quiet enough that I can have a conversation with my friends.
  • It fits in my budget.

Since I am on a budget, I cannot afford a $40 per person meal plus the cost drinks and a tip.  That turns very quickly into a $200 dinner with two people.

I am not a hater of pre fixe menus. When pre fixe menus work, they work. It works at restaurants that are used to pre fixe menus or are farm-to-table when they don’t know what ingredients they will have for the day until the farmer shows up. For example: I went to Saffron and had a pre fixe there and it was excellent. All the components fit perfectly together, it was just enough food, and I didn’t feel like I was being ripped off.

Saffron is doing a pre fixe menu for NYE at the restaurant and they are also hosting a last dinner meal with 6 courses and a location that you will find out 3 hours before the event. If that is not exciting I don’t know what is. Although, a bit unaffordable on my budget at $180 per person with wine parings, tax, and tip included.

My twitter follower @mspclothing suggested Piccolo  for a place with a good pre fixe menu.  I haven’t been to Piccolo yet, but it would make sense that would be great. Also, Veronica (@Andrjensn) suggested Restaurant Alma. Another good pick for pre fixe menus.

Now, my only annoyance with the pre fixe menu is when it doesn’t make sense. I can spot a restaurant trying to either save cash or turn over diners quickly from a mile away.

Is this what dining out on NYE has come to in Minneapolis? I hope not.

When I see restaurants with pre fixe menus that are priced way above what their normal priced menu item is–it does not make sense to me. You are loved for what you do day to day. Why not keep a good thing going? Maybe, add a special to your normal menu.

I completely understand that NYE is a big day in the restaurant business. But,  I don’t think the solution is an overpriced, not well thought out, and a quickly served pre fixe menu. If I am looking to eat at a place that fits my ‘must haves’ someone else must feel this way too.

Once place that reached out to me was The Butcher and The Boar. They will have their regular menu available for NYE. This would be a wonderful atmosphere to spend NYE with  friends.

Because it’s a New Year!

@mplsgossipgirl

Where do you think I should go on NYE? Do you know of a restaurant that has a great pre fixe menu? Or one that is affordable? Also, what places are your favorite for NYE?

UPDATE: Blackbird has a few specials but also will be serving their normal menu. Thanks @Andrjensn!

A Foodie Halloween – Acqua Forest Lake


Halloween Acqua

So, I am not sure what you are doing on Halloween but this sounds like a lot of fun. Acqua in Forest Lake is having a ‘night of the living fed’ dinner party.

Acqua just opened its second location in Forest Lake. You may remember the original location that is on White Bear Lake near Tally’s. I haven’t been to Forest Lake yet, but the food in White Bear Lake is amazing.  I had a honeydew gazpacho there once that made me look at gazpacho in a new light.

This Halloween party is limited to 200 guests and costs $100. This includes a five course dinner, drinks, a costume contest and raffle prizes.The dinner includes a cocktail hour with passed hors d’oeuvres, salad with fried pork belly, roasted butternut squash soup, scallops, beef tenderloin and pumpkin tiramisu.  Drinks include, wine, beer, and select cocktails.

It sounds really great but I hope they know how to serve 200 people at one time. I think that will be quite the challenge. This is their first time trying an event like this, so it will be interesting to find out how it goes. If it goes well, this would be a great event to have each year.

They are giving out some big prizes. The prizes for the costume contest are $1,000 gift card, $250 dollar gift card, and a $100 gift card. It would be a great way to treat your family to a wonderful meal. Also, they are not stopping there, they are also giving out two raffle prizes, one is a dinner for ten including wine pairings prepared at your home. The other is a limo, wine tasting, and dinner for eight at one of the restaurants. Plus, chances are good since they limited the dinner to 200 people.

You can sign up to receive weekly emails from Acqua that tells you about the specials and events like this one on their website.

If you want to attend you can call Acqua Forest Lake at: 651-464-6130.

because it is better than eating all of that candy.

@mplsgossipgirl

Don’t worry, I am not affiliated with Acqua in any way. I got an email from them and I thought I would share this fun event with people who love food.

Cheeky Monkey Fall Soups


Cheeky Monkey

I have been to the Cheeky Monkey twice in the last two weeks. I cannot stop myself.

There are two reason why I keep coming back:

1. fresh food

2. relaxed atmosphere

Cheeky Monkey Potato and Leek

The Cheeky Monkey has a daily dinner special and two daily soups. These Fall soups are exactly what I was looking for on a chilly day. On my first visit I had a potato and leek soup that was creamy and earthy enough.

Cheeky Monkey Salad

I paired the soup with a fresh perfectly dressed salad. One of my normal complaints is that restaurants over dress their salads. This one was flavorful but not dripping in the dressing which made the nuts and cheese hold up.

Cheeky Monkey Chorizo Soup

On my next visit I ordered a chorizo and white bean soup which was equally as good. They know how to build the flavors with these soups by adding in ingredients like kale and green onions.

Cheeky Monkey Watermelon Salad

With this soup I had a watermelon salad which was a summer dish and did not really go with the soup but still very good and exactly what I felt like eating. They also had the Surly Fest on tap which is the Octoberfest style of beer from surly.

Cheeky Monkey inside

because it is time to fall in love with Fall.

@mplsgossipgirl

Minnesota Cheese Festival 2013


Minnesota Cheese Festival, MNCheesefest, cheese

Get your tickets for the Minnesota Cheese Festival that is going on this weekend at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

On both Saturday and Sunday there will be two sessions, one from 10-1 and another from 2-5 in order to keep crowds small and give you an opportunity to interact directly with the Cheesemakers.

During the event you will be able to sample the best cheeses from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. You can also attend demonstrations, seminars, and buy cheese from local Cheesemakers directly.

Redhead Creamery that I mentioned in my post yesterday about neat Minnesota Kickstarter Projects will  be there. A few of my other favorite Cheesemakers such as the Caves of Faribault, Ellsworth Creamery, Shepard’s Way Farm, and Singing Hills Goat Dairy will also be there.

Support the Redhead Creamery project : http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/redhead/redhead-creamerys-cheese-needs-to-come-home?ref=home_location

You can get tickets: HERE

because I am not vegan anymore.

@mplsgossipgirl

Support Local with Minnesota Kickstarter Projects


Kickstarter Minnesota,

Have I ever told you how much I love Kickstarter?

Kickstarter is a website where you can either go to fund a project that you want to see happen or try to get funding for your own project.

It is a great way to use your cash to fund a project that you care about.

Here are three current Minnesota Kickstarter projects that I think are really neat:

Travail: Democratizing Fine Dining: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/travail/travail-democratizing-fine-dining-in-robbinsdale-m?ref=home_location

Firstly, I am completely on the Travail bandwagon. The chefs who started Travail get it right, they know how to bring fine dining to a level where it makes people comfortable and they know how to have fun with it. This extra cash is going to help them be successful when they can open their new space. Plus it comes with some extras. One level of funding gives you the perk of being able to get a reservation at their restaurant where they don’t do reservations.

Help them reach their $75,000 goal! UPDATE: They are fully funded after only 6 hours on Kickstarter! On 9/11/13, they hit $140,000 which is way over their goal. Plus, they posted an awesome video on instagram find them at username travailkitchen.

The Rabbit Hole: A Korean Gastro Pub: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/783013016/the-rabbit-hole-a-korean-gastropub-in-mpls-yes-ple?ref=home_location

Brought to you by the crazy kids at Left Handed Cook, The Rabbit Hole is exactly where I want to spend a Friday night. What is a Korean Gastro Pub? I have no idea, but I know I am going to like it.

If you haven’t been to the Left Handed Cook in the Midtown Global Market yet, you need to give it a try. It is one of my favorite places to get a quick meal.

They are only looking to raise $10,000 and are almost to their goal. Help them reach it. They hit their goal on 9/11/13. Now let’s get Redhead Creamery Funded!

Redhead Creamery: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/redhead/redhead-creamerys-cheese-needs-to-come-home?ref=live

This farm to table creamery is exactly what I love about Minnesota. Plus, they are making cheddars. Yum! Help them build the space where they can create their food safely and right on their farm. Minnesota can always use more cheese.

They are on their way to their $35,000 goal but there are only 15 days left.

because when you back a Kickstarter you are telling that project we want you here.

@mplsgossipgirl

World Street Kitchen: Uptown


World Street Kitchen, Minneapolis Dining, Top 50 new restaurants

Recently named one of the Top 50 New Restaurants by Bon Appetit, World Street Kitchen is truly worthy of this title. Minnesota has not seen a restaurant like this before. Yes, they do sell 40 ounce bottles of Miller High Life.

There are many things that I appreciate about this restaurant such as ample parking on the side of the building, vegetarian options, and spice. It is really nice to have a place that doesn’t serve the same stuff as everyone else.

That being said, most everything on the menu is pretty spicy for those of us with Mid-Western taste buds. This is not a bad thing, I really like it. But, I feel as though people should be warned that most of the food is more spicy than what you can find at other restaurants.

Here are some of the highlights:

The Bangkok Burrito: I have tried the Red Curry Burrito. It is spicy, creamy, and flavorful. If you ever need to get your sinuses cleared out this will do it. Watch out Chipotle, this is going to be the new burrito roaming the streets.

Dips, Hummus, World Street Kitchen

Plate O’ Dips: As a fan of Saffron, I knew that the dips were going to live up to my expectations and they did. I would come here just to get this dish with pita. The hummus is so creamy.

YumYum Bowl, World Street Kitchen, Spicy

YumYum Rice Bowl: The short rib beef bowl was exactly why you come back to this restaurant over and over. That secret sauce and soft cooked egg make this dish one of the highlights of the menu. Just look at it.

Tacos, World Street Kichen,

Jerk Beef Tacos: Meh, these were just okay compared to everything else that I tried. One of my tacos had a huge chunk of fat in it that was cubed. After having that surprise when I chomped down on it I didn’t care to eat anymore.

Next time I want to try the MFC Biscuit Sandwich and a dessert. I have heard from multiple people that both are amazing.

I should also note that this is a get up and order yourself place. There are no servers and it has more of a laid back vibe. I was a bit disappointed in the service that I got from the person I ordered from. I said specifically that it was my first time here and that I was not sure what was good. She looked at me annoyed that I was taking too much time to order.  Remember you are a new restaurant which means that you might need to explain some of the menu to your new guests.

Because any place that serves forties is cool in my book.

@mplsgossipgirl
World Street Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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