I was very happy to hear that a restaurant would be moving in to the old The Independent space in Calhoun Square. I was a huge fan of the Independent because of the location. It was a bit tucked back in Calhoun Square and you needed to know that it was there to be able to find it.
I love Uptown but I really have a hard time enjoying the bar atmosphere of some of the restaurants during weekday meal times. They sometimes can be filled with non-working- inappropriately dressed- I am just here to get really wasted because they have super cheap happy hour specials. Oh yeah and I am going to screech at the top of my lungs every time I see someone I know and invite them over to my over-crowded table filled with empties. And I NEVER tip.
You can tell that I have some pent-up frustration with some of the frequent loud day drinkers of Uptown. Not that I didn’t used to be one of them partaking in the happy hour deals when I got off of work early. I did always tip though.
Republic in Uptown is the perfect chill, relaxed, and calm bar destination. I was able to visit during a weeknight and was able to have a conversation with the person next to me, enjoy a drink, and eat some fantastic food. This is not your normal bar menu.
If I lived in Uptown. This would be my go-to bar.
This bar has an everything menu. It has bar favorites plus items for someone who chooses to eat a bit healthier. The salads are not your typical house salad with ranch either. You have choices of a kale salad with a white balsamic and another with asparagus ham and even manchego cheese.
When I visited, I tried the Minnesota Po’Boy sandwich. It was a walleye sandwich with a really nice tartar sauce or as they call it a lemon aioli.
I would also highly recommend the burgers because they are grass-fed beef. It always makes a burger more tasty and delicious. Next time, I will be trying the brie and red wine reduction burger. Yes, I know that sounds fantastic.
Save room for dessert. This is a salted caramel pot de creme. Yes, it was as good as it sounded.
You should follow them on twitter because they are always changing out their taps and they tell you about them. One of the best beer selections that I have seen in the cities so far. Cocktails are also good, so give them a try as well. Republic also has a Seven Corners location in St. Paul which has a different menu. That should be worth a try also.
because this is my new favorite bar.
Reve 324 is a cozy restaurant located in Stillwater, MN. As you can tell from reading many of my recent posts, I love to visit Stillwater. It is one of those places that you can get lost during a warm summer day by going shopping, walking near the river, and eating delicious food. It is a Minnesota foodie destination because of the beautiful surroundings.
One weekend I found myself at Reve 324, it was a place that I have walked by a few times but had not eaten at before. I was pleasantly surprised by the dinner menu and the different options. It certianly was not what I expected. It is called a bistro bar and has the feel of a secluded resturant on a bricklined street.
They have bottles on their wine list that are affordable. I had a bottle that was new for me. It was called HandCraft and now has become part of the rotation in my house because I liked it that much.
Another must order when you visit Reve 324 is the Artisan Cheese Plate. I enjoyed the selection of cheese as well as the other items that came with the plate. The honey was magnificent and if Reve would be willing to share where the honey is from they will have a new customer as well.
I tried several selections from their dinner menu that night but a few items that stood out for me was the side of wild rice salad. It was fresh and a nice option besides the normal side items that are options at restaurants.
The beet and goat cheese salad was also a highlight. The pecans and the bacon were a nice change for a beet salad, I liked the salty taste of the bacon without being too fatty and overpowering.
A surprise was the burger that I tried. It was perfectly cooked and juicy. I am a sucker for a burger with an egg on top.
The service at Reve 324 was also notable as well. Our server was attentive but not over powering and did a great job explaining dishes to us.
because something that is as simple as a cheese plate can be amazing because of the ingredients
What is your favorite Stillwater restaurant?
Twin City Grill is my favorite restaurant at the Mall of America. It is cozy, has great food, and is reasonably priced. I think that it is the best place to eat at the Mall of America because the menu accommodates many different eaters. They have salads, burgers, flat breads and walleye.
My last experience there deserves special recognition because not only was the food delicious. The service was above par.
Whenever I eat at Twin City Grill I get a flat bread and salad. I love the duo. I also am a fan of the salt and vinegar fries. Order some for the whole table.
The reason that I say that the service was above par was because of a miscommunication that I had with my server. It was very loud and busy in the restaurant that night and he thought that I had said that I did not want my leftovers. I did actually want them. Seriously, the flat bread is great to eat cold the next day.
He apologized and ordered a new one from the kitchen and it was out and in my hand within 3 minutes, just like he said.
I was floored that he handled this situation the best way that he possibly could have. Unfortunately, it looked like one of his managers was giving him a hard time for it. Well, people make mistakes and the situation was corrected. It showed that this restaurant cares about their customers.
Because great service makes me come back
What is your favorite place to eat when you go to the Mall of America?
This trip was especially disappointing, not because of the food. But, because our server clearly had not been trained. It took the attention away from celebrating a birthday to dealing with trying to get our food and drinks.
I did appreciate that our server let us know right at the beginning of the meal that she was new and that it may take her a little longer. I actually don’t blame her at all. I blame the restaurant for putting a server on a shift when she was clearly not ready.
We started by ordering our drinks. I ordered a bottle of wine from the wine menu and others ordered beers. After about 15 minutes of waiting around our server came back to the table to let us know that they did not have that wine anymore and asked if I would like to pick out another. Unfortunately, she did not have a current list of wines to know which wines on the menu were no longer available.This all would have been solved if there was an updated wine list.
It took over 30 minutes to get the wine but thank goodness I did pick one that was on the current wine list.Unfortunately, our server did not know how to open the bottle of wine. I gave her and everyone at the table a tutorial on opening a wine bottle. I really like wine.
We also recieved one beer but it was not the one that was ordered. The other beer never came. We asked the hostess if she could go get them for us. She replied with an answer of no and walked away with no explaination. We went to the bar and picked them up ourselves.
Just as this was resolved our food came out. It was a bit confusing because we had ordered an appetizer and salads for before the meal. We had to explain that we never got them. Other staff then brought out the salads after the main course was served. It was clear that food was not fired properly. We gave up on the appetizer that we never recieved.
As always the food was great! It was just too bad that everything was over shadowed by the server who needed more training. We felt horrible for her; she was almost in tears because so many things were going wrong at her tables because of things she simply did not know.
I beg you to please train your employees! You can have wonderful food and still lose customers after experiences like what happened to our celebration. This is a restaurant that I want to stick around, please, please, please update menus and make sure your employees know your menu and procedure before they are working a busy shift. Your fans are begging you to do so.
because it is important to train your workers
Last week I Dined Out For Life to support the Aliveness Project that is doing amazing work with the HIV/AIDS community locally.
I am proud to say that I was part of the $15,687 that Pizza Luce donated that night.
Pizza Luce is a favorite staple for me in Minneapolis. It is a great place to go if you are eating with someone who has dietary restrictions like gluten-free or vegan. They are also a great place to order out from; you can do pizzas, sandwiches, or salads. Many of these items can be ordered with specific instructions for those with diet restrictions. It is all listed on the menu.
This particular night I headed out to the Hopkins location. It was my first time at this location and I know I will be back there again. I loved the size of the parking lot and the feel of the bar. They have a great tap beer selection as well.
I really need to try more appetizers on their menu because I havent yet. I always get a side salad. I mean look at it. This is the caesar salad and is exactly what a caesar salad should be. It has crispy lettuce, creamy dressing, real shaved parmesan, and delicious croutons.
I have tried many of the pizzas on the menu and this night I decided to try a sandwich from their new spring menu the “From Italy with Love.” I highly recommend it because is unlike any sandwich I have had before. There are layers and layers of flavorful ingredients.
I went home with The Classic pizza to eat as leftovers. My other favorite pizzas are the Pizza Athena and anything with mock duck.
Pizza Luce is one of those places that I appreciate having as a local brand. They use fresh, natural ingredients, they have options for those who are vegan and gluten-free and they have a great variety of healthy and flavorful items on their menu.
because real food is good food.
Feeling down and out lately? Isn’t everyone. Mother nature has been playing tricks with all of our minds. It is supposed to be spring, right?
One of this ways to solve this mood issue is by snuggling up on the couch and watching movie. Since that is all that I have been doing lately, I needed a change. What else makes people intensely happy?
One of my favorite places to go grab a delicious sweet is Rustica Bakery. It is fairly easy to get to for Uptown standards and there is parking available. ahhh… it makes things so much easier.
I pointed to a chocolate brownie from the case and saw something else on the menu that perked my interest. As a frequest customer of the Tea Garden I consider myself to be somewhat of a tea connoisseur but I have never tried chestnut tea before. What is this mystical chestnut tea that you have?
The staff at Rustica know their products and were able to explain many of the different teas they currently have on their menu as well as how long the tea I selected needed to steep.
The chestnut tea was nutty and bit spicy and the brownie was rich. Both highly recommended for a winter that will never end. So, since you need to take a mental health break anyway, head over to Rustica to warm your soul.
because the ground-hog lied
I am not usually a fan of the All-You-Can-Eat type of places but I was pleasantly surprised by Aji Contemporary Japanese in Hopkins. They have a sushi bar that gives you a chance to try many different rolls at what I think is a reasonable price.
This isn’t a place that I would frequent all of the time. But, when I am in a sushi rut it is a good way to try something new. The chefs who work the sushi bar are friendly and will take requests, if you ask nicely. They can also explain the rolls that have already been made. If you really like a certain roll, you will know what to order next time. If you do not like a specific roll or ingredient you know to avoid it in the future.
I would suggest Aji for the more adventurous sushi eater. Someone who is willing to go past the California and the Philly roll and go for something with crispy skin or eel.
Eating sushi off a bar freaks me out a little bit. But, the ingredients they were using were fresh. I saw them cutting a fresh fish while I was there. The rolls go quickly as well, I was not worried about them sitting out for too long.
The Aji website is not clear as to how much the sushi bar is and when they have it open. It is not open all of the time. I know that the lunch is a bit cheaper than dinner and that Sunday is special. I would call ahead of time and ask some questions to make sure you are not disappointed.
because try something new!
Right off the freeway, India Palace may not exactly look like a palace. But, don’t judge this palace by its cover. The food is very good.
I am not an expert by any means in Indian food. But, I do know when something is cooked correctly. I had the Rogan Josh which is lamb cooked in a yogurt sauce and special spices. I thought the lamb was cooked correctly and fell apart when cut with a fork and I liked the spice blend that they used. It helped the cold that I had.
I also ordered Roti and garlic Naan. I liked the Nann better, it was a little lighter. Don’t forget the beer. I had the Taj Mahal which went nicely with the food. Not the best beer that I have ever had because it is lighter in nature but, paired well with the lamb.
Overall, this restaurant gave me the home cooked meal feel. It was warm and inviting. Be prepared to wait awhile for your food since the service is a little slow. It didn’t really bother me at all. They have several other locations in Minnesota as well.
In the future, I want to travel to India. Until then, I will have to do with eating at India Palace.
What is your favorite Indian restaurant?
because I like it spicy!
If I didn’t live in Minneapolis the Selby/Dale neighborhood would be high on my list because Cheeky Monkey Deli is located there. Cheeky is one of my favorite places to get a casual meal. To date I haven’t had anything on their menu that I haven’t liked.
This place has a neighborhood feel and is the perfect place to meet an old friend for dinner. I love sitting by the fire-place and keeping warm. During the summer you can even sit outside on their back patio.
If you are sitting down for a meal expect it to take a little bit more time. The service is a little slow sometimes and the food takes awhile to prepare. It is fresh and I am okay with waiting a little longer for my meal. Our server Amanda let us know if we needed anything we could flag her down. It is more relaxed than your typical restaurant and has a unique atmosphere. It makes you want to have a long discussion about something deep.
For an appetizer order the salt and pepper chips the blue cheese dip is creamy and delicious. For an entrée choose anything from the menu, it is all good. I have had many of the sandwiches and salads. This time I had the beet salad with goat cheese. It was large and I had enough to take for lunch the next day. I also enjoy the fancy grilled cheese and the salmon salad. Don’t miss the sides at the bottom of the menu. The kale and brussel sprouts are cooked correctly and a great way to add another vegetable to your meal. This is a place I enjoy to linger and stay for a while with a glass or a few glasses of wine or beer.
Cheeky Monkey is doing a prix fixe valentine’s dinner for $60 a couple which includes three courses and a bottle of wine. That sounds like a sweet deal to me.
When you go there make sure that you stop at the wine store next door to the Cheeky Monkey. They have a good selection. They told me they do a wine event for mother’s day which sounds like the perfect event for wine lovers.
because it is fun to get cheeky.
Crave is a great place to bring a group of people who may have many different requirements when having a meal. They have a very large menu with both sushi and american food. So if you have picky eaters in the group they are bound to find something that they like on the menu.
This is also the case with the Happy Hour menu. Crave is a great place for a large group during happy hour. The booths are big and it is not limited to just sitting at the bar. We ordered 8 items for four people and it was a little too much we were not able to finish it all. They also have many items on their happy hour menu, that way you can order a variety of different types of food.
I liked the mini burgers the best since I was only looking for a little bit of food and then was able to share the other burger with others. They were cooked well and I liked the small shoe string fries that were served with it.
Chicken sliders were good but a little bit dry I could have used a sauce to go with them just to add a little bit of moisture. A bit of something on the side would have been great. I needed something a little bit spicy and creamy. I would have done some sort of aioli.
I did not like any of the sushi we got off the happy hour menu. I am not a fan of a salad with my sushi mostly because it makes it very hard to eat. When you are eating and socializing it is nice to be able to pop in a piece of sushi. The rolls that we ordered had half of the roll with vegetables sticking out of them. After trying to eat some of them we gave up and left the rest on the plate.
I also had a roll that the seaweed wrapping was super dry and broke apart before even eating it. I think that with small improvements I would love to come here for happy hour sushi.
Overall, the service was great and the ambiance was nice. I really appreciated that the server came by right before happy hour ended and asked if there was anything else that we wanted before happy hour ended.
I will be back simply because this place has a menu that accommodates many different tastes. It a great choice if you may not know what your client normally likes to eat because they have almost everything on the menu here. Their happy hour also allows room for large groups.
because sometimes you just have to have a burger and some sushi.