This was quite possibly the worst happy hour food I have had in awhile. I was wondering why Rojo in the West End was packed while Figlio was mostly empty.
Now, I understand.
This place will not be open for much longer unless the food standards change dramatically.
Firstly, let me start out by saying that the space is beautiful. There is a large dining room and a nice bar area. Secondly, the service was great. They went out of their way to make sure that the guests were happy.
The only thing missing is good food.
The biggest disappointment of the night was the flatbread. I remember back when Figlio was in Uptown the flat bread and pizzas were all handmade with real dough and then cooked in a brick oven. You know having an open kitchen where you make the flat breads only goes well for you when you actually make the flat bread. Watching the ‘chef’ take out a pre-made hard flatbread out of a plastic package sealed it for me. Not to mention how the toppings were handled. Yuck.
Big mistake ordering the porchetta bruschetta and sliders. Same thing different bread. Both not great flavor wise.
The only two things that I liked were the fries and wings. Holy moly, the fries are great. Perfectly cooked and great with the béarnaise sauce. The wings were seasoned very well but I would have liked to have different sauce with it. The mustard and BBQ sauce did not do it for me. It was weird that I liked those things the best and neither of them were Italian which is most of the menu at Figlio.
My suggestions are to make your own dough and make quality flat bread and to take one or both of the Porchetta items off your happy hour menu. Make a new dish. Go back to basics and serve high quality real food even for happy hour. There are so many people like me rooting for Figilo from Uptown to be reborn. This is not quite it.
because pre-made is unacceptable
What was your experience here? Should I give it another try?
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.
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.
Today is dreary, yesterday I noticed all of the restaurant patios have been taken down, and we are now back to the time of leaving for work when it is dark and coming home when it is dark.
When this transition happens each year I feel my body want to go into hibernation. I force myself to make plans to accomplish something when I get off of work and ultimately they never happen. Currently, I have been organizing my recipes for three weeks.
I know I am not the only one who feels this way.
One thing I actually accomplish when I feel this way is making really good comfort foods. This includes thick soups, chili, and any type of squash I can get my hands on. Slow cooking foods and the smell that comes from them is rewarding. During the fall this is the type of food that inspires me.
I have been to the Cheeky Monkey in Saint Paul twice recently because their soup is exactly what fall tastes like. Don’t worry I will include them in a future post. Those soups have exactly what I need to warm my bones.
What other restaurants around the Twin Cities are making really good comfort foods? What foods inspire you when we lose our daylight time?
because sometimes I need to try something new.
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.
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 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.
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.
Sometimes, I feel like all I need is a burger. Burger Jones in Uptown is a great way to fill that need.
This place is very family friendly and has a nice outdoor patio that looks out on lake Calhoun. It also has an extensive menu with all different kinds of burgers, starters, salads, and shakes.
I would definitely come here again with a burger loving group. This place can cater to a larger group which makes it a good choice for group gatherings.
I was a bit disappointed with my burger choice. Only because it was clearly on a sandwich thin and it was horrible. It tasted exactly like a sandwich thin that you can get out of a package at Target. I think a better choice of bread for the gyro burger would be advisable.
Otherwise, the burger was good. I liked the lamb burger and the sauce. But, I would never order it again because of the bread.
I also tried the bison burger which I liked much more than the gyro burger. The bison burger is topped with gruyere cheese and red onion marmalade.
It was flavorful and the red onion really made the burger pop.
Order a side of the sweet potato fries and chipotle aioli because they are fantastic. I think I would go back just to eat the fries again with a shake.
because sometimes you just need a burger
What other burgers have you tried from Burger Jones? What do I need to try next time?
Spill The Wine Bar and Table may have changed locations but it is still just as great as before. Now located on Lake and Bryant in a new bigger location with lots of light, Spill The Wine is still one of those places that I love to go.
Okay, they could do without the hokey mason jar glasses but beyond that I recently had a great experience there.
One huge positive is the wonderful service. It isn’t uppity or pompous even though the food is upscale. They treat you with respect and are attentive.
The servers know their stuff and can speak to every item on both the food menu and the drink menu. They can suggest and I would highly recommend going with one of their suggestions. Our server, Carli, recommended a wine flight and a certain dish that was a huge hit. The people dining with me that night will definitely be back because of the suggestions.
They also help you order the correct amount of food. They have a mostly small plates menu which is meant to be shared, Minnesotans don’t really like to share. However, they do a good enough job of explaining how to eat this way that even the most unlikely people buy into the sharing.
These dishes were some of the highlights from my meal:
The lamb sausage and polenta. Holy moly, this is a must order. The sausage is made in-house and the polenta is nice and creamy. I could eat this every day and will be coming back to have this again. They should start selling the lamb sausage in local food markets.
I enjoyed the Lap Cheong Fried Rice, it was a larger dish that everyone at the table got enough of to eat. My only wish was that the egg was a tiny bit more runny.
A simple thing like bruschetta can taste very good. I really liked the two varieties served especially the olive tapenade. It was a great dish to break up some of the other ones.
The beet and goat cheese salad. This is fairly good but was very small. I am not sure if I would order it again since it was not enough to share with four people. I want more!
The fried blue cheese stuffed olives. A must order. These are fairly unique and I haven’t had anything quite like this before. They come out quickly and are a great little bite before the meal.
The Simi Estate wine flight. I highly suggest that when you go here, get a wine flight. They are a great way to try new wines and get a fairly good deal. They say you only get about 1.5 glasses but I would say it is more around 2. Great wines at a great value.
Finish the night with dessert, the tres leches cake is delightful. The fresh lime zest really added a nice touch and it was the perfect amount to share with four people.
I had no idea they did brunch until I was perusing their website. Huckleberry mason jar mimosas and some patatas sounds amazing. I would, however, suggest to Spill The Wine that they have so many of these items on their regular dinner menu that they need to expand the brunch menu. I want to see some new and fun stuff that is a bit different from your regular dinner menu items that you are experimenting with, please.
because sharing is caring
What are your favorite items from the Spill The Wine menu?
As you know, I am a huge fan of French Meadow. Their menu incorporating all types of dietary needs was a lifesaver for me when I was a vegan and in a food rut. French Meadow makes amazing food for those who have dietary restrictions but without sacrificing taste.
I didn’t think French Meadow could get any better but it has.
Expanding their location on Lyndale Avenue, French Meadow opened a wine bar called Bluestem Bar and Table. If you are a fan of French Meadow you will love Bluestem.
They have an excellent menu with items that range from salads to burgers to pasta.
I always suggest eating off of the specials menu. When I went to visit it was a very hot day and the tomato gazpacho that was on the specials menu was perfect. Gazpacho is a cold soup and although it is very different from eating warm soup, if done right it is wonderful on a warm day and still has all the flavor that you need.
Other highlights from the menu are the fish tacos, raw kale salad, harissa chicken, and the beet carpaccio salad. If you are eating with a slightly picky eater they still have your basic hamburger or chicken and waffles as well.
I was very impressed by the wine menu. Absolutely get the first flight of Rose. As someone who is not usually a Rose person, this flight caught my eye. This is not your grandmother’s Rose, it is much more flavorful.
They also have a happy hour from Monday- Friday from 3-5 P.M. Also, a late night happy hour 10- close every night of the week. Although the happy hour menu is fairly small, they have mussels and the turkey burger for only 6 dollars each.
Need somewhere to go for your birthday? They have a few private dining options such as their tasting room which is a beautiful spot to host a party. As of right now, they have no minimums to rent the room, get in while you can.
The other little secret that I will share with you is that you can make reservations at Bluestem for breakfast on the weekends. No more waiting in line or waiting for a table if you prepare ahead of time. They have the same breakfast menu as French Meadow but with service and reservations.
I cannot wait to see what the future has to offer for this group of restaurants. They are living up to their values of offering good food that is local and organic.
Because a good thing, is a good thing
What is your favorite item on the Bluestem menu?
I could not believe it when I read it on the Solera website. All night happy hour on Thursdays and even on their rooftop. What? Is this real?
I had to go investigate. They sort of have a happy hour on the rooftop because it includes only drinks, none of the food was happy hour priced and it should have been clearly stated on the website.
But, it is worth it to see the view from their rooftop and sip 3 dollar sangria.
The sangria comes in both white and red and is refreshing on a hot summer day. It pairs well with most of the food and when it is 3 dollars you don’t have to stop at just one.
Solera is a tapas restaurant which means that they have small plates that are meant to be shared. I have had most of the menu and I would suggest this restaurant for an adventurous diner.
People who are used to the normal burger or steak joint will be thrown off by both the portions and the ingredients. Not that it is bad, it is different. They have rabbit, quail, escargot, and a few other items that you do not see on most menus. While this excites me, it scares some people who are not used to these ingredients.
If I am with a person like this, I order for them and then lie to them saying it is steak or something. Well, once they say they really like it, I tell them it is actually lamb. It is sort of like dining with children. I do not advocate doing this to someone who would actually be upset or someone who could inflict pain upon you. But, it is a fun way to surprise and delight a picky diner.
This night I had the cheese plate which had an Iberico cheese on it. It is sort of like a Manchego and made with sheep, cow, and goat’s milk and pairs well with a tempranillo. I had forgotten how much I like Iberico.
I was very impressed by my server who knew the menu very well. She explained dishes and offered suggestions. This is very helpful when the menu has some items that people don’t make in their home kitchens often. What is a croquette again?
If it is the perfect summer night the rooftop at Solera is a great pick.
because enjoying sangria with friends in the summer is on the top of my list
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?