Tag Archive | restaurants

Great Sushi in Uptown, Minneapolis – Kiku Bistro


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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 Bistro Sushi Uptown

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.

@mplsgossipgirl
Kiku Bistro on Urbanspoon

Are people still eating there?


Quote Blog (1)

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!

Figlio: West End


Figilo Menu

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.

Figilo Sliders

Big mistake ordering the porchetta bruschetta and sliders. Same thing different bread. Both not great flavor wise.

Figilo Fries

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.

Figilo Wings

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

@mplsgossipgirl

Figlio on Urbanspoon

What was your experience here? Should I give it another try?

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.

What food inspires you?


What food inspires you

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.

@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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