Tag Archive | restaurants

Shopping on Grand? Stop at Salut on Grand


WIth the right sauce. Salut Grand

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?

Bar Salut on Grand

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.

Red Wine Salut

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.

Salut on Grand Ave.

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.

@mplsgossipgirl

What is your favorite store on Grand Avenue?

Cozy Winter Restaurant in North Oaks: Tria


Tria Mussels

 

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.

Tria Chow-Chow

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.

@mplsgossipgirl
Tria on Urbanspoon

Where do you go for comfort food in the winter?

The Rabbit Hole: Best Food in Minneapolis


Cocktail Rabbit Hole Minneapolis

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.

Gene Bop Bowl Rabbit Hole Midtown Global Market

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.

Fries The Rabbit Hole

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.

@mplsgossipgirl
The Rabbit Hole on Urbanspoon

What is one of the best meals that you’ve had in awhile?

Great Sushi in Uptown, Minneapolis – Kiku Bistro


photo[4]

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?

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