One of the many delights of the Minnesota State Fair is trying all of the new foods! I was able to get a preview of some of the new foods coming to the fair this year. Every year there are some hits and some misses, but it is all a lot of fun in my book. From new foods on-a-stick to ice cream with a kick here are some of the new foods that I got to try!
One of my new favorites is the Salted Caramel Puff malts and sundaes at the Dairy Goodness bar! It’s sweet, salty, and perfect for a hot day. I am a huge fan of Old Dutch Puffcorn and adding the caramel and sweet ice cream to the mix made me jump for joy. Going to the Diary Goodness Bar is a tradition for many fairgoers and there’s a reason why, they have the best treats! This new flavor was chosen during the “Flavor of the Fair” contest. The contest is back this year and you’ll have a chance to submit your own flavor to become the next Flavor of the Fair next year. I’m going to enter–that’s some serious bragging rights.
I’m also a fan of the Blue Barn that’s part of the Blue Plate Restaurant Group. They bring food at the fair to a whole out-of-this-world level. They know how to serve food to large groups of people because they have the experience of doing it every day. I was able to try their new snickers salad which was refreshing and sweet. But, I am even more excited to try Pi their apple pie flavored beer. Hopefully, I can get a glass. I have a feeling that it might be one of the most popular items at the fair this year. Some of our favorites from last year will be back and there are a few more new items on the menu.
The Maple Bacon Funnel Cake from the Funnel Cake stand in the food building was also really great. We already know those flavors are complimentary, but they somehow got them to work with a funnel cake too. If you are a funnel cake fanatic you should try this one.
Lulu’s Public House is my favorite place to grab a beer at the fair. They have a top deck which allows you to relax and do some people watching. I spent a lot of time here last year and I know I will be back again to enjoy it again this year.
If you are working at the fair, Mancini’s has a great pizza that is not your typical fair food. After working all day you don’t want the usual deep fried foods that people typically share. Give this a try this year! Not a new food, but a great one, there’s a gyro booth by the Giant Yellow Slide that has great gyros and salads.
Although, this is just a preview of some of the great new foods you’ll see at the fair I hope you are pumped to get out there and give some of them a try.
because going to the fair is a tradition!
What food are you most excited to try this year?
I know, I am behind the times. This was my first time at Eli’s East and I loved it! It has a great casual atmosphere but with a great menu of supper club classics and new local dishes. It made me wish that I lived in Northeast so this could be my neighborhood spot.
I had a great cocktail to start the night with gin and a blueberry lemonade sort of thing. It was a great summer cocktail. I did see a bunch of people order a pink martini that I want to try next time. It must be very popular since they kept coming out of the bar. Don’t miss out on their wine specials as well. I thought they had a well curated wine list with many great options to go with their dishes.
I had a really hard time picking what I wanted for dinner. They had many items on their menu that appealed to me but ended up going with a burger. It was cooked perfectly to order and the fresh avocado on top was delightful. One of the highlights for me was their chips. No other place does homemade chips like they do. It was a nice change from the fries that you get everywhere else.
I also was able to try the Coq Au Vin. It had great flavor and looked beautiful when it came out of the kitchen. The chicken was a little dry for my taste but overall it was a great dish and something that I want to try again in the winter. It was very comforting.
They have a great dessert menu that I didn’t get to try because I was way too full. Their portion sizes are a little bigger.
They have an excellent outdoor patio and a parking lot which makes this a great place to go for smaller groups 8-12. Plus, a back area that many families with children were using. They give you a little bit more privacy which is great for those with young ones who still want a fantastic meal!
Because I love a good neighborhood place.
Where else do I need to try in Northeast? Any places I should move to in Northeast?
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?
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.
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.
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.
What is your favorite store on Grand Avenue?
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.
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.
Where do you go for comfort food in the winter?
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.
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.
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.
What is one of the best meals that you’ve had in awhile?
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 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.
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.
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?
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.
What do you think? Do you use Groupon’s frequently and want them to stay? If you want them to go, why?
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.
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.
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.
What are your favorite pizza places in the Twin Cities? What is your favorite item on the Punch menu?
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.
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.