Archive | May 2013

Republic – Uptown

Republic 3I 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.

Republic 1

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.

Republic 2

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.

Republic on Urbanspoon


Reve 324 -Stillwater Restaurant

Reve 324, Stillwater, Minnesota, Food, Restaurants

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.

Reve 324 2 (2)

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.

Reve 324

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

Reve 324 on Urbanspoon

What is your favorite Stillwater restaurant?

Cooking Classes- Williams Sonoma

Free Cooking Classes, Williams Sonoma, Pasta

Did you know that Williams Sonoma offers free cooking classes at your local store? I have attended a few of them at the Roseville, MN store and found them very helpful.

The complementary technique class that is pictured here was about learning how to make pasta. This was my first time using a Kitchen Aid to make pasta.

Free Cooking Classes, Williams Sonoma, Roseville

To get signed up for a class all you need to do is call your local store to sign up. Topics are usually seasonal and fairly short.

Click this link HERE. Look under complementary technique classes, use the drop down to see current class selections, and locate your nearest store.

because learning to cook is fun!


Twin City Grill- The Best Restaurant at the Mall of America

Twin City Girll, Flat Bread Pizza

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.

Twin City Grill, MOA, Mall of America, Salt and Vinegar Fries

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.

Twin City Grill, Menu, MOA

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

Twin City Grill on Urbanspoon

What is your favorite place to eat when you go to the Mall of America?

Luna Rossa – Stillwater Restaurant

Luna Rossa, Stillwater, Restaurant, ItalianLuna Rossa is a restaurant I frequent when I take a trip to Stillwater. The food here is always great and they have the best Penne Carbonara that I have had in the cities thus far.

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.

Luna Rossa 2

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

Luna Rossa Trattoria Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Sound of Music Sing-A-Long – The Ordway

Sound of Music 1Guest Post: mplsgossipgirl’s Mom

If you thought you were going to the Ordway to just watch “The Sound of Music” on a big screen and sing along to all those beautiful songs that you already know by heart, you were very surprised.   Not only were theatergoers encouraged to dress in costume, (my favorite was the ten women who dressed as the goats) but you were also given a goodie bag with props to use at different parts of the movie.   They included a piece of edelweiss, cards to hold up during the song “How do you solve a problem like Maria” and best of all, a party popper to pop the first time that Maria and the Captain kiss.

Sound of Music 2

Erin Schwab was the host for the movie and before the movie started she came out on the stage and gave the go ahead for the frequent audience participation parts of the movie; cheering whenever you saw Maria, booing at the Nazis and the hand motions for Do Re Mi.   This got the audience whipped into frenzy for the start of the movie.   It had the feeling of an Austrian Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Sound of Music 3

Even if you weren’t into all the participation parts of the movie, it was wonderful to see this beautiful movie on a big screen.   Most people under the age of 50 have only seen the movie on their television screens.   The beautiful scenery of the Alps and Salzburg definitely was conducive to seeing it on a big screen and it didn’t disappoint.  So, if this is one of your favorite movies make sure you put the Sound of Music  Sing-A-Long on your list of shows to see.

Sound of Music 4

because it will definitely become one of your favorite things


Why Marriage Equality is Important to Me

#time4marriage, Marriage equality

I don’t usually share very personal stories or events on here. I thought that this would be a good time to share with all my followers something that is important to me.

A few years ago my partner and I decided that we would wait to get married until it was legal in Minnesota for the LGBT community to marry as well. This is not something that we share with everyone or really anyone. In fact, at the last wedding I was at I was asked by a handful of people why my partner and I have not married yet. It is a common question since we have been dating over 6 years now. We say that we are just not ready yet.

While that is true, we are waiting until those of our friends who are gay are able to get be married as well. How thankful we are that we even get to choose when it is we want to marry. We discussed that it did not feel right to us to be married, while others do not get to make that choice.

To us marriage is a legal document that allows us specific inclusions under the law. Even though we are not married yet, does not mean we have a different relationship from other married couples. Like many of our LGBT friends, family members, coworkers, and neighbors we have a committed relationship. Us, like many other committed unmarried couples are already living the, “until death do us part.”  We believe that our relationship is no different from that of two men or two women; we are all entitled to the equal protection under the law.

When we finally do choose to get married we want to be able to have a celebration that we can invite all of our friends and family members to share the special day with us. It will be a day that reaffirms our relationship and creates a support system of people who share in the love that I have with my partner.

We also will then have the opportunity to use all of the protections that marriage gives us under the law.

It doesn’t seem right for us to invite our friends who do not get to make this choice to come and celebrate. They are not able to have the same protections that our marriage will have.

My hope is… that very soon this will change. Yesterday showed me that it is close. Soon my partner and I will not have to think about this as part of our decision to get married. Undoubtably, the discussion will then center around cost.

Even with this monumental change. It will not change the mind of everyone.

I know there are still opponents to gay marriage and people who are not supportive of LGBT people. They say because of their religious beliefs that they cannot support it. Well, until it is your child, your grandchild, your cousin, your best friend, your neighbor, your co-worker, your aunt, or your parent I doubt you will change your mind. But, when that does happen it is how you choose to react that will define you. Don’t look back and regret how you have treated another human being.

because it is time


I’m on a boat – Anything Goes at The Ordway

Ordway Anything Goes 1

Anything Goes is a feel good musical and the perfect way to start out springtime here in Minnesota.

This is the musical that never goes out of style. Anything Goes debuted in 1934 and has been entertaining people ever since.This is a family friendly show about love. You will hear familiar songs, such as, “I Get a Kick Out of You” and “It’s De-lovely.”

Roundabout Theater Company does not disappoint with their take on this fun musical. They hit all the right notes by keeping the audience laughing. Everyone around me could not keep themselves contained during “The Gypsy in Me.”

I appreciated that the entire show was perfectly choreographed and that each and every member of the cast was a triple threat. The tap and ballroom dance numbers were a joy to watch.

If you are in the mood to see something light-hearted,  visit St. Paul for Anything Goes from May 7-12th at The Ordway. Tickets start at just $26 including fees.

Because it’s easy to love


Turks and Caicos Day 2 – Sunset Cruise

TC Day 2 Sun Charters

Day two started with a leisurely breakfast in my room. The nice part about staying at the Ocean Club is that they have full kitchens. I sat on the patio and enjoyed the perfect weather when eating my toast with guava jelly.

TC Day 2 Toast

It is important when you plan a vacation to Turks and Caicos to not over schedule yourself. It is nice to be able to do whatever you feel like on that particular day. I only did two planned activities and had three restaurant reservations and thought it was the perfect amount for a 7 day vacation. If you are going during Spring Break you may want to make more restaurant reservations since it gets very busy on the island.

TC Day 2 Booze Store

I then set off to get some booze for the week. I headed to the Wine Cellar which is by the IGA on the highway and looks like a castle. They are open from 9am-6pm and not on Sundays. I leave Minnesota and still can’t buy liquor on Sundays.

TC Day 2 Turks Head

I choose Turks Head Lager a local beer made on the island and white wine. The Turks Head was $41.99 for a case and the wine was comparable to what it costs me in Minneapolis. It felt amazing to be able to sit in a lounge chair, drink a beer, and read a book.

TC Day 2 Beach

Most of my day was spent at the beach on a floatie. You can get them at Target for $4.00 before you go and I highly recommend it.

Remember to put on sun screen and a lot of it, reapply every so often.

I was enjoying the beach so much that I ate a late lunch at the Cabana Bar again. I had the ocean burger which is a fish sandwich slathered with a great tartar sauce.   The Cabana Bar is a very relaxing place to lunch and the drinks and service are great.

The service I had was great and the drinks are good as well.

TC Day 2 Potcakes

That night I planned a sailing trip with  Sun Charters. Before the trip, we ran into some Potcakes which are the local dogs on Turks and Caicos. They are called Potcakes because they were fed the caked on food that was leftover from the cooking pot.  You can adopt a Potcake or help by donating or being a courier. There is also the Potcake Place located in the Saltmills shopping area where you can get more information.

TC Day 2 Sailing

After playing with the potcakes, I set out on the sunset cruise. It was relaxing and a great way to meet other people staying on the island. Junior kept the rum punch flowing and we sailed down Grace Bay beach and back. I would highly recommend going sailing with Sun Charters.

TC Day 2 Sun Charters sailing

Sun Charters would be a perfect boat to book for a sea bound wedding or for a family get together. I have heard that both weddings and family reunions are popular on the island due to the fact that there are many large rental properties. The owner of Sun Charters was very nice and seemed like he would be willing to accommodate a customizeable charter.

TC Day 2 The Upstairs

It was past dinner time but I was hungry and headed to The Upstairs which is in a little shopping mall near the main part of Grace Bay. I had a delicious dinner and met Kenny who grows “tomatoes” and you know other things that grow in the ground.  The service was excellent and the food was good. I tried the jerk chicken pizza and wrap.

I would highly recommend The Upstairs during the first part of your stay. The portions are large and make great leftovers.

If you are used to sleeping in the city. You will sleep like a baby when you are here.

because keep the rum punch flowing.


Turks and Caicos Day 1

TC day 1 Beach pic

Over the next week I will be writing about my latest vacation to Turks and Caicos. This was the first out of country, seven-day, tropical vacation for me. Now, I see why people flock to beaches during the long winter months in Minnesota. I guess I could say long Spring months now, since it is snowing in MAY!

Turks and Caicos is located in the Caribbean close to Cuba. I chose Turks and Caicos because it was a less touristy place than Mexico or Jamaica. Also, I wanted to be able to explore the island and eat at many different places versus an all-inclusive type vacation.

Most of the research for this vacation was done on Trip Advisor. I do have to say that most of the reviews were accurate and the suggestions from the destination experts were very helpful. I read the travel forum for Providenciales or Provo as the locals call it, the specific island I stayed on. I also used the Provo Bums website often for links to local businesses.

You will have to make reservations for certain restaurants and excursions before you go. Many restaurants and businesses  will not take reservations by email. Be prepared to make a few phone calls to Turks and Caicos before your trip.

Also, many places do not take American Express or credit cards at all. It would be smart to bring cash. It came in handy for me and it was easy because everything was in US dollars. I have heard that the credit card transactions fees are fairly high so I would open a Visa card without foreign transaction fees to eliminate the problem. Don’t forget to call your credit card companies to let them know that you are going on a trip.

I had a hard time finding any information about Provo other than on Trip Advisor. So, I thought I would share detailed information of my trip to help you, if you decide to plan a trip to Turks and Caicos.

TC Day 1 Plane photo

The flight from Minneapolis to Turks and Caicos was only about 5 hours in total with Delta. I could see myself traveling here for a long weekend in the future because the travel was very easy. It was made even easier with the Delta application on my phone which updated which gate I needed to get to because the layover was a quick one.

I would suggest bringing only a carry on bag even for a week. Honestly, you need a few swimsuits and a few cover-ups. Everywhere on the island is casual and I ended up walking right from the beach to a meal several times. You can buy sunscreen when you get there at the local grocery store for about $10 and you don’t need make-up. I spent most of my time relaxing in the water or on the beach.

Once I got to the airport in Turks and Caicos, I was very underwhelmed. It was dirty and not updated. It was not a good first impression. Let’s all hope that they do make the updates that are scheduled to happen. The airport was the only ‘bad’ part of this vacation.

When you get there remind yourself that you are now on “Island Time” and things will not happen fast. Stay calm and remind yourself you are on vacation and not in a race. It can take a while to get from the airport to where you are staying.
If you are picking up a rental car at the airport go to the desks with the Avis, Budget and Thrifty signs. I saw a Grace Bay Car Rentals worker there even though there was no sign.

TC Day1 Car pic

I chose to go with Avis because of the rate. The car was tiny but had good gas mileage. It only cost about $35 for 7 days of driving wherever I wanted to go on the island.

Before you go you may want to look up a map of the island online. The one that they give you does not have road names on it which makes it a bit harder. We picked one up at our resort when we got there that was much more helpful. Remember, most likely you cannot access google maps when you get lost.

When driving take it slow. People go above the speed limit they do not mind going around you. Once you get a handle on the roundabouts and driving on the other side of the road you can go above the 40 mph. Oh yeah and the cars are in kmp, have fun with that.

TC Day 1 OCE sign

I made it to Ocean Club East at the end of Grace Bay. Check-in was a breeze and the staff were friendly and helpful. The room had fresh flowers, a full kitchen, and a washer and dryer. If you stay here I would recommend a third floor room because of the high ceilings and the view from the porch. You do have to walk up the stairs though. The porches are the best part of the rooms, my room had a table to eat at and a lounge chair. At the Ocean Club each room is different so if you find one you like request it the next time.

TC Day 1 Room pic

You can contact the resort before your trip and let them know your travel plans and any requests that you may have. They were very helpful and had my room ready when I arrived at the resort even though check-in was at 4:00PM.

TC Day 1 Cabana bar

I was very hungry and decided to go the Cabana Bar at Ocean Club East for lunch. You do not need reservations here and can just walk up and pick a table. I ordered the drink special and the fish tacos.  They were both great! I liked the grilled fish that was in the tacos and the balsamic that was served with the salad. The service was friendly.

TC day 1 beach pic with boat.

The view from here was unreal, it is right on the beach. I was unsure if the water would be a beautiful as it was in pictures online and it was.

TC Day 1 IGA

Since the rooms at the Ocean Club have a full kitchen, I made a stop at the IGA which is the one on the highway to get some groceries for breakfast and some snack items for between meals. I thought the prices were not outrageous but what you would expect for being on an island. Some items are much more expensive, others are the same. If you are smart and buy some items that are different than when you buy at home, you will get out of there without spending a huge amount. I got eggs, butter, bread, guava jelly, and a few other items. Most of them only about a dollar more than what I pay in Minneapolis.

TC Day 1 Flamingos Pic

For dinner I made a stop at The Flamingo which is between Ocean Club East and Club Med. You do not need a reservation here. I would recommend either the curried grouper or the jerk chicken. Remember to wear bug spray when you are out at night. The Flamingo is right on the beach has great sunset view.

Providencailes does not have a night life. It is a place where people go to relax and get a good night sleep. Most of the people at the Ocean Club were either retired or families. If you want to go to a club or dance all night coming to Provo may not be your cup of tea.

Day one was the beginning of a very relaxing vacation.


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