Big Wood Brewery – White Bear Lake
One of the questions that I get most is about which brewery is the best in the Twin Cities. I haven’t been to every brewery in the state and I like many different breweries for different reasons. This is one of very favorite ones because of the beer.
If you haven’t been out to downtown White Bear Lake recently, it is a hopping place to be. Excellent shopping, salons, and food are found in the small downtown area that is perfect for a weekend trip. Come in the afternoon to do some shopping, stay for dinner, and then some after dinner drinks at Big Wood.
I’ve had almost everything on tap at the brewery besides the winter brew that they have coming out. I’ve been very impressed by the full flavor of each brew. Two of my favorites are the Bark Bite and Drevo. You can get tasting flights and they always have 10 beers on tap.
The taproom is fairly small but it isn’t usually full. They have tables in the front room and in the back room where there is a table tennis table. During the summer they have outdoor seating as well. They don’t have their own food in the taproom but you can order in from many of the local establishments. There are two really really great pizza places nearby that you can order from called Olives Pizza Bar and Pezzo Pizza.
I highly recommend stopping out to Big Wood Brewery and taking in all that White Bear Lake has to offer.
Because I do it for the brews.
What’s your favorite brewery in Minnesota? Where do you go when you go to White Bear Lake?
Restaurant Week – Acqua
With beautiful views of White Bear Lake, Acqua was my choice for MSPMAG’s Summer Restaurant Week in Minnesota.
I was blessed with the perfect day yesterday to spend time by the lake. I have been to White Bear Lake many times and have never dined at this restaurant. It is truly a hidden gem, that people are now discovering. White Bear Lake is about 25 Minutes outside of the cites and is worth the drive.
Acqua in my opinion is an Italian Seafood place. Meaning, when you come here you need to try something that has come from the sea and also has pasta with it. It has charm because it is located in a small house on a one way road and has a wonderful patio. Although, you cannot make reservations for the patio which is often full on sunny days like yesterday, dining in the house is equally as nice.
The Restaurant Week menu had at least 3 choices for each course allowing diners many options to choose from. My suggestion would be to try the item on the menu that seems the most unique to you and that you would not normally try. Those are always the menu items that I enjoy the most. I started with the Cantaloupe and Honeydew Puree with Strawberry and Mint.
This was definitely one of those items that I was not sure if I would like or if I would normally pick at a restaurant. But, it was great and look at that design. With hints of Cayenne Pepper this cold sweet soup was just what was needed to start off a great meal. I also had a few bites of the field greens with the tomato vinaigrette, also good, but more on the safe side of things.
You also get bread with honey butter while dining here…. I literally could not stop eating it. The wait staff who were friendly and professional kept bringing me more. Thank goodness for them.
Then on to the main event. You cannot go wrong with any of the choices on the restaurant week menu and from what I was hearing from other diners you can’t go wrong with virtually anything on the menu. I was told I need to come back and try the braised shank.
I had the main picture of this post, a Spaghetti with Grilled Shrimp, Roasted Tomato and Lemon Butter Sauce. It was delicious and I finished every bite. I regretted afterwards not saving some for leftovers.
I also tried the Eggplant Parmesan which had a delightful sauce on it.
Last but certainly not least was the desserts. Choose which ever item sounds good to you and go for it. You cannot make a wrong choice here. I had both the Creme Brulee and the Chocolate Souffle with the amazing graham cracker ice cream. I also saw the Pistachio Semifreddo come out and regretted not trying it.
Overall, try this place out for Summer Restaurant Week today or tomorrow and hope that next Restaurant Week they will be back again. Make sure to get your reservations in here early, you will not be disappointed. Heck, come here anytime you can because their regular menu looks fabulous also.
because sitting by a lake eating good food is what I want to be doing in heaven
Sam Thai & Chinese -White Bear Lake
When you pull up to this almost empty strip mall in White Bear Lake, you would never think that it housed an excellent restaurant. Usually known as the Thai place behind Kowalskis, Sam is the place to go to get Thai food in the North Suburbs. Just called Sam, plain and simple, this place has hands down the best Thai food I have ever had.
Most likely my favorite because Sam who owns Sam, was born in Thailand and learned how to cook from his mother. She made everything from scratch. So, that is exactly how Sam does it as well. He makes all the sauces and curry pastes in house and nothing is precooked.
I have eaten at Chang Mai Thai, Tum Rup Thai, and Thai Table ( I like the curry here) all in the last few months and Sam is by far my favorite. I liked all of restaurants other than Chang Mai Thai which does Pad Thai well, but I think the rest of the menu is lacking. For me, Sam was the best because it was all about the flavor and they did the tofu correctly. If you are a tofu person, you know how it can be mushy sometimes. Sam gets it right. I bet if you are a meat-a-tarian, you might even like the tofu here.
Sam is not a luxury Thai restaurant like the ones in Uptown. You won’t find swanky cocktails or themed decor. But, you will get a TV playing Justin Bieber, a drink machine that says you can only use it for ice, and a magazine collection. It is cozy and homey.
I tried a few items while I was there. The first, was a shrimp and chicken spring roll with a peanut sauce. It was very good and I liked the combination with both meats and the sauce. The sauce was not spicy and I could tell that the peanuts were just crushed. Plus, they were huge! See below.
With help from Sam, I ordered Pad Woon Sen which he says that many customers like because they are no fat low-carb noodles. He said they were made out of bean and now I know why many people order this, because they were delicious and felt like carbs. I ordered mine with beef and it came with a very flavorful broth. Which it set it apart from all the other items that I have had at other Thai restaurants. See below.
I also had a few bites of Pad Thai with tofu, I say only a few bites because it was gone within minutes. The portions are large, so you should have some for the next day if you don’t end up eating it all right away. Overall, this is something that you need to try and make your friends try as well.
If you haven’t been here yet, take a day trip or a night trip to White Bear Lake. Have dinner at Sam and check out some of the cute shops in downtown White Bear or go boating on the lake.
Because food is always better when passed down through generations.
Here is their website: http://samsthaifood.com/