Put on your PARKA! {Closed}

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Because winter has arrived!

I’m not a huge fan of winter, so I’m trying to embrace it as much as possible… But it’s hard for me to come up with a list of things I do like about it.

When I saw a Groupon Living Social deal for a restaurant in Minneapolis called PARKA, I was intrigued. Those of us who live in Minnesota practically live in our winter coats for at least four months out of the year.

The restaurant intrigued me because:

  1. I had never heard of it before even though it opened back in January of this year.
  2. It hails from the owners of Victory 44, which has been on our wishlist for burgers because it always seems to win that “Best Burger” title in the Twin Cities.
  3. Parka has this “Perfect Burger” on their menu, too!

After I informed my husband of my deal purchase, he said, “Why have I never heard of that place before? I know where I want to go for my birthday!”

And so we went, on a Saturday night… early. I spent all day reorganizing and purging from my closet and dresser, so we didn’t eat lunch. I think we left the house around 4:15pm, by which time we were hungry. It didn’t appear that they were the type of place to take reservations. And I knew that if they just sold a bunch of deals, the place just might be packed.

The place was pretty small and reminded me more of a coffee shop. You order at the counter and your food is delivered to you.

They carry three beers on tap and they are all from the local brewery, Indeed Brewing. We’ve had a few of their beers before, one of which includes the LSD, which doesn’t get great ratings, but I totally puffy heart it. There are many more beers available by the bottle or the can, as well as wine. But we, eh hem, Indeed ordered the Midnight Ryder Black Ale on tap.

Our deal included two beverages, an appetizer, two entrées and a dessert. We placed our orders, tipped in the jar and had a seat. Below is the Living Social photo for the deal, but it was pretty much taken from the seat where I sat that evening!

Source: Living Social

{Source: Living Social}

The décor design feels Scandinavian and cozy, reminiscent to the heritage that is rooted here in Minnesota. And although the term Parka is Aleutian, it captures the essence of the cold weather than we Minnesotans either complain about or embrace all winter long. In the corner is a very old TV {with knobs!} and VCR playing recorded {obviously} old North Stars hockey matches. Hockey is beloved here, and although the Wild are wildly popular, the North Stars are still highly missed. I’m sure watching those games is nostalgic for some.

Our beers were promptly delivered to our table:

Indeed Midnight Ryder Black Ale

Indeed Midnight Ryder Black Ale

Originally, for our appetizer, Rob wanted to order the bacon fries. Despite my anti-bacon-on-or-in-my-food preference, I conceded because, after all, it was his birthday dinner. However, we were told that the bacon fries came with the burger, so if we planned on ordering that, we might want to try something else. We asked for an appetizer recommendation. Here’s what we got:

Devils on Horseback

Devils on Horseback

Unless you’ve heard of these before, the average person would not know what these were because there are no descriptions on the menu. I must say that our service was excellent and when someone came to check on us and we asked about the creamy foam, we were given quite a lot of detail about the dish!

Devils on Horseback = Bacon-wrapped, blue cheese-filled dates baked in the oven accompanied by a blue cheez whiz (foam), almond brittle and a ginger date purée.

Who would have known this otherwise? And it was so good! I actually liked not knowing what all of the accompaniments were before I tasted them so that I wouldn’t have any preconceived idea or thought whether or not I’d like every component.

Rob was giddy as he exclaimed that he felt like we were getting to try dishes on Top Chef!

Then came our entrées, which ended up being a bit disappointing.

photo 3

The Perfect Burger

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this burger was perfect. I would say it was good, but it wasn’t one I’d ever get again. Maybe I’d give it a try over at Victory 44 just to see if there is a difference. The cheese was nice and melty, but the meat was a little strange to me. And although the bacon wasn’t overpowering, I still wasn’t feeling it.

We didn’t see any bacon on the fries and Rob thought the white topping was goat cheese, but when I dipped my finger in it, it felt like a powder! I tasted it first, then made Rob try it. And neither of us could taste any flavor. When we inquired about the topping we learned that it was bacon fat powder. Lucky for me, the fries weren’t overpowered with bacon. But if you are looking for bacon fries, these probably won’t satisfy you. The fries themselves weren’t all that exciting anyway. If we are in that neighborhood and craving fries, it’s off to Mosaic we will go!

The second entrée we split:

Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese

A hefty portion of mac and cheese arrived along with our burger. Rob found the dish to be creamy; I did not. Plus, it needed some sort of seasoning. It was completely blah. I ended up mixing in those greens and mustard seeds in, which helped a bit, but not enough to get excited about ordering the dish again. And those sausages? I thought they’d be house-made or something. They had a little kick to them. But they were just hot dogs!

And finally, probably the star of the show:

Chocolate Layer Cake

Chocolate Layer Cake

Rob and I rarely order dessert, so this wasn’t the dish we’d been waiting for. Besides, Chocolate Layer Cake sounds a little boring. But this dessert was far from that!

Side note: By this time, there was a line nearly out the door!

Rob was in the restroom when the plate was delivered to our table. I asked what kind of ice cream was served with the cake. The bearded gentleman who brought it to our table wasn’t sure. But I told him that it was okay, I could just taste it! He said that he could check, too.

When Rob returned to the table, he was impressed by the presentation. Bearded man returned and said, “Did you taste it yet?”

I hadn’t because I didn’t want to start Rob. Then, “I’ll give you a dollar if you can guess!”

I took a bite and tasted coffee. But it couldn’t be that easy! I love coffee ice cream, but there was something slightly different about this one.

“Some kind of coffee?” I said.

“Close.”

He turned to Rob, “I’ll give you a dollar if you can guess, too!”

Rob had nothing.

And it was revealed:

CHICORY ICE CREAM

I was pretty darn close. It did remind me of the coffee I’d had in New Orleans! I love when chefs attempt at fun, unique ice cream flavors. Who would have known that this would come with our chocolate layer cake? It’s not noted on the menu! The cake was very good, too, by the way, along with the toasted marshmallow!

But when I bit in into the white chocolate, it almost bit me back! There was something that seemed spicy in there. I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not. I was just more fascinated by it than anything else. I would go back for more in between bites of the cake. My palate was thoroughly confused. I flagged bearded server down again only to find out that the sugar they use to make that white chocolate is the sugar used to make Sweet Tarts. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

Talk about an interesting dining experience, especially with such basically described items on their menu!

This deal reconfirmed something for us. Deal sites like Groupon and Living Social allow us to try something new, whether it be a dining at a new restaurant, discovering a different neighborhood, or trying foods we won’t normally try. It opens up a whole new world for us and gets us out of our comfortable little box.

Just think about it, even if we had heard of Parka before, we may not have ordered anything there but the burger and mac and cheese and then would have gone away disappointed. We still have another deal to use, so we’ll be trying some different entrées next time around.

Now, after all that…

What do you like about winter?

Cheers~
Carrie

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3 responses »

  1. I hate going into a place thinking you are going to have the best “whatever” and then it doesn’t live up to it. Oh well, you got a deal and a date so that’s a win!

    Hate winter. Love fall, but once the snow gets dirty I am ready for it to be over!

  2. Pingback: Ale Fest 2013 | Season It Already!

  3. Pingback: Baby, It’s Cold Outside… | Season It Already!

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