Category Archives: Restaurants

Super Bowl 52 in Minneapolis

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As a football fan, I watch the Super Bowl every year.

But I have never lived in a metropolis where the Super Bowl is being hosted.

I come to find out…

It’s a pretty big deal.

The National Guard comes to town.

At cross walks, they block vehicles from plowing over pedestrians.

We all know that whenever a city decides to build a new stadium, they often get help from the NFL by allowing them to host a Super Bowl in the near future, with the expectation that such an event will boost the economy to help pay for the damn thing.

Now, I am a Packer fan living in Viking Country; but I have plenty of MN Vikings fan friends. (Some are die-hards; most are fair-weather. They came out of the woodworks this year!) I was happy for my die-hard fans to get a new stadium. It was long overdue. You can read this fun article about the 12,000-year-old history here.

I haven’t been to US Bank Stadium yet; but I can’t say I haven’t benefited from it’s construction! Perhaps indirectly, but from my paycheck to the Lefse Nachos at Erik the Red {Try them! You’ll be surprised!}, I’ve got to tell you, my life has been enhanced by its fabrication and the trickle-down effect.

But did I know that when a Super Bowl happens, there are festivities All. Week. Long.?

I feel bad for our visitors this weekend. It is a cold, cold weekend… When even the majority of us locals don’t want to be outside. In fact, here are a few things you shouldn’t do in this cold weather.

I was lucky enough to experience some of the festivities last weekend, when it was a balmy 35 degrees in the evening. This is not bad weather when there is no wind, you are shielded by downtown buildings and you are wearing the right clothing. I couldn’t believe I saw people in ski masks. I was just fine in my parka, scarf and mittens!

We were invited by friends on a Friday night and opted to Uber because it was cheaper (and less annoying) than $50 they were charging for parking. We never pay that much for parking here in our Twin Cities. Usually, it’ll be anywhere from $6 to $12. The most I think of paid was $20 for an event. This is crazy!

While downtown, we explored Nicollet Mall… enjoying some of our favorite haunts. But we also got up close and personal with the kitties performing in Hallmark Channel’s Kitten Bowl, watched people ski and tube down the makeshift American Birkebeiner International Bridge and finished the night listening to some free outdoor music.

The following morning, we hit up Hell’s Kitchen for some brunch with some more friends. You. Guys. I didn’t try it, but they have a killer bloody mary bar! I prefer someone to mix up a bloody for me; but this one is impressive and worth at least checking out. {And visitors, that little beer you get alongside is called a chaser or sometimes a beerback. Don’t knock it!}

And for those of you Philly fans needing your cheesesteak fix, our fave Devil’s Advocate has just reopened as a pop-up on Nicollet Mall. But they aren’t quite ready with a full menu yet. Still they are serving that perfect cheesesteak we’ve come to adore {no peppers/onions and cheese sauce, not provolone!} over at Dan Kelly’s Irish Pub where Devil’s has been hiding while they await their new digs. But if you are near the stadium, check out Erik the Red, a sister resto to Devil’s that I mentioned earlier – great beer selection and get those Lefse Nachos! They might be one of the most underrated MN foods that no one is talking about.

The other weird thing about being in Super Bowl country is how everyone seems to want a piece of pie. Some restaurants have been shown to change up their menus and increase prices. $36 Guac and Chips? I think not.

While I can’t vouch that all of our favorite dishes will be available this weekend or that crowds won’t be crazy, here are some of our past reviews and favorites:

Rob’s best burgers and fries lists have not been updated in ages… but I can tell you that the top two burgers go to Parlour (Mpls) and St. Dinette (St. Paul), our top Juicy Lucy is still found at Buffalo Tap in Savage and that the only bar/restaurant missing on our Top 10 Best Beer Selections in the Twin Cities is Ansari’s Mediterranean Grill in Eagan. In fact, you’ll find beers there you won’t find any where else in the Twin Cities.

Want some other, uhem… more professional opinions? Try these:

And if you are really, really cold (and you should be), learn how to Dress Minnesotan. I know I’m seeing a concert at the Turf Club in St. Paul when the majority of attendees are wearing North Face fleeces. Oh yah. You betcha.

If you’ve got anything to add to this list, feel free to let us know!

Oh… and although they aren’t playing in the Super Bowl this year, I’ll end this post in the words of Justin Timberlake, “Go Pack Go.”

Happy Super Bowl weekend!!!

Cheers~
Carrie

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Yankee Tavern

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Yes, it’s true. It’s been a while since I’ve posted about dining out.

But I need to do it – for my memory’s sake!

We recently returned to a new restaurant in our area. We had only been there once and we couldn’t remember what we liked, didn’t like and wanted to try next time! It kind of all mixed together. I even texted our friends who were with us on the first visit and they couldn’t remember either. Maybe it’s safe to say that the food was not memorable?!

In any case, here goes… I’m going to attempt to get back into the blogging game… or help my memory.

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Yankee Tavern is the new South of the River overhaul of the old Valley Lounge, an old dive bar in Eagan we stopped in a time or two. Let me tell you, they put some money into this place to revamp it!

The prices are a bit high for the area; but I imagine it’ll take some time to turn a profit. Also to note… all items are à la carte. No sides are included. There are no prices online, so I can’t offer those up on the blog from memory.

There’s no real “about” information on the Yankee Tavern website at the time of this writing, but a few reviews and Facebook posts from friends and foodies indicated that this place is known for brisket, fried chicken and southern comfort food. But the menu truly is extensive.

When Rob and I went with the girls, we ordered wide variety of food.

First, sammies!

The girls’ general consensus is that these sandwiches were just okay, nothing anyone would order again. I think we agreed the Thin Sliced Sea Salt Kettle Chips were good as was the Blue Cheese Pickled Onion Cole Slaw. I know someone liked the Jalapeno Corn Bread with Salted Caramel Butter

Jalapeno Cornbread with Salted Caramel Butter

… but I found it to be a little burnt and dry.

I bet you’d never guess that Rob ordered a burger:

Neither of us remember which burger it was. He said it was fine; it just wasn’t seasoned at all. The side he ordered ^^Grilled Garlic Kiev Butter Smashed Potato. Also, just okay. I think he was hoping for the unforgettable, mouthwatering smashed potatoes that we had at Heirloom a month or so before, but those boots are just way too big to fill!

I went straight in and ordered according to a recommendation I saw online:

Two Piece Regular Crispy Style Fried Chicken | Louisiana Red Beans & Rice w/Ham & Andouille

The fried chicken was juicy, but the batter had no flavor, nor seasoning. I did get the regular crispy style, instead of the other flavors offered, though. Still, crispy fried chicken at your good ol’ Popeye’s and KFC still has flavor! The red beans and rice were good, but there was definitely way more rice than the red bean concoction, making it seem dry overall.

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When Rob and I went back to give this place another try, we forgot all of this. All we knew is that it was close to another event we were attending and we should probably order something different.

I remember eyeing the “Bowls” on the menu, specifically the Thai Peanut one, the last time we were there. Though on this day, it was particularly chilly and the American Bowl just sounded comforting:

American Bowl – Mashed potato, shredded cheese, corn, deep fried chicken tenders, peppercorn gravy, sour cream, green onion

I liked that the corn was roasted and the gravy had a yummy peppercorn flavor, but biting into whole peppercorns started to get old! The chicken was nice and juicy, I just wished it would have been a bit crispier. The mashed potatoes weren’t completely mashed, which I don’t mind some chunks from time to time; but there were a lot of them. One of them was even under-cooked.

But then we found the star of the show:

Chicago Brisket Sandwich – Smoked brisket, pepper jack, giardiniera, ciabatta bread | Fried Shallot Haystack

It seems the brisket is where it’s at here! Rob loved the brisket along with the way the ciabatta was nicely toasted and the giardinera really set off this sandwich for that little kick that’s to his liking. He added the Fried Shallot Haystack as a side. These were very good! But I find them strange as a side rather than something you’d use as a topping.

Yankee Tavern is still in it’s opening months, so we’ll need to give it some time to work out some kinks. It really seems to be hopping thus far, though. It also appears to be a Viking Football hotspot. So consider timing if you plan to venture out on game day! Yankee Tavern serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

What’s your favorite southern dish?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

Butcher & the Boar

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On that beautiful afternoon last August when we took my mom down Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis, we decided to take a little walk further. Rob and I hadn’t yet been to The Butcher and the Boar, but we had heard that it had a fantastic patio. We had to wait a bit in a line outside because it wasn’t quite yet open.

 As you may guess, Butcher and the Boar is all about the meat! The outdoor patio is huge and meant for a crowd. It’s a little oasis downtown.

And I’m guessing they are dog friendly. 😉 The poster below shows the weekly dog event last summer! I’m not sure if it is going on again this year… But if I lived much closer, I’d probably be there!

Butcher & the Boar is known for their chef-crafted meats. In the Twin Cities, you can find their sausages in some of the local grocery stores! We ran the gamut on our choices that day…

To be quite honest, I don’t remember if that was a sausage or a brat or what, but I’m guessing Rob ordered it! Their menu changes all of the time, so what we ate last August might not be available now anyway.

I’m guessing this is what my mom ordered. She loves a good burger! But I could be wrong, maybe Mom got the sausage and Rob the burger. All I know is that they both loved their meats!

I have no idea why I chose wings. I’m not really a wing person, but they must have sounded good at the time. Though I don’t remember why, I do remember that they were a little disappointing. Carrie, next time get the real meat! I remember also enjoying some local craft beers and ciders and that Bourbon was a big deal here as well.

Looking at these photos has me wanting to get back to the Butcher and the Boar soon. Anyone want to join us?!

What’s your favorite meat of choice?

Cheers~
Carrie

Family in Town {Last Year!}

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I wrote most of this post last August, but never published it!  I changed nothing, but added the end… Enjoy!

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Written 8/31/16…

I have been anxiety-ridden for about the past month. I always thought I dealt fairly well with change, but apparently not! Luckily, my mom came to visit me for a week. Having family in town distracted me from thinking (or feeling frozen) too much.

You know your mom loves you when she comes to visit you for a week, without a car, even when you have to work!

Why did she not have a car? Because the first weekend, my brother and Co. dropped her off. We had a lovely time, but unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos of the usual stuff – like playing poker or taking our annual trip to Burger Jones.

However, for some reason we decided to capture the moment my brother introduced all of his home brews! I find the expressions in these photos funny, so I thought I’d share them with you:

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My brother has a decade+ long obsession with duct tape. That’s why labeling his bottles with such is so fitting! I was quite impressed by his brews. We are looking forward to trying more in the future.

While our dogs both have really taken to all four of the kids, for some reason, Sham usually will end up hanging with Max.
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The kids had their usual swimming and MOA time, but we had a bit of adult time, too. We didn’t take JR on an afternoon-long brewery tour like we did for his birthday that one time, but we did introduce him to the one not too far from us that had finally arrived south of the the river – Nutmeg. Let me tell you, they have really upped their game since the first time I posted. There are new brewers that craft some exceptional beers in the smallest room possible. The food is exceptional… and there are even cocktails on the menu now.

This photo of her cocktail and a Nutmeg brew is courtesy of my brother’s wife, D. I like how she got the photo of Rob’s and my noses almost touching!

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My mom really likes those keg lights hanging from the ceiling^^. And we have to say, dessert there is divine, too. But there is a total disagreement on which dessert is better, the Porter Brownie Sundae or the Amber Toffee Cake.

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The reason I never finished that post was that I had more to say. I often try to put too much into one post and then it never gets published! I need to remember to break things up. What I wanted to add was more of what happened that week with my mom!

For example, on a beautiful afternoon, we took her to Nicollet Mall to enjoy some of our favorites: such as a Cheese Toastie on the rooftop of Brit’s Pub while watching Lawn Bowling, a pint of cider or a Big Ginger at The Local and these Brie Curds with Blueberry Ketchup at The News Room:

It was such a lovely day that day (I remember it well!) that we took a little walk to a hip outdoor patio to which Rob and I had not yet been. I’ll leave that one for another post. 😉

Better late then never, right?

What photos have brought back wonderful memories to you lately?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

Sea Salt – I Felt Like I Was on Vacation

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It was my turn to pick a location for Girls Dinner Night Out this past weekend. Because Rob was out of town, I was feeling seafood! Can you believe I’ve lived in the Twin Cities for 15 years now and I’d never been to Sea Salt Eatery?! Sea Salt Eatery is located in Minnehaha Park right near Minnehaha Falls – a destination I recommend to everyone visiting the Twin Cities!

Sea Salt Eatery is open approximately April through October. You know, those times we Minnesotans just want to be OUTSIDE! The menu focuses mostly on seafood, much of it fried.

I have read that there is always a line, but it’s worth the wait. You order your food and drinks (beer and wine, too!) at the counter, where you pay and get a number. Go find a seat and enjoy the outdoors. The food may take some time, but relax! And if you need another beverage, you don’t have to get back in line. There is a beverage-only counter as well. We were lucky to have a little live music to add to our ambiance that evening.

I truly didn’t feel like we were dining out in Minneapolis. I felt like we were on vacation, enjoying the sunshine, relaxing and trying some of the local cuisine. {Of course, only the sunshine and relaxation were true!}

The food was great!

Fried Bay Scallop Tacos

Kim was smart and asked which were the best tacos on the menu and the reply was either the Fried Fish or Fried Scallop Tacos. These two little tacos may not look like much, but Kim said they were very filling!

Steamed Shrimp Tacos

I was a little jealous after seeing Kim’s Scallop Tacos because they were topped with a creamy, yummy-looking sauce. My Steamed Shrimp Tacos looked boring. But they fooled me because my tacos were not dry – there was tons of flavor there!

Jen ordered the Crabcake Basket (not pictured) which came with a corn salsa on the side that she found a bit spicy. There were diced up jalapenos in there! And to share, Kim ordered us the Crab-Stuffed Avocado.

Crab Stuffed Avocado

Wash it all down with local beer and cider and we were ready to walk by and enjoy the falls. This summer, get thee to Minnehaha Falls. Climb those stairs! We aren’t getting any younger! Then stop for a bite at Sea Salt Eatery. Even if you haven’t left town, you just might feel like you are vacation, too.

What local places near you make you feel relaxed and on vacation?

Cheers~
Carrie

Some of the Best Food I’ve Had in a Long Time…

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I haven’t been writing much on the blog about the restaurants we’ve been visiting. There are several reasons for this, but rather than bore you with them, I’d just like to jump back on that wagon… because last weekend I had some of the best food that I’ve had in long time!

Wise Acre Eatery

This south Minneapolis restaurant has been on my wishlist for quite some time. I know that farm-to-table is kind of an over-used phrase these days; but the intention behind this one is real. They have their own farm in Minnesota that sources nearly all the ingredients on the menu.

It came up because my husband and I wanted a weekend breakfast, but I know he’s not a huge fan of brunch (typically when it’s a buffet). I did a few searches and when I found Wise Acre Eatery with a burger on the menu, I knew it was a win!

We arrived just after opening and were quickly seated to a table. We normally sit at the bar, but it just didn’t feel right on this occasion. But they do have one! I had a nice view of the kitchen from my seat. We really loved the ambiance.

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Per my usual, I had a difficult time deciding. We read that WAE is known for their bacon. But by the looks of the menu, it didn’t seem like there’d be a bad choice!

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I was completely intrigued by the Chili Platter! It’s nothing I’d normally associate with brunch. I considered ordering it, but was also feeling eggs… So in the end, I went with the special of the day risotto special of the day.

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For the record, Rob ordered the ^^Apple Lemon Verbena Soda on that specials board and loved it!

Lilac Risotto - with crispy ham hock

Lilac Risotto with crispy ham hock, parmesan cheese, butter blanched peas and a poached egg. Served with a grilled baguette topped with honey lilac butter – $16

You Guys. This was the best risotto of my life. It was perfect. Creamy, cheesy, buttery with the nice crisp of the hearty greens, a drippy runny egg to stir in, peas that pop in your mouth. Oh and that baguette! I wanted another, perfectly grilled with a smear of lilac butter. I wish it were always on their menu. But alas, that changes… for good reason. Remember? They source their own ingredients and are therefore seasonal, silly.

Rob did {surprise! surprise!} go with the burger. He did seriously consider the risotto and the some of the other items on the menu, though!

wae-burger

Royal Brie and Bacon Burger – 1/3 lb Scottish Highland beef, farm fries and WAE housemade ketchup

Gorgeous, no? Overall, Rob thought the burger was okay. {Though he was jealous of my risotto after one bite!} He didn’t think it was seasoned very well. My bite didn’t have any brie, although it was a small portion that was beautifully whipped! I also found the bun, although nicely toasted, to be a bit bread-y, over-taking the flavor of the burger. That bacon though – insane. I’d say it’s more like pork belly. It probably is, I just don’t know about these things.

Those fries though! Rob said some of the most underrated fries in the Twin Cities. {If we’d ever update his best fries list, I imagine they’d make it!} The homemade ketchup had a flavor that I couldn’t put my finger on; but I wasn’t fond of it. No matter. The fries didn’t need them and we rarely eat ketchup anyway.

I boxed up the rest of my risotto because I was quite full. But Rob insisted on the dessert menu. Since I didn’t take a photo of that menu, here is the back of the regular menu that lists the desserts as well:

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Rob was ogling over the Shake Diane; but the dessert menu had dessert beverages on it as well. That was when Rob ordered himself a glass of white port, but only after I ordered this, making me feel really guilty!

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Chocolate Cupcake with housemade ganache

This cupcake was a chocolate-lover’s dream. It was moist and decadent. I guess I was just hoping it wasn’t a dried out cupcake sitting around in their display case! It most certainly wasn’t. We went home with full bellies and a desire to return… sooner than later!

What’s the best Special of the Day that you’ve ever had?

{Maybe one you wish they’d bring back!}

Cheers~
Carrie

Quebec City: Observations & Next Time

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As a little endcap to our Quebec City scrapbook, I’d like to make mention of a few miscellaneous things we did, a few observations I made and a few notes for ourselves on what we’d do next time.

Not until I started writing this post did I realize that in our three nights in Quebec City, we popped into three Irish pubs! While it is the norm for us to find an Irish pub whenever we travel, our multiple stops in Quebec City were unintentional! In fact, none of them were planned. They just happened to be in our path when timing, hunger or an inability to make a decision rose…

Irish Pub #1

First up is Pub Claddagh. Here, we decided to try an Irish-style Poutine:

I loved the concept of having an Irish-style version in an Irish Pub in Quebec City. In fact, we found out that nearly every bar and restaurant has their own take on poutine. It’s probably why Rob didn’t order it as often as he thought he would.

Irish English Pub #2

On another occasion, we were just stopping for a drink. This was at Pub Saint-Alexandre, which I come to find out now is technically English Pub.

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There is a Pub Chez Murphy’s now next door; but I just had the impression they were one in the same. We also got some fries to snack on here. {Can you see why I got so sick of fries!?} They weren’t very good anyway. But it was also very close to the touristy area, so I probably wouldn’t ever eat here again. Or if I did, I’d go with their cheese plate, which hails cheeses only from Quebec. I wasn’t too hungry at the time; otherwise, you know that would have been my choice!

Burgers

Across the street was a restaurant called Les Trois Garçons which we noticed and were later recommended for burgers by an employee at Korrigane Brasserie. We learned that, especially in the touristy area, no one wanted you to walk in and try to find a seat at the bar. They had to seat you. It was a little annoying; but I had to realize it was part culture, part an attempt at crowd control.

I wasn’t too keen on going for burgers {more fries!} while we were in Quebec City; but it was on a night that we couldn’t make a decision and just needed to stop walking. The burgers were okay, but nothing you’d have to make a stop for. In fact, I did take photos, but they aren’t blog worthy.

Italian

Because of Rob’s obsessive love of Italian food {and my love for him}, we stopped on two separate occasions for Italian. Italian food in Quebec City? Yup. Both were good. One had great service. The other did not. Another observation: Service when you sit at the bar in Quebec is not at all like that in the U.S. Sometimes there is not a set bartender. Sometimes that bartender gets all the drinks and also has all the tables on the terrasse. So you don’t get a lot of interaction.

Irish Pub #3

Our last impromptu Irish Pub stop was probably our favorite of the three: Pub Saint-Patrick. We stopped here for a nightcap after one of our Italian dinners. They had such an extensive craft beer list! And I, not wanting anything too heavy after our Italian dinner, went with a cider instead…

IMG_7220Rob chose an absolutely amazing beer:

The Vache Folle {crazy cow!} Imperial Milk Stout is a high-alcohol creamy-goodness wonder. It was a perfect dessert!

Coffee

I wish we’d have found a better cafe for breakfast coffee and croissants. Our hotel offered them; but you had to let them know the night before. We popped into Café Paillard one morning, as I had it written down as a recommendation; but it was more a chain type of place with absolutely no character. I was unimpressed.

However, what I do like are the espresso machines found behind nearly every bar!

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This is often the case in Europe, but rare in the U.S. I would just love this option, especially after a heavy meal and drinks or when I am designated as sober cab!

Hockey

I believe the whole world knows of the Canadians’ love of hockey. I thought I understood since I currently live in Minnesota, which is known in the U.S. as the “State of Hockey.” However, I did not. Keep in mind that we were in Quebec in July. Hockey news was displayed on every T.V. no matter where we went! The biggest news at the time: the trade of Canadiennes’ P.K. Subban. There was quite the uproar!

Calèches:

I know that the horse-drawn carriages, known as calèches in this quaint little town are supposed to offer a piece of history and a touch of romance to the visitor’s experience. You will also find these in the old part of town in Montreal. I read a few articles about them before our trip and I’ll have to agree. They are not exactly the most humane thing. I did see one driver having trouble “controlling” his horse and was beating him furiously, while the troubled tourists held on while their carriage went back and forth in every direction as the horse tried to evade each whip. NOT COOL.

Next Time:

I was really trying to be super relaxed about this trip and go with the flow. With a list of recommendations in hand, I thought we’d pick restaurants and things to do based on where we were at any give point in time. I regret this. There was too much indecisiveness on both our parts and it was just a little too relaxed. I also relied on my phone too much for maps and information when wi-fi wasn’t always readily available. I had a hard time keeping a charge on my phone more so than I ever had before.

So next time, I think we’d:

  • Enjoy Quebec City in the fall.
  • Get another hotdog at Inox.
  • Enjoy a cheese plate at the Chateau Frontenac with good wine or cocktails – worth the splurge!
  • Get more adventurous and try more traditional Quebecois foods like at Aux Anciens Canadiens.
  • Get a queue de castor (beaver tail) in Lower Town.
  • Book reservations at L’affaire est Ketchup – a popular restaurant that you need to have rez for at least several weeks in advance!
  • Eat less fries!
  • Try any, if not all, of the desserts at Pub du Parvis.
  • Wander the Parc de l’Esplanade or Plaines d’Abraham and perhaps take a picnic.
  • Go to the Le Cercle Bar or Bar la Nankasi for music.
  • Or any of the places I listed at the end of this post.

We made our way to the train station for our 3 and 1/2-hour train ride to Montreal.

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The train ride was a much different experience from those I’ve had in Europe. There are actual car attendants that come around with food and drinks (for purchase). I felt more like we were on a flight.

I try not to have not to regret not doing something on my travels, but prefer to make notes for next time. That way, we learn from our mistakes and have some must-dos should we return!

What have you regretted when traveling?

My next post will be on Montreal, but until then, here are our other posts on QC, if you’d like to catch up!

Cheers~
Carrie