Tag Archives: bloody mary

The Pear & Half-Priced Wine

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Happy Wine Wednesday!

I heard on Robert Irvine’s Restaurant Impossible that the slowest night of the week for restaurants is Monday. It makes perfect sense. Weekends will be busy. When it comes to the start of the week, people get back to their routines and often reconnect with health or financial goals.

In Europe, you’ll often find restaurants closed on Mondays. You may even see that where you live.

But for those that are open, one way to get people inside…

Half Price Wine Nights

Monday just happens to be Half Price Wine Night at one of the most convenient restaurants for us South of the River – Roasted Pear. And this post is long overdue.

We’ve been frequenting this place for quite some time. In fact, The Pear (as we affectionately call it) has been in business for about ten years now – just as long as Rob and I have been together!

For us, this place is an easy choice. We can always get a seat, even if it’s just at the bar. We know what we like {and don’t like} to eat there. And the service is great. {Shout outs to The Michelles, Olaf and Dan!}

The Wine

So the wine list isn’t stellar, but it’s inexpensive. Actually, even when it’s not half-price, it’s affordable. My only beef? Reds are not usually the right temperature. They have what looks like a cellar where they house the wines, but it is not temperature controlled. Red wines should not be warm. They should not even be room temperature. Go for cellar/basement temperature and you are usually golden. To rectify this? I ask for a wine chiller to bring it down a few degrees.

My absolute favorite wine to order on half-price wine night is the Edmeades Zinfandel:

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This is a flavorful wine for any restaurant. It’s any wonder why I choose any other wine when we go there on Mondays. I do like to vary things a bit and try new things. But a lot of the other reds on the menu, I have found, have that “sweet” generic taste to me.

Because we’d easily spend $25 or more elsewhere on a crappy bottle of wine any given night, we decided to try The Pear’s highest price wine ($50) on a half-priced one night. We knew it would be a much better value.

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Only that wine really was a Decoy! The menu (shown below) said that the wine was from Napa Valley (most known for its cabs), but the one we received was from Sonoma. But it’s a region I love anyway!

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One Monday not too long ago, the lights went out while we were dining at The Pear. In fact, the entire block of businesses had a power outage. Michelle was bartending and brought out flashlights for her guests. And some of us lit up our tables with our cell phones. However, when one diner left, the headlights of his car shown through the window illuminating our half-price wine bottle like this:

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Actually, we see a lot of people who are dining alone ordering a bottle on half price wine night. I’ve even seen one couple who ordered a red for him and a white for her. Yes, they had two bottles of wine at their table. Why on earth? Because you can doggie bag it! Why not get what you like?

The Food

We honestly don’t love everything at The Pear. But we do have a few favorites that never do us wrong! First, you can always start off with a good bowl of soup.

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Tomato Basil Soup

This is the best tomato soup I’ve had in the entire Twin Cities. {Sul Lago takes a close second.} When they finally put this soup on the menu full-time, I felt that it was the best thing they ever did. For just $5, you can get a filling BOWL {they don’t serve it by the cup} of Tomato Basil Soup topped with a grilled-cheese crouton. It is served with of a triangle of their yummy bread topped with herbs and served with a composed butter:

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But at dinner time, you can’t order a grilled cheese with their tomato soup. 😦 Instead, I opt for the Cheesy Garlic Bread. Dip it right in the tomato soup. I’m not telling you that this is low-calorie or healthy by any means; but you won’t be disappointed! During Happy Hour, you can get the Cheesy Garlic Bread for just $4, making your entire dinner just $9 when you add the soup.

We are nearly always pleasantly surprised with their pizzas. {Note: We hear that you won’t find pizzas at the Brooklyn Park location. As I understand it, they don’t have a pizza oven.}

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Reuben Pizza – $13.50
Thousand island dressing, corned beef, sauerkraut, five cheese blend and swiss cheese

The Reuben is Rob’s favorite pizza. It’s what he orders the majority of the time. The Thousand Island you see above is not how the pizza arrives though. While the crust is absolutely perfect, the pizza doesn’t always turn out consistently the way he wants. So he orders an side of Thousand Island, just in case. Before we boxed up and took this half of the pizza home, he poured the remaining dressing on top.

If I’m to order a pizza at The Pear, it’s often this one:

Margherita Fresh basil, garlic, mozzarella, and roma tomatoes 11.5 - See more at: http://www.roastedpear.com/Burnsville-Menu/Dinner#sthash.5tmnwn2W.dpuf

Margherita Pizza$11.50
Fresh basil, garlic, mozzarella, and roma tomatoes

During Happy Hour, you can get a mini version of the Margherita Pizza for just 5 smackaroos.

There is a signature item on the menu that cannot be missed:

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Roasted Pear Spinach Salad – $11
Spinach, roasted pears, caramelized pecans, gorgonzola cheese and balsamic vinaigrette, Add grilled chicken – $3

I adore this salad! But I love spinach and always add grilled chicken. So, it makes me happy. The salad, I’ve found, hasn’t been consistent either. Sometimes it’s under or overdressed or there is a limited amount of blue cheese. You can always ask for the dressing on the side. But somehow, I think that’s wrong here.

We also have liked:

~ Cajun Tenderloin Bites – $10.50 – Spicy sauteed tenderloin tips with bearnaise and horseradish sauce

~ Roasted Pear Baked Brie (though it’s been years since I’ve had it!) – $10.50 – Caramelized onions and roasted pears wrapped in puff pastry

~ Rotisserie Chicken – $15.50 – Rubbed with a house spice blend and served with vegetables and choice of potato, as well as a salad to start

~ French Dip – $9.75 – Slow roasted beef and swiss cheese on a french roll with au jus (Ask for a side of horseradish sauce to give it more of a kick.)

What we have tried a few times at The Pear and haven’t really enjoyed are the steaks {minus the cajun tenderloin bites app} and the burgers. The fries aren’t memorable either. But we know we can get our favorites of those elsewhere and know what we really come to The Pear for that we can’t get anywhere else!

Brunch

The Roasted Pear has a very nice Sunday brunch, something I’m usually not a fan of when it means a buffet. Not included in the brunch, but something I like to order is a Bloody Mary. It was my fave Bloody Mary for a while. It’s still good, I just have a few others that have topped it since.

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Roasted Pear Blood Mary {meaning it belongs to the RP, not that there are roasted pears in it!} with beer chaser

Brunch is reasonably priced and includes the choice of sparkling wine or mimosa, their brunch buffet {which I normally won’t do!}, and your choice of a made-to-order Eggs Benedict on an English muffin. Once I get my complimentary beverage, I’ve got quite a variety in front of me. {Sometimes there is even coffee, too!}

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What I like about the Roasted Pear Brunch is that I can put a teensy bit of everything on my plate. They even have their Roasted Pear Salad on the line! One thing I never order off of any menu is lasagna. But The Pear’s is to die for. So I can nab just a bit at brunch time, without ever having to order it as a heavy meal in and of itself.

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And then there is dessert. I usually am filled up on my Eggs Benedict and one plate of food; but if there is room, I might try a couple of mini desserts to enjoy with my remaining bubbly.

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We rarely get dessert on any given night. But if you do, you must try their signature Roasted Pear and Craisin Crisp. Per their website, it’s “Pears and cranberries baked with a crunch topping served warm with vanilla ice cream.” It’s not something I’d normally ever order; but our table split it once and I was won over immediately!

I love that The Roasted Pear incorporates pears, especially roasted ones, in so many dishes on their menu. We love The Pear for it’s location, friendly staff, casual atmosphere and the signature dishes that you can’t really find elsewhere.

Happy Wine Wednesday! Twin Cities peeps, stay tuned in the next week or two… I have a Half-Priced Wine gift for you… 🙂

What’s your favorite signature dish at a restaurant?

Do you go out for half-price wine nights?

Cheers~
Carrie

Townline – Green Bay

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Although we had a Green Bay address growing up, we lived on the outskirts, near the villages of Howard and Suamico. There wasn’t much nearby. We couldn’t even get pizza delivered. But the area has grown and expanded, so there’s now even a gas station less than four miles from my parents’ home.

You’ll also find a little pub and grill nearby called Townline. It was erected not long after I moved to Minnesota. What’s fun is that while the building is new, the tavern isn’t. You can read about the history here.

Because it’s so close, it’s a place we can easily get some grub and a pint when we are in town. I wasn’t intending to ever talk about it on the blog. But why not talk about an old (or newish, depending on how you look it) standby?

Our experience on our trip over the holidays was actually what prompted me to write this one…

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What completely surprised us is that Townline is open 7am until midnight every day. {But somehow I think that just means food. My guess is that they stay open until the usual 2am bar time for drinks.} And they have free Wi-Fi. The Monday morning before Christmas Eve was the perfect time for Rob to log in to work and put in a few hours. And we could order some breakfast! That’s something we hadn’t done at Townline yet. Mostly, because we had no idea that they served it!

Since I wasn’t the one working, I ordered a Bloody Mary. I was asked if I wanted the Breakfast Mary. Can you believe I ordered it after I was told it was made with bacon-infused vodka?

Breakfast Mary with bacon-infused vodka, cheese, beef stick, pickle, two slices of bacon, hard boiled egg and a beer chaser

Breakfast Mary with bacon-infused vodka, cheese, beef stick, pickle, two slices of bacon, hard boiled egg and a beer chaser

I usually don’t like bacon in things. I only like it by itself because in dishes and on foods, I feel it tends to overpower the other flavors. But this bacon flavor was subtle and well-balanced in the Mary! I would highly recommend it. Rob took my brother there the next morning and JR said it was the best Bloody Mary he’s ever had. I loved that a hard-boiled was part of the garnish. However, they must be either pickled or preserved somehow, because the egg had a strong vinegar flavor. Not my style.

I love eggs and omelets, so I couldn’t go wrong with my breakfast:

Omelet with sausage, onion, mushroom, tomato and cheddar served with hashbrowns and wheat toast

Omelet with sausage, onion, mushroom, tomato and cheddar served with hash browns and wheat toast

Rob went out on a limb and tried something he’d never had before – a Monte Cristo:

Breakfast Monte Cristo made with sausage and served with strawberry sauce

Breakfast Monte Cristo made with sausage and served with strawberry sauce

It was rich and so much food that he only ate about a quarter of it!

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But enough about breakfast. There are over 50 beers on tap here; but we don’t get too excited about that anymore. There’s rarely something new and interesting to us. That sounds completely snobby, but we’ve just had most of the selections available and know our tastes. But hey, we come from an up-and-coming craft brew mecca. And we understand that Townline needs to offer what suits their clientele. But, if there’s a local brew that is new to us that we can’t find in MN, we give it a try.

The menu at Townline is huge, but I’ve learned what I like to make a quick decision.

My two favorite things to order are:

~ Cajun Chicken Salad with Cajun Ranch Dressing

~ Friday Fish Fry {if we are in town on a Friday!}

Rob’s favorites are:

~ Lonely Guy Burger – fried onions, pepperjack cheese and enough garlic to clear the room on marble rye
*They also make a Lonely Guy Pizza and a Lonely Guy Omelet for breakfast!

~ Howard-Pulaski Burger – burger topped with a slice of kielbasa!
*Rob is saddened that they no longer have this burger. He thinks because kielbasa is no longer on their menu. He may just have to try the Howard-Suamico next time which is made with a brat patty!

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If you are in town for a Packer game, the Townline is a bit out of the way. I’d hop over to Kroll’s for burgers and fried-anything for a side. It’s across the street from Lambeau and you can’t miss it. It’s kind of an institution that you just shouldn’t miss!

Northeastern Wisconsin

I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk a little about the culture that is Northeastern Wisconsin, while I’m at it. It’s funny that it took me moving out of the area to realize that these things were uniquely part of the culture there. To me, while living there, it was just normal!

~GO PACK GO! Nearly everyone supports the Packers. On game day, everyone breaks out their Packer gear. Solidarity. No matter if we are sucking or not. Whether there’s a home or away game, the mall will be dead. Many streets will be, too. While there are some diehard Viking fans in Minnesota that I highly respect, most are fair weather fans, if at all!

~German and Polish influence – That’s why you see us on TV cooking up brats and kielbasa while tailgating at Packer games! Don’t forget the sauerkraut.

~Friday Fish Fry – You’ll find this at nearly every restaurant that isn’t a chain – every Friday. Not just during Lent. And it’s almost always is perch. I’ve never seen a fish fry made with perch in Minnesota. {Though I’ve had some of the better fish and chips in Minnesota than I’ve had elsewhere!}

~Chili with noodles – Really, it wasn’t until college that I realized chili was ever made without noodles. My mom always made it with spaghetti, right in the pot! I see that Townline offers it on their menu with or without.

~Double Bubble – This is the term for Happy Hour. It technically means that you can buy two-for-one cocktails, but is often used synonymously with Happy Hour now.

~The Old Fashioned – My mom has ordered Whiskey Old Fashioned Sours for as long as I can remember. It’s only been recently that she’d be able to order one in the Twin Cities and get someone who can make one that she deems worthy!

~Bubbler and Tyme Machine = Water Fountain & ATM. I once asked for a Tyme Machine at a movie theater in MN. (Before you could use a credit card to buy a movie ticket!) Yes, they looked at me like I was crazy. Especially because I kept saying it louder because I thought they couldn’t hear me behind the glass… I’m more careful about that one now. 😉

What are some parts of your local culture that you didn’t realize until you traveled or moved elsewhere?

Cheers~
Carrie

Before Taking Flight…

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I like Ike’s.

You may be surprised that I’m stating this, given that I’ve expressed my undying love to Surdyk’s Flights pre-vacay. Yes, SF still remains my favorite place to dine/sip wine before departing the MSP airport. However, our flight to LAX departed at 11:30am last Friday morning. At 10am, I wasn’t really fine the wine vibe. In addition, we’d be wine tasting half of the vacation.

I thought we’d grab something quickly at home and just pick up a good cup of Caribou Coffee before boarding.

Then I had an idea. I began to ask The Google what the best bloody mary was at the MSP airport. The Google couldn’t differentiate MSP with Mpls, so I got a list for the entire city instead. However, in that Top 10 was a downtown Minneapolis restaurant that has been around for years, one to which we’d never been. Not too long ago, they opened up a location in the airport.

DONE!

We settled up to the bar at about 10am and I ordered The Weekender.

Look at all of the garnishes!

Look at all of the garnishes!

Then we checked out the breakfast menu. Ike’s has a breakfast burger! {Surprisingly, Rob didn’t order it.}

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I went with the Key Wester.

006Normally, I prefer omelets with all kinds of veggies – spinach, tomatoes and fresh mushrooms being some of my favorites. But the Key Wester just spoke to me that day.

Rob tried Bill’s Corned Beef Hash.

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Then my Weekender Bloody Mary arrived:

The Weekender

The Weekender

Yes, that’s a lot of garnishes! Garnishing is an art form when it comes to the presentation of a Bloody Mary. However, I am firm believe that doesn’t make one. Bloodies need to stand on their own! I’ve had plenty of bloodies that tasted like tomato juice melted down with ice.

This was not one of them!

It had a wonderful spice {not too hot} that made me crave a beer chaser. Since I was not offered one, I requested one. The bartender had no trouble retrieving one for me and even asked me what my choice was. Surly Furious was on tap. YES PLEASE! And she didn’t charge me for it. {Sometimes the chaser is included, but they add a surcharge more for a higher end beer.}

Yes, I was happy. Yes, I was pleased. What a way to start a vacation!

My breakfast was delicious, too:

The Keywester

The Key Wester

The hashbrowns were nice and crispy. Since there were two “pieces”, I slid one over to Rob’s plate. The toast was above average and the omelet nice and creamy, well, with that cream cheese in it and all.

Unfortunately, Rob was not that thrilled with his:

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It was good enough for him to finish it, but he said it could have come out of a can. He’d order something else next time.

Our bill was a little high, but it is an airport after all:

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But with my Bloody Mary, Rob’s two drinks and a breakfast for each of us, it was worth it. Maybe I’d order just a regular bloody mary {not The Weekender with all of the garnishes} next time.

Even better, our nearly four-hour flight would put us in LAX after lunchtime. We were full enough that we could just skip lunch and enjoy dinner when we met up with our friends.

Another great start to a vacation!

What are your favorite Bloody Mary garnishes?

What are your favorite omelet fillings?

Cheers,
Carrie

Buffalo Tap – Savage

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There’s a lot that’s led me up to this post:

  1. I was able to knock a beer off my IPA Wishlist recently here.
  2. I recently talked about the best places to take out-of-town guests, partially due to this establishment’s Juicy Lucy.
  3. I experienced the most recent Packer win at this fave Packer bar.

So there you go. It’s time.

The Beer

I was really surprised when my husband told me that he wanted to go to the Buffalo Tap recently because he said he’d read on Facebook that they were were carrying bombers of the Stone R&R Coconut IPA.

“What?” I asked. “Do you remember my IPA Day post? That beer’s on my wishlist to try!”

Naturally, we went.

And let me just tell you, if you want updates on new beers, wines, dishes, specials or happy hours, it’s a great idea to follow your favorite bars and restaurants on Facebook or Twitter. I personally don’t do that. Well, I do some, but I don’t see every post. But that’s only because my husband does. I make him in charge of that! And it’s a great tip he’s given you!

615Our verdict? The beer was a good IPA in its own right. However, we were disappointed because we couldn’t find even the slightest hint of coconut in the aromas or the flavors. It seems a little much that Stone took the time to bottle and market this beer that way. And we love Stone!

But unbeknownst to us, Buffalo Tap had a beer we adore on tap that day. Only, we’ve only had it in the bottle before!

Creme Brulee STout

Do you see the Crème Brûlée Stout?

It is undeniably incredible in the bottle, but even better on tap. That keg went fast because we didn’t get back to “The Tap” again before it was gone. In fact, it can even be difficult to find this beer in the bottle. So if you do… You. Must. Try. It. Nom Nom. It’s made by Southern Tier, the same brewery that brings us the infamous Pumpking Ale, which is another one You. Must. Have. if you find it on tap like we did here last year and here this year.

In general, the beer here is ridiculously overpriced, especially if you want a specialty beer. For example, on Game Day a couple of years ago, I remember seeing a tall Guinness or tall Surly for $10. Your domestics aren’t too bad, but sometimes I feel like you need to take out a mortgage to get something special…

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Sample Beer Prices

But let us count all the other reasons Buffalo Tap is a hit, whether or not you bring out-of-town guests.

The Northwoods Feel

This isn’t important to me when dining out, but the décor is a nice touch when you are bringing out-of-town guests. To go with this theme, you’ll also find that they serve buffalo (hence the name) and elk. While I don’t generally eat either of those, it’s a nice option for others.

Minnesota and Wisconsin Food

The menu here is HUGE. Robert Irvine wouldn’t approve. But somehow, they make it work. The variety is also perfect when you have out-of-town guests with different tastes or just picky friends. Here are some things we recommend:

  • Cheese Curds – They have some of Rob’s favorite here. Choose original or spicy.
  • Bloody Mary – Technically a beverage, but it comes with a nice skewer of sides and a beefstick. Alongside you get a beer chaser {aka beerback}.
  • Juicy Lucy – As I stated in my post about where in the Twin Cities to take Out-of-Town Guests:

Forget Matt’s.

Forget the 5-8 Club.

Get your Juicy Lucy here – the Parmesan Patty Melt to be exact. Matt’s Lucy is a good dive bar burger that is worth trying, but our burgers at the 5-8 Club were absolutely horrible. On the other hand, the Parmesan Patty Melt Juicy Lucy at the Buffalo Tap is heaven. For those of you who don’t know what a Juicy Lucy is, think of an inside-out burger. It’s one with the yummy, gooey cheese right in the middle. This one is served on Parmesan Encrusted Bread. Need I say more? You just need a little patience because you don’t want to bite into it right away, or that cheese will squirt out and burn you. Give it some time to set. Then cut it in half. Drag the chips through any melty cheese that oozes out.

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This photo doesn’t do this perfect Parmesan Patty Melt Juicy Lucy any justice!

I’d also just stick with the chips. The fries are nothing to write home a blog post about.

My go-to healthy choice on this menu is the Cela Grilled Chicken Pita. {I substitute cottage cheese for the chips on this one.}

Grilled chicken diced and wrapped in pita bread with lettuce, tomato, cheese blend and cucumber sauce. Raw onion on request. Make it Buffalo Style by adding Buffalo Sauce and substituting ranch or blue cheese for cucumber sauce.

Tip: If you are looking for cheaper items on the menu, you can always go for the hot dogs or soup. They are still quite filling! Then, there’s the wine…

Packer Game Day

I love Packer Game Day at the tap! We get there early before the game starts because the downstairs area with televisions devoted solely to the Packer game fills every seat before kickoff. It’s like sitting in a roomful of friends!

There is a requirement to watch the game here, though…

BT-packTo be honest, I don’t blame them. If we are going to hold tables that could otherwise be turned during the lunch hour, it’s only fair. And $15 for at least 3 hours is nothing. In fact, Rob and I have known to drop way too much money here. Sometimes we’ll start with a coffee and Bailey’s (me) and a coffee and Rumple Minze (Rob). Then I’ll have a Bloody Mary since they are my favorite here. {Although, it’s been a while and they looked a little different when I saw others ordering them the last time I was there.} Then Rob’ll order a couple of beers and before we know it and have even had anything to eat, we’re up to almost $50.

One way to keep it more affordable when we are there for a game is to order wine instead. Seriously, you can get a bottle of Mondavi Cab for $12.95/bottle.

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While affordable, I had a harder time choking that stuff down this weekend than I have in the past. Maybe it’s because I was also drinking Diet Coke. {For some reason, I don’t like their tap water there; so I don’t drink it.}

Or you can take your chances and hope for a Packer Touchdown. Every time they score {a touchdown anyway, I’m not sure that field goals count}, you can get a Miller Lite for a $1. Our table was very lucky last weekend!

Packer Touchdown Beers

Packer Touchdown Beers!

You know me, I don’t tend to drink light beer, but if I’m needing a water or another Bloody Mary Chaser, I’ll take it. Or I’ll share. Remember, we’re all friends here!

GO PACK GO!

Where do you go to see your favorite sports team when it’s not televised on the main network stations?

Cheers~
Carrie

Best Twin Cities Restaurants to Take Out-of-Town Guests

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This post was inspired by a friend who has family in town this weekend. She wanted ideas for where to take them. And while she came up with her own answer, it did get us to thinking where we’ve taken our out-of-town guests.

I feel a little guilty writing this one.

Why? Because I know that there will be some opinions out there. I may sound like I’m dogging some Mpls-St. Paul institutions. Let’s just say that these are not necessarily the best restaurants in the Twin Cities to take your out-of-town guests. Of course, that all depends on you and your guests. Your tastes might be completely different from ours.

So, instead, let’s label this list as our favorite places to take guests who come in from out of town. We want them to experience restaurants that we not only love, but that are also either unique, capture a piece of Minnesota or offer a bit of fun. They are listed in no particular order. At the time of this writing, Restaurant Impressions might not be written on all restaurants listed yet. But you can always hop over there to check!

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Cossetta’s – St. Paul

I have to admit that Rob has never been to Cossetta’s {the original eatery} and I haven’t eaten there in years. However, after a trip to the newly renovated/expanded Alimentari, including the eatery/pizzeria, Pasticceria, Italian grocery and restaurant with my parents this past May, it’s worth a trip… if only for the pastry/gelato/supermarket experience. Most would notice how grand the paticceria and rest of the building looks. But instead, my dad noticed what kind of light bulbs were used. He’s cute like that.

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Buffalo Tap – Savage

Forget Matt’s.

Forget the 5-8 Club.

Get your Juicy Lucy here – the Parmesan Patty Melt to be exact. Matt’s Lucy is a good dive bar burger that is worth trying, but our burgers at the 5-8 Club were absolutely horrible. On the other hand, the Parmesan Patty Melt Juicy Lucy at the Buffalo Tap is heaven. For those of you who don’t know what a Juicy Lucy is, think of an inside-out burger. It’s one with the yummy, gooey cheese right in the middle. This one is served on Parmesan Encrusted Bread. Need I say more? You just need a little patience because you don’t want to bite into it right away, that cheese will squirt out and burn you. Give it some time to set. Then cut it in half. Drag the chips through any melty cheese that oozes out.

This photo doesn't do this perfect Juicy Lucy justice!

This photo doesn’t do this perfect Juicy Lucy justice!

If that’s not enough of a reason, the bar has a rustic, Minnesota northwoods cabin feel that makes the perfect setting for out-of-town guests. The menu is large with something for everyone. They also serve buffalo, hence the name. And fried cheese curds. As a cheesehead myself, I like to show guests from back home where I watch Packer games when they aren’t on regular TV here in Viking Country. Yep, it’s right here at “The Tap.”

A plus: There are some excellent beers on tap!
A minus: Said beers are often way overpriced.
A plus: You can still get a bottle of Mondavi Cab for $11.95. Not kidding. As my husband would say, “Cheap at the price.”
A plus: They make some of the best Bloody Marys – perfect for game day.

Three pluses over one minus? We’ll take it.

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The Happy Gnome – St. Paul

This is an easy pick for your guests who may have an affinity for beer like we do. Rob stole my brother away on one visit, leaving his other half behind with the kids. They sipped fresh brews and devoured poutine. Oh yeah, this was all just a few days after my back surgery. Maybe he needed to get out, too. 😉

If you’ve had a late night, I’d say get the delectable breakfast sammy the next morning. Best in the Twin Cities! But the folks at this gourmet gastropub change the menu often, so who knows if it’ll be available when you read this. No matter what you order, you should always wash it down with a beer or two that you’ve never had and perhaps may never have again.

Jared's Beer Flight

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Forepaugh’s – St. Paul

Rob likes to describe this experience as “taking someone to your rich uncle’s house.Forepaugh’s is housed in a 19th century Victorian Mansion. You can make it an expensive, fancy evening out, if you’d like. {A lot of special occasion events are held here.} Or you can do what we do: Drop by during happy hour in the bar area and let Joey or Victor wait on you. The bar menu is less expensive and quite good. In fact, we voted them as having best “Toast” in the Twin Cities. You’ll just need to go to find out what that means. And The Double Double Bacon Cheeseburger is on Rob’s Top 10 list. Furthermore, the Deconstructed Banana Cream Pie is a dessert for which you’ll return. It’s an impressive place. Have your guests take a walk around the mansion and check out all levels. Ask the staff about the ghosts.

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Sul Lago – Prior Lake

Perron’s Sul Lago is a no brainer for us, being one of our favorite restaurants and all. Forget Manny’s. Forget Murray’s. {And, yes, we’ve had both.} If you want a steak, come here instead. That being said, let me preface that statement with this: I like filet mignons. The best I’ve ever had in Minnesota is here. My mom said it was the best steak of her life. But I tried a friend’s sirloin and wasn’t as pleased. Maybe that’s because I know how much more I love the filet. Still, the steak sandwich gives Murray’s a run for its money.

It’s a place where the service is great because they leave you alone to linger for hours if you wish, just like they would in Italy. Rob’s favorite pasta – the Sausage and White Truffle Oil – is back on the menu! The food is fantastic, as is the ambiance. And, you’ll find our favorite Bartender, Billy, there, too. He makes the best French Pear.

French Pear Martini: Elderflower liqueur, pear vodka, sparkling wine, lime juice

French Pear Martini: Elderflower liqueur, pear vodka, sparkling wine, lime juice

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Nicollet Mall – Minneapolis

While this technically isn’t a restaurant, it’s a great area in downtown Minneapolis where you can stroll and hop from place to place to try a little bits of what Minneapolis has to offer. We recommend going on a Saturday afternoon when it’s not crazy-busy. Just be sure that there isn’t a Twins game or a big event when you go or that whole lazy-Saturday-afternoon plan will be blown out of the water. We do this because we aim to get a seat for our guests.

Our favorite stops? The Local Irish Pub (duh!), the News Room (especially for the brie cheese curds), Devil’s Advocate (tap beer selection) and Brit’s Pub (rooftop lawn bowling). My husband also found this great map of the Mall and printed out menus for each location for his parents when they were in town. In the evening, The Dakota Jazz Club is recommended for something swanky. We often pop in when they open for a cocktail and some frites before venturing somewhere else down The Mall. Other evening faves include Vincent (French) and Zelo (Italian).

BRIE CURDS DEEP FRIED BRIE, HOMEMADE BLUEBERRY KETCHUP 11.95

Brie Curds – The News Room

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So those are our current picks. And after yesterday’s post, I realize that I should be taking peeps to The Bulldog NE more often. I think we’ve only done that once. Whether they are beer and burger lovers or just like sweets, I’m sure they’ll love it as much as we do.

What are your favorite places to take out-of-town guests where you live?

Cheers~
Carrie

Uptown Cafeteria – Minneapolis {Closed}

Standard

This past August, a Groupon brought us to the Uptown Cafeteria for the first time. Although, the full name for this joint is Uptown Cafeteria and Support Group, I’m not sure I fully understand why. The website states that it meets in both the upstairs and downstairs bar. Another site states that this refers to the bar. And still another says to bring your own Support Group for drinks. I guess you can interpret it any way you like.

But what really matters here is the food.

Contrary to the name, it is not a cafeteria, nor do they serve cafeteria-style food. It’s just goodfood. There’s no theme or style of cooking going on here. I mean, really, at how many restaurants would you find these condiments sitting together on your table?049

There are a variety of taps {some interesting and some not-so-much}, a few wines and some fun cocktails. There’s also a Bloody Mary Bar all day Saturdays and Sundays until 4pm. I noted the Mary Tyler Moore sign for our return:

053

“You’re gonna make it after all…”

We started with some sweet and salty popcorn, which is no longer on the online menu. It was fine, but there was so much of it that we didn’t finish. Also no longer on the menu is the Reuben that Rob ordered.

No matter… The definite star of the show here was… You guessed it. The Tuna Melt:

he Tuna Melt (of Tuna Melts)13.00 fresh, house cured ahi tuna salad and aged cheddar on a homemade English muffin

The Tuna Melt (of Tuna Melts) $13.00
fresh, house cured ahi tuna salad and aged cheddar on a homemade English muffin
{I enjoyed mine with a side of cottage cheese for extra protein.}

This Tuna Melt is no joke! It is deserving of it’s name, too. It’s the best I’ve ever had. Or at least in a restaurant. {It rivals my friend Jen’s, but I’d have to try them side by side for a true comparison.} The ingredients are high quality and it’ll be hard to ever eat another English muffin again after you’ve had this homemade one! It flippin’ rocks! I was in love.

Hey, Rob, I know that I love the tuna melt here!

While there are many other things on the menu I’d like to try, it would be hard for me not to order the Tuna Melt when I return! Still, I don’t think that we’ll be going back there any time soon. Despite the fact that we ate indoors, the street was so noisy that it really got on Rob’s nerves. I don’t know if he could have handled the Sky Bar on the rooftop for cocktails.

Do you have a restaurant where you order the same thing every time?

If so, where is it and what do you order?

Cheers~

Carrie