Tag Archives: brunch

Just a Summer Weekend!

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Last weekend…

I don’t know if I told you that I took up running again. As much as it frustrates me with how slow I go, I just have to remind myself that I am still doing something. I just like the feeling of breathing easier after every run. I love that feeling in my lungs!

This weekend, amidst the heat and humidity, Rob and I ran the Chocolate 5k around Lake Como in St. Paul. We’ve done this track before for the Challenge Obesity 5k {which has since been moved farther north}. However, this trail was a bit different. We didn’t run on the walking trail which is closest to the lake, but the biking trail, farther out. The posted results seem skewed, even though they said they were accounting for the fact that the finish line was really 3.5 miles and they had a separate mat at the 3.1 mile mark. Still my 5k app and Garmin have my 5k right around 45 minutes, while their results are like 8 minutes longer. I don’t get it.

That is soooo incredibly slow, even for slow me! Here’s the steamy after photo:

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My worst 5k run was 38:40. So, 45 minutes is a jump.

Here is a list of my 5k race results (the ones I’ve run) for my own personal comparison:

  1. 38:54
  2. 38:20
  3. 38:40
  4. 36:08
  5. 38:27
  6. 37:44
  7. 35:35
  8. 38:13
  9. 37:35

I have to take into account that all of those were in 2012 when I was in the throes of running and before back surgery. And now that I look a bit further, I have only run one in one other 5k race completely since and that was in 2014, about a year after surgery and that one was higher yet at 42:40.

But it was hot; it was humid and I told myself to keep it slow and keep running under a target 5 Heart Rate Zone. I wanted to enjoy the run – the oxygen circulating through my lungs. I didn’t want to feel frustrated or like I was going to pass out or that I had started off too fast like I did when I did a trial 5k run earlier in the week. And truth be told, my only struggle was a small hill.

I would like to say I ran the whole thing, but I did stop to walk for a water break half-way through. I normally don’t hydrate during a 5k, only before and after. But it was just too hot not to so.

And while running, I did not partake in any of the Ghirardelli chocolate that was being passed out on 4 different occasions on the course. It just didn’t sound good to me at the time. {I know! Me and chocolate!} I also didn’t want to take it and just hold it until the end because I knew it would just melt in my palm!

I did, however partake in the Choc-ola after the race!

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The night before, I was up from 12:30pm until 4am, too. It wasn’t due to nerves about the race, but first because I was hot, then because Rob was snoring, then because of the dogs keeping me tucked in. I started to read because that usually helps me get back to sleep. It didn’t.

No matter what, I’m glad I did it.

We followed up with brunch at the French Hen and a couple of beers at The Gnome. I followed that up by a 2 1/2 hour nap! Then it was off to dinner with the girls… more on that to come!

Sunday was busy, too… with a 5-hour trip down to Iowa to pick up this pretty little thing:

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Meet Phoebe, my friend Kim’s new Shih Tzu! There’ll be more cuteness to follow on a Sophie and Sham Saturday, I’m sure!

How did you fill your weekend?

Cheers~
Carrie

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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

Make Ahead Egg Bakes to Feed a Crowd

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Has it really been a whole week since my last post?

That’s probably the longest I’ve gone without blogging since I’ve started this blog.

Well another Christmas has come and gone.

xmas tree 2013

Now it’s time to wrap up 2013 and celebrate the New Year. I’ve got some ideas on how I want to review this past year, but that’ll be for an upcoming post. For now, let’s talk about how to feed a crowd for breakfast or brunch any time of year!

Y’all, I’m talking about Egg Bakes or Egg Casseroles.

Over the Christmas holiday, my mom was going in to work at 1 am and working ten to twelve hour shifts. She had little time to sleep on such a schedule.

And knowing full-well that she’d have to feed six adults, one teenage girl and three growing boys on Christmas morning, she was thinking ahead. She wrote down the recipes for two egg bakes – one savory and one sweet – for me to assemble on Christmas Eve and pop into the fridge while she was at work pounding out last-minute dinner rolls, Christmas cookies and croissants for all of the last-minute shoppers.

On Christmas morning, she slid them in the oven…

and they turned out beautifully.

Unfortunately, I can’t give credit to the origins of these recipes because my mom copied them down by hand.

Sausage And Egg Casserole Recipe

Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices bread, cubed {I only had a French Loaf, so I used 12 slices of that.}
  • 1 lb sausage, browned, drained
  • 1.5 cups shredded Cheddar cheese {or more!}
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • fresh ground pepper to taste

Method:

  • Grease a 9×13 baking dish. {I used butter.}
  • Cube bread and place evenly in greased 9×13 pan or baking dish.
  • Sprinkle evenly with browned, drained and cooled sausage and then the cheese.
  • Mix eggs, milk, salt and pepper.
  • Pour mixture over ingredients already in pan.
  • Cover and chill overnight.
  • Remove from refrigerator 15 minutes before baking.
  • Bake 45 minutes at 325 degrees or until set.
  • Cut into squares to serve.

*NOTE: I thought that the dish didn’t look saturated enough with the egg mixture and that the dish would come out dry, but this was not the case. So fear not!

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Baked French Toast Casserole with Praline Topping

Casserole Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf French bread {The one my mom left for me was gigantic!}
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups half and half {Tip: 1 pint = 2 cups}
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of salt

Praline Topping Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb butter, melted {Tip: 1/2 lb = 2 sticks}
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Method:

  • Slice French bread into approximately 20 slices.
  • Grease a 9×13 baking dish. {I used butter.}
  • Transfer slices to the dish, arranging in two rows, overlapping the slices. {I got creative here because my baking dish was a little bigger and I wanted to fill up some holes. It worked just fine.}
  • In a large bowl, combine eggs, half and half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  • Beat with a hand mixer or by hand until combined, but not bubbly.
  • Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure to cover evenly to saturate all of the bread pieces.
  • Spoon some of the mixture between slices, if needed.
  • Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
  • In a medium bowl, combine all praline topping ingredients and mix well.
  • Cover praline topping mixture and refrigerate over night.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spread praline topping over the bread.
  • Bake 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden brown.
  • Serve with maple syrup, if desired. {We didn’t think this was necessary. It was sweet enough!}

*NOTES: While the Sausage Egg Bake seemed like it wasn’t saturated enough with egg mixture when assembled, the French Toast one seemed overly saturated and runny after I put it together. However, they both turned out wonderfully.

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My mom put both of the Bakes in the oven at the same time and just adjusted for time and temperature. When combined with bagels and mom’s family-adored cheesy potatoes, this was more than enough food for ten people. It was a Carb Overload! But Oh. So. Good.

My friend Sally recommended this Eggs Benedict Casserole recipe when my in-laws were in town earlier this year. It was hit! My husband, who often shies away from anything with the word “casserole” in it, even loved it. He couldn’t stop telling me how good it was for an egg bake and how surprised he was. Sally’s tip for this recipe: “I use a little more Canadian bacon. I use two packages of the sliced Canadian bacon you buy in the store. One layer on the very bottom of the pan and another layer on top.”

When you are feeding a crowd, egg bakes and casseroles are perfect any time of year!

What is your favorite Egg Bake or Breakfast Casserole recipe?

Cheers~
Carrie

Heist Brewery Brunch

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Brewery Stop #5 – Heist Brewery

After our tour of the Charlotte breweries the day before, we were all brewed out. But that didn’t stop us from going to brunch at Heist Brewery!

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I think this is one place Tay and Brendan knew that they wanted to take us before we even arrived in Charlotte. And they knew they wanted us there for brunch.

Now I know why!

We arrived at about 11:30am, knowing there would be a wait…

What I found interesting is that in North Carolina (or maybe just Charlotte or even that particular county), alcohol cannot be served until noon. Forget the fact that, in MN, we pay 9.5% sales tax {plus more in certain cities} on alcohol or that we cannot buy alcohol in stores on Sundays. At least we can have a good Bloody Mary on a Sunday morning! 😉

Looking around, it was odd to see people dining in the bar area drinking coffee and orange juice. However, when the clock struck 12:00, a bell was rung and servers with readied trays began delivering bloodys, mimosas and brews throughout the room. It was quite festitve! I decided on a Bloody, which doesn’t come with a beer chaser in the south. Rob decided to try a Craft Beer Cocktail. That’s something I’d never seen before! Check out the menu:

Heist-Cocktails

I know some wine connoisseurs don’t like to use good wines to make mixed drinks. What do you think about Heist using their beer to create cocktails?

While we didn’t take a look at the regular menu, Brendan said we could still order from it. But we wanted to see what all the hype was about regarding the brunch here, so we stuck with the buffet.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get many photos of the food! It turns out that it’s hard to take photos with an iPhone while you are carrying a plate. But let me tell you, it was worth the wait!

But here’s a list of a few of the things I can remember on that buffet line that day:

  • Scrambled Eggs
  • Sausages
  • Cheesy Grits
  • Biscuits & Gravy
  • A huge wheel of melty Brie
  • Chocolate Donuts
  • Muffins
  • Hard Boiled Eggs on Toast with some sort of meat
  • Pasta topped with Chicken Wings
  • Omelet Station – I had one made personally for me and it was one of the biggest ever!

But the best thing for brunch could be found at the Waffle Station. These waffles are the best ever! They are made with meringue and sooooo fluffy. I don’t normally order waffles, but I wanted to try these because Tay said it was absolutely necessary. And she was right. Best. I’ve. Ever. Had. I didn’t know that waffles could taste like that!

And of course, there were more items that I can’t remember, nor did I have enough room to try!

Oh yeah. We enjoyed some sangria with our brunch as well as sampled their Oatmeal Stout – one of the best beers of the trip! It’s a good thing we don’t live there because that place could be very dangerous… {In other words, we kinda liked it.}

We left Charlotte that day, after such a wonderful long weekend with friends. Aside from the small flatbread Rob and I split at the airport, knowing we wouldn’t be home until after 9pm, we didn’t eat a single other thing. Such is the way with brunch sometimes. 😉

What is your favorite brunch food, drink or place to enjoy it?

Have you had anything unique for brunch lately?

Cheers~
Carrie

Salut Bar Américain – St. Paul

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Brunch anyone?

Sure, my husband doesn’t do brunch. However, he was accompanying me to my first 5k, so I wanted to treat him after the race. I’d been essentially running on my own. I run on the treadmill; I run outside – by myself. I’ve been reading a lot of runners’ blogs and there’s always talk about how other people have kept them going during their races. There are stories about the fact that someone’s conversation was the only thing that got them through the race.

Conversation?

What conversation?

I can’t imagine talking to anyone during a run. I’m not even sure how to control my breathing yet! Maybe I’m running too fast? But I’m so slow that I’m not sure I can go much more slowly. So other than the wonderful support from friends, family and even unknowns out on the world wide web, I’m doing this alone.

But Rob came with me that day to support me. He agreed to get up early, to drive me to the race with a coffee stop en route, to help figure out the logistics upon arrival, to keep me company until the race started, and to stick around 38:54 more minutes to take my photo as I crossed the finish line.

I can’t tell you how much his support means to me!

So despite his aversion to brunch, I wanted to take him out for a little something after the race. Besides, it was still early. Would it even really be brunch yet? 😉

After the race, I was in the mood for some eggs, sausage and toast. I was itchin’ to find a diner nearby! Without any luck, we kept searching for something. We even tried using an app on my phone to find anything. We were I was hungry! We did find a couple of places, but they weren’t open yet. We finally turned onto Grand Avenue knowing that we would surely find a bite here.

We stopped at Salut Bar Américain. I’d been here a few times before, but I believe at the Edina location. As a francophile, it’s a fun little place to check out. Menu items include traditional and cliché French cuisine, sometimes Americanized. I love the oyster bar, too!

But I had never been there for brunch.

Luckily, the brunch was not buffet style, just a specific menu.

Hmm… What to order?

While we waited for our orders, the following was brought to the table:

amuse bouche: one-bite smoothie on a spoon (or that’s what I called it!) 

 

corn muffins

I love me some corn bread or a good corn muffin, but these were just okay.

My post-race meal:

French County Omelette: pit Ham, onion, swiss cheese

Okay, I think what I needed was a good greasy spoon instead. This did not satisfy. I know they aren’t always trying to go for traditional French here, but if they were in this omelette’s case, they missed the mark. It was more a big fluff of egg with way too much ham and a little melted cheese. And onion? What onion?

That’s okay! There was a consolation prize:

A flaky mini croissant!

This little croissant made my meal. Oh la la!! It was supposed to come with my omelette, but didn’t. We had to ask for it. Rather, Rob did for me. So they brought us two… and I just may have eaten that second one as well. 😉

Did you know a mini croissant is only 114 calories? Not as bad as I thought!

Rob’s breakfast was to die for!

Petite Croque Madame: classic open-faced ham & cheese with fried egg

 

This quickly became…

THIS! (Okay, so I helped.)

Accompanying the sandwich was a side of fries with:

Sauce Américain (aka ketchup)

Despite all this food, we did end with some dessert! Unfortunately, both desserts looked better on paper. My profiteroles were disappointing (although I’ve only had them in France) and Rob said his ice cream just wasn’t anywhere near as good as Izzy’s!

All of that being said, there are a lot of fun things on the menu we want to give a try! Before this brunch, we had talked about going back anyway. I do love the French schtick that is the Salut Bar Américain!

What is your favorite French restaurant or favorite brunch place?

Cheers~
Carrie

Meritage – St. Paul (A Guest Post)

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I’d like to introduce my friend Jared, who is a regular over at Meritage in St. Paul. I asked him to do a post on his impression of the place. (He obviously likes it if he goes there often.) I have been there with him on occasion, but thought he could give you more insight and details than I ever could!

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Meritage – The French Restaurant with the American name.

“Meritage”, —a combination of merit and heritage  This was a name created in California for American wine in the Bordeaux style.

I think this name fits very well for this wonderful restaurant in the heart of Saint Paul.

Dining Room

Sidewalk Patio

This small French restaurant is very laid back.  The staff is very friendly and professional.  The food here definitely follows Carrie’s Quality over Quantity rule!  I love to patronize this restaurant on Sunday evenings.  They have a wonderful menu that changes with the season, but on Sunday they have the ‘Recession Recovery Sunday’.  What is this?  Well, it is a list of wines that are half price.  That is an amazing start, but they then throw in a beautiful 3 course Prix Fixe meal for $28!

This meal consists of a salad or starter, followed by a main dish that could range from a fish stew to a braised short rib dish to a crispy chicken.  After that, you also receive a wonderful desert!  This sounds like a ton of food, but usually ends up with me being comfortable.

Above is a typical Sunday Prix Fixe meal!

I have also discovered the joy of Brunch at Meritage!  I sat in the Oyster bar, yes they serve AMAZING oysters on the half shell, on Sunday and enjoyed a wonderful brunch.

I had a wonderful blueberry muffin,

Scrambled eggs French style (cooked on a double broiler for a long period of time) I had it with some peppers and smoked salmon as well as some breakfast potatoes,

and what is brunch without a little mimosa!

I had a mimosa Meritage or in other words, a blood orange mimosa!  Soo delicious!

During the summer it is great to go down on a sunny Sunday and sit on the patio for some wine and relax until dinner for the Prix Fixe!

If you are looking for a quick bite over lunch, they also have an amazing crepe stand Monday thru Saturday with one savory and one sweet crepe!

A wonderful place to check out!

You can find Jared working at the Urban Olive & Vine in Hudson, Wisconsin on Saturday nights. If you stop by to say, “hi”, mention you read his post on Season It Already!

He Doesn’t Do Brunch

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With Easter coming up this weekend, I’ve been thinking about brunch. It’s common for families to go out for or make brunch after church on this holiday.

But my husband doesn’t like brunch.

For that reason, I can’t tell you the last time I’ve been out to brunch. Actually, I can! It was when my friend Madeline came to town and we went to Scusi {which no longer serves brunch}. That was about a year ago.

Back to Easter:

Ever since I moved to the Twin Cities, it has kind of become tradition that my family comes to visit the weekend of Easter. {We go to Green Bay for Thanksgiving and Christmas}. Usually arriving on Friday afternoon or early evening, my family typically leaves before noon on Sunday. There isn’t much more tradition than that. We do something different every year! Whether it be sending them off to the Mall of America, walking around Lake Calhoun or having an Easter Egg Hunt in our yard; it doesn’t really matter what we do. It’s more about time together.

Still, after they’ve all left on Sunday morning, Rob and I are somewhat in a quandary over what to do for our regularly scheduled Sunday meal out because brunch is everywhere on Easter Sunday! {Yes, we eat out every Sunday. It’s our own tradition!}

I’ve learned over the years to double check if a restaurant is serving only brunch on Sundays or if they allow ordering off of their regular menu before heading out the door. It’s not that Rob doesn’t realize that there are some perfectly great brunch menu items out there. It’s more that he associates brunch with buffets, of which neither of us are big fans. For Rob, I think it’s the limited selection due to his food allergies. In addition, he’s not one for sweet breakfast foods, which are often a focus at brunch time. For me, the thought of a buffet conjures up images of massive quantities of tasteless food. And while I do know that isn’t always the case, I still prefer quality over the quantity. Most of those buffet brunches are all-you-can-eat, too. While it may seem like a great value, it does nothing for those of us who are overweight.

Do we really need all-you-can-eat buffets in the most obese country on earth?

Furthermore, it can be difficult sometimes to differentiate if a restaurant’s brunch is a buffet or consists of a special menu. Sometimes that special menu can be limited, too. Still, I don’t mind brunch once in a while, but tend to fore go it for my man. It’s not like a sacrifice or anything for me. Besides, I find when I eat a bigger meal in the A.M., I tend to eat many, many more calories that entire day.  So, my husband is actually doing me a favor.

All of that being said, there truly are some great brunch menus out there. Maybe I should make that an assignment for the two of us – to scout out a great brunch menu and report back. I know, research is tough, huh? We just can’t make that kind of eating a regular occurrence.

Still, brunch menus and buffets tend to be very specific on Easter Sunday. So what’s our solution in avoiding this?

Pardon My French

This is a French bakery, café and wine bar in Eagan. It’s an order-at-the-counter type of place where they serve sandwiches, quiches, burgers, omelets, salads and other specials. We do indeed indulge in a dessert from the pastry case and sometimes walk away with a few chocolate truffles to take home as well. It’s a casual and cozy place where you can waste away the hours, just like in a café in France. The only big difference in my eyes: The portion sizes are huge! Think French pastries on steroids. It’s a good idea to split a dessert or practice The 50% Solution. At a ballpark in the U.S., you can get a footlong hotdog. Here, you can get a footlong éclair. {Okay, so I’m exagerating a little.} No matter the size, the desserts are delightful and have proven to be the perfect item to bring to impress when attending a party. And don’t forget to pick up a baguette or a specialty bread to take home on your way out, too!

My favorites? Well, you’ll just have to stay tuned next week to see pictures. In the meantime, check out these Easter Wine Pairings if you are in a last minute crunch.

Do you like Brunch?

If so, where are your favorite places to enjoy it and why?

Do you have an Twin Cities Brunch recommendations for us?