Tag Archives: cheese curds

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

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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.

photo 3(3)~

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

Acadia Cafe – Minneapolis

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Last night we went to a concert at the 400 Bar in Minneapolis. If you haven’t heard of Shovels and Rope, you need to check them out! We’ve been listening to their music ever since we heard them on 89.3 The Current. I was more excited to go to this concert than I have been to see one in a long time! They didn’t disappoint.

In any case, a friend of ours recommended that we have a couple of drinks and/or dinner at the Acadia Cafe beforehand. It’s just kitty-corner from the 400 bar, so we could park once and walk over.

Acadia’s motto:

No Crap on Tap!

As a beer snob, this appeals to me.

The tap beers include a nice selection of local (Home), other domestic (Away) and international (Far Away) craft and unique brews. There’s even a cask ale. At least one of us will order the cask if there is ever one on tap! Of course, these taps change, so they keep them handily listed on the chalkboard on the wall:

The have a large selection of bottled beers, too.

We ordered a round of Pumpking Ales by Southern Tier, because it is one of those beers that when you find it on tap, You Must Have It. Our local liquor store sold out of it by the bottle well before mid-October. So this was a treat.

For food, we started with the cheese curds. Rob likes to order these whenever they are on the menu anywhere. Then he likes to give them a thumbs up or thumbs down. {Also know as “MMM!!” or “meh”.}

Cheese CurdsBeer-battered in our very own kitchen with fresh tap beer and secret spices!” $5.75

They were pretty good! I liked the “spices”, but couldn’t quite place what they were. No matter. I wouldn’t be screaming, “Season It Already!” here.

Rob ordered:

The Acadia Grilled Cheese – “A yummy combo of garlic and cheese. We spread our house-made aioli on toasted multi-grain and melt three cheeses – cheddar, Swiss & parmesan – with fresh tomato.” $6.35  or add bacon for $1.

I took more than a bite. This was pretty good as far as grilled cheese goes. It seemed only one side was toasted though. I could have done without the bacon Rob ordered and he could have done without the tomato.

As for the fries? They are described as “soaked in a vinegary bath overnight”. But really, they just tasted overcooked. Rob said they may have made his Top 10 Worst Fries list, which I didn’t even know existed. Then he went on to finish off the cheese curds. 😉

I ordered:

GLBT  – “Just a little twist on your straight BLT. This comes with our house-made guacomole.” $7.40

I love the clever name of this sandwich! But that isn’t what made me order it. It was The Guac. And I was underwhelmed. I could barely taste it… until I took the sandwich apart and took a bite of just the bread. The multi-grain sandwich bread they use here is pretty good, though. The side salad I ordered instead of fries wasn’t a show-stopper, but better than your average iceberg lettuce salad.

Overall, I would say that the food was good. Nothing mind-blowing, but worth it if you are coming in for the beer. {Yes, we sampled more than just one!}

What I loved about the ambiance of this place was that it really reminded me of an artsy café, where you’d get a cup of coffee. It was a little dark inside and the clientele was a bit alternative and eclectic. I like that. I also like the fact that unlike many bars that serve this number of tap beers is that there are NO TVs! Sure, as a Packer fan, it’s obvious that I do like watching sports from time to time. However, sometimes I’d just like a little conversation when I’m out with my husband. Sometimes, I’d rather he not be staring at a TV screen all night, ya know?

Acadia Cafe has it’s own line-up of live music and DJs as well as nightly specials. For example, right now Mondays are 2-for-1 bottles of beer or half-priced bottle of wine night.

We will be back… to try different food, to sample more craft brews and to enjoy the ambience.

What’s more, is when we crossed the street to the 400 Bar, we expected to encounter CRAP ON TAP. But such was not the case. They had a few good brews over there, too. Not too shabby of a night if you ask me!

Do you have a favorite neighborhood café? If so, what makes it unique?

Cheers~
Carrie