Tag Archives: cider

Traverse City Cider House


After our two afternoon brewery stops in Traverse City, we checked into our hotel, conveniently situated in downtown where all the action is.

Our next stop:


Okay, so we didn’t make the drive all the way out to the Northern Natural Cider House and Winery; but we did stop off at their cider tasting room on Front Street. It was within walking distance of our hotel.


I just love these booths!


Of course, I was having trouble deciding on a cider. You are probably thinking, “Carrie, how hard could it be to choose a cider?” Well, there were several and many had won awards!


Luckily they offered a flight of all 11 of their ciders!


Naturally we ordered it…


Naturally, we split it. Then we made our draft picks.

Most of them tasted very similar to each other. My favorite of the bunch was the Lavender Cider. The Cinammon Spice Cider was another top contender for me. Overall, not the best cider I’ve had. Nor was it as good as what we’d had in Australia. However, if those two varieties of Northern Natural Cider were available in my local liquor store, I’d purchase them.

After all that cider, it was time to go back to the hotel for a little nap before dinner. We had many more boxes to check in Traverse City!

Do you drink hard cider?

If so, what is your favorite?

Have you ever been to a cider house?



Fantasy Draft Friday – 2014


Yesterday, I gave some tips links on how to soak up every last bit of summer in the Twin Cities.

After summer is gone, fall means…


And although I’ll talk about football briefly, the real purpose of this Fantasy Draft post is to pick my favorite BEERS! Click here to read about my 2013 Fantasy Draft Six-Pack.

But first, I need to announce that I’m especially excited for football season this year because I am finally a…



Yes, that’s right. I put my name on The Waiting List 20 years ago and I now have season tickets – for the Gold Package. For those of you who don’t know, the Gold Package consists of three games. These tickets date back to the days when The Packers played three games a year at Milwaukee County Stadium and the remaining games were played in Green Bay. If I wanted to pass on the three-game (Gold) package, I could keep my name on the waiting list for the Green package, which is for the rest of the games. The wait for that? Estimated at another 17 to 20 years.

Living in Minnesota, I’ll think I’ll take what I can get!

As much as I love Green Bay football, I have to tell you that my Fantasy Draft (beer) choices for 2014, will not be served at Lambeau Field.

What, you mean that they don’t cater to MOI?!!!


Rules for Fantasy Draft 2014:

1) No repeat beers from last year. (Although I still love all of those!)

2) No repeat breweries within the same six-pack. For example, even if I am in love with two beers from say, Sam Adams, I can only include one.


Fantasy Draft 2014

J.K.’s Scrumpy Farmhouse Organic Hard Cider (MI)

So, cider isn’t exactly the same as beer; but I’m putting it in my six-pack anyway! I’ve been meaning to tell you alphoto 1(2)l about this cider for probably a year.

It is my favorite cider of all time.

It takes like the yummy non-filtered (non-alcoholic) ciders you get right at an orchard. It’s tasty and perfect. I’ve tried other “farmhouse” style hard ciders since, thinking it was just the type I liked. But I was wrong.

Nothing else comes close.


Dangerous Man Hazelnut Porter (MN)photo 1(1)

Sorry, you can’t get this beer anywhere but the taproom. So if you are in the Twin Cities, it’s important that you make a pilgrimage. I’m not even sure if it’s on tap all of the time because they brew everything in small batches. But I’ve never had anything like it.Tthe aromas of hazelnut alone are transcending. It smells like they have been toasted. And the flavor? Just as rewarding.


New Belgium Coconut Curry Hefeweisen (CO)photo 3(1)

I normally don’t even like New Belgium’s beers. The exception was when I discovered their Cocoa Molé a couple of years ago at the Happy Gnome.

Well, they did it again.

New Belgium came up with something unique and delicious. We discovered the Coconut Curry Hefeweisen at Devil’s Advocate about a week ago. I was really surprised when my wheat-beer-despising husband ordered it. In fact, he’s not even a curry fan. But he was intrigued. And he loved it. I took a sip… and I stole it. He had to order his own.

Rob didn’t get anything but coconut; but there is a hint of heat on the finish, which is what I feel is what a good curry will do. This beer might sound kind of strange,;but it’s very rewarding and much better than I had expected. I want one while I’m writing this. It’s a specialty beer that appears to be bottled, but I haven’t done any research to see if we can get it anywhere else.


Horny Goat Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter (WI)photo 2(1)

Here’s another brewery which I’ve never found outstanding…  But when Rob picked up this beer,  it wasn’t the brewery that turned me off. It was the name/description. I mean, come on, a Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter. I personally, had never seen peanut butter done in a beer before. And it actually sounded kind of disgusting to me.

But I tried it anyway…

And they nailed it.

Seriously. I stole one from Rob’s six-pack. And he smiled. Trust me, give this one a go.


Dragon’s Milk Reserve with Toasted Chilies (MI)photo 2

You’ve probably read enough about my love of Bourbon Barrel Beers. And Dragon’s Milk is no exception. But when Rob saw this one at Blue Max in Burnsville, he thought of me. And he bought it as a surprise. It’s kind of like Dragon’s Milk meets the Cocoa Molé I was mentioning above. Have you had one of those chocolate bars with chilies in them? This is like that.

But better.

It’s Beer.

It’s Bourbon Barrel Beer.

It’s Dragon’s Milk.

With a spicy finish.

love. Love. LOVE.


Central Waters Brewer’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout (WI)

I couldn’t leave this one out. I’m still stuck in my love of Bourbon Barrel Beers.

And this is my favorite beer of all time.CW - BB Stout

I promised it to my dad for Father’s Day; but I can’t find it now. My local MGM is no longer carrying it. I can settle for the Bourbon Barrel Barleywine, which I love 99.9% as much. (I did a side by side tasting!) But I’m sure that my faves are just not around this time of year. I wanted to talk to Central Waters at the Canterbury Beer Fest. But they didn’t show up.


I searched the festival over several times. They were a no-show. {Insert Sad Face here.} I need to take a serious roadtrip to their taproom in Amherst, Wisconsin. They have many more Brewer’s Reserve beers that I’d like to try… Well, if they are available. I could become a stalker. Anyone want to join me?


Coming over to my house?

Pick up any one of these beers and you’ll win me over. 😉


…to Blackbird Cafe


So last week, I told you about the Girls’ Night that Rob crashed.  But after dinner at Pat’s Tap, the girls and I wanted to practice our usual tradition of finding somewhere else for dessert.

Only we were no longer hungry.

So instead, we decided to find a place for a nightcap or coffee. And… if we had an inkling for dessert a little later, that’s when we’d take a look at the menu. 😉

Our Smartphones were not yielding any intriguing results. So we finally just decided to drive around the neighborhood until we saw something.

That’s when we happened upon Blackbird Cafe.

It was quite busy when we walked in! But we found the last three seats at the bar and made them work. A guy at the end moved down just one more for us and we were Golden.

After about three hours of sitting there…

We knew that we needed to come back for dinner sometime.

The variety of beverages including the beer, wine and cocktails is unique and inviting. Evidently, there is much thought in putting together this menu. The six-tap beer selection is constantly rotating and could make any beer-lover drool. It’s no joke. The lists may not be extensive, but they focused and varied to just the right degree.

The girls each ordered a Maiden Rock Honey Crisp Cider that was good and slightly dry. I started with a Kir Royale, {bubbly + crème de cassis} one of my fave afternoon cocktails to order when I’m in Paris. Hophead Rob chose the Epic Hopulent IPA on tap. See?

You can please everyone!

We watched all the food orders come up. Rob eyed the ramen dishes. Jen was curious about the seafood tacos.

There were a few Asian touches to the menu, including sake. There were also sake buddies, which is something I’d never heard of before. They’re shots or sidepours of sake that are meant to pair with the beers on tap. Rob had one. I thought it worked well. But what do I really know about sake buddies?

Then Rob switched to the Southern Tier Barrel Aged Back Burner. This is described on the Southern Tier website as an “Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale Aged with Oak.” It was my first time tasting this beer and I loved it as well. Like, really loved it. What’s unique about enjoying this beer on tap at Blackbird? They received it about a year ago and then aged it themselves in their cellar!

Sitting along the bar, it was quite hard to hear each other. At one point, Jen and Kim were in a deep conversation; so we turned and stared at Kim creepily until we got her attention. The funny thing is, that when she finally noticed, she thought we were asking her to take a picture of us. So she did.

Creepy Photo {source: Our friend Kim!}

Creepy Photo {source: Our friend Kim!}

Check out that deer head between us. And notice the antlers on the walls. They are all over the restaurant. It makes me wonder why this place is called Blackbird!

But one of my favorite things in all of the restaurant could be found in the restroom. There is a doorbell next to the mirror with a sign that reads, “Press for Champagne.” Okay, so YOU just press it and let me know what you get.

The service we had at the bar was exceptional. Kim and Jen ended up splitting an ice cream parfait with bacon. They were quite happy. Rob got some late night fries for a snack.

But as driver that night, I found that one of the best things about this place was the espresso machine. I will be sober cab anytime as long as wherever we go has either superb coffee or an espresso machine.

Do you have a tradition when you go out with friends?


Wine in Wine Countries, Guinness in Guinness Country


I know it’s Halloween, but it’s about time I recap our trip to Ireland. I mean, we did return three weeks ago! And while I’ve confessed that I am not a fan of Halloween, the Jack O’ Lantern does date back to Celtic traditions in Ireland. In fact, we did see a carved turnip at one of the Folk Museums we visited on our trip:

Celtic Jack O’Lanterncarved from a turnip

But this post isn’t about the history of the Jack O’Lantern {often spelled jack-o-lantern}, nor is it about Halloween. It’s the beginning of a series of posts about our trip to Ireland.


There is so much to record about our trip. So instead of a play-by-play, chronological description of what we did while we were there, I’m going to offer up our impressions on certain aspects of Ireland. I’d love to talk about the people, the sports, the food, the countryside and travel in general. Maybe you’ll be inspired to visit one day. If not, at least you’ll do some armchair {or desk chair} traveling along with me.

And because it’s Wine Wednesday, let’s start off with the beverage that flows like wine in Ireland:



Do you remember when I told you about Rick Steves’ philosophy about drinking wine in wine countries? It’s one I like to follow. And well, Ireland is, of course, Guinness country. So it’s compulsory to have a Guinness while there, right?


Truthfully, I don’t tend to drink Guinness back at home. And while many people think that Guinness is such a strong, dark beer; it’s really not. True stouts were once just stronger, darker porters – clocking in at 7 – 8% alcohol. A typical pint of Guinness is only about 4 – 4.5%. In addition, it’s much lighter in flavor than many of the stouts I love at home. If I’m going to drink a stout {often for dessert!}, I’d rather have one of the following full-flavored types:

  • Founders Breakfast Stout
  • Summit Oatmeal Stout
  • Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

These stouts tend to have espresso and dark chocolate notes to them. That’s why I love them!

In fact, when I’m in an Irish pub {anywhere in the world}, I tend to drink cider instead. It’s not that I don’t like Guinness. It’s just that it lacks flavor for me. In addition, it’s just so filling. When I drink stouts, I don’t tend to drink more than one.

However, we’ve been told that Guinness does taste a bit different in different places in the world. Rumor has it that there are even a few different recipes, too. In fact, Rob has had Guinness in both Paris and Italy and has been quite pleased with the product in Europe over the flavor in the U.S. Is it in his head? Maybe. But who cares if he knows he can enjoy it abroad?

But truth be told, in Ireland, the stuff is just better.

It’s fresher. It’s smoother. And they know how to pull a proper pint. Be patient for your Guinness. When ordered, you might feel like you aren’t getting the best of service. But your Guinness needs to be poured partway. Then it is set aside to settle a bit before getting topped off.

A properly poured pint of Guinness resting after the first pull.

The stages of poured pints…

After I got sick of drinking cider a few days in a row in Ireland, I shifted to Guinness. And if I was worried that I’d get too full or that it’d be too much for me midday, I quickly learned that instead of ordering a pint, I could just order a glass {a half-pint}.

In most pubs in Ireland you’ll find what I call the “Usual Suspects” on tap draft. These are ones you can expect pretty much anywhere:

  • Guinness
  • Carlsberg
  • Smithwicks
  • Heineken
  • Bulmers Cider
  • Budweiser
  • Coors Light

Yes, I said Coors Light. And I would say that the top two beers I saw being served at the pubs while I was in Ireland were Guinness and Coors Light. I’d like to hang my head in shame that Coors Light has grown so popular. When I was last in Ireland in 2000, the only American beer you’d see was Budweiser. Now Coors Light? What is the world coming to? And you won’t see any English beers on tap at all. At least I didn’t.

No matter which beer you choose, almost every one is served in its properly labeled glass. Notice those Guinness glasses above? Well, you’ll find Coors Light served in Coors Light pint glasses. Bulmers Cider is served in – you guessed it – Bulmers glasses. This makes it really simple to buy a round for your friends! It’s easy to tell what everyone is drinking, without having to ask.

And I’d like to debunk the myth about Guinness being served warm in Ireland. It’s not. But it’s not served ice cold either. Nor should a stout be served ice cold. I’m often frustrated with bars and restaurants at home when they give me a frosty mug for an IPA or a stout. If you chill your beer too much, you mask all the flavors.

Stout is kind of like red wine. It’s not served warm or room temperature, but more like “cellar” temperature. And for stout, maybe even a little cooler than that. This is the proper temperature. And there is a reason for it. Don’t ask for a frosty mug. You want to taste your beer, don’t you?

Our driver, Ray, told us that he preferred Murphy’s Irish Stout to Guinness. He said that because it isn’t as mass-produced as Guinness, it isn’t as processed. Well, you can’t find Murhpy’s on tap everywhere in Ireland like you can Guinness; but when we found a pub with both Murphy’s and Guinness on tap, we decided to do a taste test!

Which Irish Stout is better?

There wasn’t an agreement at the table on which beer won. But which was the winner for me?


I thought it had more coffee notes and overall more flavor. Rob disagreed. We rarely disagree on beers. Still, I’d drink either Guinness or Murhpy’s on draft anytime in Ireland!

We did make a trek to Mulligan’s where we are told that you can get the best pint of Guinness in Dublin. And truthfully, it was excellent. Again, I’m not sure if it was all in our heads, but we thought we could tell a difference. When we asked a local what made the Guinness different here versus other pubs, he said:

“The taste!”

Hahaha. Of course, I meant why he thought it tasted different. His only explanation is that it’s been running through the lines for so many years and so often…

In any case, I had my fair share of pints of Guinness in Ireland. But there’s nothing wrong with that because:

Well, everything in moderation right?

All I know is that in Ireland, I have no problem finishing a pint.

Do you drink Guinness?

Do you like stouts?

If so, what are your favorites?

If not, what are your favorite kinds of beer?



My First 5-mile Race


What was I thinking?!

Running my first ever 5-mile race just one and a half weeks after coming back from a two-week vacation where I got no exercise whatsoever?

What’s more is I started to come down with a cold just a few days prior. Day one started with a sore throat. Day two was a stuffy head. Day three began the draining.

I did everything I could to rid myself of it.

I got lots of sleep.

I drank more fluids than I have in a long time.

I took zinc.

I sipped tea constantly {even more than I did in Ireland.}

I even tried Kat’s Therapy Tea and Katie’s tea concoction.

I slowly got better. And although I wasn’t 100% on race day, I still participated and finished. Here’s my recap for you.

The Night Before…

We hosted our monthly poker tournament on Friday. I knew it was going to be a later night, but also knew that the distraction the night before the race would be good. We met up for Happy Hour at the Burnsville Ale House and I devoured some Meatloaf Sliders. I know. They didn’t sound appealing to me either until a friend highly recommended them once. They are a flavorful world of heartiness. {That one’s for you, Rob!} I considered a beer, but with my cold and all, I decided to hold off.

It was a fun night of poker, friends and a lot of laughter. I had more peanut butter pretzel sandwich thingies than I’d care to admit. But that’s sort of the job of the host, right? We need to show appreciation for any dishes the guests brought.

The last people left right around midnight, which is about what I expected. I completed my usual night before race ritual with a hot shower and lavender oil application before bed.

Race Day…

I awoke on Race Day still feeling the effects of the cold, but not quite as bad as earlier in the week. I made myself my Magic Smoothie and got ready for the day.

Preparing the Magic Smoothie

I didn’t consume my usual breakfast because I was out of bread, but I thought a full-size smoothie {double the size of what I normally make here} would do the trick. I also sipped a cup of my all-time favorite tea:

Market Spice Tea from Pike Place Market, Seattle

We stopped for coffee on the way. We were anticipating a drive just under an hour. The race was at an apple orchard near White Bear Lake, MN. I would not only be doing my first 5-mile race, but also my first trail run! This was my opportunity to run through pumpkin patches, strawberry fields and apple orchards. When I was picking out races to run this fall, I sent a bunch of links to my husband. When he saw the Run for the Apples race, he responded back:

“Do this one! I want cider!”

Of course, I was a bit nervous. Not only was it my first ever 5-mile race. {I had only run five miles twice prior and they were very difficult runs}, but I was overcoming a cold. So instead of trying to push myself or be too hard on myself, I set some more realistic goals and expectations:

  • Finish the race.
  • Run the entire race. It doesn’t matter what pace, just don’t stop to walk.
  • Enjoy the scenery! You’re running through an apple orchard!

The Race…

It was a chilly morning, with lots of fog on our drive to the orchard. When we got out of the car, it was only 38 degrees. I was wearing a light jacket over my three-quarter sleeve shirt, but I hadn’t intended on wearing it during the race. When I saw what the other runners were wearing, I changed my mind and put my number on the outside of my jacket!

At the starting line, I had a really hard time hearing the announcements that I finally just put in my earbuds and waited for people to move. I’m not sure where the starting line actually began and how the chip timing was going to work. There was no real starting mark or mat of any kind that I could tell.

I ran a really easy, slow-going first mile. I kept telling myself it was a warm-up. I didn’t want to start out too fast or have trouble breathing because of my cold. I broke away from the crowd {or rather, the crowd broke away from me}, and I was basically alone. Alone in a tranquil setting, jogging along to jigs and reels on my Gaelic Storm station on Pandora Radio.

My eyes were probably busier than my feet. I wanted to look around at the precious scenery. Seeing those pumpkin patches made me realize I hadn’t been to one since I was a kid. The dried golden cornstalks seemed to be basking in the sunlight. However, I looked down often on the trail because I didn’t want to trip on any rock protruding from the uneven ground. I am very clumsy. Rob calls me his Nimble Princess.

But when I came to the first mile marker, there was a mat with a time clock.

It read 14:21.

What?! My average mile is 12:30 to 13 minutes. I knew I was running slowly, but really? And why was there a clock there? Is this where they decided to start recording the chip times? Or was it just for splits? When did they start the clock?

I will never know because my name is not on the race results.

I don’t know why.

Right after mile one, we came around a bend and Rob took a picture as I passed by:

After Mile One

Then we made it up a very steep hill. This was more of a hill than I’ve come across in a race. In fact, everyone I could see in front of me was walking up the hill.

But I still “ran” it.

It was an even slower run up the hill than what I was running previously, but I didn’t stop to walk. I was going to make my goal of running the entire thing!

Upon completion of Mile Two, I was starting to get really warm. I wanted to rid myself of my jacket, but I had pinned my number to the front. This wasn’t possible, so I just tried to forget about it. I occupied myself by taking in the scenery and counting the number of people I passed. I knew that this number didn’t really mean anything because the run-walkers would eventually pass me anyway, but it passed the time.

By Mile Three, I was feeling pretty good and by the 5k marker I looked at my watch and found that I was at least five minutes slower than my usual 5k. Yikes! I knew I could push it further. And not because of the time, but because of how I was feeling. I had been taking it easy. I picked up the pace a bit. It helped when a woman who was walking tried to pass me while I was running. That lit a little bit of a fire under me. I wasn’t about to let that happen!

By Mile Four, I gave myself a time I wanted to beat. I knew it wasn’t a good time for the race, but it would give me a goal for my last mile. I’m all about mind games when I’m running.

And you know what?

I felt really great when I finished!

Just before the finish line…

I ran the whole thing and I didn’t feel like it was “too hard” like I’ve been feeling with my past couple 5ks.

I think there are a few reasons for this:

  1. I didn’t put any pressure on myself on how fast I had to be or when I had to finish.
  2. I was conscious of my surroundings and encouraged myself in advance to just enjoy it.
  3. I ran much more slowly and didn’t push myself to the limit.

There is good and bad to this. It was my first race and I had a cold. I didn’t overdo it and it felt great. But on the other hand, I didn’t really push myself. Maybe I should be working a little harder. In the end, it doesn’t really matter for this race. The run felt great. My unofficial time was:

1 :09:48

{Unofficial from my hrm; my chip time was not recorded.}

Not good by any means, but it’s a place to start.

I ran for these apples: Haralson Apple and a cup of cider

After the race, we wandered into the garage to do a little shopping. We came home with these purchases:

Honey {I was getting low after all that tea!}, Caramel Apples {best ever!}, Old Fashioned Apple Cider, Apple Syrup {we have yet to try!}

  • The Event: 2012 Run for the Apples 5 mile
  • The Location:  Pine Tree Apple Orchard, White Bear Lake, MN
  • The Date: October 20, 2012
  • Night Before Dinner: Meatball Sliders at the Burnsville Ale House
  • Pre-race Breakfast: Magic Smoothie
  • My Time: 1:09:48
  • The Weather: Chilly. About 40 degrees when race time began.
  • General Feeling: Getting over a cold, had no expectations, just wanted to run the entire thing without walking and finish. I felt great at the finish!
  • Uniqueness: Running through an apple orchard!
  • Size: At least 534 people. However, they stopped listing chip times after 1:03:41.
  • The Goods: Long-sleeved Pine Tree Apple Orchard T-shirt
  • The Grub: Haralson apples, snickerdoodle cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies.

What are your tried and true cold remedies?


Burger Jones – Burnsville


Burger Jones belongs to the Parasole group of Twin Cities restaurants. While there generally aren’t multiple locations of each of the Parasole restaurants, there is a Burger Jones in Burnsville as well as the Uptown area of Minneapolis.

At the Burnsville location {I can’t vouch for the Uptown one}, the moment you walk through the door, you see huge pictures of cows on the walls of the entryway. Okay, so we’re at a burger joint. We know we are eating beef. I get it. But I can’t imagine if we were at a Greek restaurant ordering gyros that we’d see sheep plastered all over the walls.

Am I the only one that finds this a little odd?

In addition, the walls of the bar area are covered with professionally taken photos of people. Not ones of customers or anything, but an entire string of blown up photos of people stuffing burgers into their faces or licking their lips.

Also weird. 

And not very appetizing.

Despite these oddities, we keep going back. Why?

When I sit down and look at the line of taps to choose from, all is right with the world:

Burger Jones has an lengthy list of cocktails and beers.

There’s another line of taps on the other side of the bar. And while it’s not the biggest tap selection I’ve seen, it’s one of the best “South of the River”. {South of the River = the Minneapolis-St. Paul suburbs south of the Minnesota River}.

It’s also only one of two restaurants “South of the River” that I know of that serves Strongbow Cider {in the can}. Still, I can honestly say that I’d save the Strongbow for the other establishment. There are just so many tap beer options here, that you wouldn’t find there. And there seems to be a newer one added each time we return. One of my favorites is:

Summit Oatmeal Stout

Again, it’s the only place “South of the River” that I know of that has this beer on tap. In fact, it’s tough to find Summit Oatmeal Stout on tap anywhere. That saddena me since it’s one of Summit’s best-brewed and most flavorful beers, in my opinion. {I’m sorry, even as an IPA lover, the the new Sága just doesn’t cut it for me!}

There are some fun cocktails on the menu, too:

Lake Street Lemonade

Sucker Punch

But my favorite of all is the St. Germain Sangria! It was taken off the menu for the winter last year. Then, this summer they added a peach sangria instead. I still haven’t tried that one because I continue to ask them to make me the St. Germain Sangria! Seriously, just ask for it and they’ll make it. If they don’t, they might be a newbie. But in my opinion, it’s the best Sangria ever.

Sangria made with St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

Of course, with a name like Burger Jones, you just gotta order a burger. Choose one on the menu already concocted or build your own:

There is also a new Burger of the Month every month. However, we often forget about it. For some reason, when we eat at the bar, we are rarely informed of the BOTM. We usually think of it after we’ve already ordered or eaten. But there was one occasion when we remembered to ask and Rob ended up ordering it:

Philly Cheese Burger with cheese sauce, onions, and peppers

Rob said it was just okay. To be honest, the burgers here are good, but not really great. You have the choice of ordering your burger pink or no pink. Pretty straight-forward. Though, I’ve found that there is never enough cheese, at least not enough so you can taste it. Why pay more for the ever-flavorful Gruyere or Fini Aged Cheddar if you can’t taste them?

I’ve even stepped outside the box and built my own burger:

My BYO: Junior Jones on a Homemade English Muffin with Gruyere, Tomato, and Avocodo Mayo

I have no idea why I’ve ordered this avocado mayo so many times. I always think that I’ll like it because I love avocado and I loved flavored mayos. But each time, I find out that it has no flavor! I need to stop ordering it until they SEASON IT ALREADY!

And homemade English muffin? Not a chance. It tasted like the regular old packaged English muffins I get at the grocery store. It was barely even toasted. I’ve tried a homemade English muffin at another Parasole restaurant and it was fluffly, toasted and heavenly. There is no reason why they can’t do that here.

But Rob finally found his favorite Burger Jones burger:

El Cubano

El Cubano is topped with ham, slow roasted pork, Swiss, pickles and mustard.

The French Fries {the regular ones} are probably one of our favorite items on the menu at Burger Jones. You order them as a side item. Rob and I split one order between the two of us and as much as we love them, we’ve still never finished them!

French Fries with Chipotle Aioli

These fries are nearly perfectWe like to couple them with the Chipotle Aioli as our dipping sauce.

Another surprisingly yummy part of the Burger Jones menu is The Dog Park. Yes, that means hotdogs. They use Nathan’s famous all-beef hotdogs and can be ordered plain or with your traditional toppings. But I can get that at a ballpark. So let’s spice it up a bit!

Rob’s favorite:

The Pitbull – bbq pulled pork, fried pickles, slaw

My favorite:

The Chihuahua split, filled with cheddar and salsa verde, topped with a fried egg.

Other food:

  • Rob loves the Cheese Curds.
  • The Sliders aren’t very exciting.
  • Southwest Salsa Veggie Burger – just a frozen Garden Burger. Pretty dull and boring. It didn’t stand a chance against my favorite Morningstar Chipotle Black Bean Burgers I get at Costco!
  • Burger Jones Chili  – runny and greasy

It’s so hard to be healthy when eating out at a joint like this! Sure, there are some salads on the menu. Okay, okay. I’ll order one next time and report back. But then I’ll have to call it Salad Jones.

The last thing we love about this place is that it is dog-friendly. There is an outdoor patio that allows dogs. Before the patio closes for the season, I’d love to get Sophie Jean out there!

What kind of burger is your favorite?


McHugh’s Public House – Savage


Despite the fact that I recently pled for help on how to be more concise in my blog posts, I’ve decided to write a post that is going to be anything but that.

You see, I’ve been waiting to post about McHugh’s Public House in Savage until we had gone just enough times to get photos of all of our favorite menu items there.

Then something happened on Tuesday.

They changed their menu.


At first I was excited. I love trying new dishes. But then I realized that many of my favorites are no longer offered. For example, they no longer serve one of my favorite salads:

Crispy Chicken Salad (Old Menu)

However, this is how I’d order it:

Crispy Grilled Chicken Salad with ranch dressing on the side, add buffalo sauce on the side

I normally am not a huge fan of salads with iceberg lettuce; however, I loved the combination of cheese, tomatoes and onions in this one. The chicken was always juicy and the buffalo sauce gave it a nice kick. Bye-bye, Chicken Salad. 😦

They also no longer serve:

The Petite Sirloin (Old Menu)

nor the:

Merlot Sirloin (Appetizer off the Old Menu)

While the Petite Sirloin was a steal of a meal at $10.99 for six ounces of great steak, a potato and some excellent garlic sautéed veggies, I would often order the Merlot Sirloin appetizer instead because it was also a tender, well-seasoned steak at the right portion size:

Merlot Sirloin (Old Menu)

Replacing these steaks on the new menu, are the:

6 oz Petite Sirloin with Jameson Teriyaki Sauce

and the:

Jameson Sirloin with Jameson Teriyaki Sauce  (Appetizer)

Okay, so I get it. It’s an Irish Pub. Flavoring the steaks with a Jameson sauce makes sense. However, I’ve never been keen on whiskey or bourbon sauces on meat. They have always been too sweet for me. So bye-bye,  Merlot Sirloin. 😦

Still, on this night of the new menu, Rob decided to order the Jameson Sirloin Appetizer:

Jameson Sirloin

It was still a great cut of meat at an incredible price. And the sauce wasn’t as sweet as I expected. Still, it wasn’t my Merlot Sirloin! {Poor Carrie, right?}

The Quesadillas at McHugh’s have been some of the best, in my mind. While there aren’t any frilly fillings like cilantro or black beans that I often tend to like, they are chock full of lots of chicken, cheese and onions:

McHugh’s Quesadilla

perfect, toasty, cheesy goodness

While I rarely order them since I’ve been losing weight {it’s just too tempting for this Wisconsin girl to eat all of that cheese in one sitting}, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that they remained on the menu! Then, we saw something new we wanted to try:

Mini Reuben Sliders?

I never really ate Reubens until I met Rob. I don’t mind them; but for me, it takes a lot to make a decent one. However, when we saw these on the new menu, we knew we had to try them:

Reuben Mini Sliders: soft pretzel buns toasted and stuffed with corned beef, sauerkraut & thousand island dressing

Yummy!  The pretzel bun really made these. And while I’m always one to prefer a well-balanced sandwich
{the proper ratio of meat to cheese to sauce}, I know I am in the minority here. These have more meat than cheese or toppings.  However, if you are at McHugh’s, they are definitely something you have to try! {Now that I think about it, isn’t Mini Sliders a little redundant? It doesn’t matter. Doesn’t make them any less tasty.}

And while he didn’t on new-menu-opening-night, Rob nearly always orders this:

McCheeseburger Pizza

And because he orders it, I always get to steal a couple of squares! It really does taste like a cheeseburger. It appears that it remains on the new menu as the Cheeseburger Pizza. {Why drop the Mc? That was kinda cute!} But we have yet to determine if it’s the same thing.

McCheeseburger Pizza

And as I’ve mentioned before, we always like to enjoy a good cider in any Irish Pub. Our go-to at McHugh’s:

Strongbow dry English cider

Seriously, McHugh’s is only one of two places that serve Strongbow “south of the river”. Other places are starting to serve that Crispin crap… but you know how we feel about that.

Sometimes, Rob will add a shot of whiskey and make his own Johnny Jump Up.

While I’m sad that some my favorites are no longer on the menu, I realize that change is inevitable. No matter what, we always get great service there when we sit at the bar. Just know before you go that this is a sports bar, really, more than a traditional Irish Pub.

Has something you liked ever been eliminated from a menu?

If so, what? And has it ever kept you from coming back?