Tag Archives: comfort food

A Dozen Reasons Why I Love The Lowry

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We’ve been to The Lowry in Uptown Minneapolis countless times now. I’ve been collecting photos from each visit for probably the past year and a half. Yeah, I know I’ve said it before, but this post is long overdue.

I didn’t really hit me until recently, but The Lowry is probably one of my favorite places to eat in Minneapolis when it’s just the two of us. When Rob suggests it, I never turn him down. It’s casual, there is an excellent beer selection, the food is comforting and the service is great, too. We always try to get a seat at the bar in possible. This means though, that we have to go at “off” times of the day. It can get pretty busy.

The Lowry,

Oh, how I love you… Let me count a dozen ways….

1) The LOCATION ~ We’ve timed it and even living South of the River, it takes us only approximately 15 to 17 minutes to get there sans traffic.Ā 

2) The BEER ~ The beer selection is superb. The Lowry has made our Top 10 Beer Selections in the Twin Cities list.

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Even if we don’t love everything on the list at a given time, there is always a good selection and wide variety to please pretty much any palate. The taps are ever changing. When we sit down at the bar, we get the lastest list on a clipboard like this:

The every-changing tap menu is updated often

The every-changing tap menu is updated often…

We enjoyed quite a few Pumkings here this past season!

We enjoyed quite a few Pumkings here this past season.

3) The WINE ~ There are not a lot of wine options, but it’s not usually why we’re here. In fact, the number of wines on the list has decreased since we started visiting The Lowry. Like its sister Blue Plate restaurant, Scusi, they once used a wine dispenser system:

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It is no longer used for wine, but for their Whiskeys! {Learn more about the different styles of whiskey here.} However, the wines offered are decent if you are not a beer fan or are just in the mood for a glass. But for me, its the Mimosa Service that takes the cake.

Mimosa Service = bottle of Proseco + carafe of OJ

{mix your own to your liking!}

4) The FUN COCKTAILS – If you aren’t really in the mood for beer or wine, there are some unique cocktails as well, including a cocktail of the day. Of course, I love anything with St. Germain. But Rob was draw in by the eggnog-type drink over the holidays!

5) The HAPPY HOUR – The Lowry has an incredible Happy Hour. It’s also one of the only places we go to that allows us to order from the Happy Hour Menu when using a voucher or gift certificate.

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While we usually go for the entrees, we have had a few of the appetizers off their Happy Hour Menu. The Chicken Potstickers I only ordered on a whim… Because the people next to me at the bar ordered them and they smelled so good! And they are…

And nearly all of the beers on the incredible and ever-changing beer menu are $3 – $4. You can tell if a beer is available at Happy Hour pricing by the HH at the end, followed by the Happy Hour price:

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6 ) The PEOPLE – This is a place for Hipsters, although we don’t consider ourselves such. Take a look around at the clientele. It makes for great people-watching! But you’ll find people of all ages and types here, too. Don’t be afraid to stop in if you don’t think you’re hip enough… šŸ˜‰

7) The SERVICE – We love sitting at the bar because of the exceptional service. It just feels like home to me. Is that weird? It doesn’t feel like I’m at home, just comfortable and relaxed.

9) The SALMON – I am so sad that they are replacing one of my favorite preparations of salmon EVER. It reminded me of the Mediterranean.

Salmon - with fingerling potatoes, tomatoes, olives, asparagus and olive oil

Salmon – with fingerling potatoes, tomatoes, olives, asparagus and olive oil

I have yet to try the replacement, but with “artichoke, tomato, asparagus, pickled onion, arugula and basil oil,” it’s not likely that I’ll be disappointed!

9) The STEAK – On our very first visit, I ordered the Steak Salad. It was highly seasoned and oh-so-good!

STEAK ancho-rubbed, charred corn, tomato, red onion, queso fresco, avocado, tortilla, creamy chipotle dressing

Steak Salad – ancho-rubbed, charred corn, tomato, red onion, queso fresco, avocado, tortilla, creamy chipotle dressing

Every time Rob orders the Steak and Pierogies, he declares his love for them and asks me to remind him to order them again next time:

STEAK & PIEROGIES marinated steak medallions, onion- cheddar pierogies, fried shallots, horseradish sauce

Steak & Pierogiesmarinated steak medallions, onion-cheddar pierogies, fried shallots, horseradish sauce

One item of note: I usually order my steak medium rare. At The Lowry, I’ve learned to order it medium to get my desired doneness. Please know that Sul Lago is still my absolute favorite for steak in the Twin Cities. But The Lowry prepares their steak comfort-food style… with flavor. And I think the steak dishes are a a steal for the price.

10) The BREAKFAST – Many of the breakfast items on The Lowry’s menu are served all day. But go early because it can be hard to get a seat if you are wanting brunch. They do not take reservations, but you can call ahead to get your name on the waiting list. But don’t arrive too early either, or you won’t be able to take advantage of the Mimosa Service, a Bloody Mary or the exceptional beer list.

I believe that in Minneapolis, restaurants can only serve alcohol after 8am Monday through Saturday and after 10am on Sunday. If you do arrive earlier than that, you’ll probably need some coffee anyway.

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I love that The Lowry uses a collection of mismatched mugs. It makes me feel like I’m having coffee at a friend’s place.

When the time comes, you can order that Bloody Mary with your chosen beer chaser:

Bloody Mary and an IPA - my perfect combo

Bloody Mary and an IPA – my perfect combo

I love eggs, so there’s not much that can go wrong with a breakfast menu like theirs. Rob found a favorite in the Shirred Eggs!

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11) The HOURS – The Lowry is open 6:30am until 2:30am every day. Seriously. We love that you can go there during pretty much any waking hour! And many menu items are available all day. Since it gets very busy on the weekends at brunch-ish time, we like to go earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon.

Happy Hour is from 4p – 7p and 10p – close every day. And the kitchen is open until 1am! There is also a Breakfast Happy Hour on weekdays from 8a – 11a. Not sure there are many individuals who have the freedom to partake in that, though.

What really impressed us, though, was that The Lowry opened on Christmas Day at 5pm. We had just returned from Green Bay and didn’t have anything nor want to cook. Upon arrival, we ordered one of the most comforting dishes on the menu:

BEEF STROGANOFF chive sour cream, fried shallots, pappardelle noodle

Beef Stroganoff – chive sour cream, fried shallots, pappardelle noodle

That dish is seriously good. It’s not a traditional stroganoff to me, but the fresh herbs in the dish drive me wild!

12) The FOOD – There are so many great items on the menu that make our bellies happy. There’s always something new to try, especially now that they changing up their menu a bit. We’ve very rarely been disappointed. Here are some thoughts on a few of the other dishes:

Lowry12Grilled Cheese – It has great cheese, but the sauce inside was weird. It is described as a tomato chutney, but it tasted more like you put ketchup on my grilled cheese! NOOOOO!!!Ā  But the tomato soup shooter with pesto was to die for.

Lowry3Burgers – Guru Rob was not a huge fan of the burgers and fries here, rating them as average. But there are plenty of other places where we can find stellar burgers and fries. Besides, there is too much other yummy goodness on these menus.

Turkey Burger – On the other hand, I love the turkey burger here. It’s essentially the same as the one at their sister restaurant, Groveland Tap.

Mac & Cheese Lowry7Rob described it as having great flavors of swiss and smoked gouda. He thought it was creamy and cheesy and said he’d definitely get it again. I took a taste and thought there was a hint of bacon, although there was no bacon in the dish. I think it’s the smoked gouda that gives it the smokiness reminiscent of bacon. You can order this with ham and tomato, if you so desire, but Rob would never do that.

Oysters – Well, these are a no brainer. If you like oysters, knock some back. They’ve recently added fried oysters and an oyster sandwich to the menu!

Poutine Lowry8– Rob absolutely adored the poutine here, when it was made with beef. They recently changedĀ  it up to pork belly. He was worried that it just wouldn’t be the same. Truth is, I think he liked it even more!

Lowry11Cheese Curds – These went away for a brief period of time and Rob was so bummed! But they are back on the menu. They are jalapeno cheese curbs with a side of blueberry ketchup. Sound strange? Maybe. But it really works! The sweetness in the blueberry flavor balances out the spice.

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When The Lowry first opened it was advertised as:

The LowryBurgers | Whiskey | Oysters | Eggs

I thought the combination sounded odd the first time I heard about this restaurant. And now that we’ve visited, I’m not sure that I’d describe it that way. Sure, all of those things have a presence on the menu, but not a big one (except maybe the eggs). And there is no mention of beer with their great beer selection! I have noticed that on their makeover menu, they how describe it this way:

The LowryAn Urban Diner

I think that fits a little bit better.

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What are your favorite comfort foods?

Has a restaurant ever taken one of your favorite comfort food classics and made it even better?

Cheers~
Carrie

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The Mason Jar

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You may have thought this post was going to be about Mason Jar Salads… or all of the non-traditional uses of a Mason jar.

But it’s not.

Au revoir, Pardon My FrenchCupcake has taken your place. And who knew that inside a Cupcake, you’d find a Mason Jar?

I came upon The Mason Jar by accident, so I decided to surprise Rob with dinner there before our movie on Friday. Usually it’s he who surprises me with new-to-us restaurants like he did here and here.

My turn!

The space in Eagan which once housed Pardon My French has not changed a whole lot. But they do try to distinguish somewhat of a separation between Cupcake and The Mason Jar. Cupcake is adorned with whisks, while you’ll find at The Mason Jar… Yeah, you guessed it… Mason Jars.

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Mason jars line are found on every table and it’s how you’ll receive your silverware:

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But I’m not sure what else Mason Jars have to do with the place. They menu includes a lot of comfort foods. Perhaps they are connecting Mason jars with comfort food?

Speaking of the menu, there are absolutely none online for The Mason Jar at the time of this writing. Cupcake’s first location, which opened in 2004, has exploded into four after its exposure on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. The Cupcake-Mason Jar location in Eagan, though, has only been open about a month or so.

Also, at the time of this writing, there is only a Facebook page for The Mason Jar. But there is no official website, nor is there any mention of it on the Cupcake website. So there was not a menu to be found! I snapped a few shots of the menus put in front of us to share with you here.

We arrived during Happy Hour and took a seat at the bar.

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There were a few craft beers on tap, including a selection of local beers, as well as wines on tap sold by glass, carafe and decanter.

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They also have a liquor license, so cocktails are offered as well.

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We had to take them up on their 1/2 off beer and wine Happy Hour! They were out of the Bad Weather Ominous (a new local fave of ours, but only on tap), so we decided to try the tap wine.

What I like about the wine here is that it isn’t as generic as you find other places when it comes to house or bulk wines. All of the wines come from specific regions, not just a particular state. Generally speaking, it means the wines are better quality than a wine, say, just from California or Washington.

In the Midwest, it’s hard to find a wine from the Finger Lakes region of New York. So I had to opt for that wine when I saw it on the menu:

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I tend to prefer drier, Alsatian Rieslings and I knew this would be nothing of the sort. But I had no idea when I’d have the next opportunity to try a Finger Lakes Riesling! My next glass was the Cab from Monterrey County, which I have to say that for a wine-by-the-glass, was pretty darn good.

We learned of the four pizza specials of the day and decided to go with that $6 Happy Hour pizza deal. It was only after we ordered that we discovered this menu for even more Happy Hour snacks:

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Our pizzas arrived and they were pretty good. However, we thought they were worth about the $6 we paid, not $10 – $13 quoted on the regular menu. Save those pizza dollars for Pizzeria Lola.

Toadstool – mushrooms, mozzarella, thyme, cream sauce, kale, basil oil

Blue Cheese Burger – seasoned ground beef, blue cheese crumbles, red sauce, blue cheese dressing

Rob liked the mushroom one better, but the mixture of fresh and rehydrated mushrooms threw me off a bit. I thought the blue cheese on the burger pizza was good. But to me, it seemed like the meat was unseasoned, despite that I could see what looked like a sprinkle of oregano on top.

Rob’s crust ended up in the crust graveyard…

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Personally, I liked the doughy crust; but it would be even better if it was brushed with olive oil and/ or some seasonings. Or if diners were given a little of dish of olive oil for dipping, like one is given for bread at some restaurants. We probably wouldn’t get the pizza again. There is so much comfort food to try on the Late Night menu!

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And although The Mason Jar claims to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, they weren’t seating tables until 5pm. Huh? It also appeared that those who were seated at tables after we arrived may have received different menus. Much to learn!

And despite the fact that we had this dessert menu in front of us…

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We couldn’t possibly order from that… Especially when meany these cupcakes were at our disposal.

My choice compared with Rob’s choice:

I loved my cupcake and so did Rob. We tried each others’ found that neither had cupcake remorse because we liked our own cupcakes better!

Although I loved my cupcake, I personally think I like the cupcakes at The Bulldog NE better. When I said this to Rob, he looked at me with wide-eyes and said, “Uh… I doooon’t knoowww…”

Here are the differences:

  • I kind of like the fact that the cupcakes at Cupcake are a bit smaller because they don’t make you feel so guilty.
  • But the Bulldog NE cupcakes are always filled, so they need to be bigger to get a taste of that filling.
  • Cupcake has many, many flavors, so youĀ  have a lot of options!
  • Whereas, NE Bulldog only has two to three flavors each day.

That being said, I would try another of Cupcake’s cupcakes, without a doubt. It’s kind of dangerous how close we live to this place…

What is your favorite cupcake flavor or the best cupcake you’ve ever had?

Cheers~
Carrie

Republic

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Saturday night, Rob rounded up some friends and we went down to Republic, a craft beer bar and restaurant. Rob had almost chosen it for his birthday dinner this week, but decided it would be more fun to head there in a group.

It’s the second time we’d been to the Uptown location of this restaurant. But all it took was one visit to put Republic’s beer and burgers on Rob’s Top 10 lists.

There are several things that I love about this place:

  • There are no televisions! – Thus, no distractions. Unless your mate is constantly on his/her SmartPhone, you should have his/her undivided attention!
  • The Simplicity – There is one menu with one side listing beers by category {Ales, Belgians, IPAs, Ciders, etc.} and the other side listing food by category {Daily, Vegetable, Beef, Cow, Pig, Bird}
  • Local Beer Selection – Of their 56 craft beers on tap, about of third of them are local – meaning within the Twin Cities metro. There are many more hailing from the entire Midwest.
  • The Beer Flights – They are exceptional here because there are no exceptions. You can choose any three beers in a flight of half-pints for $10.
  • Beer Feature – There is also one Beer Feature that is just $3 at any given time until it’s gone!
Republic Beer Flight - 8 oz pours of any three different beers

Republic Beer Flight – 8 oz pours of any three different beers

This is the route I like to go so that I can try a variety of beers. Jen and Kim did the same and each included a Cider in their lineups. Lately, mine have been consisting of the Porter and Stout varieties. But I did add the Steel Toe Imperial Red Ale to the mix this time.

The Food

I’d like to describe the food here as “Elevated Comfort Food.” I can almost guarantee you that I’ve heard that phrase somewhere else. So I can’t attest to its originality. But I do think it describes it well. Here are some examples:

Beer Battered Fish & Chips - Fulton Blonde beer batter, house-made tartar sauce

Beer Battered Fish & Chips – Fulton Blonde beer batter, house-made tartar sauce

When I asked Kim how her fish and chips chips was, she gave meĀ the look and said, “It’s awesome.” You could see that there were spices in the batter. And that is not how she described the fish and chips at Pat’s Tap.

Sausages - roasted potatoes, mustard

Sausages – roasted potatoes, mustard

Even though this was so simply described, our friend Mike was intrigued. When it arrived, I asked what kind of sausage was in the dish. He said, “Kielbasa, I think.” Rob hates the word “hearty,” but if we had to describe any dish as such, this would be the one. There were a lot of potatoes! Purple, Yukon, baby reds… He had a pile leftover after eating half of them and all of the meat. His wife, Lisa, said that they’d take them home and she’d make some hash for breakfast.

Poached Eggs - grilled vegetables, roasted potatoes, chimichurri {add steak for $6 or sausage for $4}

Poached Eggs – grilled vegetables, roasted potatoes, chimichurri {add steak for $6 or sausage for $4}

I surprised myself by ordering poached eggs in a restaurant. But. It. Just. Sounded. Good. I added steak and was glad I did. The grass-fed beef was perfectly cooked and maybe even “made” the dish.

The poached eggs were a little overcooked, in my opinion. I like me a runny egg and they were barely so. Also, I took a big bite of one and found something crunchy. After a few bites, I realized it was an egg shell and it was all dispersed throughout my mouth. I have never experienced this before. How could it happen? I thought maybe I was imagining it, until I carefully forked up another bite and found another piece of shell in tact. When I showed the server and asked her to take away my napkin which contained the remains of the shell-bite, she apologized; but that was about it.

That being said, those roasted veggies were divine. And I ate every bite of potatoes. I don’t buy potatoes because I could eat them in quantity with no regard to portion. So, indulge I shall, when they are offered on my plate at dinner.

Angus Burger - carmelized onion, bacon, aged cheddar -or- blue cheese {burgers served with a mixed green salad, sub fries for $2}

Angus Burger – carmelized onion, bacon, aged cheddar -or- blue cheese {burgers served with a mixed green salad, sub fries for $2}

And then – The Burger. Lisa, Rob and Jen all ordered one. Jen said that there was a good amount of blue cheese on hers. Other places are a little skimpy on that. And she went on to explain how she never had any patience to cook up some carmelized onions herself, but how wonderful she forgot that they are! Rob confirmed that it is still one of the best burgers he’s had in the Twin Cities.

What is your favorite comfort food?

How would you kick it up a notch?

Cheers~
Carrie

Brasa Premium Rotisserie – St. Paul

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I’m sure there are many reasons why Soul Daddy did not make it as America’s Next Great Restaurant in the Mall of America. I’ve heard that the food there was just awful; but the place closed before I got a chance to try it. So I honestly can’t judge. However, serving soul food “fast casual” style, like at Chipotlle Mexican Grill, may have been part of the challenge.

Still, Brasa Premium Rotisserie seems to be doing this just fine. And while it’s not technically a “fast casual” restaurant by definition {you do get a waiter at Brasa}, it’s as close as you’re gonna get. I mean, really, it did win Best Takeout in the Twin Cities by City Pages.

In fact, when my husband and I were trying to decide where to dine one particular weeknight in May, he was reminded of a co-worker who went to Brasa earlier that week to pick up dinner. The friend mentioned that the food is good that he ordered a larger quantity and extra items just so he would have leftovers. Decision made.

I had been to Brasa once a few years back with my friend Sally. We asked for recommendations on what to order and I was totally taken aback by the collard greens. Me? Eat collard greens? Would I even like collard greens? How ’bout loveĀ collard greens! When Rob mentioned Brasa, I was anxious to go back and see what he thought of it.

But what kind of restaurant is Brasa… really?

  • While Brasa is not actually a soul food restaurant like Soul Daddy was meant to be; the menu there does have a sort of southern comfort food feel to it to me.
  • Still, the people at Brasa describe their food as “inspired by the Creole cooking traditions of the Americas and the Caribbean.”
  • Then, there is the word brasa,which in Spanish can meanĀ ember, hot coalĀ orĀ grilled.

I guess that’s where the rotisserie and the Latin part comes in. Guacamole and chips to start, anyone?

But it really doesn’t matter how we try to define or categorize the food they are serving up here, because it’s just damn good. What’s more is that they use high quality, fresh ingredients of which many are found locally and are either organic or sustainably raised. They even proudly list their farmers and suppliers here. Furthermore, everything is made from scratch in-house. This includes the slow-cooking of their meats.

Many items are served family style so that you can split and share them. That is exactly what we did:

Spicy Masa Corn Cake with Cheese

Run, don’t walk to get one of these corn cakes! At $1.95, they are worth getting one of your own.Ā 

Top: Creole Dry-Rubbed Rotisserie Chicken with green sauce, Bottom: Macaroni & Cheese

I just love, love rotisserie chicken. {Though I’ve just learned that many are injected with fat. If this is true, that may be why.} I also love creole seasoning. Perfect combination. I ordered the two piece order and since Rob can’t eat chicken, I ate one piece at the restaurant and took the other home to shred and top my salad for lunch the following day. I have no idea what the green sauce is, but maybe it should be called Addictive Sauce. I wasn’t the only one who thought so. There were little to-go dishes of it ready and waiting for takeout at the front counter.

The Mac and Cheese didn’t have a whole lot of flavor; but it was good. It’s what you’d expect from some down home comfort cookin’. But it was still a little too easy for me to eat too much of it.

Griddled Garlic Toast

I think Rob liked the garlic toast more than I did. I do remember liking it, but not much more about it.

My plate: rotisserie chicken, garlic toast and collard greens

I will not lie. That mac and cheese made it’s way onto my plate, too. And the corn cake did not go uneaten. We were both determined not to let that one go to waste. I did not realize that the collard greens were made with smoked chicken. This means that Rob couldn’t have any and this made them all mine!

Scrambled Egg & Spicy Sausage with
Jack Cheese & Tomato

Rob ordered the sandwich above, but we only ate half of it. We just ordered way too much food! And while it was good, we decided we probably wouldn’t order it again. There are just too many things on the menu we want to try!

The quality of food at Brasa is not a joke. It’s top notch. The chef wouldn’t have won a James Beard award for it otherwise. However, if you aren’t careful, it can be really easy to overdo it on quantity. My advice would be to take a little bit of everything you’d like to try. Decide what you like best and only if you are still truly hungry, take a spoonful more. Remember that it’s okay to have just one bite of anything.

Brasa has locations in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. Most of their menu items are gluten free.

What’s your favorite comfort food?

Cheers~
Carrie