Tag Archives: fries

The Post Fulton Diaries


After our venture to Fulton Brewery, we sought out a bite to eat. We decided to drive around until we found something. We had nothing planned, so it would be spontaneous! This sometimes backfires when we I can’t may up our my minds.

We drove around and less than a mile away we passed the Smack Shack. Do you know how many times we’ve seen this place online and in local magazines?! We’ve heard rave reviews about their food truck and particularly their Lobster Roll.

As we passed it, we went in search for a place to park. {Note: Just because you can park, doesn’t mean it’s free. It cost us only $1.75 to park not far from Fulton for 3 hours. But it cost us $42 to park near Smack Shack. Why? We didn’t feed the electronic meter! DOH! I won’t be making that mistake again.}

We got out of the car and made our way over the block and a half to the Smack Shack. On our way, we walked passed Cuzzy’s. Oh no. Decisions, decisions. I made Rob choose. It was, after all, almost his birthday.

He said we’d start at Smack Shack. Maybe we’d hit Cuzzy’s, too. He wanted to check both boxes.

Smack Shack

I thought this place was named for the fact that you’d be smacking your lips because the food was so good. Silly girl. There is a another meaning to the word…

Smack: (Eastern U.S.) : fishing vessel, especially one having a well for keeping catch alive.

Okay. That totally makes sense now. No wonder they are known for their lobster rolls. The funny thing? I wasn’t in the mood for seafood. I have no idea why. Maybe it was because it was 7pm and I last ate at 11am and felt like I was just famished. I was also indecisive. I can’t tell you how long we looked at that bar menu.

They had a small handful of beers on tap, including the local Fulton we had just visited a few blocks down. I do love that in Minneapolis, restaurants are great about serving the beers from their local community! But at that point, I chose a Sparkling Sake instead.

Why? Because I saw it on the menu and I had never had one before.

I liked it.

It was low in alcohol.

And I like sake.

And I like bubbly.


Then we ordered a couple of small plates.

BRAISED BEEF SHORT RIB with Pickled Fresno & Ancho Garlic Mayo 6.95

Braised Beef Shortrib Taco with Pickled Fresno & Ancho Garlic Mayo – $6.95

There are no words to describe how good these are! The beef is tender and the flavors are so well integrated and balanced. When we raved about them, our bartender said that the smoked pork tacos were even better. We couldn’t even imagine that was possible!

Seasoned Fries 4

Seasoned Fries – $4

The fries were pretty good, but nothing to completely rave about. We didn’t finish them, especially since this was the point when Rob admitted that he wanted to go to Cuzzy’s, too.

We agreed that we’d go back to the Smack Shack, especially if we have people in town who love seafood!


We walked into Cuzzy’s knowing it was going to feel more like a bar than a restaurant. And with that comes bar food. There were dollar bills all over the walls and ceiling, but nothing like McGuire’s in Pensacola, where we hosted dinner after our beach wedding.

It was the first time I realized why Fulton named their blonde ale the Lonely Blonde. A guy walked in, sat down at the bar and said, “I’d like a Lonely Blonde, please.” People are ordering Lonely Blondes all over Minneapolis! Clever. And I hadn’t even realized it until I heard someone order it.

We opted for a burger and tots to split. I never expect this when we mention that we are going to split something, but they split it in the back for us. Never, ever expected, but always appreciated!

 Black and Bleu Burger With portobello mushrooms, bleu cheese and Cajun seasoning 8.99

Black and Bleu Burger with portobello mushrooms, bleu cheese and Cajun seasoning – $8.99

This burger was excellent and hit the spot! I can’t even begin to explain how perfect those portobello mushrooms were. The flavor was well balanced with just the right amount of seasoning and blue cheese.

And although I was no longer hungry after we polished off our burger, when the gal next to us ordered a Mexican dish, I turned to look at it because it smelled so good! It looked fresh and yummy, too, not just slopped on a plate like you find some version of Mexican food.

Looking for bar food in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis or close to the Twins’ Target Field? I think you’ll be satisfied here. Maybe even impressed. We were.

The cuisine at Smack Shack and Cuzzy’s is completely different. Some would say that Smack Shack’s food is a bit more elevated; but for bar food, I’d probably say the same about Cuzzy’s.

In my opinion, while different, they are equally enjoyable. We’ll be back to both! The problem will be choosing which one. Maybe it will be depend on our food mood. But if we can’t decide, we just might have to flip a coin.

What are your favorite types of small plates?

What kind of food do you like to split?


Put on your PARKA! {Closed}


Because winter has arrived!

I’m not a huge fan of winter, so I’m trying to embrace it as much as possible… But it’s hard for me to come up with a list of things I do like about it.

When I saw a Groupon Living Social deal for a restaurant in Minneapolis called PARKA, I was intrigued. Those of us who live in Minnesota practically live in our winter coats for at least four months out of the year.

The restaurant intrigued me because:

  1. I had never heard of it before even though it opened back in January of this year.
  2. It hails from the owners of Victory 44, which has been on our wishlist for burgers because it always seems to win that “Best Burger” title in the Twin Cities.
  3. Parka has this “Perfect Burger” on their menu, too!

After I informed my husband of my deal purchase, he said, “Why have I never heard of that place before? I know where I want to go for my birthday!”

And so we went, on a Saturday night… early. I spent all day reorganizing and purging from my closet and dresser, so we didn’t eat lunch. I think we left the house around 4:15pm, by which time we were hungry. It didn’t appear that they were the type of place to take reservations. And I knew that if they just sold a bunch of deals, the place just might be packed.

The place was pretty small and reminded me more of a coffee shop. You order at the counter and your food is delivered to you.

They carry three beers on tap and they are all from the local brewery, Indeed Brewing. We’ve had a few of their beers before, one of which includes the LSD, which doesn’t get great ratings, but I totally puffy heart it. There are many more beers available by the bottle or the can, as well as wine. But we, eh hem, Indeed ordered the Midnight Ryder Black Ale on tap.

Our deal included two beverages, an appetizer, two entrées and a dessert. We placed our orders, tipped in the jar and had a seat. Below is the Living Social photo for the deal, but it was pretty much taken from the seat where I sat that evening!

Source: Living Social

{Source: Living Social}

The décor design feels Scandinavian and cozy, reminiscent to the heritage that is rooted here in Minnesota. And although the term Parka is Aleutian, it captures the essence of the cold weather than we Minnesotans either complain about or embrace all winter long. In the corner is a very old TV {with knobs!} and VCR playing recorded {obviously} old North Stars hockey matches. Hockey is beloved here, and although the Wild are wildly popular, the North Stars are still highly missed. I’m sure watching those games is nostalgic for some.

Our beers were promptly delivered to our table:

Indeed Midnight Ryder Black Ale

Indeed Midnight Ryder Black Ale

Originally, for our appetizer, Rob wanted to order the bacon fries. Despite my anti-bacon-on-or-in-my-food preference, I conceded because, after all, it was his birthday dinner. However, we were told that the bacon fries came with the burger, so if we planned on ordering that, we might want to try something else. We asked for an appetizer recommendation. Here’s what we got:

Devils on Horseback

Devils on Horseback

Unless you’ve heard of these before, the average person would not know what these were because there are no descriptions on the menu. I must say that our service was excellent and when someone came to check on us and we asked about the creamy foam, we were given quite a lot of detail about the dish!

Devils on Horseback = Bacon-wrapped, blue cheese-filled dates baked in the oven accompanied by a blue cheez whiz (foam), almond brittle and a ginger date purée.

Who would have known this otherwise? And it was so good! I actually liked not knowing what all of the accompaniments were before I tasted them so that I wouldn’t have any preconceived idea or thought whether or not I’d like every component.

Rob was giddy as he exclaimed that he felt like we were getting to try dishes on Top Chef!

Then came our entrées, which ended up being a bit disappointing.

photo 3

The Perfect Burger

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this burger was perfect. I would say it was good, but it wasn’t one I’d ever get again. Maybe I’d give it a try over at Victory 44 just to see if there is a difference. The cheese was nice and melty, but the meat was a little strange to me. And although the bacon wasn’t overpowering, I still wasn’t feeling it.

We didn’t see any bacon on the fries and Rob thought the white topping was goat cheese, but when I dipped my finger in it, it felt like a powder! I tasted it first, then made Rob try it. And neither of us could taste any flavor. When we inquired about the topping we learned that it was bacon fat powder. Lucky for me, the fries weren’t overpowered with bacon. But if you are looking for bacon fries, these probably won’t satisfy you. The fries themselves weren’t all that exciting anyway. If we are in that neighborhood and craving fries, it’s off to Mosaic we will go!

The second entrée we split:

Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese

A hefty portion of mac and cheese arrived along with our burger. Rob found the dish to be creamy; I did not. Plus, it needed some sort of seasoning. It was completely blah. I ended up mixing in those greens and mustard seeds in, which helped a bit, but not enough to get excited about ordering the dish again. And those sausages? I thought they’d be house-made or something. They had a little kick to them. But they were just hot dogs!

And finally, probably the star of the show:

Chocolate Layer Cake

Chocolate Layer Cake

Rob and I rarely order dessert, so this wasn’t the dish we’d been waiting for. Besides, Chocolate Layer Cake sounds a little boring. But this dessert was far from that!

Side note: By this time, there was a line nearly out the door!

Rob was in the restroom when the plate was delivered to our table. I asked what kind of ice cream was served with the cake. The bearded gentleman who brought it to our table wasn’t sure. But I told him that it was okay, I could just taste it! He said that he could check, too.

When Rob returned to the table, he was impressed by the presentation. Bearded man returned and said, “Did you taste it yet?”

I hadn’t because I didn’t want to start Rob. Then, “I’ll give you a dollar if you can guess!”

I took a bite and tasted coffee. But it couldn’t be that easy! I love coffee ice cream, but there was something slightly different about this one.

“Some kind of coffee?” I said.


He turned to Rob, “I’ll give you a dollar if you can guess, too!”

Rob had nothing.

And it was revealed:


I was pretty darn close. It did remind me of the coffee I’d had in New Orleans! I love when chefs attempt at fun, unique ice cream flavors. Who would have known that this would come with our chocolate layer cake? It’s not noted on the menu! The cake was very good, too, by the way, along with the toasted marshmallow!

But when I bit in into the white chocolate, it almost bit me back! There was something that seemed spicy in there. I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not. I was just more fascinated by it than anything else. I would go back for more in between bites of the cake. My palate was thoroughly confused. I flagged bearded server down again only to find out that the sugar they use to make that white chocolate is the sugar used to make Sweet Tarts. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

Talk about an interesting dining experience, especially with such basically described items on their menu!

This deal reconfirmed something for us. Deal sites like Groupon and Living Social allow us to try something new, whether it be a dining at a new restaurant, discovering a different neighborhood, or trying foods we won’t normally try. It opens up a whole new world for us and gets us out of our comfortable little box.

Just think about it, even if we had heard of Parka before, we may not have ordered anything there but the burger and mac and cheese and then would have gone away disappointed. We still have another deal to use, so we’ll be trying some different entrées next time around.

Now, after all that…

What do you like about winter?


Mosaic Café {Closed}


A Groupon Living Social deal introduced us to Mosaic Café, a breakfast, lunch and dinner joint in the Midtown/Longfellow part of Minneapolis. I hadn’t heard of the place before. So, in my opinion, it was great advertising for them!

Whenever I consider purchasing a deal certificate, I make sure the menu looks like food I’d like to eat. There were two deal options at the time. One was for two burgers and two glasses of beer or wine. The other was just a flat $30 certificate (to purchase at $15). The burgers are what originally intrigued me, but other items on the menu looked good, too. So I purchased the latter deal.

We arrived late afternoon/early evening on a Sunday. While we did not expect it to busy, the ambiance just really wasn’t our style. It reminded me more of a breakfast joint or even a sandwich shop, which it also is. The interior was bright and sunny-like. And although they serve beer and wine, there is no bar. It was a seat-yourself kind of night and the server would be with us in a moment. 😉

We found a nice spot in a corner with some cushy pillows. I loved our festive tabletop decor and the mason jar used for napkins and flatware. I just may have to steal that.photo 3I could tell by Rob’s face that he really wasn’t excited about this place. I chose the deal so that he could try out their burgers and fries. I love that they use grass-fed beef. And it won an award from Vita.mn {a Twin Cities guide to going out} as one of the Top 10 “Best Local/Ogranic/Sustainable Restaurants” in 2013. But when Rob read that their fries were baked, he had no idea how such a place could also place as #1 in Vita.mn’s Top 10 “Best Fries” list.

He was a little skeptical.

We arrived during Happy Hour and had the option to have our drinks or any apps at the Happy Hour prices after we went over the $30 certificate.

Happy Hour!

But prices for beer aren’t too bad anyway – $5 for a pint of the local stuff on tap. And two-for-ones during Happy Hour! When I’m talking local, I’m talking LOCAL. Like, right across the street. You can see the Harriet Brewing Company building from the window.

beer selection

Beer Selection – 11/10/13

Rob and I aren’t huge fans of Harriet Brewing Company, if only because their beer isn’t our style. But I love the fact that Mosaic likes to support their community and local brewery. And with the less than exciting wine list, we decided to go with a couple of brews.

wine list

Wine List – 11/10/13

We may have ordered the Rosenblum Zinfandel by the bottle, but this list looked like they only offered by the glass here. We don’t generally order wine by the glass, if only for this reason. As I am looking more closely at Mosaic’s website for this post, it appears that they do offer wine by the bottle. This list did not make that clear. Maybe I should have asked.

Instead, I selected Harriet Brewing‘s West Side Belgian-Style IPA. It was distinctly Belgian, which I don’t mind. Rob chose the Woluptuweiss, a German-style Dunkelweizen. It wasn’t bad, but it would never be a beer Rob would order under normal circumstances. In my opinion, both beers were easy-drinking and true to style.

We put in an order for these must-try fries:

Rosemary & Garlic Fries - Baked until Crispy, served with House Made Aioli

Rosemary & Garlic Fries – Baked until Crispy, served with House Made Aioli

Oh dear, were these phenomenal! If I had a Top 10 Fries List, like Rob does, these would be on them. Rob loved them, too. I mean, really loved them. They were baked, crispy and golden, with just enough potato tenderness on the inside. The distribution of rosemary and garlic seasonings was perfect, too. I wouldn’t change a thing. We couldn’t eat them all and were going to send them away when our server asked:

“Don’t you want to take them home? You know you can just bake them.”


“Um, yes, please!”

Then came our burgers. Because, yes, after all, I did order a “burger.” I was debating between the Chicken Torta sandwich with guacamole, tomatoes, cilantro, pickled serranos and black bean spread on a toasted baguette served with a chili lime crema. But after discussing it with the our gal, I went with the MoonBurger instead, not because she thought it was better; but because she gave me more info and pointed out that the burger has CHEESE. 😉

Moonburger - Black Bean Patty made with Herbs, Roasted Veggies and Brown Rice. Topped with Muenster Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato, Guacamole, Cilantro, Served with Chili Lime Crema

Moonburger – Black Bean Patty made with Herbs, Roasted Veggies and Brown Rice. Topped with Muenster Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato, Guacamole, Cilantro, Served with Chili Lime Crema

You read that right. I ordered a veggie burger! The flavors just sort of sounded good to me, which is apparent when you see why I was debating between the Moonburger and the Chicken Torta. It was so good! The southwest flavors were exactly what I was looking for that evening. However, I’m not quite sure how they even made this into a patty. It was more like it was slapped onto the bun. It’s probably not pretty if someone asks to hold the bread. The chips were plain, but very crunchy. You can upgrade to fries, but Rob and I totally missed that and ordered the fries as an app before looking ahead!

Rob ordered a true burger:

Cajun Burger - Pepper Jack Cheese, Onions, Cajun Spiced Peppers, Aioli

Cajun Burger – Pepper Jack Cheese, Onions, Cajun Spiced Peppers, Aioli

The Verdict? He loved it!

Burger Deets from the menu:

Our Burgers are  1/3 lb. Certified Grass Fed Beef from 1000 Hills Cattle Company.
Served on a Multigrain Bun with Kettle Chips and Icebox Pickles.
Sub any Side Salad for Chips $2
Sub Rosemary Garlic Fries $3
Make it a  ½ lb.  Burger $3

Our only complaint is that the multigrain bun wasn’t too exciting.

What we also liked here? The music! The background music was pretty subtle / not very loud, but we were able to pick out a little Flogging Molly, Gaelic Storm and even a song I’ve heard our local Sweet Colleens play! We also heard someone say that live music would be on tap later that evening, too.

I’d like to try Mosaic Café again sometime, but maybe for breakfast, brunch or to see some live music.

Got any too-good-to-be true baked fries recipes out there?


From Pat’s Tap to…


November Girls’ Night took place on a back-to-back weekend with last month’s Girls’ Night. Rob asked the girls if he could crash it. Not only did they happily oblige…

But Jen offered up her turn to choose the restaurant to Rob!

He was tickled. He threw out five options he was considering, just to make sure he wasn’t completely stepping on our toes.

It was narrowed down to Pat’s Tap.

I love this tradition of trying new restaurants with the girls every month. There are no rules, except that we each take turns choosing the location. We do tend to try new places, unless someone has a hankering for something they’ve loved before… 😉 One of the reasons dining with just the girls is fun for me is that we often get dine where Rob normally wouldn’t like to go, namely seafood joints. {I know, they usually have steak or a burger, but his choices are limited.}

For example, one month, we dined at Sea Change. I never posted on the restaurant, quite frankly, because I kept my iPhone in my purse, took no photos of the beautiful food and just spent time chatting and catching up with the girls. Because that is really the purpose of these dinner nights. And sometimes, that’s all I want to do!

All of that being said, it’s fun to add Rob to the mix sometimes, too. No matter the situation, his personality and sense of humor gets everyone laughing.

I did take a couple of photos that night, but they aren’t very good ones. So I hope my words convey the character of this place more than anything else!

The Ambiance

Pat’s tap does not take reservations. I warned Rob of this because he doesn’t like to stand and wait – ever. The plan was to arrive around 6pm on a Saturday evening. Luckily, there was a table or two left and we didn’t have to wait at all, despite the fact of how busy it was. The bar was packed and people were standing.

I’d call this a quintessential neighborhood bar {and eatery}. It seems to be the hangout for people about 30 – 45. And there was Skee Ball! Seriously. However, I don’t think we were ever going to get in on that action with how busy it was. If you’ve been looking to join a Skee Ball legauge – they’ve got ’em here.

Skee ballThe Beer {and wine and cocktails}

The beer list is quite extensive! There are a couple of handfuls on tap and a gazillion more in the bottle. Whatever your taste, you’ll find something. The wine list is pretty decent, too. Not just the usual suspects. And the craft cocktails had me intrigued. I almost went in the that direction.

Instead, I went for the Deschutes Jubel Ale on Nitro. It’s a seasonal, festive beer that I’ve only seen on tap in these parts the past couple of years. Enjoying it on Nitro means it’s smooth and creamy. They also had the Deschutes Black Butte Porter on Nitro, which we recommended to Kim. The best part? These two Nitro taps are offered at Happy Hour prices – ALL MONTH LONG (any time of day).

An excellent beer, on Nitro, for just $3 per pint – YES, PLEASE!

The Food

We started with a couple of apps, of which I took no photos.

  • Kim and Jen split the Zucchini Cakes with Lemon Honey Aioli – I took a bite and loved the shredded zucchini texture. They were so good! My only complaint was that aioli was a little too lemony for me. And I like lemon.
  • Rob ordered the House Made “Cheese Its” – Everyone pretty much agreed that the real thing is better, but I applaud the effort. They tasted more like Goldfish and I didn’t have any problem eating them!

At this point, none of us were particularly famished. But I’d heard rave reviews of the burger here, so I was still hoping someone would split one with me! Rob said that he would and really wanted the Bacon Burger.

“That’s okay,” I said. “I’ll just take the bacon off and give it to you.”

“Uh, no,” he replied, as he pointed to the menu. “It says here that the bacon is in the burger.”

As being one of The Odd Ones who is not a bacon fan {I like it by itself, but not in or on my food}, I hemmed and hawed for a bit. Finally, I said that I’d just go with it because it was something I’d never had before.

But when it came time to order, Rob went with the Big Cheese Burger instead. Oh how I love that man!

I don’t think I mentioned how great the service was here! The only thing that took some time was getting our beers, but I can imagine that the bar was backed up at that hour. But the server brought out our dishes that we split on separate plates!

BIG CHEESE BURGER. . . . . . . 13 Cheddar, tomato, garlic dill pickles

BIG CHEESE BURGER – $13 (Half of a sandwich pictured)
Cheddar, tomato, garlic dill pickles

One thing that is really hard to tell in that photo {besides what the dish actually looks like} is that there is a big, thick slice of cheese that is FRIED. It’s all golden and carmelized on top.

Despite the fact that we talked about it with our server, Rob totally missed this. He thought that piece of cheesy goodness was the top bun. He gave me the tomato and ate the top bun by itself claiming that he thought it was a crouton. When it came time to eat the burger, he had a look of confusion on his face about his “top bun.” It was then that we explained the fried cheese concept to him all over again!

Here’s what we will tell you – This was an excellent burger! It does not make Rob’s Top 10 List, but will come pretty darn close. It is also one we’d order again. The fries were okay, but nothing to rave over. And a half burger was just enough food for me.

The girls also split an order:

FISH & CHIPS. . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Cornmeal breaded MN perch, remoulade

 FISH & CHIPS – $14 (Half an order pictured)
Cornmeal breaded MN perch, remoulade

I’m pretty sure neither Kim nor Jen had ever had perch as a fish fry before. However, that’s the name of the game on Fridays in Northeast Wisconsin where I grew up! One thing I don’t think any of us ever had, though, was fish with cornmeal breading.

I believe that they thought the fish was fine, but that the cornmeal made it taste dry. I think they’d try something else next time.

Also, when Jen dipped her fish into the tartar sauce, she said, “Whoa! That’s spicy!” She was expecting traditional tartar sauce.

But it wasn’t. We all tried it and Kim and I concluded that we thought it was raw garlic that was making the sauce spicy. But there was something in it that we couldn’t put our fingers on. We tasted lemon, garlic, and fresh herbs individually and we thought that there just had to be something else in there. We asked our server and she told us it was a remoulade, but wasn’t exactly sure what was in it.

So it wasn’t actually a tartar sauce at all. Still, I’m not sure that, by definition, a remoulade is meant to be spicy either. It’s a French word. And while classical French cooking has a lot of flavor, it’s not generally spicy. Rob loved it and stole a ramekin away from the girls in which to dip his fries!


By splitting a burger and ordering $3 Nitro beers, Rob was surprised and please by our bill. One of the best values in town for the quality we were served!

By the end of the meal, we thought about going somewhere for dessert. But we were full and had no room! We checked our iPhone apps for nearby watering holes, but we weren’t yielding any intriguing results. Instead, we decided to drive around a bit…

Come back next week to find out where we went after Pat’s and why we had to Ring for Champagne…

Have you ever had bacon in a burger rather than on it?



Patty Melts & PumpKing


One late Sunday afternoon, Rob and I decided to have an early dinner at one of our favorite Hipster joints – The Lowry. {Yes, I know. We’ve been there soooo many times and I still need to post about it.} However, forgetting that the Vikings’ game was in town, we ended up in the throes of traffic. Before we got stuck amidst it all, I called an audible {get the football reference?!} and told Rob to exit. We headed over to St. Paul to another Blue Plate restaurant – the Groveland Tap.

We had only been there once before. This time, we were able to pull a seat up to the bar. We were happy to see that one of our favorite Twin Cities breweries – Steel Toe – was featured on tap with their Size 7 IPA. And it’s always nice to see the local Surly representing, too.


But we just had to have a bit of PumpKing since it is our favorite pumpkin ale and it was on tap. We wanted to make sure we didn’t miss out on the last of it. It’s probably one of my Top Ten Favorite Beers, if I were to have such a list… Hmmm…

We also tried a the local Lucid Seasonal which was pretty good, too. If I remember correctly, it was even on Cask. Wait, it was! I just found a photo I took of the board that listed all of the beers: Lucid Amber with Pumpkin Spice & Clove.

002I was indecisive on what I wanted to eat and eventually ordered the Turkey Burger because it sounded similar to the one I love over at the Lowry, a sister restaurant. There’s no photo here, but rest assured I devoured it and a had few of the Cajun fries that came with it. It was very good, but not exactly the same as what I remembered from Lowry. But here’s the other thing eating that turkey burger reminded me to do:

Learn to make poblano pesto!

It’s what they put on their turkey burgers and I love it. There’s something about poblanos that I’ve learned from cooking out of The Homesick Texan, that gives Tex-Mex its flavor without being spicy like, say, a jalapeno. You know me, all about flavor.

I thought Rob would go with a Juicy Lucy, since he loved it last time. But he decided to go with the Patty Melt, instead, and this time with Parmesan-Garlic Fries.

001So, while the photo does this burger no justice {it was an afterthought}, at least I snapped one. Rob said this Patty Melt has usurped his best Patty Melt at Harry’s Café! It sounds like it’s time to update the Top 10 Burger List! And those parmesan-garlic fries put the cajun ones to shame.

So this is our formal personal reminder note:
Get the parmesan-garlic fries next time we find ourselves at the Groveland Tap.


I mentioned that Groveland Tap is part of a group of restaurants owned by Blue Plate. Normally, I’m turned off by chain restaurants. It’s not a chain per se. Each of these restaurants has its own unique menu, character and overall feel. And the food is really good. We’ve been pleased every time. I liked this sign outside of Groveland tap that describes each restaurant:004And a quick skim of the Blue Plate website indicated that a new restaurant called the Freehouse is opening in December. I think we’re going to have to check that one out!

What are your favorite burger toppings?

Have you ever topped with poblano pesto?!


California Beaches – Malibu & Venice


And you thought I was done talking about California… Nope!

If you are having trouble following our trip out-of-order, Pulp Fiction-style, know that I’ll be listing the links to each post in chronological order before the end of the week.


After leaving Beverly Hills, our check-in time to our lodging in Temecula wasn’t until 4pm, so my plan was to hit a few beaches before we left L.A.

First, you must know that neither Rob nor I are beach bunnies.

We both are very fair-skinned and have no desire to spend hours tanning on a beach. When we go to a beach, it’s usually to swim, to read {either in the shade or lathered in SPF 45}, to sip on a cocktail seaside or just to enjoy the beauty of nature. We did, after all, get married on the beach in Pensacola, Florida.

Our friend who recommended nearly everything we did on this California vacay, also recommended taking a drive to Malibu. She said to make reservations on OpenTable.com to have lunch at Paradise Cove. We were playing most of the day by ear, so we didn’t make the reservations. But it was a Monday and a quick scroll of OpenTable showed reservation availability every fifteen minutes. We figured we’d be safe.


As we drove along the beautiful coast, Rob suggested I pull out his iPhone to use his Zillow app. Zillow tells you the approximate value of housing in the area. It was hard to tell exactly which homes were being referred to for a few reasons:

  1. It works better when you are walking or standing, not driving.
  2. Many homes, of course, are tucked away behind gates and up in the hills.
  3. It may not show the exact value of a home, but maybe just the listings of those for sale or that were just sold. Even then, you’d have to take the time to find which house number corresponds.

But it gave us an idea how much it costs to live around there. I think the least expensive home we saw on the Zillow app was $1.2 millon dollars. But they ranged from that end of the spectrum, up to $12.5 million. I am just so curious if those little condos right on the water were that much, too? They were so tiny!

We spent a good forty minutes driving along the coast until we happened upon Paradise Cove. As predicted, it wasn’t busy. We asked for a table outside, as the weather was perfect that day. We settled in, with the sand beneath our feet, kicked off our sandals and contemplated this view.

004Sure, we weren’t right in front of the water, but we had intended to walk the beach afterwards. It was so nice just to be outside, digging our toes in the sand.

A beach calls for a fun cocktail right? We ordered a Malibu Mai Tai and something called The Perfect Day. It was only fitting! It was a gorgeous day and the ten-year anniversary of our first date!


What’s in The Perfect Day, you ask? Well, here is your answer:

007And who know Malibu had vineyards? Certainly not me! Love that they had a whole list of Malibu wines:
008I was pretty perplexed by what to order. The menu was a little kitschy, but certainly appropriate for a  beach. I finally settled on the Fish Tacos, but only because they were World Famous. 😉

"The Best Fish Tacos - Pablo's Recipe from Home. The Guys in the Kitchen Love These and So Will You!" - with rice & beans, fresh guacomole and pico de gallo

The Best Fish Tacos – Pablo’s Recipe from Home. The Guys in the Kitchen Love These and So Will You!” – with rice & beans, fresh guacomole and pico de gallo – $19.95

I know that they sound so basic, but they were sooooo fresh-tasting and good! And filling, too. I only ate ate two of them and even that was pushing it.

Rob went for A Steak Sandwich:

A Filet Mignon on Sourdough Cheese Toast with Onions and Mozzarella - $19.95

A Filet Mignon on Sourdough Cheese Toast with Onions and Mozzarella – $19.95

Somewhere hiding under those tomatoes {which Rob promptly removed and placed on my plate} was a cooked-to-perfection filet with a cheesy, toasted, well-seasoned slice of sourdough that was so good it could make you cry. The fries made Rob happy, too.

Before we knew it, we dropped $100 (including tip) – FOR LUNCH!

And although our jaws dropped over the thought of a $100 lunch, we reminded ourselves that we loved the food and it would have sucked to shell out that dough if it hadn’t been that good. We were in California. We had beautiful weather, a gorgeous view and some time to wonder along the beach!

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We drove away from Malibu, past Santa Monica. We decided that the next beach we wanted to hit was Venice for a completely different vibe!


Even around Venice Beach, we were astonished by Zillow’s account of the housing costs for some of the little run-down units. What was one of the first things I noticed as we approached the boardwalk after parking our car? The Packer clock in one of the apartments! Can you spot it?

026I loved the artistic vibe of Venice Beach, from the wall murals, to the musicians to the artistic vendors.

033We stopped at a cafe for a beer:

027The prices were much more affordable here! I chose a beer that I thought was fitting for Venice Beach.

{Zoom in on the beer on the left.}

028I found it was fitting, especially since we passed by an “office” no the boardwalk that “The Doctor is in!” and that you could be tested to see if you were eligible for medical marijuana. Well, that is, if you didn’t bring in your camera. 😉 LOL!

Then we turned around and walked along the beach:

031It was such a gorgeous day to be by the water.

With such beautiful weather, walking along the beach, enjoying the views and people watching…

It truly was the perfect day.

That is, until we managed to get back into traffic in order to drive around the mountain to the highway that led us to Temecula.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?


PUBlic House


How did we end up at PUBlic House in Old Town Temecula for a late lunch pre-brewery crawl on that rainy Wednesday afternoon in October? Well, it started with a hunt for the town’s best burger.

Although we had the best sliders of our lives that Monday night in Old Town at The Edge, Rob wanted to find the best burger. We had a late breakfast that morning after a full day of wine tasting the day before. After breakfast {even though we were all “wined out”}, we knew we had to taste the wines of the vineyards where we were staying at South Coast Winery! {More on South Coast tomorrow for Wine Wednesday!}

We walked over to the tasting room where Gregg began pouring us some exceptional wines. He also gave some food pairing recommendations and talked about a burger he makes with wine, as well as described how to make a Caribbean-style fish. He had my mouth watering so much that I almost asked him if we could come over for dinner.

We joined the Wine Club there and while I was at the register signing up and paying it, something occurred to me. We had not yet had a burger.

“HEY!” I said to Rob. “Why don’t you go back in there and ask Gregg where we can get the best burger in town! We’ll do a late lunch there before we check out the local breweries!”

He sprinted off into the tasting room and came back with a solid answer:

“PUBlic House.”

There wasn’t any hemming and hawing from Gregg. There was no “In and Out” burger response like we’d receive the day before. {Which, by the way, we did not pass up on In and Out while we were there!} With Gregg, it was PUBlic House all the way.

So we went.

It was a rainy afternoon and I was grateful that we spent the beautiful day before doing all of the tasting and enjoying the vineyard views. Today was a perfect day to recover and then spend the evening beer tasting.

The host stand was outside and we asked if we could be seated at the bar. I thought that they’d lead us inside. But instead, they led us around the back to the part-covered outdoor bar. The outdoor heaters warmed the area as the rain beat down. Despite the rainy dreariness, it was so nice to be outside in the fresh air. It was the perfect ambiance.

As we pulled up a chair to the bar, we were happy to see that there were several local beers on tap!

089The bartender caught us squinting to figure out the taps. He declared that there were more upstairs and slid a beer menu in front of us. The Limited Editions immediately caught our eyes.

085Don’t they sound soooo good? I ordered the Farking Wheaton W00tStout while Rob ordered the Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin. If you don’t know what a merkin is, just do a google search. Our bartender told us to do the same. 😉

I know it says that these are 12 oz beers, but the pours just seemed bigger than that!

086We tasted each of them. And while similar, I liked the Velvet Merkin just slightly better. I reread the description and realized that the W00tStout was 13% alcohol against the Merkin’s 8.6%. It was my turn to drive for the brewery crawl that night. It was at that moment that Rob and I realized that it would be best if we switched beers.

Then we searched the menu for the restaurant’s burger description:


But 10 oz?! We decided this was a burger we’d have to split. We also put in an order for some Opal Basil Fries. While we were waiting, we perused some more of the menu. I texted the photo below to a friend of ours who loves S’mores more than anyone we know. We thought it would be the perfect dessert for her!

090That prompted me to look at what was under “The Little People” Menu:

088Isn’t that the foodiest menu you’ve ever seen for a kid?!

Then the burger arrived…

092It was difficult to cut in two, but we managed. And let me tell you, it was sensational. But it was huge and just one half was filling enough for lunch. I wanted to slather that horseradish sauce on everything. Some of the best horsey sauce I’ve had! And you’d think that side salad was an afterthought; but it was just as enjoyable.

The fry basket was huge. I actually took the following photo AFTER we ate our fill of the fries. We didn’t put a dent in it at all. It was all burger that afternoon!

091These fries were good, but I liked whatever fries they were testing out and passing around beforehand. I think they were truffle or parmesan or something.

This burger did not disappoint. We’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good burger in Temecula. The rest of the menu intrigues me, too. We really liked this place and know that if we lived there, we’d probably be there often. Too often, I’m sure! Thanks, Gregg, for the recommendation!

Do you eat horseradish? If so, how do you use it?