Tag Archives: girls night

…to Blackbird Cafe

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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?

Cheers~
Carrie

From Pat’s Tap to…

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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!

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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?

Cheers~
Carrie

B

Yes, Please Send Me Some Wine!

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Whenever I do an in-home Wine Tasting   I ask the crowd, “How many of you would accept a Wine Club as a gift if someone gave it to you?” Nearly everyone in the room raises his or her hand emphatically. Really, if you love wine, why wouldn’t you?

It’s fun to try new wines.

That’s why The Traveling Vineyard Wine Club is one of the best gifts to get that hard-to-buy-for-person who has everything, especially a wine lover. And since this particular wine club is only two bottles per month (rather than some case clubs out there), it’s much more affordable for the gift giver.

But that’s not what I’m going to talk about today.

Yesterday, I received an email that a new drawing for a Cravebox opened. The theme: Girls Night In. Well, I already knew just by that title, that I was going to put my name into the drawing. However, when I read this part of the email, it really was a no brainer!

On top of all the great new products, the Girls’ Night In Cravebox is also our very first offering that includes alcohol. More specifically, the Girls’ Night In box contains a gift card that gives you an additional $10 off on top of the normal signup discount at NakedWines.com towards purchasing wine of your choice.

Yes, please send me wine!

Want to join me? If so here’s how:
  • Go to www.Cravebox.com
  • Click “Drawing Open! Enter Now!” under the Cravebox marked Girls’ Night In
  • Do so by Monday, April 22nd because the winners will be announced on Tuesday, April 23rd.
  • The cost of this box is $14 – YES ONLY $14!
  • You must set up a profile with a credit card on file, but you’ll only be charged if selected.
  • You must be at least 21 years of age to receive this box.
*Please Note: Cravebox cannot ship this box to the following states due to alcohol restrictions: AL, AR, DE, IN, KY, MA, MS, MT, OK, PA, RI, SD, TX and UT.

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If you aren’t sure how Cravebox works, please check out my first post with all of the details here. Then sign up if you are interested in getting in on the drawing! And, if you appreciate the fact that I notified you of this box, feel free to indicate that I referred you by putting my username – uncommonwine – in your referral box on your profile page.

If I’m selected for this box, you most certainly will see me post about it!

Happy Wine Wednesday!

What’s your idea of a fun Girls’ Night In?

Cheers~
Carrie