Tag Archives: grilled cheese

Baby, It’s Cold Outside…

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Looks like we’ll be getting another Arctic Blast soon… And I was just starting to enjoy this 30+ degree weather. Really. It felt balmy. Time to put on the PARKA again!

That is, we used our last Living Social voucher to PARKA. This time, we went for lunch. To read about our first impression of PARKA on Rob’s birthday, click here.

At PARKA, you order at the register and wait for your food to be delivered to your table.

Parka

I find it a bit awkward to tip in the jar on the counter. I feel like I need to make sure someone sees me do it! The food has such creativity and artistry as you’d find on Top Chef and is delivered to your table by course. It just feels strange to get up and leave after you finish your meal, not wait for the bill or leave a tip on the table.

I also noticed something new this time around:

Thirsty Fish

That fish is thirsty for some PBR!

We ordered the Seasonal Indeed local beer on tap:

Indeed Stir Crazy Winter Ale -

Indeed Stir Crazy Winter Ale – ale brewed with cocoa nibs, vanilla, raisins and brown sugar

There was no throwback North Stars Hockey playing on the old television like last time, but I did take a look at the coffee menu, which also illustrated a love, or at least an interest, in hockey:

Parka-CoffeeHockey

What’s great is now they have short descriptions of the food on their menu both in the restaurant and online! But I still liked that they described each dish as it came out. It makes it more personable.

For our appetizer, we couldn’t pass up the Devils on Horseback we ordered last time. They were as good as we remembered!

Devils on Horseback

Devils on Horseback – $8
Bacon-wrapped, blue-cheese-filled dates with blue cheese whizz, ginger-date puree & almond brittle

We chose different main dishes this time around.

Rob selected:

Braised Brisket 11 Roasted sunchoke, pickled pear, watercress

Braised Brisket – $11
Roasted sunchoke, pickled pear, watercress

We were explained that the brisket is braised for 12 to 16 hours and that the sunchokes are actually prepared four ways in this dish – roasted, sunchoke chips, a sunchoke puree and another that I don’t recall. We liked them and decided that we may have to try to find sunchokes to roast on our own! Rob said that the meat was so tender that it fell apart in his mouth; but it didn’t have much flavor. It actually seemed like a pretty healthy dish. Which you don’t always think of when you think of a brisket covered in gravy or a sweet, sugary barbecue sauce.

My choice:

Maple Grilled Cheese 11 Bacon, pickled apple, maple syrup

Maple Grilled Cheese – $11
Bacon, pickled apple, maple syrup

So much food! I only had a couple fries because they aren’t my favorite and I gave half of the sandwich to Rob. But it was so good! There was very little bacon flavor {which you know I liked}, so it didn’t overpower the dish. The cheeses were so gooey and melty and worked beautifully with the onions and apples. I recall being told that there was fontina and cheddar, but missed the third cheese. Perhaps Swiss? The apple slices didn’t taste pickled, but a little sweet and cinnamon-dusted. But I think what really made this sandwich was the maple syrup! It sounded strange to me at first, but it was just this light sweetness, not overpowering nor saturating. And it worked perfectly on the outside of the crusty bread.

Rob said this is what he’d get the next time we come back to PARKA. He also said that it almost beats the The Lowbrow out for best grilled cheese!

We had originally planned to get the chocolate cake we adored so much last time for dessert. But now that there were descriptions, we just had to order the apple pie!

Apple Pie 7 Apple streusel, apple compote, sharp cheddar ice cream

Apple Pie – $7
Apple streusel, apple compote, sharp cheddar ice cream

This was a deconstructed able pie of sorts made with a shortbread-style cookie topped with the apple filling and pecan crumble with a swipe of caramel sauce. We were intrigued by the sharp cheddar ice cream on the side! It didn’t taste sharp, but it was very good. Our only complaint with this dessert? More caramel, please! But everything should have more caramel, shouldn’t it?

We loved this dessert, but think we really loved the chocolate cake we has last time even more.

However, this past week, Rob found this article which states that Chef Erick Harcey “will no longer be acting Executive Chef for Stock & Badge, which includes Parka…” Although “He plans to stay on as a partner,” I’m not sure what this means for the creative menu at Parka. Will it remain the same?

How do you like your grilled cheese?

Cheers~
Carrie

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Acadia Cafe – Minneapolis

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

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

Acadia’s motto:

No Crap on Tap!

As a beer snob, this appeals to me.

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

The have a large selection of bottled beers, too.

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

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

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

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

Rob ordered:

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

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

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

I ordered:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers~
Carrie

The Lowbrow – Minneapolis

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He did it again!

My husband wanted to surprise me with a new restaurant. On a random weeknight, he asked me if I wanted to go to La Chaya. I assessed my calories for the day and took a look at their online menu again – a great tip for healthy dining out.

“Sure!” I said.

However, when we made our way to south Minneapolis, we did not stop at La Chaya. We kept on going.

“Where are we going?”

He just laughed.

Upon arrival, we drove around the neighborhood for a place to park and found a spot right behind a big truck marked FBI. Huh? Let’s just say it wasn’t the FBI. A little bit of profanity in the tagline below the initials.

Anyway, at this point, I still didn’t know the restaurant until we walked up to it –  The Lowbrow. I hadn’t heard of it! I swear, South Minneapolis doesn’t get any recognition for all of the great little restaurants dotting the neighborhood streets. I might just have to start a blog on South Minneapolis. 😉

When we sat down, I was pleased to see that there were mostly Minnesota craft beers on tap:

Almost all MN beers on tap. None of that light crap.

I looked at their selection of wines, too, and just as I was about to decide, Rob ordered for me:

“We’d like one each of the Fox Barrel Ciders, please.”

Then he told me that this is one of the reasons he wanted to come here. When we went to the Twisted Fork Grille, we were anxious to try the Fox Barrel Blackberry Pear Cider on tap. But they were sold out. At The Lowbrow, the Fox Barrel Ciders are sold by the bottle, but they are on their regular beverage menu. Sure, $12  may seem like a lot for a beverage. However, these are 22-ouncers. If we each would have two drinks, in Minneapolis that comes to about $12 anyway. The plan was to pour half of one cider in our glasses and then switch. {No, not mix them. Basically, we each get to have half of each bottle to try.}

Fox Barrel Ginger & Blackcurrant “Cidery Reserve” unfiltered Pear Cider with organic honey – Colfax, CA

Okay, so these pear ciders weren’t from Minnesota, but we’d never found nor had them before. Besides, I’m not a fan of Crispin. Anyone who thinks you need… no, encourages you to put cider over ice is crazy. In essence, they don’t want you to taste their beverage, but drown out the flavors. There’s a reason light beers are served “ice cold”. I fear this is a new phenomenon catching on with cider because bartenders have been asking us more and more frequently if we want a glass of ice with our cider. 😦 Yes, cider should be chilled, but not diluted over ice. But I digress…

Fox Barrel Rhubarb & Elderberry “Cidery Reserve” unfiltered Pear Cider with organic honey – Colfax, CA

The Verdict? Both pear ciders were very, very good! I think that I liked the Rhubarb one a bit better just because the Ginger one was a bit too gingery for me. However, Rob said he thinks he liked the Ginger one a little better. This surprised me, because he hates when I cook with ginger! {Maybe he just hates when I cook. ;)} Nonetheless, we’d drink either of the two again any day.

By now, you’ve probably noticed the bar top in the photos. If not, look a little more closely:

Baseball cards make the bar top! This is a good use for them – sports cards don’t have much value these days.

As for the food, I love The Lowbrow’s philosophy:

“The Lowbrow is committed to bringing scratch-made comfort food to your plate using locally farmed, sustainably grown ingredients.  We proudly offer gluten-free and vegetarian options as well.”

Anytime a restaurant is using fresh, high-quality ingredients and supporting the local community, I am in! I wanted to make a good choice that night, knowing my calorie alottment remaining. However, Rob told me that this place is known for their grilled cheese. Okay, so at least I got it with salad instead of fries and had them put tomato in the grilled cheese. A compromise, right?

Grilled cheese – choice of Wisconsin Cheddar, Swiss or both. Um duh – BOTH!

Rob got a burger and fries. He decided to cut the burger in half so we could each swap halves!

The Lowbrow Burger + Chipotle Gouda

“All Burgers at The Lowbrow are made with 100% grass-fed Minnesota Beef.”

Food Verdict:

  • The grilled cheese was very good, but not nearly the best I’ve ever had. Rob loved it and I think it was his favorite grilled cheese ever, despite “ruining it” with tomatoes. Hey, I held off on the avocado, babe.
  • I’m accustomed to getting greens now when they are offered. Sometimes they are drizzled with a lovely vinaigrette, like at Pardon My French. However, the dresing here didn’t really suit me. So the greens sat.
  • You won’t believe we are going to say this, but we found the fries a bit too salty. Yes, over-seasoned.
  • The burger was a good quality basic one. I didn’t really taste the chipotle gouda. And while we could tell that the meat was great quality and was perfectly cooked to our liking, it wasn’t seasoned. Yes, under-seasoned.

If we go back, I’m sure Rob will have another grilled cheese. I will try something else on the menu and maybe one of their specialty cocktails. It looks like a great place for brunch!

What is your favorite grilled cheese or cider?

Cheers~
Carrie