Tag Archives: Minneapolis restaurants

Eat Street Social

Standard

 The Polar Vortex is over… I think.

But we’ve still had some pretty gloomy weather here in Minnesota the past week. Here’s to hoping all of those April Showers do bring many May Flowers.

But during that Polar Vortex, we stopped at the Eat Street Social in Minneapolis. Who knew that they made a cocktail to get us through that tough winter?

photo 1

We had been to the Eat Street Social once before, but it was to meet a friend who was in town. At times like that, one is more focused on time talking and catching up with said friend, as it should be. So I can’t give you any real details of that first impression of the restaurant.

We also had been to the her sister restaurant, the Northeast Social {in Northeast Minneapolis} a few times, as it had been introduced to me by my friend Sally. I instantly fell in love with its cozy, almost Parisian-cafe-style ambiance. The setting was intimate, the wine list interesting, the food delicious. Everything about it felt just… well, right.

A few years later, another “Social” was opened in the Eat Street neighborhood of Minneapolis. It’s closer to us South-of-the-River rats, so it’s a no-brainer we’d end up there again eventually.

Eat Street Social is at least twice as big as its Northeast sister, but I still love the laid back vibe of the place. Knowing that this place can get busy. {We’ve made our way there a few times, giving up after difficulty finding parking in the winter.} So we chose to try stopping in during one of our usual off-times: a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

This gave us the opportunity to pull seats up to the bar. This is the kind of place where that is where you should be. Little did I know that this Social’s specialty was craft cocktails.

photo 2

So despite the decent array of craft brews on tap, it was imperative to sample what delightful concoctions the skilled bartenders had to offer. Wine in wine countries, right?

I chose the Polar Vortex, not based on the name, but on the contents:

Polar Vortex; rosemary infused Cazadores Reposado, Amore Ramazzotti, pineapple, grapefruit, seltzer

Polar Vortex – rosemary infused Cazadores Reposado, Amore Ramazzotti, pineapple, grapefruit, seltzer

Rob chose a cocktail that suited him a little better:

Witch Hazel- Great Lakes Pumpkin Spirit, maple brown syrup, Bittercube trifecta Bitters

Witch Hazel – Great Lakes Pumpkin Spirit, maple brown syrup, Bittercube trifecta Bitters

Check out that boulder of an ice cube! It melted slowly into the drink and looked like this when Rob had finished:

photo 3(1)

Not all cocktails are made with the same sizes and shapes of ice. It depends on the specific drink. Talk about artistry and craft! Apparently, all of the water that makes the ice is filtered. Rumor has it that one guy does all the chipping, too.

We both chose the right cocktails because we each preferred our own better. While I thought I’d never want to experience a Polar Vortex again, I’ll take this version any day. One word: Refreshing.

We started with this because we had planned to stick around for a while and, hey, it was only $3!

French baguette with garlic butter

French baguette with garlic butter

We each continued with another drink. I chose a Wild Card White. {Read: wine of the day, note pictured.} Rob went with the Punch of the Day which was made with an herbal vermouth from Oregon, pineapple juice and another liqueur I’d never heard of before.

Punch of the Day

Punch of the Day

And for dinner, I chose:

Ricotta Gnocchi-King Trumpet mushroom, cipollini onion, collard greens, red wine, creme fraiche

Ricotta Gnocchi – King Trumpet mushroom, cipollini onion, collard greens, red wine, creme fraiche

This was quite rich. The leftovers made for a great lunch the next day. And of course, Mr. Burgermeister needed to check out this restaurant’s version.

Eat Street Burger, half pound beef burger, smoked gouda, onion marmalade, preserved tomato, fries

Eat Street Burger – half pound beef burger, smoked gouda, onion marmalade, preserved tomato, fries

Rob enjoyed the burger more than I did from the bite I took; but I’m not a huge fan of smoked cheeses. Still, what really stood out to him was the fries. They reminded him of the fries he adored at Claim Jumper during his Seattle days. He said that they were the same shoestring style with the perfect salt-to-pepper ratio. The only difference he could remember was that Claim’s fries were coated with a bit of some sort of breading.

I wanted to finish with an espresso. {I absolutely adore when restaurants and bars offer it!} However, the machine was broken that day. Instead, I got to try their Vortex Coffee – a method that was explained to me at the time, but I have yet to understand.

Eat Street Social is a place where I could imagine “hanging,” or, uh… socializing, especially if we lived in the neighborhood. I like that the food and drinks change with the season here. The food is high quality, farm-to-table fare. The craft cocktails give Bradstreet Crafthouse a run for their money. The bartenders were very passionate about what they’re doing here. I kind of felt like what I would imagine going to an apothecary would be like – all of the elixirs and bitters in tiny bottles screwed on with eyedropper caps.

Oh and did I mention their Torpedo Room? It’s a separate room with a Tiki Bar. We’re told that the temperature of the room is higher to give that tropical feel. Sounds like fun to me… Especially during a Polar Vortex.

What is your favorite place for cocktails?

What is your favorite unique cocktail?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

Advertisements

Restaurant Week: Longfellow Grill – Minneapolis

Standard

Last week was Restaurant Week in the Twin Cities. Did you take advantage?

It’s a great opportunity to enjoy 3-course lunches or dinners at $15 – $30 per person. In the past, we’ve discovered Bradstreet Crafthouse, Cavé Vin, Cosmos, Rinata and Red Stag all because of Restaurant Week.

In order to narrow down our selection for Restaurant Week this time around, we decided on the following requirements:

  • Had to be a restaurant we hadn’t been to yet
  • Had to have a choice on the menu that Rob could eat
  • Had to have something on the menu that peaked our interests and that we would definitely order

Upon closer look, we were a little disappointed in the Menus for Restaurant Week this year.

In my opinion, Restaurant Week should be a time when the participating restaurants highlight some of their signature dishes on the menu. I want you to show me what you are about, what makes you different, and why I should come back.

Instead, too many of the Restaurant Week menus went something like this:

Appetizer: Caesar Salad or French Onion Soup

Entrée: Sirloin or Spaghetti & Meatballs

Dessert: Chocolate Cake or Strawberry Cheesecake

Really? That’s all you’ve got?

While these menu items certainly can be made really well, I want to taste the creativity and the character of the restaurant. When it comes to showcasing your menu, spice it up. In fact, SEASON IT ALREADY!

After weeding out the boring menus, we ruled out all of those with only poultry and fish options due to Rob’s allergies. We finally settled on one:

Longfellow Grill

The Restaurant Week Menu was intriguing. Rob planned to try the Mac N Cheese with Butternut Squash and Chorizo. I was either going to try the Greek Salad with Steak or the Scallop and Cauliflower Gratin. In addition, their selection of delightful beers on tap was right up our alley!

Knowing that Restaurants are busy during Restaurant Week, I tried making reservations online. I couldn’t find a link on their website anywhere nor on OPEN TABLE. So I tweeted them:

We decided to go later because I needed to get my workout in. By 7pm, I was a lot hungrier than I usually let myself get before going out.

Not knowing the area, it was a little tricky navigating the neighborhood streets. After driving around the block a few times, we realized that there was no parking to be had: no lot and very limited on-street parking. Rob suggested that we just go home.

But I was determined. We came this far, didn’t we? After driving around for a little while longer, we found a neighboring street with a parking spot open. Hooray! We parked on the side street and walked to the restaurant. People were pouring out into the lobby, obviously waiting for a table. Still, we went inside.

I inquired about a seat at the bar. Completely full.

Wait time? About a half hour.

Okay, so that’s not that bad, but by now we were frustrated and hungry, so we just left.

It does look like a nice cozy neighborhood restaurant. And kudos to them for being so busy during Restaurant Week! Will we be back to Longfellow Grill to really give their menu a try? Without reservations and the hassle we experienced with parking, probably not.

Stay tuned on Thursday to read where we ended up after we left Longfellow Grill…

Did you dine out during Restaurant Week? If so, where? And what were your impressions?

Butcher Block – Minneapolis

Standard

I find it quite difficult to get a decent bottle of affordable wine in a restaurant.

Much of the time, restaurant wines in the $30 – $40 range (or less) lack character. However, many of us (especially those of us who dine out often and love our wine!) can’t shell out much more than that.

This isn’t the case at Butcher Block Restaurant.

We’ve found a keeper!

Li Veli Passamante Negroamaro Salice Salentino, Italy

This was our fourth trip to Butcher Block in and our server informed us of their new wine list (not even online yet at the time of this writing) and encouraged us to take our time perusing the menu and to ask any questions.

While Butcher Block is known for high quality meat (employing a master-butcher who worked in Rome for twenty years), the new wine list had a more diverse selection of Italian wines to complement the Italian dishes and meats on the menu.

Oh how we love our Italian wines!

It wasn’t always this way. In fact, my husband didn’t care for Italian wine until his first trip to Italy. It was there where we decided that they send all the bad Chiantis to the U.S. and keep all the good stuff for themselves. (Okay, so maybe we just didn’t know what to buy and stuck with the cheap stuff). Now, quality Italian wines are some of our favorites and we know the good stuff is worth an extra couple of dollars!

Thank you, Butcher Block!

Li Veli Negroamaro, Puglia, Italy – $32

Negroamaro isn’t a well known grape here in the U.S., so my husband couldn’t remember having had it before. I tried to describe the bottle we’d loved (that is low in stock) from The Traveling Vineyard®Messapicus Salice Salentino.

It was a great price for a restaurant wine, so we inquired about it:

“Well, it’s on the drier side.(Great! We like our Italian wines dry, and what I call “dusty”). “And it’s actually become one of our chef’s new favorites…”

I don’t even know what she said after that, but knowing the chef loved it was all it took to say, “SOLD!” I knew it would likely go with well with a lot of the dishes on the menu.

And it was just as I had a imagined – dry and dusty with hints of fruit and earth. It got even better the longer it was opened. I couldn’t believe that we found an affordable wine in a restaurant of such exceptional quality.

After my salad, my Pork & Ricotta meatballs arrived as my main dish. We’d had this before… as an appetizer. But I loved them so much that I didn’t want to share this time.

Pork & Ricotta Meatballs

Okay, this picture doesn’t do these meatballs justice! They are tender, juicy, moist, flavorful. Almost perfect… this time they were lukewarm. I’m not good about sending things back that aren’t to my liking… but I’m working on it. (What happens back in the kitchen?) Nevertheless, I would have never screamed at this dish, “SEASON IT ALREADY!

Rob ordered the Rigatoni alla  Norcina – pasta with house ground sausage and truffle cream. I love when he orders dishes like this!  It’s because I love sausage – not the most healthy meat on the planet. So, I can have one or two bites without having to order it myself. And the pasta was cooked perfectly al dente. Can’t get much better than that.

Rigatoni alla Norcina

Butcher Block can get busy. So make reservations. Or go at 5pm on Sunday night. Sunday nights make great date nights. Hey, we’re non-traditional.

Cheers~
Carrie

Restaurant Week

Standard

Does your city have a Restaurant Week?

I love Restaurant Week in Minneapolis/St. Paul! It comes around two to three times per year and is advertised in Mpls St. Paul Magazine. Restaurants all over the Twin Cities participate by offering $15-$30 three-course lunches and dinners. Diners can choose from a small selection of (hopefully) some of the best food the restaurant has to offer.

This season’s restaurant week in the Twin Cities is Sunday, February 26th through Friday, March 2nd.

Reservations are Highly Recommended

One year, Rob and I spent nearly every day of Restaurant Week trying out several of the restaurants! While our expenditures definitely added up in the end, we did enjoy a few dinners that would have cost the same for the entree alone. We also found a few exceptional places that we’ve returned to again and again.

Our favorite way to enjoy restaurant week is to browse the list of restaurants online. All of the restaurant week menus are listed there! Since there are so many restaurants participating, we can choose one that has a menu with the most interesting or healthiest options. We like to try restaurants that we haven’t before. However, if any of our favorites are participating during restaurant week, we are sure to take advantage of the special pricing!

Do you have a restaurant week where you live? If so, do you take advantage of it? What Twin Cities restaurants are you planning to or would you attend during this Restaurant Week?

We will be sure to update you on our choice this week!

Cheers~
Carrie