Tag Archives: minneapolis

Summer – Soaking Up Every Last Minute!

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I’d love to say that I’m taking my own advice this summer.

But I had a bit of a standstill – the summertime blues, if you will. I’m not sure what that even means. I just know that I was a little down and knew I shouldn’t be. I became angry with myself because I knew I was wasting away the summer! It was a vicious cycle.

So, now, as my friends in education talk about going back to school, I realize that summer will end before I know it. It’s time to soak up every last minute.

I had been collecting links to share with you at the beginning of summer. I was attempting to create the…

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Well, better late than never!

But first, you have to read Why Summers are The Best in Minnesota.

Now here are a few more things to do in MSP before the snow falls…

  • Minneapolis Patios – I love sitting outdoors and having a cocktail, a meal or conversation with friends. Get a list of the best ones here.
  • Twin Cities Food Truck Guide – Food Truck fare doesn’t have to be greasy. Look around for some unique, gourmet fare without the gourmet prices.
  • Outdoor Movies – Many cities play outdoor movies throughout the summer. Here is a list of those in Minneapolis, put together by Thrillist. Try to catch one of the last few!
  • Taproom Tours by Bike – I had envisioned taking a Nice Ride bike around Minneapolis exploring this summer; but I don’t think time will permit at this point. At least I have this list for next year!
  • Irish Fair – This is a free event that happens in St. Paul every year – this weekend! I am looking forward to watching a little hurling and seeing one of our favorite bands, Gaelic Storm.
  • The Great Minnesota Get Together – And lastly, we have the big event that signals the end of summer for nearly all Minnesotans: The Minnesota State Fair. Here’s a look at the new foods you can expect “on a stick” this year.

Do you have an end of the summer ritual?

How do you plan to soak up the remaining bits of summer?

Cheers~
Carrie

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Spooning the River…

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I never did post on the time we had a girls’ night dining at Sea Change, a restaurant known for its sustainable seafood and one of the Top Chefs in America last year. Maybe it’s because I was savoring a rare evening dining at a seafood restaurant. Or maybe it’s just a given to dine there. It’s a well-known, top Minneapolis restaurant and perfect if you are seeing a show at The Guthrie Theater {affectionately just called The Guthrie around these parts} and want a nice, swanky night out.

But if you are looking for a place that is just as tasty, but more casual, head yourself across the street to Spoonriver. Located just next to the Mill City Farmers Market, Spoonriver is a restaurant serving local, organic and sustainable fare with lots of options for vegetarians.

Even after the few times I’ve walked past the place, it took us a Groupon Living Social deal to get us there. Truth be told, I wasn’t really sure what the place was about. The deal prompted me to visit their website to read more about them and check out the menu online. I was sold.

What really took me by surprise was the list of craft cocktails at Spoonriver. I knew I’d be ordering one, but which one to choose? I narrowed it down to two: the Pear Ginger Martini (house infused ginger vodka, La Poire Grey Goose, Cointreau, Domaine Canton, Prosecco) and the Elderberry Negroni (Miller’s Gin, MN Elderberry juice, Campari, sweet vermouth.) {Yes, I bypassed all of those St. Germain cocktails on the menu. I wanted something different!}

Our knowledgeable bartender noted that the Pear Ginger Martini would be a sweeter and the Elderberry Negroni would be tart. So what did I do? Since Rob was driving, I sipped on the Elderberry Negroni before dinner and had the Pear Ginger as dessert! {At the advice of our bartender again, of course. I know, she twisted my arm.}

Elderberry Negroni

Elderberry Negroni

I have to say that the drinks were beautiful! Since we were sitting at the bar, we had the opportunity not only to see all of the cocktails being made, but also smell them! I kept thinking, “I wonder what that is? It smells so good!”

Rob’s choice was the Ophelia – Tanqueray Gin, Grand Marnier, Creme de Violette, lemon.

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Ophelia

Have you ever had Creme de Violette before? We’ve tried it once, in an Aviation at the old Nick & Eddie. {Oh how we miss that place!} Creme de Violette made from very specific violets and is very hard to find. So when Rob saw a cocktail with it on the menu, it was an easy choice.

We got to Spoonriver early, but the place started getting busy quickly. The restaurant is long and narrow, which gave me the impression, at first, that it was bigger than it really is. Make sure you either get there early or make a reservation.

For a moment, I felt like I was at the airport, because I noticed a kiosk with items available to-go. These are perfect for impromptu picnics along the river! What a fantastic idea. But who knows about these?

The food really does shine here, too. Rob found his Grass-Fed Burger quite tasty and impressive, despite the tortilla chips on the side. Not only did I find my Savory Crêpe Special of the Day delicious, but beautiful, too. Inside was warm goat cheese goodness with some veggies and flavorful herbs. I didn’t think to snap a picture until I already dug into this delight that reminded me of France:

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Apparently, during the Farmers Market hours, Spoonriver has an outdoor stand where they offer their sweet and savory crêpes as well. I wouldn’t turn one of those down.

One of the things I like about Living Social, is that sometimes after you’ve redeemed a voucher, they send an email asking what you thought of the restaurant. I gave the restaurant a “Thumbs Up” and commented, “The most colorful plates I’ve ever seen. The food was superb and love the cocktail menu! Thanks.”

I think this is the first time I ever got a reply from the restaurant!

Thank you for your kind words, Carrie! We’re happy to hear you had a positive experience dining at Spoonriver & enjoyed our creative plating :). I’ll pass along the compliments about our cocktails list to our Bartenders as well. We hope to see you again soon! Sincerely, Katie, Manager  

I don’t know whether the name Spoonriver was given because the restaurant is off the Mississippi {just a short walk!} or because you’ll be  spooning up some yummy goodness along said river in Minneapolis. Or maybe it’s for another reason entirely. All I know is that high quality, affordable, delicious meals and cocktails can be had here, whether you are taking a walk along the river, enjoying the Farmers Market or are off to a show.

Tip: Arrive early for dinner and then take your chances on “rush” tickets at The Guthrie!

 Question for you:

Crêpes – Sweet or Savory?

Cheers~
Carrie

Champagne Bars

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Happy Wine Wednesday!

Boy, do I have a lot to catch up on after our vacation to Saint Augustine, Florida, the oldest U.S. city. I’ve got so many things to share!

But for now… Let’s talk about Champagne Bars. Remember about a year and a half ago when we stopped in Chicago on our way to Ireland and Rob had the best fries of his life at Pops for Champagne? It was a Champagne bar he was reluctant to try, but conceded because it was my birthday.

Well, hallelujah!

Minneapolis finally has it’s first Champagne Bar! And you know how I love the bubbly.

Sparkling-Christmas-Champagne-wallpapers-488464

Tonight, I’ve decided that we are going to attempt to sip and dine at the Relevé Champagne Lounge pre-Pentatonix concert. (The menu is small, but appropriate.) I have no idea how busy it will be and they are not currently taking reservations. But there are plenty of spots downtown to seek out if we can’t get a seat.

Have you ever been to a Champagne Bar or Lounge?

If so, what did you like best about it?

Cheers~
Carrie

The Post Fulton Diaries

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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.

Win-Win-Win.

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!

Cuzzy’s

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?

Cheers~
Carrie

Fulton Brewery – Minneapolis

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Soooooo…

We’ve been to a few of the breweries in the west Twin Cities metro area, but really that’s about it. It’s kind of hard to believe when we’ve been to five breweries in Charlotte and six breweries in Temecula!

My husband occasionally participates in a co-worker Happy Hour at Steel Toe, one of our faves in the Twin Cities. We also support a lot of local breweries when we are dining out.

But how is it that we haven’t made it to the Fulton taproom yet? It was, after all, the first brewery taproom in the Twin Cities!

Well, when Rob’s co-workers arranged an outing to the brewery and Rob invited me along, he did not have to twist my arm.

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The boys of Fulton made their first beer in a one-car garage in the Fulton neighborhood of South Minneapolis in 2006. According to the story on their website, Fulton served their first keg at Happy Gnome in October of 2009.

As they grew, they moved a few times to have enough room to brew. This means that they are no longer brewing out of that South Minneapolis garage in the Fulton neighborhood. And in 2012, they relocated to downtown Minneapolis, where they opened the first brewery taproom in the Twin Cities.

With its newly expanded patio and extra bike parking, Fulton has been referred to as an “Urban Oasis.”

And even though we drove there in rush hour traffic on a cold, cold night, I’d wholeheartedly agree.

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You’ll find the Sweet Child of Vine IPA and Lonely Blonde Ale on tap all over the Twin Cities Metro. But come to the brewery for some specialty beers.

We’ve found it on tap at some obscure places, but served at the taproom is one of our absolute Fulton favorites – the Libertine Imperial Red Ale.

Fulton

It was my beer of choice for the evening. The funny thing is that I’m not generally not into red ales. But this beer goes against any brewing rules. It’s a fall beer, generally available September through November.

We were crossing our fingers that our other fave Fulton would be available: the Worthy Adversary Russian Imperial Stout. We had it back in January at the Pig & Fiddle. We put it up against the Founders Imperial Stout which was also on tap that night.

Battle of the RIS

Oh dear, are they both heavenly! It was actually pretty difficult to differentiate between the two. If we had to choose one, we would say that Founders beat out Fulton by 1/100th of a point. In other words, we will always order the local Worthy Adversary if we find it on tap.

But alas, Worthy Adversary isn’t available until December. We arrived on November 21st. I guess that means there is a winter trip to Fulton in store for us…

When the taproom is open, a food truck is parked outside. While we were there, it was Lulu’s Street Food. Boy did that food look good! A couple of our friends tried it:

Mark ordered a Crab Cake Sandwich and said it was probably the best crab cake he had ever had! Nora said that her Wild Mushroom Hash would have been way too dry if it wasn’t for the runny egg.

I assumed that we would be food-trucking it that night, but Rob wanted to find another place in the neighborhood. Although I had a beer under my belt and was feeling almost hangry having had lunch around 11am, I could hardly say, “no” considering it was his birthday the next day and he had the day off. {Come back Thursday to find out where we dined post-Fulton!}

As Rob finished his last beer, I sipped on a Blueberry Cream House Made Soda {Yes! They have those, too!} It was a little over vanilla-ed for my taste. Then we stocked up on some Fulton purchases before heading our way out.

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Growler of Libertine + Fulton Pint Glass + the softest ever green Fulton t-shirt = awesomeness

Empty growler now = required trip back to Fulton.

Question: Who wants to join us?

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 me 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

Mosaic Café {Closed}

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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.”

DUH!

“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?

Cheers~
Carrie