Tag Archives: poutine

Phoebe Poutine

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Sophie & Shamrock Saturday

We got to puppy-sit Miss Phoebe last weekend! She is now at least 4 months old, weighing in at over 5 lbs.

Let’s step back a bit, though.

When my friend Kim sent us photos of the new puppy she’d be picking up and asked for some puppy naming help, Rob responded:

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I thought Poutine was actually a cute name for a little girl puppy! {Despite the fact of the rich dish she’d be named after…}

Kim said she wasn’t fond of food names for pets.

{Flashing lights is what Kim’s 5-year-old would have called her, just because it was the first thing she saw!}

In the end, the one that stuck was her original thought – Phoebe.  And it truly works for her.

They also call her Phoebe Weebie. She loves when you say her name! Actually, she loves everybody! In fact, I need to keep using exclamation points! Because that is how happy Phoebe is to see you when you walk into the room!

Every. Single. Time.

I swear: Puppies might be able to cure depression.

Look at those sweet brown eyes!

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Especially when they are as cuddly as Phoebe. She just might give Sophie Jean a run for her money.

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And while outside, she looked lost in the tall grass!
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And after Rob cut the lawn, she just kept collecting the remnants on her underbelly!

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I can’t tell you how nice of a distraction it was to have her at the house during this month where I’m pretty much running on auto-pilot. I barely wanted to leave the house. I just wanted to play and cuddle. She is just a ball of love.

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Because our hardwood floors are difficult for dogs to run around and play on, we always throw a blanket down when a pooch comes to visit.

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Sophie and Sham weren’t really having it though. There was a lot of jealousy going on. All Phoebe wanted was for one of the other dogs to play with her. She really tried to play with them, but she didn’t get any takers. Although Sophie looked like she might…

But in the end, no playing happened. Well, except with me! Of course, about a half hour before Kim picked her up, Shamrock ventured over to the blanket wagging his tail. He was thinking about it…

But I’m going to confess and say that I did call her Poutine and Phoebe Poutine a few times. It just felt natural. Rob and I have always had multiple names for our dogs. For example,  When we talk about her, we call Sophie “The Jean” as in “Do you think The Jean will like these treats?”

Similarly, when Rob and I would discuss Phoebe in conversation with each other, she became “The Poutine”, as in… “We need to get home to The Poutine!”

Because even that bark is oh-so-freaking-adorable…

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Happy Saturday!
Carrie

A Dozen Reasons Why I Love The Lowry

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We’ve been to The Lowry in Uptown Minneapolis countless times now. I’ve been collecting photos from each visit for probably the past year and a half. Yeah, I know I’ve said it before, but this post is long overdue.

I didn’t really hit me until recently, but The Lowry is probably one of my favorite places to eat in Minneapolis when it’s just the two of us. When Rob suggests it, I never turn him down. It’s casual, there is an excellent beer selection, the food is comforting and the service is great, too. We always try to get a seat at the bar in possible. This means though, that we have to go at “off” times of the day. It can get pretty busy.

The Lowry,

Oh, how I love you… Let me count a dozen ways….

1) The LOCATION ~ We’ve timed it and even living South of the River, it takes us only approximately 15 to 17 minutes to get there sans traffic. 

2) The BEER ~ The beer selection is superb. The Lowry has made our Top 10 Beer Selections in the Twin Cities list.

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Even if we don’t love everything on the list at a given time, there is always a good selection and wide variety to please pretty much any palate. The taps are ever changing. When we sit down at the bar, we get the lastest list on a clipboard like this:

The every-changing tap menu is updated often

The every-changing tap menu is updated often…

We enjoyed quite a few Pumkings here this past season!

We enjoyed quite a few Pumkings here this past season.

3) The WINE ~ There are not a lot of wine options, but it’s not usually why we’re here. In fact, the number of wines on the list has decreased since we started visiting The Lowry. Like its sister Blue Plate restaurant, Scusi, they once used a wine dispenser system:

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It is no longer used for wine, but for their Whiskeys! {Learn more about the different styles of whiskey here.} However, the wines offered are decent if you are not a beer fan or are just in the mood for a glass. But for me, its the Mimosa Service that takes the cake.

Mimosa Service = bottle of Proseco + carafe of OJ

{mix your own to your liking!}

4) The FUN COCKTAILS – If you aren’t really in the mood for beer or wine, there are some unique cocktails as well, including a cocktail of the day. Of course, I love anything with St. Germain. But Rob was draw in by the eggnog-type drink over the holidays!

5) The HAPPY HOUR – The Lowry has an incredible Happy Hour. It’s also one of the only places we go to that allows us to order from the Happy Hour Menu when using a voucher or gift certificate.

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While we usually go for the entrees, we have had a few of the appetizers off their Happy Hour Menu. The Chicken Potstickers I only ordered on a whim… Because the people next to me at the bar ordered them and they smelled so good! And they are…

And nearly all of the beers on the incredible and ever-changing beer menu are $3 – $4. You can tell if a beer is available at Happy Hour pricing by the HH at the end, followed by the Happy Hour price:

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6 ) The PEOPLE – This is a place for Hipsters, although we don’t consider ourselves such. Take a look around at the clientele. It makes for great people-watching! But you’ll find people of all ages and types here, too. Don’t be afraid to stop in if you don’t think you’re hip enough… 😉

7) The SERVICE – We love sitting at the bar because of the exceptional service. It just feels like home to me. Is that weird? It doesn’t feel like I’m at home, just comfortable and relaxed.

9) The SALMON – I am so sad that they are replacing one of my favorite preparations of salmon EVER. It reminded me of the Mediterranean.

Salmon - with fingerling potatoes, tomatoes, olives, asparagus and olive oil

Salmon – with fingerling potatoes, tomatoes, olives, asparagus and olive oil

I have yet to try the replacement, but with “artichoke, tomato, asparagus, pickled onion, arugula and basil oil,” it’s not likely that I’ll be disappointed!

9) The STEAK – On our very first visit, I ordered the Steak Salad. It was highly seasoned and oh-so-good!

STEAK ancho-rubbed, charred corn, tomato, red onion, queso fresco, avocado, tortilla, creamy chipotle dressing

Steak Salad – ancho-rubbed, charred corn, tomato, red onion, queso fresco, avocado, tortilla, creamy chipotle dressing

Every time Rob orders the Steak and Pierogies, he declares his love for them and asks me to remind him to order them again next time:

STEAK & PIEROGIES marinated steak medallions, onion- cheddar pierogies, fried shallots, horseradish sauce

Steak & Pierogiesmarinated steak medallions, onion-cheddar pierogies, fried shallots, horseradish sauce

One item of note: I usually order my steak medium rare. At The Lowry, I’ve learned to order it medium to get my desired doneness. Please know that Sul Lago is still my absolute favorite for steak in the Twin Cities. But The Lowry prepares their steak comfort-food style… with flavor. And I think the steak dishes are a a steal for the price.

10) The BREAKFAST – Many of the breakfast items on The Lowry’s menu are served all day. But go early because it can be hard to get a seat if you are wanting brunch. They do not take reservations, but you can call ahead to get your name on the waiting list. But don’t arrive too early either, or you won’t be able to take advantage of the Mimosa Service, a Bloody Mary or the exceptional beer list.

I believe that in Minneapolis, restaurants can only serve alcohol after 8am Monday through Saturday and after 10am on Sunday. If you do arrive earlier than that, you’ll probably need some coffee anyway.

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I love that The Lowry uses a collection of mismatched mugs. It makes me feel like I’m having coffee at a friend’s place.

When the time comes, you can order that Bloody Mary with your chosen beer chaser:

Bloody Mary and an IPA - my perfect combo

Bloody Mary and an IPA – my perfect combo

I love eggs, so there’s not much that can go wrong with a breakfast menu like theirs. Rob found a favorite in the Shirred Eggs!

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11) The HOURS – The Lowry is open 6:30am until 2:30am every day. Seriously. We love that you can go there during pretty much any waking hour! And many menu items are available all day. Since it gets very busy on the weekends at brunch-ish time, we like to go earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon.

Happy Hour is from 4p – 7p and 10p – close every day. And the kitchen is open until 1am! There is also a Breakfast Happy Hour on weekdays from 8a – 11a. Not sure there are many individuals who have the freedom to partake in that, though.

What really impressed us, though, was that The Lowry opened on Christmas Day at 5pm. We had just returned from Green Bay and didn’t have anything nor want to cook. Upon arrival, we ordered one of the most comforting dishes on the menu:

BEEF STROGANOFF chive sour cream, fried shallots, pappardelle noodle

Beef Stroganoff – chive sour cream, fried shallots, pappardelle noodle

That dish is seriously good. It’s not a traditional stroganoff to me, but the fresh herbs in the dish drive me wild!

12) The FOOD – There are so many great items on the menu that make our bellies happy. There’s always something new to try, especially now that they changing up their menu a bit. We’ve very rarely been disappointed. Here are some thoughts on a few of the other dishes:

Lowry12Grilled Cheese – It has great cheese, but the sauce inside was weird. It is described as a tomato chutney, but it tasted more like you put ketchup on my grilled cheese! NOOOOO!!!  But the tomato soup shooter with pesto was to die for.

Lowry3Burgers – Guru Rob was not a huge fan of the burgers and fries here, rating them as average. But there are plenty of other places where we can find stellar burgers and fries. Besides, there is too much other yummy goodness on these menus.

Turkey Burger – On the other hand, I love the turkey burger here. It’s essentially the same as the one at their sister restaurant, Groveland Tap.

Mac & Cheese Lowry7Rob described it as having great flavors of swiss and smoked gouda. He thought it was creamy and cheesy and said he’d definitely get it again. I took a taste and thought there was a hint of bacon, although there was no bacon in the dish. I think it’s the smoked gouda that gives it the smokiness reminiscent of bacon. You can order this with ham and tomato, if you so desire, but Rob would never do that.

Oysters – Well, these are a no brainer. If you like oysters, knock some back. They’ve recently added fried oysters and an oyster sandwich to the menu!

Poutine Lowry8– Rob absolutely adored the poutine here, when it was made with beef. They recently changed  it up to pork belly. He was worried that it just wouldn’t be the same. Truth is, I think he liked it even more!

Lowry11Cheese Curds – These went away for a brief period of time and Rob was so bummed! But they are back on the menu. They are jalapeno cheese curbs with a side of blueberry ketchup. Sound strange? Maybe. But it really works! The sweetness in the blueberry flavor balances out the spice.

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When The Lowry first opened it was advertised as:

The LowryBurgers | Whiskey | Oysters | Eggs

I thought the combination sounded odd the first time I heard about this restaurant. And now that we’ve visited, I’m not sure that I’d describe it that way. Sure, all of those things have a presence on the menu, but not a big one (except maybe the eggs). And there is no mention of beer with their great beer selection! I have noticed that on their makeover menu, they how describe it this way:

The LowryAn Urban Diner

I think that fits a little bit better.

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What are your favorite comfort foods?

Has a restaurant ever taken one of your favorite comfort food classics and made it even better?

Cheers~
Carrie

Best Twin Cities Restaurants to Take Out-of-Town Guests

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This post was inspired by a friend who has family in town this weekend. She wanted ideas for where to take them. And while she came up with her own answer, it did get us to thinking where we’ve taken our out-of-town guests.

I feel a little guilty writing this one.

Why? Because I know that there will be some opinions out there. I may sound like I’m dogging some Mpls-St. Paul institutions. Let’s just say that these are not necessarily the best restaurants in the Twin Cities to take your out-of-town guests. Of course, that all depends on you and your guests. Your tastes might be completely different from ours.

So, instead, let’s label this list as our favorite places to take guests who come in from out of town. We want them to experience restaurants that we not only love, but that are also either unique, capture a piece of Minnesota or offer a bit of fun. They are listed in no particular order. At the time of this writing, Restaurant Impressions might not be written on all restaurants listed yet. But you can always hop over there to check!

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Cossetta’s – St. Paul

I have to admit that Rob has never been to Cossetta’s {the original eatery} and I haven’t eaten there in years. However, after a trip to the newly renovated/expanded Alimentari, including the eatery/pizzeria, Pasticceria, Italian grocery and restaurant with my parents this past May, it’s worth a trip… if only for the pastry/gelato/supermarket experience. Most would notice how grand the paticceria and rest of the building looks. But instead, my dad noticed what kind of light bulbs were used. He’s cute like that.

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Buffalo Tap – Savage

Forget Matt’s.

Forget the 5-8 Club.

Get your Juicy Lucy here – the Parmesan Patty Melt to be exact. Matt’s Lucy is a good dive bar burger that is worth trying, but our burgers at the 5-8 Club were absolutely horrible. On the other hand, the Parmesan Patty Melt Juicy Lucy at the Buffalo Tap is heaven. For those of you who don’t know what a Juicy Lucy is, think of an inside-out burger. It’s one with the yummy, gooey cheese right in the middle. This one is served on Parmesan Encrusted Bread. Need I say more? You just need a little patience because you don’t want to bite into it right away, that cheese will squirt out and burn you. Give it some time to set. Then cut it in half. Drag the chips through any melty cheese that oozes out.

This photo doesn't do this perfect Juicy Lucy justice!

This photo doesn’t do this perfect Juicy Lucy justice!

If that’s not enough of a reason, the bar has a rustic, Minnesota northwoods cabin feel that makes the perfect setting for out-of-town guests. The menu is large with something for everyone. They also serve buffalo, hence the name. And fried cheese curds. As a cheesehead myself, I like to show guests from back home where I watch Packer games when they aren’t on regular TV here in Viking Country. Yep, it’s right here at “The Tap.”

A plus: There are some excellent beers on tap!
A minus: Said beers are often way overpriced.
A plus: You can still get a bottle of Mondavi Cab for $11.95. Not kidding. As my husband would say, “Cheap at the price.”
A plus: They make some of the best Bloody Marys – perfect for game day.

Three pluses over one minus? We’ll take it.

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The Happy Gnome – St. Paul

This is an easy pick for your guests who may have an affinity for beer like we do. Rob stole my brother away on one visit, leaving his other half behind with the kids. They sipped fresh brews and devoured poutine. Oh yeah, this was all just a few days after my back surgery. Maybe he needed to get out, too. 😉

If you’ve had a late night, I’d say get the delectable breakfast sammy the next morning. Best in the Twin Cities! But the folks at this gourmet gastropub change the menu often, so who knows if it’ll be available when you read this. No matter what you order, you should always wash it down with a beer or two that you’ve never had and perhaps may never have again.

Jared's Beer Flight

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Forepaugh’s – St. Paul

Rob likes to describe this experience as “taking someone to your rich uncle’s house.Forepaugh’s is housed in a 19th century Victorian Mansion. You can make it an expensive, fancy evening out, if you’d like. {A lot of special occasion events are held here.} Or you can do what we do: Drop by during happy hour in the bar area and let Joey or Victor wait on you. The bar menu is less expensive and quite good. In fact, we voted them as having best “Toast” in the Twin Cities. You’ll just need to go to find out what that means. And The Double Double Bacon Cheeseburger is on Rob’s Top 10 list. Furthermore, the Deconstructed Banana Cream Pie is a dessert for which you’ll return. It’s an impressive place. Have your guests take a walk around the mansion and check out all levels. Ask the staff about the ghosts.

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Sul Lago – Prior Lake

Perron’s Sul Lago is a no brainer for us, being one of our favorite restaurants and all. Forget Manny’s. Forget Murray’s. {And, yes, we’ve had both.} If you want a steak, come here instead. That being said, let me preface that statement with this: I like filet mignons. The best I’ve ever had in Minnesota is here. My mom said it was the best steak of her life. But I tried a friend’s sirloin and wasn’t as pleased. Maybe that’s because I know how much more I love the filet. Still, the steak sandwich gives Murray’s a run for its money.

It’s a place where the service is great because they leave you alone to linger for hours if you wish, just like they would in Italy. Rob’s favorite pasta – the Sausage and White Truffle Oil – is back on the menu! The food is fantastic, as is the ambiance. And, you’ll find our favorite Bartender, Billy, there, too. He makes the best French Pear.

French Pear Martini: Elderflower liqueur, pear vodka, sparkling wine, lime juice

French Pear Martini: Elderflower liqueur, pear vodka, sparkling wine, lime juice

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Nicollet Mall – Minneapolis

While this technically isn’t a restaurant, it’s a great area in downtown Minneapolis where you can stroll and hop from place to place to try a little bits of what Minneapolis has to offer. We recommend going on a Saturday afternoon when it’s not crazy-busy. Just be sure that there isn’t a Twins game or a big event when you go or that whole lazy-Saturday-afternoon plan will be blown out of the water. We do this because we aim to get a seat for our guests.

Our favorite stops? The Local Irish Pub (duh!), the News Room (especially for the brie cheese curds), Devil’s Advocate (tap beer selection) and Brit’s Pub (rooftop lawn bowling). My husband also found this great map of the Mall and printed out menus for each location for his parents when they were in town. In the evening, The Dakota Jazz Club is recommended for something swanky. We often pop in when they open for a cocktail and some frites before venturing somewhere else down The Mall. Other evening faves include Vincent (French) and Zelo (Italian).

BRIE CURDS DEEP FRIED BRIE, HOMEMADE BLUEBERRY KETCHUP 11.95

Brie Curds – The News Room

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So those are our current picks. And after yesterday’s post, I realize that I should be taking peeps to The Bulldog NE more often. I think we’ve only done that once. Whether they are beer and burger lovers or just like sweets, I’m sure they’ll love it as much as we do.

What are your favorite places to take out-of-town guests where you live?

Cheers~
Carrie