Tag Archives: Restaurant

Eat Street Social

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 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?

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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.

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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:

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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

 

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Costco – A Restaurant Impression

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I should have posted this one on April Fool’s Day.

But Rob and I only went to Costco for lunch for the first time this past weekend. So yeah, it’s no joke! I’m going to write about it.photo 2

Every time we go to Costco and drop more money than we expect, we talk about “someday” eating at the little food court.

This weekend, we did.

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 We chose:

We even split the soda {aka pop here in Minnesota} that was part of Rob’s Polish Combo. The Pepperoni Pizza was a little greasy; buy, hey, it’s pizza. I dug it.

Healthy? Not at all.

Tasty? You betcha. {That’s Minnesota-speak there, too.}

Cheap? Cheapest lunch date I’ve ever been on.

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Have you ever “dined” at Costco?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

 

5 Things from Yesterday for Friday

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1) Yesterday, I had my first Malaysian Milky Bun at Satay 2 Go.

Milky Bun

Milky Bun

2) Yesterday, my husband bought a bottle of my favorite hard cider of all time.

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3) Yesterday, we took in a visitor.

Lenny!

Lenny!

4) Last Night, It snowed six inches. I got stuck at the end of the driveway this morning. Happy Spring?

5) Last night, I painted the Eiffel Tower à la Van Gogh. (No, I did not deface La Tour Eiffel, I painted it on canvas.)

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I’m still addicted to these painting classes. It’s very therapeutic and relaxing, even when I don’t think mine is as good as the original. I’m still a novice!

What’s the best thing that happened to YOU yesterday?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

The Tangiers & The Martini

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I have no photos for today’s post because, frankly, the photos I’d take of The Tangiers would not do this gorgeous venue any justice. It was dark when we arrived, too, which created the perfect ambiance. But I do highly recommend that you click here and take the “Tour” of The Tangiers to see how beautiful it truly is…

What drew us to this place? A Groupon… for dinner. But it definitely has a more lounge-like vibe to it. In fact, on Saturdays, it doesn’t open until 6pm. We had no idea what to expect or how busy it would be, so we arrived at opening.

The extravagant decor absolutely wowed us.

I felt like we were stepping back into the 20s. Rob commented how there had to be a lot of money in the leather alone. The lighting created the perfect ambiance for a backdrop of a romantic date. Although, I have no idea what the place is like during the busiest hours… Is it calm and relaxed? Does the music change to something more upbeat that would turn this lounge into more of a club?

But we were there for the food.

At first glance,  when walking in to such gorgeously stunning space with luscious red velvet curtains, sparkling chandeliers, rich leather couches, you’d think the food here was an afterthought.

But it’s not.

As usual, we pulled a couple of seats up to the bar. And because I felt like I was entering the era of The Great Gatsby, I knew this was a place for a cocktail. {They call these “potions” during Happy Hour. I love that!}  In fact, there is even a martini on the menu called The James Gatsby made with Maker’s Mark, simple syrup and mint leaves. I chose the signature cocktail – The Tangiers with vodka, prosecco and, yes, you guessed it – St. Germain.

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A little sidebar here… Speaking of St. Germain and speaking of the 20s, a couple of weeks ago we got The Great Gatsby on Netflix. Rob surprised me by picking up ingredients and making cocktails to complement the film. My man really knows me, because this is what he made:

Left Bank Martini

1½ parts Gin
1 part St-Germain
1 part Sauvignon Blanc

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with a lime zest twist, if desired.

Well, I loves me a dirty martini from time to time, too. But sometimes, they are just a little too dangerous. The Left Bank was, too, if only because they were so delicious! But the room wasn’t spinning. That was Baz Luhrmann‘s camera work.

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The menu at The Tangiers is very small. When I looked for it online, I thought that what I found was maybe just their bar menu or a sampling of their dishes. But that was it. It didn’t matter to me. There was only one thing I was looking to try:

Burrata Salad

“Heirloom tomatoes and avocado tossed with basil served with a rich cream-infused mozzarella ball”

Now I absolutely adore Burrata, but the way that this was presented and the marriage of flavors made me fall in love with it all over again. For being in the middle of winter, I was quite impressed by the ripeness and flavor of the tomatoes, too.

Rob ordered The Tangiers Flatbread – pulled pork, diced onions, housemade barbecue sauce drizzled with Sriracha aioli – which he thought would be just an appetizer before going elsewhere. But he found it so delicious that it filled him up. And he didn’t even eat all of it!

Have I mentioned yet how much I loved the decor and ambiance here? I kind of wanted to stay to find out what the place ended up like as it got busier… But that would be way, too many martinis. In any case, it was a cool place to feel like we stepped back in time and that we were experiencing a little bit of elegance, even if only for a little while.

The Tangiers would make a lovely stop for a romantic date. It might also be fun to treat some out-of-town guests for a cocktail. But I’m not sure I could walk in The Tangiers for just a drink.

There’s no doubt that I would have to get the Burrata.

What is your favorite kind of martini?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

The Bottle Room

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Happy Wine Wednesday!

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We found The Bottle Room completely by accident, as we were driving back to my parents house while there for a weekend in 2012. Rob spotted it and I took the roundabout all the way around to go back to it!

A wine bar?

In Green Bay?

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When I moved to the Twin Cities from Green Bay in 2002, there wasn’t even a coffee shop near my parents’ place. Not even a Starbucks in the entire city.

Now I can’t even think of a decent wine “South of the River” in the Minneapolis/St. Paul suburbs where we live. Not only was this wine bar in Green Bay, but it was just minutes away from where my parents lived.

While I was growing up, there wasn’t really anything nearby because we lived more on the outskirts of Green Bay near the villages of Howard and Suamico. Ordering pizza in was unheard of. But now, Lineville Road is lined with restaurants, grocery stores, multiple gas stations, an auto parts store, a Shopko, a bowling alley and now…

A WINE BAR?

We walked in that evening to find a much larger than expected space filled with people, live music and great ambiance. We were highly impressed and felt instantly at ease…

We’ve been back to The Bottle Room every visit to Green Bay since then.

They have a lot to offer… For instance, their Wine Flights:

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When I told my fellow Wineaux friend Jenny about this place, she knew she wanted to stop there when she came to town for a Packer Game. These next several photos are courtesy of her. {Thanks, Jenny!}

That night, most of the gang went with the wine flights.

Wine Flight Delivery...

Wine Flight Delivery…

My dad with his whites and Rob with his reds:

Jenny ordered a mixed flight of sorts that was available at the time:

That night, I wasn’t feeling the flights, so I went with a cocktail:

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Can you guess which cocktail I enjoyed?

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I like, too, that they offer liquor flights. What a better way to learn what you like than spend a ton of money on a bottle of liquor at a store.

And there is more to their menu than the usual run-of the mill wines. They do have some interesting lesser-known options.

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But I do wonder how the business thrives here. The prices seem more on par with the Twin Cities, not those of Green Bay. I couldn’t imagine that a lot of people would pay these prices in this area. But the place was packed that first night we were there and when we went back with Jenny!

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One of my favorite things to order here, though, is a flight of ports. It comes with a chocolate truffle!

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Those truffles are sooooo good, that I’ve been known to just order a glass of port and a few truffles a la carte… 😉

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But wait… There’s more….

They have a few ever-changing craft beer selections on tap, too:

You can even take home the draft beer in a refillable growler! There’s also an extensive list of beers by the bottle:

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With over 75 wines and all of those beers, you’d think that’d be enough to be called The Bottle Room. But it is also a retail space. You can buy any of the wines that you liked to take home with you.

The selections line the wall:

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There is food, too. They describe it as tapas-style. I wouldn’t go that far. It’s more a selection of small plates, mini pizzas and sandwiches.

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Rob adored the Truffle Pizza on our first visit so much that he was disappointed that he tried the Old World Pepperoni the next time. Besides $14 – $15 is a lot for such a small pizza. I mean, even we wouldn’t pay that in the Twin Cities.

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One day, as I was thumbing through an issue of Wine Spectator Magazine, I saw The Bottle Room listed with an Award of Excellence! If I remember correctly, it was noted as a new wine bar and a new winner of that award. I wasn’t surprised.

I dream of having a place like this “South of the River!”

I only have one gripe about The Bottle Room. We visited one afternoon with my mom and were the only people there. My mom ordered a cup of coffee. When she finished her cup, she had to ask for a refill. When we got our bill, they charged her for two coffees for a total of $6. That just seems kind of ridiculous to me. They had to brew the pot regardless if she had one cup or two. It wasn’t like it was an espresso or specialty coffee.

Still, we’ll continue to return because we love the selection and ambiance and don’t know how long The Bottle Room will thrive in this market. We sure hope it does. It’s a little slice of heaven in Green Bay, if you ask me…

Do you have a favorite wine bar near you?

What’s the best wine bar you’ve ever experienced?

Cheers~
Carrie

Vivo

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Yes, our once-per-month girls’ dinners out are the best because we rotate who chooses the restaurant. It’s almost always something new to us. In January, Kim chose the Mill Valley Kitchen. In February, Jen suggested Vivo in Apple Valley, which now occupies the old Enjoy! digs.

What does Vivo mean?

From their website:

In a home, the kitchen is the spot where families gather, parties migrate, and food draws friends around. That’s also the spirit of Vivo kitchen: we are a place to come as you are. We use local, seasonal ingredients to prepare food that’s delicious without being mysterious.* Vivo translates as “life” — and that is what we want every guest to experience to the fullest. We look you in the eyes, care for you personally, and make you feel as welcome as if you are in our home. Because, for us, a kitchen is the heart of a home — and great hospitality is the heartbeat.

The space was only updated a bit. Gone was the Tuscan feel of the restaurant. In were shapes and flowers. It’s a little strange; but I always love the concept of fresh, seasonal and local ingredients.

Jen tried to make a reservation, but there weren’t any available. We decided to meet at 5:30 on Saturday night, intending to wait at the bar if need be.

But there was an hour and a half wait!

Boy, was this place popular. And I don’t think it had even been open for a full month! The bar was completely full, too. The only thing we could find was a table top with an awkward pole in the middle of it, which made it hard for the three of us to even talk face-to-face. We barely ordered our drinks when we saw three seats at the bar open up and snagged them as quickly as we could.

It was Happy Hour (every day from 3p – 6p), so a cocktail was in order!

4 or A nge b L ossom sparkling wine, orange bitters, st germain elderflower liqueur

Orange Blossom – sparkling wine, orange bitters, st germain elderflower liqueur

I never go wrong with a St. Germain – bubbly cocktail! We also ordered an appetizer from the Happy Hour menu to start. It was highly recommended by our bartender.

Ahi tun A crisps spicy mayo, avocado, sweet soy, sesame

Ahi Tuna Crisps – spicy mayo, avocado, sweet soy, sesame

He was right. They were soooo good! But don’t be thrown off by the “mayo” in this dish. You’d be surprised how many dishes these days have mayo “sauces.” Here, they just didn’t use the fancy buzz word: aioli. And people, don’t be fooled. Ail is the French word for garlic. Aioli is just garlic mayo. Get it? Got it? Good. The mystery is forever solved.

Jen started with a the side salad version of my dinner (see below) and then chose this flat bread:

Wild Mushroom mozzarella, gruyere, brie, truf e oil 11 Flatbread

Wild Mushroom Flat Bread – mozzarella, gruyere, brie, truffle oil

I tried a piece and loved that the flavors were so subtle!

Kim’s dish:

Pesto Crusted Seabass white & wasabi mashed potatoes, crispy fried onions, thai chili beurre blanc 28 Ciao Baby organic greens, pine nuts, local goat cheese, balsamic vinaigrette 6 / 10

Pesto Crusted Seabass – white & wasabi mashed potatoes, crispy fried onions, thai chili beurre blanc

The mashed potatoes aren’t pictured in the photo because Kim substituted a Ciao Baby Side Salad with organic greens, pine nuts, local goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. The seabass was perfectly cooked and seasoned. Kim loved it!

I was in the mood for a salad:

Rocket apples, arugula, spinach, lavender vinaigrette, spiced pecans, local blue cheese 7.5 / 13 + grilled chicken breast 4

Rocket Salad – apples, arugula, spinach, lavender vinaigrette, spiced pecans, local blue cheese {I added grilled chicken breast}

This salad had everything I loved, but they may have sold me on the lavender vinaigrette. But it was a bit overdressed. The chicken was the perfect addition to the salad.

Believe it or not, we didn’t have room for dessert.

I’m looking forward to going back again because there are so many interesting things on the menu I’d like to try… Not only the dishes, but I’ve been wanting to learn about Bourbon. And they have a Bourbon Flight. I think that’s a great place to start.

When a new restaurant opens up are you the first to give it a try or do you like to wait until they have their “kinks” worked out?

Cheers~
Carrie

A Perfect Meal

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Have I ever mentioned how much I love Girls’ Dinner Night Out?! It’s the perfect opportunity not only to try restaurants with girlfriends, but we often end up at places that Rob would have no interest in a;sdjlfalksdjdining.

Enter Mill Valley Kitchen

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Located in St. Louis Park, Mill Valley Kitchen is a restaurant I had not heard of yet! When we asked Kim how she found it, she said, “Open Table,” which is an online restaurant reservation service. I always forget to look there. It’s a unique and innovative place if you ask me!

From MVK’s website:

Mill Valley Kitchen is a restaurant and bar featuring Northern California inspired cuisine served in a comfortable and refined setting. We use fresh, local and sustainably sourced ingredients to create our menu, and we include nutritional information for each menu item. Our light and flavorful cuisine is designed to enhance the healthy lifestyles of our guests.

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Items on the menu are listed with nutrition facts: calories | fat | carbs | fiber | protein. Vegan (v) and gluten-free (gf) dishes are also noted.

I ordered a glass of bubbly rosé because it is not often that you find one from France’s Loire Valley on a menu by-the-glass, much less for $7.

Carousel Rosé, Loire Valley - $7

Carousel Rosé – Loire Valley, France – $7

By the suggestion of our server, both Jen and I started with the Orange Salad:

Orange Salad - baby greens, pomegranate, pistachio, feta

Orange Salad – baby greens, pomegranate, pistachio, feta

I absolutely adored this salad. It was so refreshing and the perfect way to start a meal. Alas, as I look at their menu right now, the Orange Salad is no where to be seen. Farm-to-table restaurants are both a blessing and a curse. 😉

Kim also ordered a salad:

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Baby Kale Salad – manchego, pine nuts, lemon-chili vinaigrette

Let me stress that I think these salads appear bigger in the photos than they actually are. They were the perfect portion sizes pre-entree. Speaking of entrees, the menu item that I found online that I was considering was not available. But something else caught my eye…

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I am a huge scallop fan, especially if it isn’t prepared with bacon. And they were offering one prepared with lavender? Sign me up!

Seared Scallops - sweet potato, fennel, edamame, lavender

Seared Scallops – sweet potato, fennel, edamame, lavender

This dish just sang to me! The scallops were perfectly seared and the combination of flavors was thrilling. And yes, that is popcorn on the plate! It added a little bit of crunch.

Jen nibbled on a Spinach, Chevre & Sweet Onion Flatbread to which she added Shrimp. Kim chose the Sea Bass, which I believe is the miso-glazed one on the menu at the time of this writing.

And because we saw some miniature desserts being brought to other tables, we knew that this was a place where we absolutely had room for dessert and coffee!

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Each miniature dessert was served in something slightly larger than a shot glass – the perfect size! I went with the Triple Chocolate – duh! And of course, I loved the mousse-y goodness. However, they also had a Carrot Cake miniature that night. Since that is one of Jen’s favorites, it was an easy choice for her. That one was topped with a bit of candied ginger.

Kim chose the gluten-free Chocolate Brownie, which was actually two brownies. They were dense, so good thing it came with a side of milk!

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For me, this was the perfect meal.

Because it was so busy the night we dined there, our only complaints were about where we were seated – in the bar area. We had reservations and arrived a bit late, but we called ahead. Normally, I don’t mind sitting in the bar area at all. But the chairs were uncomfortable. And because the place was so busy, there were people standing up between the tables sipping drinks, almost on top of us. Some were so loud that we couldn’t hear our own conversation.

What I did like is that they had their one TV tuned to The Cooking Channel, rather than sports. Although it was changed to hockey later. Hey, we live in Minnesota!

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I sat back and thought about if I’d ever take Rob to Mill Valley Kitchen. Normally, it wouldn’t really be his sort of thing. I mean, because there are no fryers in the joint, burgers are even served with greens. {<–My kind of thing!} But the beef would be grass-fed and high quality.

My thought would be to take him on a Monday during Happy Hour. From 3p – 6p and 9p – close, all burgers are $5. That’s a steal because that even includes their $14 Bison Burgers. And Mondays are half-price bottle of wine night!

When and where have you had a perfect meal?

Cheers~
Carrie