Tag Archives: steak

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.

photo 3(3)~

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

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Went to The Strip Club this weekend…

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It was girls’ night out on Saturday, but the girls said that Rob could join us. It was my turn to choose, so I chose the The Strip Club in St. Paul.

Oh, did I forget to mention that The Strip Club is a restaurant? A steak house to be exact. Well, actually, it’s officially called The Strip Club Meat & Fish. It’s been recommended by a few friends, so I thought that now would be the time to try it out.

I made reservations for this past Saturday for us on the Wednesday prior. When I requested 7pm, I was told that they could only do a 5:45pm or a 9pm. Whoops. I guess I shouldn’t have waited that long to reserve. Knowing that Rob and I would probably have a hard time staying out late after having done the Dog Day 5k that morning, I chose the 5:45pm time slot.

I must say that the dĂ©cor and ambiance of this place is really cool. It’s sort of supper club meets saloon. There’s something old world about it. It’s very small inside. TIP: So make those reservations early!

You should start off with one of their hand-crafted cocktails. I personally love anything with St. Germain. There are just a few beers on tap, which I believed were all local. {Bottled beers are also available as well as bottled specialty sodas.} However, there are more wines on their menu than there are food items! And most aren’t your run-of-the-mill wines either. I like when they can keep it interesting. My friend Jen enjoyed her glass of Tempranillo, one with which I was not familiar. Kim enjoyed a White Bordeaux and I chose a Viognier-Marsanne blend from Australia to go with my fish. Rob had the Fulton Insurrection, a local Imperial IPA which was on tap that evening.

Our server was knowledgeable, yet quirky. We loved him! It wasn’t until I pulled up the website to write this post that learned from the video that he is part owner and manager. Hey, I’m glad he’s about entertaining his guests, too! Our friend Oosh said that the first time he and his fiancĂ©e tried The Strip Club, they didn’t get a chance to make it back for another six months. But when they did, they were remembered!

The menu has just enough offerings to keep it interesting, but not too many to overwhelm you. I personally loved the following listed at the bottom of it:

All of our beef is grass fed and hormone-free, supplied by Thousand Hills Cattle Company and Grassrun Farms
Substitutions politely declined
Vegetarians regarded with benevolent amusement

Although I forgot to photo it, I wanted to tell you about the Meat on a Stick ($6.50). It was listed under “small plates” and Tim explained that it was New York Strip skewered and placed atop a pesto sauce with some sort of greens {pea shoots, maybe?} We decided to split it amongst the table. It was perfect because there were two skewers with two pieces of meat each. I tend to like my steaks and burgers cooked medium rare. However, this one was cooked a little bit less than that. I still thought it was fine, but some others thought it was a bit too chewy. The flavor of the dipping pesto with the meat was incredible, though!

Now for our entrées:

SC-steak

Flesh of the Day – Skirt steak with chimichurri and grated fresh horseradish over cauliflower puree

This was Kim’s dish and she really enjoyed it. I had a taste and while the flavor was good {I love horseradish!}, I’m still more of a filet girl. So you’d think I’d have ordered the filet mignon, right? WRONG! I had been eating more steak in the last couple weeks than I’d had in a long time. When Tim read off the specials, I was intrigued by the fish special.

Salmon over wheat berries with a paquillo pepper creme fraiche

Fish of the Day – Salmon over wheat berries with a piquillo pepper creme fraiche

The flavor was good, but the salmon did seem to be a little overcooked. Someone commented about how small the portion size was, but I’m really more about quality than quantity.

Both Jen and Rob ordered this:

Chef’s Loaded Burger the Chef’s loaded
. This is what he wants on his burger

Chef’s Loaded Burger – This is what he wants on his burger

Jen asked what would be on the burger after she ordered. It was more out of curiosity. When Tim said it came with cheese, mushrooms, bacon and tomato, she was surprised. You’d think it’d be more of a specialty burger. And while Tim said, “No, it’s just what you’d expect!” ….

It really wasn’t!

I didn’t expect this burger to be as good as it is! And I was only lucky enough to have two bites. Incredible. Sure, it sounds basic, but every part of this burger was awesome:

High Quality, Grass Fed Beef

I love restaurants that use seasonal ingredients and buy locally. You can taste the difference in terms of quality and freshness.

Cheese

You won’t believe I’m going to say this, but there wasn’t much cheese flavor… but it wasn’t needed. Yes, I just said that about CHEESE! Normally, I complain about the lack of cheese on burgers. In those cases, I feel like I’m being cheated. However, there is so much going on in this burger that the cheese didn’t matter. {Did I really just type that?} It definitely was a necessary component, but there was just the right amount to keep the flavors well balanced.

Bacon

I will say the same about the bacon. If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know that I’m that strange person who doesn’t like bacon on my food. I like a slice by itself from time to time, but not on my sandwiches or in any dishes.Most of the time, the bacon flavor overpowers the dish. However, this locally-sourced, handcrafted bacon was perfect on this burger. The photo doesn’t do it justice. Rob said that it’s the best bacon he’s ever had.

Mushrooms

These were perfectly sautéed and again, there was the right amount to keep the flavors balanced.

Tomato

My friend Jen said it best when she said, “This tomato actually tastes like tomato!” It’s hard to find a good tomato this time of year, but this one tasted like one you’d find during the peak season of the summer in Minnesota. Rob doesn’t eat tomatoes on his burger, so I got to savor his two slices!

And lastly, while they were offered, this  burger needs no condiments.

Yeah, it’s that good.

This burger must take a list on Rob’s Top 10 Burgers of the Twin Cities list. I just need him to decide which one to kick out. 😉

The fries were good, too. Rob wasn’t as much as a fan of us girls. However, it is a rare occasion when the ladies eat fries, so they were a treat.

I ordered an espresso while the others ordered a final round of drinks. Though the place was small, they didn’t seem to mind letting us linger a bit.

I need to remember that when I’m having a hankering for a burger, this is the place to go. This is one Strip Club this girl won’t pass up! We will be back.

Describe a new place you’ve tried recently!

Cheers~
Carrie

Latitude 43 Grill & Bar – Bay City, MI

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We made it! This is my final post on Restaurants Impressions throughout Michigan during our summer vacation there. I spread them out to about once per week so that I wasn’t throwing them all at ya at once. Whew. Now I will most certainly remember what to order/not order and where to go/not go on our next visit!

Our last stop? Latitude 43 Grill & Bar in Bay City, Michigan.

Affectionately called Latitudes, this restaurant is newer to Bay City. It opened in the fall of 2010. Our first visit was in September of 2011 when Rob and I met his friend Brad for lunch while we were in town.

I remember ordering the Turkey Burger and not being impressed. But Rob has since asked me if I’ve ever liked a turkey burger at a restaurant anywhere. He has a point. Maybe I was spoiled by my mom’s turkey burgers growing up.

When we were both doing Weight Watchers, my mom would make turkey burgers under the broiler quite often. I know many people don’t like the idea of a kid going on a diet. But I was actually a heavy pre-teen and did lose a lot of weight while learning to eat healthily on Weight Watchers. {That was back when you ticked off the boxes for food groups!} I even remember her taking out the tube of ground turkey and showing it to me to illustrate what one pound looks like.

Okay, back to Latitudes.

This summer, we went with some friends who really frequent the place! April and Brian had a few recommendations and also ordered some items that weren’t even on the menu. {It’s good to be a regular, huh?} One or our favorite non-menued {also non-photographed} item was the Cheese Balls.These were basically balls of gouda coated in seasoned breading and flash fried. They were served with a sweet chili sauce. Yeah, they had me at cheese. But these things had flavor, too.

For his meal, Rob chose:

House Sirloin

He ordered it blackened and it was cooked perfectly medium rare. For $11.99, you just can’t go wrong! Seriously, you aren’t going to find a decent steak around these parts of Minnesota for that price. I like that you can choose your sides here and was surprised by Rob’s choices: Jasmine Rice {not pictured} and Cottage Cheese.  Perhaps he was getting sick of the usual fries we’d had all trip, too.

After all the burgers we’d been eating, I was craving some chicken:

Chicken Pesto Sandwich on a Pretzel Bun – Tender grilled chicken crowned w/pesto, roasted red peppers, provolone cheese & mixed greens.

Seriously, Minnesota needs to catch on to the Pretzel Bun craze. Maybe it’s the German in me. I don’t know. Still, the sandwich was good, but not great. I’d try something different next time. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for this kind of food. We’d been eating so much of it on this trip.

In fact, our friend Brian started his meal with a salad and when I saw it, I knew that is what I should have ordered. Not because I was feeling guilty about being healthy, but because I actually had a craving for those vegetables the moment I saw them. When his entrée came out, he offered me a bite:

Char-grilled Salmon

This, too, hit the spot for me – well-seasoned and perfectly cooked. It was then that I regretted my choice. Oh well, I was very indecisive and not all that up to par that night anyway. But at least I know what I’d like to get next time!

We’ve all wished at sometime or another that we would have ordered someone else’s meal instead.

What dish was it for you?

Cheers~
Carrie