Tag Archives: twin cities restaurant

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

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The Mason Jar

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You may have thought this post was going to be about Mason Jar Salads… or all of the non-traditional uses of a Mason jar.

But it’s not.

Au revoir, Pardon My FrenchCupcake has taken your place. And who knew that inside a Cupcake, you’d find a Mason Jar?

I came upon The Mason Jar by accident, so I decided to surprise Rob with dinner there before our movie on Friday. Usually it’s he who surprises me with new-to-us restaurants like he did here and here.

My turn!

The space in Eagan which once housed Pardon My French has not changed a whole lot. But they do try to distinguish somewhat of a separation between Cupcake and The Mason Jar. Cupcake is adorned with whisks, while you’ll find at The Mason Jar… Yeah, you guessed it… Mason Jars.

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Mason jars line are found on every table and it’s how you’ll receive your silverware:

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But I’m not sure what else Mason Jars have to do with the place. They menu includes a lot of comfort foods. Perhaps they are connecting Mason jars with comfort food?

Speaking of the menu, there are absolutely none online for The Mason Jar at the time of this writing. Cupcake’s first location, which opened in 2004, has exploded into four after its exposure on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. The Cupcake-Mason Jar location in Eagan, though, has only been open about a month or so.

Also, at the time of this writing, there is only a Facebook page for The Mason Jar. But there is no official website, nor is there any mention of it on the Cupcake website. So there was not a menu to be found! I snapped a few shots of the menus put in front of us to share with you here.

We arrived during Happy Hour and took a seat at the bar.

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There were a few craft beers on tap, including a selection of local beers, as well as wines on tap sold by glass, carafe and decanter.

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They also have a liquor license, so cocktails are offered as well.

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We had to take them up on their 1/2 off beer and wine Happy Hour! They were out of the Bad Weather Ominous (a new local fave of ours, but only on tap), so we decided to try the tap wine.

What I like about the wine here is that it isn’t as generic as you find other places when it comes to house or bulk wines. All of the wines come from specific regions, not just a particular state. Generally speaking, it means the wines are better quality than a wine, say, just from California or Washington.

In the Midwest, it’s hard to find a wine from the Finger Lakes region of New York. So I had to opt for that wine when I saw it on the menu:

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I tend to prefer drier, Alsatian Rieslings and I knew this would be nothing of the sort. But I had no idea when I’d have the next opportunity to try a Finger Lakes Riesling! My next glass was the Cab from Monterrey County, which I have to say that for a wine-by-the-glass, was pretty darn good.

We learned of the four pizza specials of the day and decided to go with that $6 Happy Hour pizza deal. It was only after we ordered that we discovered this menu for even more Happy Hour snacks:

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Our pizzas arrived and they were pretty good. However, we thought they were worth about the $6 we paid, not $10 – $13 quoted on the regular menu. Save those pizza dollars for Pizzeria Lola.

Toadstool – mushrooms, mozzarella, thyme, cream sauce, kale, basil oil

Blue Cheese Burger – seasoned ground beef, blue cheese crumbles, red sauce, blue cheese dressing

Rob liked the mushroom one better, but the mixture of fresh and rehydrated mushrooms threw me off a bit. I thought the blue cheese on the burger pizza was good. But to me, it seemed like the meat was unseasoned, despite that I could see what looked like a sprinkle of oregano on top.

Rob’s crust ended up in the crust graveyard…

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Personally, I liked the doughy crust; but it would be even better if it was brushed with olive oil and/ or some seasonings. Or if diners were given a little of dish of olive oil for dipping, like one is given for bread at some restaurants. We probably wouldn’t get the pizza again. There is so much comfort food to try on the Late Night menu!

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And although The Mason Jar claims to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, they weren’t seating tables until 5pm. Huh? It also appeared that those who were seated at tables after we arrived may have received different menus. Much to learn!

And despite the fact that we had this dessert menu in front of us…

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We couldn’t possibly order from that… Especially when meany these cupcakes were at our disposal.

My choice compared with Rob’s choice:

I loved my cupcake and so did Rob. We tried each others’ found that neither had cupcake remorse because we liked our own cupcakes better!

Although I loved my cupcake, I personally think I like the cupcakes at The Bulldog NE better. When I said this to Rob, he looked at me with wide-eyes and said, “Uh… I doooon’t knoowww…”

Here are the differences:

  • I kind of like the fact that the cupcakes at Cupcake are a bit smaller because they don’t make you feel so guilty.
  • But the Bulldog NE cupcakes are always filled, so they need to be bigger to get a taste of that filling.
  • Cupcake has many, many flavors, so you  have a lot of options!
  • Whereas, NE Bulldog only has two to three flavors each day.

That being said, I would try another of Cupcake’s cupcakes, without a doubt. It’s kind of dangerous how close we live to this place…

What is your favorite cupcake flavor or the best cupcake you’ve ever had?

Cheers~
Carrie

Buffalo Tap – Savage

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There’s a lot that’s led me up to this post:

  1. I was able to knock a beer off my IPA Wishlist recently here.
  2. I recently talked about the best places to take out-of-town guests, partially due to this establishment’s Juicy Lucy.
  3. I experienced the most recent Packer win at this fave Packer bar.

So there you go. It’s time.

The Beer

I was really surprised when my husband told me that he wanted to go to the Buffalo Tap recently because he said he’d read on Facebook that they were were carrying bombers of the Stone R&R Coconut IPA.

“What?” I asked. “Do you remember my IPA Day post? That beer’s on my wishlist to try!”

Naturally, we went.

And let me just tell you, if you want updates on new beers, wines, dishes, specials or happy hours, it’s a great idea to follow your favorite bars and restaurants on Facebook or Twitter. I personally don’t do that. Well, I do some, but I don’t see every post. But that’s only because my husband does. I make him in charge of that! And it’s a great tip he’s given you!

615Our verdict? The beer was a good IPA in its own right. However, we were disappointed because we couldn’t find even the slightest hint of coconut in the aromas or the flavors. It seems a little much that Stone took the time to bottle and market this beer that way. And we love Stone!

But unbeknownst to us, Buffalo Tap had a beer we adore on tap that day. Only, we’ve only had it in the bottle before!

Creme Brulee STout

Do you see the Crème Brûlée Stout?

It is undeniably incredible in the bottle, but even better on tap. That keg went fast because we didn’t get back to “The Tap” again before it was gone. In fact, it can even be difficult to find this beer in the bottle. So if you do… You. Must. Try. It. Nom Nom. It’s made by Southern Tier, the same brewery that brings us the infamous Pumpking Ale, which is another one You. Must. Have. if you find it on tap like we did here last year and here this year.

In general, the beer here is ridiculously overpriced, especially if you want a specialty beer. For example, on Game Day a couple of years ago, I remember seeing a tall Guinness or tall Surly for $10. Your domestics aren’t too bad, but sometimes I feel like you need to take out a mortgage to get something special…

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Sample Beer Prices

But let us count all the other reasons Buffalo Tap is a hit, whether or not you bring out-of-town guests.

The Northwoods Feel

This isn’t important to me when dining out, but the décor is a nice touch when you are bringing out-of-town guests. To go with this theme, you’ll also find that they serve buffalo (hence the name) and elk. While I don’t generally eat either of those, it’s a nice option for others.

Minnesota and Wisconsin Food

The menu here is HUGE. Robert Irvine wouldn’t approve. But somehow, they make it work. The variety is also perfect when you have out-of-town guests with different tastes or just picky friends. Here are some things we recommend:

  • Cheese Curds – They have some of Rob’s favorite here. Choose original or spicy.
  • Bloody Mary – Technically a beverage, but it comes with a nice skewer of sides and a beefstick. Alongside you get a beer chaser {aka beerback}.
  • Juicy Lucy – As I stated in my post about where in the Twin Cities to take Out-of-Town Guests:

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, or 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.

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This photo doesn’t do this perfect Parmesan Patty Melt Juicy Lucy any justice!

I’d also just stick with the chips. The fries are nothing to write home a blog post about.

My go-to healthy choice on this menu is the Cela Grilled Chicken Pita. {I substitute cottage cheese for the chips on this one.}

Grilled chicken diced and wrapped in pita bread with lettuce, tomato, cheese blend and cucumber sauce. Raw onion on request. Make it Buffalo Style by adding Buffalo Sauce and substituting ranch or blue cheese for cucumber sauce.

Tip: If you are looking for cheaper items on the menu, you can always go for the hot dogs or soup. They are still quite filling! Then, there’s the wine…

Packer Game Day

I love Packer Game Day at the tap! We get there early before the game starts because the downstairs area with televisions devoted solely to the Packer game fills every seat before kickoff. It’s like sitting in a roomful of friends!

There is a requirement to watch the game here, though…

BT-packTo be honest, I don’t blame them. If we are going to hold tables that could otherwise be turned during the lunch hour, it’s only fair. And $15 for at least 3 hours is nothing. In fact, Rob and I have known to drop way too much money here. Sometimes we’ll start with a coffee and Bailey’s (me) and a coffee and Rumple Minze (Rob). Then I’ll have a Bloody Mary since they are my favorite here. {Although, it’s been a while and they looked a little different when I saw others ordering them the last time I was there.} Then Rob’ll order a couple of beers and before we know it and have even had anything to eat, we’re up to almost $50.

One way to keep it more affordable when we are there for a game is to order wine instead. Seriously, you can get a bottle of Mondavi Cab for $12.95/bottle.

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While affordable, I had a harder time choking that stuff down this weekend than I have in the past. Maybe it’s because I was also drinking Diet Coke. {For some reason, I don’t like their tap water there; so I don’t drink it.}

Or you can take your chances and hope for a Packer Touchdown. Every time they score {a touchdown anyway, I’m not sure that field goals count}, you can get a Miller Lite for a $1. Our table was very lucky last weekend!

Packer Touchdown Beers

Packer Touchdown Beers!

You know me, I don’t tend to drink light beer, but if I’m needing a water or another Bloody Mary Chaser, I’ll take it. Or I’ll share. Remember, we’re all friends here!

GO PACK GO!

Where do you go to see your favorite sports team when it’s not televised on the main network stations?

Cheers~
Carrie

I Nonni – Lilydale

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I chose I Nonni as the restaurant for my birthday dinner two years ago. It was our first time there. Besides having won awards for some of the best Italian in the Twin Cities, I was intrigued by their extensive wine list. We were going to Italy for our honeymoon just a month later and they had obscure wines from the Amalfi Coast on the menu. You won’t find Falanghina or Aglianico wines on 95% of Italian restaurant menus in the U.S.!

We enjoyed our meals thoroughly that evening {especially the fresh, handmade pasta} and we talked about going back, even if just for Happy Hour in the bar. But with so many dining options in the Twin Cities, it took a Groupon to get us back there. Actually, we had two of them to use.

Furthermore, this summer we had so many Groupons to use that we had them scheduled on our calendars so that we would redeem them before they expired. I Nonni was slotted for a Monday after our Summer Couples Golf League.

But we couldn’t get in.

We tried on two different Mondays. On both occasions the sign read:

CLOSED

FOR

PRIVATE EVENT

I had been perusing their menu online that day to narrow down what I wanted to order. On the website, there was no mention that there was a private event, nor that their restaurant would be closed. It was so frustrating! And what are the chances that the restaurant would be closed on the two specific Mondays that we chose to dine there? Sure, I could have made reservations, but I never knew what time we could get there after golf. Besides, we just wanted to eat in the bar.

On the third attempt, I called ahead. Would there be a private event that night? No. Whew. We were in luck.

Upon arrival, we entered the restaurant through the door next to their sister shop Buon Giorno Italian Market. The market carries fine Italian foods as well as offers sandwiches, pastas and salads in a casual deli-like setting where you can eat-in or take to-go. They also offer catering and Holiday Gift Baskets. We’ve walked through the place a few times, but have never bought anything. I now have a sudden urge to go back. Maybe I can find the Blood Orange San Pellegrino that Rob so adores.

Anyway, entering I Nonni through the door near the Market leads you to the wine room. The wine list is extensive and impressive at I Nonni and consists of, I believe, only Italian wines. They claim that it’s one of the finest lists in the U.S. And while I can’t vouch for that personally, I have no reason to argue that! I can’t find it anywhere on their website, but I seem to recall that you can purchase any wine in this room for service at your table. Don’t quote me on that. Just ask instead. In addition, an Italian Wine Club is offered where they bring in Italian wine makers for tastings and to meet you!

We walked through the wine room into the bar and found a place to sit.

We ordered some beverages:

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VECCHIONE nonno nick’s Milwaukee style old fashion

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APEROL SPRITZprosecco, aperol, orange

Fun drinks, but nothing to write home (or on a blog) about…

While we were skimming the bar menu, I also looked around the room. Two people walked in. I did a double take. Wait, they came in a side door… Wha What? OMG – through a different entrance! Maybe the restaurant wasn’t closed those other two times. Maybe we just tried to enter through the wine room – which was closed for a private event!

DOH!

Yes, they often host private events in their wine room. I resolved to use the correct entrance on our next visit.

But, we did enjoy our food while we were there:

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BURRATA

Good Burrata, with fresh tomatoes, basil and olive oil. But not the best I’ve had. It didn’t stop me from finishing it, though!

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House-made pasta, spicy sausage fennel pollen ragu

Rob loved this dish and would not only order it again, but would recommend it to anyone.

When we returned to use our second Groupon, we did use the correct door. To do so, just use the long corridor on the left side of the building under the Osteria I Nonni arch. We saw another party walking in that direction. This whole time, I thought that walkway was only for those who wanted to dine outside. WRONG, I was. This is where you enter the bar.

Of course, the restaurant was open. To this day, I feel like a complete idiot. On this trip, we wanted to try some of the pizzas on the bar menu.

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Pizza Salasiccia

We were not impressed with the pizzas. Sausage is one of our favorites and this one was pretty much flavorless. We asked them for some red pepper flakes and the bartender had to fish a bowl of it out of the kitchen for us.

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Half Pizza Salsiccia Half Pizza Margherita

I couldn’t decide if I wanted the Pizza Calabrese or the Pizza Margherita, so the bartender suggested that I get half and half. He made it sound like it was a big favor he’d be doing to ask the kitchen to do this for me. However, it came out half sausage / half margherita instead. No matter, I was hungry. Still, I received it after Rob received his pizza and we knew the sausage pizza was pretty flavorless. We could not believe when we tasted the Margherita how much better it was!

Our notes: Go to I Nonni for the fresh pasta – not the pizza. If you are really craving pizza, stick with a simple margherita.

Maybe we were just spoiled by the pizza in Italy, but to us, this wasn’t really Italian. It was I Nonni’s own take on Italian, which basically, is any pizza in America.

I Nonni’s menu is seasonal, which I love. Looking at the menu today, we are anxious to try the:

RIGATONCINI alla NORCINA
house-made spicy sausage with black truffle, fennel pollen, crema and pecorino romano

For that reason, we may be going back soon…

What is your favorite place to dine for pizza or pasta where you live?

Cheers~
Carrie

BLVD Kitchen & Bar – Minnetonka

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A couple of friends and I decided to have dinner together and we needed to find a good meeting point.

My friend chose BLVD Kitchen & Bar in Minnetonka.

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What? Another Twin Cities restaurant unbeknownst to me?

Granted, I don’t get over to the Minnetonka area that often. It’s not far, really. Now that I think about it, we don’t always hear about suburban restaurants. We discover them when we see them. Because they are talked about more often, we tend to be more aware of restaurants located in Minneapolis or St. Paul proper. {That is unless I receive an invitation to buy a Groupon to a suburban restaurant in my inbox.}

As usual, I checked the menu out online and was delighted with what I saw. The burger options looked enticing and although I don’t think I’d order a big burger at this stage in my weight loss, I almost felt bad that I wasn’t bringing Rob along with me. {Almost, but not completely.} 🙂

With all of the good-looking options on the menu, I knew it would make for a difficult decision upon arrival.

We walked in and HOLY HAPPY HOUR! The bar, centered in the middle of the restaurant, was in a nice square shape with folks seated all around it while sipping cocktails, house wine, and $4 beers. If you wanted a seat at the bar, you’d surely be waiting! It was quite lively, too. We were led to a booth and found that the tables situated around the perimeter of the bar were virtually empty. {We did find that they filled quickly after Happy Hour ended.}

Jen and I each ordered a glass of wine while waiting for another friend to arrive. This blog has me realizing that I’ve been ordering a lot of bubbly lately. You see, my husband isn’t a big fan of sparkling wine, so we never order a bottle of it when we are dining out. In addition, it used to be rare that you could find it served by the glass, so I’d order it whenever it presented itself. However, I’ve been noticing that sparkling wine by the glass or the split (187 ml) is being offered more and more lately. Yay me!

Jen asked me if I was familiar with one of the Zinfandels on the list: Lake Sonoma, Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. While I hadn’t had it before, I told her that Dry Creek Valley is known for high quality zins. It did not disappoint! I was quite impressed for a little wine by the glass. {I generally don’t order wine by the glass, sparkling wine being the exception, but I’ll post why on that subject another day.}

Prosecco & Zinfandel (well, not in the same glass)

So many tempting choices!

I eventually settled on the Grilled Organic Salmon:

grilled salmon, risotto milanese, grilled asparagus with a saffron cream sauce

I knew I wanted seafood and was intrigued by the saffron cream sauce. And I’ve just recently learned the wonders of risotto. I used to think, “What’s the big deal? It’s just rice!” {I know some of you are gasping right now.}

I do know now that risotto done correctly can be a thing of pure heaven. And it came pretty darn close here. What really surprised me was that I didn’t really care for the saffron cream sauce. It was just too much. I’m not sure if the sauce was off, if the flavor just didn’t suit me, or if my palate is just leaning more and more toward the healthier side. In any case, I finished nearly everything else. There was no practicing of the 50% solution here. I had intended to be more mindful, but I just got caught up in the conversation.

My friends ordered the Shrimp Risotto (photo did not turn out, sorry!) and the BLVD Royale with Cheese:

BLVD Royale Burger with American cheese, caramelized onion, "frizzled" onion on a pretzel bun served with Truffle Fries

I had a burger on pretzel bun once before – in Milwaukee! It was actually my favorite part of the burger at that restaurant. And while I don’t think Jen ate the bun here, she said that the burger was oh-so-cheesy! It hit the spot for her that night. The fries were fine, but both Jen and I thought Rob might appreciate them a little bit more than we did. The gorgonzola dipping sauce was a nice touch; however, with the truffle fries it just seemed like the powerful flavors were competing with each other.

By the menu pictures, you can see that this place, like La Chaya Bistro offers many organic and locally farmed items on its menu. That’s something I always like. To me, it means that the staff cares what it is sending out to the diners.

Are there any places that you’ve been to that offer quality ingredients like BLVD or La Chaya?

Are there any restaurants you’ve been meaning to try lately?

Technique at Le Cordon Bleu – Mendota Heights {Closed}

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Where can you get a three or four course meal for $10 – $15?

Technique Restaurant!

Students training to become culinary professionals through Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School have the opportunity to practice the techniques they’ve learned in a hands-on environment known as Technique Restaurant. Diners have the opportunity to try high quality, gourmet meals for a fraction of the price!

The Minneapolis (Mendota Heights) location of Technique Restaurant is usually open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Friday, depending on what is planned for each class. It is recommended to go online to Open Table to make a reservation to make sure that they’ll be open when you want to dine. Special occasions and groups are welcome!

While there is a sample menu online, the actual menu is determined by the students when they receive the ingredients. I love this! This means that the ingredients are fresh and that the chefs get to use a little of their own creativity in preparing the meal.

Still, for this reason, I decided not to go to Technique with my husband on my first visit due to his allergies to fins and feathers. Instead, I went with my friend Jared this past February.

Everything about the experience was utterly perfect.

From the ambiance, to the service, to the wine, to the perfectly portioned, cooked and seasoned food, everything was wonderful. So wonderful that, when we returned in March, I was disappointed. Jared reminded me that we were at a restaurant where the chefs and servers were students in training and we needed to cut them some slack. Besides, neither the food nor the experience was bad at all. It just wasn’t perfect. How often do we really get that dining out anywhere anyway? And for the price, nothing in the Twin Cities can top what you get at Technique.

My only regret now…

That I didn’t take pictures of the menu to accurately describe what was prepared!

The Wine

I cannot believe how affordable bottles on the wine list are! No bottle was over $40 and I can’t even remember for sure that anything was over $35. Wines were also offered by the glass.

On both occasions, we started off with a little bubbly rosé. The first time, it was served in a flute. This was how it was served on the second visit.

While the wine list was limited, it included excellent selections to pair with the main entrées. I was highly impressed that a value-priced White Burgundy matched perfectly with our salmon on our first visit. The crisp minerality, yet roundness of this Chardonnay couldn’t have been beat. And a Portuguese red blend? How many restaurants have you been to with one of those on the menu?!

The Food

You’ll be served a basket of French bread with a composed butter. I believe we received a sweeter butter the first time around. However, it was difficult not to eat piece after piece of bread our second time:

Mmmm… Herb & Chive Butter with French Bread. Did we really need that much?!

Jared and I tried our best to order different items since there were two to four items in each course category. That way, we could try many different flavors. Still, both times we each started with the soup. I loved the size of our soup bowl on our first visit – the leek soup was enough to whet the palate with just a few spoonfuls and was quite enjoyable. And while I absolutely loved the flavor of the soup on Visit #2, it was a huge portion and very heavy!

Creamy Potato Soup with Bacon

I didn’t stop myself before my tummy started to hurt. I don’t know if it was because I did a really long run that day or if I just ate too much. I’m sure the two pieces of bread with butter prior didn’t help. However, my tummy continued to tell me that it was not happy, making it difficult to fully enjoy the rest of the meal that night. 😦

The Starters

The Caesar Salad and Thai Flatbread we had on Visit #1 were uber-flavorful! The Caesar was topped with perfectly-cooked shrimp and a crispy parmesan garnish – both nice little touches. And how I wish we could have ordered that incredible Thai flatbread again! Those two starters blew the doors off of what we ordered on Visit #2.

Caprese Salad

So, the Caprese Salad had a yellow tomato. Not my favorite, but a nice culinary touch. The mozzarella slice on top of the tomato was fried. What was strange about that was that it wasn’t warm. It was cold. Like the salad. I think the contrasting temperatures would have worked much more nicely. The flatbread we tried on Visit #2 isn’t even worth talking about. We missed the Thai Flatbread!

The Entrées

The entrées we had on both visits were divine and perfectly portioned! (Quality over Quantity!) Everything was perfect about the Salmon on Visit #1. So much so that I wish I would have been taking pictures and notes then! We both ordered the filet mignon on Visit #2:

Filet Mignon with a tomato coulis, thin asparagus spears and the perfect number of fries! (No, I hadn’t touched them yet!)

Cooked closer to medium than medium rare, but an excellent cut of meat. I thought the tomato coulis would just be fancy ketchup, but it was a sauce to die for! I don’t know if I’ll ever find/taste something like that again.
The Desserts

These two desserts I could normally “take or leave”, but they were decadent and lovely – and just the right size. Still, I brought leftovers of the cheesecake home to my husband, who declared it “one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever had.” Or maybe I said that.

Strawberry Cheesecake

Fresh Berry Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream

Even if you have a less than stellar experience at Technique, it’s going to be better than any other restaurant where you’d pay $15 for an entire meal! And as Jared commented: It can give diners even greater joy knowing “you are helping the community and helping train the next generation of great chefs!”

Need a cheap, but impressive date night or a place to take out of town guests? Give Technique a try! You won’t regret it.

Cheers~
Carrie