Tag Archives: uptown minneapolis

Republic

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Saturday night, Rob rounded up some friends and we went down to Republic, a craft beer bar and restaurant. Rob had almost chosen it for his birthday dinner this week, but decided it would be more fun to head there in a group.

It’s the second time we’d been to the Uptown location of this restaurant. But all it took was one visit to put Republic’s beer and burgers on Rob’s Top 10 lists.

There are several things that I love about this place:

  • There are no televisions! – Thus, no distractions. Unless your mate is constantly on his/her SmartPhone, you should have his/her undivided attention!
  • The Simplicity – There is one menu with one side listing beers by category {Ales, Belgians, IPAs, Ciders, etc.} and the other side listing food by category {Daily, Vegetable, Beef, Cow, Pig, Bird}
  • Local Beer Selection – Of their 56 craft beers on tap, about of third of them are local – meaning within the Twin Cities metro. There are many more hailing from the entire Midwest.
  • The Beer Flights – They are exceptional here because there are no exceptions. You can choose any three beers in a flight of half-pints for $10.
  • Beer Feature – There is also one Beer Feature that is just $3 at any given time until it’s gone!
Republic Beer Flight - 8 oz pours of any three different beers

Republic Beer Flight – 8 oz pours of any three different beers

This is the route I like to go so that I can try a variety of beers. Jen and Kim did the same and each included a Cider in their lineups. Lately, mine have been consisting of the Porter and Stout varieties. But I did add the Steel Toe Imperial Red Ale to the mix this time.

The Food

I’d like to describe the food here as “Elevated Comfort Food.” I can almost guarantee you that I’ve heard that phrase somewhere else. So I can’t attest to its originality. But I do think it describes it well. Here are some examples:

Beer Battered Fish & Chips - Fulton Blonde beer batter, house-made tartar sauce

Beer Battered Fish & Chips – Fulton Blonde beer batter, house-made tartar sauce

When I asked Kim how her fish and chips chips was, she gave me the look and said, “It’s awesome.” You could see that there were spices in the batter. And that is not how she described the fish and chips at Pat’s Tap.

Sausages - roasted potatoes, mustard

Sausages – roasted potatoes, mustard

Even though this was so simply described, our friend Mike was intrigued. When it arrived, I asked what kind of sausage was in the dish. He said, “Kielbasa, I think.” Rob hates the word “hearty,” but if we had to describe any dish as such, this would be the one. There were a lot of potatoes! Purple, Yukon, baby reds… He had a pile leftover after eating half of them and all of the meat. His wife, Lisa, said that they’d take them home and she’d make some hash for breakfast.

Poached Eggs - grilled vegetables, roasted potatoes, chimichurri {add steak for $6 or sausage for $4}

Poached Eggs – grilled vegetables, roasted potatoes, chimichurri {add steak for $6 or sausage for $4}

I surprised myself by ordering poached eggs in a restaurant. But. It. Just. Sounded. Good. I added steak and was glad I did. The grass-fed beef was perfectly cooked and maybe even “made” the dish.

The poached eggs were a little overcooked, in my opinion. I like me a runny egg and they were barely so. Also, I took a big bite of one and found something crunchy. After a few bites, I realized it was an egg shell and it was all dispersed throughout my mouth. I have never experienced this before. How could it happen? I thought maybe I was imagining it, until I carefully forked up another bite and found another piece of shell in tact. When I showed the server and asked her to take away my napkin which contained the remains of the shell-bite, she apologized; but that was about it.

That being said, those roasted veggies were divine. And I ate every bite of potatoes. I don’t buy potatoes because I could eat them in quantity with no regard to portion. So, indulge I shall, when they are offered on my plate at dinner.

Angus Burger - carmelized onion, bacon, aged cheddar -or- blue cheese {burgers served with a mixed green salad, sub fries for $2}

Angus Burger – carmelized onion, bacon, aged cheddar -or- blue cheese {burgers served with a mixed green salad, sub fries for $2}

And then – The Burger. Lisa, Rob and Jen all ordered one. Jen said that there was a good amount of blue cheese on hers. Other places are a little skimpy on that. And she went on to explain how she never had any patience to cook up some carmelized onions herself, but how wonderful she forgot that they are! Rob confirmed that it is still one of the best burgers he’s had in the Twin Cities.

What is your favorite comfort food?

How would you kick it up a notch?

Cheers~
Carrie

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Thai Cooking Class

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Last week, I posted about a Thai restaurant in our neck of the woods that we totally fell in love with this past August.

A couple month’s later, on October 24th to be exact, my friend Jen and I took a Thai Cooking Class at the Kitchen Window in Uptown, Minneapolis.

The class was called Spicy Thai Street Food and was taught by Joe Hatch-Surisook, Co-owner & Executive Chef of Sen Yai, Sen Lek {meaning Big Noodle, Little Noodle in Thai} also located in Uptown. It was advertised as one of the most popular classes. Since both Jen and I love Thai food, we gave it a try.

The classes that I’ve taken at the Kitchen Window have varied greatly in style. My Knife Skills class was instructional in nature; however, we did get to practice what we learned. It was life-changing! The food that we chopped was cooked into a dinner we ate later. The Cooking from Your CSA Box class was completely demonstrative in nature. We sat and watched as we obtained ideas for using CSA box items and ate all of his delicious creations in courses!

However, in this Thai Cooking Class, we were separated into groups to cook together by following the recipes, creating our own dinner! We were instructed on specific techniques and learned about lesser known ingredients throughout the evening, too. We’d cook a few dishes together and then the entire class sat at one big table and ate what our group cooked. We repeated the process after a few other dishes.

While the class was a ton of fun, I remember thinking that some of the ingredients weren’t practical for me to buy just for one specific dish. It’s just way too easy to get excellent take-out Thai all throughout the Twin Cities metro area instead. But now that I look back at the recipes we were given in class, there really aren’t all that many unique ingredients.

If anything, though, this class did get me out of the Pad Thai/Green Curry box to try new Thai dishes. Here was our menu that evening:

  • Gai Satay – Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
  • Cucumber Salad (The dressing was made with Thai chilies!)
  • Som Tum – Green Papaya Salad
  • Khao Neow – Steamed Sticky Rice
  • Pad See-Iew Gai – Stir Fried Wide Noodles with Sweet Soy, Chinese Broccoli and Chicken
  • Khao Soi – Curried Chiang Mai Noodles with Beef

I was having so much fun that I didn’t think to take photos until we reached the end of the evening…

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Khao Soi – Beef and noodles in a coconut curry sauce and topped with crispy noodles

Yes! We made that! And it was excellent. I can’t imagine making it now, though, without the help of my teammates.

But both Jen and I found our new favorite Thai dish!

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Pad See-Iew Gai – Stir Fried Wide Noodles with Sweet Soy, Chines Broccoli and Chicken

Those of you who know me well are probably wondering how I loved a dish with broccoli. But Chinese broccoli is nothing like the broccoli we know.

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Chinese Broccoli (source)

To me, it’s more like a bitter green. Click here for more information on Chinese Broccoli {also known as gai lan} and what you can substitute if you can’t find it.

Since the class, Jen has ordered Pad See-Iew (but with pork) at a local Asian restaurant. It’ll be the next thing I try at Spice! And now that I’ve revisited Chef Joe’s recipe, the Pad See-Iew doesn’t look difficult to make at all. I’ve decided that I’ll attempt to make it the next time I host my girlfriends for dinner. {Jen and Kim, you now must hold me to that!}

While it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to share a restaurant’s recipe from a class for which I paid, you can do a search for pad see-iew {there are spelling variations} online and yield great results!

And I do need to take my husband for a trip to Chef Joe’s Sen Yai, Sen Lek. It’s an award-winning Minneapolis restaurant where I already know that the food will be made with fresh ingredients and taste delicious!

What new vegetable have you tried lately?

Cheers~
Carrie

Uptown Cafeteria – Minneapolis {Closed}

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This past August, a Groupon brought us to the Uptown Cafeteria for the first time. Although, the full name for this joint is Uptown Cafeteria and Support Group, I’m not sure I fully understand why. The website states that it meets in both the upstairs and downstairs bar. Another site states that this refers to the bar. And still another says to bring your own Support Group for drinks. I guess you can interpret it any way you like.

But what really matters here is the food.

Contrary to the name, it is not a cafeteria, nor do they serve cafeteria-style food. It’s just goodfood. There’s no theme or style of cooking going on here. I mean, really, at how many restaurants would you find these condiments sitting together on your table?049

There are a variety of taps {some interesting and some not-so-much}, a few wines and some fun cocktails. There’s also a Bloody Mary Bar all day Saturdays and Sundays until 4pm. I noted the Mary Tyler Moore sign for our return:

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“You’re gonna make it after all…”

We started with some sweet and salty popcorn, which is no longer on the online menu. It was fine, but there was so much of it that we didn’t finish. Also no longer on the menu is the Reuben that Rob ordered.

No matter… The definite star of the show here was… You guessed it. The Tuna Melt:

he Tuna Melt (of Tuna Melts)13.00 fresh, house cured ahi tuna salad and aged cheddar on a homemade English muffin

The Tuna Melt (of Tuna Melts) $13.00
fresh, house cured ahi tuna salad and aged cheddar on a homemade English muffin
{I enjoyed mine with a side of cottage cheese for extra protein.}

This Tuna Melt is no joke! It is deserving of it’s name, too. It’s the best I’ve ever had. Or at least in a restaurant. {It rivals my friend Jen’s, but I’d have to try them side by side for a true comparison.} The ingredients are high quality and it’ll be hard to ever eat another English muffin again after you’ve had this homemade one! It flippin’ rocks! I was in love.

Hey, Rob, I know that I love the tuna melt here!

While there are many other things on the menu I’d like to try, it would be hard for me not to order the Tuna Melt when I return! Still, I don’t think that we’ll be going back there any time soon. Despite the fact that we ate indoors, the street was so noisy that it really got on Rob’s nerves. I don’t know if he could have handled the Sky Bar on the rooftop for cocktails.

Do you have a restaurant where you order the same thing every time?

If so, where is it and what do you order?

Cheers~

Carrie

Chino Latino – Minneapolis

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Trying to get my husband to Chino Latino is like {insert the most difficult thing you’ve ever done here}.

We’d only been there once before, but not for food. I remember walking in and it being packed and hard to push through the crowds to get near the bar. Despite this, it still felt like a pretentious poser hang-out. I don’t even think anyone in the group stopped to get a drink. We just walked around the place (or squished our way through) and left to find another hotspot in Uptown.

But I still wanted to try the food.

When I saw a Groupon offer for Chino Latino, I knew it was the only chance that I could get Rob there. He hates crowded places and any place where you have to stand and wait. As we neared the Groupon’s expiration date (for the discounted value), I chose a beautiful Sunday afternoon this past Aguust to take drag my husband there. I figured that this would be a “safe” time to go.

Other people have told me that the portion sizes here are tiny and that food is only mediocre. So we went in expecting this. Still, the menu really intrigued me:

Street Food from the Hot Zones

I mean, who has heard of that before? From their website:

Chino Latino serves Street Food from the Hot Zones – the tropical belt that extends from the Caribbean to the Americas to Polynesia, on to Southeast Asia, India, Africa and back again. There’s no fusion cooking here. What unites our offerings is the power of their flavors, the emphasis on freshness and their embrace of ingredients and cooking styles common to the Hot Zones.

Uh… yeah. Sounds like my kinda place. Flavor, flavor, flavor!

We walked in to find the place was lit like we were in a nightclub – on a Sunday afternoon. {You’ll see below by the hues of the photos!} We sat at the bar, which we tend to do when it’s just the two of us, making sure we could use our Groupon there. We’ve never had a problem, but it’s always good to check. The restrictions read:

Limit 1 per person, may buy 1 additional as a gift. Limit 1 per table. Valid only for option purchased. Dine-in only. Not valid for happy hour. Bar Abliene option not valid on weekends; valid only for food. Bryant Lake Bowl option not valid for tickets.

The manager said that we could only use it for food. This Groupon included a list of Uptown Restaurants to choose from including Bar Abilene and Bryant Lake Bowl. Wouldn’t you get the impression with the semi-colon above that the “valid only for food” portion was just for Bar Abilene? Whatever. We had a late lunch, so I wasn’t sure we could spend $30 on all food. We definitely had to over-order. I was secretly hoping that the portion sizes were indeed as small as everyone claimed them to be!

Despite the fact that drinks were not included in our Groupon, we couldn’t pass them up:

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CRACK HO MOJITO – Don Q Limon rum, blackberry, raspberry & passion fruit purees – $13

This was one of the best mojitos I’ve ever had! The viles of purées were a fun little novelty and the twist that probably justifies the fact that it’s a $13 drink. Honestly, though, I tried the mojito by itself first without the purées and it didn’t need them at all! I did order a classic mojito afterward, not even realizing it was $10. Is that high? I feel like it is.

Rob’s drink:

crispin

Crispin Hard Apple Cider with sake yeast & organic rice syrup

We aren’t fans of Crispin Hard Cider in general. However, the sake aspect intrigued Rob. After he tasted it, he described it as “Cloudy, tasteless yeast beasties in a bottle.”

As for the food… We just  had to start with the following for an appetizer because Kat once recommended it:

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Popocatepe – fries erupting with black beans, queso fresco, guacamole, chile de arbol and pico de gallo – $10

This appetizer was no small portion! We barely put a dent in it. Though, it was more my thing than Rob’s. I adore black beans, guacamole and fresh tomatoes. Though our top nachos {if you’d put this in that category} still remain at Beaverton Tavern in Gladwin, Michigan and The Public House in Las Vegas, Nevada!

Then for me:

skewers

Jerk Chicken Skewers – with mango salsa and screaming gringo sauce – $8

There is a really unique kick to these! When I couldn’t decide on a skewer, they were recommended by the bartender. Talk about flavor, baby!

And for Rob:

barba

Beef Barbacoa Taco – tender oaxacan style chile-braised beef topped with pickled jalapeno and cabbage – $4

I just asked Rob what he thought of this and it must not have been memorable because he said, “No clue.” Although we did have an excellent takeout $1.75 barbacoa taco this week, so he probably had thoughts of that. Or maybe he just can’t think past this:

queso fun

Queso Fundido with Chorizo – molten cheese with sauteed mushrooms, pico de gallo, chile de arbol and chips – $15

Rob sent those chips swimming:

swimming

Rob’s chips taking a dip…

on the plate

…until they ended up on his plate.

Rob’s comment:

“I want this every day for the rest of my life.”

Okay, so I wouldn’t go that far. I personally preferred the fundido that we had at T & T in Las Vegas. But it doesn’t matter. It’s going to take my husband back to Chino Latino. That’s a win for me.

And as for the portion sizes… It depends on what you get. If you order a couple of the $4 tacos or one order of $8 skewers, you’ll be disappointed. My recommendation: Get a bunch of different things and split amongst a group.

What restaurant or food were you reluctant to try, but then fell in love with once you did?

P.S. Don’t forget to enter yesterday’s giveaway!

Cheers~
Carrie