Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The meatballs came out assembled in a circle surrounded by a rich and creamy sauce. No lumps, no chunks, just smooth rich flavors. The meatballs were obviously hand rolled, based on their texture and imperfect shape. The surface provided the perfect canvas for the sauce to adhere to, and each bite provided a wonderful wave of succulent pork and beef.
The fact that the dog and pile of fries only costs $4 is near comical, and I felt as if I was almost cheating the restaurant out of something. Nick and Eddie place a great emphasis on their scratch kitchen and commitment to superior ingredients and it plays out well at both the bar, and the table. I'll find a reason to be back there soon, because lord knows, I will find myself in need of good old dog far before the thaw here in SW Minneapolis, and I know a place where I can get a perfect summery treat.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
You can't read a restaurant blog without cringing over closings and small attendance, so I wanted to make an effort to hit a good spot somewhere close to home in order to keep the money in the community much like some of the pillars of the local food movement. I figured I'd head to Cafe Maude just down the street just in case the Armatage Room was open to give a new enterprise a shot. Their wine bar menu, featured Tuesday-Sunday when they don't have a private booking looked incredibly appealing and had some really imaginative offerings. It turns out it wasn't open (instant heartache) on this particular night, but we did score a seating in the main restaurant.
The vibe was strong as normal. Good house music, a strong neighborhood pulse and the clinking of wine glasses provided the rhythm to a good night of eating. Jess and I decided to go light given the recent holiday, but we found that we didn't have to suffer at all for it. Jess ordered there roasted corn chowder - I was eyeing it myself and knew I was in for a bite (mututal understanding) so I gravitated to the nicoise olive chicken flat bread.
The soup came out first and it was a nice substantial bowl. The texture was surprising - not your cream of corn standard, and played really well - robust enough to be a meal. The corn was roasted and sweet, and the fine dice on the potatoes soaked up the flavors well while offering substance. A nice red pepper component rounded out the broth flavors, which really paled in comparison the the crispy bacon and avocado topping. bacon and avocado is pretty much where it's at for me. I think they should run for the presidency in 2012. I'd be the first to sign on. The bacon was perfectly crispy and the avocado was smooth and luscious. Needless to say this was not your status quo soup, and follows Maude's blueprint for taking simple fare and really jazzing it up.
My deconstructed flat bread came out and looked really nice and fresh. I love arugula and it's peppery bite was a welcome feeling. The flat bread itself was a bit tough, and the pickled herb spread was a bit bland, but it really allowed the other flavors to stand out and do their thing. The feta was strong and pungent - a good mix with arugula and the chicken was cooked well and played with it's fellow party-goers well. The roasted red pepper offered some sweetness, and the raw, diced zucchini was an excellent, and unconventional addition. I've never really had raw zucchini in a dish now that I think of it, and it stood up really well. The olives actually played out as a puree which was really satisfying in the fact that it could now hit every bite and wasn't limited to just rolling around on my plate. Again, deconstruction at it's finest. It wasn't the best dish I've had at Maude, but it's a creative little insight into their world, and I left satisfied and happy, which is just what I was looking for. I'll say it again, there is nothing quite like spending a nice evening with good company, great food, and an enticing ambiance.
Next time, I'm going to hit the Armatage Room for sure!
Monday, November 24, 2008
Nervously I sat there and sucked down my Finnegan's as I waited in fearful anticipation. After a decent wait or food came out and I gave it a serious once-over. As usual, Jess and I had settled on 2 items with the intention to share. I started with the meatloaf and was totally underwhelmed. It was essentially flavorless, and the texture was quite odd - a granular tofu maybe? I think the "involtini" distinction was because they wrapped the loaf in the chicken skin. It was kinda gross. The slab of polenta that was served with it was greasy, limp and unappealing. It was all served on a bed of arugula which was the only portion of the plate with any flavor. Unfortunatley it had already drown in the grease from the meatloaf and polenta. Neeldless to say Jess didn't enjoy the dish (The one bite she managed) either and my suspision that I wasn't being very open was eliminated.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
We went on a blustery Wednesday and the place was pretty darn full, as was the neighboring Blackbird Cafe where we enjoyed a pre-dinner drink. I called about a week in advance and could only get a 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. seating for a group of 6. Regardless, I'm glad the place is busy. With food that good, it should be.
So fortunately, I have friends that love to share so I got to enjoy several dishes over the course of the night. I had the hibernation-ready braised lamb shank. The meat was slide-off the bone tender and had a very deep lamb flavor. The braising liquid was robust and it sat on a nice wild rice salad. It was not a light dish, and braised lamb usually isn't. It was perfect for a nice cold Minnesota evening and was totally comforting.
My lady friend had the best dish of the night. It was essentially a pan seared chicken breast wrapped in a thin layer of delicate, crispy bacon. It was delicious and served on a flavorful cous cous with cauliflower. The true champion of this dish was the Kimchee beurre blanc. It was friggin amazing. I would have ordered a glass of it if possible. It tied everything together with a clean, spicy kick. The dish was seriously satisfying.
Last, I had a quick sample of the Australian Sea Bass. The bass had a perfect sear and the caramelized tones against the pure white fish was stunning. The moist, delicate fillet sat on a parsnip and parsley puree which offered a great texture and color contrast. Lastly, the creamy mussel foam added a tremendously rich flavor that balanced out the jolt of the parsley with the lightness of the fish.
I was very pleased with the experience yet again. It's hard having two great spots right next to each other, because I really enjoy Blackbird as well. Regardless, I'm in a good situation because they are both close to home, right here in SW.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
We gorged until we could eat no more and packaged the rest up for lunch the following day. Needless to say leftovers have never been so eagerly anticipated. You'll have to run up there for yourself though and let me know what you think about this BBQ joint. It's well worth the drive, and I'll have to find an excuse to get up there again soon.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Jess' dish was just OK. The pork loin, egg and rice all worked well together. I though the cucumber and tomato offered a nice twist of freshness similar to my Pho, but Jess didn't care for it - I think it's sort of an acquired thing. The other pork items were BBQ'd pork and pork skin, and I have to say the mixture was pretty garlicky and actually kind of cold which I thought was really odd. It was just sort of an odd dish that came highly recommended from our server and it was a bit disappointing.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
This blog will be dedicated to surveying and evangelizing the best sandwiches in the Metro area. I can't deny my obsession between the goodness that can be created between to tasty slices of bread, and I'll extend that to other delights such as burgers, burritos and any other creation that resembles a good old sandwich. Stop on by and leave me a comment for any place you want to see reviewed or to let me in on a hot tip!
Stop on by whenever!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
The sandwich was accompanied by a bag of Rachel's chips, which I have a secret weakness for, and a nice big pickle spear. I love pickles with my sandwiches, but they kept this pickle in the same package as the hot sandwich and it steamed itself so that it was limp and warm, which was disappointing. I also ordered a cup of soup to round everything out and although it was tasty, they gave me way too much - I was dumbfounded that was their cup size and I left thinking, "how am I going to eat all this"?
I would go back to Kramarczuk's but if I did, I would buy a variety of the nice uncooked sausages they make from the neighboring deli and prepare them myself. The lunch total seemed like a lot (and I ended up with too much) and I think I could take some of their great products and serve it up just the way I like it. It turns out that my nice little lunch out just broadened my portfolio for a unique, home-made lunch. If you haven't checked this place out, I would recommend doing so before grilling season is totally gone!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
The food came out and the kitchen staff was nice enough to split the sandwiches since we told the waitress we were sharing. The service was really first rate, and I appreciate the attention from the kitchen. If you are looking for a mean burger, then look no further then the 112 Eatery. It was simply delicious. The burger itself was a mixture of ground beef with egg, onions and a good dose of sweet, lemony thyme. It was masterfly cooked and had a lush layer of melted brie on top of it. The burger rested well on a perfectly grilled english muffin. It was cute, and I devoured it like it was the last morsel of food left on earth. It was completely satisfying and the bursts of thyme really gave it a surprisingly welcome kick.
The bacon egg and harissa sandwich was totally on point. I love eggs on sandwiches and the cilantro accompaniment on top of the egg was really interesting and totally worked. The thick smoky bacon was the perfect companion to the rich, and equally smoky harissa. The 112 Eatery essentially took 2 very basic dishes and crafted a few variations that not only made them outstanding, but imaginative and flavorful.
While I was enjoying my sandwiches I also managed to take down a few of the perfectly crispy and salty fries. They were pretty darn good, (They're just 'taters after all) but the hero of that plate was the rich and decadent tarragon aioli that gave them a leg up on your typical bistro fry. The gnocchi, was artfully cooked with a little bit of crunch from the pan frying, yet was still as soft as my favorite pillow on the inside. The perfectly cooked buds were simply adorned with parmesan reggiano, and in combination with the buttery sauce, was a bit too salty for my tastes. It really didn't matter though, because I simply sat there and admired my other dishes as if it was the first time I had ever tasted a burger or a dressed up BLT. Simply put, the 112 Eatery takes simple dishes and crafts them carefully in an effort to master meals, that are anything but mundane.I'll be back at 112. It's the perfect date spot, or place to swing into on a cold, blustery night for a bit of comfort food (go late or have a reservation though). Many people claim it's a great place to grab a snack after a night of drinking in the near by bars, but you'll never catch my practicing such sacrilege. The 112 Eatery deserves your tummy's full undivided attention, and it will get nothing less then that from this perpetually hungry individual.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
For the past two years my brothers, my father and I have headed down to New Orleans to go Fishing for the athletic Redfish that inhabit the salt marshes of the deep south, though I will mention the anticipation for the most recent trip was equally strong for our return to Cochon. Cochon is quite simply, a culinary celebration of the pig (although they do many other Cajun specialties, mind blowingly well). They do masterful things with swine down there, and pretty much cook everything but the stink - Mmm Hmmm even the nasty bits make their way in, and itwouldn't be right if they didn't.
One of my favorite menu offerings on the menu is the Boucherie plate. It's a handsome little plate full of all the great charcuterie that these southern hog wizards conjur up on the premises. In the shot above you can see that we start with perfect little toast points and a substantial (delightful, actually) stone-ground mustard. From there you pick your various toppings including pork rilletes (which were awesome), perfectly smoked ham (dissolved on the tongue), a nice salty salami, what they called "homemade Slim Jims" which were great little jerky sticks, and some good old head cheese (I won't get in to too many details, but it's the nasty bits, and it's good!). Sometimes it's just better to eat and not think about it. Everything is made in house and was completely fantastic. You can also see the salad I ordered to start the night off - a perfectly fresh cucumber salad with fresh herbs and vinegar.
Our waitress actually brought out the above - wood roasted oysters because we had to wait a few minutes to be seated. The oysters were amazing, I was told (I'm allergic to shellfish), and the aroma alone made me glad we stuck it out a few extra minutes.
Next we'll get into my entree, which was a braised Ham Hock with a Cajun gremolata, lima beans and rice. It was utterly and completely to die for. Simply breathing in the vicinity of this perfect portion of pork would have shed the meat right off the bone. It was perfectly salty, smokey and all together rich. The beans and rice soaked up all the hearty braising jus, and it was totally outrageous - the perfect meal for a fisherman fresh off the saltwater; tired from pulling in the red beasts swimming in the shallows just beyond the Louisiana coastline.
I've also attached my brother, Pat's entree, which was the Louisiana Cochon - it was quite good, perfectly meaty, with a well seasoned yet sensual taste of pork. The cracklins that were served with were amazing.
If you find yourself in New Orleans anytime soon, I highly recommend you check it out. It's not in a touristy location and there is no Bourbon Street commotion to detract you from the great Cajun cuisine that they serve up. All you have to do is pour a nice cold Abita Bitter Beer and enjoy the warm aromas until you food arrives.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Heard from AZ that Alex Roberts is opening another Brasa location, possibly is St. Paul. I say bring it on. He serves up some mean pork, chicken and beef with legit sides. More Alex Roberts is a good sign by my standards. I find it hard to make my way over to Restaurant Alma, although I had a fabulous meal there, so if we can fold him in on Grand Ave. in St. Paul, I'll take it, although selfishly, I wouldn't mind another Brasa even closer to me in SW Minneapolis, or even say, in my own backyard.
Heading to Al Vento on Friday. I'll try and get a few shots and thoughts up on that.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
So, when it comes down to it, I would go Back to Nick and Eddie, but I would wait until I could check out a different seasonal menu. When I go back it will likely be for their brunch, which I've heard a lot of good things about, or to try their bar menu with friends and plenty of cocktails - that is if I can resist the urge to stroll right down the street to pillage the mecca of all bar menus at Cafe Lurcat.
Monday, July 28, 2008
I have a mild obsession with good sandwiches and create my own unique pairings before work so I can have a nice home-made lunch. I don't do the ham and cheese on bland bread thing, so I was especially attracted to Be'Wiched and the allure of new sandwich combinations to inspire my own creations.
So I drove down Washington, walked in, scrolled the impressive, but small menu and settled on a three-way tie as most ambitious diners tend to do. I asked the gal behind the counter if I should get the pulled pork, ( I make a naughty pulled pork by the way) the poached chicken or the smoked turkey. After some thought she said what I was kind of (just kind of, seriously) hoping, "go with the smoked turkey." So like any good seeker of food intelligence ,I did.
The sandwich was friggin' huge. I mean there was probably two inches of richly, woodsy-smoked turkey on this beast of a sandwich. The pile of turkey was served on a nice dusty ciabatta with bacon, medjool dates and goat cheese, along with the contents of what felt like two entire turkeys. It's no push over sandwich and I knew immediately that I would take the whole thing down. I stretched my mouth and prepared myself, physically, to take on the first bite. Texturally, the sandwich was perfect. The fresh baked ciabatta was soft and the thick dense meat was padded nicely by a thin layer of dates, soft goat cheese and a few strips of thin, limp bacon. The bacon was just OK, but if you are going to take a serious twist on a turkey club, you better deliver on the bacon. The date combined with the salty swine did remind me of the classic bacon-wrapped date appetizer commonly served around the holidays, which truly highlights to beauty of a good salty and sweet combination. I only caught a hint of the goat cheese unless I was eating around the edges, which was a bit disappointing (I like the kind of creamy goat cheese that will curl a grown man's toes, personally) but there was still enough there to round out a unique sandwich. Lastly, I know I made fun of the obscene amount of turkey on this guy, but it was perfectly smoked (just like the turkey my Dad smokes every year for Thanksgiving ).I love it when food evokes memories, if you haven't noticed - I know my turkey, and this was the real deal.
The sandwich was served with a nice side of Israeli cous-cous and what tasted like a curried eggplant salad with olives - simply delicious.
The good lord has blessed me with a metabolism as active and constant as the sex lives of the rabbits that seem to at least double everyday in my backyard. I typically eat up to six times a day to try and satisfy the constant cry from food echoing from my lonely stomach, but there was no need for that this day. I took the whole sandwich down if nothing else then to not take the shot to my machismo, and the afternoon snack, and food as a whole was not deeded until I made dinner at about 7 p.m.
Overall, the sandwich was good, but I would definitely get something else if I go back. I had been eyeing that sandwich on their online menu for quite some time, and in fairness ,I had big expectations for it despite my three-way tie when I stepped up to the register. Be'wiched delivered, but is probably one of those places where you need to try a few things, and maybe never land on a favorite - a pretty good business model. I'll definitely go back, but since I rarely go out to lunch during the week, I likely will reserve it for a special treat on slow work days.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I've really latched onto this slowfood movement, and I'm excited to start reaping the results. I just wish this pepper would hurry up and mature! Seriously though, check out the link and read up on how you can support slowfood even when dining out.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
So I have been going out to eat on my regular schedule (all the time), yet have not found the time to jot down my thoughts. However, I had a pretty good experience at a new place that just hit my radar - Victor's 1959 Cafe - a Cuban Joint in Minneapolis. Cuban food, and everything about Cuba intrigues me - it seems such a melting pot of the unknown. I checked out there menu online and was immediately interested so I rolled down there last Friday.