Sunday, June 8, 2008

French Meadow Bakery and Cafe: May 30, 2008

It was a rainy Friday evening and we were once again flipping through past issues of Minnesota Monthly and Mpls/St. Paul magazine trying to find a place for dinner. We ended up going with a place that has really come through for us in the past for breakfast food. During the morning hours, it is nearly impossible to score an empty table at this place, but during the evening, they take reservations and have waiters. We had been there for dinner before in the past (the restaurant is very vegetarian-friendly) and after going for dinner this time, we have decided to only go there for breakfast foods.

Kristin started off with a cup of the tomato basil soup which is to die for and a typical glass of pinot grigio. The bread that they serve as an appetizer was a nice complement to the warm, creamy soup. Dinner was a different story. There were so many options to choose from, and Kristin, wanting to be true to her "liking to try new foods" quote, chose probably the worst option. She ordered the vegetable barley risotto. Instead of the arborio rice typically used to make risotto, they used barley. While it didn't have a whole lot of flavor, it tasted a whole lot better than it smelled or looked. According to Tim, it resembled some ripe baby doodoo. She definitely wishes she would have ordered the stromboli (which was a sure bet in the past).

Tim had the pasta special, which was penne and various vegetables. It was good but not great - really nothing that stood out. He also started off with the crab cakes, which were very good. The crab was mixed with black beans which was a tasty combination and gave the dish a bit of a latin flavor. Overall Tim was disappointed with everything but the crab cakes and the bread. The server was nice, but she didn't know much about the menu.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Ahoy matey! A review of T & T Galley

T & T Galley is located in the lovely downtown area of South St. Paul. We happened to be in SSP this morning to pick up a truck from Kristin's dad. We were moving Tim's stuff into Kristin's place and Tim decided that we should fuel up with some grub first. Neither of us had ever been there before. It looks like your typical greasy spoon with lots of regulars and families. It was pretty busy when we arrived but we were able to procure a seat at one of the two counters.

Tim needed his morning coffee STAT. He ordered a "choose your own" omelet with ham, Swiss and mushrooms. It came with hashbrowns and wheat toast. The omelet was enormous and may have weighed as much as his head. It was VERY greasy which kind of grossed him out. The hashbrowns were ok, but nothing to blog about. The cooks sauteed the meat and mushrooms before adding them to the omelet which may have contributed to the greasiness. Overall, it was disappointing. Tim considers himself an aficionado of greasy spoons and this one didn't make the cut.

Kristin had trouble deciding between something salty or sweet but she settled on the vegetarian omelet. It also came with wheat toast and hashbrowns. Her complaints were pretty much the same as Tim's. She was only able to eat about 1/5 of her omelet, which left her feeling hungry again a couple of hours later. If she ever happens to go back again, she will opt for something sweet, such as pancakes or french toast.

Longfellow Grill (May 2008)

After a day of yard work and running around (literally), Kristin and I headed over to the Longfellow Grill for dinner. Located in the Seward Neighborhood, the Longfellow Grill is part of a small chain of restaurants that includes the Groveland Tap (MacGroveland-St. Paul), Edina Grill (50th and France-Minneapolis) and the Highland Grill (Highland-St. Paul). Although each restaurant varies in decor and menu items, they all serve great home cooked food with organic ingredients.

We arrived without reservations and were promptly seated at a window booth. The hostess' cheeriness was a bit eerie, and that feeling continued with our super happy server. The restaurant was busy, with families filling up most of the seats while the younger crowd was seated near the bar. It was too windy for most patrons to enjoy the outdoor patio, but one group braved the cold.

Tim had "The 'Grill' Burger" cooked medium with sweet potato fries. The burger was pretty darn good. Unlike previous burgers, the grease did not soak through the bottom of the bun, and more importantly, the bun was sized well. The bacon and cheese were excellent, and the touch of barbecue sauce gave it a nice "grilled" taste. The fries were good, but a little under cooked. They were not crisp, but I still liked them. The aioli dipping sauce is a great compliment. Tim washed the entire meal down with a PBR Tall Boy. Although PBR hasn't won a blue ribbon since 1893, I stand by its quality. Plus, I enjoy drinking cans of beer in restaurants.

Kristin ordered the egglplant parmesan. She has had it before at the Highland Grill, and it was a favorite. Sadly, it disappointed this time. It was dry and didn't seem as fresh as it should be. That being said, she still ate most of it. The entree also comes with mixed greens and Kristin gobbled down plenty of Tim's sweet potato fries. Her beverage of choice that evening was a Pinot Grigio, which was quite refreshing after a 20 mile run. She will definitely be going back and hopes to sit out on the patio when the weather is a bit nicer.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Something fishy's going on here...Review of Sea Salt Eatery

Sea Salt sells some serious seafood, shrimp, and sandwiches. We went there with some friends on a Friday night in May after a looong workday. The weather was nice enough to sit outside but definitely called for a fleece. Our friends got there before us and were lucky enough to score an outdoor table overlooking the park. You place your order inside and the staff brings it out to you. There was some live music being played while we were there.
First off, some unresolved issues. They have not been open for long, so logistics are a problem. We stood in line for 45 minutes to place our order. Luckily, Kristin had a glass of wine to keep her company. Some of the wait was due to the fact that the person taking the orders was also getting all of the drinks. Another complaint is that they do not offer french fries with their sandwiches or baskets. This is a bit unusual because they serve deep-fried food, and therefore, obviously have a deep fryer.

Being a vegetarian, Kristin had a bit of a hard time finding something to eat. She settled on some veggie tacos (2 for $5). They were corn soft shells and contained corn, tomatoes, onions and sour cream. While they were tasty, they were not very filling. Kristin compensated for this by devouring some Sebastian Joe's cookies 'n' cream ice cream (around $3 for a generous single portion). Kristin tried a pinot noir from the wine list, as well as a couple glasses of sauvignon blanc. There was an adequate list of red and white wines, as well as a small selection of specialty beers. Kristin enjoyed the atmosphere and good friends but will probably not be going back for the food (or at the very least, will have to bring some of her own food along).

When Tim's deep fried shrimp finally arrived, he was five beers deep, having had two beers prior to arriving at the festivities. So, take this review with a grain of (sea) salt. The shrimp were tasty, a nice size, and better than you would get at Popeye's, but not as good as at a fancy seafood restaurant. The cocktail sauce was too sweet. The coleslaw was just average, not great, but not bad. The deep fried calamari appetizer was amazing. The batter was awesome and the best that Tim ever had. Tim would go there again, but would go at a less busy time, or pay someone to stand in line for him.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

First Post! Review of Buster's on 28th

Hello! The purpose of this blog is to record our restaurant experiences and to serve as a guide for people looking for a restaurant at the last minute. Let us explain further: we are not very good at planning ahead. So, at some point during almost every week, we are frantically looking for a restaurant, usually ten minutes before we want to leave the house. Although this system has its flaws, it has led us to some pretty darn good meals (and also some not so good ones). Hopefully this blog will also remind us of what we liked and disliked, what we ordered and wished we ordered, and most importantly, keep us from ordering the extra side of onion rings.

Which leads us to our first review: Busters on 28th.

As the name suggests, Busters is on 28th Avenue South in Minneapolis near Lake Hiawatha. We've dined at Buster's on at least three occasions over the last year. It's a quaint neighborhood restaurant that combines a sports bar feel (several plasma tv's) without the typical boring sports bar food. It is fairly small, usually packed, and always has fast, friendly service. It also has a long list of draught and bottled beer far beyond what you would find at a typical sports bar.

So, on to the review. It was a Tuesday night, but as usual the place was busy. We waited for about ten minutes to get a table. The table next to the door was open as usual but it is easily the worst table in the place, if not the world. If you go to Buster's and decide to take that table, be forwarned: you will get elbowed in the face, and a fat guy's belly might brush against your cheek several times during your meal.

Food. Tim ordered the Buster Burger (medium) with bacon and swiss cheese and substituted onion rings for the fries. Kristin had the Grilled Brie Sandwich with asparagus, roasted onions, sun dried tomatoes. The sandwich came with french fries. Tim had the beer of the week, which was some Scottish draught; Kristin had a Corona with a lime.

Review. Tim's burger was well done, not medium. The burger is served on a kaiser roll, which is fine, but the grease from the burger soaks through the bottom half of the bun, making it essentially non-existent. Other than that, the burger was pretty good. The onion rings looked much better than they actually tasted. The sauce that came with them was very bland - we're pretty sure it was watered down ranch dressing. Tim thought a lot about the onion rings, and decided that the problem was that they are dipped in too heavy of a batter, which eliminates the onion taste and makes it seem like one is eating a ball of fried batter. Don't get us wrong - these are much better than the frozen onion rings you'll find at other places (5-8 Club anyone?), but they still aren't up to par.

Being a vegetarian, Kristin has ordered her fair share of grilled cheese from sports bars. It was nice to get a break from the typical cheddar or American cheese on Texas toast. That being said, the sandwich probably could have done without the asparagus. It added an unusual crunch to the sandwich and didn't seem to belong with the other ingredients. Kristin loves brie cheese, so she was extremely intrigued by the sandwich. However, it seemed a little wrong to have brie cheese warmed to such a temperature. It ended up leaving a bit of a coating and funny aftertaste in the mouth. It was a good sandwich, but Kristin will probably try a different entree the next time we go back. The fries, however, are a different story. One might say that it is worth it to go there solely for the delicious fresh cut french fries. They give you a generous portion but Kristin was still able to finish her entire portion! The only related complaint is that they hand out your ketchup in pre-portioned little cups (being a ketchup fiend, it is a little annoying to ask for more). Same with napkins - we suggest asking for extras!

The total came to about $32, which isn't too bad for two meals and drinks. We'll go back, but will try something else.