3.31.2015

Groundswell, St. Paul, MN


It seems like this is the perfect breakfast/coffee/lunch/dinner/drinks/gathering space for this out-of-the-way neighborhood. And it's not that out of the way, just a few blocks up from the Hamline Green Line lightrail stop and you're there. I'd suggest it on a Saturday morning for breakfast/brunch.

All the food looked delicious and everything we ate was delicious. I'd go back in a heartbeat, no question. I could also see myself going there all the time if I lived in the neighborhood, partly as there didn't' seem to be much else around, but mostly b/c it has wonderfully friendly staff, great options, and a very mellow vibe (plus WiFi).





Lots of locally made items to browse and buy while you dine. And speaking of dine...

They had me at "bacon".

Favorite tea of mine - "Evening in Missoula"

Vegan Banana Loaf, really good!



3.19.2015

The Purse Pal - Help my idea come to fruition.

Have you heard of Quirky? If you haven't, it's an invention website that helps people bring their ideas to market. You can view my recent submission and "like it" if you think it has merit.

Goto:
http://www.quirky.com/invent/1642730/action/vote/query/view=trending&categories=all


3.18.2015

Chia Pod Oats Banana & Mango Breakfast Cereal

If I have the time & money, I really like shopping at WholeFoods. You can take your time browsing the aisles for new finds (stick to the outer border for the healthiest options though), after all that's what they want you to do.

A recent trip was no different and I spotted high up in the yogurt section a heat n' serve breakfast option loaded with the new super food, chia seeds. I had to try it and I was glad I did as it proved a delicious way to start the day.

I will say, it's a daring feat to put chia seeds and cold oats in a see-through container, as it always just looks like mush, but the taste was easily 10 times better than the look. And I suppose they have to show you what it looks like before you buy it or you'd be horrified when you open it at home.


It even comes with this clever, and 100% recyclable, spoon in the lid of the container. They seem to have thought this one through on a number of levels.



3.16.2015

The Freehouse, Minneapolis ("North Loop"), MN


Go check this place out if you like small batch beers and good food in your face. I believe this place has taken over what was once and architectural office, that also seems to share a building with condo owners. The restaurant group also owns and runs places like, Edina Grill, Longfellow Grill, The Lowry, and Groveland Tap. So, if you like those places, and some home-brewed beers, I'd say chances are good you'd like Freehouse.


We tried five of the beers (choosing from three different glass sizes, pony, middy, and pint) and had two of their "jar" plates; one hummus and one smoked fish dip. All the beers and both the dishes were very good (we were not big fans of their "jar" idea for service, kinda clunky in execution). Service was also very friendly, courteous, and prompt.


I'd have written more, but the weather's too nice to be writing blog posts. In fact, we sat outside on their fair-sized patio and enjoyed the sun this day too.

3.11.2015

Union Depot, St. Paul, MN

I don't know why it took me so long to actually go into this building, it's just awesome. They've tried to save all the things that make it an original building, and then put new-cool stuff in like this artwork hanging on the ceiling...

Can you see the swimmers?
Portrait view...
As far as I can tell, each "dot" is an actual LED light bulb

3.10.2015

EastLake Brewery, Minneapolis, MN


If you have even a little bit of time this spring and summer, perhaps jumping off the greenway during a ride, you should check out the Midtown Global Market's newest heavy-weight, EastLake Brewery. 

They have a number of their own brews on tap (duh!), and also offer delivered foods from the market via four vendors. I believe you could also just walk out and grab your own. This makes for a nice way to enjoy some new beers and new foods, with a minimum of fuss. 

I believe we tried the porter on offer, it was good. Glugg glugg.

Retry: The Blue Door, St. Paul, MN

After a nudge from a good friend, I decided it was time to "retry" this relatively famous burger joint. The first visit was much much less than ideal, but for a burger, and most things, I'll try anything twice.


Luckily, this visit was much different than the first. The service was quite helpful, letting us pick the Cajun tots; the food was much better, down right tasty; the drinks were flowing; and the company was excellent.


"Breakfast Blucy" with Cajun-spiced tater-tots - Amen!
I would go back for a third trip, and if you haven't been, go for your first.

Cheese-filled burger patty, American cheese on top, bacon, an egg, and pickles - delicioso!

3.03.2015

Heyday, Minneapolis (Uptown), MN

There's a lot to like about this relatively new place in Minneapolis' Uptown neighborhood... and a few things I believe they need to improve on. Join me on a small molecular gastronomy tour, will you?

First off, the space is great. Heyday has decked it out really well, allowing diners to feel like they are out for a special night, while still making it feel comfortable and inviting... not overly fancy for anyone, or making you feel like you under-dressed.

I believe they do try to explain the restaurant's name through a few of the pieces hanging on the wall
The Replacements seem to come up often in this space... #3 above
Fun art on the walls
An open-for-all-to-see kitchen too
Excellent lighting

To be clear, this is not a normal meat-and-potatoes place. Chef Jim Christiansen's food is very unique, inventive, creative, etc. The James Beard nomination should indicate something, right? I'm sure others have written this better than I can, but I try. To be sure, I didn't eat anything that wasn't prepared with care and attention. That's not to say I loved everything I put in my mouth, but I liked most everything. I would say the things I didn't like weren't due to being prepared incorrectly or without care and attention, but simply because I wasn't used to the taste or texture.

That being said, there were some unique items on almost every dish, that added quite a bit of fun to the dishes and evening. This is a place to try new things, share with others and enjoy the night out. Time goes fast in here, but some things took too long.

Mussels... hidden under some crazy concoctions
Steelhead Trout - very good
Rabbit - also excellent
I tried most of the dishes that our 7-person group ordered, so I was able to taste the rabbit, trout, beef bavette, squab, and duck. All were some of the nicest proteins/mains I have tried in some time. They clearly have this part of the evening dialed.

A dessert choice made with the most hay and hay ash I've ever encountered... not that I've ever encountered hay or hay ash in food before. That is a hay ash cracker on top... not too much flavor, but great texture and striking to see on top of your dessert
All is not perfect though, and the dessert above was comp'ed due to some of the issues below. I don't have a problem pointing these things out to the staff and gave my feedback on a number of occasions. IMO, Heyday does have at least a couple things to work on:

Service
We had a reservation for 7 people at 6:45pm. I was in contact with them to make this reservation and they even confirmed this time the afternoon of the dinner. When we arrived we were told something to the effect of, "they are setting your table now, you should be seated shortly". Well, about 45 minutes later, and two checks with the host area, we were still drinking a slow drink at the bar, many in the group standing to do so. As an appeasement, they gave us a free round of shots. It's a nice gesture, but I'm not sure an empty stomach and aggravated psyche goes very well with more liquor. I drank two of the small, flavorful shots anyways, meh.

Once seated, first courses came out rather quickly, along with some excellent rustic bread and rolls (a nice way to soak up all the liquor). But, once the first course was cleared, I think it took another hour to get our main dishes. This is way too long. We wound up being done with dinner around 9pm. That's a long time for two courses when we had a 6:45pm reservation. And as I said above, to their credit after I pointed out this long evening to our waiter, they offered us all free dessert choices. Of course, we took them up on this... and this course didn't take too long to arrive.

To end this section on a positive note, it was readily apparent to all of us that our bartender was on point (or "pint"?). She was an excellent first host and made us feel special, just by listening to our requests and pouring us some great drinks. Much like the bar area, our server was also at-the-ready all night long (and it was long). He helped us throughout the evening and was also empathetic enough at the end to advocate for our comp'ed desserts.

Menu Descriptions
With  such a large group and such detailed menu options, we could have had the waiter at our table explaining every dish all night, but they clearly don't have that kind of time. With that being the case, I would have liked much more description of each dish printed on the menu so I can read an understand what I'm ordering. As it is currently on the menu, they have a few short descriptive words, but do not delve into the full ingredient list or how it's prepared.

This is all it said for the Trout:
Roasted Steelhead Trout   | 16
brown butter, horseradish, new potato
And this was it for the wacky dessert I chose...
Fifty Shades of Hay | 9
ice cream, meringue, frozen grapefruit

All the dished are so much more though. With such unique and inventive dishes, I want to know all the nuances as I take my first bite... not flag down the wait staff afterwards and ask them to explain.

Having said all that, I would absolutely try Heyday again. I might wait a bit, until I'm in the mood for such a new-experience dinner again, but I'd go back for sure... maybe their weekend brunch.


transplanted.chicagoan

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