Jan 192013
 

Cuisine: American, Steak, Seafood, Pasta
Restaurant Features: Bar, Hotel
Location: Bloomington, MN (Inside Embassy Suites)
Address: 7901 34th Avenue South, Bloomington, MN 55425 952-854-1010
Hours: Lunch Mon-Fri 11am-2pm *Dinner Daily 4:30pm-10pm *Sunday Brunch 10am-2pm
Links: Woolley’s Steakhouse Website * Woolley’s on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere:
Woolley’s is located inside the beautiful, lush courtyard at the Embassy Suites Airport in Bloomington.  Unfortunately I did not take any photos of the interior, but if you have been to any Embassy Suites before, you can instantly visualize the courtyard setting, with intimate seating areas nestled in among a variety of plants.  The lighting was dim and romantic and there was a jazz band playing music somewhere nearby.

Menu:  Appetizers include Calamari, Walleye Fingers, Martini Steak Bites, Crab Cakes, Shrimp Cocktail, and Diablo Bites (blacked beef tips).

Small Plates include Short Ribs, Marcona Almond Purses, Sea Scallops, Duck Sausage, Foie Gras and Pork Tenderloin.

Woolley’s has a Salad Bar for $14.95 or you can add it on to any entree for $4.95. Side salads are also available to add-on to any entree for $3.95. Dinner salads include Grilled Salmon, Apple Proscuitto Brie, Woolley’s Steak salad, The Classic Wedge, Winter Greens, and Caesar. Soups available are a French Onion and a Soup du Jour.

Woolley’s is known for their Beef, with options such as Beef Tenderloin, Bone-In New York Strip, Top Sirloin, Martini Steak, Beef Oscar, Prime Rib (12oz or 16oz), and 16 oz Red-Eye Ribeye. Any beef or steak can be served Classic Style (with bleu cheese, bacon, onions and mushrooms), Gratinee Style (with croutons, caramelized onions and gruyere cheese), or Oscar Style (with bearnaise and crab). All steaks come with choice of baked potato, scalloped potatoes, mashed potatoes, wild rice pilaf or broccoli, with the option to upgrade to any of the following sides including Glazed Carrots, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Hashbrowns, Loaded Baked Potato, Sweet Potato Hash, Brussel Sprouts, and Grilled Asparagus.

Other Entrees include Chicken Marsala, Pork Tenderlon, Short Ribs, Duck Breast, Woolley’s Burger Deluxe, and Swedish Meatballs. Pasta options include Pasta Vodka, Fettuccine Alfredo, and Kielbasa Mac & Cheese.

Woolley’s also serves Fresh Fish and Seafood such as Grilled Walleye, Panko Walleye, Grilled Salmon, and Shrimp & Scallops.

Desserts include Creme Brulee, Bread Pudding, Chocolate Lava Cake, Cheesecake and more.

Price guide:

Salads $5-20 Entrees $14-28 Steak $21-45

Happy Hour:
Happy Hour is served in the bar Monday – Friday from 4pm until 6pm.

  • $2.25 Domestic Tap & Bottle Beers
  • $2.75 Craft Tap & Bottle Beers
  • $3.25 House Wine
  • $3 – $3.5 Call Cocktails
  • $3.75 – $4.5 Martinis and Specialty Drinks
  • 50% OFF all Appetizers

Weekly Specials:

  • Sunday-Wednesday: Half priced bottle of wine

What we ordered:  We started with a couple of drinks (Cranberry and 7Up for me!) and the complimentary basket of bread.  This was a standard French loaf, served warm and crusty.

We knew we were going to be ordering more food than necessary, but I really wanted to try the Calamari.  This was delicious! It was fried crispy with a panko breading, while the calamari  itself was still quite tender.  It was sprinkled with parmesan and parsley and then served with spicy marinara and lemon aioli for dipping.

I opted not to get a starter salad and went straight for the Red-Eye Ribeye ($36), which comes served over a bed of  swiss chard and melted gorgonzola.  This steak was amazing!!! I ordered it medium rare, and it was cooked just perfectly.  When I say that this steak was tender, it could melt in your mouth.  The melted gorgonzola was a wonderful accompaniment and added even more flavor.  It was served with a warm cheddar ale biscuit and choice of potato. I will order this steak again every time I visit Woolley’s from now on.  I might even dream about it ;)

I got the loaded baked potato which came with the standard cheddar, pieces of bacon, and green onion with sour cream and butter on the side.  When all was said and done, I was too full to eat more than a bite of this!

I was happy when our server mentioned that one of the New Year’s Eve specials included an add-on 6oz Lobster Tail for just $11.95.  It was a holiday, so why not?  It was nicely seasoned and cooked just right.  Served with drawn butter and lemon.

My companion ordered the 16oz Prime Rib with fingerling potatoes as the choice of potato. This was a fairly thick cut of beef, tender and mildly juicy.  It was good but couldn’t compare to the ribeye.  It was served with a side of au jus with a couple of mushrooms.

My companion also ordered the Jumbo Sea Scallops ($10), which came as an order of three.  The scallops were seared to give it a caramelized crust while still being very tender within.

Being that it was New Year’s Eve, I decided to treat myself to the Dessert Sampler, which is basically three desserts of the price of three. The spotlight was the Bread Pudding, drizzled with a caramel whiskey sauce and topped with whipped cream.  It was surrounded by colorful berries, whipped cream and orchids for garnish.

One of the desserts was the Chocolate Lava Cake, served warm with blackberries on top.  I loved the combo of textures and flavors of the chocolate with the berries.  Very good!

Last but not least was the Creme Brulee which was smooth and creamy, with hints of vanilla.

Service: We had made reservations several days ahead of time to ensure we could get in on New Year’s Eve, and a table was waiting for us when we got there.  Our server was very friendly and had some excellent suggestions, but we found that the food took longer than expected between courses.  We were not in a particular hurry however our dinner with the appetizers, entrees and desserts took about two and a half hours.  The longest wait was for our main entrees, which took at least 45 minutes to arrive after ordering.  I attribute this to the fact that the restaurant was completely booked.

Overall Impression: We thought the food at Woolley’s was wonderful.  In fact, the ribeye is one of the best steaks I’ve ever had, rivaling the ribeye at Capital Grille for top contender on my Editor’s Picks for Best Ribeye.  The atmosphere at Woolley’s is wonderful if you like a somewhat tropical feel, so make sure you sit at one of the seating areas in the courtyard.  While we were treated wonderfully by our server, our only complaint was that the food service was slower than expected.
Woolley's on Urbanspoon

Jan 042013
 

A couple of months back Manitou Station in White Bear Lake debuted a new menu and I have been fortunate to try several of the new items. Here are just a few:

Bruschetta ~ This order came with six garlic crustinis topped with fresh chopped tomato, grated margiano, basil, and balsamic vinegar.  Fresh and delicious!

Artichoke Dip ~ A blend of artichoke hearts, cream cheese, parmesan and seasonings, baked in a ramekin and served with flatbread wedges.

Sausage and Peppers ~ This pasta dish starts with a bed of Fettuccine tossed in a zesty rose sauce with roasted bell peppers and Italian sausage.  I loved this, it very flavorful!

Black Pepper Blue Burger ~ All the burgers at Mantiou are delicious, big (7oz) and juicy.  This particular burger is topped with several big chunks of bleu cheese and fried onion straws, served on a toasted bun with steak fries.

Black & Bleu Burger at Manitou Station ~ White Bear Lake, MN

Black & Bleu Burger at Manitou Station ~ White Bear Lake, MN

Also new to the menu are the Scotch Egg Burger, Chicken Marsala, and Buffalo Wings. You’ll have to visit Manitou Station soon and taste what else is new!

Dec 212012
 

Instead of the customary guide for restaurant goers, I am writing this blog post for the people behind the restaurants we love. This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I realized it is high time to feature a guide intended for local restaurant owners. We all know that more and more people are going online nowadays, so I thought of writing something that would serve as a basic how-to on establishing online presence. What is great about having a presence on the web is it provides many opportunities for local restaurant owners. By being online, they can reach their potential customers more efficiently than offline strategies. Even established restaurants like Tilia continue to leverage their online presence to grow their business.

One of the essential tools in creating online presence is business websites. Having a website allows local owners to advertise their restaurant in the best ways possible, which in return can expand the business’ market significantly. But like most things these days, people have to spend time and money to have a website built for them. Restaurant owners who are on a tight budget can leverage existing online mediums such as Facebook, Foursquare, and Google+. These are three of the most popular social networking communities in which restaurant owners can conveniently share information and promos on their business. If these posts are buzz worthy enough to their potential customers, it will generate valuable leads for their restaurant. Just like FoxyBingo.comand other online gaming communities, social media sites promote interaction between business owners and consumers. FoxyBingo.com hosts friendly tournaments occasionally, enabling them to connect and even share personal experiences in the gaming industry.

In addition, blogging is also a great medium in establishing online presence. By maintaining a blog in WordPress, Blogger, or LiveJournal, local restaurant owners can personally connect with the people they want to serve. They can blog on the subject of their current menu, restaurant additions, upcoming events, and many more. It is also important to include quality images or videos in each blog post. Blogging sites are generally free, so restaurant owners wouldn’t have to worry about monthly fees.

Nov 172012
 

Cuisine: American, Mexican (Tex-Mex)
Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 538 Rice St. St Paul, MN 55103 (651) 291-0363
Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-8:45pm, Sat 3pm-8:45pm  Sunday Closed
Links: El Bravo on Facebook * Google Map
Atmosphere: El Bravo Mexican Restaurant is located on Rice Street, in the North End neighborhood of St Paul, just one block north of University Ave and the Central Corridor Lightrail line.  This was my first visit to El Bravo since the time I visited in the spring of 2009, and I was pleased to see that the walls had been painted in shade of green and yellow that provided it with some vibrance that it seemed to be lacking in the past.  The paintings adorning the walls all seemed to be updated as well. What a difference some updating can do to the interior!!

Menu: Appetizers at El Bravo include Chips & Salsa, Guacamole, Nachos Refritos, Nachos Jalapeno, Quesadilla, Nachos, Nachos Bravo, Quesadilla Tostada  and Bean Dip.

Salads include Dinner, Beef taco Salad, Chicken Taco Salad and Veggie Salad.

Tacos are served on either corn, flour, crispy corn or fried flour tortillas.  Tostadas are served on a crispy corn tortilla topped with beans and chicken or beef, lettuce, tomato.  Options include Chicken or ground beef.  Burritos are stuffed with Beef & Cheese, Chicken & Cheese or Bean & Cheese, and then grilled with the option of smothering in enchilada sauce.

El Bravo also offers a couple of burgers and American items such as Hamburger, Cheeseburger, California Burgers Taco Burger, Chili, French Fries and Grilled Cheese.

Mexican entrees served at dinner include Carnitas, Huevos Rancheros, Mexican-Style Steak, Chile Relleno, Chile Verde, and Chile Colorado.

There are a number of Combination Dinners if you’d like to try a variety of the offerings at El Bravo.  usually some combination of Beans, Rice, Tacos, Bean Burritos, Enchiladas, Taquitos, or Chimichangas.
Price guide: Apps $2-7  Tacos $2-3  Burgers $3-4  Dinners $7-10 Combos$5.50-10
What we ordered: We started with the complimentary Chips and Salsa, which were very good.  The chips were freshly made and while the salsa wasn’t very spicy, it had a lot of flavor.

I ordered the two taco, two enchilada combo, with fried flour tacos and cheese enchiladas ($7.50).  This plate didn’t come with beans and rice but there was enough food that I didn’t really need them.  I did,  however, order a side of guacamole which was fresh and tasty.  The taco meat was seasoned ground beef and the lettuce and tomato were fresh.  Both the tacos and the enchiladas were much better than I remembered from my first visit to El Bravo.  The fried flour tortilla was delicious and not as greasy as you might think.  The enchilada sauce was really good as well.  I wouldn’t consider this authentic Mexican but it was very good for Tex-Mex style.

My companion ordered the same combo that I did ($7.50) but switched it up slightly and got two crispy corn beef tacos and two beef enchiladas.  Both were just as tasty as mine and a big hit with my companion.

Service: Our server was nice and the food was served reasonably quick.  We were in an out for dinner in less than 45 minutes.
Overall Impression: While my first visit to El Bravo wasn’t particularly favorable, several readers had left me comments telling me I had to go back and try it again.  It took some time for me to get back but I am so glad I did!! The food was very good and extremely low priced for a big meal.  I can now see why El Bravo has been around for so many years and why they have so many loyal customers.
El Bravo Mexican on Urbanspoon

Nov 172012
 

Hello faithful readers and long-time followers,

Thanks for bearing with me while I stepped back and took a little break from this blog.  I appreciate the concern of those of you who reached out to me during my 2-3 month absence and asking if everything was okay.

Everything is great, the truth is that I am expecting my first baby in April 2013!

The first few months were kind of tough as I was quite sick and had zero energy or motivation to write.  Please remember that I work a full-time job teaching and this blog is more of a hobby when I have time for it ;)

The good news is that I am feeling much better (and hungrier!) now and hope to start trying new restaurants again and writing the reviews that have put the Twin Cities Restaurant Blog on the map ;)

Yay!

Oct 252012
 

This Guest Post was written by Brad Russell

You’ve been to pub crawls — but how about a Dishcrawl? A tastier version of the liquid diversion has just come to the City of Lakes. Signing up now for the Nov. 7th date will allow you to eat your way through Uptown Minneapolis!

Dishcrawl (@dishcrawlMIN) hosts events featuring a select set of restaurant experiences, enticing foodies with a four-restaurant culinary adventure; it is a guided food escapade. It’s a great way for restaurants to get to know the foodie community and share their culinary philosophy. When you go Dishcrawling, you
get to explore food spots of Mpls one neighborhood at a time; the one-on-one time with the people behind the food genius, gives you a more authentic experience with the local food.

The event locations are kept secret until 48 hours prior, at which point the first restaurant is revealed.  Dishcrawling is the perfect chance to try 4+ dishes in one night while enjoying a short brisk walk between restaurants in fall air!

Let’s crawl through this neighborhood and get to know our neighbors over an exciting culinary adventure. It’s delicious and fun!

Price of one ticket ($39) reservation includes all food for one patron. Drinks are not included. To reserve your seats, please register quickly at Minneapolis Dishcrawl. Tickets tend to sell out really fast! Check us out at dishcrawl.com

For those of you lucky enough to get in, see you soon!

Sep 162012
 

Hello readers of the TCRB,
You may have noticed my absence of late.
I am on Hiatus for indefinite amount of time and not sure when I will be back to blogging.
Please feel free to leave your message and I will try to get back to you when possible.  Requests for posts may take some time.
Sorry for the inconvenience!
Kristi

Sep 122012
 

Top Twin Cities Chefs Serve their Best to End Child Hunger by 2015

Chefs will prepare a five-course meal with wine and cocktail pairings tableside for guests at Taste of the Nation Minneapolis 2012

WHO:  Join Chef Chair Tim McKee and Honorary Chef Chair Seth Bixby Daugherty, along with top chefs from Alma, Bradstreet Crafthouse, Cosmos, Heidi’s, La Belle Vie, The Marsh, Minneapolis Club, Mystic Lake Casino, Sea Change, Travail and more.

WHAT:  Taste of the Nation Minneapolis 2012: A rare opportunity for diners to experience top Twin Cities chefs personally serving their finest dishes tableside; bid on incredible items in live and silent auctions; help eliminate child hunger.

Some of the best chefs in the Twin Cities will lavish diners with one of a kind gourmet five-course meals and beverage parings in an opulent setting at the Graves 601 Hotel.

WHERE:  Graves 601 Hotel (601 1st Ave. North Minneapolis, MN (612-677-1100) www.graves601hotel.com

WHEN:    Sunday, September 30, 2012. 6:00p.m. – 10:00p.m.

WHY:   All proceeds from ticket sales for the event will go to Share Our Strength, a nonprofit organization with the goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015. 100% of ticket sales directly support Share Our Strength’s efforts to end childhood hunger in Minnesota and in America.

HOW:    Tickets can be purchased here: http://ce.strength.org/events/taste-nation-minneapolis. Individual tickets sell for $200, and Tables of 10 sell for $2000 for no chef preference or $3000 with chef preference. Space is limited. A $200 ticket can provide more than $1800 worth of food to families in need.