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.

Sep 022012
 

Cuisine: Deli, Roast Beef
Restaurant Features: Counter Service, On-Site Parking
Location: Roseville, MN
Address: 1746 N. Lexington Ave  Roseville, MN 55113 (651) 488-1788

Links: Maverick’s Website * Maverick’s on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Maverick’s is located in a strip mall on Lexington Ave at Larpenteur Ave.  One of the first things you will see when you enter Maverick’s is the kitchen/counter area.  A menu board is displayed above, but bring your binoculars… the print is tiny and hard to read (not to mention the white print on a black background).

The dining room is long and narrow, with a self-service condiment bar along the right wall and several tables neatly lined up in rows that extend toward the back.  The tables are interesting, they display a variety of ads for other businesses so they are essentially lacquered billboards.

Menu: Deli-Style Sandwich options include Ham, Turkey, Chicken, Fish Fillet, Spicy Italian Beef, Corned Beef, and Tuna Salad.  Cheese options include Swiss, American, Pepper Jack, Cheddar and Provolone.

Specialty sandwiches include Roast Beef, Beef Brisket, Spicy Jamai, Pulled Pork, BBQ Beef and French Dip.

Maverick’s also serves open-faces sandwiches with mashed potatoes and gravy.  Options include Roast Beef, Beef Brisket or Turkey.

Sides include French Fries, Onion Rings, Potato Cakes, Chicken Fingers, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, Cole Slaw, Cottage Cheese, Potato Salad, and Garden Salad.

There are also a number of milkshakes available like Chocolate, Vanilla, Mocha, Strawberry, Raspberry, Wild Berry, Banana, Key Lime, French Vanilla, Cherry, Banana Kiwi, Orange, Butterscotch, and Pina Colada.
Price guide: Sandwiches $5-8  Sides $1-4 Milkshakes $3-4
What we ordered: I ordered the French Dip, a hearty sandwich of thinly sliced roast beef piled onto a hoagie roll with real Swiss cheese and a side of au jus.  The roast beef was fantastic! It was flavorful, cooked so that it was still pink and very tender.  I loved that they had fresh horseradish at the condiment bar; I added a bunch to mine.  The au jus was very transparent and pretty weak; I ended up not even using it.

My companion ordered the Roast Beef sandwich, Maverick’s signature item, which comes with a large helping of thinly sliced roast beef on a bun.  Excellent!

We each got an order of fries which were the light, golden shoestring variety.  They were delicious, very similar to Mickey D’s if you like that sort (and who doesn’t?)

When we told the guy working behind the counter that we were first-timers, he gave us a sample sandwich of the Beef Brisket.  This was also good but seemed overcooked in comparison to the roast beef.  It reminded my companion and I both of roast from a  crock pot rather than a barbeque smoked beef brisket.  I’d opt for the roast beef over this brisket any day of the week, but it was still decent.

Service: We had great service at Maverick’s, considering that they offer service behind a counter.  We were greeted with a smile and the guy helping us took his time to tell us about the menu and then gave us a sample of the beef brisket to try.  He also followed up with us later to ask what we thought.
Overall Impression: The roast beef at Maverick’s was as good as its reputation and will be a new regular place to grab a great roast beef sandwich.
Maverick's on Urbanspoon

Sep 012012
 

Cuisine: Bakery, Breakfast, Scandinavian
Restaurant Features: Counter Service, Free Wi-Fi
Location: St Paul; (Saint Anthony Park neighborhood)
Address: 2264 Como Ave.  St Paul, MN 55108  651-645-9181
Hours: Monday-Saturday 6:30am-6:30pm  * Sunday 6:30am-4pm
Links: Finnish Bistro Website * Finnish Bistro on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Finnish Bistro is located in the Saint Anthony Park neighborhood of St Paul, on Como Ave at Carter Ave, (across the street from Muffuletta Cafe).  Inside, Finnish Bistro makes its home in a space shared by Dunn Bros Coffee.  The counters at Finnish Bistro are easily distinguishable, with a variety of delicious, freshly baked items on display.  There are a dozen or so small tables scattered across the room as well as a patio outside.

The patio area is a cute area around the side of the building, with a handful of umbrella-bearing tables and flower boxes full of flowers and other plants.

Menu: Breakfast items are served All DAY with items such as Yogurt Parfait, Finnish “Perinteiset”(traditional) Breakfast, Chilled Finnish Delight, House Aamiainen (Breakfast), Klassikko (Classic) Breakfast, Bacon & Muna (Egg) Sandwich, Pulla French Toast, Ham & Cheese or Veggie Quiche, Lefse Scramble, and Fresh Hedelmät (Fruit) Crepe. Omelets include Greek, Farmer, or Veggie.

Breakfast sides include Grilled Potatoes, Crisp Smoked Bacon, Grilled Kielbasa, Grilled Salmon, Smoked Salmon Lox, Grilled Lamb (Gyro), Fresh Fruit Plate, Side of Toast,  Sour Cream, and Guacamole.

Specialties offered at Finnish Bistro are the Finnish Beef Pasty, Daily Fish Special, Salmon Lefse and Spinach Pie.

Sandwiches offered include Caprese, Classic BLT, Classic Grilled Cheese, Lamb Gyro, Pulled Pork, Bistro Wrap, Bistro Club, and Spicy Quesadilla.

Flatbread Pizzas come with soup or salad with varieties such as The Baltic Special, The Favorite (Grilled chicken breast, crumbled Applewood bacon, onions, and mushrooms with cheddar and mozzarella cheeses on a creamy ranch based sauce,  Baked Potato Pizza ( mashed potatoes and topped with fresh onions, cheddar cheese, smoked Applewood bacon, sour cream), The Mediterranean Pizza – ( Fresh spinach, fresh tomatoes, feta cheese, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, onions, Greek oregano and garlic with mozzarella cheese on pesto sauce. Add Gyro Meat for an extra charge), Finnish Vegetable ( fresh diced tomatoes, mushrooms, red peppers, onions, black olives, and mozzarella cheese on pesto or red sauce), and Chilled Finnish Delight (Lightly toasted pita bread topped with a fresh thick layer of cream cheese, topped with chilled smoked salmon, capers, onions and dill).
Price guide: Breakfast $4-11  Pizza $9-10 Specialties $10-12
What we ordered: The Mediterranean Pizza ($8.95) sounded really good, so I ordered that for my meal.  It came with choice of soup or salad, I went with the Tomato Basil soup, which was delicious.  Good thing it was delicious, as I never got my Mediterranean Pizza.  Read service section below for the full, disappointing story.

One of my companions had the Veggie Quiche ($8.50).  It looked delicious with flaky crust and a thick filling of egg, carrot, onion, spinach, and roasted red pepper.

Another companion had the Finnish Beef Pasty ($9.95).  This was a football-shaped pocket of flaky pastry filled with ground beef, carrots, onions, and rutabaga.  This was served with a side of cucumber sauce and colorful side salad.  The pasty itself was good but kind of boring in the flavor department.  It definitely needed the sour cream or some kind of sauce to add some flavor.

Another companion had the Caprese Sandwich ($8.95); toasted French bread stacked with sliced tomato, fresh mozzarella, onions & basil pesto.  It also had sweet balsamic drizzled on it; looked delicious!

We shared a Chocolate Chip cookie.  It was big and tasted very similar to the cookies at Panera.  Soft but not too chewy.

We also sampled a Chocolate Pastry that looked like a brownie but wasn’t.  It was actually somewhat light and crispy, not at all chewy.

Service: This was my first time visiting Finnish Bistro, which was a recommendation from the companions I dined with that day.  We ordered our meals and then took a seat at a table on the patio.  We were told our meals would be brought out to us.  About 15 minutes after we ordered, my soup came out, as did the meals of my companions. The menu says it takes about 15 minutes for a pizza, so I knew ahead of time that there would be a wait.  After 30 minutes of waiting and no pizza in sight, I went inside to check on it.  I was told it would be done in two minutes and they would bring it right out.  I was offered a free cookie for the inconvenience.  Ten minutes later…still no pizza! At this point I was pressed for time as we had another obligation to attend to right away.  I went back inside and requested my pizza to-go.  About five minutes later a server sheepishly appeared to tell me that they had mistakenly given my pizza to someone else and that there was no pizza for me!!  At this point I had waited 40 minutes and would have been starving had it not been for the small bowl of tomato basil soup, but I did not have any more time to wait for another pizza.  I requested my money back and left Finnish Bistro shortly thereafter, hungry and disappointed.  I hope this was just an honest mistake but I feel like they could have offered me something more than just a cookie and my money back.
Overall Impression: I will try it again because the food seemed good but I am hoping for a better experience next time that doesn’t involve me leaving hungry.
Finnish Bistro on Urbanspoon

Aug 152012
 

Here are our current picks for Best Juicy Lucy.  Thanks to my partner Erick for contributing his opinions in this list, which will grow and change as necessary.  I requested his opinion since I do not eat American Cheese under any circumstances, and that is the most traditional cheese within the Juicy Lucy.. If you know of other Juicy Lucy burgers  that we need to try, please leave a recommendation ;)

#1 The Nook ~ The Nook is the best burger joint around and their Juicy Nookie gets our vote for the Best Lucy in the Twin Cities. This classic has two patties formed around a center of molten cheese served on a soft brioche bun.  My #1 companion loves this burger and thinks The Nook has the best one personally tried thus far.  The Nook also offers a handful of stuffed burgers for those who prefer other cheeses including the Paul Molitor (stuffed with pepperjack), The Spanish Fly (50/50 chorizo-beef burger stuffed with Queso), Stuffed Philly (with peppers, onions, swiss) and Guy’s Big Bite (stuffed with bacon and pepperjack then topped with roast beef and cheddar). There is also a Stuffed Burger of the Month. I have had the Paul Molitor burger and the Orchard Burger, the feature for August 2012.  The Orchard Burger is stuffed with cheddar, bacon and apples then topped with an apricot glaze.  Every burger we’ve ever tried at The Nook  has been a winner and they make our future list of Cheap Eats as well, considering the burgers come with fresh-cut fries for less than $8.  Who can beat that?
Juicy Nookie Burger at The Nook ~ St Paul, MN

Tin Cups ~ All burgers at Tin Cup’s are cooked over charcoal and then finished on the flat-top so you get the heavenly flavor of the grill.  It also came on a big toasted bun with coleslaw and french fries.  My companion ordered the Cedar Avenue Lucy, which is the Classic Juicy Lucy stuffed with American Cheese.  Normally it comes with caramelized onions but it was requested to leave them off.  I didn’t try this burger but my companion thought it was awesome, ranking just behind The Nook for best Juicy Lucy in town.  This gets my second place vote because they have several varieties of Juicy Lucy, just in case you’re like me and don’t eat American Cheese.  My favorite Juicy Lucy at Tin Cup’s are the French Dipper (stuffed with swiss and fried onions and a side of au jus) and the Dirty Lucy (stuffed with bleu cheese, jalapenos, caramelized onions and olives).

Matt’s Bar ~ The Jucy Lucy at the famous Matt’s Bar, is only about 1/3 lb, but a whole lot of goodness is packed into this smaller package.  The inside has molten American cheese that could burn your face in .2 seconds if you aren’t careful! The patty was served atop pickle rounds.  Matt’s offers fried onions with the burgers if you so desire. Good stuff, albeit a little greasy.   Shoestring fries are sold separately, by the basket.Jucy Lucy at Matt's Bar ~ Minneapolis, MN

Blue Door Pub ~ The Blue Door Pub is well-known for their many varieties  of  “Juicy Blucys”, which are what they call their version of the locally known cheese-stuffed burgers.   Options include the Blucy (bleu cheese and garlic), The Luau (stuffed with mozzarella and pineapple, Canadian Bacon on top), The Classic (cheddar cheese), Breakfast Blucy (cheddar, bacon topped with fried egg), Bangkok Blucy (mozzarella soaked in coconut milk and topped with pickled carrots, cucumbers, red onions and ginger), Cajun Blucy (pepperjack and jalapeños), Mushroom Swiss, Bacon Blucy (cheddar and bacon), The Frenchy (swiss and caramelized onions with a  side of au jus), and The Merriam Park (bacon, bleu cheese, garlic and topped with red currant jelly).  Fries and tator tots are $2 extra.  The burgers are great but the restaurant is always packed and there is always a long wait for a seat…. be prepared.

5-8 Tavern & Grill  ~ The eastern sister to the 5-8 Club in Minneapolis, home of the original Juicy Lucy, has a variety of Juicy Lucy’s as well.  This 1/2 lb burger comes with choice of stuffed American, Swiss, pepperjack or bleu cheese.  Burgers are served in a  basket with JoJo potatoes or you can upgrade to onion rings.  The quality of beef is excellent but the burger is so big and substantial that the cheese just doesn’t get hot enough to become truly molten, it is more gooey. And there is a LOT of it.  I personally prefer the un-stuffed burgers at 5-8  but they are known for having  many faithful Juicy Lucy followers.

So there you have it….. Twin Cities Restaurant Blog’s picks for Best Juicy Lucy.

Which Juicy Lucy in town is your favorite??  If you know of other restaurants that offer stuffed cheeseburgers (Juicy Lucy), please leave a comment and let us know!

Osaka Seafood Steakhouse ~ Roseville, MN

 Bar, Flat Screen/Large TVs, Japanese, On-Site Parking, Roseville, Sushi, Teppanyaki  Comments Off on Osaka Seafood Steakhouse ~ Roseville, MN
Aug 042012
 

Cuisine: Japanese, Sushi, Teppanyaki
Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking
Location: Roseville, MN
Address: 1675 County Road C West Roseville, MN 55113  651-633-3188

Hours:

  • Mon-Thurs  11am-2:30pm, 4:30pm-10pm
  • Friday 11am-2:30pm, 4:30pm-11pm
  • Saturday 12pm-11pm
  • Sunday 12pm-10pm

Links: Osaka Steakhouse Website * Osaka on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: The Roseville location of Osaka Sushi & Hibachi is located at the far end of the strip mall on the northwest corner of Snelling and County Rd C. (same strip mall as Byerly’s and ZPizza).  The restaurant is divided into three areas: the dining room, the bar area and the hibachi room.  The dining room is to the left when you first walk in, a contemporary space with tables and booths to seat about forty people or so, and a sushi bar at the back to accommodate another dozen.  The wall to the left side of the restaurant is interesting to look at, with floor-to-ceiling textured back-lit glass panels in a variety of patterns, nestled between columns of stone bricks.

The sushi bar is a good place to sit if you like to interact with the sushi chefs, or if you want a closer look at the TVs hanging on the wall behind.

The Bar area is the first thing you see when you enter Osaka, centered between the dining and hibachi rooms.  It has a contemporary feel to it with the under-bar lighting and hanging pendants above.

To the right of the main entrance is the hibachi room.  There are a handful of  hibachi tables, each of which seats about 10-12 people.  The hibachi chef stands in the center of the table and cooks at the grill built into either side of the table.

Menu: Osaka receives their seafood fresh on Tuesday, Thursdays and Fridays.

Appetizers include Edamame, Squid Ginger Yaki, Yakitori, Steamed Shrimp Shumai, Calamari, Gyoza, Age Tofu, Vegetable Gyoza, Beef Negimaki, Haru Maki, Soft Shell Crab and Tempura.

Salads at Osaka include Garden Salad, Tataki Salad, Avocado Salad, Seaweed Salad, Kani Salad, Seafood Salad Squid Salad, and House Salad.  Soups include Miso, Spicy Miso Vegetable, Onion Soup and Dobin Soup.

Japanese Entrees include Teriyaki (chicken, beef, shrimp, salmon, seafood), Tempura (vegetable, chicken, seafood), Yaki Udon Noodles, Yaki Soba, Nabe Yaki Udon, Seafood Noodle Soup, Una Don, Chicken Katsu, Pork Katsu, and Beef Negimaki.

Sushi and Sashimi selections come with two pieces in an order: Maguro (tuna), Toro (fatty tuna), Spicy Tuna, Hamachi (yellowtail), Ebi (shrimp), Sake (salmon), Smoked Salmon, Ikura (salmon roe), Hirame (fluke), Tobiko (flying fish egg), Unagi (eel), Hotategai (scallop), Amaebi (sweet shrimp), Tamago (egg custard), Kani (crab stick), Saba (mackerel), Hokkigai (surf clam), Uni (sea urchin), Ika (squid), King Crab, Live Giant Clam, Tako (Octopus) and White Tuna.

Osaka Sushi dinners are served with miso soup and salad.  Options include Sushi Entree, Sashimi Entree, Chirasi Sushi, Tri Color Sushi, Sushi & Sashimi Combo, Roll Combo, Vegetable Roll Combo, Tekka Don, and Tuna or Salmon Love.  You can also order Sishi for 2, Sushi and Sashimi for 2, Love Boat or Chef’s Special.

Rolls and Hand Rolls at Osaka include Avocado, Kappa Maki, Oshinko Maki, Asparagus Maki, Mushroom & Avocado, A.A.C. Maki, Califormia Roll, Boston, Crispy Shrimp tempura Roll, Philadelphia Roll, Eel Cucumber, Salmon Skin Roll, Spicy Snow Crab Roll, Lobster & Avocado, King Crab & Avocado, Dragon Roll, and Spider Roll.  Fresh fish rolls include Tuna, Salmon, Yellowtail, Toro, Alaskan, Spicy Tuna, Spicy Salmon, Spicy Yellowtail, and Rainbow Roll.

Osaka’s specialty rolls include Angel, Crazy, Black Dragon, Osaka, Spicy Girl, Crazy Tuna, Sweet Heart, Naked Girl, Salmon Family Roll, Alligator, No. 9, M.J Roll, Roseville Roll, Pink Lady, Yum Yum, B.M.W., Crunch Roll, New York, Dancing, and Sex on the Beach.

Hibachi dinners are served with onion soup, house salad, hibachi noodles, hibachi vegetable with choice of meats including Vegetable, Chicken, Salmon, Scallops, Shrimp, Tuna, Sword Fish, Steak, Filet Mignon and Lobster Tail.
Price guide: Appetizers $5-9  Entrees $11-24 Sushi/Sashimi $4-9 Specialty Rolls $13-17  Hibachi $15-31
What we ordered: My companion and I ordered a variety of rolls and sashimi, including surf clam, uni with quail egg, spicy tuna roll, spicy girl roll, and dancing roll.

The Spicy Girl roll had spicy tuna and spicy yellowtail with cucumber on the inside and then wrapped with rice and topped with spicy salmon and panko.  This roll had a fair amount of kick to it, as one would hope with a name like Spicy Girl.  I thought it was good but it didn’t blow me away.

We also tried the Dancing Roll, which turned out to be one of the favorites of both of us.  This roll had tuna, salmon and yellowtail on the inside then was wrapped with rice, escolar, a very thin slice of avocado and then topped with tobiko.  I loved the flavors of the different fish all rolled together, while the tobiko gave it a nice contrast in texture.

My companion was thrilled to see Uni on the menu and even happier when told it was delivered fresh that same day.  We initially ordered two orders with quail egg and later ordered an additional two orders.  I have not been a fan of uni when I have had it in the past, however this uni at Osaka looked very fresh so I wanted to give it another try.  While I can’t say I’ve grown to love uni, this was the best uni I’ve had to date.  The freshness gave it a more mild and less mineral-like taste than other uni I’ve eaten.  The creaminess of the egg and the uni was well complimented by the rice.

The Surf Clam was also fresh; pretty good if you like surf clam.
(I personally can take it or leave it.)

We went back to Osaka less than two weeks later and once again ordered the Dancing Roll and the Uni with Quail Egg, as well as the B.M.W. Roll .  The BMW Roll was really good; it had spicy tuna and avocado wrapped with rice and then deep fried.  It was topped with unagi sauce, spicy mayo and tobiko.  Very good!

Service: Our first visit was late on a Friday night, and while it was busy, we had missed the dinner rush and were able to get a nice booth.  Our server greeted us promptly and was very attentive throughout the evening.  Our drinks were brought and refilled when needed and the wait for the sushi to be prepared was minimal for all the items we ordered.
Overall Impression: We enjoyed the Osaka Seafood Steakhouse in Roseville.  It had a cool atmosphere and pretty good sushi.  The hibachi is reasonably priced in comparison to other Japanese steakhouses in the Twin Cities, I would like to give it a try with a group in the future.
Osaka Seafood Steakhouse on Urbanspoon