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

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

Jul 262012
 

Cuisine: Caribbean, Fish & Seafood
Restaurant Features: Bar, Flatscreen TVs
Location: Bloomington, MN (Mall of America)
Address: 60 East Broadway, Bloomington, MN 55425
Hours:  Mon-Sat 11am-10pm  Sun 11am-8pm
Links: Kokomo’s Island Cafe Website * Kokomo’s on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Located on the 3rd floor of the Mall of America (East Broadway), Kokomo’s Island Cafe is brightly decorated with an over-the-top tropical theme.  The thatched-roof and large wooden Tiki Gods are meant to transport you to a carefree, sunny place.  If nothing else, Kokomo’s is a cheerful place to take respite from a long day of shopping.

The thatched-roof decor carries into the Tiki Bar area, where there are also giant decorative flowers and colorful stringed lights hanging about.  There are about a dozen colorful chairs along the bar and a handful of bistro tables in the area.


Menu: Small Plates and Starters include French Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, Beachcomber Nachos, Cayman Salmon Sliders, Thai Chicken Flatbread, Caribbean Wings, Sweet Chili Wings, Buffalo Wings, Jamaican Jerk Wings, Pacific Pupu Platter, Polynesian Flatbread, Jerk Chicken Flatbread, Kahuna Egg Rolls, Koko Crab Cakes, Island Quesadillas, and Tiki Koko Shrimp.

Salads at Kokomo’s include Jerked Chicken Salad, Dinner Salad, Big Island Salad, and Kokonut Chicken Salad.  Soups offered Bob Marley Soup of the Day, and Caribbean Gumbo.

Kokomo’s also offers sandwiches such as the Jerked Chicken Salad Sandwich, Tropical Pork Tenderloin Sandwich, Jamaican Bleu Burger, Jamaican Pork Tenderloin Sandwich, The Cuban, Captain Jack’s Chicken Sandwich, Hawaiian Chicken, Buffalo Chicken, Bahama Burger, Cali Burger, Cancun Carnitas (served with tortillas), Key West Fish N Chips, and Chicken Fingers.

Side dishes offered include Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, Yellow Rice, Island Slaw, Corn Succotash, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Black Beans, Seasoned Green Beans and Yams.

Entrees at Kokomo’s include 8oz Filet Mignon, Ribs, Beach Kabobs, Caribbean Pork Chop, Big Luau Feast, Key West Lime Chicken,  and Calypso Chicken Stir Fry.

Seafood Entrees include Shrimp Enchiladas, Grilled Salmon, Tilapia, Baha Fish Tacos, Seafood Paella, and Tiki Koko Shrimp.

Kokomo’s also has a handful of Pasta dishes such as Cajun Chicken Fettuccine, Palm Island Noodles (in coconut curry), Jerk Chicken Pasta and Fettuccine Alfredo.

Desserts offered are the Pina Colada Cake, Bananas Foster Cheesecake, Sweet Island Shooters, Key Lime Pie, and Molten Chocolate Cake.
What we ordered: We started with a round of drinks.  While my usual drink of choice is a margarita, on this occasion I opted to try the peach instead of the traditional lime.  I can’t say much for the mix that was used; it was way too sweet and artificial tasting for my liking.  The drink was nice and strong, though!

One of my companions ordered the Dos Equis, which was served in a pint-sized bottle.  To see how big it was, here it is next to my margarita.

I ordered the Fish Tacos with Sweet Potato Fries for my entree. The order came with two warm flour tortillas, each filled with crispy fried tilapia, napa cabbage, pico de gallo and pickled pineapple relish.  On top it was drizzled with creamy garlic lemon dressing and chopped cilantro.  These fish tacos were pretty good; the pineapple relish gave it a sweetness that was a nice compliment to the fish and there were several layers of texture that I enjoyed.  The sweet potato fries that came with were really good! They were crispy on the outside and served with  seasoned mayo.

One of my companions ordered the Key West Lime Chicken, which came with two citrus marinated chicken breasts  grilled with special seasonings, & topped with a citrus-onion sauce.  The citrus-onion sauce is what really made this dish so special and gave it so much flavor.  The chicken was served with a large portion of sauteed green beans and red peppers.

Another companion ordered the Captain Jack’s Chicken Sandwich, a grilled chicken breast served on a fresh, toasted brioche bun.  The chicken was brushed with a raspberry inferno sauce and then topped with grilled pineapple & pepper jack cheese. It was served with french fries and a side of avocado ranch.

Service: We were able to get a table without a problem; The Mall didn’t seem to be terribly busy on this particular Friday night and neither was Kokomo’s.  Our server promptly greeted us and was friendly and patient as we took our time with ordering, etc.  Very helpful too, as was the bartender.  We wanted to special-order a sugar-free cocktail and the bartender was more than willing to try to accommodate our needs.
Overall Impression: While Kokomo’s might not be my number one choice for restaurants at the Mall of America, the food was decent and the service was great.  Fun place if you like the gimmick ;)
Kokomo's Island Cafe on Urbanspoon

Jul 142012
 

Disclosure: I was invited out to The Capital Grille on this visit for the purpose of The Generous Pour wine event.  Our meals and wine were provided for us.

Cuisine: Fish & Seafood, Steaks
Restaurant Features: Bar, Banquet, Valet Parking
Location: Downtown Minneapolis, MN
Address: 801 Hennepin Ave Minneapolis, MN 55402 612-692-9000
Hours: M-F 11am-2:30pm  M-Th 5-10pm  Fri-Sat 5-11pm  Sun 5-9pm
Links: The Capital Grille’s Website * The Capital Grille on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: The Minneapolis location of The Capital Grille is located down town in the Hennepin Theater District, with the main entrance on Hennepin Ave and an additional entrance from inside La Salle Plaza.  The main dining room is big with several booths arranged around the room to maximize both space and privacy There are also a couple of smaller private dining rooms.

There is a bar area just inside the entrance from Hennepin.

Menu: Appetizers at The Capital Grille include Wagyu Beef Carpaccio, Cold Shellfish Platter, Lobster and Crab Cakes, Pan Fried Calamari with Hot Cherry Peppers, Smoked Salmon, Shrimp Cocktail, Fresh Oysters on the Half Shell, and Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella with Vine Ripe Tomatoes.

Soups offered are the Clam Chowder, Lobster Bisque, and French Onion.

Salads offered include Fresh Mozzarella with Tomato and Basil, Chopped Salad, The Wedge, Caesar, Spinach with Warm Bacon dressing, and Field Greens with Tomatoes.

Chef’s Selections include Seared Tenderloin with Butter Poached Lobster, Cedar Planked Salmon with Tomato Fennel Relish, Bone-In Kona Crusted Sirloin with Caramelized Shallot Butter, Porcini Rubbed Delmonico with 12-Year Aged Balsamic, Sliced Filet Mignon with Cippolini Onions and Wild Mushrooms.

Other Entrees at The Capital Grille include Filet Oscar, Dry Aged Sirloin, Dry Aged Porterhouse, Dry Aged Steak Au Poivre with a Courvoisier Cream Sauce, Filet Mignon, Delmonico Steak, Double Cut Lamb Rib Chops, and Roasted Chicken.

Seafood items include Broiled Fresh Lobster, Grilled Swordfish with Lemon Shallot Relish, Seared Citrus Glazed Salmon, Lobster and Crab Stuffed Shrimp, and Sushi-Grade Sesame Seared Tuna with Gingered Rice.

Side Items include Vidalia Onion Rings, Parmesan Truffle Fries, Lobster Mac ‘N’ Cheese, Au Gratin Potatoes, Fresh Asparagus with Hollandaise, Fresh Creamed Spinach, Roasted Seasonal Mushrooms, Sam’s Mashed Potatoes, Sauteed Spinach, and Fresh Green Beans with Roasted Tomatoes and Fennel.

Desserts include Trio of Handmade Ice Creams, Cheesecake with Fresh Seasonal Berries, Fresh Berries in Vanilla Ice Cream, Fresh Strawberries Capital Grille, Coconut Cream Pie, Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake, Chocolate Hazelnut Cake, and Classic Creme Brulee.
What we ordered: We started with a basket of different breads and enjoyed the first of many glasses of wine as part of The Generous Pour, the Lunetta Rose, a sparkling rose wine from Italy.

We started with an order of Raw Oysters, served in the half shell and on ice.  They were served with cocktail sauce and lemon and horseradish at my request.  Fresh and delicious. These went so well with the Gary Farrell 2009 Chardonnay that is part of The Generous Pour.  I love oysters and I thought these were really good

We also tried an order of the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio.  The beef was sliced ever so thin, raw with just the very edges seared.  It was topped with arulgula and lemon vinaigrette with shaved parmigiano.  This was wonderful! The beef was so tender and delicious, it melted in my mouth.  This was excellent, I especially enjoyed it paired with Villa Mt. Eden, Grand Reserve 2007 ~ Pinot Noir, Russian River

For my entree I was debating between the Kona Crusted Sirloin and the Delmonico Ribeye. Our server made my decision very easy for me by suggesting I get the Delmonico with the Kona rub. Sold! This steak was so wonderful that it has moved its way to the very top of my Best Ribeye Steak list.  I would say this whether or not my meal was free.  The Delmonico was served bone-in and was perfectly seasoned.  The shallot butter really kicked up the flavor a notch as well.  I ordered it a medium minus and it was cooked perfectly for me.  The cut was of superior quality, the fat marbled to really give it a rich meaty flavor.  The quality of  steaks at The Capital Grille is consistently among the best out there.  We enjoyed our steaks with Conn Creek Cabernet and Ferrari-Carano.

My companion ordered the Porcini Rubbed Delmonico, which has become our new pick for best ribeye in the Twin Cities.  This bone-in steak was prepared medium rare, just as requested, with a beautiful char on some of the edges.  It was juicy and tender as can be, a superior cut  aged to give it a more robust, deep flavor.  This steak had just a hint of sweetness form the balsalmic vinegar that it is cooked with.  Wonderful flavor, a great departure from traditional steak seasonings or sauces.

We shared a half order of sauteed mushrooms to go with our steaks.  Delicious!

I absolutely had to order the Lobster Mac N Cheese. If you have never had this before, you absolutely MUST try this at The Capital Grille! It is rich and cheesy, made with a bland of marscapone, havarti and Grana Padano cream sauce. It had several big pieces of lobster throughout and was baked with white cheddar and panko bread crumbs on top.  The panko was a nice crunchy contrast to all the creaminess. SO GOOD!

We also got a half-order of Asparagus to share, grilled perfectly.

We also ordered one mini coconut cream pie to bring home.  This was absolutely delightful, I could eat it for dessert once a week if I truly wanted to indulge, it was one of the best coconut cream pies I have tried.  The base of this pie was similar to a sugar cookie and absolutely wonderful as each bite melted in my mouth. It was then topped with a layer of coconut pastry cream, whipped cream, and then shredded toasted coconut.  The portion was about the size of two pieces of standard pie so plan to share it ;)

Service: We had a reservation and The Capital Grille was expecting us as their guests for dinner and to experience The Generous Pour.  That being said, we had great service.  Our server was great about explaining each wine as he poured them for us.  Complimentary valet parking
Overall Impression:  Dinner at The Capital Grille is always a treat and it is even better when you can enjoy it with a glass of good wine… or several, as is the case with the famous summer wine event, The Generous Pour.  The Delmonico Ribeye steak and the Lobster Mac N Cheese are two of my favorite food items that I have eaten this year, if not ever.  That says a lot!

The Capital Grille on Urbanspoon

Jul 072012
 

Cuisine: American, Fish & Seafood, Steaks, Chops
Restaurant Features: Bar, Banquet Room, Hotel, On-Site Parking
Location: White Bear Lake, MN
Address: 4940 Hwy 61 N White Bear Lake, MN • 651.653.6718
Hours:  Mon- Thurs 11am-1am *Fri-Sat 11-2am * Sun 9am- 12am  * Kitchen open until 12am
Links: Rudy’s Redeye Website * Rudy’s on FacebookGoogle Map
Atmosphere:  Located in the White Bear Country Inn & Suites just a few blocks from Downtown White Bear Lake, Rudy’s Red Eye Grill is a beautiful, elegant yet casual restaurant.  The walls are painted a rich red, with a handful of abstract paintings adorning the walls  and flower arrangements placed strategically.  The seating is a mix of tables and deep, dark booths along the outer walls.  The Bar Area is also a very popular spot, with several bistro tables as well as seating along the long, beautiful wooden bar.

Menu: Appetizers include Spinach Artichoke Dip, Jumbo Tabasco Onion Rings with Seasoned Sour Cream, Buffalo Wings with or without the Bone, Oysters Rockefeller, Oysters on the Half Shell, Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, Crab Stuffed Mushrooms, New Orleans Shrimp, Brueschetta, Calamari, Chicken Kabobs, Walleye Cakes, Bull Bites, Walleye Fingers, Coconut Shrimp, and Tuna Taki.

Soups and Salads offered at Rudy’s include French Onion Gratin, Homemade Chicken Noodle, Soup Du Jour, Chili, House Salad, Iceberg Wedge with Bacon and Blue Cheese, Garbage Salad, Caesar Salad, BLT Cheddar, Oriental Chicken, Bleu Bistro, Rudy’s Chopped Salad, Seared Black & Bleu Tuna, Salmon Goat Cheese with Raspberry Vinaigrette, Calamari Caesar, and Redeye Sirloin with Creamy Horseradish Dressing.

Sandwiches come with french fries, fruit, coleslaw, pasta salad, or cottage cheese. Rudy Burger or Chicken Sandwich with BBQ Sauce, Cheddar, and Hickory Smoked Bacon, Grilled Portabella, Bacon Bleu Burger, Chicken Caesar Wrap, and Beer Battered Walleye Sandwich.

Pasta dishes include Fettuccini Alfredo (chicken or shrimp), Spaghetti and Meatballs, Seafood Scampi with Shrimp and Scallops, Sun-Dried Tortellini Pesto with Shrimp, Cajun Chicken Fettuccini, Lobster Ravioli, Seafood Fra Diablo, Baked Five Cheese Penne

Rudy’s Entrees are served with choice of potato.  Options include Angus Medallions, Prime Rib (limited availability), Ribeye: 20 oz. Served Bone-In, Redeye Marinated Sirloin, New York Strip: 16 oz. Served Bone-in, Cajun Combo: Two-4 oz. Blackened Medallions and 3 New Orleans Style Sauteed Shrimp, 8oz Filet Mignon, Blackened Pork Tenderloin topped with Bernaise, BBQ Pork Baby Back Ribs, Drunk n’ Dirty Pork Chop, Tomato Basil Grouper on Mashed Potatoes, Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breast with Marinara, Rudy’s Pan Fried Walleye, Coconut Shrimp, Fish n’ Chips, Pistachio Encrusted Alaskan Halibut, Bruschetta Salmon, Seared Scallops, Blue Ribbon Meatloaf, Blackened Ahi Tuna, Steak & Lobster, and Cold Water Lobster Tails.

Price guide: Appetizers $7-12 Salads $5-13 Sandwiches $9-12 Entrees $15-34
Happy Hour:

  • Everyday from 3 to 6 PM and 9 to 11 PM
  • $4.25 Appetizers
  • $2 off Tap Beer
  • $4 House Wine

Weekly Specials:

  • Sunday Breakfast Menu 10am-1pm
  • Pancakes, Breakfast Quesadilla, Pecan Encrusted French Toast, Eggs Benedict, Seafood Benedict, Breakfast Burrito, Steak & Eggs, Ham and Cheese Croissant, and Rudy’s Skillet (Diced ham, red pepper, green pepper, onion, potatoes, cheddar cheese, and scrambled eggs).  Omelets include Ham & Cheese Omelet, Veggie Omelet and Rudy’s Omelet.
  • Monday ~ 1/2 priced Bottles of Wine
  • Tuesday ~ $5 Ruditinis all day
  • Wednesday ~ $16 Walleye Entree

What we ordered: Several of my companions and I  started with Rudy’s famous house drink, The Ruditini. This cocktail comes in a  shaker filled with Stoli Razberi, pineapple juice, fresh lime juice, and a splash of cranberry juice. Comes with a shot of champagne to pour on top.

We were brought a big basket of Warm french rolls, served with a side of honey butter.  Delicious!

A couple of my companions started with an order of the Artichoke Spinach Dip ($9).  Served with toast and tortilla chips.  I did not try this but I have had it before and it is very good.

Another companion ordered the Bruschetta ($9).  The order came with six pieces of toast topped with fresh tomato, basil, olive oil, and melted parmigiano.  The order was drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

For my entree I ordered the Beer-Battered Walleye Sandwich ($12).  This sandwich came with a long, thick walleye fillet, heavily battered and deep fried with a side of steak fries.  Although the breading seemed a little on the thick side, the fish was quality walleye.

One of my companions ordered the Cajun Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo ($18), a bowl full of fettuccine alfredo topped with slices of cajun-spiced chicken breast.  This looked delicious, and as much as I think I might have liked it, it was very peppery and nearly too spicy for my companion to eat.

One companion ordered the Caesar Salad ($9), served with several whole leaves of romaine topped with homemade Caesar dressing, toasted croutons and freshly grated parmigiano.

One of my companions ordered the Mozzarella Chicken ($18), a large chicken breast stuffed with mozzarella cheese, then topped with marinara and more mozzarella cheese.  It was served with angelhair pasta with red sauce, and green beans.

Another companion ordered the Oriental Chicken Salad ($10).  This photo you see is actually the second salad served, as the first was below standard.  The salad which was remade looked far more appetizing and was topped with several slices of grilled chicken, served cold.  It was topped with a handful of wonton strips and served with a side of the Oriental dressing.

Another companion ordered the Pistachio Encrusted Halibut ($17).  This dish was served with green beans and choice of potato (mashed). Looked great!

Service: On this particular visit, our party of eight had reservations for 6pm on a busy Saturday evening.  The table was waiting for us when we got there and we were quickly seated.  We took our time, first ordering appetizers and cocktails, then later our entrees.  It was a very busy night and there were several other large parties at Rudy’s that night and it took an exceptionally long time (about an hour) for our entrees to be brought out to our table.  Despite the long wait, our server was apologetic and otherwise very accommodating.
Overall Impression: I have been to Rudy’s many times since they first opened in 2003 and they consistently deliver excellent food.  The food can often take longer than you would think necessary, so plan accordingly.
Rudy's Redeye Grill on Urbanspoon

Jul 072012
 

Cuisine: American, Bar & Grill
Restaurant Features: Bar, Happy Hour, Late-Night Dining, Live Music, Night Club
Locations: Bloomington, Plymouth, St Cloud,  and Downtown Minneapolis, MN
Addresses & Maps:
Bloomington ~ 2801 Southtown Drive Bloomington, MN 55431 (952) 955-8137
Downtown Minneapolis ~ 126 N 5th Street Minneapolis, MN 55403 (612)224-9950
Plymouth ~ 4120 Berkshire Ln N Plymouth, MN 55446 (763) 559-0257
St Cloud ~ 506 W Saint Germain St St Cloud, MN 56301 (320) 281-5205
Hours: Daily 10am-2am
Links: Cowboy Jack’s Website * Cowboy Jack’s on Facebook

Atmosphere: The Cowboy Jack’s in St Cloud is located in the downtown area across from the Rivers Edge Convention Center, at 5th Ave and W Saint Germain.  It is a large, open space that has an old west saloon feel to it.  There are a handful of wooden bistro tables places throughout the room as well as seating along the giant bar at the front of the room.

The Dining area is tucked back along the far side of the space, a mix of high-backed pine wooden booths and square tables.

Menu: Appetizers at Cowboy Jack’s include Blackened Fish Tacos, Walleye Fingers, Cowboy Jack’s Wings, Queso Deadwood Dip, Country Nachos, Calamari, po-Tater Skins, Sirloin Tips, Southwest Quesadilla, Jalapeno Cheese Curds, and Cornbread Skillet.  Mini Menu items include Meatloaf Sliders, Sloppy Jack Sliders, Mini Tator Tot Hot Dish, Mini Pulled Pork, Braised BBQ Chicken Sliders, Mini Braised Beef, and Mini Open Faced Chicken.

Soups include Country Cowboy Beef Stew and Soup of the Day.  Salads offered are House, House Caesar, Steak Salad, Cowboy’s Chop Salad,  Wedge, Santa Fe Chicken Salad, and Caesar.

Sandwiches at Cowboy Jack’s come with kettle chips or you can upgrade to fries or tator tots for $1.  Braised BBQ Chicken, Sloppy Cowboy Jack, Pulled Pork Sandwich, BBQ Braised Beef Sandwich, Open-Faced Chicken, Kobe Beef Philly, Country Reuben, Build Your Own Cowboy Burger/Bison Burger/Chicken Sandwich, Chicken Caesar Wrap, Buffalo Chicken Wrap, and Taco Wrap.

Saloon Specialties include Beef Ribs, Walleye, Flat Iron Steak, Braised Beef, Braised Chicken, Tator Tot Hit Dish, Ribeye, Slim’s Pot Pie, Pan-Fried Sunnies, Slow-Cooked Smoked Pork Skillet, and Country Meatloaf.

Sidekick Items include Waffle Fries, Onion Strings, Basket of Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, Baked Potato, Vegetable, Wild Rice Pilaf, and Mashed Potato.

Cowboy Jack’s Pizzas include Four Meat, BBQ Chicken, Garbage, Buffalo Chicken, Veggie, and Make Your Own.

Desserts include Turtle Cake, Red Velvet Cake, Jack’s Sundae, Mini Donuts, and Seasonal Cobbler.
Price guide: Appetizers $7-12 Sandwiches $5-12 Pizza $9+ Entrees $13-22

Happy Hour:

  • Daily 3-6pm 10pm-12am
  • $2 Select Drinks, Select Beers
  • Half Priced Select Appetizers

Weekly Specials:

  • Sunday ~ 10am-1pm Bottomless Bloody Marys and Screwdrivers $10; Brunch Buffet
  • Monday ~ All Day $2 Sloppy Joes
  • Tuesday ~ Wing Night 5-10pm Bucket of 24 Wings for $5
  • Wednesday ~ 5-10pm $2 Burgers

What we ordered: My party and I were making a Happy Hour stop at Cowboy Jack’s between a wedding and a reception on a very hot day.  I started with a $2 Nordeast tap.

My companions and I tried a handful of appetizers, half-priced during Happy Hour, including the Calamari.  The order came with a bowl full of deep-fried calamari rings, an impressive amount of food for $4.50.  It was served with a chipotle mayo.

We tried the Southwest Quesadilla with Chicken.  The order was served with four large wedges of flour tortilla stuffed full of meaty pieces of chicken breast, tomatoes, cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese.  It was served with mild salsa and sour cream. Only $5 during Happy Hour

We also tried the Jalapeno Cheese Curds, breaded with a cornmeal mixture and a subtle kick of jalapeno. Not very spicy but it comes with ranch in case you want to cool it down a tad.  Another great Happy Hour buy at just $4.

A few of my companions ordered the Potato Skins, five wedges of potato stuffed with jalapenos and bacon and then topped with cheddar and green onion.  Served with salsa and sour cream.  I didn’t try tis but it looked good!

Some of my companions also ordered the Queso Deadwood Dip, a homemade cheese dip served with multi-colored corn tortilla chips.

Service: Our visit was mid-afternoon on a hot Saturday in June.  We had a large party of 10-12, but the staff at Cowboy Jack’s was able to accommodate us within minutes of our arrival.  We ordered drinks and they were delivered about five minutes later.  Our server was friendly and explained that it was Happy Hour and that several appetizers were half-priced, and that is what we ended up ordering.  The appetizers also took the expected amount of time to come out.
Overall Impression:  Cowboy Jack’s has a very fun atmosphere and is a good place to catch a meal, have a cold drink or see a live music performance.  I am bummed this place wasn’t around 15+ years ago when I was living in St Cloud to attend SCSU, my friends and I would have been regulars ;)  I plan to try more of the menu on a visit to one of the Twin Cities locations in the near future.
Cowboy Jacks on Urbanspoon

Jun 102012
 

Cuisine: American, Barbeque, Pizza
Restaurant Features: Banquet Room, Bar, On-Site Parking
Location: Red Wing, MN
Address: 4243 Hwy 61  Red Wing, MN 55066  651-388-9866
Hours: Daily 11am
Links: Smokin’ Oak Website * Google Map

Atmosphere: Located on Hwy 61 just west of Downtown Redwing, The Smokin’ Oak is a stand-alone restaurant specializing in Rotisserie and Barbequed meats.  Greeting you as soon as you walk in the door is the oak-burning fire with a special rotisserie aparatus.

The restaurant is divided into a dining room on one side and a bar on the other.  The dining room is nothing fancy, just a handful of tables spread out and a row of booths along a couple of the walls.  It felt more like a diner than a barbeque joint and wasn’t particularly busy on a beautiful Monday evening (Memorial Day).

The bar area is small but there are a handful of booths that run along the outer walls.  There are a couple of nice flat screen TVs hanging above the bar and several beers on tap.

Menu: Appetizers at The Smokin’ Oak include Fully Loaded Potato Skins, Bull Bites, Smokin’ Oak BBQ Nachos, Rotisserie Chicken Quesadilla, Wood-Fired Wings (served with Buffalo, Teriyaki or BBQ), Boneless Wings, Artichoke Dip, Artichoke Bites, Onion Rings, and  Cheese Curds.

Salads offered include House Salad, Rotisserie Chicken, Classic Caesar with Chicken, Grilled Steak, Mandarin Chicken, Oriental Chicken, and Orange Sesame Salad.  There is also a Soup du Jour and a Soup, Salad and Bread combo.

Wood Grilled Burgers include Classic, Smokehouse BBQ with Bacon, Mushroom and Swiss, Juicy Lucy, Philly Burger, The Big Bleu, California Burger, and The Big Oak (topped with brisket and cheddar).

Sandwiches are served with french fries or sweet potato fries and beans or coleslaw.  You can upgrade to onion rings for $1.50 extra.  Options include Pulled Pork, Rotisserie Chicken, Beef Brisket, Memphis-Stule Pulled Pork, Chicken & Bacon Ranch, Spicy Rotisserie Chicken, Pesto Chicken, The Burnside Steak Sandwich, The Re-Done Reuben, Southwest Brisket Sandwich, and Philly Steak Sandwich.

Rotisserie Dinners offered at The Smokin’ Oak include Rotisserie Chicken Dinner, BBQ Chicken Dinner, Southern-Style Brisket Dinner, Pork Tenderloin, House Ribs, and Chicken and Rib Combo.

Smokin’ Oak also has steaks including Prime Rib (10 or 16oz), Sirloin (8 or 16oz), and Filet Mignon (6 oz).  Make it a combo by adding shrimp, crab legs or 4-bone rib.

Dinner Entrees include Walleye, Jumbo Shrimp, Salmon, King Crab, Chicken N Biscuits, Beef Stroganoff, Jumbo Shrimp Scampi, Sizzling Fajitas, Carne Asada, and Chicken or Shrimp Alfredo.

Stone-Fired Pizzas include The Viking, Chicken and Ranch, House of Bleu, Barbeque, Maui Wowie, Club Med, The Classic, Veggie Classic, Chicken Alfredo and Classic Cheese.
Price guide: Appetizers $7-10  Burgers/Sandwiches $8-13 Rotisserie Meats $13-26  Entrees $11-19

Happy Hour:

  •  3:00 to 6:00 Monday thru Friday
  • $1 off rail drinks and domestic bottles
  • $5 Pint and Jumbo wood fired wings
  • $3.75 Cuervo margaritas on the rocks
  • $2.00 off select appetizers.

Weekly Specials:

Monday ~ Mexican Night
What we ordered: We skipped right past the appetizers and ordered our entrees.  I ordered the Pesto Chicken Sandwich ($10), which was very good. The rotisserie chicken was tossed with fresh pesto and balsamic vinegar, then topped with feta cheese, thinly sliced red onion, and roasted red peppers. It was served on a hoagie roll that was too soft.  I loved it and will try to recreate it at home.  A nice and somewhat light summer meal.  The sandwich comes with chips but I upgraded to onion rings for $2.

My companion ordered the Chicken and Ribs Combo ($19) which came with half a rotisserie chicken, four bones of very meaty pork ribs, baked beans and coleslaw.  The smoke from the oak really gave it great flavor but they were also well seasoned.

We both wanted to try the Beef Brisket ($14), so we ordered that as well to take with us. The order came with four thick slices of beef brisket, a side of fries, coleslaw,  baked beans and garlic toast.  The brisket had an average amount of fat on it,which made it juicy and gave it nice flavor.  The beans and the coleslaw were ordinary but good, the french fries were the only thing that wasn’t the greatest and that was simply because they were under cooked and not at all crispy.  An extra minute or two in the fryer could have alleviated that issue, otherwise everything was very good.

Service: We had very good service at The Smokin’ Oak.  We were promptly greeted and shown to our table on a not-so-busy Memorial Day.  Our server greeted us within minutes, took our drink orders, and told us that Monday is Mexican night.  She then presented us with a specialty menu.  After she took our order, it took about 15 minutes for the food to arrive.  She was great about keeping our drinks filled and promptly brought us our check when we had finished eating.
Overall Impression: The Smokin’ Oak delivers delicious rotisserie meats smoked over an open fire as well as a selection of other tasty menu items.  The service is good and the restaurant is conveniently located on Hwy 61 with its own parking lot.  Definitely try it out next time you’re in Red Wing!

May 282012
 

Cuisine: Fusion
Restaurant Features: Bar
Location: Minneapolis, MN (warehouse district)
Address:428 Washington Ave N. Minneapolis, MN 55401 (612) 375-1971
Hours:

  • Lunch: (Monday – Friday) 11:30am – 2:00pm
  • Dinner:  (Monday – Thursday) 5:00pm – 9:00pm (Friday – Saturday) 5:00pm – 10:00pm
  • Closed on: Sunday and  Major Holidays

Links: Sapor Website * Sapor on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Sapor is located on Washington Ave at 5th Ave N, in the Warehouse District of Downtown Minneapolis.  The restaurant is divided into a dining room on one side and the bar on the other.  There are a handful of rectangular tables that can easily be combined for large parties.  In the evening the lighting is very dim but it seems like it would be rather colorful in the daytime.

The bar area also has a handful of tables as well as seating around the bar.  It is cozy and casual with richly painted walls and bistro prints.

Menu: The Menu at Sapor changes frequently.

Items offered at lunch include Burger ( Sourdough Bun with Worcestershire, Onion Ring and Pickles – Choice of French Fries or Salad ), Falafels (with Feta, Greens, Tomato, Ginger-Yogurt Dressing and French Fries Salad or Sandwich),  Torta Milanesa (Breaded Pork on Ciabatta with Chipotle Mayonnaise, Avocado, Tomato, Lettuce, Piparra Peppers and French Fries), and Bacon Burger ( Brioche Bun with Roasted Garlic-Tomato Aioli, Roasted Sweet Peppers and French Fries).

Salads currently offered at Sapor include Romaine Salad (with Creamy Garlic Dressing, Parmesan and Croutons), Strawberry-Avocado Salad (on Artisan Greens with Honey-Goat Cheese Dressing ), and a Soup du Jour.

Small Plates include Panucho (Black Bean-Stuffed Handmade Corn Tortilla with Pepita-Poblano Salsa and Guacamole), Beetza (Roasted Beet Pizza with Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese, Spinach and Honey Citronette), and Southern Style Macaroni and Cheese (with Sharp Cheddar and Bacon).

Full Plates include Drunken Beef (Hanger Steak with Chinese Black Bean-Ginger Vinaigrette, Canton Noodle Cake, Snow Peas and Bean Sprouts), Thai Grilled Shrimp (with Mint, Mango, Grapefruit, Jicama and Peanut Sauce), Asparagus-Mascarpone Ravioli (in Lemon-Parmesan Broth with Preserved Mushrooms), and Massaman Lamb Curry (with Yukon Potatoes, Haricot Verts and Jasmine Rice).

Desserts also change regularly but may include Salty Caramel Pannacotta (with Shortbread Cookie), Churros (with Mexican Hot Chocolate), Coconut Cream Pie (with Macadamia Nut Crust, Bruleed Bananas and Caramel Sauce), Almond Cake (with Grapefruit Curd and Berries)

Price guide: Small Plates $7-13 Full Plates $14-21 Desserts $7

Happy Hour:

  • Happy Hour 5pm-7pm   Monday-Saturday
  • $4 and $5 Bites and Bar Features with special pricing

What we ordered: My companions and I started with the complimentary dinner rolls with herbed butter.  Pretty standard but welcome when you’re hungry!

A few of us tried the Southern-Style Macaroni and Cheese ($9) small plate.   This dish contained penne pasta coated with a sauce made with sharp cheddar which had several bits of smoked bacon mixed in and melted cheese on top.  The flavor of this mac n cheese was very good, but the noodles were a little on the dry side so it wasn’t as smooth as I usually like it.  I’d still eat it again, however.

One of my companions ordered the Sweet Potato Puree  soup, which looked good but I did not try.

Several of my companions and I ordered one of the evening specials, the Panko-Crusted Pork Tenderloin ($18) served over angel hair tossed with pesto.  The pork tenderloin was tender while the crispy golden brown panko breading was perfectly crispy.  The pesto was light but flavorful and the angel hair was the right choice to accompany the pork without overdoing it.  The corn that was sprinkled on top gave it a summer sweetness that complimented the savory of the pesto.  Very good, several of us ordered this.

Another companion or two ordered the Marscapone Ravioli ($17) in Lemon-Parmesan Broth with Preserved Mushrooms.  I was lucky enough to try one of these raviolis and it was incredibly delicious! There were six round pockets filled with creamy marscapone that had the faintest hint of sweetness.  The broth was light and savory, and very flavorful.  The asparagus and mushrooms brought a lot of texture to this dish.  Wonderful!

Some of my companions ordered the Thai Shrimp ($19) with Mint, Mango, Grapefruit, Jicama and Peanut Sauce.  This was a very light, summery dish with the fresh fruits, while the peanuts added an interesting element to the texture.  The shrimp were perfectly sauteed and the entire dish was tossed in a light creamy sauce.

Service: Our party of 13-14 had an advance reservation for 8pm on a Saturday evening.  The restaurant was busy with a couple of other large parties.  Our server did a nice job keeping up with our large party while leaving us to socialize and enjoy the evening.
Overall Impression: I had heard good things about Sapor Cafe and Bar and it lived up to them all.  The menu is small but contains a variety of cuisine that changes frequently; you might not know what dish you can expect from visit to visit but you know it will be delicious.
Sapor Cafe and Bar on Urbanspoon