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!

Apr 222012

Cuisine: Barbeque, Ice Cream
Restaurant Features: On-Site Parking, Patio, Waterfront, Boat Delivery
Location: White Bear Lake, MN
Address: 4441 Lake Avenue South, White Bear Lake, MN 55110   651-493-6763
Hours: Closed Monday and Tuesday  * Wed-Sat  11am-9pm * Sundays 11am-5pm
Links: CG Hooks Barbeque Website * CG Hooks on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: CG Hook is located across the street from Tally’s Dockside on White Bear Lake, in a stand-alone building.  There are a couple of entrances, the front leads you from the parking lot to the ice cream counter, where there are colorful T-Shirts and a giant wooden sculpture of a pig.

The main dining area has a handful of wooden tables and chairs, as well as a sit-up bar fashioned from an old surfboard that looks out the windows.  There is a beach-like feel to the place and overall I thought it was really cute.

Menu: Appetizers include BBQ Slider, Frito Burrito Pie, Barbeque Rib Smackers, and Southern Style Barbeque Pizza.

Salads include House Salad and Hook’s Salad.  Soups offered include Smoked Chicken and Wild Rice and Soup of the Day.

CG Hooks offers a variety of sandwiches including Smoked Ham, Smoked Turkey, Smoked Club, Reuben Panini, Rachel Panini, Brisket Reuben, Raspberry Ham and Brie Panini, BLT Panini, Hot Dog, Chicago Style Dog, Miss Piggy’s Nightmare (hot dog topped with pulled pork and bacon), Grilled Cheese, and Peanut Butter and Jelly.

Barbeques Meats are where its at! Pulled Pork, Pulled Pork topped with Bacon and Swiss, Beef Brisket, Pork Ribs, and Pit Smoked Chicken.

CG Hooks also offers 16 flavors of Chocolate Shoppe Old Fashioned Ice Cream.
Price guide: Appetizers $3-14  Sandwiches $3-8 Barbeque $8-23  Ice Cream $3-5
What we ordered: CG Hooks has a handful of beers of tap, just the right beverage to cool down the spicy barbeque

For my entree I had the Beef Brisket, a moist, tender and slightly marbled beef that had fantastic flavor.  There are two types of homemade barbeque, I tried the spicier of the two.  It had great kick to it and the flavor of peppers but when I asked which peppers they were, I was told it was a secret.  Bummer that this barbeque sauce is not yet available to buy.  It was served with three sides: Moist cornbread in the shape of a fish, baked beans and Memphis style coleslaw.  The beans were homemade with a couplf of types of beans and a sweet, savory sauce with the distinct flavors of garlic and brown sugar.  Yum! The coleslaw was Memphis style, which is more vinegary and less creamy than traditional coleslaw.

One of my companions had the Full Rack of Ribs, a huge pile of very meaty, moist ribs that were smoked until the meat was practically falling off the bones.  Served with corn bread, beans and coleslaw.

Another companion had the Pulled Pork Sandwich, a big pile of tender moist pork on a fresh bun. Looked great!

Another companion had the Smoked Turkey Sandwich.  The smoked turkey had good flavor but was slightly dry.  It was served on white bread with lettuce and tomato.  This wasn’t bad, just the least exciting of all the things we ordered.

Less than a week after my first visit I went back to CG Hooks and tried the Chicago Dog.  It was everything a perfect Chicago Dog should be: all-beef hot dog with a nice skin on it, topped with tomato, pickle spear, onions, relish and mustard served on a poppy seed bun.

I also tried a small dish of old fashioned ice cream. CG Hooks uses Chocolate Shoppe ice cream and has a selection of 16 flavors at all times.  I couldn’t resist the Fat Elvis, which was banana ice cream with chunks of peanut butter and dark chocolate.  Delish!

Service: The staff at CG Hooks are very friendly.  On both of our visits we were able to get a table and order as soon as we were ready.  The food is prepared reasonably fast and staff is very friendly.  On one of our visits we met the owner who came over to chat with us and see how we liked everything.  That is always a nice gesture in my book :)
Overall Impression: CG Hooks is a hidden gem on White Bear Lake, open year round.  It is the perfect place to order your favorite barbequed meats and old fashioned ice creams.  They also offer boat delivery to Tally’s Dockside.
C.G. Hooks on Urbanspoon

Nov 192011

Cuisine: Barbeque
Restaurant Features: Counter-Service
Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 625 University Ave St Paul, MN (651) 222-2516
Hours: Mon-Tues: Closed  Wed-Thurs: 11am – 6pm, Fri-Sat: 11am – 9pm Sun: 11am – 6pm
Links: Big Daddy’s Website * Big Daddy’s on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Located on University just past Dale St, Big Daddy’s BBQ is a very small restaurant, snuggled between other businesses.  There is a small sign hanging above the door but blink and you might miss it!  Inside Big Daddy’s the predominant feature is the front counter where you order and pick up your food.

There is room to seat only eight people, so a majority of the customers take their food To-Go.  There are four seats along the window and four seats adjacent to the counter area.

Menu: Sandwiches include Pulled Pork and Pulled Chicken, 4oz or 6oz.

Barbeque items include Pork Ribs, Rib Tips, Southern-Style Beef Ribs and Chicken.

Side items include Potato Salad, Baked Beans, Coleslaw and Collared Greens.

Desserts include Lemon Cake and Chocolate Cake.

Price guide: Sandwiches $5-8    Barbeque $8-21

What we ordered: I ordered the 6oz Pulled Pork Sandwich with Potato Salad and Baked Beans.  The pork had been pre-heated and pre-portioned into a little container and was plopped onto the bun when I ordered it.  The meat was tender, very finely pulled pork tossed with a tangy barbeque sauce.  I got a side of the spicy barbeque and added extra sauce to make it more moist.  I especially liked both the beans and the potato salad.

A couple of my companions each ordered the Half-Rack of Ribs.  Served dry, these ribs looks both meaty and moist.

Another companion ordered the Rib Tips with coleslaw and beans.  There was a big pile of rib tips which looked and smelled delicious.

Service: I was surprised at just how quickly our food was ready for take out.  All of the food had been prepared ahead of time so as soon as I ordered, my food was ready less than a minute later.
Overall Impression: Big Daddy’s offers quick and friendly service with tasty, quality BBQ.
Big Daddy's on Urbanspoon

May 262011

Cuisine: Barbeque, Southern-Style
Restaurant Features: Catering, Counter Service, Take-Out ONLY
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Address: 2814 E 38th Street Minneapolis, MN 55406
Hours: Tues– Fri 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.  Sat– Sun 1 p.m. – 10 p.m. Monday- CLOSED
Links: Ted Cook’s Website * Ted Cook’s on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Ted Cook’s is a small operation located two blocks west of Hiawatha on E. 38th St, a quick walk from the Lightrail.   The small size does not afford room for dining, therefore all orders are take-out only.  Half of the space serves as the ordering/waiting area and the other half is the kitchen/pit area.  I could smell the strong pit smoke the second I walked in the place and there is no doubt I smelled like it when I left.  The room is equipped with the bare minimum; the service counter and a bench.

Menu: The heart and soul of Ted Cook’s is the Barbeque.  Choose from Half or Full Slab of Pork Ribs, Rib Tips, Barbequed Beef, Barbequed Pork, Barbequed Half Chicken, and Beef Ribs. All meats can be ordered ala carte or in a dinner combos  with Jo Jo Potatoes, Coleslaw and Bread.

Side Dishes include Coleslaw, Baked Beans, Potato Salad, Jo Jo Potatoes, Collared Greens, Black Eyed Peas, Red Beans and Rice.

Desserts include Peach Cobbler and Sweet Potato Pie.

Price guide: Dinners $10-13 ($20 full rack), Side Dishes $2-4

What we ordered: We ordered a feast full of almost everything Ted Cook’s has to offer, starting with a couple of slabs of Pork Ribs in medium sauce.  These were meaty and tender, with a wonderful smoky  flavor embedded into the meat.  I am a big critic when it comes to barbeque sauces and tend to prefer mustard-based sauces over tomato-based, but I really liked this medium sauce from Ted Cook’s.  It was slightly spicy, tangy.

The Barbeque Beef is where it’s at at Ted Cook’s.  This beef was not like your typical beef brisket, instead it was very thinly sliced and extremely tender and moist from being tossed in the sauce.  The serving size was also extra big.  I loaded it up on the bread that came with it and had a big ol’ sandwich.  Excellent!

We also got the Rib Tips, which were tender and meaty.

We also had a couple of the Pulled Pork Dinners.  The pork was smoky, tender and very moist.  Another huge portion.

One of the sides we ordered was the Baked Beans. I thought these were really good, they were like classic baked beans with a hint of brown sugar, chunks of pork and the pleasantly surprising taste of garlic.

The Potato Salad was also good, standard deli-style with chunks of potato tossed in mayo, mustard, onion, celery.

We also had the Coleslaw which was very creamy.

I became a fan of Peach Cobbler while working in Texas the past two summers and had to try the version at Ted Cook’s.  This was pretty good, the peaches were swimming in a tart yet sweet syrup and had strips of pie crust floating on top.  It was served cold but I think it would be better served warm with vanilla ice cream on the side.

We also ordered a piece of Sweet Potato Pie. I did not try this and I didn’t see anyone else try it either so I am unable to report on the verdict. Hopefully next time!

Service: I live at least 40 minutes away from Ted Cook’s and I had a giant order so I wanted to call it in ahead of time.  No such luck at dinner time on a Saturday, when it gets busy at Ted Cook’s, they don’t bother to answer the phone.  We arrived to find a line about 8-10 people long, which went fairly fast.  Once we were able to order, our food was ready in about 10 minutes.  The man working the register was very nice and helpful too.
Overall Impression: I had been hearing about Ted Cook’s 19th Hole Barbeque for quite some time so I jumped on the chance to try it after buying a Deal from LivingSocial.  Very good barbeque at very reasonable prices for the large portion sizes.   I really  wish they had a dining room to eat in, it was a very long drive just for take-out (but worth it!)

Ted Cook's 19th Hole Barbeque on Urbanspoon

Feb 062011

Cuisine: American, Barbeque, Dessert, Ribs
Restaurant Features: Catering, Counter-Service (at many locations), On-Site Parking
Locations: Apple Valley, Bloomington, Burnsville, Coon Rapids, Duluth, Forest Lake, MOA, Mankato, Maple Grove, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Plymouth, Rochester, Roseville, St Paul, St Cloud, Stillwater, Woodbury
Apple Valley – 7593 147th Street Apple Valley, MN 55124    952-891-6400
Bloomington- 5101 West 98th Street Bloomington, MN 55437  952-832-0500
Burnsville-  2721 County Road 5 Burnsville, MN 55337 952-882-9933
Coon Rapids- 3211 Northdale Boulevard  Coon Rapids, MN 55448  763-421-9467
Duluth- 355 Lake Avenue South Duluth, MN 55802    218-740-3180
Forest Lake- 43 19th Street SW Forest Lake, MN 55025  651-464-4400
Mall of America- 320 South Avenue, Mall of America Bloomington, MN 55425 952-854-0225
Mankato-  291 St. Andrew Drive Mankato, MN 56001  507-385-1223
Maple Grove- 7825 Vinewood Lane Maple Grove, MN 55369  763-416-4600
Minneapolis- (Calhoun BBQ & Blues Club) 3001 Hennepin Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55408 612-822-9900
Minneapolis-  4264 Upton Avenue South Minneapolis, MN 55410  612-929-1200
Minnetonka-  14601 Highway 7  Minnetonka, MN 55345 952-933-9600
Plymouth- 11308 Highway 55 Plymouth, MN 55441  763-525-0500
Rochester- 431 NW 16th Avenue Rochester, MN 55901  507-282-4200
Roseville- 2131 Snelling Avenue Roseville, MN 55113 651-633-4800
St Paul- 1930 West 7th Street St. Paul, MN 55116 651-699-8800
Stillwater-  14200 60th Street North Stillwater, MN 55082 651-439-5200
St Cloud- 310 3rd Street NE Waite Park, MN 56387  320-217-5900
Woodbury- 1940 Donegal Drive Woodbury, MN 55125 651-501-1900

Hours: Daily 11am
Links: Famous Daves Website * Famous Dave’s Facebook Page * Map to Famous Dave’s Locations

Atmosphere: Most of the Famous Dave’s locations around the Twin Cities look very similar in decor, where the entrance leads you right to the counter where you order your food.   Wooden structures are built to resemble old shacks around the kitchen area.  Tables are spread throughout the space (pictured below is the Forest Lake location), all covered with red and white checkered tablecloths. Antique memorabilia adorns the walls.

The Famous Dave’s BBQ & Blues at Calhoun Square has a stage for live performances.  Cool place to see a small, intimate show!

Menu: Appetizers at Famous Dave’s include Smoked Salmon Spread, Chicken Fingers, Catfish Fingers, Ribs Tips, BBQ or Buffalo Chicken Wings, and Onion Strings.

Side dishes at Famous Dave’s include Wilbur Beans, Coleslaw, Potato salad, Dunkin Apples, Fries, Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes,

Famous Dave’s has salads! Options include Smoked Salmon Caesar, Grilled Chicken Caesar, Crispy Chicken, and Dave’s Sassy BBQ Salad.  Soups include Chili or Wild Rice.

Sandwiches come with one side and include Beef Brisket, Chopped Pork, Barbeque Chicken, Texas Manhandler, Hickory Chicken, Cajun Chicken and Char-Grilled Chicken.  Burger options are the Char-Grilled Burger, Cheeseburger, Ultimate BBQ, Devil Spit, and Bacon & Jack Favorite Burger.

Barbeque Classics at Famous Dave’s are the Texas Beef Brisket, Georgia Chopped Pork, Barbeque Chicken, Rib Tips, Chicken Tenders, Country Roasted Chicken and Sweetwater Cajun Catfish.

Award-Winning Ribs are smoked in the pit then finished on the grill.  Size options  are 1/3 slab, 1/2 slab or full rack (12 bones).

Kids Meals include Roasted or BBQ Chicken, Chicken Tenders, Chopped Pork, Hamburger or Cheeseburger,  Ribs, and Mac & Cheese.

Dessert selections include Famous Bread Pudding, Pecan Pie, Hot Fudge Kahlua Brownie, and Ice Cream, Sundae with Hot Fudge or Pecan Praline Sauce.

Famous Dave’s has a variety of different sauces that are sure to please just about anyone!

Price guide: Appetizers $6-9  Sandwiches $9-10  BBQ Meats $12-13  Ribs $13-22 Desserts $6

What we ordered: I had the two-meat combo with Catfish Fingers and Texas Beef Brisket.  The four medium-sized catfish fingers were hot and crispy, fresh out of the fryer and seasoned with semi-spicy Cajun seasonings.  It  comes with to sauces to dip in, a sweet & sour type of sauce and a seasoned mayo tartar.  I thought these were especially yummy with the seasoned tartar.  The Texas Beef Brisket was also pretty good.  This combo came with corn, a corn bread muffin and two sides.  I love the corn bread at Famous Dave’s! It is more moist than typical corn bread and slightly sweet.  I am not a fan of the overcooked boring corn, which is a far cry from the sweetcorn we harvest in Minnesota.  The two sides I got were the garlic smashed potatoes and coleslaw, both very good.

My companion ordered the XXL Rib Platter, a 12-bone rack of St Louis Style ribs.  The ribs were meaty and quite tender, full of smokey flavor from the Pit.  The two sides were fries and cinnamon apples.

Service: The Forest Lake location of Famous Dave’s offers counter-service, and we were able to order within minutes of arriving.  We got ourselves drinks at the self-service station and waited approximately ten minutes before our food arrived.  Staff walk the dining room and check with guests from time to time to determine if they need anything, and bus tables when necessary.

Overall Impression: I really like the variety of menu choices at Famous Daves, although I think their prices are slightly high for the amount of food you get.  They have several great choices of sauces and despite being a large chain-restaurant, I think they do have pretty decent barbeque (you can’t go wrong with the ribs!).  If you register to be a part of the P.I.G. Club you can get special offers, so go sign up here
Famous Daves on Urbanspoon

Oct 132010

Cuisine: American, Barbeque,

Restaurant Features: Bar, Happy Hour

Location: Minneapolis, MN

Address: 1933 Lyndale Avenue S   Minneapolis, MN 55403   612.871.8969

Hours: Mon-Thurs  11a-12:30a  Fri  11am-1:30am  Sat 9am-1:30am  Sun 9am-11:30pm
Links:Rudolph’s Website * Rudolph’s Facebook PageGoogle Map

Atmosphere: Rudolph’s Barbeque is located on the corner of Lyndale and Franklin, just off I-94.  There is a parking lot on the southwest side of the intersection for Rudolph’s customers.  Rudolph’s has been open since 1975, and was named after silent movie Legend, Rudolph Valentino.

Like its name sake, Rudolph’s is a movie-themed restaurant.  Throughout the restaurant you will see various movie memorabilia and the back room even has a mock stage complete with regal-looking movie curtains and spot lights.

Menu: All of the Menu Items at Rudolph’s are named from different movies but I will make it easy on you and tell you in plain English what foods they offer.

Appetizers include Pita Bread with Hummus and Spicy Feta, Grilled Chicken Skewers, Corn Bread, Smoked Rib Tips, Chicken Wings, Onion Rings, Loaded Nachos, Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Popcorn Shrimp, Sweet & Spicy Wings, Buffalo Wings, Wing & Rib Platter.

Soups and Salads include Barbeque Chicken Salad, Greek Salad, Caesar, Asian Chicken, and Louisiana Gumbo.

Rudolph’s Sandwiches include Pulled Pork, Beef Brisket, Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella, and Cajun Walleye Tacos.  You can also build-you-own Burger from a variety of meat, cheese and bread.

Barbeque delights include Baby Back Ribs, St Louis Style Spare Ribs, Rib Tips, Barbeque Chicken, Smoked Brisket, and Prime Beef Rib.

Other entrees at Rudolph’s include Fried Chicken, Grilled Salmon, Grilled Walleye, New York Strip Steak, and Marinated Sirloin.

Price guide: Appetizers $7-10  Salads $6-8  Sandwiches $8-10  Barbeque Entrees $14-26  Entrees $15-25

Happy Hour:

  • Sunday-Friday 4-7pm    10pm-Close
  • Saturdays & Holidays 4-6pm  10pm-Close

What we ordered:
We started with the Rib Tips, dubbed “The Academy”.  These meaty, juicy ribs were very tender with the perfect barbeque flavor and just the right amount of char cooked right in.

I was intrigued when I saw the “Jaws Tacos”, and thought it would be a good one for me to try.  I love fish tacos but had never had any like these before! Each taco had a full fillet of walleye, seasoned with spicy cajun, and a generous serving of coleslaw and sliced avocado.  I thought the cajun went really well with the sweet slaw.  It was also served with a salsa that was mildly sweet.  Overall a very tasty taco and a great buy for less than $10!

My companion ordered the “Cruella De Vil” which is a big Prime Beef Rib served with chipotle pinot noir barbeque sauce.  The flavor of the beef was good but it was cooked a little more than expected and slightly dry.  It was good but it wasn’t great.

The coleslaw came with my companion’s meal, it was creamy and sweet.  Very good!

I was almost too full to have dessert but since the manager offered one for free, we took him up on his offer and ordered this giant six-layer  Chocolate Cake.  This was so good! It was rich and chocolately, doubly so when drizzled with the hot chocolate sauce it came with.  In addition to a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream, there were also a few strawberries garnishing the plate   Who doesn’t love chocolate and strawberries?  This dessert was seriously so big that it took me about 3 days to eat it all ;)

Service: My companion and I visited Rudolph’s on a Saturday night, right at the height of the dinner hour.  Fortunately the restaurant is quite big and we were able to get a table without a wait.  We were greeted by our server after about five minutes, which seemed like a long time.  Our server was friendly and made good recommendations from the menu, but it took a really long time for our meals to arrive.  The manager stopped by to apologize for how long it was taking and offered us a free appetizer or dessert for the inconvenience.

Overall Impression: Rudulph’s Barbeque is a cool restaurant if you’re into movies and even if you’re not, the food is worth a visit.

Rudolph's Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Feb 282010

Cuisine: American, Bar-B-Q, Delicatessan
Restaurant Features: Catering, Counter Service, On-Site Parking
Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 919 North Dale St  St Paul, MN  55103     651-488-6591
Hours: Monday-Friday 11a-6p
Links: Aesop’s Table Website Google Map

Atmosphere: The inside of Aesop’s is very small, with just a couple of tables and a row of chairs along the back wall.  Order at the counter and watch your food being prepared just a few feet away.  Outside there is a cute little patio area with an wooden overhang for shade during the warmer summer months.

Menu: Deli Salads include Garden Salad, Chicken Rotini, Vermicelli, Potato Salad, Cole Slaw, Tuna Pasta and Thai Peanut Pasta.

Cold deli sandwiches are served with pickle and chips.  Meats include Roast Beef, Turkey Breast, Smoked Ham, Hard Salami, Pastrami and Corned Beef.  Cheese options include Cheddar, American, Swiss, Mozzarella, and Pepper Jack.  Veggies include Lettuce, Tomato and Onion.  Bacon also available.

Hot Sandwiches include The Porker (shredded BBQ Pork), Beef Brisket, Reuben, Rachel, Philly Style Steak & Cheese, Chicken Philly, French Dip, Philly French Dip, Broiled Chicken Breast, Grilled Cheese, and Grilled Deli Sandwich with Cheese.

Aesop’s also has 1/3 lb burgers with choice of toppings.
Price Guide:

Weekly Specials:

What we ordered: I ordered a Reuben which is usually one of my favorite varieties of sandwich.  It was made with marbled pumpernickel bread and despite being grilled, the sandwich was somewhat soggy (which I attributed this to being boxed-up to-go).    The corned beef seemed to be of the sliced processed variety rather than real brisket, and was very mildly flavored.  The sandwich had several slices of melted Swiss cheese and a mayo-type spread (not thousand island). The sauerkraut was almost non-existent on one half but heavy on the other.  It came with a pickle spear and potato chips. Not the Reuben of my dreams.

Upon recommendation from the staff at Aesop’s, I ordered the Porker sandwich for my companion.  Very good! The sandwich was piled high with tender pulled pork, tossed lightly in a BBQ sauce that was somewhat spicy and peppery. The top and bottom bun were thick sesame seed buns, toasted.  The meal also came with a side of beans that were somewhat sweet yet savory with chunks of bacon and a side of creamy coleslaw.

Service: The staff at Aesop’s Table were very friendly and readily offered suggestions from the menu.  Food was prepared quickly in front of me while I waited.
Overall Impression: Very good prices for the amount of food you get, service is fast & friendly.  I would get the Porker sandwich again but not the Reuben.

Apr 022009

Disclosure: I was invited out to do this review and my meal was provided by the restaurant. All opinions are my own.
Cuisine: BBQ
Restaurant Features: Banquet Room, Catering, Counter-Service, On-Site Parking, Take-Out
Location: Champlin, MN
Address: 180 Miller Rd. Champlin, MN 55316 (763) 323-6550
Hours: Mon-Thurs  11am-8pm    Fri 11am-9pm    Sat 12-9pm    Sun 12-8pm
Links: Q Fanatic Website * Q Fanatic on Facebook Google Map


Atmosphere: Q Fanatic is located at the end of a strip mall that sits along a frontage road to Hwy 169.  The dining area of the restaurant is “L” shaped, with booths lined up along the wall all the way into the back half of the restaurant.  There are also several tables in the front that can be easily arranged to accommodate larger groups, with an additional banquet room in back.  Decorated on the walls are paintings and cute little shelves, each with a collectible Pig or Cow.


Menu: Side Dishes include Coleslaw, Asian Coleslaw, Creamy Potato Salad, BBQ Baked Beans, Corn Fritters, Onion Straws, Curly Fries, Mashed New Potatoes, Parmesan Potatoes Gratinee, Spicy Potato Wedges, Side Salad, Grilled Seasonal Veggies, Mac and Cheese, Garlic Roll, Foccacia Bread.

Q Fanatic also offers a couple of salads like the Caesar, the Siena Salad (with raspberry vinaigrette, pecans and gorgonzola) or the Ranch Salad.  Grilled Chicken can be added to any salad.

Sandwiches are served on either French Roll or Foccacia and include Sliced Brisket, Pulled Pork, Pulled Slow-Roasted Chicken, Grilled Veggie, Grilled Chicken Breast, Chicken Club, BLT, and Burger.  Served with Chips or substitute for regular-sized Side Dish for $1 or large side for $2.

Specialty BBQ Dinners include St Louis Style Ribs (1 lb or 2 lbs either wet or dry), Slow Roasted Beef Brisket, Applewood Smoked Pulled Pork, Slow Roasted Boneless Chicken, Rib Tips or Grilled Chicken Breast.  All dinners come with one regular side dish and choice or garlic roll or foccacia bread.  Additional side is just $1 for regular or $2 for large.

Kids meals include Mac & Cheese, Chicken Fingers, Lil Q Sandwich, Kids Chicken, Kids Burger

Q also offers Take-Out packages to feed anywhere from 4 to 14 people.

Price guide: Kids $5  Sides $2-4  Salads $7-10 Sandwiches $6-8   Dinners $8-21
What We ordered: I was starving so everything sounded good, but my standard for eating BBQ anywhere I go is the Beef Brisket, so I ordered the 1 lb Beef Brisket Dinner. This was the most tender and moist Beef Brisket I have ever had! It had amazing flavor (smoked with Apple Wood) and practically melted in my mouth.  The slices of beef were just the right thickness and so tender I didn’t even need to use a knife.  Two sides of Q Fanatic’s special sauces came with it- a tangy mustard and the Espresso BBQ.  Initially I wasn’t sure that the mustard sauce would be good with the beef but then I tried it- the Chef at Q Fanatic’s knew this was a winning combo! The consistency of the mustard sauce was slightly runny with just a touch of mustard and a touch of sweet and tangy flavors, complimenting the flavors of the beef perfectly.  The Espresso BBQ was also excellent.  My dinner came with one side and choice of bread so I went with the Curly Fries and Garlic Roll.  The basket of curly fries was HUGE!  The fries were fresh-cut, thin and extremely long and curly.  I also got four garlic rolls with my dinner, delicious  buttery golden brown on the outside and soft and warm on the inside.



My companion ordered 2 lbs of St Louis Style Ribs, which came with bread (garlic rolls), one side (basket of fries like the one pictures above), and an additional side of Corn Fritters was purchased for $1 more.  The Ribs were unbelievably fall-off-the-bone-tender! One bite of the ribs and I was practically begging the Owners to open an additional restaurant in my neighborhood so I can eat them every other day.  Seriously. One bite of these ribs and you will not want to eat ribs anywhere else, ever again! The corn fritters were also very good, kind of like an un-sweetened donut with kernels of corn inside.


Service: It was a busy Friday night and there were just a few tables available when we arrived.  We ordered at the counter, with help from a friendly woman.  Drinks are self-serve and food is brought out to the table. It was a very busy night but our food was served in 25 minutes or less- every bite worth waiting for.  Staff did a great job of checking on us throughout the evening, very professional.
Overall Impression: BEST BBQ I have had, the Beef Brisket and Ribs are amazing!!  Very reasonable prices for the huge portions you get. Cannot wait to bring group of friends out with me for my next visit.  Worth a drive to Champlin :)
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