Feb 122012

Girvan Grille- 8700 Edinbrook Crossing  Brooklyn Park, MN 55443  763.315.8535

  • $9.95/Adults      $4.95/ Kids 10 and Under
  • 10am-1pm
  • French Belgian Waffle Station, Thick Cut Bacon, Specialty Egg Dishes, Biscuits with Gravy, Two Potato Hash, Carved Ham, Stuffed French Toast, Soup du Jour, Specialty Salad, Fresh Baked Pastries, Caramel Rolls, and Fresh Fruit.
  • Eggs Benedict, Made-to-Order Omelets and Bloody Mary Bar also available at additional $1-2 charge.

Links: Girvan Grille Website * Girvan Grille on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Girvan Grille is located inside the Clubhouse at Edinburgh Golf Course in Brooklyn Park.  The restaurant is spacious, with giant windows running the entire length that lookout onto the  golf course.  The brunch is actually set up in a different room outside of the restaurant.

Girvan Grille also has a bar area just inside the entrance to the restaurant, with both booths and seating at the bar.

What we ate: Girvan Grille has a make-your-own Bloody Mary for $3.  I was given a celery salt-rimmed glass of Vodka on the rocks and had my choice of V-8, Clamato, Worchestershire, Tabasco, pepperoncini, pickles and olives.  It was good but I would’ve liked horseradish too and some cheese and meats but for $3, I won’t really complain.

Shortly after our entire party of twelve was seated we were brought plates of Caramel Rolls.  The ones without nuts were soft and delicious.

They also brought out Caramel Rolls with Pecans which were also good but slightly over-baked and not as soft as the ones sans pecan.

My first plate had a mini waffle and some fresh fruit.  The waffle was crispy but softened up nicely with the berries and cream.  The strawberries and pineapple were good, but the melon was hard and not quite ripe enough.

My big plate included bacon, breakfast sausage, red potatoes, quiche, biscuit and gravy, and peanut butter and banana stuffed french toast.  I enjoyed the meats; the bacon was crispy and smoky and the sausage was also your standard Hillshire Farm-style breakfast links.  I also enjoyed the Quiche, it was light and filling, and seasoned well with pieces of pepper, onion, and potato.  The peanut butter banana filling of the french toast was also delicious but the outer breading was kind of  hard.

One of my companions made this pretty plate of Waffles with Berries, which sat at the wayside while she ate her first plate.

Service: We had pretty good service at Girvan Grille.  We had a reservation for eight people originally but called to make it for 12 only a half hour before our reservation and they were great about trying to accommodate us.  Drinks were refilled when needed and they were really good about all the kids in our party.

Overall Impression: This might be the best brunch buffet around for only $10/Adult and $5 for kids!

Jan 252012

Kozlak’s Royal Oak ~ 4785 Hodgson Road Shoreview, MN 55126 (651)-484-8484

  • $20/Adults     $10.95/ Kids 6-12   $6.95/ Kids 5 and Under
  • 10:30am-1:30pm
  • Live New Orleans Jazz
  • Full Salad Bar, Scrambled Eggs Carbonara , Fresh Baked Biscuits with Sausage Gravy, Featured Chicken item, Cajun Ribs, Pecan-Breaded Catfish Fingers, Jambalaya with sausage & chicken, Classic Eggs Benedict, Kozlak’s home made French Toast with Pecan Maple Syrup, Breakfast Bacon, Sausage, Chef’s Fresh Vegetable, Gumbo Soup, Potatoes Pontalba with Béarnaise Sauce, Made-to-order Omelettes, Dessert & Sundae Bar

Links: Kozlak’s Royal Oak Website * Kozlak’s Facebook Page *  Google Map

Atmosphere:  If you like New Orleans Jazz, you are in for a treat at the Sunday Brunch Buffet at Kozlak’s! They have a Jazz Trio who make their rounds through the dining room, playing for every table.  You may have seen these guys on the Andiamo dinner cruises, where they sometimes play on the St Croix Riverboats.

What we ate: We started with the unlimited Bloody Mary and Juice Bar ($5). Kozlak’s makes their own Bloody mix that is very good and slightly spicy from the horseradish. There is an bartender pouring the drinks and then they have a table with pickles, olives, limes, summer sausage, cheeses, Tobasco and Worchestershire  for you to dress up your drink. I did not see any cocktail skewers so all of my goodies sank to the bottom of my drink once I gave it a stir.

Since the champagne and juice are included in the $5 unlimited, I also tried a glass of bubbly and an orange/pineapple juice mix. I noticed that the guy making my drink only had small airplane-style cans of Pineapple juice. I know that is common at bars but you would think that at brunch they would opt for bigger jugs of juice? Doesn’t matter to me either way ;)

Shortly after we were seated our server brought us a plate of caramel rolls.  They looked good but I didn’t eat one.

My first big plate included a bunch of breakfast items, including the Scrambled Eggs Carbonara, Eggs Benedict and Cheesy Potatoes. The eggs carbonara were pretty good but nothing out of the ordinary; they had pieces of bacon and spinach scrambled in.  I liked the Eggs Benedict; the Hollandaise sauce was silky and somewhat tangy.  They cheesy potatoes were okay but didn’t really catch my attention.

I also tried some of the breakfast meats including Bacon and Andouille Sausage with Peppers and Onions.  The sausage was great and I loved it with the peppers and onions.  The bacon was thick-cut and smoky.

I had to try the Biscuits and gravy too.  The biscuit was pretty standard but the gravy was really tasty.  They key to good gravy is good sausage and this had really well seasoned sausage.  It had a slight kick to it from all the black pepper, which I loved.

The French Toast at Kozlak’s is made with baguette so the slices are very small and very crispy.  The bread didn’t have the egginess of a typical french toast and remained crispy even when soaked with syrup.  Ah, that syrup! It was real maple with toasted pecans.  I promise you I did not eat all of this ;)

The Sunday Brunch at Kozlak’s has a nice selection of desserts including Bananas Foster.  I tried it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and wow, this was so good! Mmm, there is just something I love about warm banana desserts and what could be better than cooking bananas in brown sugar, butter and rum? The sauce was pre-cooked so I did not get to see the chef make it.  Heavenly!! The vanilla ice cream was perfect with it.

I also tried a few bites of the Pecan Pie. Super delish! The crust was really good and there was a layer of toasted pecans on tip of the gooey pecan filling.  This would also be great with vanilla ice cream.

By this point I was too full to try the Ribs or the Jambalaya, but they Kozlak’s does have them.

Brunch at CRAVE ~ Edina, MN

 Brunch, Edina  Comments Off on Brunch at CRAVE ~ Edina, MN
Apr 132011

I have blogged a few times before about CRAVE…… once for a lavish dinner and another for a big lunch.

Recently  I visited CRAVE at The Galleria around noon on a Sunday and was happy to see they offer brunch items in addition to lunch.  I love breakfast but rarely get to eat it at restaurants, so this was a treat.

Items on the Brunch Menu include:

  • Family Style Brunch
  • Breakfast Wellington
  • Steak and Eggs
  • Huevos Rancheros
  • Eggs Benedict
  • Omelette
  • Sushi Bento Box

I tried the Huevos Rancheros which were absolutely AMAZING and far different than what I was expecting.  The base of the creation was a fried flour tortilla, then topped with a zesty mix of steak, sauteed onion, peppers, black beans, tomato, scrambled eggs, green onion, cilantro and spicy fresh salsa.  I ordered mine spicy and it was deliciously so, without being overpowering.  One of the most genius part of this dish were the fried flour taquitos filled with steak.  Are you kidding me?! I was in Heaven before I even took a bite and I think I made a few of my companions slightly jealous.  It was a huge portion, too.

Several of my companions ordered the Crunchy Roll from the sushi menu.  Sushi always sounds good to me and I was also tempted to order, but I knew I could eat at least two different rolls just to myself.

Another companion ordered the Margherita Pizza, which was much larger than either of us had expected.  It had a light and chewy crust with the customary basil, tomato and buffalo mozzarella.  The smell was irresistible so I tried a slice and thought it was delicious.

Keeping this one short and sweet…….. find your way to CRAVE on a Sunday (soon!) and make sure to try the Huevos Rancheros!
CRAVE (Edina) on Urbanspoon

Jan 192011

Cuisine: Fish & Seafood, Steak, Dessert
Restaurant Features: Banquet, Bar, Catering, On-Site Parking, Sunday Brunch
Location: Shoreview, MN
Address: 4785 Hodgson Road  Shoreview, MN 55126   651-484-8484
Hours: Lunch Mon-Fri 11am-2pm   Sunday Brunch 10:30-1:30p   Dinner Daily at 4pm
Links: Kozlak’s Royal Oak Website * Kozlak’s Facebook Page *  Google Map

Atmosphere: Kozlak’s is located in a large, stand-alone building on Hodgson Road, about a half mile north of Hwy 96 in Shoreview.  One thing you will notice when you arrive is the drive-up entrance at the front of the building, meant for picking up/dropping off guests. The parking lot is in the back in the building, a long walk around the building in the cold winter!

There is a small reception area when you first walk in that sits between the bar area (to the left) and the main dining room (to the right).  Festively decorated over the Holidays!

Both the main dining room and the dining room adjacent to the bar area have tables, all of which are covered with white tablecloths.  I did not have the pleasure of dining in this room so I just got a glance, same as you see below.  It was festively decorated with balloons on New Year’s Eve.

This is the smaller, more intimate dining room with tables that seem to be spaced further apart than in the main dining room.

Menu: Appetizer’s at Kozlak’s include Coconut Shrimp, Asparagus with Bearnaise, Scallops Parmesan, Cajun Beef Bites, Clam Chowder, Bruschetta, Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, Chili-Rubbed Ribs, Broiled Lobster Tail, Escargots, Sesame Wings, Wild Mushroom Crustini, Onion Rings and Artichoke Parmesan Dip.  The Featured Appetizers are Szechuan Beef Tips and Roasted Tomato and Garlic Soup.

Salad options at Kozlak’s are the Pecan Crusted Chicken, Bruschetta, Salmon Spinach, and Marie’s Salad (with bleu cheese, olives and dried cranberries).

Sandwiches that are offered are the Baked Reuben and the Hashbrown-Crusted Walleye.

Entrees come with potato du jour, bread, salad and vegetable.  Options include Twin Tenderloins with Portabellas, Sauteed Calves’ Liver, Pasta Vermouth, Parmesan Chicken, Medallions of Beef, Chicken Supreme, Roasted Plump Duckling, Blackened Pork Porter House, and Barbeque Ribs.  Featured Entrees are the Beef Wellington and the Roasted Vegetable Pasta.

Kozlak’s is well known for their steaks, with cuts such as Bone-in Tenderloin, New York Strip, Tenderloin Filet, and Roasted Prime Rib.  All steaks come with soup or salad, baked potato and bread.  Add-ons for steak include Melted Bleu Cheese, Butter Taragon Sauce, Peppercorn Crusted, Sauteed Mushroom, Sauteed Onions, Garlic Portabella Mushrooms, Hash Browns, French Fries, and Asparagus.

Fish and Seafood Selections include Broiled Salmon, Salmon Royal Oak, Pecan Walleye, Sea Scallops, Walleye, Steamed African Lobster, Tenderloin and Lobster combo, Pasta and Shrimp, Garlic Broiled Shrimp and Alaskan Crab Legs.

Save room for dessert! In addition to Ice Cream, Gelato, and Sorbet there have homemade cheesecake, chocolate cake, and others.

Price guide: Appetizers $7-13  Salads $6-14  Entrees $18-25 Seafood $23-27 (+ market price lobster) Steaks $28-50

Sunday Brunch

  • $18.95/Adults     $10.95/ Kids 6-12   $6.95/ Kids 5 and Under
  • 10:30am-1:30pm
  • Live New Orleans Jazz
  • Full Salad Bar, Scrambled Eggs Carbonara , Fresh Baked Biscuits with Sausage Gravy, Featured Chicken item, Cajun Ribs, Pecan-Breaded Catfish Fingers, Jambalaya with sausage & chicken, Classic Eggs Benedict, Kozlak’s home made French Toast with Pecan Maple Syrup, Breakfast Bacon, Sausage, Chef’s Fresh Vegetable, Gumbo Soup, Potatoes Pontalba with Béarnaise Sauce, Made-to-order Omelettes, Dessert & Sundae Bar

What we ordered: We started with the complimentary loaf of French Bread that was brought to our table shortly after we ordered.  The bread was crusty on the outside, soft and still slightly warm on the inside.  The loaf had about four slices which went fast, another loaf soon followed!

Each entree comes with a house salad or for a $3 upgrade you can take a trip through the Salad Bar. I chose the House Salad, which was Caesar.  The homemade dressing that Kozlak’s is very good, a tad sweeter than the traditional Caesar.

Typically I order ribeye at steak houses however Kozlak’s doesn’t offer that cut as an option, so instead I ordered the delectable Queen Cut Prime Rib.  Each bite was incredibly tender and delicious!  I ordered a side of the customary freshly grated horseradish and it also was served with au jus on the side.  Even though this was just the Queen cut (compared to the larger King cut), it was still huge and I had to bring half my steak home.  I ordered a baked potato with my steak and also a side of sauteed mushrooms, which I shared with my companions.

One of my companions ordered the 8oz Tenderloin Filet, a handsome, thick and extremely tender cut of beef.  It was topped with Kozlak’s signature garlic butter, which adds a splash of melted buttery heaven as it melts over the steak.  Butter on steak? You just have to try this! The flavor of the meat itself had a slightly aged flavor and just a glorious hint of char from the grill.  Cooked a perfect medium.

Another companion ordered the King Cut Prime Rib, the larger version of my steak.  This cut was indeed extra large, standing at least 2″ tall!

Another companion ordered the Steak & Lobster meal.  The steak was the Kozlak’s filet which was very good but the real star of this combo was the African Lobster Tail.  This giant lobster tail was cooked as perfect as you can cook a lobster.  When my companioned offered me a bite I couldn’t resist the sweet, succulent, buttery treat.  The lobster was so fresh that I suspected it had been alive just minutes before it was served, but such was not the case.

For dessert one of my companions and I shared a Pink Squirrel ice cream drink.  Have you had one of these before? They are yummy! Vanilla ice cream blended with Creme de Noyaux, an almond liqueur,  Creme de Cacao, light cream, then topped with whipped cream.  So creamy and smooth!

Service: We had great service at Kozlak’s.  Our party had a reservation on New Year’s Eve and we were brought to our table shortly after we arrived.  Our server greeted us shortly after we sat down to take our drink order.  It was a very busy night and Kozlak’s had a full house, but cocktails were brought out in under ten minutes, other drinks were refilled as needed.  The menu on New Year’s Eve was somewhat limited but the server made good suggestions and answered any questions we had, brought us everything we needed as soon as possible.  Food was prepared in less than thirty minutes, while we munched on our bread and salads.

Overall Impression: Great service! The lobster I tried at Kozlak’s was some of the best I have had and the steaks were also excellent.  The prices are standard for a nice steak house, but won’t break the bank if you only visit on occasion.   I would love to try the New Orleans Brunch Buffet sometime soon!

Kozlak's Royal Oak on Urbanspoon

Oct 072010

Cuisine: American, Bar & Grill, Burgers, Dessert, Pasta
Restaurant Features: Bar,  Flat Screen TVs, Happy Hour, On-Site Parking, Patio, Sunday Brunch
Locations: Rogers and Excelsior, MN
Addresses and Maps:

Excelsior– 685 Excelsior Blvd   Excelsior, MN 55331 952.470.1800

Rogers- 21415 136th Ave. N. Rogers, MN 55374   763.428.0700
Hours: Sun 10am-12am       Mon-Sat  11am-1am
Links: Maynards Website

Atmosphere: The Maynards in Rogers is located in a large building about 1/4 mile from I-94.  The large, open space is divided into two sides; the dining room and the bar.  The dining room has both tables and booths, centered by a beautiful large stone fireplace.  The lighting is dim and romantic yet the mood is lively.

The bar area takes up about half the space of the restaurant and is a very popular place to a widely-aged crowd, many of whom come to play Texas Hold ‘Em Poker on Tuesday nights or BINGO on Wednesday nights.

Maynards in Rogers also has an expansive patio area, complete with tables and a fire pit.  I wish I had been able to photograph it during the day but since I was there after dark, this was the best I could do!

Menu: Appetizers at Maynards include Buffalo Wings, Szechuan Wings, BBQ Wings, Nachos (chicken or beef), Chicken Quesadilla, Szechuan Spicy Green Beans, Cheese Curds, Onion Rings, Italian Waffle Fries, Artichoke Dip, Romaine Wraps, Halibut Fingers, Walleye Fingers, Firecracker Shrimp, Buffalo Shrimp, Steak Bites, Ahi Tuna, Calamari, and Buffalo Chicken Strips.  Maynard’s also offers Flatbreads, including the BBQ Chicken, Basil Tomato, and Buffalo Chicken.

Maynard’s salads include Steakhouse Salad, Buffalo Chicken, Ahi Tuna, Oriental Chicken, Chop, Frannie’s Chicken Salad (coconut crusted chicken), Caesar, Taco, Cobb, and Marine Salad (jumbo shrimp and baby shrimp).

Sandwich offerings include Pot Roast French Dip, Halibut Fish & Chips, Walleye Fish & Chips, Halibut Sandwich, Cuban, Smoked Chicken Panini, The Excelsior (turkey, ham and bacon), Walleye Sandwich, Reuben, Chicken Philly, Chicken Breast, Philly Cheese Steak, Buffalo Chicken, Veggie Wrap, Fish Taco Wrap, and Asian Chicken Wrap.  All sandwiches are served with chips, or upgrade to waffle fries for $1.50.

Burgers at Maynard’s are the Pepper Burger, Garage Burger (sour cream and green olives), Patty Melt, Tillamook Cheddar Burger, California, Combo (mushroom, bacon and choice of cheese), Texas BBQ, and Turkey Burger.  All burgers are served with chips, or upgrade to waffle fries for $1.50.

Sautee Entrees include Cajun Chicken Fettuccini, Shrimp Scampi, Chicken Stir Fry, Kung Pao Chicken, Chicken and Mushroom Marsala with Fettuccini, Butternut Squash Ravioli in Cranberry Butter Cream Sauce, Rigatoni with Sausage in Creamy Red Sauce, and Tortellini with Prosciutto and Mushrooms in Alfredo.

Maynard’s Entrees include Chilean Sea Bass, Orange Honey Glazed Salmon, Pan Fried Walleye, Battered Shrimp, Teriyaki Sirloin, Baby Back Ribs, Filet, Cajun Pork Chop, Tenderloin Beef Medallions, New York Strip, Filet & Shrimp Combo, and Pot Roast.

Desserts at Maynard’s are the Key Lime Pie, Carrot Cake, Cheesecake, Tower Chocolate Cake ala Mode, and Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae.

Price guide: Appetizers $7-12 Salads $10-15   Sandwiches $ Burgers $9  Sautee Entrees $12-15  Entrees $14-24  Desserts $5-9

Happy Hour:

  • M-F  11am-6pm & 8pm-Close
  • Reduced Price Appetizers
  • Domestic Tap Specials

Weekly Specials:

Sunday Brunch:

  • 10am-2pm
  • Adults $14.95
  • Caramel Rolls, Eggs Benedict, Bacon, Smoked Sausage, Biscuits, Hash Browns, Waffles, Apple Crisp, Shrimp Creole, Swedish Meatballs, Sweet and Sour Chicken, Chicken Stir Fry, Grilled Atlantic Salmon, Smoked Salmon, Cheesy Scalloped potatoes, Pasta Salad, Fresh Fruit, Fresh Veggies, Szechuan Green Beans, Chicken Wild Rice Soup, Pickled Herring, Omelet Bar and Assorted Desserts.

What we ordered: There were many appetizers that sounded really good but I was in the mood for fish and the Halibut Fingers sounded very intriguing.  We started with the Halibut Fingers, an order of six colossal pieces of this delicious, non-fishy fish.  Each “finger” was literally almost an inch thick, breaded with a tasty batter and then deep fried to a crispy golden brown.  Served with homemade tartar sauce and lemon wedges.  I ate almost three of these and was seriously almost too full to touch my dinner!

Every entree come with choice of soup or salad. I had the house salad.  This was a pretty basic house salad with romaine, cucumber, cherry tomato, red onion, fresh grated parmesan and buttermilk ranch.

My companion chose the Chicken Wild Rice Soup with the entree.  This was a delicious choice! The soup had big chunks of white meat chicken, carrots, celery and wild rice.  It was mildly seasoned yet flavorful.

Now on to the Main Course!  There were many items on the menu that sounded wonderful to me, but I strayed from my usual sandwich fix to try a dish that was truly unique. Our server highly recommended the Butternut Squash Ravioli with Cranberries, a combo that caught my attention.  I am so glad I tried this, it was amazing! The serving size was quite large, with probably 15 big raviolis filled with the sweet and tender butternut squash.  The raviolis, along with a plentiful amount of halved cranberries, were bathed in a rich butter cream sauce.  There is just something about cream and berries that was meant to be! Although this particular combo was new to my palette, the cranberries gave it a sweetness that countered the rich creaminess of the sauce.  I was only able to eat about four of the raviolis before I was stuffed (they were great for lunch the next day too!)

My companion ordered the full rack of Baby Back Ribs.  These ribs were also very tasty, but did not stand out as extraordinary.  They were tender and flavorful, with the sauce grilled onto the meat and extra on the side.  It was served with buttered toast and choice of potato.

The ribs came with choice of potato, my companion went with the Waffle Fries (with seasoned sour cream for $.50 extra).  These potatoes were still somewhat soft and lightly fried.  Big serving!

Our meals also came with a basket of Ciabatta Bread.  I’ll just admit right now I was too full to touch the bread but it looked good!

Despite being extremely full, the thought of Key Lime Pie was pretty irresistible.  When our server brought this gigantic slice of pie out to me, I nearly fainted.  She laughed and told me the Key Lime was actually Maynard’s smallest dessert.  Apparently the chocolate cake is the size of a big plate!

The Key Lime pie had three thick layers of filling on top of the graham cracker crust: the key lime, the cream topping and then more whipped cream.  It may have stood 4-5 inches tall!  The lime filling had a consistency that reminded me of custard and was as tart as it should be.  Very refreshing combo of tart, sweet and creamy.

Service: We were greeted with a smile the moment we walked in and were promptly seated at a booth.  Our server, Britney, did a great job of taking care of us.  She was very knowledgeable about the menu and made excellent recommendations.  The timing of our food was just perfect so that we were able to eat our appetizers and starters before the entrees were brought out and drinks were refilled regularly.

Overall Impression: Maynard’s has a large menu, with delicious food, and awesome service.  Great place to get a quality meal with friends or to play Poker or Bingo! Try the Butternut Squash Ravioli with Cranberry Butter Cream Sauce for a unique culinary experience.  I wish I lived closer so I could eat my way through the menu!

Maynard's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sep 262010

Cuisine: American, Bar & Grill, Burgers, Desserts, Pasta, Pizza, Steaks, Ribs
Restaurant Features: Bar, Happy Hour, Kids Menu,  Patio, On-Site Parking, Sunday Brunch
Location: Blaine, MN  ( Sister Restaurant is Tavern on France in Edina, MN)
Addresses & Maps:

Tavern Grill– 10950 Club West Parkway Suite 270  Blaine, MN 55449 763-398-8100

Tavern on France– 6740 France Avenue South  Edina, MN 55435  952-358-6100

Hours: Mon-Thurs 11a-12a   Fri-Sat 11a-1a  Sun 10a-10p
Links: Tavern Grill Website * Tavern Grill on Facebook
Atmosphere: Located in the space previously occupied by Bella Italian Grill, The Tavern Grill in Blaine opened its doors in June 2010.

The interior of The Tavern Grill has changed since it was Bella, with a mix of dark wooden tables and cushioned booths.  Tables seemed to be spaced enough that each is afforded a little privacy.  Lighting at night is low without seeming too dark, a very calm atmosphere.
Inside The Tavern Grill ~ Blaine, MN
There is also a large oval-shaped bar on one side of the restaurant that can accommodate a large numbers  of patrons.
Bar Area at Tavern Grill ~ Blaine, MN
The patio at The Tavern Grill is one of its most beautiful features.  There are many tables spread out amongst the expansive walled-in rock patio, centered by a beautiful fountain.  There is an outdoor bar at the back of the patio as well.
Patio at Tavern Grill ~ Blaine, MN

Menu: Appetizers at The Tavern Grill include Burger Sliders, Philly Sliders, Chicken Littles, Crab Artichoke Quesadilla, Toasted Bruschetta, Onion Rings, Tavern Fries, Lemon Basil Calamari, Crab Artichoke Dip, Bleu Chips (homemade potato chips topped with bleu cheese crumbles and bacon), Sesame Chicken Stix, Walleye Fingers, and Buffalo Wings.  Soups include Chicken Wild Rice, French Onion and a Soup du Jour.

Flatbread Pizza options include Build-Your-Own where you choose your Sauce, Cheese, Toppings and Meats, or the Farmers Market Pizza, Prosciutto & Tomato, BBQ Chicken, Buffalo Chicken, Classic Pepperoni and the Beachcomber (canadian bacon, pineapple and cilantro).

Salad options include Build-Your-Own (choose your cheeses, Veggies Mix-Ins, Crunch, Meats and Dressings).  Chef Specialty Salads include Chop, Chicken Thai, Grilled Chicken, Buffalo Chicken and Caesar Salad.

Burger Options include the Build-A-Burger (choose your Meat, Bread, Cheese, Toppings and Extras).  Specialty Burgers include Tavern Burger (bbq, gouda and bacon), Veggies Burger, Widowmaker (cheddar, caramelized onion, philly beef, 4 cheese sauce, onion strings) and the Beachcomber (ginger orange teriyaki, swiss and grilled fresh pineapple).

Tavern Sandwich options are the Grilled Club, Walleye, Grilled Chicken Wrap, Buffalo Chicken, Philly Cheesesteak, Corned Beef on Rye, Steak with Swiss and Mushrooms, French Dip, Steakhouse Wrap, Patty Melt and Crispy Chicken Wrap.

Pastas at The Tavern Grill are the Baked Ravioli with Chicken, MOnterey Shrimp, Fettuccini Alfredo, Baked Spaghetti and the Shrimp Ravioli in Sundried Tomato Pesto.

Entrees include Walleye & Chips, HomeStyle Grilled Meatloaf, Seared Teriyaki Salmon, Tuscan Chicken, Naked Filet, Tucker’s Filet (marinated in soy sauce and garlic), Ginger Garlic NY Strip, Baby Back Ribs and Spicy Ginger Seared Tuna.

Desserts include New York Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie, Fill-Your-Own Mini Donut Holes, Build-Your-Own S’Mores, and Chocolate Cake with Whiskey Sauce.

Items from the Kids Menu include Chicken Strips, Mini Cheeseburgers, Pepperoni or Cheese Pizza, and Grilled Cheese.
Price guide: Appetizers $7-11  Pizzas $8.50-11  Salads $9-12 Burgers $9-12  Sandwiches $9-12  Pastas $13-15  Entrees $ 13-19  Desserts $6-7.50

Happy Hour:

  • M-F 3-6pm and 9pm-Close
  • $2 Off Specialty Cocktails
  • 1/2 Priced Wines & Pizas
  • $3 Appetizers including Tavern Blue Chips, Sliders, Chicken Littles, Cheesy Jalapeno Nachos, and Waffles Fries
  • $4  Cheesy Jalapeno Beef or Chicken Nachos
  • $5  Crab Quesadilla

Weekly Specials:

  • Sunday Brunch 10am-2pm
  • Adults $14    Kids 12 and Under $6
  • Carved Roast Beef, Pancake Bar, Made-to-Order Omelettes, Baked Reggiano Hashbrowns, Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, Hickory Smoked Bacon, Sausage Links, Chef’s Special Scrambled Eggs (changes weekly), Scrambled Eggs, Fresh Skillet Caramel Rolls, Fresh Fruit, Assorted Fresh Pastries.

What we ordered: We started with an order of the Buffalo Wings, which came with 9 wings in the order.  We requested the Buffalo sauce be served on the side, as we were feeding a small child within my party. The thick and spicy dark orange Buffalo sauce had a nice kick to it, I poured it very liberally on the wings I ate (along with bleu cheese, of course!)

I was debating between a burger or the walleye sandwich and ended up with the walleye (sorry about the terrible, blurry photo!). The walleye fillet was sliced rather thinly and then breaded with the Tavern’s special batter before being deep fried to a crispy golden brown.  I was expecting a bigger sandwich but was still satisfied with the fillet, which came served on grilled herb focaccia bread with shredded lettuce and tartar sauce on the side.  I had my choice of potato and went with the delicious golden waffle fries.

Walleye Sandwich at Tavern Grill ~ Blaine, MN

One of my companions ordered the Monterey Shrimp Pasta, which came with several sauteed shrimp and vermicelli tossed with roasted garlic, asparagus, roasted red peppers, and spinach in a light white wine, lemon and butter sauce.  The ingredients in this dish were plentiful but the sauce was so light it didn’t go far in the way of flavor.  My companion requested a side of the Pesto Alfredo sauce to kick up the flavor a little and was very satisfied after doing so.

Monterey Shrimp Pasta at Tavern Grill ~ Blaine, MN

One of my companions ordered a side salad with her meal, a great add-on for $2.50.

Side Salad at Tavern Grill ~ Blaine, MN

Bread does not automatically come with any of the meals at The Tavern Grill, however our server brought out a plate of sliced ciabatta after one of my companions requested bread.

Chiabatta Bread at Tavern Grill ~ Blaine, MN

Another companion ordered the Baby Back Ribs, served with garlic mashed potatoes and coleslaw.  The ribs were very tender and moist, falling off the bone after being slow-roasted for several hours.  I did not try this at all but according to my companion, the bourbon barbeque sauce was slightly spicy but very flavorful.

Baby Back Ribs at Tavern Grill ~ Blaine, MN

There were a couple of fun items on the dessert menu, such as the Build-Your-Own-S’mores, but what really sounded cool was the Fill-Your-Own-Donut-Holes.  The hot and freshly-fried donut holes were served in an overflowing chinese-food container, with three types of fillings: Chocolate Creme, Bavarian Creme, and Raspberry.  The little tubes have a sharp point to them where you jam them into the center of your donut hole and squeeze until the donut is filled.  What a delicious and fun concept.  These disappeared very quickly!

Fill-Your-Own Mini Donut Holes at Tavern Grill ~ Blaine, MN

Service: I had tried to make a reservation on a busy Friday night but was told that The Tavern Grill would only take reservations for parties of 7 or more, however they would put me on the list for call-ahead seating.  I arrived about 45 minutes after I had called to put my name on the list but was told that they had taken my name off the list because I was late.  I was told my party could be seated right away at a table or I could have my name added to the bottom of the list for a booth.  We didn’t want to wait 40 minutes for a booth so we sat at a table.  Our server was nice and asked if we had been to The Tavern Grill before.  Since we had not, she explained how the Build-Your-Own options worked.  No mentions of highlighted items from the menu, nor did she make any suggestions.  She was helpful however, when helping to decide between a couple of items on the menu.  Food took awhile to arrive, drinks were faster. We had to ask for refills on a  few occasions when our glasses were empty, but the server responded to our requests in a timely manner.

Overall Impression: The Tavern Grill has many specialty items on the menu but also has many Build-Your-Own options.   I would love to go back and try one of the burgers or pizzas.  The Tavern Grill also has great Happy Hour specials on food and a gorgeous patio area.  The service was decent for a very busy Friday night.
The Tavern Grill on Urbanspoon

Sep 122010

Cuisine: American, Dessert
Restaurant Features: Bar, Games, Kids Menu, On-Site Parking, Sunday Brunch
Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 400 Selby Ave St Paul, MN  55102  (651)225-9414
Hours: Mon-Wed 11am-1am  Thurs-Sat 11am-2am  Sunday 10am-1am
Links: Fabulous Fern’s Website * Fabulous Fern’s on FacebookGoogle Map
Atmosphere: Fabulous Fern’s is located on Selby Ave in St Paul, in the Blair Arcade building.  The inside of the restaurant area is spread out in an interesting shape, taking advantage of the many windows that almost make you forget you are in a larger building with other businesses nearby.

Inside Fabulous Ferns

Inside Fabulous Ferns

Besides the dining area, Fabulous Fern’s also has a large bar area, with TVs hung throughout and wood flooring.  Even during the day the lights are kept on the dim side, so fairy lights hung from the ceiling add festivity and soft light.

Bar Area Inside Fabulous Ferns

Bar Area Inside Fabulous Ferns

In one corner of the bar there are several dart boards and cocktail tables.

Game Area ~ Fabulous Ferns

Game Area ~ Fabulous Ferns

Menu: Appetizers include Chicken Wings or Chicken Strips (Buffalo, BBQ, or Sweet Ginger), Bruschetta, Calamari, Onion Rings, Buffalo Shrimp, Mussels, Spicy Green Beans, Black Bean Dip, Potato Skins, Margherita Pizza, Shrimp and Pesto Pizza, Pepperoni Pizza and Tuscan Pizza.

The many salads include Chicken and Wild Rice, Southern Style Chicken, Mandarin Chicken, Thai Peanut Chicken, Caesar, BLT Salad, Strawberry Spinach, Grilled Szechwan Chicken, Vegetarian Greek Salad, and the Shrimp and Scallop Salad.

The sandwich offerings at Fabulous Fern’s include Fern’s Burger, BBQ Burger, Chicken Dijon, Chicken Parmesan, Grilled Turkey Burger, Portabella Sandwich, Veggie Burger, Sirloin Sandwich, Cajun Meatloaf, Hot Hoagie, Croissant Sandwich, Focaccia Sandwich, Grilled Tuna Steak, and Lemon Pepper Cod.

Pasta options are the Tortellini Rosa with Chicken, Fettucini with Chicken, Chicken and Spinach Ravioli, Fettucini Del Mar, and Penne Primavera.

Dinner Entrees are served after 4pm and include vegetable medley and choice of rice or potato.  The entree options are Pot Roast, Sirloin Steak, Cajun Meatloaf, Spicy Barbeque Ribs,  Grilled Pork Loin, Baked Chicken Dijon, Fish & Chips, Pecan Crusted Walleye, and Blackened Walleye.

Desserts include Hot Fudge Ice Cream Popover, Cheesecake of the Moment, Ice Cream, Vanilla Bread Pudding, Hot Fudge Sundae, Creme Brulee, and Apple Strudel.
Price guide: Appetizers $8-13   Salads $8-13   Sandwiches $9-12  Pastas $10-15    Dinner Entrees $10-19  Desserts $5-6

Weekly Specials:

  • Sunday Brunch
  • Adults $13.95     Kids 12 & Under $6.95       Seniors $11.95
  • Waffle Bar, French Toast, Scrambled Eggs, Sausage, Bacon, Biscuits and Gravy, Assorted Salads, Bars & Cakes.  The following items are always on the Buffet but vary weekly: Pasta, Quiche, Rice Dish, and Soup.
  • In addition to the regular dining menu there is a Featured Menu with appetizers, salads, entrees, pastas and desserts that changes weekly.  Weekly menu can be found here.

What we ordered: I had lunch at Fabulous Fern’s while attending a workshop nearby.  I had the Chicken Parmesan Sandwich with fries.  The chicken breast was average size, breaded with panko and then deep fried to a dark crispy brown.  It was served on a hamburger bun with melted mozzarella, marinara on the side.  This sandwich was tasty enough but would’ve been so much better with Italian bread or something other than a boring hamburger bun.  I would’ve liked a lot more marinara sauce too, to really give it a good covering.  I only ate half  but could have easily eaten the whole thing and brought the rest home for later.Chicken Parmesan Sandwich ~ Fabulous Ferns

Chicken Parmesan Sandwich ~ Fabulous Ferns

My companion ordered one of the Daily Specials, which was Mini Spring Rolls and Crab and Spinach Rangoons.  Before ordering we had thought that maybe these were hand-made items since they were the special that day, but after trying them the server confirmed our suspicions that they were the frozen variety.  They spring rolls were filled with veggies and were good but nothing special.  The rangoons were wonton wraps filled with a cheesy spinach mixture then fried.  The two sauces for dipping were a sweet & sour and a hoisin or similar  sauce.  Seemed an odd combo of appetizers to serve together, with very contradictory flavors.

Spring Rolls & Rangoons ~ Fabulous Ferns

Spring Rolls & Rangoons ~ Fabulous Ferns

Service: Our server was very knowledgeable about the menu and told us about various items that Fabulous Fern’s uses seasonally.  The food took a little longer than average to arrive from the time we ordered, but it was a busy weekday at noon.  SServer was very responsive to refilling drinks and getting us what we needed.  Our total visit took about an hour.
Overall Impression: I would go back and try Fabulous Fern’s again sometime for dinner, I just wouldn’t order the Chicken Parmesan again.  The desserts sounded good so I would probably order one next time too.

Fabulous Fern's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Feb 232010

Disclosure: I was invited out to do this review and my meal was provided by the restaurant.
Cuisine: Southern Italian
Restaurant Features: Bar, Catering, Patio, On-Site Parking,  Sunday Brunch
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Address: 5001 34th Ave S. Minneapolis, MN 55417 612 724-3009
Hours: Sun-Th 4:30p-10p Fri-Sat 4:30p-11p Sunday Brunch: 10a-2p
Links: Al Vento Website * Al Vento Facebook PageGoogle Map

Atmosphere: Al Vento is conveniently located on the corner of East 50th St and 34th Ave S in South Minneapolis, not far from the Lightrail line.  The restaurant is in a brick building, with one open room serving as the dining room and bar area, and the kitchen tucked away in the back.  The mood was romantic, with soft lighting from both the hanging pendant lights and the soft glow of the table-top candles.  The space efficiently accommodates enough tables to intimately seat maybe 40-50 guests.  Our server, Alexandro, just added to the ambiance with his authentic Italian accent.  The name “Al Vento” means “with the wind” in Italian.

Menu: Appetizers include a variety of Bruschetta including Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto and White Bean, Artichoke/Mozzarella/Basil and Roasted Peppers, Eggplant Caponata, and Olive Tapenade with Goat Cheese. Other starters include Mushroom and Pork with Apple Chutney,  Stuffed Mushrooms, Mussels in White Wine & Garlic, Tomato Bread Soup, Smoked Salmon Crostini with Mascarpone and Berry Compote, Cavatelli with Swiss Chard Truffle Pecorino and Brown Butter.

Salads offered at Al Vento are the Caesar, Red Beet with Candied Walnuts, and the Mista with Fennel , Blood Orange and Herb Goat Cheese.

You can also order a variety of pizzas including  the Neopolitan, or one with Salami/Artichoke/Tomato, the Red Potato/Spinach/Gorgonzola/ Red Onion is a unique combo and last but not least, the Fennel Sausage/ Roma Tomato/ Herb Goat Cheese.

There are a handful of delicious Pastas on the menu at Al Vento, with the menu rotating items on a regular (if not daily) basis.  Menu items on the night of my visit were Spaghetti and Meatballs (which is a true winner even if you rarely order spaghetti at restaurants),  Risotto with Roasted Cauliflower and Pecorino, Bucatini alla Amatriciana with Pancetta Tomato and Chili flake,  Maltagliati with Braised Pork Olives and Chestnuts, and Fussili with Tiger Shrimp and Pancetta in a Tomato Sauce.

The Entree items also change on a regular basis, depending on the season and what ingredients can be obtained locally.  Current menu includes Braised Pork Shank with Saffron Risotto and Gremolata, Sea Bass with Root Vegetables and Red Pepper Sauce, Parmesan Chicken Breast with Roasted Vegetable Gratín, Grilled Steak alla Pizzaiola with Gorgonzola Sauce and Potato.

Desserts are all homemade and include Vanilla Gelato,  Semi-Fredo Hazelnut Custard, Chocolate Oblivion (pastry crust with chocolate ganache and strawberries), Tiramisu, Olive Oil Cake (with fresh berry puree and hazelnuts), and the Creme Brulee Trio (chocolate, vanilla, pistachio).

In addition to a full bar, Al Vento offers a variety of coffee drinks and Italian sodas.

Sunday Brunch: European-style buffet featuring fresh fruit, salads, pastries, meats, cheeses, smoked salmon, waffles, house made sausage, eggs benedict, breakfast potatoes, a chocolate fondue fountain with strawberries and more that rotates from week to week,. $14 for adults, $7 for kids.  Adult brunch includes a bottomless mimosa.  Every Sunday from 10 to 2.  Reservations accepted.

Price guide: Bruschetta $4-5  Antipasti $7-9  Salads  $7 Pizza $9-11  Pasta $13-15  Entrees $17-20

Happy Hour: Happy Hour every day from 4:30 to 6.  1/2 price all bottles of wine,   $5 select martinis.

Weekly Specials: Sundays and Mondays- Half Price Wine all night
Tuesday Night Date Night-  3 Courses for $20 a person.
What we ordered: We started with the complimentary freshly baked Italian bread with a side of olive oil.  Like everything at Al Vento, the bread was made from scratch.  It was lovely, thick and dense, seasoned with Italian herbs and very flavorful.

Al Vento has many selections of Bruschetta so I ordered the one that caught my eye. It had chopped artichoke, tomato, roasted red pepper and fresh homemade mozzarella.  I don’t hesitate to say this is one of the best bruschetta I have tried.  Every ingredient was so fresh and brought a great mix of flavors.  Artichoke and roasted red peppers were a genius addition to the traditional tomato and basil.

We also tried the Sicilian Stuffed Mushrooms, an excellent choice. The order came with four mushroom caps that were stuffed with a blend of walnuts and herbs,  topped with bread crumbs and cheese, then baked.  The mushrooms were placed atop a pretty arrangement of colorful dipping sauces.  Great combo of textures and flavors.

There were many entrees on the menu that sounded wonderful but I have really been craving seafood lately so I chose the Fussili Shrimp Pasta. The dish was a generous portion of homemade fussili pasta loaded with at least 7-8 giant tiger shrimp.  The pasta was tossed with homemade tomato sauce, small chunks of pancetta (cured Italian bacon), fresh garlic, red chili spices and other herbs.    The pasta was cooked perfectly, the tomato sauce was fresh with subtle kick from the red chili, and the little bites of pancetta provided even more texture and taste than the shrimp alone.  I was very pleased with this dish!

My companion ordered the Braised Pork Shank.  The pork was extremely tender and juicy after being braised; it was first seared to give it a brown color then roasted in seasoned broth.  Fabulous! The pork was topped with a gremolata consisting of chopped garlic, parsley and lemon zest then surrounded with a saffron risotto.  The citrusy mix of herbs was a pleasing compliment to the rich taste of the saffron risotto.  My companion and I both loved this dish, it is hearty and warming on a cold winter night.

We also ordered dessert at the suggestion of our server.  The homemade Vanilla Gelato at Al Vento is better than any I have had locally.  Gelato is usually made with less fat and more sugar than traditional ice cream; this version is the perfect blend of both creamy and sweet, with the rich taste of real vanilla bean.  Heavenly!

We also tried the Semi Fredo, which was a very unique dessert made of semi-frozen hazelnut custard.  The flavor of the hazelnut reminded me slightly of peanut butter, but much more rich and less sweet.  The strawberry and chocolate sauces that were drizzled on top were a perfect match to the hazelnut.  As for the texture of this dessert,  I have a hard time wording its uniqueness; it was very cold yet not frozen or creamy smooth like gelato, ice cream or other frozen custards.    Word cannot do it justice, you must just try it to see what I mean! You’ll love it.

Service: We were lucky enough to find a space in the parking lot and get a table on a busy Tuesday night.  Our service was excellent!   Our server, Alexandro, was great at explaining items on the menu (with his authentic Italian accent) and had some suggestions that were real winners.  Drinks were refilled quickly and food was timed so that we were able to enjoy our appetizers without rushing to finish before our entrees came.  The manager was also very inviting and helpful and seemed to genuinely care about every customer dining at Al Vento.

Overall Impression: This was my first visit to Al Vento and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. The food is wonderful, authentic Southern Italian, everything is made from scratch, and many ingredients are locally produced….. all for prices less than I expected for such a nice restaurant.  The Tuesday Date Night special (3 course meal for $20/person) is a phenomenal way to try a variety and the Sunday Brunch sounds excellent as well.
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