Apr 082012

Cuisine: American, Desserts
Restaurant Features: Bar, Flatscreen TVs, Rooftop Patio
Location: Uptown Minneapolis, MN
Address:  3001 Hennepin Ave S., Suite 1230  Minneapolis, MN 55408  612-877-7263
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:30am-12am * Fri 11:30am-2am * Sat 9am-2am * Sun 9am-12am
Links: Uptown Cafeteria Website * Uptown Cafeteria on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Situated in a prime space on the lower level of Calhoun Square, Uptown Cafeteria is located at Hennepin Ave, looking out onto Lake Street.  The windows that look out onto Lake Street have the ability to open completely, making it an open-air restaurant for many months of the year.  The main dining area is tucked away from the bar and is decorated to have a very retro look to it with the booths, tables and chairs.

The bar is the central feature at Uptown Cafeteria and has seating on all sides of the bar as well as several bistro tables along the windows.  There are a handful of flatscreen TVs hanging above the bar tuned into a variety of programs.  Uptown Cafeteria also has a Sky Bar that is on the rooftop and is open from May-September.

Menu:  Breakfast is served on Saturday and Sunday from 9am-3pm.  Menu items include Warm Banana Bread, Egg White Scramble, Yogurt Parfait, Bacon and Eggs,  Waffles, Chilaquiles, Full Monty English Breakfast, Eggs Benedict, Smoked Salmon Florentine Benedict, Hangover Helper, Cheddar Biscuits and Chorizo Gravy, Pancakes, German Potato Pancakes, and French Toast Treasure Box.

Appetizers at Uptown Cafeteria include Walleye and Corn Fritters, Buffalo Shrimp, Battered Onion Rings, Cold Smoked Salmon, Jalapeno Cheddar Poppers, Crunchy Mushrooms, Short Rib Chili Cheese Fries, Crispy Sweet and Sour Chicken Wings, Cheese and Crackers, and House-made Potato Chips.

Soups include Chicken Noodle, Soup of the Day, and Short Rib Chili.  Salads offered are Hearts of Romaine Caesar, Field Greens, Classic Wedge, Greek Salad, Cobb, Big Hippie Salad and Taco Salad.

Sandwiches are served with fries, chips, side salad or cottage cheese.  Options include Tuna Melt, The Jerk, Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup, Fancy Grilled Cheese (with bleu cheese, apple and bacon), The Burger (cheese, onions, fried eggs and mushrooms), Turkey Burger, Turkey Club, Cuban Sandwich, BBQ Meatloaf Melt, and Southwest Veggie Burger.

Uptown Cafeteria also has entrees such as Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes, Fried Buttermilk Chicken, Beef Stroganoff, Country Fried Steak, Chicken and Waffles, Shrimp and Grits, Hot Tom Turkey, Four Cheese Mac & Cheese, Chicken Potpie, Thick Cut Pork Chop, Lake of the Woods Shore Lunch and Grilled Fresh Fish.

Side Dishes include Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Bacon and Bleu Cheese Brussel Sprouts, Green Bean Almondine, Cheddar Drop Biscuits, and Fries with Ranch.

Uptown Cafeteria also has a selection of homemade desserts including Warm Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Chocolate Silk Pie, 5 Layer Chocolate Cake, and Red Velvet Cake with Raspberry Ice Cream Soda, Caramel Pecan Malt, Oreo Grasshopper Shake, and Chocolate, Strawberry or Vanilla Malt.
Price guide: Appetizers $5-11 Salads $7-14  Sandwiches $8-13 Entrees $10-17 Desserts $5-8

Weekly Specials:
Sunday- Lasagna with Side Salad and Garlic Bread $11
Monday- Spaghetti Dinner with Side Salad and Garlic Bread $12
Tuesday- All-You-Can-Eat Tacos $11
Wednesday- Pot Roast $12
Thursday- Chicken Subgum Chow Mein $10
Friday- All You Can Eat Fish Fry with fries and coleslaw $16
What we ordered: My companion and I visited Uptown Cafeteria on a hot, beautiful afternoon and a delicious cocktail was in order.  I had the Blueberry Mojito $10, a blend of rum, mint leaves, club soda, simple syrup and blueberries.

As soon as I saw the Cuban sandwich on the menu, I knew that was what I wanted to order. The sandwich had roasted pork and smoked ham piled on a french roll with Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles, then pressed until the bread was crusty and everything within hot and melted.  I ordered it with fries, which were fresh cut, hot and salty.

My companion ordered the Turkey Burger with Chili and Avocado.  The burger was made with fresh ground seasoned turkey, which was moist and very tasty.  It was topped with melted cheese, big slices of fresh avocado and roasted green chilis.  It was very good but messy to eat; fork and knife proved to be a better option.

Service: We arrived for a late lunch on a beautiful Friday afternoon and all of the tables near the windows were already taken so we chose to sit in the vacant dining room, which we ended up having to ourselves for the entire duration of our visit.  We were assigned a server and we saw her exactly four times…. once to take our drink order, another to bring drinks and take our food order, another to bring the food and the fourth time was to bring us our bill (which I paid for with cash since we didn’t want to wait forever).  We didn’t require a lot of attention but it would have been nice to feel like we weren’t forgotten.
Overall Impression: The food at Uptown Cafeteria is what I would consider comfort food, although the prices seemed a little high to be comforting on a budget. Our two sandwiches and one cocktail ended up being over $40 after tip, which seemed expensive for what we got but is typical for any restaurant in Uptown.  The food was good and the atmosphere was pretty cool.

Uptown Cafeteria on Urbanspoon

Mar 182012

Disclosure: I was invited out to do this review and our meals were provided by Mystic Lake. All opinions are my own.

Cuisine: Fish & Seafood, Steaks, Ribs, Chops,  Desserts
Restaurant Features: Casino, Hotel, Lobster Tank
Location: Prior Lake, MN
Address: 2400 Mystic Lake Blvd., Prior Lake, MN, 55372 1-800-264-2821
Hours: Sun, Wed & Thurs 5-10pm * Fri-Sat 5-11pm
Links: Mystic Steakhouse Website * Google Map

Atmosphere: The space that is now home to Mystic Steakhouse was remodeled in 2010 when it became the (then ) home to Il Premio Italian Steakhouse.  Fast forward to December 2011 when the space transitioned to become Mystic Steakhouse with an all-new menu featuring steaks, chops and seafood.  Gone are the fancy white table clothes to reveal a much more casual, comfortable space with a contemporary feel.

There is a live Lobster Tank near the kitchen that you can see when you enter the dining room.

Menu: Appetizers at the Mystic Steakhouse include Seared Tuna, Broiled Jumbo Shrimp, Battered Walleye Strips, Fried Calamari, Maryland Crab Cakes, Hearth-Baked Pizza, and Bull Bites.

Salads offered are dinner-size and include House or Caesar or you can order a full Cobb Salad.  Soups offered include Wild Rice or French Onion.

House Favorites offered at Mystic Steakhouse include Homemade Lasagna, Spaghetti with Meatballs,  Chicken Parmigiana and Steak House Burger.

Mystic’s Seafood Selections include Fried Jumbo Shrimp, Broiled Shrimp, King Crab Legs, Shore Lunch Battered Walleye, Broiled Walleye, Grilled Norwegian Salmon, and Jumbo Sea Scallops.

Steakhouse Entrees include 6 or 8oz Filet Mignon, 10oz Ribeye, 10oz New York Strip, 16 Oz T-Bone, Brick Oven Chicken, Roasted Lamb Chops, Hickory Smoked Barbeque Ribs, Bone-In Pork Chop.  You can also order the Filet, Ribeye or New York Strip as a combo with any of the following added: Walleye Fillet, King Crab Legs Fried Shrimp, Broiled Shrimp, 5 oz Lobster Tail or Scallops.

Accompaniments include Caramelized Onions, Sauteed Mushrooms, Demi Glace Sauce, Bearnaise Sauce, or Melted Bleu Cheese.

Desserts offered at Mystic Steakhouse include Almond Cheesecake, Apple Streusel Pie, Creme Brulee, Tiramisu, Chocolate Cake,
Price guide: Appetizers $10-13  Fish/Seafood $19-35  Steakhouse Entrees $15-24
What we ordered: My companion and I started with a couple of non-alcoholic beverages, since the Mystic Steakhouse adheres to the alcohol-free policy of the Mystic Lake Casino and Mdewakanton Sioux Community.   I tried the Pina Colada which was sweet and every bit as tasty as its counterpart with rum.

My companion ordered the Ginger Beer by Cock N Bull. The undertones of this drink were similar to a Ginger Ale, but the ginger was much more pronounced and quite spicy.  Excellent choice if you enjoy ginger!

We started with the basket of bread, which included two varieties that were both delicious. The Italian loaf was soft inside and crusty on the outside but the real star in this bread basket was the Pumpernickel with raisins. So good, especially with the salted sweet cream butter.

We then ordered a couple of appetizers.  The Walleye Strips were one of our first choices for appetizer and I am so glad we got these! There were four pieces of fish in the order, each of which was battered with Shore Lunch then fried to a crispy golden brown.  The texture of the breading paired with the light, flaky walleye was a winning combo.  It was served with Mystic sauce,  a spicy aioli, and lemon wedges.  These were great and rank up there, I highly recommend.

We also tried the Maryland Crab Cakes.  These were delicious; a mixture of succulent crab pieces mixed with mayo, mustard, worcestershire, herbs and breadcrumbs and then fried to a crispy golden.  Each of the three crab cakes were served atop a very thin slice of lemon, plated with little dollops of a spicy Cajun Remoulade (mayo, lemon, cayenne, mustard, ketchup, worcestershire, garlic, celery salt).

Our entrees came with side salad, my companion and I both chose the Caesar.  The lettuce was cold and crisp and the Caesar dressing was fresh and homemade, the croutons crunchy and flavorful.

For my entree I ordered the ribeye, which I was sold on after looking at the menu for about two minutes.  I was delighted with my ribeye in every way, yet I wish I had paid closer attention to the fact that there was a tank full of Live Maine Lobsters that I somehow overlooked on the way to be seated at our table.  I love lobster and any of of those big beauties would have made me a fine meal, but I was just as satisfied with the tender, juicy, flavorful ribeye steak that I chose.  The steak itself was only 10 oz so I paired it with the Broiled Shrimp, which came recommended (along with the fried shrimp) by the server.  Each of the three shrimp were butterflied with the shell still on, then lightly seasoned and broiled.  The meal came with sauteed carrots and choice of potato. I chose the sea-salt crusted baked potato which is how I think I shall make baked potatoes at home from here on out.  The salt made the skin really soft and no further seasoning was necessary even after I added butter and sour cream.

My companion ordered the Bleu Cheese Crusted Filet Mignon and Lobster Tail combination dinner.  The filet was a ten oz cut of very tender beef, and my companion opted to add the warm bleu cheese which was not a sauce but rather bleu cheese that had been baked into a fluffy golden pillow. Awesome! The steak was paired with a 5 oz Lobster Tail and a sea salt-crusted baked potato.

We companion and I ordered a variety of accompaniments for our steaks, including Demi Glace, Bearnaise, Caramelized Onions and Sauteed Button Mushrooms.  Everything was wonderful, just depends on what flavors and textures you like ot enhance your steak with.

I saved a tiny bit of room for dessert, starting with the Apple Streusel Pie.  Filled with a heaping pile of tart, firm apples mixed with cinnamon and sugar.  The crumbly streusel topping was good but let the apples take center stage.

We both love Creme Brulee and the version at Mystic Lake is one of the biggest serving sizes I’ve seen to date.  An entire bowl is filled with the creamy custard and then a layer of sugar is crystallized on top, then topped with whipped cream, tea cakes and a slice of strawberry.

Service: The folks at Mystic Steakhouse knew we were coming, as they had invited us down to try to the new menu and set up a reservation in my name.  We were greeted by the smiling hostess and shown through the partially seated dining room to one of the nice semi-circle booths along the wall.  Our server greeted us just a few minutes later and talked up the non-alcoholic drinks selection.  Our server also had some good suggestions for appetizers and although I wish he had made it a point to talk up the live lobsters, it is my own fault that I overlooked them after not reviewing the menu more carefully.    The food was prepared in the appropriate amount of with the courses being staggered.  Drinks were filled and plates cleared often.  The manager was friendly as usual, and stopped by to check on us a couple of times.
Overall Impression: Mystic Steakhouse has a nice selection of steaks and seafood at very reasonable prices and is a great sanctuary away from all the stimulation of the casino.  Mystic Steakhouse is a great destination restaurant, so whether you plan to spend time at the casino or not, consider a trip down to Mystic Lake soon.
Mystic Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Mar 132012

A few weeks back I received a package in the mail with a couple of new candy bars from Cakedy Candy Bars.  These candy bars are unique in that they are filled with a nougat made from cake batter.  I am willing to try nearly any chocolate and since these sounded interesting, I said I would give them a try.

The package that was sent to me included two different bars, the Redhead and the Peanutter.  They were each in a  sealed plastic wrapper with a homemade sticker proudly displaying the “Cakedy” name.

The first bar we tried was the Redhead.  It is described on the package as “Strawberry Cream Cheese Nougat with Strawberry Chips and Vanilla Shell”.  I had two other companions who were willing to be guinea pigs with me, and a couple who were far more leery. One friend of mine was suspicious and thought I was crazy to consume a product that was sent to me in this fashion but I assured her that Cakedy was a real company and that everything was fine.  Then I tasted it and to put it nicely, I really didn’t care for it and wish that I hadn’t tried this one first.  My two guinea pigs both thought it was good but I didn’t care for the flavor or texture.

The Peanutter looked much more appealing and tasted far better to me and my companions.  It had a thick layer of chocolate surrounding the peanut butter flavored nougat.  It also had the distinct taste of butterscotch from the chips inside the nougat.  We would all buy these to eat again.

Overall Impression: Everyone who tried the Peanutter bar enjoyed it and thought it was really good.  The Redhead was enjoyed by 2 out of 3 but I personally thought it missed the mark.

Oct 232011

Cuisine: American, Italian, Pizza, Pasta, Ice Cream, Dessert
Restaurant Features: On-Site Parking, Gluten-Free Menu
Location: White Bear Lake, MN
Address: 2692 East County Road E  White Bear Lake, MN 55110 651-777-9199
Links: Donatelli’s Website * Donatelli’s on FacebookGoogle Map

Atmosphere: Donatelli’s is a popular family restaurant located within a strip mall on the south end of White Bear, right next to JJ’s Bierstube.  The restaurant itself is long and narrow, with a main dining room and a smaller dining area used for bigger parties or on busy nights.  Along the outer walls of the dining area there are several private booths (topped with seasonal decorations), with tables in the middle of the restaurant which can easily be adjoined for larger parties.

Menu: Appetizers include Bruschetta, Chicken Strips, Chicken Wings, White Cheddar Cheese Curds, Onion Rings, Donatelli’s Caprese, Cheesy Fries, Bread Sticks, Garlic Toast, Donatelli’s Haystack Fries (covered with cheese and bacon), Fried Ravioli, Hot Chips, Seasoned Fries, Meatball Sliders, Italian Fries and Italian Dunkers.

Salads at Donatellis include Antipasta, Chef Salad, Oriental Chicken, NLT Grilled Chicken Breast, Spinach Salad, Caesar, Blue Apple, Blue Burger, Grilled Veggie Salad, and Crispy Chicken Salad.

Soups offered are Chili and Minestrone.

Donatelli’s also has a number of Sandwiches, all are served with chips or you can upgrade to seasoned fries for $1.  Options include Chicken or Veal Parmigiana, Meatball, Italian Sausage, Hot Dago, Submarine Sandwich, Grilled Chicken, Beer Battered Fish, Turkey, Donatelli Reuben, Grilled Ham and Cheese, BLT, Turkey Club, Club Wrap, Steak or Chicken Caesar Wrap, BLT Chicken Wrap, and Grilled Salmon Caesar Wrap.

Donatelli’s also has a number of Specialty Burgers  including Plain Burger, Luigi Burger, Cheeseburger, Pizza Burger, Mama Mia Burger, Honey Mustard Ham Burger, Jack Burger, One Eyed Jack, Patty Melt, Chili Cheese Burger, Donatelli Burger, Philly Burger, Blue Bacon Burger and Red Portabella Burger

Pasta selections are numerous and include Spaghetti, Spaghetti Supreme, Rigatoni, Linguini with Marinara, Fettuccine Alfredo, Chicken or Veal Parmigiana, Baked Mostaccioli, Baked Manicotti, Baked Tortellini, Baked Ravioli, Baked Gnocchi, Baked Spaghetti, Baked Lasagna, Baked Rigatoni,  and Baked Linguini Carbonara, Tortellini Alfredo, Butternut Squash Ravioli with Asparagus, Spinach and Roasted Garlic Tortelloni, Smoked Mozzarella Ravioli, Chicken and Spinach Cannelloni, Stuffed Shells, Seafood Cannelloni, Linguini with Shrimp and Pesto, Cajun Chicken Alfredo, Fettuccine with Steak and Alfredo, Italian Jambalaya, Linguini with Chicken and Pesto, and Spaghetti Pie.

Donatelli’s also has a variety of Pizza Turnovers (stuffed pizza pockets) and Specialty Pizzas (deep-dish or thin crust) including Fresh Mozzarella and Roasted Tomato, Veggie Delight, Heartburn Deluxe, Super Heartburn Deluxe, Heart Stopper, Bacon Cheeseburger, Taco, Donatelli’s White Pizza, Margherita, BBQ Chicken, and the Upside Down Pizza.

**Gluten-Free Menu*** Items include Gluten Free versions of all of the following: Caprese, Italian Fries, Blue Apple Salad, Spinach Salad, Chicken and Pesto, Baked Cheese Ravioli, Stuffed Shells, Ravioli, Baked Rigatoni, and Gluten-Free Pizza.

Donatelli’s also has a selection of Old-Fashioned Ice Creams.  Other Desserts include Milk Shake, Malts, Ice Cream Soda, Turtle Sundae, Root Beer Float, Hot Fudge Sundae, Scrumptious Sundae, Old Fashioned Banana Split, Hot Fudge Cake, Turtle Fudge Cake, Black Forest Cake, Tiramisu, Berramisu, Chocolate Flourless Torte, and Death by Chocolate Peanut Butter.

Price guide: Appetizers $7-11 Sandwiches $7-12 Pasta $8-17 Desserts $3-7

What we ordered: Our party was dining on borrow time on the night of our visit, so we went straight to our entrees instead of ordering an appetizer as I normally would. Although I didn’t order Italian Fries on this visit, I highly recommend them.

There are so many awesome past choices at Donatelli’s and I have had the pleasure of sampling many of them over the years but on this night I ordered the Spaghetti with Meatballs.  I typically never order spaghetti at restaurants but Donatelli’s makes their spaghetti from scratch and it is perfect.  The noodles are fresh and cooked slightly al dente with a generous amount of the hearty house red sauce.

One of my companions had the Seafood Cannelloni.  This was delicious, but extremely rich.  There were three shells stuffed with a blend of lobster, scallops, and shrimp in a lobster sherry cream sauce.  It had several cheeses baked on top until just melted.  It was served with a slice of garlic toast that was great for dunking in the sauce.  Take the cannelloni shells out of this dish and you have yourself a wonderful seafood dip.

Another companion ordered the Cajun Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo, which was fettuccine mixed with several bite sized pieces of grilled Cajun chicken breast, and sauteed green and red bell peppers.

Another companion started with the Antipasto Salad followed by the Rigatoni.  The Antipasta salad looked wonderful with ham, pepperoni, mozzarella, cheddar, onions, mushrooms and black olives.  Tossed in Donatelli’s homemade Italian dressing.

The Rigatoni was a bowl of standard rigatoni topped with Donatelli’s red sauce.

One person in our party had the Steak Caesar Wrap.  This wrap had a substantial amount of beef in relation to lettuce.  Tasty and filling.

Service: Our visit was early evening on a Saturday night and it was already busy at Donatelli’s.  We were able to get a table big enough for the six of us with a few minutes of arriving and were greeted by our server shortly thereafter.  Drinks were refilled quickly and food was prepared reasonably fast for how busy it was. Six of us were in and out in about an hour.  Our server, as well as the staff in general,  seemed very friendly.

Overall Impression: A true institution in the White Bear Lake area, Donatelli’s has something that will appeal to everyone.  The menu is huge and the service is very friendly.

This was a review of Donatelli’s Restaurant originally published on Twin Cities Restaurant Blog
Donatelli's on Urbanspoon
Donatelli Bros Family Rstrnt Reviews in White Bear Lake

Jul 262011

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 fo 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: (Disclosure: My visit was part of a pre-arranged five course dinner held to kick-off this summer’s The Generous Pour Wine Event. I will only be writing about the items I tried that are permanent features on The Capital Grille’s dinner menu.)

I started with samples of two appetizersPictured below on the left is the Pan Fried Calamari with Hot Cherry Peppers.  I really love calamari when it is cooked right and this calamari was cooked perfectly so that it was tender without a hint of chewiness.  It was lightly breaded and slightly crispy.  I have been loving the combo of fried calamari with peppers lately and The Capital Grille’s version really hit the spot.  The other appetizer that was paired with the calamari was the Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella with Vine Ripe Tomatoes.  One look at this treat had my mouth watering and it smelled amazing.  The prosciutto was thickly sliced, slightly smokey and perfectly crispySimilar to bacon but even better!  The melted mozzarella was creamy, a perfect contrast to the crisp prosciutto. Could I eat nothing but this every day for the rest of my life and call it a low-carb diet? Sounds like a great idea to me!

Just before the main course we were brought a basket of different breads.  They all looked great but I didn’t want to ruin my appetite.

For the entree, I chose the Kona-Crusted Sirloin with shallot butter. This steak had exceptional flavor, having been dry aged and cut on-site, extremely tender with just a trace of marbling throughout the meat.  It was broiled at a high heat to give it the prefect amount of char while still between a medium and medium rare temperature, as I requested.  The shallot butter melted on top just emphasized its natural juices and flavors.  Everything about it was excellent.

My companion has the Cedar Planked Salmon with Tomato Fennel Relish.  This looked amazing! The salmon filet was thick and cooked al dente toward the center, as it should be.  It was seasoned with fennel seed and then covered with a relish made from shallots and tomatoes.  I tried just a bite of this and thought it was great.

We were served two different side dishes with our entrees, including the Lobster Mac ‘N’ Cheese.  This delicious, rich and creamy dish was made with Marscapone, Havarti and Grana Padano cream sauce.  I can’t recall having a macaroni and cheese with this exact combo of cheeses, but the flavors were pleasant while being somewhat strong. There were a handful of large pieces of lobster claw meat in the dish, which was then covered with white cheddar and Panko bread crumbs.

Another side dish we were served with our entrees was the Sauteed Spinach.

For the dessert course I chose the Strawberries Capital Grille.  This dish consists of handmade vanilla ice cream that is topped with fresh strawberries and a special sauce made with Ruby Port and Grand Marnier.  My first impression of this rich and creamy dessert was that it tasted like marshmallow but the strawberries brought a nice mix of both sweet and tart.

Service: I had great service at The Capital Grille, which can only be expected since I was their guest for this special dinner.
Overall Impression: The Capital Grille may be a chain restaurant, but it is one of the finest chain restaurants in the Minneapolis area.  You can always count on a delicious, high-quality meal at The Capital Grille.  One of the best deals around is their Generous Pour Wine Event currently running through Sept. 4, 2011, where patrons can get unlimited glasses of wine with dinner for only $25/person.

The Capital Grille on Urbanspoon
Capital Grille Reviews in Minneapolis

Jun 202011

I was recently at Famous Daves BBQ & Blues in Calhoun Square to see the legendary Eric Gales Band.  While there I ordered the Famous Bread Pudding.

Oh Heavenly, Lord.

The bread pudding itself is very good but what makes this dessert is the pecan praline sauce.  Sweet, buttery, rich and decadent.  Did I mention divine?!

Want the recipe?

Famous Dave’s Bread Pudding
1 1/2 lb loaf cinnamon egg bread 2/3 cup golden raisins 1 1/2 cup sugar
4 cups milk 2 cups heavy whipping cream 1/4 cup vanilla extract
8 eggs, beaten 1 tsp cinnamon unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Coat the bottom and sides of a 2-inch deep 9″x13″ baking dish heavily with butter. Tear the bread into 1-inch pieces. Mix with the raisons in a bowl. Spread the bread mixture evenly in the prepared dish, turning crust side down as this tends to burn easily. Whisk the sugar, milk, whipping cream, vanilla, eggs and cinnamon in a bowl until blended. Pour gently over the bread mixture, making sure every piece is wet. Place the baking dish inside a larger, 4-inch deep roaster pan. Add water to the roaster pan to reach halfway up the side of the baking dish. Bake for 1 hour. Remove baking dish from water bath immediately. Let stand for 20 minutes. Serve while still warm. Spoon into dessert bowls. Drizzle each serving with warm Ol’ Southern Plantation Praline Sauce. Top with whipped cream and add a scoop of vanilla if desired.


Ol’ Southern Plantation Praline Sauce
2 cups unsalted butter, cubed
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans 3 pounds light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 cups sour cream 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Heat 1 cup of the butter in a large saucepan until melted. Add the pecans and mix well. Bring to a boil. Cook until the pecans begin to change color. Be careful! This mixture will foam over, so use a large saucepan (3 qts or larger). Add the remaining 1 cup of butter and mix will. This will cool the pecan mixture and stop the cooking process. Remove from heat. Combine the brown sugar, whipping cream and cinnamon in a large(4 qt.) sauce pan and mix well. Cook over low heat until blended, stirring constantly. Increase heat. Using a candy thermometer, cook to exactly 230 degrees. Immediately stir in pecan mixture. Then add sour cream and vanilla and mix well. Remove from heat. Serve over Famous Dave’s Bread Pudding, but save some for vanilla ice cream, French toast, pancakes, etc.
Yield: 8 cups.

Jun 112011

Cuisine: Fish, Seafood, Steaks, Sushi, Dessert
Restaurant Features: Banquet, Bar, Hotel
Locations: Edina & Minneapolis, MN
Addresses & Maps:
Edina– 3203 Galleria Edina, MN 55435(Edina Westin Galleria Hotel) 952.920.1142

Minneapolis– 800 Nicollet Mall  Minneapolis, MN 55402    612.338.3300

Hours: Mon-TH: 11am-10pm  FRI:    11am-11pm  SAT:     4pm-11pm  SUN:  4pm-10pm

Links: McCormick & Schmick’s Website * McCormick & Schmick’s on Facebook

Atmosphere: The Downtown Minneapolis McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant is located on Nicollet Mall at 9th St..  The restaurant is quite big, or so it seems.  On the way to our table we walked by several curtained-off areas which I can only assume lead to additional or private dining areas.

My companions and I were shown behind one of the very last curtains and into a large dining room.  Deep, rich colors on the walls and floor gave it a masculine feel which was softened up by the white tablecloths.

There is also a  large Bar area at the Downtown location that has booths as well as seating at the bar.  Much less formal than the dining room but just as cozy.

Menu: The Menu at McCormick & Schmick’s changes daily, depending on what type of fresh catch is available.  The following is the menu that was available to me on the night of my visit in late May 2011.

Appetizers include Tempura Shrimp, Lump Blue Crab Tower, Fried Calamari, Duck Potstickers with Raspberry Hoisin, Crispy Thai Chicken Spring Rolls, Portabella Mushroom and Goat Cheese Bruschetta, Steamed Black Mussel & Clams, Crispy Fried Oysters, Crab Cake, Kobe Beef Carpaccio, and Coconut Fried Shrimp.

Offerings from the Seafood Bar include Malpeque Oysters, Deep Bay Oysters, Alpine Bay Oysters , and Spiced Jumbo Prawns.

Sushi and Sashimi includes Tuna Tartare, Salmon Lomi Lomi, Spiced Seared Ahi Tuna Tostada, California Roll.

Soups at McCormick & Schmicks inlcude New England Clam Chowder and Crab Bisque.  Salad options are the Chopped, The Wedge, House, Caesar, and Grilled Shrimp Cobb Salad.

This season’s Wild Features include Angry Tuna Roll, Wild Alaska Halibut & Salmon Baked in a  Crispy Pastry, Wild Canada Whitefish, Wild swordfish Casino, and Wild Seafood Trio.

Seafood Specialties include Cashew Crusted Tilapia, Seared Sea Scallops, Parmesan Breaded Tilapia, Atlantic Salmon Stuffed with Crab, Chilean Sea Bass with Miso and Udon Noodles, Horseradish Herb Steelhead, Macademia Nut Breaded Halibut, and Blackened Catfish with Fire Roasted Corn Salsa.

Traditional Seafood Items include Rainbow Trout, Horseradish and Potato Crusted Red Snapper, Atlantic Salmon with Berry Sauce, Fried Shrimp Platter, and Wild Ahi Tuna.

Other Entrees include Petite Filet Mignon, Filet Mignon, Top Sirloin with Bleu Cheese Sauce, Lobster Steamer, Maple Brined Chicken, Shrimp Linguini, King Crab Legs, Kobe Burger with Mushrooms and Swiss, Tenderloin and Portabello Brochette, and New York Strip.  Filet & Shrimp Scampi combo also available.

Desserts include Key Lime Pie, Apple Pie, Creme Brulee, and Chocolate Trio.

Price guide: Appetizers $-12  Sushi $9-14  Oysters $3+   Seafood Specialties $17-32  Entrees $14-47

What we ordered: We started with an order of Fried Calamari.  Delicious! The batter was crunchy but the calamari was cooked perfectly;  the rings were tossed with banana peppers and sprinkled with fresh parmesan.  The order aame with fire-roasted tomato sauce for dipping.

We also ordered the Large Oyster Sampler, which came with eight oysters in total: Malpeque Oysters, Deep Bay Oysters, and Alpine Bay Oysters.  I can’t honestly tell you which two varieties I tried but they were both fresh and delicious.  I always top my oysters with lemon, cocktail and horseradish.  I’ve said it before but I LOVE horseradish.  Goes perfectly with oysters ;)

We also tried a couple orders of the Angry Tuna Roll.  These fabulous rolls contained spicy tuna, then topped with more tuna, thin slices of fresh jalapeno, spicy mayo and flamed tobikko.  I love spicy sushi and this really hit the spot.

We also ordered the California Roll, which I did not try.  Nothing wrong with a California Roll every now and then but I would take the Angry Tuna Roll over this plain jane any day.

Just before our meals were served we were brought Sourdough Bread which was fresh and crusty.

I had a hard time deciding what to order for my entree. I love halibut and the Macademia Nut Crusted Halibut sounded really good but I was afraid it wouldn’t have enough flavor for me.  The server assured me it was excellent so I did end up ordering it.  The dish looked good but I was immediately disappointed by the somewhat small size, in comparison to my companions’ dishes.  My piece of halibut was about 3″ x 1″, very lightly crusted and pan fried.  It sat on a bed of steamed broccoli and atop the mango butter sauce.  The fish was cooked just right so the texture was firm without being tough but the taste of the overall dish was very mild.  Nothing wrong with this dish, just too boring for my tastes.  For the money, it was about $3 per boring bite.  Ridiculous if you think of it like that.

One of my companions ordered the Horseradish Hashbrown Crusted Red Snapper.  I tried a bite of this and thought it was very good.  The flavor of the horseradish was apparent but not overpowering, it really just enhanced the taste of the fish.  The hashbrowns that were crusted around the fish were a nice compliment in texture, however my companion thought there was a little too much potato in proportion to the amount of fish.  I liked it much better than my halibut.

One of my companions ordered the Sea Bass, which turned out to be one of the best dishes I tried.  The sea bass filet was quite big in comparison to the halibut and it sat atop a bed of stir-fried veggies and udon noodles soaked in the delicious, flavorful Asian miso sauce.  Once I was offered a bite I had to show restraint so I wouldn’t eat half the dish.  A winner!

One of my companions started with the Chopped Salad and then had the Steak & Scampi Combo.

The Steak and Scampi combo is a great value, it come with the filet mignon, jumbo scampi-style shrimp, gruyere croquettes, and steamed broccoli.  I tried a small bite of this steak and it was delicious; tender and juicy.  A grilled Lobster Tail was added to the dish for an additional charge.  The bite of lobster I tried was also excellent; sweet and succulent.

The steak and Scampi combo also came with Creme Brulee.  This was creamy and cooked just right, with a nice crunchy layer of  caramelized sugar on top.

We also tried the Key Lime Pie, a cheesecake-style key lime with a thick graham cracker crust.  Oh, I love key lime and I love cheesecake.  Great combo.

Another dessert we tried was the Apple Pie.  The caramel drizzled on top gave this dessert a messy appearance but by all reports, it was very good.

Service: We had a reservation for dinner and were promptly seated.  Our server was very good but our visit was a long, drawn out experience.  We ordered many courses and ended up staying almost three hours for dinner.  The kitchen seemed to take their time preparing our food, most of it being worth the wait.  Toward the end of our night things started to seem very slow, it took 25 minutes to get our dessert after we ordered it, despite being the only ones left in our dining room at the time.  When our server brought them out to us she said she made them herself, so I guess someone in the kitchen dropped the ball.

Overall Impression: There were many items that I tried at McCormick & Schmick’s that I thoroughly enjoyed and the prices seem reasonable for the portion sizes.  Our server was great but the food did take a long time.  I will definitely try McCormick & Schmick’s again in the future.

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Mc Cormick & Schmick's Reviews in Minneapolis

May 302011

Cuisine: American, Brunch Menu, Dessert, Fine-Dining
Restaurant Features: Bar, Happy Hour,  On-Site Parking, Patio,
Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 374 Selby Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55102  651-224-5715

Dining Room Hours:

  • Lunch: Mon – Fri 11am – 1:30pm
  • Brunch: Sat/Sun 10:30am – 2pm
  • Dinner: Mon – Sun 5pm – 10pm

Bar Hours: Sun – Thurs 11am – midnight  Fri/Sat 11am – 1am

Links: WA Frost Website * WA Frost on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: WA Frost & Company is located on Selby Ave at Western Ave, in the Dacotah Building just a few blocks from the Cathedral, its home since the mid 1970-s.  I came to sit on the patio so I never saw the main dining room but I did get a peek at the bar area, a nice sun-lit room with wooden floors and tables,  as well as seating along the bar.

WA Frost has a beautiful patio that sprawls out behind the building.  At the far end from the hostess stand is the Garden Bar.  This area is open for seating in the afternoon before the main dining room opens.  There are a number of little tables all over the patio, as well as cushioned sofas and sitting areas.

Another part of the garden patio is a sunken dining area with bigger, umbrella’ed tables and beautiful, lush green plants and flowers.  Gorgeous!

Menu: Small plates on the bar menu include Rye Pierogis, Artichoke Spinach Dip, Korean Barbeque Chicken Wings, Marinated Mediterranean Olives, Grilled Octopus, Pork Belly Fig Strudel, Steamed Blue Mussels, Trio of Pacific Coast Oysters, Roasted Amish Asparagus, Grilled Duck Confit Flatbread, Charcuterie Plate.  Additional plates found on the dinner menu include House Made Rabbit Sausage, and Torchon of Au Bon Canard Foie Gras.

Micro plates include Spring Vegetable Linguini, Crab Cake Salad, Roasted Pork Belly, Grilled Salmon, Housemade Lamb Sausage, Grilled Angus Filet.

Sandwiches on the bar menu include Reuben Panini, Lamb Burger, Grilled Black Angus Burger, Chef Burger, Fried Egg BLT, Cold Smoked Salmon Club, and Quinoa Falafel.

Salads include  House Green Salad, Strawberry Salad , and “BLT” Salad.  Soups include Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Soup and a Soup du Jour.

There is also an extensive number of domestic, regional and imported cheese plates.

Entrees on the Dinner Menu include Spring Vegetable Linguini, Crispy Barramundi, Pan Roasted Faroe Islands Scottish Salmon, Roasted Icelandic Cod, Grilled All Natural Dry Aged Top Sirloin, Moroccan Spiced Iowa Lamb Chops, Dry Aged Minnesota Duroc Pork Chop, and  Pan Roasted Wild Acres Half Chicken.

Desserts include “Kit Kat Bar”   house made Chai ice cream, Spumoni, Venezuelan Chocolate Torte, Stickney Hills Goat Cheese Panna Cotta,  Classic Crème Brûlée  and a Selection of Izzy’s Ice Cream.

There is also a Sunday Brunch menu that can be found here

Price guide: Small Plates $8-11 Micro Entrees $10-17 Sandwiches $11-12  Entrees $18-34 Desserts $6-8

Happy Hour:

  • Monday-Friday 4- 6p.m. and 9 – 11 p.m.served in bars/lounge only
  • $5.50 Appetizers:  Shishito “Poppers”, Artichoke Dip, French Fries – Trio of Sauce, Korean Barbecue Chicken Wings   Mini Cheeseburger and Fries
  • Select Wines by the Glass   5.00La Playa Chardonnay,    La Fiera Pinot Grigio99 Vines Pinot Noir,    Flaco Tempranillo Select Beer,   Rail Pour Cocktails  5.00 Featured Happy Hour Cocktail    5.00

Weekly Specials:

  • Early seating prix fixe menu Mon-Fri 5-6pm .  Three course meal $30 person$50 with select bottle of wine

What we ordered: My companion and I both started with cocktails.  I ordered a House Margarita, which was decent.

My companion ordered a Gimlet, a cocktail with gin and a splash of lime.

My companion also tried this sampler of Whiskeys.

Our visit was during Happy Hour so we sat in the Garden Bar area.  We started with the Artichoke Dip, one of the features on the HH menu.  The blend of cheese and artichoke was covered with cheese and baked to a crispy brown.  It was served with lavasch, a cracker-style flatbread.

We also ordered the Coconut Curry Blue Mussels which we both thought were amazing.  The mussels were on the small side but they were extremely tender and the flavor enhanced by the sweet, creamy and spicy coconut green curry broth with fresno chili and cilantro.  Delicious!  The order also came with grilled sourdough bread from Rustica Bakery.  I could eat a million of these!

We also shared the Reuben Panini, which is made with house-cured corned beef.  The beef was delicious and tender, but did not taste at all like any corned beef I’ve had (and by now you should know I am a huge fan of corned beef and anything Reuben).  The beef simply tasted like seasoned roast.  It was topped with cheese, sauerkraut, thousand island and marble rye then pressed on the panini grill to make it extra crispy and give it the customary panini lines.  Our server actually had the plates split for us so we each received a big portion of fries with our half of the panini.

When I ordered the sandwich I asked if they had any flavored mayonnaise (for dipping the fries), my server said he would  see what he could do.  He came back with the WA Frost  trio of sauces; a Sriracha Aioli, Watercress Ranch, and some other type of aioli.  They were all very good.

The server must have overheard that it was my companion’s birthday and brought out the Homemade Kit Kat Bar, compliments of WA Frost. This was very good and had an interesting texture.  The base of the bar was hazelnut praline with maldon sea salt caramel and was somewhat flaky yet more dense than I expected.  It was served with a creamy house made Chai ice cream.  The serving size was somewhat small, I suspect this was the sample size that is served with the dessert trio.

Service: We had really good service while at WA Frost.  I arrived early for Happy Hour and was able to get a spot in one of the parking lots and then a nice table in the Garden Bar area.  Our server was reasonably fast and went out of his way a few times to make sure we got what we needed and then some.

Overall Impression: This was my first time at WA Frost and I fell in love with the patio at first site.  Then one bite of the coconut curry mussels and I thought I might have died and gone to heaven!  I will definitely be back to WA Frost again this summer for what can only be another fabulous meal.

W.A. Frost & Company on Urbanspoon
W A Frost & Co Reviews in St Paul