Oct 272010

Disclosure: I was invited out to do this review and my meal was provided by the restaurant. All opinions are my own.

Cuisine: American, Irish, Pub Grub, Fish & Seafood, Steaks
Restaurant Features: Bar, Flat Screen TVs, Happy Hour, Hotel, Kids Menu, Indoor Patio, On-Site Parking (pay-lot at Embassy Suites)
Location: St Paul (Downtown/ Lowertown)
Address: 175 10th St E  St. Paul, MN 55101 651-224-5111  (Within Embassy Suites)
Hours: 7 Days 11am-11pm
Links: Cork’s Irish Pub Website Cork’s Pub Facebook Page *Google Map

Atmosphere: Located within the Embassy Suites in downtown St Paul, Cork’s Irish pub is a fun place to enjoy a good meal or drink.  As the name suggests, the atmosphere is reminiscent of the pubs in Ireland  with wooden floors, a big wooden bar, and several wooden pub tables.  The theme is carried out through the traditional Irish fare, “pub grub”,  as well as a plethora of beers, scotches and whiskeys.  There are also multiple flat screen TVs hung throughout the restaurant, giving it the slight feel of a sports pub as well.

Cork’s also has a patio area that looks out into the indoor courtyard of the Embassy Suites, where you can see tropical waterfall gardens such as these.  Who says you ned to go south to feel a touch of the tropics!?

Menu: Appetizers at Cork’s include Scotch Eggs, Chicken Wings (Hot or BBQ), Fresh Chips (with cheese, bacon and green onion), Onion Rings, Chicken Fingers, Crab & Artichoke Dip, Fried Goodness Sampler, Crudite Platter (fresh veggies, olives, pita bread and hummus), 7 Layer Dip, Jack & Blue Sticks (blend of cheese and buffalo sauce battered and fried), and Cod Chippers.

Salad options are The Irishman (fingerling potatoes and corned beef on romaine with Guinness vinaigrette), Caesar, Grilled Salmon, Chicken Cobb, Bourbon Steak, and Country Chicken Salad.

Cork’s Sandwiches and Burgers include Club House, Hot Pastrami on Rye, Petite Steak Burgers, Build-A-Burger or Chicken Sandwich, The Downtowner (ham and cheddar on sourdough), Blarney Stone (corned beef, roast beef, and pastrami with swiss, cheddar and sauerkraut), Chicago Style Roast Beef, Asian Pork Burger with Peanut Sauce, Walleye, and Cranberry Turkey (turkey, swiss and cranberry mayo).

Cork’s also has Supreme Pizza, Irish Potato Pizza, and Build-Your-Own Pizza.

Entrees at Cork’s include 14 oz Sterling Silver New York Strip, Shepherd’s Pie, Pasta Vodka, Panko Walleye,  Fish N Chips, Sea Scallops with Corned Beef and Cabbage, Fettuccine Alfredo, Grilled Walleye, Grilled Salmon, Drunken Broil (grilled steak served with a splash of whiskey and au jus), Potato Crusted Chicken, Chicken Marsala, and Bangers N Mac (penne in creamy cheese sauce with grilled lamb sausage).

Kids Menu items include Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Grilled Cheese, Chicken Fingers, Cheese Pizza, Macaroni and Cheese, and Fettuccine Alfredo.

The heavenly dessert options are seasonal and this season include Carrot Cake, Creme Brulee, Pumpkin Mousse Torte, Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae (all year), and Pear and Dried Cherry Crisp with Cinnamon Ice Cream.

Click here to see the large selection of Drinks at Cork’s Irish Pub

Price guide: Appetizers $8-10  Salads $8-15  Sandwiches $10-13  Entrees $12-32  Desserts $5-7

Happy Hour:

  • Monday-Friday  4-6pm
  • Half Price Appetizers, Rails, Calls, Martinis and Specialty Drinks
  • $3 House Wine
  • $2 Standard Bottles and Taps
  • $3 Premium Bottles and Taps
Weekly Specials:
Monday 1/2 off Martinis all day
Tuesday- Free BINGO 8pm
Wednesday- Free Trivia 8pm
Thursday- 1/2 off Bottles of Wine  Live Music 7pm
Friday – Two 12 oz Sterling Silver Prime Rib Specials and a bottle of house winefor only $50. Hendricks and Tonic $4, All Day
Saturday- Silver Butter Knife Prime Rib served with soup or salad, veggie, potato, and glass of wine
What we ordered: My companion and I started with an order of Scotch Eggs, a must-order item for me if I ever see it on a menu.  I was pleased to see six halves of the delectable sausage-wrapped hard boiled eggs in the order, atop a bed of baby greens and sweet cherry tomatoes.  These eggs were some of the most delicious I have had to date!  The thin layer of sausage wrapped around the eggs was slightly spicy and full of flavor and the deep fried bread crumb batter added the perfect crunch to the layers of texture.  There were two spicy mustard sauces served with it for dipping.  I could probably eat these for breakfast several times a week!

Our entrees both came with choice of soup or salad. One of the daily soups included Buffalo Chicken, so that is what I tried.  This was a hearty, spicy, creamy and chunky blend of chicken, celery, carrot, corn, and peppers.  I liked it very much, it is the kind of spicy soup that is perfect for a cold day!

My companion tried the other soup of the day, the Steak Ranchero.  Every bite if this was heavenly! It was very similar to chili, but with more vegetables than just beans and several bites of tender beef.  Savory and delicious.

Our meals also came with French Bread, which was light and soft on the inside and slightly crusty on the outside.  I loved it even more when dipped in the Buffalo Chicken Soup ;)

There were many items that sounded wonderful (mix of Irish fare, pub grub and American) but the Scallops with Corned Beef and Cabbage sounded like a unique and winning combo.  At the base of this dish was the corned beef and cabbage (which on its own would be a hearty meal), then topped with at least a half dozen large, tender, seared sea scallops.  When I say tender, I actually mean melt-in-your-mouth.  These scallops were so good! In the center of the dish was a large serving of cooked, mashed lentils.  I haven’t had much experience eating lentils but they are similar to a bean or a pea in both texture and taste, and slightly earthy.  The texture of the mashed lentils was soft yet still firm enough to stay in a scoop.  A nice change of pace for a side dish! This meal was also served with a slice of fresh buttered rye toast.

My companion ordered the Prime Rib Saturday Special, a 12 oz. Silver Butterknife Steak served with green beans, mashed potatoes, soup, and glass of wine for $27.  I tried several bites of this beef  and it was delicious! Although cooked slightly more than preferred, this cut of beef was extremely tender and flavorful.  The rind on the outside held all the flavor of the seasonings, each bite doing a little dance in my mouth.  The Silver Butter Knife steaks that Cork’s serves are the same as the steaks served at the best steak houses in town, including Wooley’s and Murray’s.

I was almost too full to try dessert but this Pumpkin Mousse Torte was the perfect Autumn treat.  The cake was light and the pumpkin mousse was even lighter, and only slightly sweet. It had just a subtle taste of pumpkin but when paired with the sweet-tart cranberry chutney that accompanied it, it was like a beautiful duet of fall flavors. The best part of this dessert was its lightness, which may be a complete opposite of the richness of a chocolate cake.  Excellent!

Service: We had excellent service at Cork’s Irish Pub at the Embassy Suites in St Paul.  Our server was very friendly and knowledgeable of the menu and despite my need to make my visit under an hour, the service never felt rushed.  Our food was spaced just right for each course, drinks were kept filled, and we left very satisfied.

Overall Impression: Cork’s Irish Pub is a hidden gem in Lowertown St Paul, located within the Embassy Suites which is just a few blocks from other popular area hang-outs.  Happy Hour is a great deal with nearly all appetizers and drinks at half price, plus the crew at Cork’s especially loves to take care of the downtown working crowd.  Both the food and the service stand out amongst other establishments in the area. I’ll meet ya there after work sometime ;)

Cork's Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

Jun 222010

Cuisine: Mexican
Restaurant Features: Bar, Happy Hour, Nightclub,
Locations: St Paul and Minneapolis, MN
Addresses & Maps:

St Paul– 235 E 6th Street St Paul, MN 55101 651-222-3250

Minneapolis– 925 Nicollett Mall Mpls, MN  55403 612-333-9953

Hours: Mon-Thur 11am-1am   Fri 11am-2am  Sat & Sun  4pm-2am
Links: Barrio Website * Barrio Facebook Page

Barrio St Paul -Outside
Atmosphere: The St Paul location is in lowertown, on E 6th St and Wacouta, next door to The Bulldog and across the street from Mears Park.  The space is big and open, with wooden floors and festively decorated walls and bistro tables throughout.  On the eastern wall there are also a couple of large, semi-circle booths that can seat up to six people.  The western wall has a very long bar running the length, holding at least 125 varieties of tequila in addition to the popular liquor brands they carry.

Menu: Tacos and Enchiladas include Pork Carnitas with Serrano Chile Salsa, Red Chile Enchilada with Chorizo and Fried Egg, Fried Mahi Mahi Taco with Citrus Cucumber Pico de Gallo, Grilled Skirt Steak with Roasted Poblanos, Potato-Chorizo Taco, Chicken Enchilada with Salsa Verde and Crema, and Spiced Shrimp Taco with Tomato-Mint Salsa.

Small Plates include Barbeque Pork Sopes, Diver Scallop Ceviche, Black Bean & Chicken Tostada, Fresh Corn Chowder, Jicama & Citrus Salad, Crab Empanadas with Salsa Verde and Avocado, Potato Sopes with Goat Cheese and Red Chile, Tequila-Cured Salmon with papaya and Avocado, Mushroom Quesadilla, Sugarcane Skewered Tequila Shrimp, Queso Fundito with Tortillas, Spicy Crab Soup, and Guacamole.
Price guide: Tacos $3.50-4 Small Plates $7.50

Happy Hour: 2-6pm Mon-Sat   10-Midnight Sun-Thurs

  • Small Plates $5:   Black Bean & Chicken Tostada,  Fresh Corn Chowder, Queso Fundito, Chips & Dips
  • Tacos $5:  2 Pork Carnitas, 2 Grilled Skirt Steak, 2 Potato Chorizo
  • Specialty Drinks $5: Barrio Margarita, Sangria, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
  • Pitcher of beer $12:  Dos Equis, Summit Extra Pale Ale, Miller Lite
  • Carafe of Barrio Margarita $18
  • $1 off Rails

What we ordered: We started with a couple of the Happy Hour appetizers, including the Queso Fundito.  The hot, melted Mexican cheese was baked with green chiles and then served in the hot cast iron skillet with a side of warm flour tortillas.  Delicious but cools quickly and the cheese starts to harden again so eat it while its hot! Especially yummy with salsa or even guacamole.

We also ordered the Chips and Dips, which came with a large bowl of hot, thick crunchy corn tortilla chips, three different salsas and fresh guacamole.  Each salsa had a unique flavor and ranged in spiciness from mild to hot.  I loved the habanero one especially but the salsa verde was especially yummy too.

I also had a Barrio Margarita.  Tart and strong, just the way I like my margs. Have I mentioned how much I like margaritas? They are my all-time favorite drink.

When I saw that they had fish tacos, I knew I had to try them even though they were deep-fried.  Oh so glad I did, they were wonderful! The crunchy batter actually made it easier to eat the fish because it didn’t flake apart like fillets often do.  There were two mahi-mahi fillets in the order for $3.50 and I was able to make two tacos with the extra tortilla.  What a deal! I loved the fresh pico and jalapenos that topped the tacos, and also the crunch from the cabbage.

I also ordered the Carnitas (to-go for lunch the next day).  The pork was moist and flavorful, shredded yet tender.  They were served on white corn tortillas and topped with the traditional cilantro and onions, and salsa verde.  Try ’em, you’ll like ’em!

One of my companions ordered the Jicama Salad, which was a basic salad with thin strips of Jicama.  Have you had Jicama? It is kind of like a potato, starchy and very mildly flavored.  This salad was not a big hit.  At least not the jicama!

Another companion ordered the Tequila Shrimp Skewers.  There were 3-4 large shrimp impaled by the sugarcane skewer, topped with asparagus.  I did not try these but it looked great!

Another companion ordered the Chicken Enchilada, topped with salsa verde, fresh Mexican queso, and raw onion.

Service: I met with a group of friends during Happy Hour, arriving before the crowd when I could still find an open meter on the street.  After 4:30 meters are free.  There were still many tables to choose from and we picked one near the door.  Our server gave us Happy Hour menus and told us that dinner doesn’t start until 5.  Our drinks arrived pretty quickly and we ordered a couple of appetizers.  We had to ask for dinner menus so that we could order once dinner officially started.  Later as our meals were coming out, they brought each item out separately, spaced apart in time.  We thought that was strange, not sure why they couldn’t wait and bring them all out at once? Our group was there for several hours and we didn’t see our server very frequently.  We were not ordering many drinks so the server stepped back and let us have our social time (I will assume that is what she was doing, rather than just ignoring us).
Overall Impression: The atmosphere was great and so was the food.  The food menu is somewhat limited but they have over 125 different tequilas!! The service could be better but like I said, I think our server was just letting my companions and I enjoy our social time.  I’ll definitely be back.
Barrio Tequila Bar on Urbanspoon

Apr 012010

Cuisine: Japanese, Sushi
Restaurant Features: Bar, Happy Hour, Zashiki Room
Locations: Minneapolis & St Paul, MN
Addresses & Maps:

St Paul– 465 Wabasha St N St. Paul, MN 55102 (651) 310-0111

Minneapolis– 600 W Lake Street Minneapolis, MN 55408


St Paul M-F 11a-2:30p Mon-Sat 5-10p

Minneapolis Tue-Th 5-10p Fri-Sat 5-10:30a Sun 5-9p

Links: Fuji Ya Website * Fuji Ya on Facebook

Fuji Ya St Paul, MN

Atmosphere: The St Paul location can be found in downtown St Paul at the corner of 7th and Wabasha.  There is a small dining room with tables to accommodate up to 30, with additional seating at the sushi bar at the front of the restaurant.  There is also a private Zashiki Room behind the paneled doors pictured in the back in the photo below.  During the day the natural lighting is soft and calming, with fresh flowers adorning every table

Inside of Fuji Ya

Lunch Menu: Appetizers include Yakitori(chicken and green onions on swewer) , Harumaki (Japanese style eggrolls), Agedashi Tofu, Edamame, Gyoza, Tempura Appetizer, Soft Shell Crab, and Spinach Gomae.

Sushi options include 2-piece Nigiri or 3 Piece Sashimi: Akaza Ebi (Japanese Lobster), Ama Ebi (sweet raw shrimp), Anago (salt water eel), Ebi (shrimp), Hamachi (yellowtail), Hirame (flounder), Hokki (surf clam), Hotate (raw scallop), Ika (squid), Ikura (salmon roe), Inari (deep fried tofu), Kampachi (small yellowtail), Kaibashira (cooked scallop), Kaki (oysters), Kani (crab leg meat), Madai (japanese red snapper), Maguro (tuna), Masago (smelt roe), Mirugai (giant clam), Mutsu (white toro), Saba (mackerel), Shake (salmon), Suzuki (striped sea bass), Tai (red snapper), Tako (octopus), Tamago 9egg custard), Tobiko (flying fish roe), Toro (oily tuna), Unagi (fresh water eel) and Uni (sea urchin)

Specialty Rolls include Dynamite, Spicy Tuna, Spicy Salmon, Philly, Spider, Salmon skin, California, Tempura, Caterpillar, Crunchy, Wasabi Crunchy, New York, Dragon, #9, Winter and Futo.

There are also a handful of sushi lunch specials including Sushi Lunch, Sashimi Lunch, Makimono Lunch and Sushi Appetizer.

Noodle Dishes at Fuji Ya include Udon or Soba noodle soup served with choice of: Tempura, Vegetable Tempura, Sauteed Beef & Vegetable, and Sauteed Vegetables.  Ramen Noodles come with choice of Spicy Seafoos, Spicy Chicken, Yaki-Soba, and Yaki-Meshi.

Lunch Entrees include Teriyaki (chicken or beef), Bulgogi (chicken or beef), Katsu (chicken or beef), and Tempura.  Donburi “Bowl” Dishes include  Oyako Don, Chuka Don, Unagi Don, and Tofu Don.

There are three Bento Box specials including Fuji Ya Special, Reiko’s and the Vegetarian.

Fuji Ya also offers Hibachi, your very own personal teppanyaki choice of chicken, shrimp or vegetables.

Dinner menu offers same appetizers  from the lunch menu with the addition of the following items: Miso or Sumasi Soup, House Salad, Kaiso, Sunomono Salad, Tuna Tataki, Calamari, Sauteed Salmon and Sashimi Salad.

Dinner Entrees include Sesame Encusted Tuna, Seafood Doria, Black Angus Toban Yaki, Teriyaki Chicken, Roast Duck with Raspberry Teriyaki, Tempura, Salmoin Shio-Yaki,  Yose Nabe, and Sukiyaki.
Price guide: Appetizers $5-9  Sushi $5-9 per order Specialty Roll $6-17 Noodles $7-10 Lunch entree $9-15  Dinner Entree $17-23

Happy Hour: Mon-Thurs 5-7p $4-5 appetizers See Happy Hour Menu
What I ordered: I was very hungry and knew I could spend a fortune on sushi, which is what I really wanted to eat but did not have the budget for.  I decided to get the #9 Roll (knowing that it would not fill me up), which was 8 delicious pieces of  Tempura shrimp with cucumber and spicy mayo, wrapped with salmon and avocado, then topped with special unagi sauce.  I loved every bite, but was indeed still hungry after eating.

One of my companions ordered the Sushi Lunch special which came with 6 pieces of maki roll (tuna) and 5 pieces of chef’s choice nigiri, served with miso soup.

Another companion ordered the Soba Noodle Soup with Vegetable Tempura.  There was a generous portion of tempura-battered onions, shredded carrots, sweet potato, broccoli and parsley and a large soup bowl filled with wheat soba noodles and broth.

Another companion was trying Japanese cuisine for the first time and wanted to go with something a little “safe”.  The Oyako Don was a good choice: Big bowl of rice and noodles topped with sliced chicken breast cooked in a dashi sauce, eggs, and a few veggies.  Flavorful but on the mild side.

Service: My companions and I were all able to find metered parking nearby, which was very nice! Our visit was on a Friday during the lunch rush and it was busy as expected.  Our server was nice but we didn’t see much of her; she was the only server scheduled for the entire dining room and was very busy.  Drinks took longer than necessary to be refilled but food was reasonably fast considering the day and time.
Overall Impression: I thought the specialty sushi that I had was very good, but I was left hungry for the amount of money I spent (typical for a quality sushi restaurant!). Would love to see an all-you-can-eat sushi option at Fuji-Ya but know that is unlikely.

Fuji Ya on Urbanspoon

Jan 172010

Cuisine: Pizza
Restaurant Features: Bar, Flatscreen TVs, On-Site Parking,
Location: St Paul, MN

Address: 421 East 7th Street  St Paul, MN 55101 651-227-1437
Hours: Mon-Sat 11a-11p  Sun 11a-10:30p
Links: Google Map

*Red’s Savoy Pizza in Coon Rapids, Hugo, St Paul, and Uptown are all Delivery/Take-out Only


Atmosphere: Red’s Savoy Inn is the original Savoy location, found just on the edge of downtown St Paul at the corner of 7th St. and Lafayette.  There are two entrances into Savoy’s on the west side of the building, one near the parking lot in back and one one the side near the front.   The restaurant is divided into two sides, with the Bar Area being what you see when you first enter.  The bar stretches the length of the room, which has tables and booths as well.


The main dining room is adjacent to the bar area with an open walkway in between.  Also between the two rooms is a giant aquarium with live tropical fish.  It is quite dim inside Savoy, there are no windows and the only lighting comes from the soft yellow glass orbs overhead.

Savoy-dining ea

Menu: Appetizers at Savoy Inn include Buffalo Wings, Deep Fried Cheese Ravioli, Mozzarella Sticks, Jalapeño Poppers, French Fries, Onions Wings, Garlic Cheese Bread.

Sandwich options are the Meatball Dip and Hot dago with Cheese.

Pizzas come in two sizes, 10″ or 14″, Hand Tossed Thin Crust. Topping options include Sausage, Pepperoni, Hamburger, Mushrooms, Onion, Green Pepper, Green Olive, Black Olive, Sauerkraut, Pickles, Canadian Bacon, Banana Peppers, Jalapeños, Pineapple, Bacon, Shrimp and Anchovies.

Price guide: Appetizers $5-7  10″ Cheese Pizza $8.45  Toppings $1-2/ea 14″ Cheese $11.40  Toppings $1.50/2 ea (premium toppings more)
What We ordered: My companions and I started with an order of mozzarella sticks.  They were just as mozzi-sticks should be, crispy golden brown on the outside and hot melted mozzarella inside.  It came with a side of sauce.


Our group ordered a variety of pizzas.   The pizza has a very thin crust at the base of each creation, then covered with spicy pizza sauce, toppings and mozzarella cheese.  This was a 10″ Pepperoni, Mushroom and Shrimp.  I have really come to enjoy shrimp on pizza over the past couple of years and this was the first time I had tried it at Savoy.  The shrimps were very little and there were plenty of them covering the pizza.   The not-too-thick-not-too-thin pepperoni had great flavor while not being too greasy.  We ordered our pizzas “well-done” so the cheese on all the edge pieces was browned and crispy.


Another pizza was a 10″ Pepperoni, Banana Pepper and Onion.  Great combo of toppings! The banana peppers spiced it up a notch and the onion added a touch of sweetness, perfectly complimented by the zesty pepperoni.  The crust is very thin and crispy, but not at all chewy.  Overall the Savoy pizzas were a success and a few of my companions even declared Savoy pizza to be their favorite or “the best”.


We also had a 14″ Special Pizza with Sausage, Pepperoni, Mushroom, Onion, Green Pepper and Green Olive.  This pizza was loaded with ingredients and cheese.


One of my companions also ordered a side of Rigatoni with sauce.  I thought the portion size was just right for a side order.


Service: It wasn’t very busy on the late Wednesday evening of my visit, so we had no problem getting a parking place in the small lot in the back of Savoy’s and easily found a table inside the restaurant.  Our server was nice but took her time checking on us even though there were very few other customers.  Food was prepared in a reasonable amount of time.
Overall Impression: Savoy pizza is one of the better thin-crust pizzerias around St Paul, especially if you like a spicier sauce and pizza loaded with toppings and cheese.  The prices are comparable to many other local pizzerias but you get a hefty amount of toppings for the money.
Red's Savoy Pizza on Urbanspoon

Dec 282009

Cuisine: Burgers
Restaurant Features: Banquet, Bar, Happy Hour, Pull-Tabs
Location: Downtown St Paul, MN
Address: 354 N. Wabasha Street St. Paul, MN  55102  651-222-2123
Hours: Mon-Fri: 11am-2am  Sat-Sun: 4pm-2am

Links: American Burger Bar Website * American Burger Bar Facebook PageGoogle Map


Atmosphere: Located on Wabasha just one block north of Kellogg Blvd, American Burger Bar is in the home of the former Matty B’s Supper Club.  The decor is still rich and masculine with dark wood work throughout.  There are many booths as well as a few tables and a bar area with additional seating.


Menu: Appetizers at the American Burger Bar include Skinny Truffle Fries, Cheese Curds, Onion Rings, American Favorite Sampler, Fried Calamari, American Burger Sliders, Meatballs ona  Stick, Best Damn Wings, Rib Eye Splitter, Chili Cheese tater Tots, and Nachos.

Salads include Caesar, Shrimp Salad, Cobb Salad, and House Salad.  Soups offered are Chili and Clam Chowder.

Sandwiches include Open Face Pineapple Chicken, The Gallivan (grilled ribeye with mushrooms, onions and bordelaise sauce) and Grilled Chicken Breast Sandwich.

Build-your-own burger options start with 1/2 lb of your choice of meat: Black Angus, Kobe Beef, Bison, Turkey, Veggie and Lamb.  Over 20 ingredients available to top your burger with! All Burgers come with Skinny Fries.

Chef Burgers at American Burger Bar include American Classic, Cheese Steak Philly-Style, The Experience (Kobe beef topped with foie gras, black truffles, shaved parmesan cheese, braised short ribs, grilled onions and bordelaise sauce), The Wild Range (bison and lamb with fresh herbs, mushrooms and chardonnay) , Juicy Klucy (kobe beef stuffed with cheddar and topped with monterey jack), Rino 911 (Jalapeno) and South of the Border.

Entrees include 14oz Angus Steak, Diablo Pasta, Minnesota Twins (Twin Angus patties), Mac’N Cheese, and Kobe Ravioli.

Desserts include Apple Turnover, Deep Fried Cheesecake, Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwich, Bread Pudding, Cheese Cake, Ice Cream Shakes and Malts.

Price guide: Appetizers $5-8  Salads $7-13   Burgers $9-19  Entrees $11-29  Desserts $6

Happy Hour:

  • M-F 3:30-6:30p & 10:30-Close
  • $2 Beer $3 Rails $7 Martinis
  • $3 Appetizers (skinny fries, onion rings, clam chowder chili, wings, meatballs on stick)
  • $6 Appetizers (Burger Snacking, Tuna Tartare, Sliders, Cheese Curds)

What We Ordered: My companions and I were very hungry and ordered a couple of appetizers to start with.  First we tried the Fried Calamari which was very good.  The order was a decently sized, with bite-sized pieces of fried calamari as well as a couple of bites of fried cheese and pepperoncini peppers.  Served with marinara and signature seasoned mayo.


We also got an order of buffalo wings.  The wings had great flavor but I was really disappointed with how tiny they were.  There were a dozen of the some of the smallest wings I have ever had served to me at a restaurant.  I would not pay full-price for these again at $8 but the Happy Hour has them priced at $3 which seems much more reasonable.


We also ordered the Sweet potato fries which were crispy and very tasty.  Perfectly salted.


There were many burgers on the menu at American Burger Bar but after hearing the server’s suggestions, it was the South of the Border Burger that was calling my name.  This burger was ginormous! Made of Angus Beef, the patty was grilled perfectly and then topped with a patty of chorizo, sauteed onions and mushrooms, pepperjack cheese, jalapeno bacon, spicy salsa and guacamole then served on a ciabatta bun.  There was so much going on with this burger that I don’t even know where to begin! The beef patty was juicy and moist and packed with flavor.  The chorizo patty added some spiciness and texture that really enhanced the overall burger experience, as did all the other quality toppings.  Guacamole ona  burger with bacon? Divine.  I loved that it was served on a grilled ciabatta bun which was hearty enough to hold all the toppings.  A sun emblem was branded onto the top and added a personal, fun touch to the burger.  Overall this burger was amazing, although much too big for me to eat all at once.  The skinny fries that came with it were good, and very skinny as the name implies.  I would almost call them matchstick fries because the longest pieces were just 1-2″ long.  Crispy but still soft on the inside.


One of my companions had the Rino 911.  This burger was quite spicy, a half-pound Angus patty topped with roasted jalapenos, pepperjack cheese, and jalapeno bacon served on an onion bun.


Another companion had the Juicy Klucy, the American Burger Bar’s take on the famous local Juicy Lucy cheese-stuffed burger.  This burger stands above all other stuffed cheeseburgers that we have tried locally (so far) and the ingredient that put it over the rest is the fact that it is made with fresh Kobe beef.  If you have not had Kobe beef before, you must try it immediately!! It has so much more natural flavor than even the best Angus beef.  The Juicy Klucy at American Burger Bar is stuffed with Wisconsin cheddar cheese and topped with melted Monterey Jack and served on a white bun.


Another companion ordered the American Classic Burger.  This truly is a classic bacon cheeseburger made with Angus beef then topped with American cheese and bacon, served with lettuce, onion and tomato on the side.


Service: My companions and I paid a visit to American Burger Bar late one Tuesday evening.  The dining room was closed for the evening so we were seated at a booth in the bar area.  Our server was very friendly and had good suggestions for us.  Like most downtown restaurants you must park at a ramp or at a meter (most meters downtown St Paul are free after 4:30pm).
Overall Impression: Awesome burgers!! A tad expensive but top quality.
American Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Feb 262009

Cuisine: Deli, Italian, Pizza, Pasta
Restaurant Features: Cafe-Style, On-Site Parking, Market

Location: St Paul, MN (Downtown)
Address: 211 Seventh St W St Paul, MN 55102  (651) 222-3476

Hours: Sun-Thu 11am-9pm, Fri-Sat 11am-10pm
Links: Google Map * Cossetta’s Facebook Page

Atmosphere: Cossetta’s is a cafe-style restaurant, with two main serving areas that work their way toward the middle: The Pizza/Dessert counter on the far right and the Sandwiches/Salads/Hot Entree counter to the far left near the Italian Market. Order what you would like at designated counter (some items such as the lasagna, mostacolli and pizza are premade, but other items such as salads, sandwiches, veal parmesgiana, etc are made to order), then pay for everything at one of the two cashiers in the middle. Beverages are purchased at the cashier.


Cossetta’s is a two-story restaurant, with a majority of the seating on the upper level.  Since the middle of the restaurant is open the full two stories to accommodate the stairway, many of the tables in the upper level wrap around a railing overlooking the action below.  There is also a dining room upstairs in the back that has several tables extremely close together.  When it gets crowded it can be hard to maneuver in and out.


Not pictured is the Cossetta Market, which sells imported food products from Italy, as well as fresh deli items (salads, sausage, sauce,etc).

Menu: Cossettas has a selection of made-to-order garden salads, such as the famous Cossetta Salad, Italian Garden Salad, or Italian Gorgonzola. There are also a handful of pasta salads like the Antipasto Salad or the Tortellini with Prosciutto and Gorgonzola.

Cossettas also has several sandwiches.  The Hero (choice of meat) and the Italian Hero are served cold with choice of fixings, while the following are all served hot: Cossetta Sandwich, Hot Peppers and Sausage, Veal Parmegiana, and Italian Meatball.

Entrees include Mostacolli with Ricotta, Chicken Marsala, Sausage and Peppers, Lasagna, Veal Parmesan, and Chicken Cacciatore.  Every month there is also a Featured Special; February’s special is Manicotti Panna Marzano.

Pizza can be bought by the slice or you can order a whole pizza.  There are always hot, fresh slices of Cheese, Pepperoni, and Sausage, as well as a Daily Special.  One 16″ is divided into six slices.

Desserts include Spumoni, Gelato, Cannoli and Tiramisu.

*All beverages are canned or bottled.

Price guide: Salads $ 4-8  Sandwiches $ 7-8 Entrees $5-11 Pizza by Slice $3.50-4
What I ordered: I shared this gigantic piece of pizza with my companion.  The slice was so big it hardly fit on the standard cardboard plate it came on!  The pizza at Cossetta’s is New York Style, with a chewy, hand-tossed crust and just the right amount of sauce.  The mozzarella that they use is fresh and plentiful, and there were also plenty of slices of pepperoni which made it kind of greasy.  Cossetta’s pizza is my favorite local pizza thus far.


My companion and I also each got the veal parmegiana entree, which comes with mostacolli and garlic toast.  I ordered mine with the sauce on the side to maintain the crispiness of the veal for as long as possible.  The veal is sliced about 1/4″, making it tender yet crispy on the outside.  The portion size was on the small side but worth every penny.  The mostacolli was tossed lightly with ricotta and comes loaded with red sauce ( I added the sauce myself from the side they gave me and saved the rest for my veal).  The mostacolli was firm and delicious with the sauce.  The garlic toast was huge! It had a fair amount of garlic butter and was slightly salty but packed with flavor.  It was also just the right amount of crispy on the outside and still soft on the inside- I especially loved it dipped in sauce.


Service: My visit was late on a Saturday afternoon, just 3 hours or so before a Wild Hockey game.  We were fortunate enough to get to Cossetta’s before it started to get packed, which meant a prime spot in the Cossetta’s Parking Lot (for customers only, no event parking!) and reasonable food lines.  Within a half hour or so after we arrived, it really started to fill up in the restaurant and the lines were getting long.  As far as the actual service itself, the cafe-style servers were friendly and accommodating. I have eaten at Cossetta’s countless times and everything is consistently good.
Overall Impression: Delicious Italian food served reasonably fast and at affordable prices.  Great place to have a giant slice of NY Style pizza (my favorite in fact ;) Can be very busy on weekend evenings and prior to events at the Xcel Energy Center.  Free parking in own lot.
Cosetta's Italian Market & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Feb 102008

Cuisine: American, Breakfast, Pizza, Steak, Chops
Restaurant Features: Bar

Location: Downtown St Paul
Address: 253 West 7th Street  St Paul, MN 55102  651-228-9500
Links: Downtowner Website * Downtowner on FacebookGoogle Map

Atmosphere: Very nice and comfortable! The entire building was renovated in 2001 and the restaurant now has an open floor plan with a gorgeous bar (with water falls!) and a large fireplace.  Booths and tables can accommodate larger groups.


Menu: Breakfast is very popular at the Downtowner, with a variety of egg options and omelets (Farmer’s, Denver, Ham & Cheese, Everything, Southwestern, etc). Other items include Buttermilk Pancakes, French Toast, Stuffed French Toast, Belgian Waffles, Eggs Benedict, Steak & Eggs,  and the famous Cajun Breakfast.

Lunch options include a large variety of salads, Woodfired Pizzas, Hamburgers, and Fire-roasted meats.  Sandwiches include Ham & Cheese, Grilled Chicken, Reuben, Black Angus, Cajun Chicken, Club House, Chicken Salad, and Turkey.

Dinner menu includes all items on lunch menu with the addition of the following entrees: Downtowner Sirloin, T-Bone 22oz. Steak, Filet of Tenderloin, Wild King Salmon Filet, Bone-in Prime NY Strip Steak, Twin 8 oz. Pork Chop, New Zealand Lamb Chops (7), Semi-Boneless Free Range Chicken Breast, Fettuccini Primavera Alfredo, Seafood Puttanesca, Sicilian Sausage a la vino bianco,
Thai Chicken Pasta.

Price guide: Breakfast  $6-11 Lunch $8-19  Dinner Entrees $ 18-36
What I ordered: By recommendation I ordered the stuffed French Toast. I love French Toast, and I wasn’t sure what to expect when they said “stuffed”.  Stuffed apparently means a thin layer of cream cheese between two pieces of bread.  The strawberries were actually served on top of the French Toast, not inside like I had envisioned.  The taste of the Stuffed French Toast was pretty good and had a light cripsy texture on the outside, but I found that the cream cheese layer inside made the bread  soggy in the middle. It was good, but I was disappointed that I only got three small pieces and it did not come with any meat for $8.95.  It was good, but next time I will probably stick with the standard French Toast.


One of my companions ordered the Farmer’s Omelet (Ham, green peppers, onion and cheese).


Another companion ordered the Cajun Breakfast (Hashbrowns with green peppers, onions, mushrooms, Cajun sausage,
over easy eggs, cheese, Moe’s special hollandaise sauce and

Two of my companions were children, and they ordered the French Toast and Pancakes from the Children’s Menu. The bacon is thick and crispy, excellent!!

Service: Very good, somewhat fast.  Might be slow on the weekends during the breakfast rush.
Overall Impression: Nice atmosphere and good food, but priced a little high.  Parking can be difficult to find; there is a Lot across the street but it is much too small.
Downtowner Woodfire Grill on Urbanspoon

Nov 242007

Cuisine: Japanese

Location: Downtown St. Paul

Carriage Hill Plaza 350 St. Peter Street St. Paul, Minnesota 55102 (651) 224-0185

Fri & Sat  11:30-2:30pm, 5:00pm-11pm  Sunday  12pm-2:30pm, 4:00-9:30pm

Links: Sakura WebsiteGoogle Map















































Atmosphere: Sakura has a romantic, yet industrial feeling, with high ceilings and dim pendant lighting. The dining room is long and narrow, but features a full-length bar.















































Menu: Appetizers include a variety of cold appetizers ( various fish and seafood items marinated in a variety of sauces, seasoned radish, boiled asparagus, boiled cold spinach.)  Hot appetizers include pan-fried and steamed dumplings, sliced ribeye rolled with asparagus, fried tofu, oysters, boiled and steamed fish and seafood items, etc).

Entrees include
Prime slices of rib eye, fresh vegetables, tofu and noodles,
cooked in sukiyaki sauce. Yosenabe– “Japanese Bouillabaisse.” Seafood and vegetables cooked
in a flavored broth.
Shabu Shabu– Thin slices of rib eye and vegetables made at your table in
a seasoned broth. Chicken Katsu-Breaded chicken, deep fried and served on a bed of fresh cabbage. Tonkatsu-Breaded pork, deep fried and served on a bed of fresh cabbage. Yaki Niku-Marinated, thin slices broiled beef served on a bed of fresh cabbage.
Sushi and sashimi includes:
(Tuna). Bincho (Albacore Tuna). Hamachi (Yellow Tail). Shake (Salmon). Hirame ( Halibut). Suzuki(Striped Bass). Saba ( Mackerel). Tako (Octopus).
Ika (Squid)Ebi (Shrimp). Amaebi (Sweet Shrimp). Kani (Crab) Mirugai (Jumbo Clam). Hokkigai ( Surf Clam). Akagai (Ark Shell). Hotate (Scallop). Tamago (Egg). Unagi (Fresh Water Eel)Anago (Sea Eel). Uni-(Sea Urchin). Ikura (Salmon Egg). Tobiko (Flying Fish Egg). Masago (Smelt Egg) Bin Toro (Super White Albacore)
Sushi Rolls:
(California Roll). Spicy Tuna (Spicy Tuna Roll). Anakyu (Sea Eel Roll). Salmon Skin (Salmon Skin Roll). Lob & Aspara (Lobster & Asparagus). Tekka (Tuna Roll).Shakemaki (Salmon Roll). Negihama (Yellow Tail Roll). Kappa Maki (Cucumber Roll).  Tekka Maki (Tuna Roll). Oshinko (Pickled Radish Roll).  Kanpyo (Seasoned Gourd Roll).  Futomaki (Mixed Big Roll  – cooked vegatables include katyo, spinach, black mushrooms, cucumber, fish flakes, and egg.) Shake Maki (Salmon Roll)

Specialty rolls include
Aspen, Caterpillar, Dr. Nick, Spicy Tuna, Mexican, #9, Philadelphia, Rainbow, Spider, Tempura, Dancing eel, Dragon

Price guide: Nigiri sushi (2 pieces per order) $4.00-8.50, Specialty roll $6.25-14.95

What we ordered:My companions ordered Negimaki (Asparagus)-
Sliced rib eye rolled with Aparagus and ginger sauce.  I did not try this but it looked delicious and the others enjoyed it quite a bit.









































































Please excuse the terrible quality of this photo, but we also ordered the gyozo.  Fried perfectly and packed with flavor!


The sushi I ordered at Sakura was amazing! I found a new favorite in the Aspen Roll (crab, shrimp, daikon sprouts, avocado, spicy mayonnaise, rolled with masago on top.  The spicy tuna roll was also very good.  The vegetables and fish were very fresh and had a great texture.  The Phill roll was also quite good as long as you love a lot of cream cheese!











































My companions ordered (clockwise from the top left): Ikura (salmon egg), Tobiko (flying fish egg), and several orders of uni (sea urchin), some of them with quail egg.




















Also ordered was yellow tail (Hamachi), arctic clam (hokki)










































Another companion ordered Sukiyaki, which first came with miso soup and house salad.  The sukiyaki was decent, but not a favorite of my companion.  The beef was somewhat chewy.





















































































Another companion ordered the chicken teriyaki/shrimp tempura plate and really enjoyed it.
























Service: Very friendly and patient, considering she was serving a large group.

Overall Impression: Cool atmosphere and delicious, fresh sushi.  Prices seemed pretty reasonable compared to other Japanese restaurants.

Sakura on Urbanspoon