Feb 062011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 012010

I was happy to see that one of my favorite restaurants, Norman Quacks, now has a Fall Seasonal Menu featuring

Old Duck Hunters Pot Pie– A flaky crust stuffed with veggies and roasted beef, served with mashed acorn squash.

Chicken Quack Schnitzel– Lightly breaded chicken breast smothered with onions, mushrooms and melted swiss.  Served over potato with side of squash.

Twice Grilled Apple Chop– 2 Pork chops served with applesauce, squash and choice of potato

Quack’s Loosey Goosey Burger- Angus patties stuffed with hot spicy cheese, served with sweet potato fries

Whole Lotta Bratta Ciabatta– Brats smothered in beer and grilled then smothered in onions, peppers, relish and cheese.  Served with sauerkraut and sweet potato fries

Quack Carrot Cake– 4 layers

Sweet Pumpkin Cheesecake– A delicious cross between pumpkin pie and cheesecake.  I tried it and thought it was pretty awesome, just wish the piece were a little bigger ;)

Even though this next photo is not an item on the Seasonal Menu, you CAN get it for just half price during Happy Hour!  Only $3.50 for all this Boneless Buffalo-y Goodness?? Steal of a Deal!

Mar 282010

This is an updated review from the original I wrote in May 2007.  I have eaten at Norman Quack’s countless times since then and felt a new, updated review was long overdue!

Cuisine: American, Fish, Steaks, Chops & Ribs
Restaurant Features: Bar, Happy Hour, On-Site Parking, Flat Screen TVs
Location: Forest Lake, MN
Address: 843 West Broadway Avenue   Forest Lake, MN 55025    651-982-6777
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-10p   Sun 11am-9pm
Links: *Norman Quack’s Website *Norman Quack’s Facebook Page *Google Map

Outside of Norman Quacks
Atmosphere: Norman Quacks is conveniently located at the end of a small strip mall facing Broadway Ave, between Hwy 61 and I-35.  The space is big and open, with a bar area to the left when you walk in and the dining room on the right.  There are a number of booths and tables throughout the restaurant, with space to accommodate larger parties in the back.  Everywhere you look there are interesting objects hanging on the walls, and a library’s-worth of books stacked on the half-wall between the booths, giving the restaurant character while making the booths more private.

The Bar Area also has tables as well as seating at the bar.  There are also a couple of flat-screen TVs that typically view local sporting events.

Menu: Appetizers at Norman Quacks include Colossal Onion Rings, Quesadillas, Potato Skins, Cheese Curds, Chicken Tenders, 7 Layer Dip and Chips, Buffalo Tender Bites, Peppered Tips & Blackened Toms, Chicken Wings, BBQ Pork Ribs, Creamy Pepperjack Queso & Chips, Coconut Shrimp Kabob and Garlic Alfredo Toast.

Salad offerings are the Chicken Tender Salad, Spinach Tips and Tomatoes, Fajita Salad, House, Salmon Black & Blue, Chicken Caesar, Oriental Shrimp, and Caesar Salad.  Soups include Creamy Baked Potato, Prime Rib Stew, and Soup of the Day.

Sandwiches include BBQ Pork and Cheddar, Buffalo Chicken, Prime Fajita Melt, Walleye, Catfish Po’ Boy, Monte Cristo, Skinny Ribeye, Roasted Bahama Chop (pork with jerk sauce, mozzarella and pico de gallo), Dante’s Revenge, Triple Play Sandwich (layers of ham, turkey, roast beef and bacon with cheddar, mozzarella and jack), French Dip, Philly French Dip, B.L.T, and Blackened Salmon Melt.

The following sandwiches can be made with either chicken breast, ground beef burger or bison burger: Plain Jane, Sloppy Rio (with cheese sauce, beans and sauteed peppers), Mushroom, 4 Cheese, Smoke Head (sauteed mushrooms, onion, bacon, bbq sauce and cheese), Peppered with Bacon and Blue Cheese, Patty Melt, Clubhouse and Bacon Blue.
Price guide:
Appetizers $7-9  Salads $7-9  Burgers/Sandwiches $7-10  Entrees $11-17

Happy Hour: 4-6pm EVERYDAY.  1/2 Priced Appetizers (all except the Samplers)

Weekly Specials:

Sunday- $10.95 12 oz Prime Rib with Onion Rings
What we ordered: We started with the basket of freshly baked Ciabatta Bread.  The bread is served with a flavored whipped butter, the flavor of which changes daily.  We had garden-herb butter on this visit.

Bread Basket at Norman Quacks

We also got an order of Cheese Curds.  I love the cheese curds at Quack’s! The gooey white cheddar curds are battered with  the same unique batter that is used on the giant onion rings, and are slightly salty.  They are fried perfectly until crispy golden brown on outside, and not too greasy.  Great dipped in the ranch that comes with it.

For my meal I ordered the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, which is what I order 90% of the time I visit Quacks. This is my favorite sandwich on the menu and is the best Buffalo Chicken sandwich I have had anywhere. They start with the biggest chicken breast they can find, then bread it, deep fry it, and coat it in delicious and mildly spicy Buffalo sauce. It has a couple of sliced of thick-cut bacon and melted cheddar cheese, tomato and lettuce served on the side. Very big and very messy, I usually end up using silverware to eat it.

One of my companions ordered a “double” of the the Sunday Prime Rib Special (usually 12 oz cut served with onion rings for $10.95). This GIANT cut of prime rib weighed in at around 25 oz, most of which was meat with just a small amount of fat.  Served with au jus and creamy horseradish.  Excellent cut of meat for a great price, making Quack’s a popular place on Sundays!

Another companion ordered the Two-Pork Chop Dinner (can order one or two chops), served with fries (choice of potato) and soup or salad.  These were two big, tender and juicy pork chops, with Cajun seasonings.  Big enough to share between two!

One of my companions also ordered a Bloody Mary, which came dressed with beef stick, olives, celery and pepperoncini pepper.  Thick and spicy!

We did not have dessert on this visit but here is a photo of the Giant Chocolate Cake that I took just a few months ago on a different visit.  Heavenly and gigantic with at least four layers of dark chocolate cake nestled between more layers of thick, chocolate butter cream frosting.  I recommend that you share this big boy!

Service: Our service on this occasion was great!  We were greeted and seated immediately and our order was taken promptly.  Within minutes of being seated we were given a nice big basket of bread fresh out of the oven right.  Drinks were refilled promptly  and food came out at a reasonable pace.
Overall Impression: I’ve already mentioned that Norman Quack’s is one of my favorite restaurants.  They have a fine selection of quality steaks and fish, the specialty sandwiches and burgers are all really good, and the half-priced appetizers during Happy Hour are a great deal.  The Buffalo Chicken Sandwich and Prime Rib are what we crave, in fact there is a good chance you’ll find me (and at least one companion) here on any given Sunday. See you there!
Norman Quacks on Urbanspoon

Nov 212009

Cuisine: American, Italian, Seafood, Steaks, Chops, Ribs
Restaurant Features: Card Room, Horse Racing, On-Site Parking, Sunday Brunch
Location: Columbus, MN (near Lino Lakes & Forest Lake)
Address: 15201 Zurich Street NE Columbus MN 55025-7908 (651) 925-4600 877-RUN-ACES (I-35 and Hwy 97)

Winner’s Circle Hours: Lunch Mon-Sat 11a-3p

Dinner Mon-Wed 5p-9p Thur 4-9p Fri 4-10p  Sat 5-10p

Sunday Brunch 9:30-1pm  Sunday Dinner 5-9p

Links: Running Aces Harness Park Website Google Map


Atmosphere: Located within Running Aces Harness Park, the Winner’s Circle Dining & Lounge is a large, open space with giant floor-to-ceiling windows that allow a good view of the horse track outside.


The Buffets are set up in another large room just off to the left of the main room.  This back room also serves as seating space for large groups.


Menu: The new Fall Lunch Menu includes Walleye Fingers, BBQ Chicken Quesadilla, Onion Rings, Cobb Salad, Thai Chicken Salad, Caesar Salad, Aces House Salad, BBQ Blue Burger, Southwest Burger, Reuben, BBQ Brisket Sandwich, Club, Cajun Walleye, French Dip, Hot Italian Wrap and Chicken Wrap.  All sandwiches and burgers come with fries.

Fall Dinner Menu is served Sun-Wed.  Appetizers include Beer-Battered Onion Rings, Buffalo Chicken Wings, Walleye Fingers, Fried Calamari, Beef Tender Tips, BBQ Chicken Quesadilla, and Sampler Platter.

Salad choices include Cobb Salad, Thai Chicken Salad, Caesar Salad, and Aces House Salad (with caramelized pecans, goat cheese and raspberries).

Sandwiches at Winner’s Circle are the BBQ Blue Burger, Southwest Burger, Reuben, BBQ Brisket Sandwich, Club,
Cajun Walleye, French Dip, Hot Italian Wrap and Chicken Wrap.  All
sandwiches and burgers come with fries.

Italian Entrees include Chicken Parmesan, Cajun Chicken Alfredo, Shrimp Pomodoro, Rotelle Vegetable Pasta with olives and artichokes.

House Specialties are Ber Battered Colossal Shrimp, Herbed Pork Tenderloin, Stuffed Chicken Breast, Almond Crusted Walleye, Rainbow Trout, Grilled Pork Chop, King Crab and Smokehouse Ribs.

Steaks offered are the Filet, New York Strip, Flat Iron Steak and Surf & Turf (Filet & choice of either King Crab or Lobster Tail)

Price guide: Lunch Menu $8-11 Appetizers $8-10  Entrees $15-19  Steaks $18-26
Weekly Specials:

Thursday Night Seafood Buffet $21.95 includes oysters in the half-shell, peel-and-eat shrimp, Snow Crab Legs, Fried Shrimp, Made-to-order Shrimp Scampi, Prime Rib, Weekly Chef Specials and Dessert Table.

Friday Night Italian Feast Buffet $19.95 includes Italian Antipasto Bar, Gourmet cooked-to-order Pasta Bar, Carved Beef Tenderloin, 7 Specialty Entrees, and Italian Dessert Station.

Saturday Lobster Extravaganza $25.95 includes Lobster Bisque, Twin Lobster Tail, Vegetables, Potato and Dessert.

Sunday Brunch Buffet $16.95 Adults $8.95 Kids includes Champagne, Prime Rib, Made-to-order Omelets and Waffles, Peel and Eat Shrimp, Salad Bar, 7 Breakfast and Lunch Entrees, and Dessert Table.

What I ate: My visit was during Sunday Brunch.  My first plate included prime rib, Salmon Pasta, Green Beans, Potates O’Brien, Bacon, and Cheesy Scrambled Eggs.  Everything I tried was decent, typical buffet quality, but nothing outstanding.  My cut of prime rib was cooked more than I prefer and therefore not as tender as I like it.  I ate a couple of bites of each item before deciding I needed to try something else.

Winnerscirc le-brunchplate

My second plate was a much bigger hit after a visit to the made-to-order Omelet and Waffle Stand.  They had a variety of toppings for the waffles which were hot and golden brown.  I ordered my omelet with everything (tomato, onion, peppers,mushrooms, ham, bacon and cheddar) and it was so good! My favorite way to eat eggs.


Yes, I did get another small plate (for the sake of this review of course!).  The salad was basic but good and I also tried the spare ribs in gravy.  The meat was so good! It was very tender and flavorful.  I would have loved to try more of that but I was very full at this point.


I got a small dessert plate (also for the sake of this review!) I love cheesecake so I had to try a bite of the Winner’s Circle cheesecake.  What a disappointment! The taste and texture both seemed off and I didn’t make it past a 2nd bite.  I also tried the blueberry cobbler and the creme-filled chocolate cake.  I was too full to get excited about any of it.


Here is the dessert plate of one of my companions

Service: My party of 8 adults and 3 small kids had a reservation and were able to be seated at our table immediately.  They had set up a special table for us in the large banquet space.    Our server was friendly and accommodating with drinks and other small requests.

Overall Impression: The food served on the Sunday Brunch was decent, I recommend the omelets and waffles!  Our service was really good.  I would like to go back for dinner to order off the menu
Winner's Circle Dining Lounge on Urbanspoon

Nov 032008

Cuisine: American, Fish & Seafood, Steaks, Chops,
Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking

Location: Forest Lake, MN
Address: 9726 Scandia Trail N. Forest Lake, MN 55025 (On Hwy 97 four miles east of Hwy 61) (651)433-5646

Hours: Mon 4-9pm Tues-Sat 11am-10pm Sun 11am-9pm
Links: Old Log Cabin WebsiteGoogle Map


Atmosphere: There are two dining areas in the Old Log Cabin, the main dining room with a variety of booths and tables (not pictured) and then the bar area which has a handful of high tables with additional seating at the bar.  Like it’s name suggests, the Old Log Cabin has a rustic feel and the building itself is made from several large logs.  Nearly every square inch of the bar area is covered with business cards of every variety!


Menu: Appetizers include Fungus Humongous, Mozzarella Sticks, Buffalo Wings, Onion Rings, Artichoke Dip, Chicken Strips, Potato Skins, Cheese Curds, and Nachos Grande.

Salads include Chicken Chef, Taco, Crispy Chicken, and Chicken Caesar.

There is a large selection of 1/2 lb burgers with names such as Musher, Alaskan, Prospector, Kodiak and Yukon.  Sandwiches include the Trapper (prime rib), Ptarmigan, Cottage Chicken, Log Jammer (Prime rib with onions and peppers), Fish, Hot Prime, Grilled Chicken, Grizzly Chicken (BBq & Bacon), Steak and the French Dip.

Dinner entrees include Ribeye Steak, Cabin Steak (10oz sirloin), Black Angus Sirloin, Chopped Sirloin, Sirloin Tips, Ork Chops, Broasted Chicken, Marinated Chicken Breast, Broiled Walleye or Shrimp, Fried Cod, Seafood Platter, Fish & Chips, and Fried Shrimp.

Desserts offered are Carrot Cake, Strawberry Shortcake, Bread Pudding, and Root Beer Float.

Daily dinner specials begin at 4pm and include:

  • MON& Tues- Mexican Food
  • Wed- All you can eat Fish Fry
  • Thurs- Steak Night
  • Fri- BBQ Ribs $11.99
  • Sat& Sun- Prime Rib $15.99

Price guide: Appetizers $ 5-8 Salads $7-9 Burgers & Sandwiches $7-9 Dinner Entrees $10-18  Desserts $3-4
What we ordered: We started with the Fungus Humongous and like the name suggests, these fried mushrooms were HUGE!  The extra-large fresh mushrooms were halved, lightly battered and then fried to a crispy brown and served with a honey-mustard dipping sauce.  Delish!


For my meal I ordered the Ptarmigan Chicken Sandwich (the server affirmed that this was a great choice!).  This was a grilled chicken breast topped with creamy spinach artichoke dip and melted cheese on a toasted bun.  The chicken was tender and juicy and the artichoke dip was flavorful and had a decent amount of artichoke.  The french fries were mediocre, with a slightly crispy textured outside and very little seasonings (reminded me of Burger King fries).


One of my companions ordered the Hot Prime Sandwich which consisted of thick slices of prime rib served between slices of fresh white bread, a large scoop of mashed potatoes and then smothered with gravy.  This is obviously the type of sandwich that is meant to be eaten with silverware! I tried a few bites and thought the prime rib was good, but the gravy wasn’t my favorite.  My companion enjoyed this meal.


Another companion ordered the steak sandwich, which was literally a steak thrown between a couple of slices of toast and then served with a side of au jus.


Another companion ordered the Sirloin Tips, which came with a cup of soup, dinner roll, and baked potato.  The sirloin tips were tender and juicy, smothered with sauteed onions and mushrooms.


Service: Our visit was on a Saturday afternoon between lunch and dinner, so there were only a few other customers dining at the time.  Our server doubled as bartender, but was prompt and friendly for the most part.  My only complaint is that the fried mushroom appetizer was served with the meal instead of coming out first but it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Overall Impression: The Old Log Cabin was more laid back than I had expected and the food was priced very reasonably for the amount that came with each order.  The service was good too!
Old Log Cabin on Urbanspoon

May 212008

Cuisine: Italian, Pizza,
Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking<
Location: Forest Lake, MN
Address: 25 North Lake Street, Suite 105 Forest Lake, MN 55025  651-464-0111
Links: Google Map * ‘Za Italian Website * ‘ZA on Facebook


Atmosphere:    This was my first visit to ‘Za, although I have driven by many times.  The restaurant is in the lower-level of a large business complex at the Intersection of Broadway and Lake St, right on Forest Lake.  The restaurant was classier than I expected, with several wall-sized windows facing Forest Lake.  The restaurant sits above street level, so there was a decent view of the lake (beyond the parking lot).  ‘Za has several tables and a few bistro tables as well.  Mostly casual, but the dim lights as it grew dark gave it a more romantic feel.


Menu: Appetizers include Calamari with Marinara, Artichoke Dip, Chicken Tenders and Garlic Cheese Bread.

The salads at ‘Za include Antipasto, Caesar and Spinach.

Za also has a variety of delicious pastas including Lobster Ravioli, Cheese Tortellini, Chicken Parmesan, Alfredo with Chicken or Shrimp, Cheese Ravioli, Pesto Cream Fettuccine with Chicken or Shrimp, Spaghetti, Garlic Herb Penne, and Za’s Own Famous Bread Boule Lasagna.

Like its name suggests, ‘Za also specializes in Pizzas and Calzones.  Specialties include the Bellisima, Full House, Garlic Cream Sauce with Chicken and Spinach, Hawaiian Hawg, Italian Rose, Meat Me at ‘Za, Pesto Pollo, Primo, Ragin’ Cajun, St. Louis Luau, Veggie Villa, and The Mother Lode.

If anyone is tempted to go for a burger instead of Italian or pizza, ‘Za also has a handful of specialty burgers served with Steak-cut Fries.

Desserts are Cheesecake, Big Baby Bundt, and Tiramisu.

Price guide:  Appetizers $6-7  Salads $3-7 Pasta $9-15 Calzones $ 9-14 Pizza $9-23 Burgers $10
What I ordered: To start, my companions and I shared an order of Garlic Cheese Bread.  It was nice and buttery and the cheese was bubbly and light brown on top.  The garlic wasn’t over the top, but it had a pleasant amount of oregano.  The marinara was also pretty good, more on the sweet than spicy side.

I was still starving by the time my meal came, and I was kind of disappointed to discover there were only five raviolis on my plate (with one BIG meatball).  The sauce was what ‘Za calls “Basil-Pinenut Pesto Butter Marinara Sauce”, which was basically a creamy red sauce.  The raviolis were stuffed full of cheeses and more filling than I had thought.  True to my word, I ate the entire plate (which is very rare!) and I was stuffed beyond belief for the rest of the night!


One of my companions had the spinach salad.  This salad has red peppers, black olives, red onions, walnuts, pineapple, and a raspberry-walnut vinaigrette with chicken (gorgonzola is optional).  Looked delicious!

Two of my companions both ordered the chicken parmesan.  This is a baked dish and the sauce had been absorbed into the pasta and was on the dry side.  Both girls thought more sauce or a side of sauce would’ve made it better.  Very large portion.

And last but definitely not least, one of my companions had the  famous Lasagna cooked in a bread boule.  The best way to describe this creation is a hybrid between lasagna and deep-dish pizza.  The crust was buttery and crispy, baked to perfection!


Service: It was a Saturday night and Za’ was pretty filled up, we were lucky to get a table for five almost immediately.  We had a young server who was nice but not overly friendly.  Food took awhile, but it was mostly worth the wait.
Overall Impression: I liked it! I thought the prices were reasonable and the food and atmosphere were also very nice.  The lasagna in the bread boule was a unique find! Glad I finally stopped in, would not hesitate to go back.

ZA Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Jan 192008

Cuisine: American, Fish & Seafood, Steak, Chops & Ribs
Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking

Location: Wyoming, MN
Address: 26753 Forest Blvd, Wyoming, MN 55092 (651) 462-1211

Hours: Mon& Tues- Closed Wed & Thurs 2:30pm-9pm Fri & Sat 2:30pm -10pm Sun 1pm -9pm
Links: Cornerstone Website Google Map


Atmosphere: Dark, cherry-stained pine lines the walls and gives the Cornerstone a very comfortable yet masculine atmosphere.  A variety of tables as well as booths.  There is a separate large bar area in the building, with plenty of seating and gaming options (Bingo, video games, pull-tabs, darts, etc)


Menu: Sandwiches include steak sandwich, dutch steak sandwich, Reuben, Patty melt, chicken supreme, prime rib, walleye sandwich, and  veggie burger.  The cornerstone also offers a build-your-own-burger with a variety of toppings to choose from.

Dinner entrees include the famous “Queen” or “King” cut Prime Rib, T-bone steaks, ribeye, New Yorl strip, sirloin, hamburger steak, extra thick boneless pork loin, pork chops with a variety of seasonings to choose from, BBQ ribs, liver and onions, deep fried chicken, walleye dinner, shrimp scampi, breaded jumbo shrimp, stuffed shrimp.

There are a few children’s menu items, salads and soups as well.

Price guide: Sandwiches $7-9  Entrees $10-20
What I ordered: The Reuben.  I practically consider myself a Reuben connoisseur, and this Reuben is one of the best I have EVER had!!  The corned beef was sliced very thin, but was tender as could be, with awesome flavor.  The bread was grilled to a nice, toasty texture, without any of the sogginess you might experience from grilled sandwiches elsewhere.  The 1000 island dressing came served on the side.  They also gave me a ton of fries, which were thin and crispy.  A big hit overall!


Two of my companions ordered the Prime Rib.  Featured here is the “King Cut”, 20-24 oz.  This steak is MASSIVE!! The taste was very good, and for $20, I don’t know if you can find a prime rib steak that is any bigger or better for the price.


Another companion ordered the stuffed shrimp.  This was simply, “alright”. The breading of the shrimp was nice and crispy, but the inside was lightly filled with a cheesy/crab mixture that had a very blended texture.


Service: Could be much better! This is the second time I had eaten at the Cornerstone and the serving staff does not seem to be very friendly or helpful.  There were four of us dining on this occasion, and when the server brought out complimentary soup/salads for the entrees that my companions ordered, she only brought us three rolls! I cannot recall whether the menu included a dinner roll with the Reuben, but come on! In my opinion, enough dinner rolls should be brought to the table for everyone who is seated, regardless of what they ordered.
Overall Impression: Nice atmosphere for both dining and entertainment. Great Prime Rib for the money and excellent Reubens.  Service needs improvement.
Cornerstone on Urbanspoon

Jul 172007

Update as of 2/09 ***** This restaurant has changed ownership and now goes by a different name*****

Cuisine: American, Bar & Grill

Location: Forest Lake

Address: 7050 Scandia Trail  Forest Lake, Minnesota 55025  Phone: 651-464-8435

Links: Dummy’s Website Google Map


Atmosphere:  Dummy’s is a very large restaurant, with an even bigger banquet hall attached to the back half of the building. Adjacent to the dining area you see pictured below, there is a large bar in the center of the back room, with bistro tables surrounding it.  Very nice area, but smoking is allowed and my impression was that there had been a LOT of cigarettes smoked in the bar recently.  There is a also a screened in porch overlooking the public golf course next door, with patio tables. This was the perfect place to sit for lunch on a beautiful sunny day.  Here is the picture of the main dining room.


Menu: Appetizers include the Dummy’s Drummys, walleye cheeks, chicken nachos or quesadillas, onions rings, mozzarella sticks, potato cheese poppers and chicken fingers. Besides five hamburger variations, Dummy’s has chicken wraps and many other sandwiches including the Prime Time, Cajun chicken, chicken Parmesan, Reuben and Buffalo Chicken.  Dinner entrees include the Super Bowl Sirloin, fettuccine Alfredo with chicken and asparagus, spaghetti and meatballs, meat balls and gravy, pan seared walleye, tequila lime chicken, steak or chicken stir-fry, fajitas and gourmet pizzas.  Salad eaters- Never fear, they do have a few premium salads.

Price guide: Appetizers- $5-9   Sandwiches and Burgers $7-8  Dinners $9-14

What I ordered: Chicken quesadillas (flour tortillas filled with spicy chicken, jack cheddar cheese, chipotle pepper sauce, tomatoes, onions and jalapenos.  Served with sour cream and salsa.  I was very impressed with the size of these quesadillas- eight whole slices!  They were loaded with cheese and a mix of chopped chicken, jalapenos and onions.  I liked the flavor the jalapenos and onions gave the quesadillas, but there was something about the chicken that I didn’t like…not sure how it was cooked, but it was kind of rubbery and didn’t have much flavor.  I was also disappointed that they didn’t have any guacamole; apparently they don’t sell enough of it to keep making fresh batches. Boo Hoo! Quesadillas just aren’t the same to me without guacamole :( I did, however, really enjoy the buttery, crispy texture of the tortilla.


One of my companions ordered the Prime Time sandwich.  Thought the beef and toppings were pretty good, but the chintzy hot-dog bun they served it on was way too weak to hold all the toppings and was very messy to eat after it fell apart.  It is highly recommended to find a new, thicker style of bread to serve this on!


Another of my companions ordered the grilled buffalo chicken sandwich with sweet potato fries.  he thought the sandwich was pretty good also, as long as you like char-broiled chicken.  There didn’t seem to be enough buffalo sauce on the sandwich either.


Service: Our visit was mid-afternoon on a Monday, so the only person who appeared to work in the dining room/bar area was the bartender.  We chose to sit in the screened in porch outside, so it was only every so often that the server/bartender would come check on us.  The owner of Dummy’s also happened to be at the restaurant at the time of our visit and came out to check on us and chatted with us for awhile about the golf course next door.

Overall Impression:  The food was decent, but far from impressive.  Might try it again, but not a place I will be rushing back to anytime soon.