Sep 182011

Cuisine: American
Restaurant Features:  Bar, Games, Flat Screen TVs, On-Site Parking, Patio, Sports Bar
Location: Saint Louis Park, MN
Address: 5916 Excelsior Boulevard  Minneapolis, MN 55416 (952) 922-9515
Hours: Mon-Thurs: 8am-1am Friday-Saturday:  8am-2am Sun: 10am-1am
Links: Bunny’s Website * Bunny’s on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Bunny’s Bar & Grill is located on Excelsior Blvd in Saint Louis Park, just west of Hwy 100.  The space has been renovated since 1998 when Bunny’s first moved into this location, it is big and open for the most part, with nearly 30 TVs hung up around the restaurant and bar area.  There are round tables in two sizes spread throughout.

Menu: Appetizers include Chicken Wings (cajun or buffalo), Onion Rings, French Fries Mexican Style Nachos, Artichoke Dip, Potato Skins, Catfish Fingers, Chicken Strips, Garlic Cheese Bread, Mozzarella Sticks, and Chicken Drummies.

Soups include Chicken Noodle, Tomato Basil, Chili and a Soup du Jour.

Bunny’s Salads include Taco, Grilled Chicken, Texas Steak, Cobb, Oriental Chicken, Spinach, Caesar, Chef and Dinner Salad.

Sandwiches come with fries, coleslaw, potato salad, cottage cheese, kettle fries or fresh fruit.  Options include Taco Burrito Wrap, Steak Wrap, Clubhouse, BLT, Veggie Sandwich, Southwest Wrap, Chicken Caesar Wrap, French Dip, Triple Grilled Cheese, Grilled Reuben, BBQ Beef, Pork tenderloin Sandwich, Poprk Chop Sandwich, Dante’s Inferno, Tuna Melt, Jumbo Hot Dog, Original Chicken, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Hawaiian Chicken, Buffalo Chicken, Broccoli Chicken, and Cajun Chicken.

Burger options at Bunny’s Bar & Grill include Build-your-own, Rack Attack, and Grilled Garden Burger (black bean).

Pizza options include Build-your-own, Deluxe or Margherita.

Pasta selections include Spaghetti Marinara, Fettuccine Alfredo, Cheese Tortellini, and Pesto Fettuccine.

Entrees include 12oz Sirloin, Pan Fried Walleye, Jumbo Shrimp.  Low Carb Entrees include Grilled Burger Platter, Grilled Chicken Breast Platter, Chicken or Tuna Salad, and Cajun Pork Chop Platter.

Desserts include Ice Cream Sundae, Ice Cream Pie, Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae, and Bunny’s Football Float.

Price guide: Appetizers $  Salads $5-10  Sandwiches $8-9 Entrees $9-16

Weekly Specials:

  • Monday- Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, veggie and roll $8.50
  • Tuesday-Roast Pork with Mashed Potatoes and Dressing $8.50
  • Wednesday- Hot Turkey on sourdough with mashed potatoes and gravy $8.50
  • Thursday- Lasagna with garlic toast $8.50
  • Friday- Hot Roast Beef with mashed potatoes and gravy $8.50

What we ordered: We started with an order of Artichoke Dip, a creamy blend of artichokes, roasted red peppers, chiles and parmesan cheese.  It was baked in a ramekin and served with garlic toast.  Delicious and flavorful!

I was having difficulty deciding what to order and ended up with a French Dip.  The sandwich was alright; it was piled with deli-style roast beef on a toasted french roll with a side of au jus.  It was decent but not the greatest; would have been better with real shaved roast beef rather than the processed deli stuff. I’ve gotten really picky about my meats in that regard.   I had the choice of side and went with the french fries.

My companion ordered the Rack Attack Burger with American cheese, bacon, sauteed mushrooms, lettuce, tomato and mayo.  This burger was much better than the french dip! The burger was 1/2lb and had an impressive amount of freshly sauteed shrooms.  It was served with a side of barbeque and fries as choice of side.

Service: We had no problem finding parking in the big lot or a table inside, although it was a busy Saturday afternoon.  Our service was alright; it took a little longer than usual to get drinks refilled and meals were served before we had finished our appetizer.
Overall Impression: The atmosphere was lively and the Artichoke Dip was very good.  Service was kind of slow.
Bunny's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Apr 172011

Cuisine: American
Restaurant Features: Banquet, Bar, Free Wi-Fi, Games, Live Music, Waterfront
Location: Stillwater, MN
Address: 317 Main Street Stillwater, MN  651-342-1502
Kitchen Hours:
Mon-Thurs 11 am-8pm Fri-Sat 11am-10pm Sun 11am-8pm (Bar open later)

Links: Rafter’s Website * Rafters on Facebook *  Google Map

Atmosphere: Rafters Food & Spirits is located on the second level of 317 Main Street, near the heart of downtown Stillwater.  There are entrances into the building from the back (facing St Croix waterfront) and from Main Street.  This space has been occupied by several different restaurants over the years, with Rafter’s Food & Spirits being the newest as of January 2011.

The space is long and open, with large windows looking out onto the St Croix River which is just across the parking lot.  There is nothing fancy about Rafter’s, it definitely feels like a bar inside and there is nothing cozy about it.  They do offer live music late-nights on the weekend and they have a variety of entertaining bar games.

Menu: Appetizers at Rafter’s include Mozzarella Sticks, Potato Skins, Boneless Wings, Jalapeno Poppers, Cheddar Jack Buffalo Chips, Fried Pickles, Santa Fe Chicken Eggrolls, Bamboo Shrimp Skewers, Fried Ravioli, Chicken Wings (Jerk, Buffalo).

Salads include House, Caesar, and Southwest.

Burgers are all 1/3 lb and served with chips.  Options include Black Blue, California, Mushroom Swiss, BBQ Bacon Cheddar and the Rafter’s Burger (two 1/3 patties with bacon, three cheeses, sauteed mushrooms and onions).

Chicken Sandwiches include Buffalo Chicken, Chicken Club, Cajun Southwest Chicken, Citrus Grilled Chicken, Rafter’s Spicy Chicken Hoagie Melt.  Other sandwiches that Rafter’s offers are the Walleye, Reuben, Hot Beef & Cheddar, Beer Battered Fish, Meatball Marinara, Philly Beef, Burgandy Peppercorn Steak, Veggie Burger, and BLT.

Price guide: Appetizers $7-8  Burgers/Sandwiches $8-10

Happy Hour:
  • Monday-Thursday 3-6pm

Weekly Specials:
Monday- All You Can Eat Wings 5-8pm $4
Tuesday- All You Can Eat Taco Bar 5-8pm $5
Wednesday- All You Can Eat Pulled Pork & BBQ Chicken 5-8pm $5
Thursday- All You Can Eat Fettuccine Alfredo & Spaghetti/Meatballs 5-8 pm $5

What we ordered: We visited on a Monday night to discover that they had an all-you-can-eat wing bar for $4.  Score! They had three types of wings: Buffalo, Jerk, and Plain and several types of dipping sauces.  I started with the Jerk Wings.  Each wing was cooked in its entirety but they were soft and tender and very easy to remove from the bones.  The flavor on them was zesty and slightly spicy.

I also had a plate of the Buffalo Wings when a hot new batch was brought out. I love buffalo wings but I wasn’t the biggest fan of the sauce they used but at $4 for AYCE I wasn’t complaining!  The beer was also cheap at $2 for domestic taps so we washed a few down.

I really wasn’t sure what I was in the mind for, so I asked the server/bartender was he recommended.  He told me he wasn’t sure.??? That is usually a bad sign if your server can’t make a recommendation.  So next I asked him what he has served other people that looked good and he immediately said the Reuben.  You know I am a Reuben girl so I went with it.

I was immediately dumbfounded to be presented with a Reuben that looked like it had melted cheddar cheese.  Does this not look like Cheddar cheese? I hate to be picky but I did not want a reuben with cheddar cheese, so I alerted the server who asked if I would like a new one or for this one to be removed it from my bill. I opted for the latter and told him not to bother making me a new sandwich, I would just eat a few more wings from the wing buffet instead. A short time later the cook appeared at my table to apologize about the sandwich but also to explain that it was not, in fact, cheddar cheese on the Reuben.  It was thousand island dressing that had oozed over the edges when they put on the bread.  Honest mistake on my part!  Minutes later he brought me a new reuben without the thousand island.  I thought that was nice considering he didn’t charge me and I ended up getting two sandwiches out of the deal.  The sandwich was actually decent, but far from ranking with the best.  It was served with potato chips.

My companion ordered the Mushroom Swiss Burger, which was satisfactory but on the small side at just 1/3lb.

Service: We visited on a Monday night when it was not very busy, so the only employee working with customers was the bartender.  He was nice but didn’t have any recommendations from the menu and wasn’t in a hurry to check up on us.  However, he handled the situation with my food professionally when the problem was brought to his attention.

Overall Impression: I wasn’t terribly impressed with Rafter’s Food & Spirits.  The food, service and atmosphere were mediocre but $4 for all-you-can-eat wings and cheap beer make it an acceptable place to visit on a Monday night.  I see potential for this location but would love to see something more upscale with really good food.

Rafters Food & Spirits on Urbanspoon

Mar 252011

Cuisine: American, Burgers
Restaurant Features: Bar,  Flat Screen TV’s, Games, Late-Night Dining (until 12:30am), On-Site Parking
Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 857 Grand Ave St Paul, MN 55105  (651) 292-9140
Hours: Daily 11am-1am  Food served until 12:30am
Links: Billy’s On Grand Website * Billy’s on Facebook * Google Map
Atmosphere: Billy’s is on Grand Ave at Victoria, with entrances in the front (through the patio) and from the Victoria Crossing mall.  Billy’s is a pretty big place, with quite a few different rooms.  We sat in the bright and sunny atrium at the front of the restaurant.  This room has several tables, which are frequently pulled together to accommodate large parties.  There is also a cozy fireplace as well as live plants.

This is the main bar, which has seating around it, as well as booths along the wall. Not pictured is the large entertainment room in the back, complete with bistro tables, TV’s and dart boards.

The patio at Billy’s is a popular place when the weather turns nice around here.  Soon these tables will all be covered with umbrellas and filled with patrons.

Menu: Appetizers at Billy’s include Wings (Buffalo, Dry-Rub, Cajun, Honey-Chipotle and Jerk), Potato Skins, Mozzarella Sticks, Onion Rings, Vegetable Plate, Chips & Salsa, Chili Cheese Fries, Nachos, Chicken Fingers, Brie Amandine, Quesadillas, Southwest Eggrolls, Jerk Chicken Quesadilla,, Garlic Cheese Bread and Spinach Artichoke Dip.

Soups include Chili, Chicken Noodle and a Soup of the Day.  Salad options include Cobb, Chef, Grilled Chicken and Strawberry, Crispy Chicken, Taco Salad, Grilled Steak and Mixed Greens Salad.

Billy’s Burger options include Cajun, Billy the Kid (bacon & cheese), Guacamole, Patty Melt, Wild Bill (lettuce & tomato), The Firehouse (habanero sauce bleu cheese and bacon), and the Spicy Melt (stuffed with pepper jack and jalapenos).  All burgers come with chips and pickle.  Upgrade to fries for $1.50

Billy’s also has a large selection of sandwiches including the French Dip, Reuben, Southwest Chicken, Spicy Jerk Chicken Breast, Turkey Avocado, Walleye, Tuna Melt, Honey Chipotle Chicken, Wenglerwich (chicken with cheddar, bacon and mushrooms), Veggie Sandwich, Billy’s Club, and the BLT.  There are also a couple of wraps including Chicken Guacamole, and Buffalo Chicken.  All sandwiches and wraps come with chips or you can upgrade to fries.

Billy’s also serves 10″ pizzas, build-your-own from a selection of toppings.

Entrees include BBQ Ribs, Walleye, Rotisserie Chicken, 10oz NY Strip, 10oz Center Cut Sirloin, 6 oz Petite Sirloin.

Price guide: Appetizers $6-11  Salads $10-11  Burgers $8-9  Sandwiches $9-10  Entrees $10-20

Happy Hour:

  • All Appetizers are $5

Weekly Specials:

  • Sunday Brunch Buffet 11am-2pm  $9.95
  • Tuesday $3 Tacos 8-11pm

What we ordered: I really wanted something spicy but I wasn’t craving anything in particular.  I thought the Spicy Melt stuffed with pepper jack and jalapenos sounded like a good choice.  The burger was good but I was somewhat disappointed that it wasn’t spicy enough for me.  It did have a small amount of pepper jack stuffed inside, as well as the equivalent of two tiny slices of canned jalapenos chopped up.  I expected it to have a lot more flavor and would have liked some jalapenos on top of the burger as well.  I asked for a side of Billy’s cilantro mayo and that made it much better.   Burgers are always better with bacon, especially when it is thick and crispy like this was. The burger came with chips but I upgraded to the fresh cut fries for an extra charge.

My companion ordered the Buffalo Chicken Wrap with fresh cut fries.  There were several pieces of white meat chicken strips coated in the spicy buffalo sauce, then wrapped inside a tortilla along with lettuce, tomato and bleu cheese chunks.  It was also served with bleu cheese dressing on the side.  Very good!

Service: We arrived at Billy’s for lunch, shortly after they opened so we had no problem getting a table or parking spots in the side lot.  Our service was pretty good; our drinks were refilled when needed and the food came out reasonably fast.
Overall Impression: Billy’s on Grand is a good place to have drinks and a bite to eat; at any time of the day or night, rain or shine.

Billy's on Grand on Urbanspoon

Forest Laker Grill & Bar ~ Forest Lake, MN

 American, Bar, Burgers, Games, Happy Hour, Live Music  Comments Off on Forest Laker Grill & Bar ~ Forest Lake, MN
Feb 262011

Cuisine: American, Burgers, Steaks
Restaurant Features: Bar, Games, Happy Hour, Live Music
Location: Forest Lake, MN
Address: 131 N Lake Street, Forest Lake, Minnesota 55025 651.464.4647
Hours: Daily
Links: Forest Laker Website * Forest Laker on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: The inside of the Forest Laker is on the shabby side; one step in the place and it is obvious that the bar is the central focus, restaurant is an after-thought.  In the lower level, anyway.  There are only six booths in the small space, with about six additional bistro tables and some seating around the bar.  There is a small stage area that can acommodate live perfomances.

The upstairs of the Forest Laker is much bigger and more comfortable than the main level, with many additional tables.  I would have preferred to sit in this area but it didn’t appear as though any server was available upstairs, it was a ghost town while downstairs was slammed.

Menu: Appetizers include Chicken Wings, Garlic Toast, Chips & Salsa, Mini Tacos, Mozzarella Sticks, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Shrimp Cocktail, Potato Skins, and Deep Fried Battered Mushrooms.  Deep Fried Baskets include French Fries, Fresh Cut Fries, Popcorn Shrimp, Chicken Strips, Hand Battered Fish N Chips, and Potato Skins.

Salad options at the Forest Laker include Chophouse Wedge, Lakeside Chef, Mixed Baby Greens, Caesar, and The Lakeside.

Sandwich options include BLT, Turkey Club, Grilled Cheese, Hot Turkey or Beef, Reuben or Rachel, Prime Rib Dip, Fried Walleye, Charbroiled Chicken Breast, and Philly Prime Rib Dip.  Burger options are the Mushroom and Swiss, Patty Melt, Cheeseburger, Bacon Cheeseburger, and California Burger.  All burgers and sandwiches come with chips and pickle or you can upgrade to either French Fries or Fresh Cut Fries for an additional charge.

The Forest Laker also has a selection of Southwest items featuring the Famous Giant Taco, Super Nachos, Taco Salad, Fajitas and Quesadillas.

After 5pm you can also order Steaks, including Sirloin, Bone-In Tenderloin and Prime Rib.  All served with salad and choice of potato.

Other dinner entrees include BBQ Ribs, Lobster Tails, Sirloin, Chicken Breast, Fresh Walleye, Fresh Shrimp, Cracker Crusted Walleye Filet, Steak and Shrimp, Fettuccine Alfredo, Jumbo Shrimp, Linguine in Red Sauce,  Linguine with Wild Mushroom, and Penne with Artichoke.

Price guide: Appetizers $3-9   Salads $4-9 Burgers $6-8  Sandwiches $8-10  Steaks $16-28

Happy Hour:

  • 2-6pm Daily
  • 2 for $6.95 includes Fat Tire, 1554, Ranger India Pale Ale,
  • 2 for 1 all drinks and appetizers

Weekly Specials:

  • South of the Border Saturday- Pick 2 for $7 including Giant Taco, Margarita, Cuervo Shot, Corono, Modelo, XX Tap,
  • Monday- Buck a Burger

What we ordered: I ordered the Philly Prime Rib Melt with fresh cut fries.  To my surprise there was a whole steak on the french roll that was not sliced like I had assumed it would be.  This made it impossible for me to eat without cutting it bite by bite, which I had to do anyway because it was a rather grisly steak.  The peppers and onions were sauteed and really dressed it up, as did the toasted bun.  I thought this sandwich was okay but I would not order it again.  The fresh cut fries were very good.

My companion ordered the Mushroom and Swiss Burger with regular french fries.  This burger was pretty good, it had real mushrooms and swiss on a 1/2lb seasoned juicy patty.  It came with a buttered toasted bun (although it tasted more like margarine than real butter).  The french fries were pretty standard.

Service: The Forest Laker was very busy on the Saturday afternoon that I visited, and despite the odd 4’0 clock hour, the place was packed and there was only one table available- a bistro table.  Our server was the only server in the entire bar and was completely overworked.  She mentioned that the other two servers had called in sick that day and was on her own (which is probably why the upstairs wasn’t open?).  She did great, very patient with ordering even though she was slammed with other tables.  She refilled our drinks and took care of our minor requests.
Overall Impression: I really wasn’t too impressed with the Forest Laker, the seating area is kind of shabby and it is very small.  The burger was pretty good but the steak sandwich wasn’t my cup of tea.  Maybe the food would be more impressive in a better environment?

Forest Laker on Urbanspoon

Dec 212010

Cuisine: American, Burgers
Restaurant Features: Banquet, Bar, Flat Screen TVs, Games, Happy Hour, Kids Menu, Live Music, On Site Parking, Wi-Fi
Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 995 West 7th St.  St. Paul,MN 55102  651-228-9925
Hours: Daily 11am
Links: Shamrock’s Website *  Shamrock’s Facebook Page *  Google Map

Atmosphere: Located on West 7th at Randolph Ave, Shamrock’s Irish Nook is the second restaurant owned by Casper & Runyon, their other restaurant being The Nook.  The space is decently sized, with the restaurant on one side and the bar area on the other.  The main dining area has booths and tables and is colorfully decorated with flags and seasonal decorations.

The Bar Area at Shamrock’s easily takes up half the space, with the bar running along the entire wall.  There are several bistro tables and seating along the bar.  Shamrock’s also has a couple of banquet rooms in the back of the space that can be reserved for large parties.

Menu: Appetizers at Shamrock’s include Buffalo Zingers, Wings (Hot, BBQ Wings, Bourbon Teriyaki, Chipotle Garlic, Wasabi, Thai Peanut, Szechuan Apricot and 59 Sauce Wings), Chicken Tenders, Nugget Meatballs, Jalapeno Poppers, Runyon Rings, Cheese Curds, Mozzarella Sticks, Mini Tacos, Riblets in Smoky Sauce, Nacho Grande, Walleye Fingers, Mini Corn Dogs, Cheese Bread, Nook Bites, Shamrock Bites, Deep Fried Green Beans, Buffalo Shrimp, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Baked Artichoke Dip, Sweet Potato Fries and Fresh Cut French Fries.
Shamrock’s salads include Caesar, Buffalo Chicken, Thai Asian Peanut Chicken, Asian Sesame Chicken, Black and Bleu Steak, and Raspberry Chicken.
All Burgers at Shamrock’s are the same burgers you would get at their sister restaurant, Casper & Runyon’s Nook. Options inclue  The Mickey’s Original, Cheeseburger, Bacon Cheeseburger, Patty Melt, California, Pepperjack Burger, Shwishmushroom Burger, Bourbon Bacon Burger, Alumni Burger (Worcestershire sauce enhanced), Casburger, Nookie Supreme (Double Decker cheeseburgers with special sauce), Juicy Nookie (stuffed cheeseburger), Paul Molitor Burger (stuffed with pepperjack), Matt Birk Burger (two patties with pepperjack), Lodge Burger, Reuben Burger, Notre Dame Burger, Bleu Cheeseburger, Burger of the Month, and Garden Burger.  The newest burger options are the Firehouse (onion, bacon and pepperjack), Saucy Patty, Stuffed Philly Cheeseburger, Olive Cream Cheese Burger and Bison Burger.  All burgers come with fresh cut fries or sub for onion rings just $1.50 extra.
Sandwich offerings include the Reuben, Bourbon Bacon Chicken, Charbroiled Chicken Breast, Charbroiled Chicken Club, BBQ Chicken, Buffalo-style Charbroiled Chicken, Chicken Tender Melt, Pork Tenderloin Sandwich, Spicy Tuna Melt, Seafood Sliders, Half Pound BLT, Battered Cod, Salmon Burger, and Grilled Shamrock’s Cheese.  All sandwiches come with fresh cut fries and pickle.
Shamrock’s entrees are the Emerald Isle Steak Sandwich, 10oz Ribeye, Riblet Dinner, Charbroiled Chicken, Chicken Wing Dinner, Fish & Shrimp, Fried Shrimp, Walleye Fingers and Grilled Salmon.
Items from the Kids Menu are the Wee Burger, Wee Taco, Chicken Nuggets, Mini Corn Dogs, Mac N Cheese, and Grilled Cheese.
Desserts at Shamrock’s include Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie, Homemade Brownies, Cookie Sundae, Cookie Sundae, and Ice Cream Sundae.
Price guide: Appetizers $6-10 Salads $6-8 Burgers/Sandwiches $7-8 Entrees $9-15 Desserts $2-5

Happy Hour:

  • Mon-Fri 3-6pm
  • 2-for-1 Domestic Taps, $2.25 Bottles, $1.75 Rails
  • Thursday Ladies Night $5 All you can drink domestic beer and rails
  • Free Taco Bar on Fridays

Weekly Specials:

  • Saturday & Sunday- Corned Beef and Cabbage $9.95
  • Monday- 8:30-10:00pm Mini Burgers $1.25
  • Tuesday- 3 Fried Flour Tacos $6.95
  • Wednesday- Ribeye $9.95
  • Thursday-  Pork Tenderloin $6.95
  • Friday- Fried Shrimp or Fish Fry with Cole Slaw and Fries $9.95

What we ordered: I ordered what I order at just about every Irish Pub I visit; Corned Beef, specifically the Reuben Sandwich.  The sandwich was made with real corned beef which was flavorful but somewhat dry.  The ends of a few slices of corned beef were so hard that they were inedible and had to be taken off the sandwich which was disappointing, but fortunately the rest was pretty good.  The thousand island dressing and sauerkraut were both plentiful and tasty, and the grilled, swirled rye bread completed the sandwich.  The fries that come with all sandwiches and burgers at Shamrock’s are fresh-cut and oh so good!

One of my companions ordered the Mushroom Swiss Burger, a juicy thick 1/2lb patty of ground angus beef.  It was topped with a generous amount of sauteed mushrooms and melted swiss cheese and served on a toasted bun.  A delicious burger you can really sink your teeth into!

Another companion ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger, another giant burger perfectly cooked and loaded with cheese and crispy thick-cut bacon.

Another companion ordered the Grilled Chicken Caesar.  The salad was tossed with just the right amount of caesar dressing and then topped with sliced grilled chicken breast.

This was the Grilled Salmon Caesar that another companion ordered.  The salmon fillet was pre-grilled and served cold atop the salad greens and a generous amount of crispy seasoned croutons.  It was good but my companion said she prefers warm salmon on her salad.

A few of us tried this Brownie Sundae for dessert, which was very good.  The brownies are handmade by a professional baker and are rich, chocolately and delicious.  I recommend it with the ice cream, as the vanilla perfectly compliments the chocolate and cuts the richness somewhat.

Service: My visit was part of a party taking place in one of the new banquet rooms, where we had two servers.  We had been given a  banquet menu to order from that had only six selections on it, but my server was nice enough to let me order from the regular menu, which made me happy.  Drinks were brought in a reasonable amount of time.  Overall the service was very good.

Overall Impression: If you love Casper & Runyon’s Nook you will enjoy many of the same tastes in the bigger space of Shamrock’s.  Great burgers and a plethora of beers and other cocktails to choose from.  Perfect place to have a gathering or party.

Casper & Runyon's Shamrock on Urbanspoon

Sep 122010

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

Inside Fabulous Ferns

Inside Fabulous Ferns

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

Bar Area Inside Fabulous Ferns

Bar Area Inside Fabulous Ferns

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

Game Area ~ Fabulous Ferns

Game Area ~ Fabulous Ferns

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly Specials:

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

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

Chicken Parmesan Sandwich ~ Fabulous Ferns

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

Spring Rolls & Rangoons ~ Fabulous Ferns

Spring Rolls & Rangoons ~ Fabulous Ferns

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

Fabulous Fern's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Dec 112009

Cuisine: American, Burgers, Wings, Pasta
Restaurant Features: Bar, Games, Happy Hour, Pull-Tabs, Sports Leagues ( Volleyball, Broomball, Boot Hockey and Dodge Ball)
Location: Vadnais Heights, MN
Address: 1460 Co. Rd. E. East Vadnais Heights, MN 55110  651.484.6119

Bar Hours: Sun-Thurs 11a-1p  Fri-Sat 11a-2p

Kitchen Hours: Sun-Thurs 11a-10p  Fri-Sat 11a-11p

Links: Sak’s Sports Bar Website * Sak’s on Facebook Google Map


Atmosphere: Located on County Road E just a block from Hwy 61, Sak’s Sports Bar is in the location formerly known as Bentley’s restaurant.  The space is pretty big, with a couple of different seating areas.  Pictured below is the gaming side of the restaurant, with dart boards, pull-tabs, several large  flat-panel TVs and bistro tables.  The other side of the restaurant has a large bar separating two additional seating areas, one of which is the main dining room and the other is a row of booths running parallel to the bar.

Sak’s is also known for its Outdoor Sports.  Leagues are available to play Volleyball, Broomball, Boot Hockey and Dodgeball.  Sporting areas not pictured.


Menu: Appetizers include Buffalo Wings, Ranch Wing’s, Crispy Chicken Wings, BBQ Ribs, Spicy Pork Sliders, Boursin Sliders (green chile ketchup, boursin cheese and fried onion strings), Hot Dago Sliders, Classic Sliders, Slider Platter, Pulled Pork Quesadillas, Fried Chicken Quesadilla, Nacho Bar (chips with melted cheese and all other ingredients on the side to make-your-own), Garlic Cheese Bread, Bucket of Fresh-Cut Fries, Walleye Fingers, Onion Rings and Tator Tots Bucket, Warm Chips with Charred Corn and Black-Bean Salsa.  They also have Chicken with Wild Rice soup and a Soup du Jour

Salads offerings at Sak’s include Asian Chicken, Chopped Cobb, Cranberry Almond, Chicken Club, Red, White and Blue (red onion, bleu cheese), Beef and Garden Salad, Bird of Paradise, and Side Salad.  Any salad can be halved during lunch M-F.

Sandwiches include Hand Craved Butcher Sandwiches (beef brisket, ham or turkey breast), Italian Chicken Hoagie, B.A.L.T., Crispy Chicken, Grilled Chicken, Battered Walleye, Twisted Tuna (on English muffin with guacamole, bacon and melted Swiss), Honey Mustard Chicken Salad, Cucumber Chicken Classic, Grilled Vegetable Melt, Chicago Hot Dog, The Cuban, Buffalo Chicken Wrap, California Turkey Wrap, Chicken Gyro Wrap, The Monster Club and Millionaires Steak Sandwich.  All sandwiches and burgers come with kettle chips but you can upgrade to fresh-cut fries, onion rings or tator tots for $1.59

Burger options are the Classic Ground Chuck, Cowboy (bbq, bacon and cheddar), Bleu Cheese Lover’s, Ranch Burger, Cheeseburger, Shrooms and Swiss, Juicy Lucy, The Big Sak (two patties), and The BMFB (18 oz patty with all the classic fixin’s!)

Pasta Specialties include BBC Pasta (broccoli, bacon and chicken with penne and chipotle cream sauce), Chicken Al Fresco and Pasta, Big People Mac and Cheese (caramelized shallots and four cheese sauce), Blackened Chicken Pasta, Chicken Meatballs and Spaghetti.  Half-sized pastas available for lunch M-F.

Entrees at Sak’s are the BBQ Ribs, Grilled Top Sirloin, Grilled Marinated Chicken Breast, Beef & Beach (sirloin and walleye), and Beer Battered Walleye Fillet.

Price guide: Appetizers $ 5-9  Salads $7-10  Sandwiches/Burgers $7-9  Pasta $9   Entrees $13-20
Weekly Specials:
Tuesday- Sliders 3 for the price of 2

Wednesday- $.25/wings

Happy Hour M-F 3-6pm  7 days 9-11pm ~ 2 for 1 on all drinks  Select half-price appetizers

What We ordered: My companion and I visited Sak’s during Happy Hour and opted to go with a couple of the half-priced appetizers from the Happy Hour menu.  We started with 2-for-1 Blue Moon draft beers and the pork quesadillas which turned out to be an awesome choice!  The shredded pork was tender and flavorful, nestled up with melted cheddar cheese and sauteed peppers and onions.  In addition to the filling being great, the crisp and flaky, buttery flour tortilla was browned to a beautiful, dark golden brown.  It was drizzled with sour cream and cilantro and served with a unique black bean and charred corn salsa.  Delicious!


We ordered another half-priced appetizer (why not at that price?), the Alley Cat’s Ranch Wings.  The ten wings were fried then tossed with melted butter and ranch seasonings, and served with ranch dressing on the side.  These wings were pretty good if you like ranch flavor, which I thought was a unique but very smart way to season the chicken.


There were a number of sandwiches on the menu that sounded good to me, but I decided to order my standard Reuben from the Daily Specials menu.  I thought the Reuben was very good.  The deli-style corned beef was sliced thin and piled high with tangy sauerkraut and melted Swiss cheese on a lightly toasted rye bread.  It came with a generous serving of crunchy, seasoned kettle chips.


My companion ordered the Juicy Lucy with fresh-cut fries.  Juicy indeed! The beef was cooked perfectly and inside was a hot cheesey mixture of American cheese, cream cheese and green onion.  The generous helping of fresh cut fries were also very good, not too greasy but just salty enough.


Service: We were able to get a table for mid-afternoon lunch without a problem and were seated at a booth in the bar area.  Our overall service was decent.  The hostess who sat us was friendly and the male server we had was nice but he didn’t seem very personable or outstanding in any way.  Drinks were filled as needed and food came reasonably fast.
Overall Impression: Another great sports bar to try in the Vadnais Heights/White Bear Lake area .  Wide selection of appetizers, sandwiches and burgers on the menu all at very reasonable prices.  Great Happy Hour specials!
Sak's Sportsbar on Urbanspoon

Apr 122009

Cuisine: American, Burgers
Restaurant Features: Bar, Games
Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 492 Hamline Ave. So  St Paul, MN  55116 (651)698-4647
Links: Nook Website   Google Map
Atmosphere: The Nook is tucked into its' Highland Park neighborhood within a little building just across the street from Ball Field of Cretin-Durham Hall.  The dining room of the restaurant is long and narrow, accommodating approximately twelve tables.  There is a variety of local memorabilia framed and hung on the walls, in addition to a handful of nice flat-screened TVs that are also hung up throughout the restaurant.  I am pretty sure I also saw a couple of video game machines at the very back of the dining room.  There is also a bar when you first walk in that seats about eight.

Menu: Appetizers at the Nook include Jalapeno Poppers, French Fries, Runyon Rings, Cheese Curds, Mozzarella Sticks, Mini Tacos, Mini Corn Dogs, Leprechaun Legs (fried green beans!), Nokie Wings with your choice of eight original sauces, Boneless Wings, Chicken Drummies, Chicken Tenders.

Pizza offerings include Deluxe, Sausage, Pepperoni, and Double Cheese.

The salad choices at the Nook are Dinner Salad, Garden Salad with Chicken, Caesar, and Buffalo Chicken.

Sandwich offerings include the Reuben, Bourbon Bacon Chicken, Charbroiled Chicken Breast, Charbroiled Chicken Club, BBQ Chicken, Buffalo-style Charbroiled Chicken, Chicken Tender Melt, Pork Tenderloin Sandwich, Half Pound BLT, Battered Cod, Salmon Burger, and Grilled Shamrock's Cheese.  All sandwiches come with fresh cut fries and pickle.

Burgers are what the Nook is known for! With many to choose from such as The Mickey's Original, Cheeseburger, Bacon Cheeseburger, Patty Melt, California, Pepperjack Burger, Shwishmushroom Burger, Bourbon Bacon Burger, Alumni Burger (Worcestershire sauce enhanced), Casburger, Nookie Supreme (Double Decker cheeseburgers with special sauce), Juicy Nookie (stuffed cheeseburger), Paul Molitor Burger (stuffed with pepperjack), Matt Birk Burger (two patties with pepperjack), Lodge Burger, Bleu Cheeseburger, Burger of the Month, and Garden Burger.  All burgers come with fresh cut fries or sub for onion rings just $1.50 extra.

Dinner Entrees come with coleslaw, garlic toast and French fries and include 7 oz Filet Mignon, a Surf and Turf Combo, Steak Sandwich, 8 oz. Ribeye, Fish & Chips, Fried Shrimp, Fried Chicken Wings, and Pork Chops.

Price guide: Appetizers $ 6-8 Sandwiches & Burgers $6-8 Salad $4-7
Weekly Specials: Sunday- Kids eat free from Kids' Menu  One child per adult.

Monday- Dollar Burgers from 8:30-10:00 (smaller burgers)

Tuesday-Bourbon Bacon Burger with fries $5.50

Wednesday- Ribeye and the Works $9.95

Thursday- Breaded Pork Tenderloin $5.95

Friday- Fried Shrimp or Fish Fry $9.95

Saturday- 4pm to close 10oz. BBQ Pork Chop Dinner

What We ordered: My companion and I started with the Cheese Curds.  This was a pretty generous helping of cheese curds, which were all bite-sized with a semi-hard outer breading and hot melted Wisconsin Cheese in the center.  Delicious! They came with a side of ranch for dipping.  I would recommend a minimum of three people share these rich treats.  I love them but can't eat too many at one time and I ate way more than I should have before the main course.


Our server told us that the favorite burger of everyone that works at the Nook is the Lodge Burger, so I ordered that to see what it was all about.  The seasoned beef patty was obviously fresh, very flavorful and juicy.  It had two layers of cheddar cheese, one on each side of the beef, plus bacon, tomato, lettuce and a special chipotle mayo.  I crave flavor and this burger did it for me! I was on cheese-overload from all the cheese curds I ate earlier and could have done without the second layer of cheese on my burger, but otherwise it ranks up there as one of the best burgers I have had.  I opted to sub Onion Rings instead of Fries and received a big portion of the golden rings.  The rings were thick-cut and also thickly breaded.  Good stuff!               


My companion had the Juicy Nookie with fresh sauteed mushrooms.  The medium-cooked burger was stuffed with a mound of melted American cheese that oozed out. My companion loved it and agrees that the Burger at the Nook is one of the best ever consumed.  The big pile of fries were fresh-cut and dense in the middle with just a slightly crispy outside and lightly seasoned with cracked pepper and garlic salt.


Service: Great! I had heard that the Nook is one of the few restaurants in town that consistently has a wait for a table, so my companion and I were pleasantly surprised that there were plenty of tables for us to choose from on a Monday afternoon around 4pm.  Our server did an excellent job of making us feel welcome and took his time to suggest different burgers and stayed on top of the drink refills.  Food was ready in a reasonable amount of time.  It started to get more busy as the hour progressed and by 5 pm every table was filled.
Overall Impression: Some of the best burgers in the Twin Cities, at great prices.