Jan 192013

Cuisine: American, Steak, Seafood, Pasta
Restaurant Features: Bar, Hotel
Location: Bloomington, MN (Inside Embassy Suites)
Address: 7901 34th Avenue South, Bloomington, MN 55425 952-854-1010
Hours: Lunch Mon-Fri 11am-2pm *Dinner Daily 4:30pm-10pm *Sunday Brunch 10am-2pm
Links: Woolley’s Steakhouse Website * Woolley’s on Facebook * Google Map

Woolley’s is located inside the beautiful, lush courtyard at the Embassy Suites Airport in Bloomington.  Unfortunately I did not take any photos of the interior, but if you have been to any Embassy Suites before, you can instantly visualize the courtyard setting, with intimate seating areas nestled in among a variety of plants.  The lighting was dim and romantic and there was a jazz band playing music somewhere nearby.

Menu:  Appetizers include Calamari, Walleye Fingers, Martini Steak Bites, Crab Cakes, Shrimp Cocktail, and Diablo Bites (blacked beef tips).

Small Plates include Short Ribs, Marcona Almond Purses, Sea Scallops, Duck Sausage, Foie Gras and Pork Tenderloin.

Woolley’s has a Salad Bar for $14.95 or you can add it on to any entree for $4.95. Side salads are also available to add-on to any entree for $3.95. Dinner salads include Grilled Salmon, Apple Proscuitto Brie, Woolley’s Steak salad, The Classic Wedge, Winter Greens, and Caesar. Soups available are a French Onion and a Soup du Jour.

Woolley’s is known for their Beef, with options such as Beef Tenderloin, Bone-In New York Strip, Top Sirloin, Martini Steak, Beef Oscar, Prime Rib (12oz or 16oz), and 16 oz Red-Eye Ribeye. Any beef or steak can be served Classic Style (with bleu cheese, bacon, onions and mushrooms), Gratinee Style (with croutons, caramelized onions and gruyere cheese), or Oscar Style (with bearnaise and crab). All steaks come with choice of baked potato, scalloped potatoes, mashed potatoes, wild rice pilaf or broccoli, with the option to upgrade to any of the following sides including Glazed Carrots, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Hashbrowns, Loaded Baked Potato, Sweet Potato Hash, Brussel Sprouts, and Grilled Asparagus.

Other Entrees include Chicken Marsala, Pork Tenderlon, Short Ribs, Duck Breast, Woolley’s Burger Deluxe, and Swedish Meatballs. Pasta options include Pasta Vodka, Fettuccine Alfredo, and Kielbasa Mac & Cheese.

Woolley’s also serves Fresh Fish and Seafood such as Grilled Walleye, Panko Walleye, Grilled Salmon, and Shrimp & Scallops.

Desserts include Creme Brulee, Bread Pudding, Chocolate Lava Cake, Cheesecake and more.

Price guide:

Salads $5-20 Entrees $14-28 Steak $21-45

Happy Hour:
Happy Hour is served in the bar Monday – Friday from 4pm until 6pm.

  • $2.25 Domestic Tap & Bottle Beers
  • $2.75 Craft Tap & Bottle Beers
  • $3.25 House Wine
  • $3 – $3.5 Call Cocktails
  • $3.75 – $4.5 Martinis and Specialty Drinks
  • 50% OFF all Appetizers

Weekly Specials:

  • Sunday-Wednesday: Half priced bottle of wine

What we ordered:  We started with a couple of drinks (Cranberry and 7Up for me!) and the complimentary basket of bread.  This was a standard French loaf, served warm and crusty.

We knew we were going to be ordering more food than necessary, but I really wanted to try the Calamari.  This was delicious! It was fried crispy with a panko breading, while the calamari  itself was still quite tender.  It was sprinkled with parmesan and parsley and then served with spicy marinara and lemon aioli for dipping.

I opted not to get a starter salad and went straight for the Red-Eye Ribeye ($36), which comes served over a bed of  swiss chard and melted gorgonzola.  This steak was amazing!!! I ordered it medium rare, and it was cooked just perfectly.  When I say that this steak was tender, it could melt in your mouth.  The melted gorgonzola was a wonderful accompaniment and added even more flavor.  It was served with a warm cheddar ale biscuit and choice of potato. I will order this steak again every time I visit Woolley’s from now on.  I might even dream about it ;)

I got the loaded baked potato which came with the standard cheddar, pieces of bacon, and green onion with sour cream and butter on the side.  When all was said and done, I was too full to eat more than a bite of this!

I was happy when our server mentioned that one of the New Year’s Eve specials included an add-on 6oz Lobster Tail for just $11.95.  It was a holiday, so why not?  It was nicely seasoned and cooked just right.  Served with drawn butter and lemon.

My companion ordered the 16oz Prime Rib with fingerling potatoes as the choice of potato. This was a fairly thick cut of beef, tender and mildly juicy.  It was good but couldn’t compare to the ribeye.  It was served with a side of au jus with a couple of mushrooms.

My companion also ordered the Jumbo Sea Scallops ($10), which came as an order of three.  The scallops were seared to give it a caramelized crust while still being very tender within.

Being that it was New Year’s Eve, I decided to treat myself to the Dessert Sampler, which is basically three desserts of the price of three. The spotlight was the Bread Pudding, drizzled with a caramel whiskey sauce and topped with whipped cream.  It was surrounded by colorful berries, whipped cream and orchids for garnish.

One of the desserts was the Chocolate Lava Cake, served warm with blackberries on top.  I loved the combo of textures and flavors of the chocolate with the berries.  Very good!

Last but not least was the Creme Brulee which was smooth and creamy, with hints of vanilla.

Service: We had made reservations several days ahead of time to ensure we could get in on New Year’s Eve, and a table was waiting for us when we got there.  Our server was very friendly and had some excellent suggestions, but we found that the food took longer than expected between courses.  We were not in a particular hurry however our dinner with the appetizers, entrees and desserts took about two and a half hours.  The longest wait was for our main entrees, which took at least 45 minutes to arrive after ordering.  I attribute this to the fact that the restaurant was completely booked.

Overall Impression: We thought the food at Woolley’s was wonderful.  In fact, the ribeye is one of the best steaks I’ve ever had, rivaling the ribeye at Capital Grille for top contender on my Editor’s Picks for Best Ribeye.  The atmosphere at Woolley’s is wonderful if you like a somewhat tropical feel, so make sure you sit at one of the seating areas in the courtyard.  While we were treated wonderfully by our server, our only complaint was that the food service was slower than expected.
Woolley's on Urbanspoon

Mar 182012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct 222011

Cuisine: Breakfast, American,  Fish, Irish
Restaurant Features: Banquet, Bar, Flat Screened TVs, Hotel, Live Music, Patio, Waterfront
Location: Stillwater, MN
Address: Water Street Inn  * 101 Water St South  Stillwater, MN 55082  651-439-6000
Hours:  Mon – Fri: 7 am-1am * Sat: 8am-1 am * Sun: 9am- 1am
Links: Water Street Inn Website * Water Street Inn on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Located on the street level of the Water Street Inn in Historic Downtown Stillwater,  Charlie’s Restaurant and Irish Pub encompasses a few different dining rooms, including the Red Room.  Old fashioned wallpaper and hand-painted murals on the ceiling emphasize the history of this building which was originally built in 1890 as the Lumber Exchange Building.

Another large sitting room can also be found nearby, with several velvet chairs basking in the natural sunlight that streams in through windows that run along two entire walls.

The Pub seemed to be the most popular place to be with a number of wooden tables as well as a few taller bistro tables.  There were a number of framed prints and posters on the walls as well as a couple of flat screened TVs displaying sporting events.  There is a self-serve popcorn machine near the entrance and the Pub often bears the aroma of the freshly popped kernels.

The bar in Charlie’s Irish Pub seats about six customers or so and is very inviting.  Overall the Pub is a lively place to be.

Menu: Breakfast items include Eggs O’Brien, Pancakes, Thick Cut French Toast, Fruit, Cinnamon Roll, Irish Country Breakfast, Traditional Irish Breakfast, Ham and Eggs, Ha and Gruyere French Toast, and Steak and Eggs.  Omelette choices include The Traditional (choice of meat and cheese), Apple Brie, The Victorian (ham and swiss), and The Baron (ham, sausage, bacon, onion and swiss).

Appetizers on the dinner menu include Antipasto Plate, Walleye Cakes, Smoked Chicken Quesadilla, Calamari, Mini Reuben Purses, Beer Battered Onion Rings, Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Homemade Chips & Dip, Smoked BBQ Chicken Legs.

Salads at Charlie’s include Caesar, Cashew Chicken, Greek Salad and Traditional Cobb.

Charlie’s sandwiches are served with chips or upgrade to fries or fresh fruit for $2.50.  Options include Pulled Pork, BLT and Guacamole Wrap, Buffalo Chicken Wrap, Classic Reuben, Walleye, Chicken Jack Melt, Grilled 1/2lb Burger, Steak Sandwich, Roasted Portabella and Turkey Burger.

Entrees include Seafood Linguini, Chicken and Portabella Pasta, Mostaccioli, Fish & Chips, Honey Soy Grilled Salmon, Blackened Seafood Trio, Eggplant Parmesan, Almond Crusted Walleye, Twin Lobster Tails, Stuffed Center Cut Pork Loin, Stuffed Chicken Breast, New York Strip, 8oz Pub Steak and 11oz Ribeye Steak.

Desserts at Charlie’s includes Berry Bread Pudding, Charlie’s Big Brownie, and Flourless Sin Cake.

Price guide: Appetizers $7-11 Salads $5-12 Sandwiches $9-13  Entrees $17-31 Desserts $7

What we ordered: We started with an order of Calamari.  I didn’t take much notice of the menu description so the unexpected sweetness of the first bite caught me by surprise.  This calamari at Charlie’s is lightly breaded and  fried, yhen bathed in a sauce of honey, ginger and garlic.  The flavor of the honey sauce was delicious, but very sweet and almost too much for just two of us.  The green onions helped counter the sweetness but I would have loved some thin slices of red thai chili peppers to spice it up.

After much deliberation over the menu, I ordered the Reuben.  This sandwich was stacked with thinly sliced corned beef then topped with genuine aged Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing sandwiched between marbled rye bread.    The swiss and thousand island really made this sandwich; the corned beef tasted good but it was definitely deli-style.  I upgraded to fries for $2.50 and received a huge pile of the hot crinkle variety.

My companion ordered the Fish N Chips. This basket of crinkle fries was topped with one large fillet of walleye that was beer-battered and fried.  The fillet was impressive; not only was it long, it was also thick and meaty.  It was served with a homemade tartar that had dill rather than the traditional pickle.  Seriously good fish!

Service: Our visit was in the early evening on a Sunday but we easily found a spot in the the adjacent public parking lot.  We entered through a door on the patio that led us directly to the Irish Pub.  There wasn’t a hostess so rather than sitting in the dining room, we found a table in the Pub despite it being fairly busy.  We took our time ordering and the server had many suggestions from the menu.  There appeared to be only one server for the entire pub and she was constantly running out to the kitchen or perhaps to one of the other dining rooms.  Drinks took awhile to be filled but food was prepared in a reasonable amount of time.

Overall Impression: The food at Charlie’s was pretty good, the walleye was especially memorable and the calamari was also unique and excellent (albeit sweet!).  Great place to stop for breakfast, lunch or dinner while wandering around downtown Stillwater or as a romantic weekend date.

This is an original review of Charlie’s Restaurant and Irish Pub on Twin Cities Restaurant Blog
Charlie's Restaurant and Irish Pub at the Water Street Inn on Urbanspoon
Water Street Inn Reviews in Stillwater

Jun 162011

Cuisine: American, Fish & Seafood
Restaurant Features: Bar, Banquet, Hotel, Locally Sourced,
Location: Downtown Minneapolis, MN
Address: 615 Second Ave South  Minneapolis, MN 55402 (612) 288-8888
Hours: Monday – Saturday  3pm-1am   Sunday   3pm-12am

Links: The Six15 Room Website * The Six15 Room on Facebook

Atmosphere: Located in the newly remodeled Grand Hotel in Minneapolis, The Six15 Room is the newest, swankiest and most contemporary cocktail lounge in the heart of Downtown.  Located just inside the Grand Hotel entrance, The Six15 Room is not just for guests of the hotel, it is also the ideal place for anyone looking to try fun and delicious artisenal drinks and foods.

The entire space of The Six15 Room is divided into smaller little areas, including a VIP area that has comfy purple velvet-covered sofas, fluffy pillows, and an entire wall filled with a variety of mounted metallic deer trophies.

One very fun feature of the VIP room is the 50″ Flatscreen TV fully equipped with a XBOX 360.

The far end of the trophy wall has a real wild boar’s head as the center piece. I wouldn’t have wanted to run into him in the forest, this bad boy has a big ol’ snout and some big curvy teeth. The Six15 Room is taking suggestions for naming the Wild Boar, if you would like to enter, simply submit your idea with the bartender!

Here is another seating area in the lounge; complete with sofas, tables, and more big TVs.

Menu: Some of the creative signature cocktails offered by Master Mixologist Troy have fun names such as Don’t Be Coy, Turn the World On, A-lo Down Low, Caught in her Web, Rose Creek, Bite the Bulleit, Six15, and Orangegasm.  There are also a number of classic cocktails such as the Aviation, Dark & Stormy, Clover Club, Negroni, Last Word, Moscow Mule, Daiguiri, Manhattan, Margarita, Martini, Sidecar, Sazerac, and Whiskey Sour.  There are also a number of local beers on tap as well as a large selection of domestic bottles.  Big selection of wines as well.

All of the menu items offered in The Six15 Room have ingredients that are locally sourced.  Options include Calamari Fries, Turkey Burgers, Grilled Sausage, Beef Skewers, Smoked Trout, Walleye Tator Tots, Grilled Shellfish, Mixed Greens Salad, and Cheese Plate.

You can also get a Tasting Portion of the Grand Entrees, including Fish Tacos, Braised Duroc Pork Shank, Creek Stone New York Strip, and Scottish Salmon.

Desserts include Mini  Ice Cream Sandwiches, Ginger Creme Brulee with Almond Cookies, and Chocolate Lava Cake with Espresso Creme Anglaise.


Guests staying at the Grand Hotel also have the option of ordering off a larger menu for In-Room Service.  Breakfast selections include the International Grand Traveler, Continental Breakfast, Eggs Benedict, Eggs Florentine, Belgian Waffle, French Toast, Beef Hash, Three Egg Omelet, Spa Egg White Omelet, Chef’s Favorite (bacon, eggs and pancakes), Berries & Granola, and Fruit Plate.

Dishes offered all day include Spinach & Artichoke Dip, Pork Pot Stickers, Chicken Wings, Chicken Tenders, Cheese Plate, Calamari Fries, and Poached Tiger Shrimp.

Soups offered are Cream of Wild Rich and White Chicken Chili.  Salads include the Grand Hotel Salad, Caesar, Greek and Grilled Salmon.

Individual Pizzas are also available.  Build-Your-Own, Three Cheese, Margherita, Thai Chicken and The White Pizza (alfredo sauce, caramelized onions, spinach, goat cheese and dried cherries).

Pasta Selections offered are the Spaghetti Carbonara, Mediterranean Primavera, and Noodles & Sauce.

Sandwiches include Grilled Angus Burger, Trio of Mini Turkey Burgers, Grand Club, Walleye Fish Tacos, The Duet, MLP (mushrooms, lettuce, and roasted peppers), Grilled Chicken Breast, Beef Stroganoff, and Fried Egg Sandwich.

Grand Entree Selections offered after 5pm include Eat Street Noodle Stir-Fry, Chicken Marsala, Duroc Braised Pork Shank, Creek Stone New York Strip Steak, Steamed Salmon, Walleye, and Mediterranean Primavera.

Price guide: Small Plates $9-18  Grand Entrees $15-35

What we ordered: I had a chance to meet with Executive Chef Kris Koch, the master behind the menu. Born and raised in Minnesota, Koch has deep roots in the area and well-established relationships with a number of local farmers, and sources ingredients locally whenever possible.  Many of the items he has created have a fun twist on traditional local favorites.

One of the first items we tried was the Smoked Trout from Rushing Waters.  This pretty-plated dish also included toasted bagel chips with lemon-herbed cream cheese, Koch’s spin on the traditional cream cheese and lox.  This was so good! There is just something about cream cheese and smoked fish that speaks to me and then when you add in the buttery crunch of the bagel, you have the perfect combo of textures.

Smoked Trout with Bagel Chips at The Six15 Room at Grand Hotel ~ Minneapolis, MN

Smoked Trout with Bagel Chips at The Six15 Room at Grand Hotel ~ Minneapolis, MN

Mmm, take a closer look at that deliciously smoked trout. Slightly salty and smokey, the trout had a nice, light and flaky texture without any fishiness.  It was served with lettuce and pickled red cabbage.

We also tried the Calamari Fries. You may have noticed that i order calamari at many restaurants. The calamari fries at The Six15 Room rank up there with the best.  These calamari strips were double-dipped in tempura batter and then fried just perfectly.  The batter was crispy yet the calamari was tender and delicious.  Thin slices of slightly pickled peppers were arranged on top, adding a slight bite and interesting contrast.  A lemony mayonnaise was served for dipping, a light and fresh compliment to the calamari.

Another item we tried with the first wave of goodies was the Grilled Sausage Platter.  It came with two varieties of sausage, one that was Maple flavored, the other with bits of bacon ground in.  Both sausages were excellent but one of my favorite parts of the dish was the apricot mustard. Yes, you read that right.  Pureed apricot with stone-ground mustard blended in.  A delicious combo of sweet from the fruit and spicy and slightly piquant flavor of the mustard.  The dish also came with several slices of buttered, grilled whole wheat toast.

One of the first cocktails we tried was the Don’t Be Coy.  It may come as no surprise to you that I am a Margarita Girl, so this drink was perfect for me.  Made with Herradura Tequila, raspberry syrup, Licor 43 and fresh lime, this was a wonderful blend of tart, sweet and agave.  Loved!

Another drink we tried was the Whiskey Sour.  Normally I wouldn’t think I would enjoy anything made with whiskey but I immediately changed my mind when I tried the Whiskey Sour at The Six15 Room.  This drink was fabulous! Made with Jim Beam Black bourbon, lemonade, and a touch of egg white.  The egg white gave it just a tiny hint of froth, which I thought was a great touch.  The next time I drink whiskey I hope it tastes as good as this!

After eating and drinking all of the above, a second wave of food and cocktails were brought out to us.  I was especially excited to try the Fish Tacos, a favorite food of mine. These may have been the first fish tacos I’ve had made with locally-caught walleye.  Served on double white corn tortillas, each of the two tacos had a nice size fillet of pan-seared walleye topped with pickled cabbage and cilantro.  Excellent and very filling!

Fish Tacos at The Six15 Room ~ Minneapolis, MN

Fish Tacos at The Six15 Room ~ Minneapolis, MN

We also tried the Scottish Salmon, served with brussel sprouts, jasmine rice and a sweet-yet-savory carrot ginger puree.  This salmon was very good, perfectly (under)cooked so that it retained the right amount of moisture and light flavor of the fish.  It was lightly seasoned with just salt and pepper but was dressed up by the accompanied ginger-carrot puree.

The last food item we tried was the Walleye Tator Tots.  How perfectly Minnesota is this dish? The walleye was finely blended with mashed yukon gold potatoes, spiced up and then formed into shapes about the same size as a marshmallow.  Lightly breaded then fried, these were wonderful little treats that anyone would like.  Served with a citrus tartar sauce.

The second wave of cocktails included the Moscow Mule, made with Absolut Vodka, house-made ginger syrup, fresh lime juice and soda.  Light and refreshing!

We also tried the Rose Creek cocktail, made with pear brandy.  I can’t recall having pear brandy before this, but I was pleasantly surprised to smell the sweet smell of pear about 6 inches before I brought the glass to my mouth.  It tasted just as good as it smelled! made with Clear Creek Pear Brandy, fresh lemon juice, real grenadine and Angostura (a secret blend of herbs).

Overall Impression: I was very excited to try the new Six15 Room once it opened and after trying it,  I am just as excited to return.  Executive Chef Kris Koch has a real knack for creating dishes that are not only creative and delicious, they are made from fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.  Everything that is offered on the menu is appealing to both locals and those who are in town and would like to try a true taste of Minnesota.  The Grand Opening of both The Six15 Room and The Grand Hotel is taking place tonight, June 16, 2011.
Six15 Room on Urbanspoon

Jun 142011

Location: Downtown Minneapolis
Address: 615 Second Avenue South Minneapolis, MN 55402
Links: Grand Hotel Website * Grand Hotel on Facebook
Restaurants: The Six15 Room and Zahtar (owned and operated by Life Time)

Located in the heart of the business district in Downtown Minneapolis, the Grand Hotel occupies a 14-story building that is connected to the Minneapolis Skyway system, making it a very convenient place to stay whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, traveling on business, or simply enjoying the sites of Minneapolis.  The space that is now the Grand Hotel was originally built in 1912 as the Minneapolis Athletic Club.  The building was given a major renovation from 1999-2001 when it became home to not only the Grand Hotel, but also Life Time Athletic Club, which occupies 58,000 ft of the building.

In the fall of 2010, The Grand Hotel was acquired by Kimpton Hotels, making it the 51st property by Kimpton. Kimpton began a remodel in early 2011 to bring the property up to its standard of a boutique hotel with a chef-driven restaurant.  The result is a charming, sophisticated hotel with the biggest Presidential Suite in the Minneapolis area and a very fun and contemporary bar/lounge in The Six15 Room (review to come shortly).

There is a very cool sitting area just off the lobby; a great place to enjoy a cocktail, wait for a friend, read a book or people-watch.  I love the contemporary artwork that is hung on the walls.

The lobby area is very spacious and open.

There are several large crystal chandeliers, some of which had these fuschia colored shades, giving them a contemporary feel.

I also had a sneak peek at one of the standard rooms (118 of these in all, plus 21  suites and an expansive Presidential Suite). This room was very nice, furnished with a cozy king size bed, TV and workspace.  Kimpton offers a Guest Loyalty program that allows guests to personalize their stay and earn rewards.  Other benefits of staying with Kimpton include their EarthCare program for the environmentally-conscious and their Pet-Friendly policy.

Tv and desk workspace

Standard bathroom

Overall Impression: I think that Kimpton did an excellent job updating of The Grand Hotel and I absolutely adore The Six15 Room.  Great place to stay if you’re looking for a small, personal, luxury hotel in the heart of Downtown Minneapolis.  Close to many restaurants, businesses, sports stadiums, and nightclubs.  Grand Opening event to take place Thursday June 16, 2011!
Minneapolis Grand Hotel Reviews in Minneapolis

Apr 102011

Cuisine: American, Asian, Dessert
Restaurant Features: All-You-Can-Eat, Lunch Buffet, Dinner Buffet, Hotel
Location: Hinckley, MN
Address: 777 Lady Luck Drive  Hinckley, MN 55037   800-472-6321

Sunday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. & 4 to 8:30 p.m.
Monday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. & 4 to 8:30 p.m.
Tuesday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. & 4 to 8:30 p.m.
Wednesday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. & 4 to 8:30 p.m.
Thursday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. & 4 to 8:30 p.m.
Friday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. & 4 to 10 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. & 4 to 10 p.m.

Links: Grand Buffet Website * Grand Casino on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: The Buffet is sits in the back center, surrounded by a very large dining rooms.  The Buffet itself is divided into different sections: Grand Harvest, Oriental, Entree, International, American Bounty, Homestyle and Desserts.

The seating area


Menu: Items available during the Prime Rib Buffet on Saturday and Sunday nights include:

American Bounty Station: Fried Cod, Ham, Broasted Chicken, Sausage and Sauerkraut, Wild Rice, Corn Bread, Baked Beans, Pizza and Calzones.

Homestyle Station: Corn, Green Beans, Green Bean Casserole, Potatoes Au Gratin, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, Gravy.

International Station: Fish, BBQ Ribs, Buffalo Wings, Sesame Wings, Garlic Wings, BBQ Wings, Baked Potato Bar

Oriental Station: Szechuan Beef, Noodle, Fried Rice, Chicken and Broccoli, Egg Rolls, Wontons, and Potstickers.

Desserts: Soft-Serve Ice Cream and Sundae Bar, Bananas Foster, Peach Cobbler, Bread Pudding, Apple Crisp, Churro, Cannoli, Cheesecake, Chocolate Mousse Pie, etc.

Full Salad Bar

Grand Buffet Weekly Specials

Lunch Buffet
Monday through Friday – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for $8.99.
Always plenty of variety; hot and cold entrées, delectable side dishes, fresh salads, pizza, and great desserts. Breakfast items served until 1 p.m.

Weekend Brunch Buffet
Saturdays and Sundays – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for $10.99.
Pastries, fruit, chef-made omelets, waffles, breakfast meats, salad bar, chef-carved ham and turkey, chicken, fish, dessert, and more!

Crab Crackin Buffet
Sunday, 4 to 9 p.m. for $19.99
Opilio Crab highlights the Crab Crackin Buffet – other offerings include chef carved prime rib, BBQ Ribs, Peel & Eat Shrimp, smoked salmon. Full Salad bar with all the fixings, Asian station with house favorites and a dessert station that features a wide selection of cakes, pies, and sweet treats.

Classic Dinner Buffet
Mondays – 4 to 9 p.m. for $12.99.
Featuring traditional favorites such as chef-carved turkey and ham, broasted chicken, succulent ribs, baked cod, delicious and varied side dishes, our always loaded salad bar, and dessert options galore.

Seafood and Prime Rib Buffet
Tuesdays – 4 to 9 p.m. for $22.99.
Our lavish Seafood Buffet showcases sweet snow crab, shrimp, scallops, oysters on the half shell, mussels, clam strips, cod, salmon; along with shrimp scampi, prime rib, full soup and salad bar, and much more – it’s the ultimate feast for the seafood lover.

Smokehouse Buffet
Wednesdays – 4 to 9 p.m. for $14.99.
If you love barbecue, you’ll love this buffet! Featuring our St. Louis style ribs, smoked turkey, apple wood smoked chicken, pulled pork, Southern style brisket, smoked meatloaf, and Cajun cod; along with distinctive side dishes and regional favorites specially chosen to complement the barbecue theme.

International Buffet
Thursdays – 4 to 9 p.m. for $12.99.
Selections from around the world – carved corned beef brisket, jerk pork loin and our German sausage roll. Entrees included an assortment of Asian entrees, Italian favorites such as lasagna and straw and hay, and traditional items like Yankee pot roast and pan fried cod.

Prime Rib Buffet
Fridays and Saturdays – 4 to 10 p.m. for $15.99.
Our delectable, all-you-can-eat prime rib is hand-seasoned, slow-roasted to perfection, and then chef-carved to order. As always, you’ll find plenty more to choose from – a great variety of hot entrées and side dishes, peel & eat shrimp, our Wok station where all your choices are fresh-made as you watch, and of course, our wonderful handmade desserts.

Buffet menu and prices are subject to change. Grand Traditions Buffet is served on most holidays. Please contact the Buffet for more information.



What I ate: I visited on a Saturday night during the Prime Rub Buffet.  My first stop was at the American Bounty where I tried a calzone and a piece of pizza.  Nearby at another station I found marinara sauce and since I love tons of red sauce, I took a ton for my calzone.  Best idea ever, the calzone with the extra sauce was one of the things I liked the most.  I also tried one of the Buffalo Wings, pretty basic.

Next I tried a plate from the Oriental Station which included Szechuan Beef with Noodles, fried rice, fried potstickers, cream cheese wontons and an eggroll.  Typical mediocre chinese buffet food, nothing stood out as anything special.

I tried a few bites of the Tomato Basil Soup, which was creamy and flavorful.

I also tried some of the Prime Rib.  The initial cut I got was very well done, so I asked for a different piece.  The chef who was carving it then cut into a whole new roast so I could get a slice that was medium rare.  This cut was far better and while the slice wasn’t very thick, the meat was very tender.  It took me many years to get to the point of eating my steaks at a maximum of medium temperature but it tastes so much better when it is still tender and juicy. Cooking beef until it is well done is ruining the meat!

I piled up a plate of different desserts and took only a few bites.  The bananas foster and the bread pudding were both very good.

Service: We made it to the buffet after 9pm on a Saturday night, less than an hour before they closed.  Our server was a quite strange and made very weird comments to various members of my party, but drinks were refilled at record pace and dishes cleared almost as quick.
Overall Impression: The food at Grand Casino Buffet was decent but nothing special; not nearly as good as the Buffet at Mystic Lake.  I’d eat here again if I happened to be at the Casino but I wouldn’t drive out of my way just for the food.

Grand Casino Buffet on Urbanspoon

Mar 202011

Cuisine: American, Bar & Grill, Fish & Seafood,  Steaks
Restaurant Features: Bar, Flat Screen TVs, Happy Hour, Kids Menu, Live Music, On Site Parking, Sunday Brunch
Locations: Brooklyn Center & Bloomington, MN
Addresses and Maps:
Bloomington– 5001 American Blvd Bloomington, MN 55437 (952) 746-8887
Brooklyn Center– 2590 Freeway Blvd Brooklyn Center, MN 55430 (763) 503-3561
Links: Oak City Website * Oak City on Facebook


Atmosphere: The Brooklyn Center location of Oak City is located next to Country Inn & Suites Hotel, on the frontage road that runs along the north side of 694.  The building is a decent size (formerly TGIFriday’s), with the dining room arranged into several distinct eating areas to allow for more privacy.  The section my companion and I sat in had several two-person booths, other sections had bigger booths and also some tables. The decor of Oak City is sophisticated contemporary, with gold accents and fun quotes throughout the restaurant (hanging on walls and also embedded into the backs of the booths).


Above the booths in the middle of the restaurant are these cool metal sculptures made to resemble Trees.


There is also a large bar area when you first walk into the Brooklyn Center location, with seating at the bar and also several high-topped tables.


Menu: Appetizers at Oak City include Walleye Fingers, Captain Crunch Chicken Strips, Mini Black Angus Burgers,  Cheese Curds, Mile High Nachos, Pot Stickers, Chicken Wings & Boneless Wings (6 sauces).

Oak City also serves Flatbread Pizzas including Margherita, Signature Sausage, Spinach & Artichoke Heart, and Traditional (sausage or pepperoni).

Appetizer Salads include House, Caesar, Candied Walnut and Spinach and Applewood Bacon.  Entree Salads include Chicken Caesar, Portabella, Peppercorn Tenderloin, Candied Walnut, Spinach & Applewood Bacon, and Cashew Chicken.

Specialty Sandwiches at Oak City include Chicken Ciabatta, Oak City Philly, Walleye, French Dip, Hickory Chicken, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Gyro, Reuben, and Oak City Club.

Burgers include Bourbon Teriyaki Bacon Cheeseburger, Hickory Burger (smoked gouda and chipotle bbq sauce), Sauteed Shroom Burger, Bleu Cheese Burger, Cajun Ranch Burger, Cheeseburger and Basic Burger.

Entrees include Fajitas, Fish ‘n Chips, Baby Back Ribs, Broasted Chicken, Choice Top Sirloin, Peppercorn Sirloin, Tenderloin Medallions, Gulf Shrimp, Cajun Chicken Alfredo, Ribs & Chicken Combo, Shrimp Scampi, Canadian Walleye, and Grilled Salmon.

Oak City’s Desserts include Chocolate Lava Cake, Banana Cream Pie, Turtle Cheesecake, Inside OutSundae, and Cheesecake.

There is also a lunch menu served M-F 11am-3pm

Kids Menu includes Walleye Fingers, Fettuccine Alfredo, Grilled Cheese, Chicken Fingers, Macaroni & Cheese, and Mini Burgers.

Sunday Brunch:

  • $10.95/ Adults   $5.95 Kids 5-12   Free/ Kids 4 and Under
  • 10am-2pm
  • Scrambled Eggs with Cheese, French Toast, Bacon, Sausage, Cheesy
    Hashbrowns, Mashed Potatoes, Pecan-Crusted Walleye, Tilapia, Shrimp
    BBQ ribs, Swedish Meatballs, Steamed Broccoli, Pork Tenderloin, Clam
    Chowder, Pasta Salad, Lettuce Salad, Cakes, Pies, Cheesecake, Chocolate

Price guide: Appetizers $ 7-11   Salads $ 4-13    Sandwiches/Burgers $8-11  Entrees $10-25  Desserts $5-7

Happy Hour:

  • Daily 3-6:30p & 10p-12a
  • $2 Appetizers (Buffalo Wings, Rock Shrimp, Walleye Fingers, Mini Burgers w/ Fries, Fresh Tortilla Chips & Salsa
  • $4 Flatbread Pizzas )margherita, BBQ Chicken, Oak City Signature, Spinacc & Artichoke, Traditional)
  • $2 Rail drinks & 16 oz Domestic Taps  $3 Vodka Redbull  $4 Long Islands
  • $1 off all other drinks

Weekly Specials served 4-9pm:
Monday- Any Burger on Menu $5.95
Tuesday- Any Pasta on Menu $9.95 and 1/2 price bottles of wine
Wednesday- All You Can Eat Snow Crab $19.95 (includes bread, soup or salad, veggie and choice of potato
Thursday- All You Can Eat baby Back Ribs $12.95
Friday- All you can eat Walleye Fingers $11.95
Saturday- 12 oz NY Strip $10.95
Sunday- Roasted Chicken $8.95 and Kids 12 and under eat free off Kid’s Menu (one per paid adult)

What we ordered: We started with a round of cocktails.  One of my companions ordered this Bloody Mary,

One of my companions ordered an Irish Bulldog.  This drink tasted good but it was obvious that Coke was one of the main ingredients (rather than a splash).

I had a margarita which was okay but it tasted too much like bottled margarita mix.  For dinner  I had the Beef & Chicken Fajitas, a large portion served with grilled chicken breast and a steak over a large pile of sauteed peppers and onions.  The fajitas were served with a basket of flour tortillas and a plate of shredded lettuce, cheese, tomato, salsa, sour cream and guacamole.  I thought the fajitas were very good; the meats were seasoned nicely and the peppers and onions were the perfect compliment.

One of my companions had the Mushroom Swiss Burger.  The grilled patty was covered with sauteed mushrooms and melted Swiss cheese, the bun was fresh and substantial.  Great choice!

Another companion ordered the Candied Walnut Salad with Chicken.  This salad had dried apricots, fresh pears and apples on a  bed of spring greens.  There were chunks of bleu cheese and also candied walnuts mixed with a honey vinaigrette.  The salad itself was very good but the chicken that was added-on for an additional price was a big disappointment; rather than being chicken breast, the chicken was of the shaved deli-variety (roughly three slices).  My companion would not have ordered the chicken if the menu had stated the type of chicken.

Service: We were greeted by the hostess within a few minutes of arriving and were shown to our table.  The restaurant wasn’t too busy after the dinner rush on a Monday and we were promptly greeted by our server.   Our food was served reasonably fast and overall the service was decent.

Overall Impression: Good burgers! Would love to try Oak City’s Sunday Brunch and the weekly specials look great too
Oak City on Urbanspoon

Dec 292010

Mystic Lake Casino Hotel
2400 Mystic Lake Blvd. Prior Lake, MN  55372

I  was recently down at Mystic Lake Casino for an overnight stay and thought I’d do a mini-review of the Hotel and Spa.  I stayed in a suite that had both a living room area and a bedroom, each of which had a large flat-screen TV mounted on the wall.

This is a close-up of the mosaic hanging on the wall in my room. So gorgeous in the daylight!

The bedroom was just on the other side of the wall from the living room. Very comfortable bed… I slept like a baby for the few hours I slept. The casino was just too much fun for me to get much sleep ;)

We also booked a couple of massage treatments at the Spa while we were there.  The Spa is located on the 2nd floor of the Hotel, near the pool.

The spa has a couple of private showers that have at least six shower heads, guests are encouraged to shower before treatments.

The Women’s Lounge is where you can have a foot bath and relax while waiting for your treatment. There is also a Men’s Lounge which I can only assume is very similar.

This is one of the Treatment Rooms, a calming space with dim lights and bubbling water fountains. I enjoyed an hour-long massage treatment.  Very relaxing which is just what I needed ;)

I had a wonderful stay at Mystic Lake Casino and look forward to going back sometime soon. If you’re hungry while you’re visiting, I can recommend Il Premio Italian Steakhouse and the Buffet