Aug 242011
 

Disclosure: I was invited out to do this review and my meal was provided by the restaurant. All opinions are my own.
Cuisine: American, Steaks, Ribs
Restaurant Features: Bar, Happy Hour, On-Site Parking
Locations: MN locations include Chanhassen, Eagan, Maple Grove, Richfield and MSP International Airport
Addresses & Maps:
Chanhassen– 530 Pond Promenade Chanhassen, MN 55317  (952) 974-3939
Eagan– 1294 Promenade Pl Eagan, MN 55121 (651)452-1001
Maple Grove– 12725 Elm Creek Blvd N Maple Grove, MN 55369 (763)494-5380
Richfield– 6601 Lyndale Ave S  Richfield, MN 55423 (612)243-9150
St Paul– 4300 Glumack Drive St. Paul, MN 55111 (612)727-1785 (MSP Airport)
Hours: Mon-Thu 11am – 12am *  Fri-Sat 11am – 1am * Sun 11am – 10pm
Links: Houlihan’s Website * Houlihan’s on Facebook

Atmosphere: The Eagan location of Houlihan’s has recently undergone a remodel, as have the Chanhassen, Maple Grove and Richfield locations. I had not been in this particular location prior to the remodel, but I love the look and feel of the new design.  Gone are the years worth of memorabilia that used to hang on the walls, replaced with much simpler and more sophisticated framed art prints.

The bar area at the Eagan location also has a new look, with this magnificent new wooden bar as its centerpiece.  There are also several booths around the outer part of the room to provide ample seating for busy nights.

The Eagan location also has a really nice enclosed patio area; part of the patio is under an overhang but there are also tables with umbrellas in the direct sun.

Menu: Houlihan’s Appetizers  include Spinach Dip & Chips, Vietnamese Shrimp Egg Rolls, Goat Cheese & Artichoke Poppers, Asian Style Ribs, Jumbo Stuffed ‘Shrooms, Fancy Spaghetti, Mac & Cheese, Chicken Wings, Lettuce Wraps, Chicken Fingers, Seared Rare Tuna Wontons, Bruschetta, and Blackened Catfish & Caramelized Onion Quesadilla.  Sliders include Mini Chicago Dog, Pot Roast Slider, Pulled Pork Slider, Creekstone Farms Mini Burger, and Mini Veggie Burger.  There are also a handful of special French Fries, including Disco Fries, Parmesan Fries, Truckstop Fries (cheesey), and Pickle Fries.

Flatbread Pizza options are the Wild Mushroom and Arugula, BBQ Chicken, Roasted Vegetable, and Italian Sausage.

Entree Salad options include the Spinach Salad, Seared Ahi Tuna, Prime Steak and Wedge, Heartland Grilled Chicken, Buffalo Bleu, Chicken Asian Chop, Chicken Caesar and Fire Grilled BBQ Salmon Salad.  Smaller salads are also available, including Tuscan White Bean Salad, Chop, Caesar and Spinach (with hazelnuts and berries).  Soups offered are the French Onion, Baked Potato and Soup du Jour.

Sandwich and Burger options at Houlihan’s include French Dip, So. Cal Fish Tacos, Southwest Chicken Wrap, Taos Chipotle Turkey Wrap, Farmhouse Club, Wild Canadian Walleye Sandwich, Veggie Burger, Build-Your-Own Burger, Burger 72 (topped with herb cream cheese mushroom), Spicy Fritos Burger, Cheesy Royale Burger, Grilled Chicken Sandwich and Brentwood Chicken Sandwich (with bacon and gouda).

Houlihan’s Entrees include Stuffed Chicken Breast, Grilled Rosemary Chicken, Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo, Big Fancy Spaghetti, Basil Pesto Pasta, Down Home Pot Roast, Chipotle Smoked Chicken Enchiladas, Filet Mignon, New York Strip, Atlantic Salmon, Panko Breaded Shrimp, Chicken Finger Platter, Prime Top Sirloin, Sizzling Fajitas, Meatloaf No. 9, Seared Scallops, Jumbo Grilled Shrimp, Baby Back Ribs and Jambalaya.

Desserts include Strawberry Cheesecake, Bourbon Pecan Pie, and Chocolate Cappuchino Cake.  There are also a number of Mini Desserts

Price guide: Appetizers $3.50-9.50  Salads $5-15 Sandwich/Burgers $10-11 Entrees $14-25

Happy Hour:

  • Sunday 11am-Close
  • Monday-Saturday  3-6pm  9pm-close
  • 2-for-1’s  on Draft Beers and House Wines
  • Appetizers $7.95 – includes tuna wontons, bruschetta, chicken nachos, buffalo wings, ‘big’ shrooms, thai chicken wings,  spin dip lavosh, lettuce wraps, chicken fingers, calamari and quesadilla

Weekly Specials:

  • Monday- 1/2 off Bottles of Wine

What we ordered:  Our server had many great suggestions of appetizers and while I really wanted to try Houlihan’s famous Stuffed Mushrooms, we got a Mini Chicago Dog and some Poutine instead.  The Mini Chicago Dog was about the size of half a standard hot dog and fully loaded with everything you would expect on Chicago Dog- pickle, hot pepper, and chopped tomato and onions with mustard served on a poppy seed bun.  Don’t tell anyone but I liked it more than a Chicago Dog we had a few weeks ago in Chicago ;)

To pay my respects to our Canadian neighbors just north of us, I had to order the Poutine when I saw it on the menu. Houlihan’s calls their poutine ‘Disco Fries’, but they are very close to the Canadian version: crispy french fries loaded with mozzarella and then topped with gravy.  Since the gravy comes from the same stock as the pot roast, our order had a few bonus bites of tender meat on top.

We also had a couple of cocktails with our appetizers, I had the Naughty Margarita.  Yum! Made with Patron, X-Rated Fusion Liqueur, and sour mix, this margarita was as tart as most margaritas but the X-Rated gave it a hint of tropical sweetness.

My companion ordered the Supa Fly Sweet Tea, made with Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka.  Dangerously smooth!

The server had many great suggestions and while she talked up the fajitas that sounded wonderful, I went with her suggestion of the Chicken Parmesan.  What a great dish!  Two large pieces of breaded chicken breast sit on a bed of fettuccine alfredo, then it is covered with a hearty red sauce and melted Mozzarella.  This dish is the best of both worlds if you like both red and white sauce.

My companion ordered the Panko Breaded Shrimp.  There were seven or eight large shrimp, butterflied then heavily coated with Panko and fried to a crispy golden brown.  The shrimp were served with French fries and a peanut ginger slaw.  The slaw was very good, it had distinct Asian flavors and was lighter than mayo-based coleslaw.  Overall a very tasty meal.

After our meal we opted to try a trio of the Mini Martini Flights instead of desserts.  From left to right: Blue Moon Punch, Key Lime Pie, and Guavatini.  The Blue Moon Punch is made with Absolut Vanilia, DeKuyper Island Blue Pucker, and Sprite. Very good, tasted like Sweet Tarts candy.   The Key Lime Pie is made with Absolut Vanilia, a splash of key lime, sweet & sour, and half & half.  Mmm, this was our favorite.  The Guavatini is made with Absolut, shot of guava, fresh-squeezed lemonade.  Also good, but very very sweet.

Service: We had great service at Houlihan’s.  Our visit was late-afternoon on a Monday when we had no problem getting a table.  Our server was patient as we took time looking over the menu, and offered several suggestions.  The different courses we ate were reasonably spaced so that we could enjoy everything while it was hot and fresh, drinks were refilled as needed.

Overall Impression: Houlihan’s is a restaurant that can appeal to any audience, whether visiting for a family dinner, business lunch, romantic dinner, or having drinks with a group of friends.  They have a big menu with a variety of foods and a really great Drink Menu as well.  The recent renovations at all the Twin Cities locations have made a big improvement, make sure to check them out!
Houlihan's Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon
Houlihan's Reviews in Eagan

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
Addresses:
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

Aug 282008
 

Cuisine: American,
Restaurant Features: Banquet Room, Bar, Sports Bar, On-Site Parking

Locations: Burnsville,  Eden Prairie, Maple Grove, *Maplewood, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, New Brighton, Richfield, St. Paul, Woodbury
Addresses & Maps:
Burnsville- 1200 W. County Rd. 42 Burnsville, MN 55337 952-898-5050
Eden Prairie8010 Glen Lane Eden Prairie, MN 55344 952-942-3331
Maple Grove– 13521 80th Circle North Maple Grove, MN 55369 763-494-4515
Maplewood-1734 Adolphus St  651-487-5050
Minneapolis– 100 N. 6th St. Minneapolis, MN 55403 612-335-5050
Minnetonka– 641Plymouth Rd. Minnetonka, MN 55305 952-546-3333
New Brighton– 2397 Palmer Dr. New Brighton, MN 55112 651-639-0339
Richfield- 790 W. 66th Street Richfield, MN 55423 612-861-3333
St Paul– 2401 W. 7th St. St Paul, MN 55116 651-698-5050
Woodbury– 8418 Tamarack Village Woodbury, MN 55125 651-735-5050

Links: Champps in Maplewood Champps Corporate Website

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Atmosphere: Known primarily as a Sports Bar/Restaurant, Champps in Maplewood has Neon Signs and Memorabilia adorning the Logos of our Minnesota Sports Teams throughout the building.  The main dining area has a mix of round wooden tables and booths.  The building is very large, with a banquet room on the lower level and two large parking lots on either side of the building .

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The bar area has a number of tall tables in addition to seating around the bar.  There is also an enclosed patio area with multiple windows that wraps around one side of the building.

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Menu: Although Champps is a national chain, each restaurant is individually franchised and has control over their own menu.  Here is a link to the Champps Corporate Menu.  The menu that I am going to review is that of Champps in Maplewood, the site of my review.

Appetizers include Garlic Cheese Bread, Chicken Fingers, Spinach & Artichoke Dip, Santa Fe Eggrolls, Buffalo Wings, Asian Pot Stickers, Merlot-Grilled Sirloin, Quesadillas, Nachos, Potato Skins, Mozzarella Sticks, Onion Rings, Cheese Curds, and Waffle Fries.

Champps also has a large selections of salads including Southwestern Chicken Caesar, Caesar, Greek Chicken, Cobb, Buffalo Chicken, Oriental Chicken, Crispy Chicken Tender, Bleu Steak, Chopped, Taco Salad and Pasta Salad.  Soups offered are French Onion Au Gratin, Chicken Noodle and Soup du Jour.

Sandwiches at Champps are served with choice of chips, potato salad, cole slaw or cottage cheese.  Selections include the Mediterranean Tuna Melt, Mile High Turkey, Chicken Cyn, Gyro, Adobe Turkey, Muffaletta Hoagie, Buffalo Chicken, BBQ Pulled Prk, Spinach and Artichoke Chicken, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Champps Clubhouse, Hawaiian Chicken, 3-Cheese Chicken, Reuben/Rachel, Grilled Cheese, Cajun Chicken, French Dip, Walleye, Turkey Bacon Ranch, Buffalo Chicken Wrap, Ranch Chicken Wrap, Club Wrap, Southwestern Chicken Wrap, Philly Cheesesteak Wrap, and the Texas Fajita Wrap.  There are also a large selection of Specialty Burgers.

Specialty Pizzas that are offered are Margherita, Spinach Artichoke and Pepperoni, and Meat Lovers.  You can also build-your-own pizza.

Pasta Specialties are the Fettuccine Alfredo, Cajun Chicken Fettuccinne, Baked Mostacioli, Roasted Artichoke and Grilled Chicken Penne, Spaghetti and Meatballs, and Jambalaya.

Entrees include the BBQ Rib Platter, Lemon Pepper Walleye, Grilled Fajitas, Kung Pao Chicken, Fish & Chips, and Sirloin Steak.

Desserts include Cookie Espresso Sundae, Brownie Sundae, New York Cheesecake with Berries, Hot Fudge Sundae and Chocolate Cake.

Price guide: Appetizers $6-10  Salads $9-12  Sandwiches $7-9  Pastas $11-15 Entrees $12-19
What I ordered: I ordered the Taco Salad, which came in a fresh, crispy tortilla bowl.  The bowl itself was on the small side, and was packed full of lettuce, seasoned ground beef, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, onions and fresh jalapeños, with sour cream and salsa on the side.  It was so packed full of ingredients that there wasn’t enough room for me to mix the salad, but I thought it was really good.

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One of my companions ordered the sandwich/soup combo, a Grilled Cheese with potato salad and side Caesar salad that they happily substituted for the soup. The bread was thick and buttery, grilled to a nice golden brown.  The salad was a generous portion for a side salad.

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Another companion ordered sandwich/salad combo with Grilled Turkey, Potato Chips, and Garden Salad.  The chips they serve are of the kettle variety; crunchy and salty.

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Another companion ordered a BLT with Waffle Fries and Seasoned Sour Cream.  The BLT isn’t actually on the menu, but the restaurant was more than willing to accommodate the request since they had the necessary ingredients.

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Service: My party arrived at the beginning of the lunch hour, immediately after the restaurant opened and we were seated promptly at our choice of table.  The staff was friendly and more than willing to accommodate a couple of minor changes to the menu, such as substituting a side salad for soup in the sandwich/soup combo, and making a BLT which was not on the menu at all.
Overall Impression: Decent food with huge portions for the price.  Service is prompt and friendly, great place to watch any of our local sports games.
Champps on Urbanspoon

Mar 242008
 

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

Location: Maple Grove, MN
Address: 11780 Fountains Way Maple Grove, MN 55369   763-493-9815
Links: Dave & Buster’s Website * Dave & Buster’s on FacebookGoogle Map

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Atmosphere: The
restaurant itself is a decent size, especially when combined with the
bar area, which also serves food.  The bar had several flat-screen TV’s
mounted above it, showing popular sporting events.

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Beyond the restaurant and bar area is a giant arcade with everything
from old-school favorites like skeeball to recent hits like Deal or No
Deal.  Get physical with games like Dance, Dance Evolution or try one
of the Trivia Video Games.  Shown here is a horse racing game.

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Menu: Appetizers
include Philly Steak Rolls, Cheese Fries. Cheese Sticks, Fried
Mushrooms, Spinach Dip, Buffalo Wings, Thai Chicken Dippers, Bar
Burgers, Potato Skins, Nachos

Burgers and sandwiches include Grilled Chicken and Cheddar, Roasted
Turkey Avocado, Philly or Chicken Cheesesteak, Buffalo Chicken Wrapper,
Buffalo Bar Chicks,

California Bar Burgers, Garden Burger and several other burgers.

Entrees include Lacy’s Chicken, Black Jack BBQ Chicken or Ribs,
Chicken Fingers, a large selection of Ribeyes and Sirloins, Grilled
Salmon, Fried Shrimp, Blackened Tilapia, Fried Catfish, Fish &
Chips, Cajun Shrimp Alfredo, Parmesan Chicken Alfredo, Chicken
Marinara, and Blackened Chicken Pasta.

There is also a large selection of salads and soups.

Price guide: Appetizers $6-10  Sandwiches & Burgers $ 8-10  Entrees $ 10-25
What We ordered: We started off with the tempura fried mushrooms.  Lightly breaded and crispy.

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I ordered the Buffalo Bar Chicks. I think maybe part of the purpose
of the smaller sandwiches is to make these easier to eat and less
messy.  The sauce was standard spicy buffalo sauce, with bleu cheese
dressing, fresh lettuce & tomato served on a warm roll.  I thought
it was pretty good.

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One of my companions ordered the Sirloin, served with loaded mashed
potatoes and crispy onions.  The steak had really good flavor and the
onions and potatoes were a  nice compliment in flavor and texture.

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Another companion ordered the
Atlantic Salmon fillet grilled and glazed with a Hawaiian ginger sesame
sauce. Served with citrus rice and sautéed green beans.  I did not try,
but it looked fabulous!

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Another companion ordered the Mushroom & Swiss Burger.  The burger was quite large, as was the bun it was served on.

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Since our visit was in celebration of a birthday, Dave & Buster’s gave us this complimentary brownie dessert.

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Another companion ordered the Banana’s Foster dessert

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Service: The
restaurant was very busy and every table was packed with people, so the
service was kind of slow.  After dinner we attempted to play a few
games, but found it very difficult to get started.  First we had to go
somewhere to get a plastic card and then we had to go somewhere else to
put money on the plastic card.  It was pretty much impossible to share
the card because you had to physically have it with you to swipe it in
the card slot.  One of us attempted to play a bowling game, but
discovered the $5 only covered 5 frames of bowling.  I thought that was
absolutely ridiculous! The arcade was very busy since it was a Friday
night and the fun, popular games that I would’ve liked to play had
lines.
Overall Impression: The restaurant had good food, but the arcade was overpriced.  Cool place if you’re into video games (I am not.)

Dave & Buster's on Urbanspoon

Dec 232007
 

Cuisine: Italian (family style)
Restaurant Features: Bar, Banquet,

Locations: **St Paul (site of this review), Burnsville, Eden Prairie, Maple Grove and Minneapolis
Addresses:

St Paul 2728 Gannon Road  St. Paul, MN 55116  651.772.4388
Burnsville 14300 Burnhaven Drive  Burnsville, MN 55306 952.892.7272
Eden Prairie 7711 Mitchell Road  Eden Prairie, MN 55344  952.934.9463
Maple Grove 12650 Elm Creek Boulevard Maple Grove, MN 55369 763.494.3466
Minneapolis 1204 Harmon Place Minneapolis, MN 55403 612.288.0138

Links: Buca di Beppo website *Buca Facebook PageGoogle Map
Atmosphere: Big, loud, happy and crowded, warm and cozy.  There are many sub-sections to the large restaurant, many of which have long tables to fit large parties.

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Menu: Appetizers include Garlic Bread (with or without mozzarella), Bruschetta, Fried Calamari, and Pan Fried Fresh Mozzarella.

**Buca offers three portion sizes for their entrees: Individual (1 person), small (serves 2 or more) and large(serves 4 or more).

Salads include apple gorgonzola, fresh mozzarella caprese, chopped antipasto, Caesar, warm tomato spinach and the Di Beppo 1893 salad.

Baked pasta specialties include manicotti, stuffed shells, baked ravioli, chicken cannelloni, and lasagna.

Pasta dishes include spaghetti marinara or with meatballs, linguine frutti di mare, ravioli al pomodora, gnocchi al telefono, macaroni rosa, tortelloni, penne arribbiata,  penne campofiore, fettuccine alfredo, and  shrimp fra diavolo.

Entrees include chicken saltimbocca, chicken with lemon, chicken marsala, chicken, eggplant, or veal parmigiana, salmon with pesto, veal limone, and porchetta rustica.

Desserts include tiramisu, double dark chocolate cake, cheesecake, chocolate cannelloni, spumoni, chocolate vesuvio, and apple crostata.
Price guide:
What we ordered: My companions and I ordered several dishes to share, starting with Buca’s delicious garlic cheese bread.  Heavy emphasis on the garlic!! They slice the cloves and put on a very generous amount.  The bread is crispy and absolutely amazing!

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Mussels served in-the-shell with Marinara sauce. These were the most delicious, tender mussels I have ever had the pleasure of consuming.  On the small side, but with amazing flavor.  A must-try if you like mussels!

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We had the chicken Canneloni  ( Pasta tubes are overflowing with 100% chicken sausage, Italian
cheeses and fresh sage. Smothered with provolone cheese and Romano
cream sauce. Served on a bed of fresh marinara sauce.)

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Macaroni Rosa ( pasta with sliced chicken breast, broccoli, peas, mushrooms and Roma tomato bruschetta. Tossed with marinara sauce, a hint of cream
and corkscrew pasta.) This was so much better than it looked! The portion size was huge for a small, and loaded with ingredients and sauce.
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Chicken Marsala (Sautéed chicken breasts and fresh mushrooms in a sweet Marsala wine reduction).  Very good, but disappointing to only get two chicken breasts in a small order.

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Apple Gorgonzola Salad (Tart
Granny Smith apples, spiced walnuts, dried cranberries and Gorgonzola
cheese are tossed with fresh Romaine lettuce and our Italian vinaigrette).  Wow!

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Manicotti ( Tubes of pasta stuffed with a rich blend of ricotta, mozzarella and
Romano cheeses and fresh Italian parsley, topped with creamy béchamel
sauce on a bed of  homemade marinara sauce.)

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Garlic mashed potatoes

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Spaghetti and meatballs (Imported Italian spaghetti with Buca’s famous half-pound mouth-watering meatball smothered in  homemade marinara sauce.)

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Service: Wonderful! We made our reservations several weeks in advance and requested a space that was a little more private.  They put us in the corner or the restaurant at a round table for 8.  So nice that we could all see and talk to each other! It was a very busy night (as it always is at Buca), but server did a great job making recommendations.  One thing that is slightly inconvenient is Buca’s inability to split up checks.  No matter how many people are in your party, they will only give you one check per party.  They will, however, run as many credit card transactions as necessary :)
Overall Impression: Excellent Italian food, as long as you like garlic! Vampires beware of Buca and anyone who has eaten there within 12 hours! Great place to meet for large groups.  Reservations are needed.
Buca di Beppo on Urbanspoon

Apr 012007
 

Cuisine: Italian

Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking

Locations: Bloomington, Burnsville, Coon Rapids, Maple Grove, Maplewood, Oakdale

Addresses & Maps:

Bloomington– 4701 American Blvd W. Bloomington, MN 55437 (952)841-4044

Burnsville– 1451 County Rd 42  Burnsville, MN 55306 (952)898-4200

Coon Rapids– 150 Coon Rapids Blvd Coon Rapids, MN 55443 (763) 786-1089

Maple Grove– 12520 Elm Creek Blvd N Maple Grove, MN 55369 (763) 420-9699

Maplewood– 1749 Beam Avenue Maplewood, MN 55109 (651) 773-0200

Oakdale– 8367 3rd Street N.  Oakdale, MN 55128 (651)264-1447

Roseville– 1525 County Rd C Roseville, MN 55113 (651) 638-9557
Saint Louis Park– 5235 Wayzata Blvd Saint Louis Park, MN 55416 (952) 544-4423

Links: Olive Garden website  

Atmosphere: One look at the house wines lining the walls, and there should be no doubt this is an Italian restaurant!  Cozy, warm and dimly-lit are the words I would use to describe the atmosphere.  Several small sections of the dining area offer privacy and romance.

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How cute is this little indoor courtyard that greets you upon entry? The perfect place to have a glass of wine while waiting for your table!

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Menu: Warm breadsticks and Italian house salad are brought out almost as soon as you place your meal order

Appetizers include brushetta, stuffed mushrooms, smoked mozzerella, calamari and shrimp scampi.

Entrees include classic Italian recipes such as lasagna, fettuccini alfredo, ravioli, manicotti, spaghetti and linguini, and chicken or eggplant Parmigiana.

Not in the mood for pasta? No worries…there are a variety of Italian pork, beef and chicken dishes as well.

Price guide: Appetizers: $6-10  Classic recipes $9-12 Meat entrees: $15-20

What I ordered: Baked Manicotti with a delicious blend of cheeses…so much cheese in fact, that I needed to order a meatball to balance it out a little.  Very rich.

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My companions ordered the Tuscan Garlic Chicken (Pan-seared chicken breasts with roasted garlic, red peppers and spinach in a white wine and garlic cream sauce, tossed with curly fettuccine).  Absolutely delicious, I will order this dish next time.  The huge cloves of garlic laced throughout the dish are a garlic-lovers dream, a vampire's nightmare. 

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and the Stuffed Chicken Marsala (Oven-roasted chicken breast stuffed with Italian cheeses and sun-dried tomatoes, topped with mushrooms and a creamy marsala sauce. Served with garlic parmesan mashed potatoes.)  Another delicious dish!

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Service: Our waitress was very nice and friendly, patient throughout the ordering process.  She offered suggestions and offered us samples of the house wines.  She was very friendly and prompt in checking on us.

Overall Impression: The food and atmosphere at Olive garden is pretty much the same at every location you would visit. 

Mar 192007
 

Cuisine: American, Burgers, Steak, Chops, Fish

Restaurant Features: Bar

Locations: Roseville, Maple Grove, Eagan, St Louis Park

Addresses & Maps:

Eagan3330 Pilot Knob Road  Eagan, MN 55121 ( 651)452.4600

Maple Grove– 11909 Main Street Maple Grove, MN 55369 (763)416.0010

Roseville851 Rosedale Center  Roseville, MN 55113 (651) 209-3500

*Located next to the AMC Movie Theater.  No Mall entrance- Must enter from outside only.

St Louis Park– 5500 Excelsior Blvd. St. Louis Park, MN 55416 (952)746.9900

Links: Granite City Website * Granite City on Facebook

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Atmosphere:

Granite City Food & Brewery is a brand-new trendy restaurant located just outside Rosedale mall.  I think it would be safe to say that the emphasis is not only on the food, but also on their on-site brewery.  Observation windows between the bar area and the brewery allow guests to see the inner workings of the brewery.  This large bar area with several flat-paneled TVs is a a great place to have a drink with friends.  Both the menu and atmosphere seem to cater to the an older, more-established crowd.  Not the type of place to bring the kids.

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Menu:

Start your meal off with one of Granite City’s Craft Beers– Northern Light Lager, Brother Bnenedict’s Bock, Duke of Wellington-Indian Pale Ale, Broad Axe Stout and Two-Pull.

Appetizers include daily soups, Crab & Cheddar Cakes, Crab Wonton, Crab Chalupa, Chicken Caesar Chalupa, Spinach & Artichoke Dip, Nachos and Quesadillas.

A few of the sandwiches featured on the menu include the Reuben, Buffalo Chicken, Smothered Beef, London Broil and Chicken Salad BLT.  In addition to standard burger options, Granite City offers a Buffalo Burger as well.

Signature Entrees include Meatloaf, Rosemary Filet Mignon, Boneless Pork Chops, Chicken Parmesan, Lasagna, Ravioli, Walleye, Salmon and London Broil.

View Granite City Menu

**Please note that Granite City prides itself on updating the menu twice a year, so all selections above are subject to change

Price Guide:

Appetizers: $8-10

Sandwiches and Burgers: $7-10 (additional $2 for french fries)

Signature Entrees: $11-21 (additional $2 for soup or side salad)

What I ordered:

There were many items on the menu that are up my alley, but I wanted to try one of their specialties and the Grilled Salmon Oscar came highly recommended by the server- “Filet of north Atlantic salmon charbroiled and topped with steamed asparagus spears, crabmeat, and béarnaise sauce. Served on a bed of wild rice pilaf with sautéed vegetable medley.”  I though the meal was very good- the wild rice was a perfect compliment to the salmon, as were the mild and creamy béarnaise sauce, and steamed vegetables.  The salmon was sliced thick, but was slightly uncooked toward the center.  Overall it was very good.

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On this particular visit my companion ordered the London Broil sandwich, but was disappointed that the meat was tough.  No pictures were taken :( I would instead like to share with you a picture of the Bedda Chedda Burger that was ordered by another companion on a previous visit.  As you can see, Granite City is very generous with the amount of cheddar they put on this burger!

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Service: Our service was excellent- the waitress was extremely patient while my companion and I took our time looking over the menu.  She offered suggestions for ordering both appetizers and entrees, and also stopped back at the end of the meal to tell us about their Sunday Brunch.

Overall Impression: Although I thought Granite City was a nice place with good food, it didn’t stand out as a one-of-a-kind restaurant.  It reminded me of several other trendy bar & grills that you see around the city.  I think the fact that the entrance to the restaurant is outside of the mall makes it harder to access and less of a draw to shoppers.

Granite City Food & Brewery on Urbanspoon