Nov 252011

Cuisine: American, Wings
Restaurant Features: Counter Service, Delivery, Flat Screen TV, On-Site Parking
Location: Maplewood, MN
Address: 705 Century Ave N Maplewood, MN 55119 (651) 730-7768
Hours: Mon-Thur 11am-10pm  Friday 11am-11pm Saturday 12pm-11pm  Sunday 11am-7pm
Links: D-Spot Website * D-Spot on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: D-Spot is located in Maplewood (bordering Oakdale), in a strip mall at the corner of Century Ave and 10th Street.  When you first walk in, you will see the front counter where you order your food.  The dining room itself has a handful of tables for dining in, or there is a small waiting area near the front if you choose to take-out.

Menu: The plethora of Chicken Wings at D-Spot can be divided into 4 groups: Spicy, Savory, Comfort and Sweet.

Spicy Wings include Chipotle BBQ, Spicy BBQ, Asian BBQ, Ginger, Szechuan, Voo Doo, Jerk, Buffalo, Iron Man (sweet/spicy), Incredible Hulk (green coconut curry), Pachadi (mago yogurt curry), Volcano, Ochre (honey mustard), Vaporizer (horseradish, mustard, honey), El Loco (super HOT), Toxic Avenger (green coconut curry, italian salsa verde, and sriracha), Ben Grimm (red and green curry, pineapple and toasted coconut), Kamikazee (chili, horseradish buffalo and fried garlic), War Machine (jerk and iron man), Bathala’s Bliss (ginger, honey, thai chilis, coconut milk, peanut butter, lime juice and cilantro), Dragon’s Breath (sriracha, honey, horseradish aioli) and Desert Heat (harrisa, sriracha, honey and dry rub).

Savory Wings include Honey Butter, Italiano (mint, parsley, basil, garlic, capers, anchovy and red pepper), Salsa Verde, Moroccan (yellow curry, apple and orange juice, raisin, carrot, yogurt), Twist (lemon/lime zest, toasted cumin, coriander), Kitchen Sink (3 dry rubs, 3 sauces), Teriyaki (soy, pineapple and orange), M.P.G (fondue style potato and gravy), Muay Thai (coconut milk, peanut butter, chili), Tunisian (harrisa), Meatball (chili cranberry marmalade), Marsala (pancetta, mushroom, marsala), Cordon Bleu, Iberian (chorizo, smoked paprika), Black Widow (soy glaze, crackel fennel, jerk rub), Frenchy (caramelized onion and sweet balsamic), Widow Maker (iron man and black widow).

Comfort Wings include Peanut Butter and Jelly, Country Fried, Alfredo, Lalapalooza (lavender, peppercorn, mustard vinegar), Blue Moon (bleu cheese cream), Four Seasons, Ranch, El Rancho (ranch and buffalo), Buffalo Bill (bleu cheese and buffalo), Cacciatore (tomato, rosemary, garlic), Pesto, Johnny Apple Seed (apple pear, caramelized onion, bleu cheese), Kariboo (coffee, chocolate, acho chili), Sri Lanka (pineapple gastric dusted in cayenne), Traditional BBQ, Honey BBQ, Pineapple BBQ and Huckleberry Finn (blueberry, honey, barbeque).

Sweet Wing varieties include Mound of Joy (coconut milk, dark chocolate, crushed almonds), Snackers (peanut butter, caramel, crushed nuts, chocolate and sea salt), Reese’s (peanut butter, milk chocolate, sea salt), Chicken and Waffles (maple brown sugar, creme anglaise, cinnamon, powdered sugar), The Canadian (bourbon, brown sugar, maple syrup, sea salt), Caramel Delight (caramel, sea salt, drizzle of chocolate), Black & Blue (black and blueberries), Strawberry (strawberries and balsamic syrup), D’s Short Cake (strawberry, creme anglaise, almonds and cream), Naked Turtle (caramel with pecans), Fruity Pebbles (boisenberry, lemon, lime and honey) and French Toast (cinnamon, maple syrup).

In addition to wings, you can also order Burgers and Sandwiches such as Luciann (two 1/4lb patties), D-Burger (with coleslaw, fries and american cheese), Emma James (smoked pancetta, fried egg, and harissa aioli), Mushroom & Swiss, and Red Baron (caramelized shallots, red wine butter), Cheddar Cheese, Pulled Pork, Grilled Chicken, and Falafel.
Price guide: $6/6 wings or $10/dozen  Burgers/Sandwiches $5-8
Weekly Specials:  Monday Nights during football season:  $40 for 60 wings

What we ordered: We started with the Bathala’s Bliss, which was my personal favorite of the five flavors we tried.  These wings were lightly floured and then fried until golden, then bathed in a delicious and somewhat thick Thai-inspired sauce consisting of ginger, honey, peanut butter, coconut milk, lime juice and then topped with Thai chilis and cilantro.  Very flavorful; slightly sweet from the honey and peanut butter but also savory from the chili and cilantro. Yum.  I will crave these from now on whenever I think of wings, they were awesome.

Next we tried the Black Widow, which were wings rubbed with jerk seasoning and cracked fennel then tossed with a somewhat sweet soy glaze.  Very good, I liked the sweet/savory combo.

Next we tried the Ginger Wings, which were tossed in a sauce of honey, ginger, garlic and then topped with spicy Thai chilis.  These were also good; the honey flavor came through stronger than any of the others so they were slightly sweet.

Another of the Wing flavors that we tried was the Twist.  These were a dry wing seasoned with lemon/lime zest, toasted cumin, and coriander.  These were very good if you like a drier wing.  My companion loved them and preferred these over any of the others.

We also tried the Buffalo Bill, which were a step up from your basic buffalo wing.  The sauce was very tasty and had a decent amount of spice and the wings were coated nicely with it then topped with bleu cheese crumbles.  I love buffalo wings and I love bleu cheese so this was a winning combo for me.

We also ordered a side of seasoned fries, which were delicious! They seemed to be lightly battered and heavily seasoned, which I loved.  They came with seasoned mayo for dipping.  I had a couple of fries in between each new flavor of wing I tried.

Service: Our wings were prepared to-order, and the five different wings took approximately 15 minutes.

Overall Impression: I had heard about D-Spot a few months ago and had been wanting to try it ever since.  My actual experience exceeded expectations!  With 60+ flavors of wings, there is a wing for everyone.  My new favorite spot for wings is definitely D-Spot!
D-Spot on Urbanspoon
:D-Spot Reviews in Maplewood

May 122011

Cuisine: Japanese, Seafood, Sushi
Restaurant Features: AYCE Lunch Buffet, Bar, On-Site Parking
Location: Maplewood, MN
Addresses & Maps:

Coon Rapids– 12580 Riverdale Boulevard NW, Suite 101, Coon Rapids, MN 55448(763) 421-3356
Maplewood– 1900 County Road D East  #140    Maplewood, MN 55109 (651) 773 – 5258
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am-2:30 4:30-10pm  * Fri-Sat 11am-11pm * Sun 11am-9pm
Links: Osaka Website *

Atmosphere: The Osaka location in Maplewood is inside a strip-mall across from Maplewood Mall and Toys R Us.  The inside of Osaka is much bigger inside than it looks from the outside.  There are several different dining areas, including the sushi bar  which is just behind the buffet.  This room has several booths in addition to seating at the bar.  Several Asian-Style lanterns hang from the ceiling, creating a cute look.

The bar area also has booths.

Osaka also has a room full of Hibachi tables. Get a party together and make a reservation!

The buffets at Osaka are set up in a central area near the sushi bar. All sushi and cold items are on the right side, hot items are on the left.  At the end of the hot items there is a cook manning a hibachi grill, with chicken, shrimp or beef to-order.  There is also another large dining room beyond the buffet to the left.

Menu: Seafood Appetizers include Yellowtail Jalapeno, Mago Lobster Tartar, Nigiri Appetizer, Sashimi Appetizer, Salmon & Salmon Roe, Tuna Dumplings, Jelly Fish and Spicy Scallop Tatasu.  Hot appetizers include edamame, squid yaki, Pork Gyoza, Beef Negimaki, Yakitori, Salt and Pepper Calamari, Shrimp Tempura, Vegetable Tempura, Tempura Combo.

Salads include Garden, Seaweed Salad, and Kani.  Soup options include Miso, Onion, and Dobin.

Sashimi and Nigiri sold a La Carte include Tuna (Maguro), Fatty Tuna (Toro), Spicy Tuna, Yellowtail (Hamachi), Shrimp (Ebi), Salmon (Sake), Smoked Salmon (Sake Kunsei), Salmon Roe (Ikura), Flounder (Hirame), Flying Fish Roe (Tobiko), Eel (Unagi), Scallop (Kaibashira), Red Sweet Shrimp (Ama Ebi), Egg Custard (Tamago), Crab Stick (Kani), Mackeral (Saba), Surf Clam (Mirugai), Sea Urchin (Uni), Squid (Ika), King Crab, Octopus (Tako), and Super White Tuna (Mutsu).

Maki and Tamaki Rolls include Acocado, Kappa Maki, Avocado Asparagus and Cucumber, Boston (shrimp, cucumber, lettuce and spicy mayo), Shrimp Tempura Roll, Philly Roll, Spicy Snow Crab, Lobster and Avocado, King Crab and Avocado, Dragon (smoked eel and cucumber), Spider (deep fried soft shell crab), Alaskan (salmon, avocado, cucumber), Rainbow, Tuna, Salmon, Spicy Salmon, Spicy Yellowtail, Spicy White Tuna, Tuna and Avocado, Salmon and Avocado, Futomaki (japanese vegetable), and Spciy Blue Crab Roll.

Specialty rolls include *Osaka (cucumber, tuna, salmon, yellowtail, crab meat and tobiko), *Scorpion (shrimp tempura, soft shell crab, crab, asparagus rolled in crunchy flakes), *Sumo (spicy tuna, avocado and cucumber), *Tom’s (shrimp, asparagus, crunchy flakes with spicy tuna on outside), *Sayuri (Spicy tuna inside with tuna and avocado outside), Spicy Girl (shrimp tempura and avocado with lobster salad on outside), *Christmas (shrimp tempura, spicy tuna and avocado), *Winter (tuna, salmon, yellowtail and avocado), *No-9 (shrimp tempura with salmon and avocado with spicy mayo and eel, *Osaka Dragon (shrimp tempura, avocado, spicy tuna and papaya), *Lisa Crunch (shrimp tempura, cream cheese and avocado), *Black Dragon (lobster and avocado with eel, avocado and tobiko with eel sauce), *Crazy (eel, crab stick, salmon and asparagus inside with salmon, salmon roe and avocado outside), *OC (spicy salmon and crunchy flakes inside with salmon, avocado and salmon roe outside) and the *Halloween Roll (spicy scallop and avocado inside and tuna, salmon, tobiko and spicy mayo outside).

Traditional Entrees include Teriyaki (chicken, beef, salmon or shrimp), Tempura (vegetable, shrimp or chicken), Yaki Udon, Yaki Soba, Nabe Yaki Udon, Seafood Noodle Soup, Miso Seabass, Pineapple Lobster, Hamachi Kama, and Grilled Saba Fish Filet.

Hibachi Entrees include Vegetable, Chicken, Salmon, Scallops, Shrimp, Seabass, Steak, Filet Mignon and Lobster Tail.

Price guide: Appetizers $4-12 Nigiri/Sashimi $4-15  Specialty Rolls $12-18 Entrees $12-29  Hibachi Entrees $15-31

Lunch Buffet:

  • Mon-Thurs 11am-2:30pm
  • Fri-Sun 11am-3:30pm
Happy Hour:
  • Mon-Thurs 8pm-Close
  • 20% off all Osaka Specialty Rolls
  • Appetizers $3-9
  • Rolls $3-8
  • Sashimi/Nigiri $1.50-5

What We Ate: My companion and I both had the all-you-can-eat weekend lunch buffet.  It was a chilly spring day so one of the first things I tried was the Hot and Sour Soup.  This was pretty good, it had a somewhat thick, somewhat spicy broth with a generous amount of tofu and all the other ingredients that typically go in this soup.

Once I was warmed up from the soup, I was all about the sushi.  There were at least 8-10 different types of sushi rolls and a couple varieties of sashimi.  One of the rolls that I tried was the Lisa Crunch, a tasty roll of rice, shrimp tempura, cream cheese and avocado.  The spicy tuna was decent, as were all the other rolls I tried, considering it was a buffet.  The rolls were heavy on the rice, light on the fish and veggies, somewhat loosely rolled but they all tasted great!  I am especially fond of the soft-shell crab, mmm.

We also tried a plate of Seafood from the hot serving line.  The mussels were very good, mostly tender and tossed in a savory yet slightly sweet black bean sauce.  The smaller clams were even better.  Extremely tender and slightly sweet.  Oh so good! I also tried one of their steamed crayfish, which wasn’t anything exciting.  It did not taste sweet like lobster, instead it tasted like what it eats at the bottom of the lake.  Would be so much better drenched in salted butter.

Another plate I tried came from the hot side of the Buffet.  I literally tried only one bite of each item, as none of it did anything for me in comparison to the sushi.  The fried pork in some kind of  spicy-sweet sesame sauce and was thickly breaded and extra hard and grisly, it looked much better than it tasted.  The fried rice was extremely boring, the chicken with broccoli was sogged out, as were the lomein noodles.  The spring roll was kind of boring with just a simple rice noodle filling and very little flavor.  My favorite thing on this plate was the Fried Potstickers which were small but filled with flavorful pork sausage.

The desserts were very undesirable for the most part.  I’d rather eat more sushi than waste the carbs on these stale cookies and pastries.  The  fruit was simply okay.

Service: Our server refilled our drinks when we asked, that was all the service we really got since we were eating the buffet.

Overall Impression: Osaka is the first sushi restaurant to hit the area, so it is a welcome sight to the many sushi-lovers like myself out in the eastern ‘burbs.  The restaurant is actually Chinese-owned so it isn’t authentic Japanese but the sushi lunch buffet is a great value if you can eat a lot of sushi.  (I definitely ate my money’s worth! )  I thought Osaka was a cute place and the buffet was decent, not to mention it is less than 15 min from my house.

Osaka Sushi and Hibachi on Urbanspoon

Feb 032011

Cuisine: American, Steak, Chops, Ribs, Fish, Seafood, Pasta
Restaurant Features: Bar, Banquet, Buffet, Kids Menu, On-Site Parking, Pull-Tabs, Sunday Brunch
Location: Maplewood, MN
Address: 2999 Highway 61 North • Maplewood, MN • Phone: 651.482.0384
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am – 9pm  Fri- Sat 11am. – 10pm  Sun Brunch 10am. – 2pm   Sun Dinner  2pm -9pm
Links: Gulden’s Website * Gulden’s Facebook Page * Google Map

Atmosphere: Gulden’s is located on Hwy 61 (just south of 694) in Maplewood, near Maplewood Mall.   The upper level of the restaurant is separated into a couple of large rooms.  The main dining rooms are found to the left of the main entrance and the bar is located to the right/back.  The decor is very basic, with vinyl booths and plastic laminate tables.  The tables can conveniently be arranged to accommodate larger parties.  Gulden’s has been family owned and operated since 1934.

Gulden’s Lounge is in a separate space adjacent to the main dining room, with a full bar and plenty of tables to sit at.  They also offer pull-tabs.

Gulden’s also has a large lower-level that is used for banquets and weddings (up to 190 guests).

Menu: Appetizers at Gulden’s include Chicken Wings, Chicken Tenders, Onion Rings, Cheese Sticks, Potato Skins, Garlic Toast, Garlic Cheese Toast, Mini Tacos, Italian Fries, Frog Legs, Cheddar Jalapeno Poppers, Nachos Supreme, Chicken Nachos, Quesadilla and Jumbo Shrimp

Soup and Salad options include Caesar, Taco Salad and Salad Bar.  Soup changes daily

Gulden’s sandwiches are served with fries and include the Gulden’s Club, Reuben, Prime Rib Dip, Sirloin Sandwich, Fish Sandwich, Hamburger and Gulden’s Cheeseburger.

Prime Cuts include Top Sirloin, Texas Top Sirloin, Filet Mignon, Smoked Pork Chops, Porterhouse, Steak and Shrimp, Steak Oscar, Prime Rib (12 oz, 16oz, 20oz), and Pork Ribs.

Fish and Seafood dishes include Jumbo Shrimp, Scrod Oscar, Frog Legs, Broiled Walleye, and Seafood Combo.

Gulden’s also has a variety of chicken and pasta dishes including Chicken, Ribs or Steak Combo, Chicken Oscar, Texas Chicken, Marinated Chicken Breast, Ravioli, Fried Chicken, Chicken Parmesan, Fettuccine Alfredo, Tortellini Alfredo, Pasta Primavera, and Cajun Chicken Alfredo.

The Gulden Specials include  your choice of one entree, with choice of potato and soup or salad. Entree choices include Alaskan Pollack, Popcorn Shrimp, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Zander Filet with Almonds, Liver & Onions, 8oz Sirloin, 10oz Ground Sirloin with Mushrooms, BBQ Pork Ribs, Homemade Lasagna, Surf & Turf and Chicken Kiev.  All are $11.95

Kids menu items include hamburger, grilled cheese, mini corn dogs, chicken fingers, deep fried fish, spaghetti with meatballs, macaroni and cheese

Price guide: Appetizers $5-9  Salads $7-9   Sandwiches/Burgers $8-9  Prime Cuts$14-25  Seafood $15-18 Chicken/Pastas $10-16  Kids Meal $5

Early Bird Specials: Served between 11am-5pm, all come with choice of potato and soup or salad for $8.95: Spaghetti and Meatballs, Alaskan Pollack, 6 oz Sirloin, 8 oz Ground Sirloin with Mushrooms, Lasagna, 1/4 Fried Chicken,and  4 oz Chicken Kiev.

Happy Hour: Monday – Saturday 11:00am. – 7pm. Wing specials all the time in the lounge.

Sunday Brunch:

  • $12.95/ Adults   $9.95/Seniors  $6.95/ Kids 5-12    Free/ Kids 4 and Under
  • 10am-2pm
  • 2 kinds of Scrambled Eggs , Homemade Bread Pudding, Eggs Benedict, Roast Turkey,
    Sausage, Baked Ham, Bacon, Chefs Choice Entrée, Smoked Sausage , Au Gratin Potatoes, French Toast, Mashed Potatoes, Hashbrowns, Stuffing, Homemade Carmel Rolls , Hot Vegetable, Fresh Fruit, 20 Item Salad Bar, Pies/Bars/and all the other goodies

What we ordered: We started with this complimentary basket of French Rolls.  They were soft and warm on the inside, crusty on the outside.

The soup that was offered the night of our visit was Clam Chowder, which my companion and I shared.  The soup was pretty good, thick and full of chunky vegetables.

Even though I was tempted to order the Reuben, I ended up ordering the Prime Rib Dip. Excellent choice! This was real prime rib, thinly sliced and piled (PILED!) high on the toasted kaiser roll.  It was served with au jus and I also asked for a side of freshly grated horseradish.  The sandwich came with a pile of crispy shoestring potatoes.  I would definitely get this sandwich again, it was excellent (and only $8.95!)

My companion ordered the Fried Chicken Meal, which was also very good.  It had a thick, crispy batter on it and was fried until it was a perfect dark golden color.  Very juicy on the inside!

Service: We arrived long after the dinner hour and had to wait nearly five minutes at the host stand before we were acknowledged.  Once we were seated, our server was very friendly and had several recommendations.  Drinks were filled in a timely fashion and other requests were also quickly satisfied.

Overall Impression: I literally have driven by Gulden’s on 61 hundreds of times and had only been there one other time almost a decade ago.  Glad I finally stopped in and I will be back.  The decor at Gulden’s is nothing fancy but the food was pretty good and was reasonably priced.

Gulden's 61 Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Feb 062010

Cuisine: American, Bar & Grill, Burgers, Dessert
Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking
Location: Maplewood, MN  (Sister restaurants include 5-8 Club in Minneapolis and 5-8 Bar & Grill in Champlin)
Address: 2289 Minnehaha Ave S Maplewood, MN 55119 (651) 735-5858

Hours:11a-12a (Kitchen closes at 11p)
Links: 5-8 Website * Google Map


Atmosphere: Located in Maplewood at the corner of McKnight and Minnehaha Ave, 5-8 Tavern & Grill is the sister restaurant to the famous 5-8 Club in South Minneapolis.  The building is divided into two distinct sides, the tavern is to the left when you walk through the front entrance and the dining room to the right.  The dining room  had both tables and booths.  Walls were decorated with a combo of neon lights and 50’s memorabilia.



Menu: Appetizers at the 5-8 Tavern include Nachos Supreme, Jumbo Battered Wings, JoJo Potatoes, Extreme JoJos (with chili and cheddar), Deep Fried Cheese Curds, Chicken Fingers, Quesadilla, Onion Straws, Onion Rings, Buffalo Popcorn Shrimp, Potato Skins, Battered Fried Mushrooms, Mozzarella Sticks, and Summit Pale Ale Cheddar Dip.

Salads offered are the Turkey BLT, Grilled Chicken, Taco Salad, Chef Salad and Tossed Salad.  Soups include Chili and a Soup of the Day

5-8 has several basic sandwiches including Clubhouse, Hot Dog, Chili Cheese Coney Dog, Grilled Cheese, BLT, and Corn Dog.  All served with kettle chips and pickle.

Specialty sandwiches at 5-8 are Pork Tenderloin, Walleye, Chicken Club, Philly, French Dip, Patty Melt, Grilled Chicken, Reuben, Buffalo Chicken, Chicken Bacon Ranch Wrap.  Served with French Fries.

Roadhouse Classic Sandwiches include Steak sandwich (served on Texas Toast), West Chicken (grilled with BBQ sauce, pepper cheese, and bacon), and BBQ Pork Sandwich. Served with JoJo potatoes.

The 5-8 is famous for its “Juicy Lucy”, a 1/2 lb burger stuffed with melted cheese (choice of American, Swiss, pepper or bleu) and has several other specialty burgers as well.  Specialty burgers include Mushroom Swiss, Bleu Cheese, Santa Fe (guacamole, pepperjack and bacon), Supreme (bacon, pepperjack and bbq sauce), the Speakeasy Burger (Swiss, ranch and bacon), Big Jim (double cheeseburger with 4 cheeses), the Saucy Sally (cheeseburger stuffed with special sauce), California Burger, Montana Jack (Heinz 57, bleu cheese, mayo and onion straws), Pizza Burger (marinara and mozzarella), Roadhouse Burger (bacon cheeseburger with 5-8 sauce), and The GCB (garlic cheeseburger).  All burgers are made with Angus Beef (or substitute any burger with with Veggie or Bison patty (with exception of Juicy Lucy or Saucy Sally).

Dinner Entrees include BBQ Pork Ribs, Walleye Basket, Shrimp Basket, 8oz. Sirloin Steak, BBQ Chicken Dinner, Hamburger Steak, Chicken Delight (melted pepperjack and mushrooms ), and Fajitas.  5-8 also has Genuine Broasted Chicken (cooked under high pressure).

Desserts include Chocolate Supreme Cake, Fried Cheesecake, Grasshopper Pie, and Muddy Paws Cheesecake.

Price guide: Appetizers $5-8  Salads $7  Burgers $4-7  Sandwiches $4-8  Entrees $7-11  Broasted Chicken $8-15  Desserts $3-5

Happy Hour: Mon-Fri 2-6pm,

  • $3 Appetizers include 2 mini cheeseburgers, 2 chicken sliders, deluxe fries, beef nachos, onion straws and slider of the day.
  • $2 Appetizers include garlic cheese bread, chips and salsa

Nighttime Happy Hour: Sun-Wed 8:30p-close

  • 1/2 price appetizers
  • 1/2 price taps

Weekly Specials:

Monday- Chef’s Choice $6.99

Tuesday- Hot Beef Sandwich $6.50

Wednesday- Meatloaf $6.50
Thursday- Hot Turkey Sandwich $6.50
Friday- Broiled Walleye $8.99 or  Beer Battered Cod Lunch $6.50 Dinner $8.99
Saturday- Jumbo Shrimp $6.99
Sunday- All-you-can-eat Spaghetti $6.95

What we ordered: My companions and I started with the Deep Fried Mushrooms.  The mushrooms had a thick, crunchy, solid breading that had been fried to a dark golden color.  I thought these were very good but the mushrooms inside the breading had shrunk quite a bit while cooking, leaving a lot more batter than mushroom.  It was served with a mild blue cheese dressing for dipping.


My companions also ordered some of the Potato Skins which were covered with melted cheddar and Monterey jack, bacon, green onions and sour cream on the side.  I did not eat these but my companions liked them.


For my entree I ordered a Swiss cheese Juicy Lucy with bacon ( because bacon makes every burger even better).  The burger was made with two 1/4 lb patties pressed together with cheese melted in the middle.  It was extremely hot so I cut it in half as seen below (served whole).  There was a substantial amount of cheese escaping the pocket of meat but it sure was great tasting! There was a thin layer of pickles under the patty.  I liked it a lot but honestly didn’t have that different of an experience than I would with a traditional bacon and swiss burger.  The french fries were an “add on” to the burger for an additional charge.  Tasty but basic shoe-string fries


One of my companions ordered the American Cheese Juicy Lucy with mushrooms in a basket with Onion Rings.  The Juicy Lucy was indeed hot and juicy, loaded with melted cheese.  The onion rings were fried to a crispy dark golden brown and were just the right thickness for my liking

Another companion ordered an American cheese Juicy Lucy with Bacon and Swiss melted on top, also in a basket with onion rings and a small side of coleslaw.


Service: This was my first time at this location of the 5-8 and the restaurant was pretty busy, being a Friday night.  I have to admit I was a little confused when I first arrived because there was no hostess stand or a sign anywhere inviting guests to find a seat and there didn’t seem to be anyone handy to ask.  My companions and I took the liberty of seating ourselves in a booth and were greeted shortly after by one of the wait staff.  Our server was very friendly and also had a great sense of humor.  The food was prepared in a reasonable amount of time considering how busy it was.
Overall Impression: If you haven’t ever had a Juicy Lucy before, what are you waiting for? The 5-8 is a great place to try the famous creation and they have four different varieties of cheese so there is something for everyone.  They also have a variety of other sandwiches and entrees on the menu with very reasonable prices, especially considering the large portion sizes.  My only suggestion is that 5-8 should have malts on their menu because what could go better with a burger basket than a nice creamy ice cream malt or shake?!
Maplewood 5-8 Tavern & Grill on Urbanspoon

Mar 102009

Cuisine: Chinese
Restaurant Features: Lunch Buffet, Dinner Buffet, On-Site Parking

Locations: Maplewood & West St Paul, MN
Addresses & Maps:

Maplewood– 2950 White Bear Ave Maplewood, MN 55109 (651) 704-9801

West St Paul– 1200 South Robert St.  West St. Paul, MN 55118 (651) 554-0558

Hours: Sun-Thur 11am-9pm  Fri-Sat 11am-10pm

Atmosphere: Both the Maplewood and West St Paul locations are located within strip malls.  Each restaurant has a large, open space for the dining areas.  Silk Kimonos adorn the walls and here and there you will see silk plants as well.  Rectangular-shaped wooden tables are placed close together throughout the space, easy to accommodate larger groups.

GreatMoonBuffet-inside1000 There are four large buffet islands, with additional tables for dessert and also a separate stir-fry section at the West St Paul location.  Each buffet island has about 10-12 food items.

GreatMoonBuffet-buffet1000 The West St Paul location also has a custom stir-fry area.  Similar to Khan’s, choose your frozen sliced meats, Vegetables and sauces and the chef will cook it up in front of you on the Mongolian BBQ.


Menu: Appetizers include Egg Rolls, Cream Cheese Wonton, Cheesey Potatoes, Sweet Biscuits, Sesame Cakes, Pork Sausages, Egg Foo Young, Roast Duck, BBQ Ribs, and Steamed Dumplings.

Soups include Hot & Sour and Wonton.  There is also Lo Mein, Fried Rice, White Rice, Rice Noodle and String Beans.

Chicken dishes include Black Pepper Chicken, Roast Chicken, Sesame Chicken, Moo Goo Gai Pan, Chicken with Broccoli, Chicken Chow Suey, General Tao’s Chicken, Sweet & Sour Chicken, Chicken Wings, Chicken Sticks, and Chicken with Cashew.

Pork dishes include Mopo ToFu, Hunan Pork, Butter Potato, Double Cooked Pork, Hunan Triple Delight, Pork with Mushrooms, and Boneless Ribs.

Beef dishes include Beef with Broccoli, Mongolian Beef, Beef with Mushrooms, Peppered Beef, and Beef Ribs.

Seafood (most items served at dinner only) items include Mussels, Fried Codfish, Salmon, Popcorn Shrimp, Butterfly Shrimp, Salted Shrimp, Coconut Shrimp, Shrimp with Lobster Sauce.

Desserts include Soft-Serve Ice Cream, Cake, Fresh Fruit

Price guide: Lunch Buffet $8-9  Dinner Buffet $11-12
What I Ate: My visit was at lunch time with a group of colleagues, but I still wanted to try a selection of foods.  I had Cream Cheese Wontons, Boneless BBQ Ribs, Steamed Dumpling, General Tao’s Chicken, Sweet & Sour Chicken, Fried Rice, and a Rice Noodle dish with veggies.  The cream cheese wontons were the biggest I have ever had! They were stuffed full of a cream-cheese mixture that was slightly sweet.  The steamed dumplings were very good, with a flavorful pork/onion mixture.  The meats that I tried were okay, but I would not say these use high quality meat.  The Sweet and Sour as well as the General Tao’s Chicken was kind of fatty and gristly and the batter was soggy.

GreatMoonBuffet-myplate1000 I wasn’t quite satisfied with what I actually ate from my first plate, so I opted to wait in line for my own custom stir-fry.  I chose beef, broccoli, pineapple, onions, pepper and mushrooms with noodles and several scoops of all the different cooking sauces.  There is only one cook making stir-fry and he only cooks one dish at a time, so I had to wait at least 10 minutes for my plate.  I was only able to get a few good bites in before it was time to head back to work, but I was very happy with my stir-fry dish.

GreatMoonBuffet-stirfryplate1000Service: At Great Moon you must pay for your meal before you enter the dining room but from that point forward, there are many servers ava
ilable to take drink orders, clear plates, etc.
Overall Impression: Huge buffet with many options, but I would say food is just slightly better than mediocre in taste and quality.  Make-it-yourself Stir-Fry option at West St Paul is a big bonus.
Great Moon Buffet on Urbanspoon

Mar 022009

The Maplewood, MN Location has been closed for business :(

Cuisine : American, Fish and Seafood
Restaurant Features: Counter-Service, On-Site Parking

Location: Maplewood, MN
Address: 3094 White Bear Ave Maplewood, MN 55109 (651) 773-0500

Hours: Mon-Thur 11am-10pm  Fri & Sat 11am-12am Sun 12pm-9pm
Links: Google Map


Atmosphere: The Maplewood location of JJ’s Fish & Chicken is in a small building on the east side of White Bear Ave across from Maplewood Mall.  There is a counter when you first walk in that has a giant menu board hanging overhead.  The dining room itself is made up of a handful of typical fast-food style booths (with padded backs!) and basic laminate tables with slightly padded metal chairs. Nothing fancy but it is clean!


Menu: Appetizers and side items include Cheese Sticks, Fries, Hush Puppies, Jalapeño Poppers, Fried Mushrooms, Mac & Cheese Bites, Okra, Onion Rings, Pizza Puffs, and Spaghetti.

JJ’s salads include the Classic, Grilled Chicken or Grilled Shrimp.

Sandwiches offered at JJ’s are the Philly Cheese Steak, Chicken Steak, Chicken Teriyaki, Fish Sandwich and the Gyro.

Chicken Meals include Wings, Gizzards, Nuggets or Tenders.

Fish and Seafood meals include Catfish Steak, Catfish Nuggets, Catfish Fillet, Cod Fillet, Ocean Perch, Walleye Fillet, Tilapia, Whiting, Crab Cakes, Oysters, Shrimp and Jumbo Shrimp.  All meals come with fries and bread.

Desserts include Peach Cobbler, Banana Pudding, Cake and Cookies.

Price guide: Appetizers $2-5  Sandwiches $4-5  Chicken $4+  Fish and Seafood $8-14
What We ordered: First we started with Jalapeño Poppers, which came with six giant pieces in the order.  The Poppers were extremely hot, full of cream cheese with a crispy golden brown shell.

JJs-jalapenopoppers1000 I had the Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich, which turned out to be a really good choice.  The bread was fresh and slightly crispy the outside but wasn’t too chewy.  The steak was thinly sliced, tender and packed with flavor from the sauteed onions and peppers that were cut into bit-sized pieces and mixed in with the beef, along with the melted cheese.   The size of the sandwich was quite big and I wasn’t able to eat all of it, even though I did not order the fries that came with it for basically $1 more. FYI- The sandwich comes wrapped in foil but I removed it before taking the photo

JJs-phillycheesesteak1000 One of my companions had the Gyro with Fries.  The amount of food here was quite impressive for $4.99 (including soda).  There was a nice amount of tender gyro meat, plus it was loaded with onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and Tzatziki sauce.  Very tasty but very messy- this one might be better eaten in the wrapper or with a fork.  The fries were thick and seemed to have a very light batter to make them more crispy (okay but definitely not my favorite).

JJs-gyro1000 Another companion had the perch and catfish combo.  The size of these fish fillets was very impressive for the price.  Both Perch and Catfish were breaded with a corn-meal type of mixture and then deep fried to a golden brown.  The perch was especially tasty.  Tartar sauce and cocktail sauce come in little packets.


Service: When you place and pay for your order at the counter, you receive a number and they will call your number when your order is ready.  There are usually only two cooks and they make food fresh with each order, so the time it takes to get your food depends on how busy it is.  JJ’s Maplewood does not have a soda fountain. Note: Parking lot can only be entered from northbound White Bear Avenue
Overall Impression: The Gyro Combo at $5 for gyro, fries and drink is one of the best values I have seen out there.  Everything we have tried at JJ’s so far has been very good and you get a great value for your money.  New favorite find for a fast, cheap place with good food near the Mall and it is open until midnight on the weekends.

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


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 .


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Apr 192008

Cuisine: Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese
Restaurant Features: Bar, Happy Hour, On-Site Parking

Location: Maplewood
Address: 1715-A Beam Avenue  Maplewood, MN 55109   651-747-1000  ***Located at the end of a large strip mall (next to Marshall’s)
Links: Bambu Website * Bambu Facebook PageGoogle Map


Atmosphere: Very romantic with dim lighting, candles atop white table-cloths, and richly colored walls.  There are both circular and square tables, which can easily be combined for larger parties.


Bambu also has a lovely bar area and boasts wonderful drink specials.


Menu: Appetizers include Chicken Wings, Egg Rolls, Pot Stickers, Fried Tofu, Calamari, Spring Rolls, Wontons, Shrimp, Fresh Mussels, and Pan-Seared Scallops.  Salad/soups include Bambu Asian Salad, Thai pineapple Chicken Salad, Spicy Thai Beef Salad, Vietnamese Noodle Salad, Egg Drop Soup, Hot & Sour Soup, Wonton Soup, Vietnamese Chicken Noodle.

Chinese Entrees include General Tso’s Chicken, Sweet & Sour Chicken, Sesame Chicken, Beef or Shrimp, Kung Pao Chicken, Orange Chicken, Mandarin Chicken, Lemon Chicken, Cashew Chicken.  The following entrees can be served with either chicken, pork, tofu, mock duck, beef, shrimp or scallops: Broccoli Stir-Fry, Hunan Chicken, Sizzling Duck, Tiger Pork, Sizling Black Bean Sauce, Coconut Curry, Ginger or Oyster Stir-fry, Garlic Baby Bok Choy, Egg Fu Young, Chinese Chow Mein, Vietnamese Chow Mein, Singapore Noodles, Pineapple Stir fry, Hong Kong Wontons, Lomein, Fried Rice, Mu Shu Wrap and Chicken Almond Ding.

Thai Entrees include Thai Hot Curry Fried Rice, Pineapple Fried Rice, Yellow Chicken Curry, Pad Thai, Penang Red, Thair Stir-Fried Rice Noodles, Red Salmon Pineapple Curry, Green Mahi-Mahi Curry, Spicy & Sweet Blast Curry, Massaman Chicken Stir-Fry, Spicy Chicken, Basil Stir-Fry and Spicy Thai Basil Fried Rice.

Vietnamese Entrees include Salted Shrimp, Fried Rice, Garlic Catfish, Vietnamese Rice Platter, Fried Potato with Beef, Lemon Frog legs, Tamarind Shrimp, Grilled Beef and Shrimp & Beef.

Bambu also serves a large variety of Pho, an authentic Vietnamese beef broth served over rice noodles and Asian vegetables.

Seafood Entrees include Waleye, Seafood in Black Bean Sauce, Sea Bass, Triple Delight, Thai Seafood Linguine Curry.

Price guide: Appetizers $4.50-8  Salads/soups $3-11  Seafood $12-17  Chinese Entrees $9-13  Thai Entrees $9-17  Vietnamese Entrees $ 8-17  Pho $7-9
What we ordered: To start, we tried the calamari.  It was lightly breaded and served with stir-fried green and white onions.  I had never had calamari prepared this way, but I really enjoyed the blend of flavors.  I thought the serving was quite generous.


We ordered the Masaman Chicken Stir-Fry, a sweet green curry with chicken, onions, avocado and cashews.  I have never had a curry like this before, but I loved the flavor and texture of the dish.  This was also a very large portion of food.


We also ordered the Fried Potatoes with Beef.  The potatoes were crispy and the beef was tender and plentiful.


Fried Rice.  I cannot remember which fried rice we ordered, but it was pretty good.


My companion also ordered  lemonade and it was not only homemade, but hand-squeezed to order; both sugary and tart at the same time!

Service: Our service was exceptional! The server was very friendly and offered several suggestions from the menu.  Food was prepared in a timely manner and after compliments to the chef, the chef came out to talk with us.  By chance the owner was visiting the restaurant and also stopped to talk with me and my companion.  Everyone was really nice and talkative.
Overall Impression: Bambu is the total package and is my new favorite restaurant in the Northeast suburbs! The food, atmosphere and service were all superior.  A must-try!
Bambu on Urbanspoon