May 272012
 

Cuisine: American
Restaurant Features: Bar, Live Music, Nightclub, Patio, Waterfront
Location: Stillwater, MN
Address: 305 S Water Street Stillwater, MN 55082 (651) 439-5718
Hours: (Restaurant) Sun-Thurs 11am-9pm    Fri-Sat 11am-10pm (Nightclub)  Fri -Sat 9pm-2am

Links: Freight House Website * Freight House on FacebookGoogle Map
Atmosphere: The Freight House restaurant is located near the St Croix River in downtown Stillwater, in a building that was originally built in 1883 as Stillwater’s freight depot.  The inside of the restaurant has been converted into a lovely two-story dining room, with a selection of booths and tables.

The decks at the Freight House are vast and spacious, running the entire length of the Restaurant and Adjacent Night Club. There are enough tables to seat several hundred people and also a couple of outdoor bars. Great view of the St Croix! Freighthouse-outsidedeck

Menu: Appetizers include Onion Rings, Artichoke Dip, Jumbo Buffalo Wings, Beer Pretzels, Seasoned Fries, Ginger Mustard Green Beans, Cheese Curds, Chips and Guac, and Deep Fried Pickles.

Salads that the Freight House offers are the Chicken Caesar, Bistro Salad, St Croix Cobb, Buffalo Chicken, and Chicken Taco Salad.  They also have Chicken Wild Rice Soup.

Burgers are served with chips or you can upgrade to french fries or sweet potato fries for $2.50.   Options include the Freight House Burger, Mushroom Swiss, Black N Blue, Wisconsin Cheddar, North Dakota Bison Burger, California Turkey Burger, and Black Bean Veggie Burger.

Sandwiches also come with chips. Options include Willy the Kid (chicken salad), BBQ Pulled Pork, Freight House Chicken, Walleye, Grilled Reuben, Atlantic Salmon BLT, Smoked Brisket, Cajun Chicken, Baja Tacos, Southwest Chicken Wrap, and the Chicken Caesar Wrap.

Freight House also has several Neapolitan style pizzas like the Margherita, The Works, Classic Pepperoni, Sausage, Wild Mushroom Brie and Chicken Pesto.

Entrees include Fish & Chips, Bacon Mac N Cheese, Chicken Cheese Tortellini, Salmon Filet and Top Sirloin.

Desserts include Homemade Apple Crisp, Layered Chocolate Cake, and New York Style Cheescake.

Kids Menu ~ All kid’s meals include a beverage, pickle spear, fries and oreo cookies…. $6.00
Kid’s Boneless Chicken Fingers, Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Kid’s Burger add cheese for .50 cents Mac & Cheese, Kid’s Pizza, Mini Corn Dogs

Price guide: Appetizers $7-11 Burgers/Sandwiches $10-15 Entrees $12-18
Weekly Specials:

  • Wednesday Fish Fry ~ Freight House Pilsner Beer Battered Fish Filet, Skinny-Cut Fries, Garden House Salad, Cornbread Mini Muffins.  Treat your family to a Complimentary basket of our Signature Freight House Onion Strings. $12.99 Adults    $6.99 Children (12 and under)

What we ordered: My companion and I started with an order of Cheese Curds ($8). The order came with a basket full of bite-sized golden brown cheese curds that were hot and filled with melted cheddar.  The batter had cornmeal that gave it a crispy, unique texture.  They were served with peppercorn ranch.

We also tried the Jumbo Buffalo Wings ($11).  The order came with four whole chicken wings, fried and covered with Buffalo sauce.  These tasted pretty good but the sauce was rather ordinary.  Overpriced.

For my entree I ordered the Chicken Tortellini ($13).  This dish was served in a bowl with three color cheese tortellini covered in a white wine sauce and served with sauteed chicken, red peppers, onions, and broccoli.  I opted to add the freshly grated parmigian that my server offered.  The sauce was creamy and simple, I enjoyed it with the veggies and tortellini.

My companion ordered the Mushroom and Brie Pizza ($12).  This was really good if you like mushrooms and brie! The crust was chewy and covered with a light layer of pesto, then piled with roasted wild mushrooms and pieces of brie and then mozzarella.  We liked this a lot and thought it was the best value of everything we ordered that night.

Service: It was a Friday night at dinner time and every restaurant in Stillwater was packed to the gills….. all it seems, except the Freight House.  We found parking in the attached lot and had no problem getting a table inside the restaurant.  A friendly hostess brought us to our table and we were greeted by our server within five minutes to take our drink orders.  We ordered two courses which were appropriately times.  Our server was attentive, no complaints.
Overall Impression: This was a follow-up visit to my review of Freight House in August 2009.  While the service was good and the the food was decent, it seemed rather overpriced.  The biggest draw to the Freight House is its premium waterfront location downtown Stillwater.

Apr 282012
 

Cuisine: American
Restaurant Features: Patio, Wine Bar
Location: White Bear Lake, MN
Address: 2125 4th. Street, White Bear Lake, MN 55110 651-429-9600
Hours: Sun-Thurs 5-9pm  Fri-Sat 5-10pm
Links: Ursula’s Website * Ursula’s on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Ursula’s Wine Bar and Cafe is located on 4th Street in a stand-alone building right next door to the White Bear Bar, just a block west of Hwy 61.  The interior is quite small, with the bar in the middle and seating for roughly 20-30 people at the tables that surround it.  There are several sets of paintings displayed on the wall, all of which are for sale by a local artist.

The bar itself is just a few feet away from the front door and has room for about ten people to sit at.  There is also an outdoor seating area on the deck along the west side of the building.

Menu: The menu at Ursula’s changes monthly, the following is what was offered in April 2012.

Starters include Marinated Olives, Goat Cheese Gratin with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Flatbread Pizza of the Day, Tomato Basil Hummus with Warm Flatbread and Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Crab Cakes, Crostini with Roasted Eggplant, Manchego and Pomodoraccio Tomatoes, Mussels, Lamb Skewers with Tzatziki, and Chef’s Selection of 3 Artisan Cheeses with Fruit and Cashews.

Soups and Salads offered are the Soup of the Day, Mixed Greens with Bacon, Tomato and Creamy Basil Dressing, and
Grilled Iceberg with Roasted Fennel and Shaved Carrot topped with Citrus Vinaigrette.

Ursula’s also offers the following Entrees: Pasta of the Day, Fish of the Day, Chicken Breast en Papillote with Carrots, Celery, Onion, Grape Tomatoes and Zucchini with Brown Rice and Lemon Dill Butter Sauce, Chili and Lime Glazed Ribs with Roasted Plantain and Spinach with Cilantro Cream, Hoisin Filet Mignon Medallions with Wasabi Mashed topped with Roasted Pistachios and Chestnuts.
Price guide: Appetizers $5-10 Entrees $16-24
What we ordered: We started with the Lamb Skewers.  The order ($9) came with three skewers that were made with ground lamb meat that was grilled to give it some char.  The skewers were served on a bed of lettuce leaves with Tzatziki sauce for dipping.  These were great! The lamb was moist and well seasoned and the Tzatziki was homemade.

We also tried the Crab Cakes, which came with two in the order ($9).  The crab cakes were also quite good, a thick patty made with sweet crab meat and blended with dill and other seasonings.  There was a pureed rep pepper sauce, as well as lettuce, served on the side.

There are only a couple of entrees to choose from and I ordered the Filet Medallions ($24).  These small, tender cuts of beef were cooked with an Asian-inspired hoisin sauce and topped with slices of roasted chestnuts.  The medallions were served with wasabi mashed potatoes that were great and tasted similar to horseradish, as well as steamed broccoli.  I thought the price was a little steep considering the portion size and the fact that it didn’t come with salad or bread.

My companion ordered the Ribs with Chili Lime Glaze ($18), served with plantains and steamed broccoli.   My companion liked this but I really didn’t care for it.  There were about four ribs in the order and to me  they tasted like they had been boiled in water until all the good natural flavors were leached out. The chili-lime glaze was good but it didn’t provide enough flavor alone, the meat had to be dipped in the cilantro cream sauce (very good!) that was drizzled on the plate.

Service: We arrived at Ursula’s on a weekday, shortly after they opened and it was already pretty busy.  We were told by the bartender to seat ourselves but there was just one table for two left.  Once we sat ourselves it took at least five minutes before we were greeted by our server, who was not the greatest.  I asked about a couple of items on the menu and quickly suspected that she might be new because she didn’t seem very knowledgeable about it.  It also took much longer than necessary to check on us and refill our tiny water glasses, mostly because the server was the only one visible in the entire place.  It took quite awhile to prepare our food as well.  We ordered our appetizers and our entrees at the same time but it took nearly 30 minutes for the entrees to come once we were finished with the first course.  We were ready to get our bill long before we were presented with it, and then the bartender ended up running our card himself, as he could see we were waiting longer than necessary for our server.
Overall Impression: The food was good but the service wasn’t so great.  I had very high expectations for Ursula’s based on recommendations and other reviews I had read, but my experience fell short.  I think the big draw at Ursula’s is the wide selection of wines, with service being secondary.  I won’t be rushing back anytime soon when there are other better comparable-priced restaurants in the area with far better service.
Ursula's Wine Bar and Cafe on Urbanspoon

Apr 272012
 

Cuisine: Breakfast, Deli, Pizza, Pasta, Pizza-by-the-Slice
Restaurant Features: Counter-Service, Flat Screen TVs, Patio
Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 616 Como Avenue  St Paul, MN 55103 (651) 488-1922
Hours: Mon-Thursday 6:30am-10:30pm *  Friday 6:30-10:30 * Sun 10:30-9:30
Links: John’s Pizza Cafe Website * John’s Pizza Cafe on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: John’s Pizza Cafe is located on the wedge-shaped corner of Como Ave and Dale St in St Paul.  There are two entrances; one in front and one from the patio near the very small parking lot.  The back of the restaurant is where the service counter and kitchen is.  The main dining room has a number of booths as well as tables, live plants and a HUGE (70-80″) Flatscreen TV.

There is a second seating area adjacent to the main dining room that has beautiful natural lighting and live plants.  The tables are smaller but can be arranged to accommodate bigger parties.

There is also an enclosed patio facing Dale Street that has a handful of tables available for outdoor seating.

Menu: Breakfast items at John’s Pizza Cafe include two varieties of Breakfast Pizza9also sold by-the-slice),  English Muffin Egg Sandwich, Egg Sandwich, Omelettes, French Toast, Stuffed French Toast, Pancakes, Yogurt and Granola Parfait, Oatmeal, Caramel Nut Roll, and Cinnamon Roll.

Salads are made fresh throughout the day and include Pear-A-Dise, Garden, Antipasto, Caesar, Grilled Steak, Grilled Chicken, and Taco Salad.

John’s offers and number of fresh-baked Hoagies, all served with chips and pickle spear.  Sandwiches include Philly Hamburger, Works, Chick-A-Dilly, Tex-Mex, Envious Turkey, Turkey Florentine, and John’s Club.

Entrees offered include Spaghetti, Sausage Lasagna, Calzones, Mac-N-Cheese, Sloppy Dogs, Sloppy Meatball, Stromboli and Spaghetti.  Specialty Pastas include Chicken Parmigiano, Linguine Alfredo, Pasta Bolognese, Gnocchi, Pasta Primavera, Three Cheese Ravioli, Sausage Pappardelle, and the Mediterranean.

Pizza is, of course, John’s specialty.  Pies come in 10″, 12″, 14″ and 16″.  Varieties include Create-Your-Own, The Works, The King, Denver, The Hawaiian, Hog in the Bog (brat sausage, wild rice, mushrooms and garlic herb sauce), The Bandito, Chinese Fire Dragon (pepperoni, spicy peppers and pineapple), Mexican Extravaganza, BBQ Chicken or BBQ Pulled Pork, Club, Spicy Caribbean Chicken, Chick-A-Dilly, Reuben, Wisconsin Wonder, Veggie 2000, Meatless Wonder, California Dreamer, Farmer’s Fantasy, Popeye’s Pie, and It’s Not Easy Being Green (artichokes, sun dried tomatoes and basil pesto sauce).

Desserts include Cupcakes, Brownies, Cheesecake, and Cookies.
Price guide: Breakfast $2-7  Hoagies $7  Pizza $9-30 Pizza By Slice $2.50-3.50
What we ordered: I tried a slice of the Pepperoni Deep-Dish, which was great! The crust wasn’t as thick as a traditional Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, but it did have a ton of cheese directly on top of the crust with the sauce just drizzled on top. The piece was quite big and very filling for under $3.50.

I also tried the Chick-a-Dilly Pizza.  This pie starts with the hand-tossed crust topped with a creamy dill sauce ans then mozzarella, red bell pepper, onions, and bite-sized pieces of chicken.  This combination of flavors was delicious, I especially liked the creamy dill sauce which was  a nice change from red sauce.

One of my companions had a slice of the Works, which was topped with Italian sausage, pepperoni,  green pepper, onion, mushroom, and black olive.

My companion also had a slice of Sausage

Another companion ordered a slice of the Hawaiian Pizza, topped with a ton of pineapple tidbits and really good Canadian Bacon.  I need to try this one next time.

Service: I have been to John’s Pizza Cafe a few times now and have had very fast and friendly service each time.  From the hours 10:30-2:30pm they have ten varieties of pizzas that they offer by-the-slice and will get your order ready quickly.
Overall Impression: John’s Pizza Cafe has a large selection of pizzas and hoagies and everything is homemade.  The service is fast and friendly.  This is my new favorite local spot to grab a slice of tasty pizza over the lunch hour.
John's Pizza Cafe on Urbanspoon

Apr 222012
 

Cuisine: Barbeque, Ice Cream
Restaurant Features: On-Site Parking, Patio, Waterfront, Boat Delivery
Location: White Bear Lake, MN
Address: 4441 Lake Avenue South, White Bear Lake, MN 55110   651-493-6763
Hours: Closed Monday and Tuesday  * Wed-Sat  11am-9pm * Sundays 11am-5pm
Links: CG Hooks Barbeque Website * CG Hooks on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: CG Hook is located across the street from Tally’s Dockside on White Bear Lake, in a stand-alone building.  There are a couple of entrances, the front leads you from the parking lot to the ice cream counter, where there are colorful T-Shirts and a giant wooden sculpture of a pig.

The main dining area has a handful of wooden tables and chairs, as well as a sit-up bar fashioned from an old surfboard that looks out the windows.  There is a beach-like feel to the place and overall I thought it was really cute.

Menu: Appetizers include BBQ Slider, Frito Burrito Pie, Barbeque Rib Smackers, and Southern Style Barbeque Pizza.

Salads include House Salad and Hook’s Salad.  Soups offered include Smoked Chicken and Wild Rice and Soup of the Day.

CG Hooks offers a variety of sandwiches including Smoked Ham, Smoked Turkey, Smoked Club, Reuben Panini, Rachel Panini, Brisket Reuben, Raspberry Ham and Brie Panini, BLT Panini, Hot Dog, Chicago Style Dog, Miss Piggy’s Nightmare (hot dog topped with pulled pork and bacon), Grilled Cheese, and Peanut Butter and Jelly.

Barbeques Meats are where its at! Pulled Pork, Pulled Pork topped with Bacon and Swiss, Beef Brisket, Pork Ribs, and Pit Smoked Chicken.

CG Hooks also offers 16 flavors of Chocolate Shoppe Old Fashioned Ice Cream.
Price guide: Appetizers $3-14  Sandwiches $3-8 Barbeque $8-23  Ice Cream $3-5
What we ordered: CG Hooks has a handful of beers of tap, just the right beverage to cool down the spicy barbeque

For my entree I had the Beef Brisket, a moist, tender and slightly marbled beef that had fantastic flavor.  There are two types of homemade barbeque, I tried the spicier of the two.  It had great kick to it and the flavor of peppers but when I asked which peppers they were, I was told it was a secret.  Bummer that this barbeque sauce is not yet available to buy.  It was served with three sides: Moist cornbread in the shape of a fish, baked beans and Memphis style coleslaw.  The beans were homemade with a couplf of types of beans and a sweet, savory sauce with the distinct flavors of garlic and brown sugar.  Yum! The coleslaw was Memphis style, which is more vinegary and less creamy than traditional coleslaw.

One of my companions had the Full Rack of Ribs, a huge pile of very meaty, moist ribs that were smoked until the meat was practically falling off the bones.  Served with corn bread, beans and coleslaw.

Another companion had the Pulled Pork Sandwich, a big pile of tender moist pork on a fresh bun. Looked great!

Another companion had the Smoked Turkey Sandwich.  The smoked turkey had good flavor but was slightly dry.  It was served on white bread with lettuce and tomato.  This wasn’t bad, just the least exciting of all the things we ordered.

Less than a week after my first visit I went back to CG Hooks and tried the Chicago Dog.  It was everything a perfect Chicago Dog should be: all-beef hot dog with a nice skin on it, topped with tomato, pickle spear, onions, relish and mustard served on a poppy seed bun.

I also tried a small dish of old fashioned ice cream. CG Hooks uses Chocolate Shoppe ice cream and has a selection of 16 flavors at all times.  I couldn’t resist the Fat Elvis, which was banana ice cream with chunks of peanut butter and dark chocolate.  Delish!

Service: The staff at CG Hooks are very friendly.  On both of our visits we were able to get a table and order as soon as we were ready.  The food is prepared reasonably fast and staff is very friendly.  On one of our visits we met the owner who came over to chat with us and see how we liked everything.  That is always a nice gesture in my book :)
Overall Impression: CG Hooks is a hidden gem on White Bear Lake, open year round.  It is the perfect place to order your favorite barbequed meats and old fashioned ice creams.  They also offer boat delivery to Tally’s Dockside.
C.G. Hooks on Urbanspoon

Apr 152012
 

Cuisine: American, Pizza, Pasta
Restaurant Features: Bar, Flat Panel TVs, On-Site Parking, Patio Dining
Locations: Apple Valley, Blaine, Eagan, Minnetonka, Plymouth, Roseville, Uptown, St Cloud, Duluth
Addresses and Maps:
Apple Valley ~ 14998 Glazier Ave Apple Valley, MN 55124 (952) 891-4600
Blaine~ 198 Northtown Dr Blaine, MN 55434 (763) 783-3414
Duluth ~ 327 Lake Avenue South  Duluth, MN 55802 (218) 720-2966
Eagan ~ 1312 Town Centre Dr Eagan, MN 55123 (651) 688-0882
Eden Prairie ~ 12300 Singletree Lane Suite 100 Eden Prairie, MN 55344 (952) 946-1400
Minnetonka ~ 17790 Highway 7 Minnetonka, MN 55345 (952) 401-0030
Plymouth ~ 3505 Vicksburg Lane  Plymouth, MN 55447 (763) 744-1221
Roseville ~ 2100 N Snelling Ave Roseville, MN 55113 (651) 639-0303
St Cloud ~ 4040 2nd Street South St Cloud, MN 56301 (320) 259-1103
Uptown ~ 2841 Hennepin Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55408 (612) 870-1918

Hours: Daily 11am-2am (food until 1am)
Links: Old Chicago Website * Old Chicago on Facebook

Atmosphere: The Roseville location of Old Chicago is located at Har Mar Mall,  facing Snelling Avenue.  The restaurant space has both tables and booths that are arranged to break up the space into smaller areas.  There are flat screen TVs tuned on to sports, as well as neon beer signs all over the restaurant and bar area.  There aren’t a whole lot of windows.

The Bar Area is adjacent to the dining area, just to the left of the main entrance.  Old Chicago is known for all the beers they carry; at least 30 on tap!  The Roseville location also has a large patio area facing Snelling Avenue.

Menu: Appetizers include Spicy Spinach Dip, Sampler Platter, Italian Nachos, Artichoke Dip, Nachos Grande, Chicken Tenders, Garlic Cheese Bread, Sicilian Pepperoni Rolls, Wings, and Mozzarella Sticks.

Small Plates include Mini Italian Meatballs, Mediterranean salad, Fried Spicy Pickles, Fried Mac N’ Cheese, and Tomato & Mozzarella Caprese.

Old Chicago also has Salads such as the Roasted Chicken Salad, Asian Chicken Salad, Harvest Salad with Balsamic Chicken, Classic Chicken Caesar, Mediterranean Salad, Crispy Chicken Salad, and House Salad.  Soups include Beef Chili and Potato Chowder.

Sandwiches and Burgers come with fries or coleslaw.  Options include Chicago Stromboli, Italian Sausage Stromboli, Classic Italian Melt, Spicy Chicago Beef, Prosciutto with Lettuce and Tomato, California Chicken Sandwich, Classic Club, and Chicken Wrap.  Burgers include Old Chicago Cheeseburgers, Guacamole Burger, and Bacon Cheeseburger.

Pasta options at Old C are Lasagna, Meatballs and Spaghetti, Chicken Alfredo, Chicken Mac N Cheese, and Classic Spaghetti.

You can also order Entrees such as Shrimp Basket, Fish & Chips, Crispy Chicken Tenders, Fisherman’s Catch, 8 oz Sirloin, and Grilled Sirloin with Shrimp.

Old Chicago is famous for their Pizzas which come with either Classic New York Style Crust, Deep Dish Chicago-Style, and Artisan Style.  Artisan options are Three Cheese with Tomato and Pepperoni, Proscuitto and Mushroom, and Roasted Chicken Pesto.  Specialty pizzas include “Chicago Seven”, Double Deckeroni, Meat Me, The Classic, Hawaiian, Thai Pie, Vegetarian Seven, and Malibu Veggie.

Old Chicago serves a variety of Calzones in addition to their famous Pizzas, including Italian Grinder, Monterey Chicken, Famous “Chicago Seven”, Meat Me, Spinach Artichoke, and Build Your Own.

Desserts offered include Famous Big Cookie, Little Big Cookie, Homemade Cheesecake, and Turtle Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream.
Price guide: Appetizers $3-10  Sandwiches $9-10  Entrees $8-16
Late Night Happy Hour: 9pm-Midnight

  • $1 off all pints, mini one-topping pizzas
  • $2 Miller Lite Pints and Grainbelt Nordeast pints
  • $3 Surly pints, wells, and house wines
  • $4 Sicilian Pepperoni Rolls
  • $5 Artichoke Dip, Italian Nachos and Nachos Grande
  • $.50 Wings (only on Wednesdays, min 4 per order)
    (all late night food specials require a minimum beverage purchase per person)

What we ordered: A couple of us ordered The Classic to share. I have had the pizza at Old Chicago many years earlier and I didn’t remember it standing out, so I had the preconceived notion that I wasn’t going to like it.  I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was, as was my companion.  We got the deep-dish crust that was about an inch thick with a crispy, dense crust.  Unlike most Chicago-style pizzas, the sauce on this pizza was under the cheese, rather than on top, yet it was still crispy.  It was topped with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms and garlic.  Very good, I would definitely order this again.

One of my companions ordered the Spicy Chicago Beef sandwich which was an excellent choice.  This sandwich was served hot with a pile of tender, sliced roast beef, melted provolone cheese, spicy homemade pepper giardiniera and sweet red pepper mayo.  Served with french fries. It was so good that when I tried a bite, I ended up eating the entire half ;)

Another companion ordered the Fish and Chips.  The order came with four strips of fried cod, salt and vinegar fries, coleslaw and  a tangy tartar sauce.  The fish was very crispy but the fish within was hot and tasty.

Service: We arrived for a late dinner and the restaurant was still fairly busy.  Our server was attentive and our food was prepared in the appropriate amount of time for what we ordered (deep dish pizzas take a little longer).
Overall Impression: Old Chicago is a laid-back place to get a good pizza, sandwich or burger and a large selection of beers.  Yes, it is a big chain restaurant but the food is consistently good.
Old Chicago on Urbanspoon

Mar 132012
 

Cuisine: American, Bar & Grill, Breakfast
Restaurant Features: Bar, Kids Menu, On-Site Parking, Patio
Location: New Prague, MN
Address: 200 County Road 37 New Prague, MN 5607 (952) 758-8734
Hours: Mon 11am-8pm * Tues 1pm-4pm * Wed-Fri 11am-11pm * Sat – Sun 11am – 10pm

Links: Fishtale Grill Website * Fishtale Grill on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Located on County Rd 37 in New Prague, a giant metal fish statue near the main road beckons visitors to The Fishtale Grill .  The restaurant itself is a large, log building with vaulted peaks and large skylights.  The interior is rustic, with a collection of different northwoods and fishing-themed decor.

Menu: Breakfast items at Fishtale Grill include Buttermilk Pancakes, Homemade Waffles, French Toast, Oatmeal, Cinnamon or Caramel Roll, Apple , Prune or Poppy Kolacky, Ham, Bacon, Sausage, Wild Rice Sausage, Walleye, and Sirloin.  There are several combination plates as well as a handful of classic omelettes including Everything, Country, Denver and Veggie Omelette.

Appetizers include Artichoke Spinach Dip, Nachos, Cheese Quesadillas, Buffalo, Thai, Honey BBQ, Caribbean jerk, Teriyaki or Plain Chicken Wings, Onion Rings and Mozzarella Sticks.

Fishtale Grill also offers Chili, a Soup du Jour and a handful of sandwiches such as Caesar, Chef, Barbecue Chicken Chopped, Chicken Oriental, and Taco Salad.

Sandwiches come with french fries and include Turkey Bacon Ranch Wrap, French Dip, Cod Fillet, Reuben, Rachel, Tuna Melt, Chicken Breast, Turkey Club with Cheese, Walleye, BLT,  Tom Turkey Melt and Deluxe Grilled Cheese. Burgers are 1/2 lb and also include fries. Selections include Lake Superior Burger (bacon & cheese), Gunflint Trail (mushroom and swiss), or Lake of the Woods Burger (bacon, cheese and BBQ).

The Entrees at Fishtale Grill inlcude Walleye Filet, Broasted Chicken, Shrimp, Broiled Salmon Filet, BBQ Ribs, Spaghetti with Meatballs, Chicken Alfredo, Southwestern Penne Pasta, 14oz Ribeye, 6oz Sirloin,  and 10oz Hamburger Steak.  Also available are Basket Dinners: Chicken Strips, Chicken Drummies, Walleye Strips, and Popcorn Shrimpo

Dessert selections include Turtle Cheesecake, Strawberry Cheesecake, Bread Pudding, French Silk Pie, Apple Pie, Jumbo Cookie, Ice Cream Sundae, and Root Beer Float.

Price guide: Appetizers $7-9 Breakfast $3-10 Salads $8-10  Sandwiches $9-12 Entrees $10-19

What we ordered: We started with a 20oz schooner of Grain Belt Nordeast, an every day value at just $3. Score!

My companion and I were very hungry and debated about getting an appetizer but decided to get a couple of sandwiches and the Prime Rib special to share between us. The Gunflint Trail Burger was delicious! The beef had just the right amount of fat content to make it juicy and flavorful. It had a heaping pile of sauteed mushrooms and Swiss cheese holding them in place on top of the burger.

We also ordered the Walleye Sandwich with Sweet Potato Fries.  This was a long, thick fillet of walleye that was lightly breaded and served on a toasted hoagie roll.  It was just crispy enough to give it a nice crunch but the fish itself was very flaky.  One of the better walleye sandwiches around! We tried it with sweet potato fries which were thin and crispy.

My companion also ordered the Saturday Special, the Ace Prime Rib which came with a Dinner Salad.  The salad was pretty standard but the Thousand Island Dressing was very good and tasted homemade.

The Ace Prime Rib is the biggest size of this tender cut of beef, 20oz, to be exact.  It was served with choice of potato and green beans, my companion opted for the fries and they gave us plenty.  This was a tender cut that had very little fat, considering the size of it.   Quality cut, good flavor and texture, just the way prime rib should be.  The au jus was homemade and hearty and the horseradish had a real nice kick to it.  Overall it exceeded expectations.

We also ordered a Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce for dessert.  This was creamy and smooth yet dense, with the distinct flavor of vanilla.  We could’ve dressed it any way we wanted, we opted for the strawberry sauce.  It was very good, we both enjoyed it.

Service: We arrived near 7pm on a  very busy Saturday night to a full parking lot and a lobby full of waiting guests.  We asked how long the wait was and were told it was ten minutes.  Ten minutes turned into forty five minutes while we patiently waited for a table.  Once we were seated we were greeted by our server within minutes.  She was friendly and had a handful of suggestions from the menu when asked.  Our food took about 15-20 minutes to arrive after we placed our order, which seems fairly quick for how busy it was, but the main dinner rush was nearly over at that point.  The dining room cleared out within a half hour of us being seated
Overall Impression: From the moment we drove into New Prague and saw the giant metal fish along the road, we knew that Fishtale Grill & Bar would be a good place to try and we were spot on with that prediction.  Big portions, very good food.  We enjoyed everything we ordered and would go back again when in the area.  Gets very busy on the weekend, be prepared to wait awhile.
Fishtale Grill on Urbanspoon

Feb 202012
 

Cuisine: Fine Dining, Italian,
Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking, Patio, Seasonal Menu, Water-Front
Location: White Bear Lake, MN
Address: 4453 Lake Avenue South, White Bear Lake, MN 55110

Hours: Tues-Sun 4-10pm
Links: Acqua Website * Acqua on Facebook * Google Map
Atmosphere: Acqua is located on on Lake Avenue, overlooking White Bear Lake, just a block east of Hwy 61.  Making its home in a structure that was originally a house, Acqua is a small and intimate dining destination.  The lighting is dim and there is only room for a handful of tables on the lower level, but each is adorned with white tablecloths and stemware.  One of the best physical features of Acqua is the patio overlooking the lake, open during the warmer seasons.

Menu: The menu at Acqua changes seasonally.  Small Plates currently offered include Calamari, Bruschetta, Pettine e Foie Gras, Polpette (veal and pork meatball), Mitili (mussels), and Carpaccio (beef tenderloin with black truffle horseradish panna cotta).  There is also a selection of Artisan Cheeses.

Soups at Acqua include Lobster Bisque and Crema di Funghi.  Also offered are salads such as Caesar, Fried Goat Cheese with Golden Beets, Field Greens, and Baby Spinach with Apple-Pear Compote.

Entrees include Black Truffle Gnocchi, Butternut Squash Ravioli, Risotto e Pollo, Rack of Lamb, Sea Scallops, Ossobuco di Porco, Ragu alla Bolgnese, Bacon Wrapped Beef Tenderloin, Lobster Tail, Veal Chop, Crab Encrusted Certified Chilean Sea Bass, and Panko Encrusted Walleye.

Side items also offered include Brussel Sprouts, Malt Vinegar Fries, Roasted Asparagus and Black Truffle Risotto.

Acqua also has excellent, desserts such as Smoked Chocolate Souffle Cake with Marshmallow and Graham Cracker Ice Cream, Oreo Semifreddo with Peanut Butter Ganache, Butterscotch Budino with Caramel, Vanilla Crème Brulee, Almond Panna Cotta with Brandied Cherries and Dark Chocolate, and Trio of Izzy’s Ice Cream or Sorbets.

Price guide: Small Plates $9-15  Soup/Salad $8-10  Entrees $18-45 Desserts $7-8
Daily Special:

  • Daily 3 Course Tasting Menu $35
  • First Course (choice of one): Caesar Salad, Cream of Mushroom Soup, Baby Spinach, Roasted Golden Beet Salad, or Field Greens.
  • Main Course (choice of one): Braised Pork Shank, Roasted Chicken, or Panko Encrusted Walleye.
  • Dessert Course (choice of one): Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee, Trio of Izzy’s Ice Cream or Sorbets, Butterscotch Budino with Caramel, Oreo Semifreddo with Peanut Butter Ganache, Almond Panna Cotta with Brandied Cherries and Dark Chocolate, Smoked Chocolate Souffle with Marshmallow and Graham Cracker Ice Cream

What we ordered: We started with a couple of cocktails; I had the Ginger Jameson, made with real ginger and fresh lime.

My companion had the Mojito, which was very good.  The drink was both sugary and tart, the rum was pleasantly noticeable, and it contained several muddled mint leaves and freshly squeezed lime juice.  While this Mojito is good at any time of the year, I can imagine how refreshing it would be in the summer out on the patio, overlooking the lake on a hot summer day.

Mojito at Acqua Restaurant ~ White Bear Lake, MN

We were brought some bread and butter, both were pretty standard but tasty all the same.  The butter was creamy and salty and the bread was thick and crusty.

We then had an order of Calamari, which was battered and fried crispy.  The calamari were cut into wide strips and were on the verge of being chewy however the flavor and texture of the breading was very good.  It was served with a lemon thyme aioli that was both creamy and citrusy; light and refreshing.  Calamari at Acqua Restaurant ~ White Bear Lake, MN

Foie Gras is one item I will not pass up, when given the chance to eat it. The version at Acqua comes seared atop a giant Massachusetts Day Boat Sea Scallop with a  walnut-blueberry chutney and Cabernet reduction.  This variety of scallop is very meaty and tender and well-matched with the melt-in-your-mouth foie gras. The piece of foie gras was slightly thin but was cooked to a beautiful brown on both sides.  The sauce added just the right amount of sweetness and the walnuts provided a nice crunchy contrast.
Scallop and Foie Gras at Acqua Restaurant ~ White Bear Lake, MN

Scallop and Foie Gras at Acqua Restaurant ~ White Bear Lake, MN

My companion ordered the Tasting Menu, which came with the choice of one of a handful starters offered. Everything sounded good but my companion opted for the Cream of Hen-of-the-Woods Mushroom Soup.  This was the best Cream of Mushroom soup that I have had the pleasure of eating.  It was buttery, creamy, and seasoned so nicely, while having the beautiful robust flavor of roasted mushrooms.  It was drizzled with something slightly sweet and was served with Fontina Cheese Crostini. Absolutely delicious!

There were so many tempting choices for entree and our server did a great job explaining each and every one of them.  It was a very tough choice but I decided on the Branzino Crab Encrusted Certified Chilean Sea Bass.  The dish was prepared with a nice meaty slice of sea bass topped with a delicious, crispy crab mixture served on a bed of roasted red potato wedges and steamed broccolini.  The rich and creamy Chili Buerre Blanc sauce pulled the entire dish together perfectly.

My companion had a choice of three different entrees for the Tasting Menu and went with the Pork Ossobucco. You would think that the entree in a tasting menu would be on the smaller side, but this was a full size pork shank.  The port demi-glace sauce was rich and hearty and the meat extremely tender.  It was served with organic white sweet potato puree that was a nice change of pace from the traditional mashed potato.Braised Pork Shank with Port Demi-Glace and Sweet Potato Puree at Acqua Restaurant ~ White Bear lake, MN

We were beyond full at this point but since my companion had a dessert coming with the Tasting Menu, we ordered the Chocolate Souffle with Marshmallow Fluff and Graham Cracker Ice Cream. Every aspect of this dish was delicious; a gourmet spin on the traditional S’More.

Service: Weekend reservations quickly fill up at Acqua, so I wasn’t surprised that I couldn’t get a table until after 9pm with a weeks notice.  Our table was waiting for us when we got there and our server quickly introduced himself and was a real gentleman all evening.  He took his time to explain the menu to us and answered any questions we had about the dishes.  He was attentive but also very respectful of our privacy.  The courses were brought out to us with time in between so that we never felt rushed.
Overall Impression: We had heard great things about Acqua and it certainly lived up to the expectation.  The dishes and cocktails were well executed and the service was impeccable.  Highly recommend the Cream of Mushroom Soup and the Foie Gras.  The Three Course Tasting menu with many options for $35 is an excellent deal.
Acqua Restaurant and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Dec 282011
 

Cuisine: American, Barbeque, Caribbean
Restaurant Features: Bar, Happy Hour, Live Music, On-Site Parking, Patio Dining
Location: Stillwater, MN
Address:  423 Main Street South #A  Stillwater, MN 55082 (651) 439-5375
Hours: (Winter)Mon – Wed:  3pm – 9pm, Thurs:  11:30am – 9pm, Fri:  11:30am – 10pm,  Sat: 11:30am – 10pm Sun 11:30 – 9pm
Links: Smalley’s Barbeque Website * Smalley’s Caribbean on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Smalley’s Caribbean barbeque is located at the south end of Main Street in Stillwater, overlooking the St Croix River.   Once upon a time this location was an Esteban’s Restaurant, but it has definitely undergone a big makeover since.  If the wooden plank floors and knotty pine tables aren’t enough, the occasional model pirate ship and large selection of rums will surely bring the pirate theme to your dining experience.

The Pirate Bar is located in the same Plaza as the Caribbean Barbeque but is accessed through a different doorway at the back.  This is a happening place where Live Music is played most evenings all year long.

Menu: Appetizers at Smalley’s include Sweet Corn Fritters with Rum Butter Sauce, BBQ Shrimp with jalapeno Cornbread, Plantain and Tortilla Chips with Habanero Salsa and Queso, Sweet Potato Fries, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Shrimp Cocktail.

Salads include Ice Berg Wedge with Bleu Cheese and Pepper Bacon, Caesar, and Ginger-Jicama Slaw.  Chicken or shrimp can be added to any salad.

Sandwiches include Barbeque Pulled Pork, Pulled Smoked Chicken, Jerk Chicken Breast Sandwich, Clam Po’ Boy, and Carolina BBQ Pork Sandwich.  Jerk Tacos are also available with either Jerk Pork or Jerk Shrimp.

Barbeque entrees at Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque include Pork Spare Ribs, Smoked Beef Brisket, Roasted Pork Shoulder, Shrimp Skewers, and Jerk Ahi Tuna.

Sides offered include Fire Roasted Pork and Beans, Grilled Curried Veggies, Black Beans and Rice, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Creamy Coleslaw, Potato Salad with Bacon and Egg, Mac & Cheddar, and Beer Battered Plank Fries.

Desserts include Pecan Pie with Homemade Ice Cream, Coconut Flan with Rum Caramel, Key Lime Pie, and Drunken Chocolate Cake.

Price guide: Appetizers $6-11  Sandwiches $10-12  Entrees $12-20

Happy Hour: Sun-Mon:All Day Tues-Thurs:3-6pm & 9-11pm, Fri:3-6pm & 10- 12am, Sat:10pm-12am
What we ordered: We started with a couple of cocktails; I ordered the Sunsplash.  Just as it appears on the photo, it was a girly, fruity drink with rum and orange juice and a bit of cointreau.  Tastes just as good in the winter as the summer!

My companion ordered the Bloody Mary which was quite spicy (horseradish, hot sauce) but delicious.  It was served with a giant slice of thick cut bacon and giant olives.  It was served with a sidecar which was needed to cool the spice.

We started with the BBQ Shrimp, which is a complete misnomer for the dish we received, but we loved it all the same.  The sauce for these shrimp did not taste nor resemble a traditional barbeque because it was made with butter and rum and was slightly sweet and spicy from some type of chili peppers cooked into the sauce.  There were about eight shrimp in the order and it came with a wedge of cornbread with jalapenos baked right in.

For my entree I ordered the Beef Brisket which came with my choice of two sides.  The brisket was moist and delicious, smoked with authentic  Jamaican Pimento wood even more so with each of the house-made barbeque sauces.  The two sides I chose were the Potato Salad and the Mac & Cheddar, both of which were quite good.  The Potato Salad was especially delicious, with large chunks of hardboiled eggs and several crumbles  of crispy bacon.  It was cool and refreshing after a bite of barbeque with the Scotchie Sauce which is extra spicy.  The Mac & Cheddar came with an optional topping of spicy green chiles and bacon which made it spicy.  The noodles were flavorful but the sauce was already kind of pasty instead of creamy.

Smalley’s makes its own sauces and there are four to choose from including  Scotchies Sauce which is a very spicy Jerk sauce, the House-Made Barbaque, and 3 Dives Mild Jerk Sauce.

My companion ordered the Clam Po’ Boy, which was a delicious, giant sandwich layered with crispy golden fried clam strips, house-made pickles, thinly sliced red onion, bacon slaw and mayonnaise served on a grilled brioche bun.  This sandwich came with one side, so my companion ordered the beer-battered plank fries.  I ate almost half of this because I liked it so much! The just-pickled cucumber slices were the perfect touch with the bacon slaw.

Service: We sat ourselves as the sign indicated, and were greeted by our server about five minutes later.  Our server was friendly and had many great suggestions from the menu.  Food and drinks seemed to take some time but we were not in a hurry so we enjoyed the time while we waited.
Overall Impression: I was very happy to have discovered Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque, the food and drinks were both wonderful and the service was also pretty good.  The Pirate Bar is a pretty cool place to have a cocktail and listen to live music.

Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque and Pirate Bar on Urbanspoon