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.

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

Oct 222011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aug 252011

*******Murasaki is now CLOSED************

Cuisine: Japanese, Sushi, Teppanyaki
Restaurant Features: Beer, Wine, On-Site Parking
Location: Stillwater, MN
Address: 1491 Stillwater Blvd N Stillwater, MN 55082  (651) 439-1376
Hours: Closed Mondays * Tues-Thurs 5-9pm * Fri-Sat 4:30-9:30pm  * Sun 4:30-8pm
Links: Murasaki Website * Google Map

Atmosphere: Murasaki is located in a strip mall on Stillwater Blvd, just off Hwy 36.  The restaurant is split into two distinct areas, one area for Teppanyaki , and one with the sushi bar.  The Sushi Bar seats about eight people, and then there are a handful of other tables for dining.  It is simply but stylishly decorated, with cool green paint and Japanese screens covering the windows and walls.

Menu:  Nigiri/Sashimi offered at Murasaki includes Maguro (tuna), Hamachi (yelowtail), Sake (salmon), Smoked Salmon, Hirame (Fliunder), Tai (snapper), Saba (mackerel), Ika (squid), Ebi (cooked shrimp), Unagi (cooked freshwater eel), Anago (cooked saltwater eel), Amaebi (sweet raw shrimp), Tamago (sweet egg omelet), Kani (crab), Hotategi (scallop), Hokkigai (surf clam), Tako (octopus), Masago (smelt roe), Uni (sea urchin), Tobiko (flying fish roe), Wasabi Masago, Ikura (salmon roe), Spicy Scallop, Suzuki (striped bass), and Inari (deep fried tofu).

Specialty Rolls include Spicy Tuna, Spicy Salmon, Salmon Skin, Caterpillar (eel, cucumber), Number Nine Roll (shrimp tempura, salmon, avocado), Philly Roll (salmon, cucumber, cream cheese), Murasaki (tuna, salmon and yellow tail), Crunchy Spicy Salmon, Rainbow Roll (crab, cucumber, avocado), Shrimp tempura Roll, Dynamite Roll (yellowtail, jalapeno), Spider Roll (fried soft shell crab), Dragon Roll (shrimp tempura, eel, avocado), Red Dragon Roll (shrimp tempura, tuna).

Cold Appetizers include Kaiso Salad, Go Mae, Tuna Tataki, Beef Tataki, Kani Su, Ika Sansai, Ika Miso, Tako Su, Ebi Su, Hiya Yako, Oshinko Pickles.

Hot Appetizers include Shrimp Shumai, Wasabi Pork Shumai, Edamame, Shrimp Tempura, Vegetable Tempura, Yaki Tori, Beef Kushi Yaki, Soft Shell Crab, Kai Bai Shra Age, Pan Fried Ika, Grilled Ika, Grilled Ika, Spicy Broiled Mussels, Age Dashi Tofu.

Dinner Entrees include Teriyaki (beef, chicken or salmon), Tempura (shrimp, seafood, chicken, vegetable), and Katsu (pork, chicken or shrimp). Bento Box options include Murasaki (pork katsu, steak teriyaki and tempura), Seafood (salmon teriyaki, shrimp tempura, sashimi), and Vegetable.

Hot Pot Dishes at Murasaki include Sukiyaki, Yose Nabe, and Nabe Yaki Udon.

Desserts include Tempura Ice Cream, Japanese Ice Cream and Vanilla Ice Cream.

Price guide: Sashimi $5-10/order Sushi Rolls $9-16

What we ordered: We started with an order of Calamari. These giant, tender pieces of calamari were so big you could almost mistake it for fish, it was cooked perfectly so that the calamari had the right texture and the panko was golden brown. It was served with a creamy dipping sauce.Calamari at Murasaki Japanese ~ Stillwater, MN

We also tried the Korean BBQ Short Ribs.  The taste of these ribs was sweet and the meat was tender…. what little meat there was, that is.  The ribs were very small and had more fat than meat, we both decided these are more work than they’re worth.

Our Sushi Chef also gave us bowl of Kaiso Salad to eat while our sushi was being prepared. Made with seaweed, shredded cucumber and carrots in a sweet sesame vinaigrette sauce.  Very light.

We ate a lot of sushi and fish at Murasaki. First up was the Hamachi and Hokkigai Sashimi.  Hamachi, also known as yellow tail, is my favorite fish to eat raw.  Murasaki served us some of the best hamachi either of us has ever eaten.  The slices were giant and cut to perfection because it was incredibly smooth and tender, none of that stringiness that raw fish sometimes has, it practically melted in my mouth.  It tasted fresh and wonderful as well, without any hint of fishiness.  The Hokkigai (surf clam) was also very fresh.

The first roll we tried was the Crunchy Spicy Tuna.  This roll had tuna covered with spicy mayo, then paired with cucumber.  The roll was covered with crunchy panko flakes then drizzled with unagi sauce and spicy mayo.  Very good, I really enjoy spicy tuna and the crunch just gives it the extra oomph.

We ordered another specialty roll, the Vegas Roll.  This roll had salmon, cream cheese and cucumber, fried in tempura batter and hen topped with slice of jalapeno, spicy mayo and sriracha. This roll had just a little kick to it, which was offset by the smooth, cream cheese.

We had some of more of the delicious hamachi in a simple roll.  Delish!

We couldn’t pass up on the Murasaki Roll, a fine roll with salmon, tuna, hamachi and tobiko, wrapped in rice then covered with panko flakes, spicy mayo and unagi sauce. This roll was also great, I loved the combo of flavors of smooth fish with the contrasting texture of the crunchy panko flakes and flying fish eggs.

Last but certainly not least, as it was my favorite of all the rolls we tried, was the Red Dragon roll. This roll had shrimp tempura, then rolled with rice which was then topped with tuna, avocado, spicy mayo and unagi sauce.

Service: We didn’t have a reservation and knowing that Murasaki gets busy on the weekend,  we made sure to arrive shortly after they opened on a Saturday night.  There were a few tables available, as well as many seats at the sushi bar, so we opted to sit at the sushi bar.  We had a server checking on us throughout the night to refill our drinks, but most of our interaction was with the Sushi Chef.  As the restaurant started to quickly fill up, the sushi chef served most of our rolls one at a time, giving himself time to fill other sushi orders.  The whole dinner process took awhile because we ordered so much food, but we enjoyed every minute.

Overall Impression: Murasaki was one of the best sushi experiences I have had in the Twin Cities.  It may be located in a  strip mall but don’t discredit it, definitely worth the drive out to Stillwater for some top quality sushi.
Sushi Murasaki on Urbanspoon
Sushi Murasaki Reviews in Stillwater

Jun 212011

Cuisine: American, Fish & Seafood
Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking
Location: Stillwater, MN
Address: 145 New England Place  Stillwater, MN 55082  651-342-1472
Hours: Sun-Thurs 11am-9pm  Fri-Sat 11am-10pm
Links: Patriot’s Tavern Website * Patriots Tavern on Facebook

Atmosphere: Patriot’s Tavern is a colonial New England restaurant located in Liberty Village, at the southeast corner of Hwy 12 and Hwy 15 (Manning).  Liberty Village is certainly a throwback to the colonial days; I felt like I was on the set of a movie!  Patriot’s Tavern is located in a building that looks like a colonial manor, the neighboring buildings all have a similar motif.

Inside the restaurant there is a mix of tables and booths, some colonial artifacts hanging on the walls.  While it didn’t remind me of any old taverns that I have been to in Boston, Patriot’s Tavern is a clean and cozy little place .

The bar is located just inside the main entrance, with some seating at the bar as well as a few tables.

Menu: Appetizers at Patriot’s Tavern include White Cheddar and Onion Dip, Maryland Crab Cakes, Pommes Frites, Glazed Chicken Wings, Oysters Rockefeller, Conch Fritters, Spinach and Crab Dip, and Onion Rings.

Patriot’s Tavern is also known for the plethora of Dipping Sauces.  $.50 each or 3/$1.  Options include Horseradish,  Papaya Habenero, Roasted Tomato Mayo, Avacado Ranch, Truffle Mayo, Lemon Dill Mayo, Barbecue, Bleu Cheese, Cranberry Mustard, Cheddar Cheese, Red Curry Ketchup, Balsamic Mayo, Thai Chili Aioli, Dijon Mustard, Honey Mustard, Peanut Satay, Wasabi Mayo, Gunpowder Aioli and Frite Sauce.

Soups include New England Clam Chowder and Peanut Soup.  Salad options include Classic Cobb, Poached Lobster, Iceberg Wedge, and Green Apple Salad.

Burgers and Sandwiches include Patriot’s Burger (bacon cheddar), Haystack (fried onions and peppers, hash and fried egg), Firecracker (jalapeno bacon, pepperjack, habanero aioli), Spanish (avocado, cilantro mayo), Paris (brie and smoked portabello), Fungi (mushrooms, caramelized onions and bleu cheese), Ale Potted Beef (with cheddar on ciabatta), Maine Style Lobster Roll, Classic Reuben, Tavern Steak Melt, Beer Battered Cod, and Oyster Po’ Boy.

Wood Fired Pizza offerings include Margherita, Tartufo (garlic-cream, cheese, fried potatoes, mushrooms, scallions, truffle oil, and balsamic), Rocket BLT (four cheese, marinara, jalepeno bacon, teardrop tomatoes, garlic, and arugula), Italian Combo, French Quarter (andouille sausage, cajun shrimp, tomato, corn, bell pepper and onion), White Clam Pie (garlic cream, bacon, four cheese, clams, and fried potatoes), BBQ Chicken, Fig & Bleu, Chicken Florentine and Plain Jane.

Patriot’s Tavern’s selection of Entrees include Liberty Ribs, Southern Fried Chicken, Ale Potted Beef Skillet, Charbroiled Lobster, Dingle Fish Pie, Revere’s Ribeye, Jumbo Shrimp, Scallops Newberg, Fish & Chips, Lobster Mac & Cheese, Filet Oscar and Grilled Salmon.

Desserts offered include Boston Cream Pie, Decadent Brownie Tower, Pecan Pie, Strawberry Shortcake, and Peach Cobbler.
Price guide: Appetizers $  Sandwiches/Burgers $ Entrees $12-26

What we ordered: We started with an order of Conch Fritters.  These were savory little doughnuts that had been fried to an appealing caramel color.  The inside was soft and dense with the subtle flavor of conch finely blended in.

Patriot’s Tavern has a long list of sauces for dipping. You can get 3 sauces for $1 so we tried Papaya Habenero,  Avocado Ranch, and Lemon Aioli.  All three were very good, but I think I liked the Avocado Ranch the best.

We also tried the Spinach and Crab Dip, which was extremely delicious.  It was rich, creamy and savory with a blend of cheeses, fresh spinach, onion, and succulent crab.  It was served with freshly baked parmesan flatbread.  Awesome dip, a must-order from now on.

There were many items on the menu that sounded really good but the Lobster Mac and Cheese really caught my eye and I knew that we would be ordering it one way or the other.  When recalling this wonderful dish, I am transported to a place of pure bliss.  The spiral macaroni noodles swam in a rich, parmesan cheddar cheese sauce and were cooked with just the proper amount of firmness.  What was more amazing as that there were just as many bites of lobster in the dish as noodles.  I kid you not, this was lobster heaven!  Two big pieces dress the top as well as all of the big bites mixed in with the noodles. The top of the dish was sprinkled with panko, giving it just a subtle, satisfying crunch.  I have thought about this dish too many times since my visit, I will be eating this again very soon.

My companion ordered the Lobster Roll, a perfect choice for a hot summer day.  The lobster salad was served Maine-style with chilled lobster meat mixed with creamy mayo, celery, and green onions sandwiched between a buttery, toasted hot-dog-style buns.  This was excellent, we both enjoyed it very much but at $14 I was surprised that it didn’t come with either chips or french fries, as is customary.

Service: We had very good service at Patriot’s Tavern.  The server had great suggestions from the  menu and was on top of  drink refills.  We waited patiently during the reasonable amount of time it took for our food to be prepared from scratch.

Overall Impression: Everything we ate was top-notch; the Lobster Mac & Cheese especially made a big impression on me.  The service was very good and the atmosphere was very casual.  I look forward to eating at Patriot’s Tavern again and would like try their Burgers and Fish & Chips sometime.

Patriot's Tavern on Urbanspoon

Leo’s Grill & Malt Shop ~ Stillwater, MN

 American, Ice Cream, Stillwater, Take-Out Window  Comments Off on Leo’s Grill & Malt Shop ~ Stillwater, MN
Apr 302011

Cuisine: American, Burgers, Ice Cream
Restaurant Features: Take-Out Window
Location: Stillwater, MN
Address: 131 Main Street S Stillwater, MN 55082 651-351-3943
Hours: Daily 11am-8pm (9pm in summer)
Links: Leo’s Malt Shop Website * Leo’s Malts on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Leo’s Grill and Malt Shop is located in downtown Stillwater, on Main St.  Both the interior and exterior of Leo’s has a classic look and is a throwback to the 50’s.  There is a walk-up window outside where customers wanting ice cream can place and pick up their treats.

Menu: Appetizers at Leo’s include French Fries, Cheese Curds, Kettle Chips, Waffle Fries, Chili Cheese Waffle Fries, Pizza Rolls, Mini Corn Dogs and Onion Rings.

Leo’s also offers salads, including Asian Chicken, Cobb, Garden, Grilled Chicken.  Soups include Chili and a Soup du Jour.

Leos’s is well known for the burgers, all are 1/3lb and come with kettle chips or can be upgraded to fries, waffles fries or onion rings for an additional charge.  Options include Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Bacon Cheddar, Blackened Blue,  Mushroom Swiss, Chili Cheeseburger, Big Daddy (doubled patties), Muchos Leo’s (with jalapenos presses into the meat Leo’s Melt, and Patty Melt.  Leo also offers a burger challenge: eat a 1 lb burger with meat, onions and cheese in less than 20 minutes and get a free t-shirt.

Hot Dog and Chicken Finger Baskets with Fries are also offered.

Hot Specialty Sandwiches include B.L.T., Clubhouse, Cod Filet, French Dip, Grilled Cheese Deluxe, Turkey Melt, Cowboy Chicken, Reuben, Philly Cheese Steak, Ham and Cheddar Melt, Tuna Melt, and Chicken Tender Club.  Cold Sandwiches include Turkey, Corned Beef, Ham, Cream Cheese Cucumber, Roast Beef, Tuna Salad and Egg Salad.  All sandwiches come with kettle chips.

Leo’s has a large selection of ice cream treats such as Sundae, Malts, Shakes, and Hand Dipped Cones.  Specialty Sundaes include Turtle, Caramel Cashew, Muddy Banana, Chocolate Almond Fudge, and Classic Banana Split.

Price guide: Appetizers $3-7  Salads $6-9  Burgers $7-9  Sandwiches $7-10

What we ordered: My companion and I had already eaten dinner elsewhere, so we decided to split a Strawberry Malt, which was served in two small paper cups.  The malt was very good, it had plenty of strawberry chunks as well as  rich malt powder blended in, too thick to sip through a straw.  It was topped with whipped cream, making it extra creamy

Service: We didn’t have to wait long at the Take-Out Window before placing our order and our malts were ready in about 3-4 minutes.
Overall Impression: The malts were great and I am sure the burgers are too.  I will be back again to have a burger and onion rings in addition to another ice cream treat!

Leo's Grill & Malt Shop on Urbanspoon

Apr 172011

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

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

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

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

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

Salads include House, Caesar, and Southwest.

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

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

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

Happy Hour:
  • Monday-Thursday 3-6pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rafters Food & Spirits on Urbanspoon

Dec 302010

Cuisine: German/Bavarian, Dessert
Restaurant Features: Banquet, Bar, Live Music, On-Site Parking
Location: Stillwater, MN
Address: 8390 Lofton Avenue  Stillwater, MN 55082   651-439-7128
Hours: Mon-Friday: 11a.m.-9p.m.  Sat- 12pm-9p.m. Sun- 12pm-8p.m.
Links: Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter Website *  Gasthaus Facebook Page *  Google Map

Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter Sign

Atmosphere: The Gasthaus is a family-owned restaurant tucked away in the woods and rolling hills on private property in rural Stillwater. There is no mistaking this restaurant as anything other than traditional German/Bavarian. All staff wear traditional German attire and if you visit on a Sunday afternoon, you can listen to live accordian music. Inside you will find evidence of the Bavarian Hunter theme, complete with mounted antlered animals adorning the entry and antler-shaped chandeliers throughout the dining room and bar areas.  The restaurant has several different seating areas, all of which are on the smaller side and packed with customers, so it can get a little noisy.

Menu: Appetizers at Gasthaus include  Bavarian Hors D’oeuvres Tray, Schnitzel Sampler, Sausage Sampler, Chicken Tenders, Veggie Plate, Smoked Liver Paté, Herring prepared a variety of ways, Bavarian Assorted Cheese Plate, Warmed Brie Cheese, and Fried Bread Dumplings.

Salad options include Bavarian Mixed Salad, Chef Salad and Fresh Spinach Salad.  Soups served are the Goulasch, Bavarian Liver Dumpling and a Soup of the Day.

Schnitzels are served with mashed potatoes or potato dumplings and include: Wiener Schnitzel (“Vienna Style” golden brown breaded pork cutlets), Jagerschnitzel, Rahm Schnitzel, Schnitzel “A La Holstein”, Puten Schnitzel, and Rahm Puten Schnitzel (breaded chicken).

Gasthaus Pork entrees include Schweinsbraten, Schweinshaxe (pork hock), Bayerische Ripperl (smoked pork chops smothered in sauerkraut), and Bavarian Smoked Ribs.  Beef Entrees include Rouladen (beef roll-ups), Sauerbraten (marinated beef roast), Rostbraten and Lamb Shank..

The Gasthaus is the right place to come for authentic German Wurst/Sausages, including Bratwurst, Knackwurst, Metwurst, and Weisswurst.

Gasthaus also serves Walleye fillets and a Vegetable Casserole.

Dessert options include German Chocolate Cake, Apple Streusel Cheesecake

Price guide: Appetizers $6-9  Entrees $14-20

Weekly Specials:

  • Monday: Black Forest Schnitzel- Wiener Schnitzel topped with sautéed bacon, shallots, mushrooms, garlic, Leeks and Asbach Brandy. Served with potato and vegetable of the day.
  • Tuesday: Chicken Schnitzel a la Oscar- Chicken schnitzel or Weiner Schnitzel topped with crabmeat, asparagus and Hollandaise sauce served with potato of the day.
  • Wednesday: Schnitzel Gruyere- Wiener schnitzel topped with sauteed Portabella mushrooms, roma tomatoes and shredded Gruyere cheese. Served with späzel and red cabbage.
  • Thursday: Schnitzel Cordon Bleu- Wiener schnitzel stuffed with smoked ham and Swiss cheese, topped with hollandaise. Served with potato and vegetable of the day.
  • Friday: Bavarian Pork Rouladen- Pork tenderloin stuffed with sautéed mushrooms, bacon, onion and spinach. Topped with mustard gravy and served with spaetzel and red cabbage.
  • Saturday and Sunday: Chef’s Choice
  • What we ordered: My companion and I started with a sampler of German Beers (Spaten Oktoberfest, Sunner, Hefe-Weizen, ?). Great way to try many beers!

    We were  served this complimentary basket of rye breads while we waited for our entrees.  There were two varieties of bread, one a darker pumpernickel and the other a lighter rye with caraway seeds.  Both delicious!

    All entrees come with side salad or cup of soup. I chose the soup of the day, a Pork Sausage and Bean Soup.  This was a hearty soup in a vegetable-based broth with tons of flavor.

    The Bavarian platter is the perfect dish if you would like to try a few of Gasthaus’s specialties. Included are the Jager Schnitzel (breaded pork cutlet covered with mushroom sauce) Rahm Puten Schnitzel (breaded chicken breast covered with sour cream-based sauce), Knackworst (beef sausage with garlic seasoning) and potato dumplings. I thought the Jager schnitzel was very good- The dark mushroom sauce seemed somewhat upappealing to the eye, but had a very mild flavor that perfectly complimented the pork. I enjoyed the flavor of the knackworst and although it was boiled in the German way, I prefer my sausages cooked crispy on the grill. The flavor of the potato dumpling was good, but I did not care for the texture. Next time I would order mashed potatoes or the spaetzel instead. The Rahm Puten schnitzel was my favorite. The sauce that covered the chicken was very mild and creamy, yet the chicken stayed somewhat crispy.

    My companion ordered the Jagerschnitzel, a large serving of  breaded pork cutlets swimming in the hearty mushroom sauce, served with potato dumplings and red pickled cabbage.  A perfect winter meal!

    For dessert we shared the Apple Streusel Cheesecake .  This dessert was very small but tasted incredible. At the base was a small, light and creamy cheesecake that was blended with apple pieces then covered with a streusel pastry and drizzled with a butterscotch topping.  Small but satisfying and absolutely delicious!

    Service: We were very lucky on a busy Saturday night to get a table without a reservation (fortunately for us there was a no-show).  Walk-Ins are accepted but there may be a long wait on the weekends without a reservation.  The host was happy to try to accommodate us and the staff was friendly throughout the evening. Food and drinks were served in a reasonable amount of time.

    Overall Impression: The Gasthaus is a wonderful spot to go if you would like to try good German/Bavarian food.  The country location and the atmosphere both inside and out transport you to a different time and place.

    Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter on Urbanspoon