Jun 022012
 

Boating season is upon us!

I wanted to point out Tally’s Dockside on White Bear Lake in case you’re unfamiliar with this long-time local business.

4440 Lake Avenue South   White Bear Lake, MN 55110  651-429-2633

Tally’s offers boat rentals, bait, fishing licenses, and refreshments.

2012 Rental Rates

Inside the little building there is a bar fashioned out of a beautiful retired wooden boat.  There are several beers on tap which can be enjoyed out on the deck overlooking the lake.

One of the best features of Tally’s Dockside is that it is across the street and owned by the same people as  CG Hooks Eatery and they offer the entire menu at Tally’s with mouth-watering barbeque like this Beef Brisket.

Eating barbeque or ice cream from CG Hooks while gazing out of White Bear Lake? Yes, please, I don’t mind if I do.

They also have gorgeous sunrises at Tally’s like this one I captured one morning a few months back.  It was so beautiful I had to share ;)

 

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 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

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

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

Jul 212011
 

Cuisine: American, Pizza
Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking, Waterfront
Location: Northeast Minneapolis, MN
Address: 1900 Marshall Street Minneapolis, MN 55418  612-788-9069
Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-2am  Sat-Sun 10am-2am
Links: Psycho Suzi’s Website * Psycho Suzi’s on Facebook * Google Map
Atmosphere: Psycho Suzi’s is now located in its second home, in the space that was formerly Gabby’s (Marshall Street in Northeast Mpls).  The main draw to Psycho Suzi’s is the Tiki-themed patio overlooking the Mississippi River, a very popular place in the summer.  My first impression of Psycho Suzi’s was that it reminded me a lot of the Hula Hut in Austin, Texas, one of my favorite restaurants.

There are several trees along one side of the patio that offer shade.  There are also a few Easter-Island Statue heads here and there, along with a few thatched straw umbrellas and countless Tiki-drinks but otherwise it doesn’t seem too overboard with the Tiki-theme.  Very relaxing during the day.

I only got a peek at one of the dining areas inside the restaurant, it had booths and funky chandeliers.  Honestly not sure what the rest of the inside of Psycho Suzi’s entails.

Menu: Psycho Suzi’s is well known for their Tiki Drinks, and they have a full menu of options to choose from.  There is a also a full food menu.

Appetizers include Beer Battered Onion Rings, Red Rockets (fried cocktail wienies), Mini Mex Rolls, Triple Garlic Hummus Plate, Fried Asparagus, Chicken Gremlins (battered and boneless wings), Barracuda Buffalo Wings, Beer Battered Cheese Curds, Backfire Dip (artichoke and Jalapeno), Pickle Roll-Ups, Trans-Am Tator Tots, Deviled Eggs, Brown Sugar Babies (bacon wrapped smokies in a sugary glaze), Dry Rub Wings, and Impala Shrimp Skewers.

Salad options are The Attica (three cheese, kalamata olives), Blue Fairlane (wedge with bacon and bleu cheese crumbles), Spinach and Walnut, and Caesar.

All Burgers are made with a special beef blend and come with Tator Tots.  Options include The Charger (bacon, cheddar and BBQ),  Suzi Burger (caramelized onion and cheese), American Rambler (provolone and cheddar), and Lowrider (jalapenos, onions and pepperjack).

Sandwiches at Psycho Suzi’s include Cobra (hot roast beef), Shelby Sandwich (roasted eggplant), Pontiac (pulled bbq pork with coleslaw), French Dip, Monterey (cold turkey), The Commando (cold salami and ham), and Freddie’s Chicken Salad.

Pizza come in either Hand-Tossed or Deep Dish Crust.  Choices include Build-Your-Own or Choose from one of the Specialty Pizzas such as Suzi Supreme, Suzi Quattro, Pineapple Barbeque, Hemi Cuda, The Fastback, Four Barrel, Ultra Bird, Sunny Buick, Cordoba and Paradise City.

Desserts include Deep Fried Snickers, Sebastian Joe’s Ice Cream, Birthday Cake, and Build-Your-Own S’Mores Platter.

Price guide: Appetizers $9-13  Burgers $9-11  Pizzas $15-24

What we ordered: We started with the Backfire Dip, a chunky dip made with artichokes, jalapenos, red pepper and cheeses.  This was a flavorful dip similar to many artichoke dips with the exception that it was much spicier than the average due to the jalapenos.  I thought it was pretty good.  I enjoyed the spiciness and it had plenty of chunks of artichoke.  It was served with sliced baguette.

We also ordered the Buffalo Wings.  Unlike traditional buffalo wings, the ones at Psycho Suzi’s were breaded and the Buffalo sauce was served on the side.  Our party was divided on the wings; some with dietary issues were disappointed that they were breaded.  I thought the wings were decent as far as breaded wings go; they were crispy and seasoned well.  The Buffalo sauce itself was nothing special.

For dinner one of my companions and I ordered a small deep-dish Hemi Cuda Pizza, which had six small slices for about $20.  The crust was dense and thick  but honestly not one single thing about this pizza stood out.  I was disappointed because I typically love deep dish but this was sub-par in my book. The toppings were just ordinary and the chunky sauce on top didn’t have a whole lot of flavor, and the crust was sort of dry.  It looked much better than it was.

Two of my companions ordered the large hand-tossed Hemi Cuda pizza.  I did not try this pizza but I thought it looked better than the deep dish version.  It had more cheese and toppings and a different sauce.  Still ordinary.

Another companion ordered the Suzi Burger, minus the fried onion.  This burger came with cheddar and provolone and a red pepper mayo.  One bite of this burger had me wondering just what the heck kind of “special blend” it included.  It did not have the taste or texture of a normal burger.  In fact, it almost had the texture of a Hot dago which is usually a pork sausage and beef blend.  I called Psycho Suzi’s after the fact to ask what was in their special blend beef and was told “Its a secret” but that it was 100% beef.  I don’t buy it for another minute and would never order a burger from Psycho Suzi’s again.  It was terrible.  The tator tots were pretty good, however.

Service: Knowing that Psycho Suzi’s is a very busy popular place, my guests and I met on a weekday around 3pm when we easily found a table on the water that was big enough for five of us.  We started with one server and got someone new about twenty minutes later.  We ordered several happy hour tap beers and cocktails throughout our visit, they seemed to be served in a  reasonable amount of time.  The new server was okay but when we asked for a glass of water for the second time, she motioned across the deck and told us water was self-serve. What?! Really?! I thought that was rather rude.

Overall Impression: I had heard great things about Psycho Suzi’s for quite some time but after finally trying it, I honestly think it is really over-rated unless you are there for the nightlife on the weekends.  As much as I enjoy the water and enjoy the concept of Psycho Suzi’s and its great patio, I think there are many other restaurants around the Cities with patios that are just as nice while serving  far better food.  Great Artichoke Jalapeno Dip but pizzas weren’t anything special and the burgers are the worst I have ever eaten in the Twin Cities.
Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge on Urbanspoon
Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge Reviews in Minneapolis

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.

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