Jul 142012

Disclosure: I was invited out to The Capital Grille on this visit for the purpose of The Generous Pour wine event.  Our meals and wine were provided for us.

Cuisine: Fish & Seafood, Steaks
Restaurant Features: Bar, Banquet, Valet Parking
Location: Downtown Minneapolis, MN
Address: 801 Hennepin Ave Minneapolis, MN 55402 612-692-9000
Hours: M-F 11am-2:30pm  M-Th 5-10pm  Fri-Sat 5-11pm  Sun 5-9pm
Links: The Capital Grille’s Website * The Capital Grille on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: The Minneapolis location of The Capital Grille is located down town in the Hennepin Theater District, with the main entrance on Hennepin Ave and an additional entrance from inside La Salle Plaza.  The main dining room is big with several booths arranged around the room to maximize both space and privacy There are also a couple of smaller private dining rooms.

There is a bar area just inside the entrance from Hennepin.

Menu: Appetizers at The Capital Grille include Wagyu Beef Carpaccio, Cold Shellfish Platter, Lobster and Crab Cakes, Pan Fried Calamari with Hot Cherry Peppers, Smoked Salmon, Shrimp Cocktail, Fresh Oysters on the Half Shell, and Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella with Vine Ripe Tomatoes.

Soups offered are the Clam Chowder, Lobster Bisque, and French Onion.

Salads offered include Fresh Mozzarella with Tomato and Basil, Chopped Salad, The Wedge, Caesar, Spinach with Warm Bacon dressing, and Field Greens with Tomatoes.

Chef’s Selections include Seared Tenderloin with Butter Poached Lobster, Cedar Planked Salmon with Tomato Fennel Relish, Bone-In Kona Crusted Sirloin with Caramelized Shallot Butter, Porcini Rubbed Delmonico with 12-Year Aged Balsamic, Sliced Filet Mignon with Cippolini Onions and Wild Mushrooms.

Other Entrees at The Capital Grille include Filet Oscar, Dry Aged Sirloin, Dry Aged Porterhouse, Dry Aged Steak Au Poivre with a Courvoisier Cream Sauce, Filet Mignon, Delmonico Steak, Double Cut Lamb Rib Chops, and Roasted Chicken.

Seafood items include Broiled Fresh Lobster, Grilled Swordfish with Lemon Shallot Relish, Seared Citrus Glazed Salmon, Lobster and Crab Stuffed Shrimp, and Sushi-Grade Sesame Seared Tuna with Gingered Rice.

Side Items include Vidalia Onion Rings, Parmesan Truffle Fries, Lobster Mac ‘N’ Cheese, Au Gratin Potatoes, Fresh Asparagus with Hollandaise, Fresh Creamed Spinach, Roasted Seasonal Mushrooms, Sam’s Mashed Potatoes, Sauteed Spinach, and Fresh Green Beans with Roasted Tomatoes and Fennel.

Desserts include Trio of Handmade Ice Creams, Cheesecake with Fresh Seasonal Berries, Fresh Berries in Vanilla Ice Cream, Fresh Strawberries Capital Grille, Coconut Cream Pie, Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake, Chocolate Hazelnut Cake, and Classic Creme Brulee.
What we ordered: We started with a basket of different breads and enjoyed the first of many glasses of wine as part of The Generous Pour, the Lunetta Rose, a sparkling rose wine from Italy.

We started with an order of Raw Oysters, served in the half shell and on ice.  They were served with cocktail sauce and lemon and horseradish at my request.  Fresh and delicious. These went so well with the Gary Farrell 2009 Chardonnay that is part of The Generous Pour.  I love oysters and I thought these were really good

We also tried an order of the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio.  The beef was sliced ever so thin, raw with just the very edges seared.  It was topped with arulgula and lemon vinaigrette with shaved parmigiano.  This was wonderful! The beef was so tender and delicious, it melted in my mouth.  This was excellent, I especially enjoyed it paired with Villa Mt. Eden, Grand Reserve 2007 ~ Pinot Noir, Russian River

For my entree I was debating between the Kona Crusted Sirloin and the Delmonico Ribeye. Our server made my decision very easy for me by suggesting I get the Delmonico with the Kona rub. Sold! This steak was so wonderful that it has moved its way to the very top of my Best Ribeye Steak list.  I would say this whether or not my meal was free.  The Delmonico was served bone-in and was perfectly seasoned.  The shallot butter really kicked up the flavor a notch as well.  I ordered it a medium minus and it was cooked perfectly for me.  The cut was of superior quality, the fat marbled to really give it a rich meaty flavor.  The quality of  steaks at The Capital Grille is consistently among the best out there.  We enjoyed our steaks with Conn Creek Cabernet and Ferrari-Carano.

My companion ordered the Porcini Rubbed Delmonico, which has become our new pick for best ribeye in the Twin Cities.  This bone-in steak was prepared medium rare, just as requested, with a beautiful char on some of the edges.  It was juicy and tender as can be, a superior cut  aged to give it a more robust, deep flavor.  This steak had just a hint of sweetness form the balsalmic vinegar that it is cooked with.  Wonderful flavor, a great departure from traditional steak seasonings or sauces.

We shared a half order of sauteed mushrooms to go with our steaks.  Delicious!

I absolutely had to order the Lobster Mac N Cheese. If you have never had this before, you absolutely MUST try this at The Capital Grille! It is rich and cheesy, made with a bland of marscapone, havarti and Grana Padano cream sauce. It had several big pieces of lobster throughout and was baked with white cheddar and panko bread crumbs on top.  The panko was a nice crunchy contrast to all the creaminess. SO GOOD!

We also got a half-order of Asparagus to share, grilled perfectly.

We also ordered one mini coconut cream pie to bring home.  This was absolutely delightful, I could eat it for dessert once a week if I truly wanted to indulge, it was one of the best coconut cream pies I have tried.  The base of this pie was similar to a sugar cookie and absolutely wonderful as each bite melted in my mouth. It was then topped with a layer of coconut pastry cream, whipped cream, and then shredded toasted coconut.  The portion was about the size of two pieces of standard pie so plan to share it ;)

Service: We had a reservation and The Capital Grille was expecting us as their guests for dinner and to experience The Generous Pour.  That being said, we had great service.  Our server was great about explaining each wine as he poured them for us.  Complimentary valet parking
Overall Impression:  Dinner at The Capital Grille is always a treat and it is even better when you can enjoy it with a glass of good wine… or several, as is the case with the famous summer wine event, The Generous Pour.  The Delmonico Ribeye steak and the Lobster Mac N Cheese are two of my favorite food items that I have eaten this year, if not ever.  That says a lot!

The Capital Grille on Urbanspoon

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 072012

Cuisine: Breakfast, South American
Restaurant Features: Beer & Wine, On-Site Parking,
Location: Northeast Minneapolis, MN
Address:  2851 Central Avenue NE  Minneapolis, MN 55418  612-788-1328
Hours: Mon-Thur: 11a–3p / 5p–10p Fri: 11a–11p  Sat: 8a–11p  Sun: 8a–9a
Links: Chimborazo Website * Chimborazo on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Chimborazo is located in Northeast Minneapolis on Central Ave at 29th Street.  The building is small and stands alone at the corner and the sign is easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for.  Inside the restaurant there are several tables running along the walls and a handful of round tables in the middle.  It is cozy, with warm yellow walls and framed woven tapestries in the style native to South America.  Each table had a little vase with cute fresh flowers that we thought was a nice touch.

Menu: Breakfast is available from 8am-2pm and includes Chimborazo (pancakes, roast pork and egg), Tungurahua (eggs, rice, beans), Cotopaxi, Llapingachos (potato pancakes with onion and cheese), Mote Pillo (Hominy with scrambled eggs), Tortilla de Puerco, Tortilla de Espinaca), Buttermilk Pancakes, Pancakes de Platanos, Empanada de Queso, Eggs, Chorizo, and Bacon.

Appetizers include Ceviche de Camaron, Muchin de Yuca (cassava croquettes filled with onion and cheese), Yuca Frita, Empanada de Queso, Empanada de Carne, Llapingachos, Patacones con Queso, and Platano Maduro.

Chimborazo has a selection of Sopas including Soup of the Day, Encebollado, Caldo de Bolas de Verde, and Caldo de Bagre.

Sandwiches offered include Roasted Pork, Grilled Chicken and Veggie.

Entrees at Chimborazo include Hornados con Papas, Seco de Carne, Seco de Pollo, Saltado, Milanesa de Pollo, Churrasco, Llapingachos con Chorizo, Chaulafan (Ecuadorian Fried Rice), Encocado de Mahi Mahi or Shrimp, Chupe de Pescado, and Ecuatoriano Vegetariano.

Desserts include Coconut Batido, Tres Leches Cake, and Higos con Queso
Price guide: Appetizers $2-10 Sandwiches $7-8  Entrees $9-12
What we ordered: Chimborazo does not have a bar but does serve beer and wine in addition to a couple of non-alcoholic drinks such as the Coconut Batido.  This was my first time trying this particular batido and I loved the toasted coconut flavor of the drink, it gave it a nice nutty taste that was quite pronounced in a very good way.  It was a frozen blend of coconut milk, ice, toasted coconut, (and perhaps other magical ingredients) then was topped with whipped cream and toasted coconut. It wasn’t overly sweet but would be great for dessert; I took me an hour to finish it but it was delicious.

My companion and I started off with a couple of different Appetizers, starting with the Platanos Maduros.  These were thick slices of sweet platanos (banana) fried and then topped with soft, mild, melted white cheese.  The platanos were served with the most delicious sauce called aji criollo, an Ecuadorian hot sauce made with hot peppers, cilantro, garlic, onion and lime.  The spicy, citrusy sauce worked well with the sweetness of the banana and creaminess of the cheese. Yum!

We also tried the Empanada de Queso.  This pocket of dough was filled with soft, mild white cheese then fried until golden brown and flaky.  It was dusted with powdered sugar that gave it a hint of sweetness.  This makes a good appetizer, snack or dessert!

We also tried the Empanada de Carne.  This was fantastic! Inside the beautiful crispy brown crust were bite-sized pieces of grilled steak, peas, red pepper and onions.  It was served with fresh diced tomatoes and I also dipped it in the aji criollo sauce which made it even better.

There were many dishes that sounded really good but I ended up ordering the Hornados con Papas for my entree.  The pork is slow roasted for 16 hours until it is extremely tender.  The pork was served with llapingachos, which were ‘pancakes’ of creamy seasoned mashed potatoes filled with cheese and then browned.  Very tasty! The dish was also served with salad and mote, which is what hominy is called in Spanish.  It is similar to corn but bigger and not nearly as sweet.

My companion ordered the Encocado with Mahi Mahi.  This dish was rich and full of flavor, the sauce made from coconut milk, coconut, lime juice, orange juice, garlic, onion, cumin, coriander, bell pepper and cilantro.  It was both sweet and savory at the same time, and went really well with the mild mahi mahi.  The rice was just the right accompaniment to soak up the rich sauce.

For dessert we shared the Tres Leches Cake, which was very good .  It wasn’t overly moist but the leches were still distinguishable.  It was topped with whipped cream and slices of fresh strawberries.  I wish I hadn’t been too full to have more than a bite or two.

Service: My companion and I met at Chimborazo on a weekday when it was just opening for dinner.  We had our pick of both parking spots and tables in the dining room.  Our server was nice and took time to explain various items from the menu and we were very happy with her suggestions.

Overall Impression:  We both enjoyed Chimborazo a lot and I am now very much turned on to South American food.  The food and service were both very good at Chimborazo and the prices were reasonable for the amount of food we got.  If you like coconut, there are many dishes you will likely enjoy at Chimborazo. We will be back!
Chimborazo on Urbanspoon

Feb 182012

Cuisine: American, Greek, Mediterranean,
Restaurant Features: Beer & Wine, Catering, Student Discount 10%
Location: Minneapolis, MN (Dinkytown)
Address: 421 14th Avenue Southeast  Minneapolis, MN 55414 612-623-4900

Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am-9pm * Fri-Sat 11am-10pm * Sun 12-9pm

Links: Kafe 421 Website * Kafe 421 on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Located in Dinkytown at 14th Ave and 4th Street, Kafe 421 is a Wine Bar/Restaurant that serves Mediterranean-influenced cuisine.  The bar is just inside the entrance, with cute pendant lights hanging above and bottles of wine displayed on shelves.  The design is simple yet classy.  There are a handful of booths in the front, as well as a couple of tables and seating at the bar.

The main dining room is at the very back of the space.  The walls are lined with stained wood and hand-painted canvases.  Simple but cozy.

Menu: Appetizers include Baked Feta & Artichoke Dip, Mango Salsa with Pita Chips, Calamari, Crab Cakes, Dolmathakia, Eggplant Milanese, Spanakopita, and Meatballs.  Soup offerings include Creamy Tomato Basil and Beef Borscht.

Salads at Kafe 421 include Grilled Chicken Salad, Chopped Chicken Salad, Kafe 421 Salad Sampler, Grilled Salmon Salad, Steak Cobb, Greek, and Caesaer.

Kafe 421 also has a selection of Burgers and Sandwiches, which come with choice of Field Greens, Caesar Salad, Cup of Soup or Fresh Cut French Fries.  Burgers include Kafe 421 Burger, Mushroom and Swiss, Gorgonzola and Bacon, Lamb Burger, Gyros, Crab Cake Sandwich, Lechon (pork), Pavo (turkey breast), Fish Tacos, Kafe 421 Turkey Club, Chicken Panini, Chicken Wild Rice Burrito, Eggplant Milanese, Portabella Mushroom, Mediterranean Veggie Wrap and Chicken Salad Wrap.

Pasta dishes offered include Ravioli Bolognese, Shrimp Santorini, Blackened Salmon Fettuccine, Chicken Balsamico, Lemon Risotto, Artichoke and Portabella Penne, and Fettuccine Alfredo.

Dinner Entrees are served after 5 pm and include Lamb, Petite Beef Tenderloin, Souvlaki, Pollo, Gyros Platter, Grilled Atlantic Salmon, Moules Frites, Cardel (scallops and coconut risotto), Bouillabaisse Provençal Fish Stew, and Vegetarian Moussaka .

Kafe 421 also offers desserts such as Tiramisu, Gooey Brownie, Baklava, Key Lime Pie, Chocolate Mousse, Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee, and Cheesecake.
Price guide: Appetizers $8-12  Salads $5-13  Sandwiches $8-11 Pastas $13-17 Entrees $14-20  Desserts $6-7

Happy Hour:

  • Monday – Friday, 3 PM – 6 PM
  • $5 Select Apps and $3 House Wine & Beer

Weekly Specials:

  • Monday After 5 PM- 1/2 Off Bottles of Wine
  • Tuesday – Cheap Dinner for Two  $25 gets you and a friend each a salad, a pasta entree and one dessert to share. View Cheap Dinner Menu.
  • Wednesday After 5 PM- 1/2 Off Bottles of Wine
  • Sunday’s Cheap Dinner For 2 Starting at 5 PM

What we ordered: We started with an order of Calamari, which was very good.  It was a huge portion of perfectly cooked calamari rings with crispy seasoned battering.  It was served with sides of Tzatziki Sauce and Sriracha mayo for dipping.
Calamari at Kafe 421 ~ Minneapolis, MN
I had the Fish Tacos, which came highly recommended by our server.  This came with my choice of side so I opted for the cup of Cream of Mushroom soup, which was wonderful.  It was thick, rich and creamy with the distinct taste of roasted mushrooms.  The Tacos came two to an order, with flour tortillas stuffed with pieces of chili and lime seasoned Mahi Mahi mixed together with Mozzarella, Tomato, Scallion, Avocado, and Cilantro.  I thought the tacos were decent but I prefer my fish tacos to have bigger pieces of fish.  The seasoning on the fish also didn’t hit the mark for me; it was light but just didn’t have the depth of flavor I was hoping for.  This is just my opinion; my companion tried my fish tacos and loved them, thought they were great.

My companion ordered the Lamb Burger and it was fantastic!! The ground lamb meat was seasoned just like a gyro and it was moist and delicious. It was topped with very thin slices of cucumber, red onion and feta cheese and a little bit of tzaziki sauce.  It was served on grilled toasted Vienna bread that was a pleasant crunchy compliment to the tender lamb. I also loved the thinly sliced cucumber, the burger was even better because of it! It was served with choice of side, my companion ended up ordering the fresh cut fries.

Service: We had excellent service at Kafe 421.  We happened to be in the Dinkytown area and stopped for an early dinner before the weekend dinner crowd and had no problem finding a metered parking on the street outside.  We were greeted as soon as we arrived and were quickly seated.  Our server was friendly and gave us some good suggestions from the menu.  The food was timed just right so that our entrees came out after we were finished with our appetizer.
Overall Impression: Kafe 421 is a cozy restaurant and wine bar that has very good service and really good food.  If you like a lamb, you must try the Lamb Burger.
Kafe 421 on Urbanspoon
Kafe 421 Reviews in Minneapolis

Jan 292012

Cuisine: American, Healthy Eating
Restaurant Features: Beer & Wine, On-Site Parking
Locations: Edina and Roseville, MN
Roseville– 1910 West Highway 36  Roseville, MN 55113 651-636-0956
Edina- Galleria 3460 Galleria Edina, MN 55435 952-925-1001
Hours: Monday-Saturday 7am-10pm Sunday 7am-9pm

Links: Good Earth Website * Good Earth on Facebook

Atmosphere: The Roseville Good Earth is located along the frontage road along the northern side of Hwy 36, west of Fairview Ave.  The decor inside the restaurant is very mellow and casual.  There are many wooden tables throughout the dining room, with a few booths along a couple of the outer walls.

Menu: Breakfast foods include fresh juices & smoothies, Organic Oatmeal, Granola, Ten-grain Hotcakes, Buttermilk Pancakes, Brioche French Toast, Wild Mushroom Omelette, Veggie Omelette, Tomato Basil Omelette, Turkey Sausage Scramble, Grilled Salmon Hash, Good Earth Huevoa, Breakfast Quesadillas, Black Bean Roaster, Vegetarian Joe’s Eggs, Breakfast Wrap, Bacon & Eggs, and the Heartland Breakfast.

Small plates offered at Lunch and Dinner include Middle Eastern Medley (tebouleh, hummus, spiced feta, kalamata olives), Nachos, Edamame, Bangkok Chicken Satay, Vegetable Pot Stickers, Baked Artichoke Dip, Wild Mushroom and Gruyere Flatbread, Thai Chicken Pizza, and Pear and Fig Flatbread.

Soups and Salads at Good Earth include Vegetable Bean Soup, Tropical Spinach Salad (side or full), Cashew Chicken, Mediterranean Greek Salad, Curried Turkey Salad, and Chopped Salad.

Sandwiches offered include Cashew Chicken Salad, Cashew Chicken Melt, Almond Tuna Salad, Almond Tuna Melt, Grilled Shrimp Pita, Grilled Veggie Sandwich, Turkey Club, Rueben, Harvest Wrap, Thai Chicken Wrap, and Bean Burrito.  Burgers include Basic Burger, Bison Burger, Turkey Burger, Patty Melt, The Good Earth Burger, Vegetarian Planet Burger, and Turkey Porcupine Sliders.

Good Earth’s Entrees “From the Farm” include Grilled Chicken Quesadillas, Teriyaki Chicken, Thai Chicken Chiang Mai Noodles, Turkey Meatloaf, Coconut Curry Chicken, and Mandarin Beef.

The Entrees “From the Sea” include Wild Mahi Mahi, Wild Ahi Tuna, Keta Salmon, Atlantic Salmon,  Farm Raised Tilapia, Grilled Tuna with Ginger Noodles, Shrimp and Scallops with Creamy Corn Polenta.

Vegetable Dishes include Wok Seared Seasonal Vegetable, Winter Pear Risotto, Vegetarian Enchiladas, and Winter Gnocchi.

There is also a selection of Monthly Seasonal Specials including Apple and Sunchoke Salad with Pomegranate, Pan Roasted Rainbow Trout, Pomegranate Braised Rainbow Trout, Grilled Pomegranate Glazed Chicken, Vegetarian Chili, Grilled Shrimp and Zucchini, Coconut Panna Cotta, Pineapple Upside Down Cake, and Sorbetto.
Price guide: Breakfast $  Small Plates $5-10  Salads $6-13  Sandwiches $10-12  Entrees $11-16
Weekly Specials:

  • Sunday- Corn Meal Crusted Walleye $10.95
  • Monday- 10 wines, 10 bottles, 10 Bucks
  • Tuesday- Chicken Marsala $10.95
  • Wednesday-All Natural Steak Fajita $10.95
  • Thursday – Wok Seared Shrimp Curry $10.95

What we ordered: We started with the complimentary basket of Breads.  It contained a sampling of many different breads and homemade pita chips and was served with a side of hummus.

I asked our server what the spiciest thing on his menu was and without hesitating he said the Thai Chicken Chiang Mai Noodles. I was sold!  This dish had a nice amount of heat to it, the base of which was a coconut curry sauce.  It had several large pieces of white meat chicken and was tossed with red and green bell pepper, cucumbers, garlic and ginger and noodles that similar to vermicelli.  The cucumber helped to cool it down a little.  I liked this a lot.

One of my companions had the Good Earth Burger.  The burger was made with fresh ground bison served on whole wheat bun, then topped with caramelized onions, avocado, portobella mushrooms, tomato, sunflower sprouts and Gruyere cheese.  It was a big, hearty burger.  It comes with a sweet red pepper aioli and side greens salad.

Another companion had the Turkey Burger on whole wheat bun, also served with field greens.

One companion had the Wok Seared Vegetables with the Tropical Spinach Side Salad.  The vegetables were a mix of  yellow squash, pea pods, bell pepper, carrots, broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, mushrooms, water chestnuts, celery, with roasted almonds.  It was served with brown jasmine  and wheatberry rice.

The Tropical Spinach Side Salad consisted of a bed of baby spinach topped with chopped mango, red bell pepper, jicama and candied pecans.  It was served with a tahini poppyseed dressing.

Another companion ordered the Shrimp and Scallops with Creamy Corn Polenta.  This dish was sauteed with zucchini, yellow squash, and tomato in a tarragon wine sauce.

For dessert a few of us shared the Carrot Cake.  It was a large piece; fresh, moist and delicious.  The cream cheese frosting was sprinkled with toasted oats which contrasted in texture with the creaminess of the frosting.

One of my companions ordered the Blood Orange Sorbet.  It looked good and I heard no complaints ;)
Blood Orange Sorbet at Good Earth ~ Roseville, MN

Blood Orange Sorbet at Good Earth ~ Roseville, MN

Service: We had very good service at Good Earth.  It was a busy night and our party of five took our time enjoying our meals and each others’ company.   Our server was very attentive and had good suggestions from the menu.  The Good Earth is great about dietary needs and chef will often discuss options with guests.
Overall Impression: The Good Earth is a restaurant that makes a conscious effort to work directly with the farms who produce the meats and vegetables they use in their dishes. Everything is organic and locally sourced whenever possible.
Good Earth on Urbanspoon

Oct 022011

Cuisine: American, Breakfast
Restaurant Features: Beer, Wine, On-Site Parking
Location: Chisago City, MN
Address: 11347 North Ave Suite #1  Chisago City, MN 55013 (651) 257-9144
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am-8pm *Fri 11am-9pm * Sat 8am-9pm * Sun 8am-8pm
Links:Meredee’s Bistro Website * Meredee’s On Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Meredee’s Bistro is located in Chisago City, in a building next door to Brinks Market off of Hwy 8.  The dining room has many windows and has great natural lighting.  There is a beautiful stone fireplace surrounding a gas fireplace and paintings and other wall decor hung throughout.  It has quite a calm and relaxing atmosphere.  There are several square tables placed throughout the space, making it very easy to combine for larger parties.Dining Room at Meredee's Bistro ~ Chisago City, MN

This cute ‘gourmet’  sign along with giant fork and spoon wall hangings greet you upon entering.  I Adore this!

Menu: Breakfast items include Eggs, Toast, Hashbrowns, Skillet Breakfast, Omelettes, Biscuits and Gravy, French Toast, Oatmeal, and Pancakes.

Appetizers include Grilled Mushroom Caps, Chipotle Chicken Nachos, Chicken Strips, Hummus, Jalapeno Poppers, Cheese Curd and Onion Rings.

Meredee’s Sandwiches and Burgers include the Phillini, Cuban, Grilled Chipotle Chicken,  Turkey Club, Mediterranean Wrap, BBQ Ham Melt, Beef Melt, Hamburger, Cheeseburger, California Burger, and Bella Burger. All burgers and sandwiches come with choice of french fries, steamed veggie, or trip through the salad bar.

Pasta options are Fettuccini Alfredo, Mediterranean Capellini, and Marinara Pasta.

Entrees at Meredee’s incude 16oz Ribeye, Top Cut Sirloin, 10oz Filet, Shrimp Scampi, Bacon Wrapped Shrimp, Fried Shrimp, Fried Cod, Tilapia, Roasted Chicken, Pork Tenderloin and Pot Roast.

Desserts include Cheesecake, Carrot Cake, Chocolate Lava Cake, and Ice Cream Sandwich.
Price guide: Appetizers $7-10   Sandwiches $8-10
Weekly Specials:

  • Friday Night All You Can Eat Fish! – Grilled or broiled Tilapia or deep-fried Cod with potato and salad bar.
  • Saturday Night All you Can Eat Sirloin Steak – Fresh cut on site.

What we ordered: I started with a trip through the salad bar.  There were three types of lettuce (spinach, romaine, ice berg) a variety of veggies, hard boiled egg, croutons, nuts and dressings.

There were two varieties of soup at the salad bar, including this Lasagna Soup that I tried.  Delicious and very filling! This soup had a base of tomato with chunks of ground beef, onion, chunky tomatoes, and big lasagna noodles.

I had the Phillini Sandwich for lunch, which turned out to be an excellent choice.  Served on a thick, fresh ciabatta bun, this sandwich had several slices of beef roast topped with thick slices of sauteed peppers, onions, and provolone cheese.  It also came with a side of au jus for dipping.  I loved it and would definitely get it again.  The french fries were also pretty good.

Two of my companions ordered the Bacon Wrapped Shrimp.  The shrimp were thumb-sized and cooked just right, however I thought the bacon could be much crispier.

Another companion ordered the Cod Dinner with steamed veggies.  There were many pieces of cod, all of which had been battered with a light batter that was similar to tempura.  The cod was very good but the steamed veggie of the day was carrot sticks…. I would’ve liked to see a better effort with the veggies.

Another companion ordered the Buffalo Chicken Wrap (with a trip to the salad bar).  The tortilla was filled with buffalo-coated chicken strips, romaine, tomato and bleu cheese dressing.  This wrap was good but rather ordinary.  Would’ve been better with fries.

Service: We had pretty good service at Meredee’s Bistro.  Our visit was on a Saturday just before it started getting busy for lunch.  The salad bar tided us over while the food was being prepared, but ultimately the food was prepared in a reasonable amount of time.
Overall Impression: Meredee’s is a nice little place in Chisago City with a great atmosphere and pretty decent food.  I loved the Phillini sandwich and would definitely order it again!

Sep 302011

Cuisine: American, Pasta, Fish
Restaurant Features: Beer, Wine
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Address: 5607 Chicago Avenue South Minneapolis, MN 55417 (612)825-6900
Hours: Sun-Thurs 5pm-9pm  Fri-Sat 5pm-10pm
Links: First Course Website * First Course on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: First Course is a small but lovely restaurant snuggled between  Mike’s Corner Store and Kowalskis Market on Chicago Ave at E 56th St.  The restaurant isn’t very big but it sure is cute! The bar at the back is really the focal point of the restaurant.

Another part of the the dining room has just a handful of tables widely spaced apart and big, colorful stripes of color on the walls.  There is also a small, basic patio area in the front of the building.

Menu: Tapas (small plates) at First Course include Honey Garlic Baby Back Ribs, Fried Green Olives Stuffed with Blue Cheese, Three Salami’s, Grilled Asparagus with Onion Straws, Calamari, Goat Cheese, First Course Shrimp, Warm Almond Manchego Cheese, and Beef Skewers.

Other Appetizers include Seared Ahi Tuna, Bruschetta, Mediterranean Mussels, Antipasti Platter, and a Pizza of the Day.

Salads offered at First Course include Caesar, Grilled Portabella and Asparagus, Mixed Green, and the Bistro Salad (with bacon, egg, tomato).

Sandwiches offered are the Croque Monsieur, Bison Blue Burger, Mini Burgers with Cheddar.

First Course Pasta selections include Penne Alfredo, Butternut Squash Ravioli, Linguine with Prosciutto, Lamb Ragu with Pappardelle, Gnocchi in Gorgonzola Cream, and Risotto.

Entrees at First Course include Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia, Halibut, Chicken Roulade, Bone-In Pork Chops, New York Strip, and Duck Breast.

Desserts include Flourless Chocolate Cake, Tres Leches Cake, Creme Brulee, German Chocolate Cake, and Ice Cream or Sorbet.
Price guide: Tapas $4-8 Apps $6-14  Pasta $14-18  Entrees $17-29

What we ordered: A large heaping plate of bread arrived shortly after we ordered drinks.  Soft, crusty, and still warm.

There are many different Small Plates (Tapas) and since we had a very large party, we ordered several items.  We tried the Calamari, which was excellent! It was breaded and fried, then served with some kind of smokey mayo.  Seriously good calamari.

We also ordered the Manchego Cheese, which was baked until slightly crispy and golden, then served on baguette and topped with sliced almonds.  The order came with four little slices slightly soaking in a mix of oil, vinegar, and sherry.  These were pretty awesome, full of  both flavor and texture.

We also ordered the ribs.  I did not try these but they came highly recommended by one of the servers.  They looked and smelled great.  The menu describes them as “Honey garlic baby back pork ribs with soy, ginger & chili oil”.

Another tapa we tried was the Bleu Cheese Stuffed Fried Olives.  Not being a fan of olives, I did not try these either but the others raved about them.

We also tried the Asparagus with Onion Straws.  The asparagus was cooked with balsamic vinegar which sweetened it up slightly, then was topped with a pile of thin onion straws.  I like asparagus quite a bit and this was good, but I think I enjoyed the onion straws the most :)

We ordered two large dishes of the Coconut Red Curry Mussels.  OMG, these were wonderful!!  The menu actually called these Mediterranean Mussels which I believe is a misnomer as they actually had more Asian influence than Mediterranean.  No matter what you call them, these mussels were very tender and soaked in a bath of coconut milk with red curry.  This is my favorite style of mussels and these ranked up there in my TCRB Editor’s Picks: Mussels (stay tuned for that post in the future!)

We also ordered the First Course Shrimp.  These giant Tiger Shrimp were served in a hot butter with fresh herbs and spices, very similar to shrimp scampi.  Excellent!

We also ordered Entrees. I wasn’t sure what to get, the menu had several items that sounded really good to me.  I wanted to try something that noone else in our group was going to order, so I ended up getting the Papperdelle Pasta with Lamb Ragu.  This was pretty good; it had big chunks of tomato, rosemary and several pieces of tender lamb meat on top of a bed of pappardelle pasta.  It was topped with grated pecorino cheese and parsley.  I liked this but it was almost too mild for my taste.  I’d personally like a little spice to it.

One of my companions ordered the Alaskan Halibut, which came with a roasted red pepper vinaigrette puree and fingerling potatoes.

Another companion ordered the New York Strip, a nice 16 oz cut cooked a perfect medium rare.  It was well seasoned, served with fingerling potatoes and red onions over a red wine jus.

One of my companions ordered the Butternut Squash Ravioli in Gorgonzola Cream Sauce.  I nearly ordered this myself because it sounded so intriguing.  I was lucky to try a bit of this and I thought it was very good.  The ravioli were handmade little pockets stuffed with sweet butternut squash that contrasted the sharpness of the gorgonzola and brandy cream sauce.  It was garnished with cooked carrot, pepper and swiss chard.

One of the specials of the evening was a King Ivory Salom with fresh salsa.  I didn’t try this but it looked wonderful.  There were two filets of the light colored salmon, covered with fresh salsa made with corn, tomatillo and radish.

Another companion ordered the Chicken Roulade.  This dish had little chicken roll-ups with gorgonzola in a salty shallot sauce.  It was topped with julienne veggies.

Two of my companions split the Risotto with Shrimp; pictured here is half the order.  The risotto was creamy and the shrimp was well seasoned and tender.

One of my companions was celebrating a birthday and received this complimentary Tres Leches Cake.  The piece was large enough to share with several and was very tasty.  It was moist as it should be but one of the best features of this dessert was the passion fruit lime syrup drizzled on the plate.  The tartness curbed the sweetness of the cake and really made this dessert stand out.

Service: We had excellent service at First Course. We had advance reservations for a large party on a Saturday night and a server almost all to ourselves.  Wine was poured with frequency and the tapas and entrees were brought out in waves.

Overall Impression: First Course is a fabulous little restaurant in South Minneapolis with great food and a relaxed atmosphere.  The prices are very reasonable for chef crafted dishes and the service is very good; First Course is a great place to visit for many different occasions.  Beer and Wine only.
First Course on Urbanspoon
First Course Reviews in Minneapolis

Jul 132011

The Capital Grille is highlighting several wonderful wines again this year during their ‘Generous Pour’ Wine Event, taking place at all 44 locations nation-wide from July 12-Sept 4, 2011.  Each of the nine wines was hand-selected by Master Sommelier George Miliotes, and are the perfect compliment to any of the dishes served at The Capital Grille.  The wait staff is highly knowledgeable about these wines and can make recommendations to compliment the dishes you order, however  Patrons can sample as many of the wines as they would like for only $25.  That is a  steal considering that if you were to buy all 9 bottles at retail price, it would be over $750!

This years’ selections were narrowed down from over 600 tried.  The wines that were excellent enough to be featured include:


  • Marquis de la Tour, Cremant de Louire Brut, France
  • La Cana Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain 2010
  • Chateau St Jean, Belle Terre, Sonoma, CA 2008

International Reds

  • Conte Brandolini, Vistorta Merlot, Fruili-Venezia Giulia, Italy 2006
  • Tarima Hill, Monastrell, Alicante, Spain 2009

California Reds

  • Freemark Abbey, Cabernet Bosche, Rutherford, 2003
  • Chalk Hill Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma 2006
  • Byron Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara, 2009


  • RL Buller, The Portly Gentleman, Australia

I was able to preview several of the wines along with a fabulous five-course dinner hosted by The Capital Grill.  The food deserves a post of its own, so I am going to keep details on the food to a minimum so we can focus on the wines.   A complete review of The Capital Grille will be following soon.

First Course: Hors D’Oeuvres.  These items are not regulars on The Capital Grille menu, but they can be ordered for private parties.  The trio included Fresh Tomato and Mozzarella Crostini, Smoked Salmon on Onion Pita Crisps, and Wild Mushroom and Boursin Crostini.  These were served with a sparkling wine called Marquis de la Tour, Cremant de Loire Brut.  This is a light, crisp and refreshing wine from France.

Second Course: Pan Fried Calamari with Hot Cherry Peppers and Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella with Vine Ripe Tomatoes.

With the Calamari I tried the La Cana.  This Albariño wine comes from white grapes grown on very old vines  in Spain.  I thought this wine was light, crisp and somewhat fruity while still having a somewhat earthy hint.  This is a refreshing wine that went great with the spiciness of the peppers in the calamari dish.

With the Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella, I tried the Chateau St Jean Chardonnay.  This is your classic chardonnay, with grapes sourced from a single vineyard in Sonoma.  The wine was rich and almost buttery, aged in Oak.  Fruity with a hint of nuts.

Entrees:  Bone-In Kona Crusted Dry Aged Sirloin with Shallot Butter.

Cedar Planked Salmon with Tomato Fennel Relish.

Accompaniments: Lobster Mac N Cheese and Sauteed Spinach

I tried three of the red wines during dinner.  Each was exceptional and unique.

The Conte Brandolini is an old-world Merlot, grown on vines over a hundred years old in Northeastern Italy.  Richy and silky with the flavor of berries.

The Chalk Hill is a Cabernet Sauvignon grown in the Sonoma region.  This is a dense wine with a slightly mineral taste due to the volcanic chalk under the hillside where the vines grow.  It is also rich and powerful, going great with beef.

The Tarima Hill is a Monastrell wine, made from a newer variety of grapes grown in Spain.  This wine is brand-new to the United States and is making its exclusive debut for at The Capital Grille for the Generous Pour Wine Event.  Purple and velvety.

Dessert: Strawberries Capital Grille

Along with my strawberries, I tried The Portly Gentleman, a  dessert wine from the Land Down Under.  This is everything that a traditional Port should be, except it hails from Australia rather than Portugal.  Very sweet and fruity yet smooth.

So that is a run-down of what I ate and drank; I enjoyed everything.  The Generous Pour Wine Event runs now through September 4th so make sure you get down there sometime soon.   If you are into wine, this event is a must. Where else can you try wines such as these for only $25??

The Capital Grille
801 Hennepin Ave Minneapolis. MN 55402