Oct 092011
 

Cuisine: American, Fish, Pasta, Steaks, Ribs, Pizza, Southwestern
Restaurant Features: Bar, Gluten-Free Menu, Happy Hour, Late Night Happy Hour
Locations: Blaine, Eagan, MSP Airport, Plymouth, Savage, St Paul, Woodbury
Addresses & Maps:
Blaine– 4365 Pheasant Ridge Dr NE Suite 102  Blaine, MN 55449  (763) 398-2475
Eagan– 1555 Cliff Road  Eagan, MN 55121 (651) 452-0200
Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport 4300 Gluemac Drive RMLT3256  St. Paul, MN 55111 (612) 726-5360 x4633
Plymouth– 3000 Harbor Lane  Plymouth, MN 55447  (763) 398-7408
St Paul– 850 Grand Ave.  Saint Paul, MN 55105 (651) 312-1299
Savage–  14120 South Highway 13  Savage, MN 55378  (952) 447-1122
Woodbury– 1424 Weir Dr.  Woodbury, MN 55125  (651) 735-0085
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am-12am  Fri-Sat 11am-2am  Sun 10:30am-10pm
Links: Axel’s Bonfire Website * Axel’s Bonfire on Facebook

Atmosphere: The St Paul location of Axel’s Bonfire is at the intersection of Grand Ave and Victoria St, in the same building as Cafe Latte.  The restaurant is divided into a bar area and a dining room; the latter of which has several tables in the bigger, open section, as well as a number of booths off to the right side of the dining room.  The walls are painted a rich, deep red and the lighting is very soft.  Casual and somewhat trendy.

One feature of the decor that is hard to miss is the giant Bull sculpture hanging from the ceiling over the dining room near the hostess stand.

The bar is also a dominant space with Axel’s Bonfire, a giant island seating at least twenty guests with an additional number of tables near the windows looking out onto Grand Ave.

Menu: Appetizers at Bonfire include Axel’s signature Bullbites, Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Colossal trip (wings, bontons and teriyaki green beans), Tripe Dips and Chips, Alamo Nachos, Walleye Fingers, Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas, Bonfire Sticky Wings, Fire Roasted Peppers, Calamari and Bontons (chicken, gorgonzola and buffalo sauce in a wonton).

Soups include Tortilla, Chicken White Bean Chili, and a Soup du Jour.

Salads include House, Caesar, Bonfire Chopped, Blackened Walleye, Tempe Chicken Salad, Asian Chicken, and Baby Bleu.

Wood Fired Pizzas include Four Cheese, Three Sausages, Bella Roma (artichoke, spinach, tomato), Margherita, and BBQ Chicken.

Burger and Sandwich options at Bonfire include Cowboy Burger, Bacon Bleu, Be Bold Burger (two half-lb burgers with sauteed mushrooms, onions, peppers and four cheese, 1000 island dressing), and the Hickory Burger.  Sandwiches include Arizona Chicken Wrap, Chicago-Style French Dip, Mango Chicken, Bistro Chicken Club, Rotisserie Turkey Ciabatta, Texas Pulled Pork, and Walleye Sandwich.

Bonfire’s Southwestern items include Chicken Fajitas, Steak or Walleye Fajitas, Veggie Fajitas, Chicken Enchiladas, Walleye Tacos, Chimichanga and Baja Burrito.

Woodgrilled Meats include Bacon Wrapped Medallions, 8 oz Sirloin, 14 oz New York Strip, Drunk and Dirty Sirloin, and 8 oz Filet

Entrees include Rotisserie Chicken, St Louis Style Ribs, Prime Rib, BBQ Beef Brisket, and Brick Oven Kabobs, Blackened Grouper Tacos, Pan-Fried Walleye, Grilled Salon, Grilled Roughy, Fettuccine Alfredo and Broccoli, Fire-Roasted Baked Spaghetti, Cajun Chicken Penne, and Bonfire Fettuccine.

Dessert options at Axel’s Bonfire include Towering Carrot Cake, Death by Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookie, Deep-Fried Cheesecake, Kids Sundae and Seasonal Dessert.

Price guide: Appetizers $8-13 Salads $6-14 Sandwiches $10-15 Entrees $12-27

Happy Hour:

  • Daily 3-6pm
  • Sun-Thurs 9pm-close
  • $2 off cocktails
  • 1/2 priced Appetizers

Weekly Specials:

Sunday Limited Brunch Menu 11am-2pm Brunch Menu with Hand-crafted Bloody Mary’s and Screwdrivers $4 and $.99 mimosas.
Sunday Night– 4-9pm Kids build their own pizza and sundae for FREE with the purchase of each adult entree.

Mondays- 1/2 Price Bottles of Wine (1/2 price on bottles that are sold by the glass & 20% off our reserve bottles)

Wednesday & Tuesday Evenings- Dinner for Two: Your four course culinary adventure includes an appetizer to share, two entrées with sides, shared dessert for $49 per couple

What we ordered: My visit happened to be during Happy Hour so I enjoyed the $2/off on cocktails and got myself a Margarita for just $4.  Just the right mix of tart and tangy with sweet and sour and Don Julio tequila.

A couple of my companions ordered the Dirty Martini, which came with a shaker full for $8 at the Happy Hour price.  Such a deal!

Dirty Martini at Axel's Bonfire ~ St Paul, MN

Appetizers were half off during Happy Hour so we started with the Spinach and Artichoke Dip.  I love artichokes and get this dip at many restaurants but Bonfire’s version was one of the most boring I have tried to date.  It had several decent sized chunks of artichoke but the sauce was very thin and didn’t have a lot of flavor.  It was served with tri-colored tortilla chips (which also happen to be my least favorite accompaniment to artichoke dip).  The good news is that we paid half-price for this during Happy Hour.

We also got the Triple Dips and Chips, which came with salsa, guacamole and jalapeno cheddar dip.  The salsa was very good, spicy and slightly sweet.  The guacamole was decent as well, but the serving was very small.  The third dip didn’t look very appetizing to me so I didn’t try it at all. The dips were served with tri-colored tortilla chips.

As usual, I had a hard time making up my mind about what I wanted to eat for dinner.  I was leaning toward fish tacos and since Axel’s has both Walleye or Grouper,  I asked the server his opinion.  He didn’t hesitate to recommend the walleye, so that is what I ended up getting.  There were three flour tortilla tacos, each piled with hand-battered Shore Lunch walleye fingers topped with pico de gallo, cilantro and shredded lettuce.  The walleye was good, crispy and not at all fishy.  One of the pieces of walleye still had a small bone in it which wasn’t very appealing but not unheard of.  I wish I would’ve asked for a side of salsa to spice up these tacos because while they were good, they were kind of bland.  The pico didn’t have as many jalapenos or cilantro as it could’ve. The order was served with burracho beans and tomatillo rice, both of which were full of flavor.

One of my companions ordered the Chicago French Dip.  This sandwich looked wonderful and was at least eight inches long, thinly shaved prime rib on top of a fresh ciabatta roll.  The beef was complimented by homemade giardiniera with spicy pickled peppers, onions, carrots, and caulifower.  My companion thought this sandwich was wonderful but wished there was more beef then what it came with.  Also, ketchup is preferred to be self-serve from a bottle instead of partitioned into a little dish.Chicago French Dip at Axel's Bonfire ~ St Paul, MN

Another companion ordered the Veggie Fajitas as a vegan option.  These were wonderful! There was a very large pile of seasoned and sauteed broccoli, green beans, baby carrots, portabella mushrooms and onions.  Hot tortillas, beans and rice were served on the side.

Another companion ordered the Mango Chicken Sandwich, a grilled chicken breast topped with fresh mango salsa served on a grilled bun with french fries on the side.

The last of us ordered the Margherita Pizza, light on the cheese.  This pizza looked really good but I think it would’ve been better with the standard amount of cheese.  It was topped with plenty of tomatoes and fresh basil.  This was also half price during Happy Hour.

Service: My five of us in my party all arrived at different times and met in the bar until we were all present.  We had made an advance reservation and our table was ready for us when we wanted to sit down.  Our server was patient with us while we perused the menu, and offered suggestions that were vegan-friendly for one of the members in our party.  The food was prepared reasonably fast so we decided to wait until our appetizers were served before ordering our entrees.  When presented with the bill, our server had taken the liberty of giving us separate checks with the appetizers split five ways…. so easy and convenient!

Overall Impression: This was my first visit to Axel’s Bonfire in many years and I had forgotten what a hassle it can be to park near Grand Ave.  I highly suggest parking in the ramp on the southwest corner of Grand and Victoria, as parking on the nearby residential streets is likely to get you a parking ticket for around $30.  You may also want to make a reservation, especially on the weekend evenings.  We had very good service during our visit.  The atmosphere is contemporary and somewhat artsy and the menu has a lot of variety.  The portion sizes were well sized.

This is an original review of Axel’s Bonfire on Twin Cities Restaurant Blog
Axel's Bonfire on Urbanspoon
Bonfire Wood Fire Cooking Reviews in St Paul

Feb 062011
 

Cuisine: American, Barbeque, Dessert, Ribs
Restaurant Features: Catering, Counter-Service (at many locations), On-Site Parking
Locations: Apple Valley, Bloomington, Burnsville, Coon Rapids, Duluth, Forest Lake, MOA, Mankato, Maple Grove, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Plymouth, Rochester, Roseville, St Paul, St Cloud, Stillwater, Woodbury
Addresses:
Apple Valley – 7593 147th Street Apple Valley, MN 55124    952-891-6400
Bloomington- 5101 West 98th Street Bloomington, MN 55437  952-832-0500
Burnsville-  2721 County Road 5 Burnsville, MN 55337 952-882-9933
Coon Rapids- 3211 Northdale Boulevard  Coon Rapids, MN 55448  763-421-9467
Duluth- 355 Lake Avenue South Duluth, MN 55802    218-740-3180
Forest Lake- 43 19th Street SW Forest Lake, MN 55025  651-464-4400
Mall of America- 320 South Avenue, Mall of America Bloomington, MN 55425 952-854-0225
Mankato-  291 St. Andrew Drive Mankato, MN 56001  507-385-1223
Maple Grove- 7825 Vinewood Lane Maple Grove, MN 55369  763-416-4600
Minneapolis- (Calhoun BBQ & Blues Club) 3001 Hennepin Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55408 612-822-9900
Minneapolis-  4264 Upton Avenue South Minneapolis, MN 55410  612-929-1200
Minnetonka-  14601 Highway 7  Minnetonka, MN 55345 952-933-9600
Plymouth- 11308 Highway 55 Plymouth, MN 55441  763-525-0500
Rochester- 431 NW 16th Avenue Rochester, MN 55901  507-282-4200
Roseville- 2131 Snelling Avenue Roseville, MN 55113 651-633-4800
St Paul- 1930 West 7th Street St. Paul, MN 55116 651-699-8800
Stillwater-  14200 60th Street North Stillwater, MN 55082 651-439-5200
St Cloud- 310 3rd Street NE Waite Park, MN 56387  320-217-5900
Woodbury- 1940 Donegal Drive Woodbury, MN 55125 651-501-1900

Hours: Daily 11am
Links: Famous Daves Website * Famous Dave’s Facebook Page * Map to Famous Dave’s Locations

Atmosphere: Most of the Famous Dave’s locations around the Twin Cities look very similar in decor, where the entrance leads you right to the counter where you order your food.   Wooden structures are built to resemble old shacks around the kitchen area.  Tables are spread throughout the space (pictured below is the Forest Lake location), all covered with red and white checkered tablecloths. Antique memorabilia adorns the walls.

The Famous Dave’s BBQ & Blues at Calhoun Square has a stage for live performances.  Cool place to see a small, intimate show!

Menu: Appetizers at Famous Dave’s include Smoked Salmon Spread, Chicken Fingers, Catfish Fingers, Ribs Tips, BBQ or Buffalo Chicken Wings, and Onion Strings.

Side dishes at Famous Dave’s include Wilbur Beans, Coleslaw, Potato salad, Dunkin Apples, Fries, Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes,

Famous Dave’s has salads! Options include Smoked Salmon Caesar, Grilled Chicken Caesar, Crispy Chicken, and Dave’s Sassy BBQ Salad.  Soups include Chili or Wild Rice.

Sandwiches come with one side and include Beef Brisket, Chopped Pork, Barbeque Chicken, Texas Manhandler, Hickory Chicken, Cajun Chicken and Char-Grilled Chicken.  Burger options are the Char-Grilled Burger, Cheeseburger, Ultimate BBQ, Devil Spit, and Bacon & Jack Favorite Burger.

Barbeque Classics at Famous Dave’s are the Texas Beef Brisket, Georgia Chopped Pork, Barbeque Chicken, Rib Tips, Chicken Tenders, Country Roasted Chicken and Sweetwater Cajun Catfish.

Award-Winning Ribs are smoked in the pit then finished on the grill.  Size options  are 1/3 slab, 1/2 slab or full rack (12 bones).

Kids Meals include Roasted or BBQ Chicken, Chicken Tenders, Chopped Pork, Hamburger or Cheeseburger,  Ribs, and Mac & Cheese.

Dessert selections include Famous Bread Pudding, Pecan Pie, Hot Fudge Kahlua Brownie, and Ice Cream, Sundae with Hot Fudge or Pecan Praline Sauce.

Famous Dave’s has a variety of different sauces that are sure to please just about anyone!

Price guide: Appetizers $6-9  Sandwiches $9-10  BBQ Meats $12-13  Ribs $13-22 Desserts $6

What we ordered: I had the two-meat combo with Catfish Fingers and Texas Beef Brisket.  The four medium-sized catfish fingers were hot and crispy, fresh out of the fryer and seasoned with semi-spicy Cajun seasonings.  It  comes with to sauces to dip in, a sweet & sour type of sauce and a seasoned mayo tartar.  I thought these were especially yummy with the seasoned tartar.  The Texas Beef Brisket was also pretty good.  This combo came with corn, a corn bread muffin and two sides.  I love the corn bread at Famous Dave’s! It is more moist than typical corn bread and slightly sweet.  I am not a fan of the overcooked boring corn, which is a far cry from the sweetcorn we harvest in Minnesota.  The two sides I got were the garlic smashed potatoes and coleslaw, both very good.

My companion ordered the XXL Rib Platter, a 12-bone rack of St Louis Style ribs.  The ribs were meaty and quite tender, full of smokey flavor from the Pit.  The two sides were fries and cinnamon apples.

Service: The Forest Lake location of Famous Dave’s offers counter-service, and we were able to order within minutes of arriving.  We got ourselves drinks at the self-service station and waited approximately ten minutes before our food arrived.  Staff walk the dining room and check with guests from time to time to determine if they need anything, and bus tables when necessary.

Overall Impression: I really like the variety of menu choices at Famous Daves, although I think their prices are slightly high for the amount of food you get.  They have several great choices of sauces and despite being a large chain-restaurant, I think they do have pretty decent barbeque (you can’t go wrong with the ribs!).  If you register to be a part of the P.I.G. Club you can get special offers, so go sign up here
Famous Daves on Urbanspoon

Sep 182010
 

Cuisine: American, Burgers, Dessert, Pizza, Pasta
Restaurant Features: Bar, Delivery, Flat Screen TVs, Kids Menu
Locations:

Albert Lea, MN
Bemidji, MN
Blaine, MN
Bloomington, MN
Coon Rapids, MN
Duluth, MN
Eagan, MN
Eau Claire, WI
Eden Prairie, MN
Fairmont, MN
Fargo, ND
Grand Forks, ND
Hastings, MN
Minneapolis-Uptown, MN
Hudson, WI
Lakeville, MN
Overland Park, KS
Plymouth, MN
Rochester, MN
Roseville, MN
Shoreview, MN
St. Cloud, MN
St. Paul, MN
Wausau, WI
Wichita, KS
Willmar, MN
Winona, MN
Woodbury, MN

Address: 57 So. Hamline St. Paul, MN 55105 651-698-0353
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-1am Sun 11am-12am
Links: Green Mill Website * Green Mill on FacebookGoogle Map

Outside Green Mill

Outside Green Mill

Atmosphere: The  St Paul Green Mill on Grand Ave is the original restaurant location, where it was once the Green Mill Inn for almost four decades.  The Green Mill as we know it today has been around since 1975 and has been very popular since it became a franchise in 1990.

The inside of the Green Mill has the standard wood-paneled walls that you see in many of its locations, along with padded wooden booths and wood tables.  The bar area is located on one side of the space, the dining area on the other.  There are multiple TVs hanging from the ceiling.

Menu: The Green Mill recently updated its menu in the summer of 2010.

Appetizers include Red Pepper Hummus and Pita Chips, Mozzarella Sticks, Walleye Bites, Sweet Potato Fries, Asian Pot Stickers, Coconut Chicken Fingers, Chicken and Bacon Quesadilla, Crispy Chicken Chipotle Wontons, Chipotle Chicken Nachos, Fried Green Beans, Buffalo Bites, Thai Eggrolls, Spicy Chicken Quesadilla, Spinach Dip and Onion Ring Cyclone.  The Green Mill is also famous for their Chicken Wings, which can be served with bone or boneless, drenched in any of the following sauces: Jim Beam, Diablo, Sesame Teriyaki, Garlic Parmesan, Peking Zing, Dixie or Extreme Jamaican.

Salads at the Green Mill incude Warm Smoked Salmon, Coconut Chicken, Bangkok Chicken, Chipotle Chicken Chopped Salad, Blackberry and Grilled Chicken, Chicken Stir Fry, Thai Chicken Salad, Cilantro Lime Shrimp Salad, Cobb Salad with Chicken, Caesar salad, or House Salad.

Sandwich offerings are the Asian Chicken Wrap, French Dip, Cashew Chicken Salad, Parmesan Walleye, Millhouse Club, Greek Gyro, Crispy Chicken, Chicken Caesar Wrap, Buffalo Chicken Wrap, Turkey Bacon and Avocado Wrap, and Italian Ciabatta.  Burger s are 1/2 lb and served with fries, fruit, or chips.  Options include Build-Your-Own, Black Angus 1/4 lb, Summit Bacon, Blaze Burger (jalapenos and pepper jack), 4-Cheese Bacon Burger, Western Mill Burger, Cheeseburger and Veggie Burger..

Pizza options are extensive, with four crusts including Thin N’ Crispy, Pescara, Classic, and Chicago-Style Deep Dish.  You can Build-Your-Own from a variety of ingredients or order a pizza from the menu like the Margherita, Chipotle Chicken, MVP (Pepperoni and Canadian Bacon), Romano, Low-Cal Chicken, Extreme Supreme, Triple Meat and Cheese, and Il Primo (sausage, pepperoni, mushroom and 4 cheeses). Thin N Crispy Pizzas include Positano, Jalapeno Bacon and Garlic Chicken, Pepperoni, 4-Cheese Spicy Italian, and Sausage and Pepperoni.  You can also Build-Your-Own Calzone.

Pasta Options include Seafood Cannelloni, Five Cheese Lasagna, Mostaccioli, Butternut Squash Ravioli with Asparagus, Spinach Tortellini, Desert Fire Pasta, Wild Mushroom and Chicken Penne, Spaghetti, Lobster and Shrimp Linguine, and Fettuccine Alfredo.

Entrees include Bourbon Flat iron Steak, Summit Battered Fish and Chips, Chicken Parmesan,Chicken Marsala, Chicken with Crab Stuffing,  and Pan-Fried Walleye.

Desserts at Green Mill include Chocolate Pyramid, Chocolate Molten Martini, and Skyscraper Cheesecake.

Kids Menu items include Hamburger, Mac N Cheese, Quesadilla, Spaghetti, Personal Pizza, Corn Dog, and Chicken Strips.
Price guide: Appetizers $5-10  Wings $7/10 Salads $5-10  Burgers/Sandwiches $8-11  Pizza $9-18+   Pastas $10-14  Entrees $10-16  Desserts $6-7

Happy Hour: 3-6pm and 9pm-12am

  • $5 appetizers include Red Pepper Hummus and Pita Chips, Mozzarella Sticks,  Sweet Potato Fries,  Coconut Chicken Fingers, Chicken and Bacon Quesadilla, Crispy Chicken Chipotle Wontons, Buffalo Bites, Thai Eggrolls, Spicy Chicken Quesadilla, Spinach Dip and Onion Ring Cyclone.

Weekly Specials:

  • M-F 11a-2pm  Bottomless Soup and Salad or Salad and Pizza $8.99

What we ordered: We started with an order of Boneless Wings with Sesame Teriyaki Sauce.  These were delicious! The pieces of white-meat chicken were very lightly breaded and fried to a golden brown.  They were lightly tossed in the sweet yet tangy sesame teriyaki sauce and topped with sesame seeds, served with both ranch and bleu cheese dressings for dipping.  Excellent choice!

I had no doubt in my mind I was going to order the Deep-Dish Pizza, so that is exactly what I did.  The crust of this pizza was indeed thick, chewy and crispy on the bottom.  The cheese was baked directly on top of the crust and then topped with a generous amount of pizza sauce.  I love the sauce at Green Mill, it is sweet and zesty and has small chunks of stewed tomato mixed in. The 8″ small was more than enough for me, I even had half a pizza leftover to take home! So yummy!

Deep Dish Pizza @ Green MillDeep Dish Pizza @ Green Mill

One of my companions ordered the Chicken Cashew Salad Sandwich.  This sandwich looked great; so fresh and light!  The salad itself  had chunks of white-meat chicken mixed with cashews, diced green onion, red grapes and mayonnaise.  It was served on toasted cranberry bread with shredded romaine lettuce.

Chicken Salad Sandwich @ Green MillChicken Salad Sandwich @ Green Mill

Another companion ordered the Chipotle Chicken Nachos and an order of Sweet Potato Fries.  The Nachos were served on a long plate, with crunchy chips topped with shredded chipotle chicken, pepper jack, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses and topped with fresh pico de gallo, salsa, guacamole, shredded lettuce and sour cream.  These were also very yummy but slightly overcooked.

Nachos at Green MillNachos at Green Mill

The Sweet Potato Fries were served in a large cone, very good!

Sweet Potato Fries @ Green MillSweet Potato Fries @ Green Mill

Service: My party of 3 adults and one small child arrived shortly after opening on a Sunday and we were the first customers of the day.  Needless to say there was no problem getting a parking spot or a table!  We had great service, our server was very accommodating to our needs.  Food and drinks were brought promptly; service with a smile.
Overall Impression: Green Mill is a great restaurant with a varied menu that appeals to just about anyone. Their Deep Dish Pizza is awesome.  Many locations to choose from!
Green Mill Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

May 042010
 

*****Aperitif has CLOSED as of February 2011*****

Cuisine: Mediterranean

Restaurant Features: Bar, Patio, On Site Parking, Saturday & Sunday Brunch
Location: Woodbury, MN
Address: 772 Bielenberg Drive  Woodbury, MN 55125 651.578.3000
Hours: Monday-Friday 11:00 A.M.-12:00 A.M.  Saturdays 4:00 P.M.-12:00A.M.
Closed Sundays.
Links: Aperitif Website *  Aperitif Facebook PageGoogle Map

aperitif outside

Atmosphere: Open since January 2010, Aperitif is located in a giant, 10,000+ Sq. Ft. newly-constructed building at the corner of Bielenberg Dr. and Tamarack Rd in Woodbury. I didn’t realize how big the restaurant truly was until I stepped inside the fun and artistically-decorated space.  It is both long and wide, with room to seat over 200 guests.  A majority of the tables are set within one big space but there are also tables around the perimeter of the room that offer more privacy. There are also a couple of large round tables that have closeable sheer curtains for a more intimate option.  The decor is a collection of homemade art including murals and mosaics; even the light fixtures themselves are works-of-art.

aperitif dining room

The sophisticated yet contemporary black walnut bar runs at least half the length of the restaurant on the wall opposite the entrance.  The lighting below the bar illuminates the stools in a very inviting manner.    The wall has a series of colorful murals representing a contemporary Mediterranean theme and the ceiling is also very cool, a combination of wood and lights.

aperitif bar Area

Soon to open, the patio area at Aperitif is a beautiful, large, bricked space complete with a two-story fireplace and fairy-lit trees. There are also several pretty flower beds and landscaping around the property.  I can’t wait to go back and enjoy a drink by the fire.

aperitif patio

Menu: Appetizers include Italian Wedding Soup, Shrimp Bisque, Salmon Cakes, Portuguese-Style Shrimp, Crispy Oysters, Spicy Sauteed Calamari, Tuna Carpaccio, Walleye Fritters, Shish Kebabs, Grilled Chorizo, Mini Sicilian Veal Meatball Sandwiches, Baby Clams and Mussels Mariscada, and the Imported Charcuterie and Cheese Board.

The salads offered at Aperitif are the Fresh Vegetable Chopped Salad, Quattro (assorted meats and cheeses), Bistecca a la Genoa (pesto glazed sirloin and bleu cheese with romaine), Grilled Caesar (with shrimp, roasted salmon or chicken), Tomato Panzanella, Rare Tuna Bistro Salad, and the String Beans & Sweet Onions.

Aperitif also offers Pizzas and Flatbreads.  Pizza choices are Margarita, Bologna (sausage and prosciutto) , Caesar, Athens (ground lamb and feta) and the White Pizza (spinach pesto and trugole Italian cheese).  Flatbreads include Grecian (artichokes, kalamata olives and roasted garlic), Capri, and Wild Mushroom.

Pasta dishes include Chicjen Piccata, Crispy Shrimp, Vegetable Ribbons, Veal Bolognese, Linguini Vongole and Nonni’s Meatball (with baked ziti)

Aperitif’s Executive Chef Chad Grant has created a variety of entrees with fresh ingredients that you often see in the Mediterranean region.  Options include the Double Heritage Pork Chop, Turkey Porterhouse, Hanger Steak, Lamb Ossobuco, Herb Rotosserie Chicken, Flaming Shish Kebab, Panko Crusted Walleye, Cioppino, Swordfish Steak, Fillet Mignon of Tuna, Roast Salmon Verte, Shrimp Provencal, and Paillard of Chicken or Sirloin.

Desserts include Lemon Souffle, Molten Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Gelato.

Aperitif is also open Saturday and Sunday for brunch, with a condensed version of the dinner menu.  View Aperitif Brunch Menu.

Price guide: Appetizers $6-15  Salads $7-18 Flatbread/Pizza $11-15 Entrees $20-29 Pasta $10-17
What we ordered: Our meal started with complimentary freshly baked foccacia bread, served hot from the oven.  It was soft and light with a golden buttery-brown crust.  The bread was served with an mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and freshly grated parmesan for dipping.  Every bite of this bread was heavenly, it was literally the best bread this bread-lover has had in quite some time.  My new favorite bread!

I love calamari and I also love spice so when I saw the Spicy Sauteed Calamari on the menu, I had to try it.  Big winner! The tender calamari was cooked perfectly in a spicy tomato and wine broth along with pine nuts, currants and homemade cous cous.  I loved the combination of flavors and textures and it definitely had bite.  The currants added an unexpected bite of sweetness that helped offset the spice.

Prior to this visit I had never had oysters served any way other than raw, in-the-shell.  Fried oysters are a completely different experience (and for me a much more enjoyable one!). The panko breading gives it a beautiful, crispiness and the oyster itself has substance.  This is probably the safest way to try oysters if you want to gently get your feet wet!  They came with two different sauces, a spicy vodka-cocktail sauce and a syrupy sweet-and-sour dipping sauce.  Both sauces were very good but I preferred the sweet and sour.

We also tried the Shrimp Bisque, which was a zesty blended soup that had the distinct flavors of shrimp, tomato and a hint of brandy.  It was topped with a slice of crustini and thin slices of breaded shrimp.  The shrimp bisque was wonderful and I enjoyed what I was able to eat but wanted to save room for the main course which was yet to come.

For my entree I ordered the Lamb Ossobuco, which came highly recommended.  This tender, rich lamb shank was braised in a savory broth of its own juices, and what I believe to be red wine.  Mama Mia! This traditional Italian dish instantly turned me into a fan of lamb like I hadn’t believed possible.  It tasted similar to beef but just a little more rich but had a depth of flavor that was not at all gamey like lamb can sometimes be.  It was tender and falling off the bone, just the way braised meats should be.  It was served with cheese polenta and cooked peppers,  zucchini and yellow squash.  If you are unfamiliar with polenta, it is a dish made from cornmeal, water and salt.  The texture and taste of it is very similar to grits, but it is cooled after it is cooked so it is firm and has a slightly gelatanous feel to it.

My companion ordered the Cioppino, also by recommendation.  This seafood medley was a  mix of shrimp, lobster, clams, mussels, baby scallops and swordfish cooked in a flavorful but mild tomato and saffron based broth.   Every bite of the seafood was tender.  The dish was served with a large piece of bread in the middle, soaking up the broth.  As much as I enjoyed the dish, I would have preferred my bread on the side.

For dessert we tried the Lemon Souffle, which is a frozen treat similar to ice cream but made through a different process.  It was slightly creamy yet light and refreshing, with the distinct taste of natural lemon.  I could eat this every day in the summer!

We also tried the Molten Chocolate Cake, which was served with chocolate gelato, roasted marshmallow cream and gram cracker crumbs.  Just one forkful into this masterpiece and it is erupting with hot, molten dark chocolate.  Although the cake is about the size of a serving, it is so rich that it can still be shared.  The gelato, marshmallow and gram cracker crumbs weren’t necessary to make this cake a winner, but were delicious all the same.  Especially if you like s’mores!

Service: We had exceptional service at Aperitif throughout our visit.
The parking lot has enough spaces to accommodate the restaurant at full capacity so it wasn’t a problem to find a spot.  Reservations are accepted but not always necessary, but I did make a reservation ahead of time.  Seating is arranged by the team of hostesses who were all very sweet and professional.  Our server took good care of us, and had thorough knowledge of the menu and gave excellent suggestions.  The food was paced so that we were able to enjoy each course without rushing to eat it before the next arrived.  The General Manager was also on-hand the night of our visit and was available to provide information about the restaurant as well as suggestions from the menu.  When you visit Aperitif, you know you will be well taken care of!
Overall Impression: My companion and I both thoroughly enjoyed Aperitif. The atmosphere is comfortable, yet fun and romantic all at once, and the service can’t be beat.  Everything we tried from the menu was delicious, I highly recommend the Lamb Ossobuco and the spicy calamari.  Aperitif also gets my vote for Best Bread.  Another great feature I would like to point out is that Aperitif has a Blog that offers cooking videos and tips! Go check it out….

American Motorsports Bar on Urbanspoon

Jan 182010
 

Cuisine: Pizza, Delicatessen (hoagies)

Restaurant Features: Catering, Counter-Service, Delivery, Kids Menu, On-Site Parking (at many locations)

Locations: Arden Hills, Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Burnsville, Coon Rapids, Eagan, Eden Prairie, Edina, Golden Valley, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Plymouth, Richfield, Rogers, Roseville, Savage, St Paul, Woodbury
Addresses: (Click here for Maps of Davanni’s Locations)

Arden Hills: 3673 Lexington Ave N Arden Hills, MN 55126 651-481-7100

Bloomington:
8605 Lyndale Ave S Bloomington, MN 55420 952-888-6232

Brooklyn Center:
5937 Summit Dr Brooklyn Center, MN 55430 763-566-8220

Burnsville: 14639 CR 11 Burnsville, MN 55337 952-431-1500

Coon Rapids: 3430 129th Ave NW Coon Rapids, MN 55448 763-712-1000

Eagan:
1960 Cliff Lake Rd Eagan, MN 55123 651-688-6111

Eden
Prairie: 8061 Flying Cloud Dr Eden Prairie, MN 55344 952-941-4444

Edina: 5124 Gus Young Ln Edina, MN 55436 952-920-9090

Golden Valley:
663 Winnetka Ave N Golden Valley, Mn 55427 763-398-0303

Minneapolis: 1242 Hennepin Ave Minneapolis, MN 55403 612-338-0000

Minnetonka: 15200 Highway 7 Minnetonka, MN 55345 952-938-4243

Plymouth:
3015 Harbor Ln N Plymouth, MN 55447 763-550-0003

Richfield:
2312 W 66th St Richfield, MN 55423 612-866-3324

Rogers:
14165 James Road Rogers, Mn 55374 763-428-2990

Roseville, 1905 W Perimeter Dr Roseville, MN 55113 651-636-3411

Savage: 14125 Highway 13 Savage, MN 55378 952-440-1200

St Paul:
310 White Bear AveSt. Paul, MN 55106 651-738-6992

St Paul:
41 Cleveland Ave S St. Paul, MN 55105 651-690-4848

Uptown Mpls: 1414 W Lake St Minneapolis, MN 55408 612-822-3111

Woodbury: 1905 Donegal Dr Woodbury, MN 55125 651-739-1010

Links: Davanni’s Website

Davannis-outside

Atmosphere: The East St Paul Davanni’s location is just off I-94 and White Bear Ave.  Like all other Davanni’s location, customers order at a counter and then wait for their name to be called when order is ready.

Davannis-counterservice

There are several different seating areas, each with booths that can accommodate up to four people.  There are also a  couple of tables in the very back section of the dining room.  There are many windows throughout the restaurant, leaving it very well lit during the day.

Davannis-inside

Menu: Appetizers include Potato Chips, Breadsticks and Garlic Cheese Bread.

Salads at Davanni’s are the Garden Salad, Side Garden, Chicken Cobb, Italian Chef, Oriental Chicken, Southwestern Chicken, Spinach Chicken, Chicken Caesar, and Side Caesar.

Hoagie sandwiches are served on either white, whole grain, or ciabatta roll with lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo.   Options include Southwestern Chicken, Chicken Bacon Honey Mustard, Chicken Breast, Turkey/Bacon/Cheddar, Turkey, BLT w/ Cheddar, Club, Roast Beef, Pastrami, Ham, Salami, Tuna Melt, Veggie, and Three Cheese. Hot subs made with meat, marinara and cheese only include Chicken Parmigiano, Meatball, Sausage, and Pizza.

Davanni’s Pizza can be ordered with a choice of three different crusts (thin, traditional and deep dish) and two sauces (red and white).  Sizes pizzas come in are Solo, Medium and Laqrge.  Toppings choices are Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Sliced Chicken Breast, Canadian Bacon, Hamburger, Red Onion, Green Pepper, Garlic, Mushrooms, Hot Peppers, Green Olive, Black Olive, Pineapple, Bacon, Gorgonzola Cheese, Anchovies, Roma Tomatoes, Cheddar Cheese, and Jalapeños.

Davanni’s also has Penne Pasta (with chicken, meatballs or sausage), Lasagna and Stuffed Calzones.

Kids menu items include Hlaf Pasta, Solo Cheese Pizza, or Half Ham Hoagy.

Desserts include Brownies, Rice Crispy Treats, and Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

Price guide: Hoagies $3.25-7  Salads $4-7   Pizzas $5-20  Calzones $5.50+

What We ordered: My companions and I ordered a variety of pizzas, including this large Chicago-style deep dish pizza with pepperoni and sausage.  Davanni’s deep dish is a treat for those who like real Chicago-style pizza and has been my one of family’s favorites for many years.  The buttery brown crust is at least 1″ deep yet it is light.  The lightness of the crust is deceiving because the pizza is actually very filling.   The cheese and meats were baked directly on top of the crust with pizza sauce spread out on the very top to prevent the crust from getting soggy.  The large pizza had 10-12 wedges.

Davannis-deepdishpizza

Our party also ordered a Large Thin Crust Pepperoni Pizza.  The crust on the thin crust pizza was also pretty good, crispy but slightly chewy.  It was loaded with melted mozzarella and a fair amount of pepperoni (although I personally like more).

Davannis-thincrust c and olive oil)

This is a solo deep dish pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms and “pink” sauce.  Pink sauce simply means that it has both white sauce (garlic and olive oil) and red sauce.  If you like garlic, you would love either the white or the pink sauce.  This pizza was also very good, the mushrooms were fresh and there was a lot of pepperoni.  The light and buttery deep dish crust practically melts in your mouth.

Davannis-solodeepdish

One of my companions ordered a half pizza hoagy on whole grain with a special request for the sauce to be served on side.  This is a good sandwich but it doesn’t have much substance, just a thin layer of pepperoni and a thin layer of melted cheese on one half of the bread.  You better order the whole sandwich if you’re hungry!

Davannis-pizzahoagie

Another companion ordered a pepperoni and veggie calzone to-go.  Safe to say that this thing was loaded with melted cheese, meat and veggies.

Davannis-calzone

Service: You can call ahead for pick up or delicery, otherwise Davanni’s offers standard counter-service.  There are typically 2-3 cashiers taking orders during the lunch and dinner rush but you can still expect to wait a few minutes before placing your order. It was fairly busy during my visit and it took about 30-40 minutes for our pizzas, which seems a reasonable amount of time for the deep dish pizzas to bake.
Overall Impression: Davanni’s has excellent deep dish pizza and is conveniently located in several places around the Twin Cities.  Service is reasonably fast and menu prices aren’t going to break the bank.
Dari-ette Drive in on Urbanspoon

Jun 212009
 

Cuisine: Chinese, Mongolian
Restaurant Features: Catering, Lunch Buffet, Dinner Buffet, On-Site Parking. Take-Out
Locations: Woodbury, MN
Address: 8340 City Centre Dr (Woodbury City Centre) Woodbury, MN 55125 (651)730-8668

Hours: Lunch Mon-Sat 11am-3pm     Dinner Mon-Thur 4p-9:30p                 Fri-Sun 4p-10p    Sunday & Holiday Brunch 11:30a-3p
Links: Google Map Atlantic Buffet Website

Atlanticbuffet-outside1000
Atmosphere: The Atlantic Buffet is located within a large strip mall called Woodbury City Centre.  When you first walk inside the reception/lobby area, the Atlantic Buffet in Woodbury has a cute little mini-pond set up with Koi swimming around inside, and live plants arranged around it.  The main dining room is arranged into at least two dining areas on half of the large space, the other half of the restaurant has all the Buffet Islands set up.  The dining areas  contain both tables and booths and have a contemporary feel.

Atlanticbuffet-dining100 Atlanticbuffet-diningbooths1000

Here is a glimpse of the Buffets Islands (I think there were 6-8 of them).

Atlanticbuffet-buffetislands1000

In the way back of the Buffet Islands there is an additional area set up for the Mongolian Stir-Fry.  You can choose your own ingredients and then you have the chef ccok it for you on the Mongolian BBQ.

Atlanticbuffet-stirfryline1000

Menu: The items on the buffet change frequently, but there are over 100 items, including a decent selection of Chinese foods, Sushi, American foods, Seafood, and build-your-own Mongolian Stir-Fry.  There is also a dessert and fruits table, and salad bar.

There is also a full Chinese Take-Out menu available.
Price guide:

  • Lunch Buffet  Kids 3-6 $4.25 Kids 7-11 $5.50 Adults $8.25
  • Dinner Buffet  Kids 3-6 $5.75  Kids 7-11 $7.25  Adults $12.50

What I ordered: There were many food items at Atlantic Buffet and I was determined to try a little of this and a little of that.  Here is my Chinese/Sushi plate.  The cheesy mushrooms were very good, as were the steamed dumplings and cream cheese wontons.  The few bites I tried of the chicken & Broccoli stir-fry were okay, but I did not care for the other meat entree I tried (not sure what it was but the meat was stringy and chewy).  The sushi was decent although there wasn’t a large variety to choose from, mostly California Rolls or Salmon/Avocado Rolls.

Atlanticbuffet-chineseplate1000

I made my own Mongolian stir-fry which was my most favorite dish at the Atlantic Buffet.  I chose the ingredients I wanted at the Mongolian BBQ station (Beef, Broccoli, Pineapple, Onions and Noodles) and figured out my own combination of sauces (there was no guide to help!) which included cooking wine, teriyaki, garlic, chile peppers, and sesame seeds.  I have found that the more sauce you put on, the better it tastes because the noodles and vegetables soak it right up.

Atlanticbuffet-mongolianplate1000

I tried just a few items on my Seafood Plate, including tiny mussels (pretty good, not too chewy or rubbery) that were cooked in a fish sauce.  The salmon was okay and I also tried a bite of Halibut.

Atlanticbuffet-seafoodplate1000

For the sake of this review I also made a Dessert Plate.  Nothing too exciting here but the rice krispie bar and almond cookies were good.  They also have soft-serve ice cream.

Atlanticbuffet-desserts1000

Service: We were greeted upon entering and were shown to a table right away.  Drinks were fast and continuous throughout our visit, as was the clearing of plates.
Overall Impression: Wide variety and selection of foods for the price.  The Mongolian BBQ and Seafood Buffet offered the best choices, but I thought the quality of the the Chinese food was just mediocre.

Apr 152009
 

Cuisine: Delicatessan, Pizza
Restaurant Features: Counter Service, On-Site Parking
Locations: St Paul, Woodbury, MN
Addresses & Maps:
St Paul– 619 Selby Ave St Paul, MN 55102 (651) 224-3350
Woodbury803 Bielenberg Dr, Woodbury, MN‎ – (651) 702-5544

Hours: Sun-Thurs 11am-10pm  Fri-Sat  11am-11pm
Links: Paisanos Website

Paisanos-outside1000
Atmosphere: The St Paul location of Paisanos Pizza & Hot Hoagies is located at the intersection of Selby & Dale, in the same building as The Louisiana Cafe.  Menu boards are hung on the walls when you first walk in, so you can decide what you want while waiting in line. You place your order at one end of the counter and then pick it up at the other end when it is ready.  Paisanos Pizza has tables spread out in front of several big windows that look out to Selby Ave, as well as a long bar-height table with stools that all face the windows.  Decor is contemporary.

Paisanos-inside1000
Menu: Salads at Paisanos include House, Classic Caesar, Mediterranean and Italian Chef’s Salad.

Individual Slices of Cheese, Pepperoni, or Sausage are sold during the lunch hours or you can choose from 8″ 12″ or 16″ pizzas with your choice of any combination of the following ingredients: Sausage, Canadian Bacon, Bacon, Hamburger, Chicken, BBQ Chicken, Artichoke Hearts, Fresh Spniach, pepperoni, Red Onion, Green Peppers, Jalapenos, Crushed Garlic, Roasted Garlic, Fresh Basil, Cheddar Cheese, Feta Cheese, Mushrooms, Black or Green Olives, Kalamata Olives, Sun-dried Tomato, Roma Tomato, Pineapple, and Banana Peppers.

Specialty pizza options include Classic, Tuscan (white sauce, Canadian bacon, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil), Caribbean (canadian bacon, red onion, fresh parmesan and pineapple), Vegetarian, Margherita, Mediterranean (sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, feta cheese, kalamata olives, fresh spinach), Bacon Cheeseburger, and Taco Pizza (seasoned beef, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, black olives, tortilla chips and special sauce).

Stromboli, Lasagna and Chicken Wings are also offered on Paisanos menu.

Price guide: Salads $6-7 Pizza Slice $3-4  Whole Pizzas $6-20  Hoagies $7-8
What I ordered: I ordered a single slice of Cheese Bread, which was pre-made for the lunch rush.  The bread was really good, slightly crispy around the edges but still soft in the middle.  It had plenty of garlic butter and melted mozzarella with oregano sprinkled on top.  It came with a side of marinara for dipping, which was thick and had the distinct flavor of garlic and other Italian spices.

Paisanos-cheesebread1000

I also had a big piece of Pepperoni Pizza (sold by the slice).  Very good! The crust was thin but not too crispy, and also not too chewy.  The sauce was mild but had a decent amount of garlic and detectable oregano too.  The pizza was covered with plenty of mozzarella cheese and ultra-thin pepperonis

Paisanos-pizzaslice1000
Service: There were several customers in line to order food at Paisanos when I first arrived, so it  took about five minutes before I was able to order.  I was short on time and liked that they had pizza slices ready, so that is what I went with.  A hot pizza was just pulled out of the oven just in time for me to get a fresh slice and I was able to walk out the door in less than ten minutes after arriving.  The guys serving the pizza were really nice and patient with the customers.
Overall Impression: Pretty good pizza sold by the slice at reasonable prices.  The hoagie sandwiches also looked good! Reasonably fast, depending on what you order.

Paisano's Pizza & Hot Hoagies on Urbanspoon

Feb 152009
 

Cuisine: Japanese

Restaurant Features: All-You-Can-Eat, On-Site Parking, Bar
Location: Woodbury, MN
Address: 779 Bielenberg Dr. Unit 106 Woodbury, MN 55125 (651)578-7888

Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-2pm 4pm-10pm  Sat-Sun 11am-11pm
Links: Google Map

Akita-outside1000

Atmosphere: Akita is located in the corner of a strip mall (NE Corner of Tamarack Trail and Bielenberg Dr) and is larger than I expected it to be.  In the center of the restaurant is a large wooden pagoda-type structure, which is where the sushi chefs work their magic, and the alcoholic beverages are made.  Along one side of the structure is a sushi bar that seats about 12 people, the other three sides have bistro tables that wrap around and can accommodate two to four people.

Akita-sushibar1000
Another view of the bar/restaurant

Akita-dining1000Akita also has several booths along the outer walls of the restaurant which seem to offer a little more privacy.

Akita-inside1000

Menu: There are three menu options at Akita: Habachi (which has a separate dining area), A La Carte and All You Can Eat.  You may order anything off the AYCE Menu (all food is made-to-order) including:

Appetizers- Seaweed Salad, Edamame, Flying Fish Egg Salad, Miso Soup, Vegetable Salad, Cold Tofu, Chicken Wings, and Onion Soup.

Sashimi- Salmon, White Tuna, Snapper, Surf Clam, Mackerel, Crab Meat, and Tamago.

Sushi- Octopus, Sushi Pizza, Tofu, White Tuna, Salmon, Snapper, Mackerel, Unagi, Shrimp, Squid, Surf Clam, Tamago, Spicy Salmon, Spicy Tuna, Crab Meat, and Tobiko.

Maki Rolls (4-6 rolls per order)- Dragon, Spider, Rainbow, California, Shrimp Tempura, Cucumber and Surf Clam, Crispy, FutoMaki, White Tuna, Crab, Spicy Tuna, Spicy Salmon, Sweet Potato, Cucumber and Avocado, Cucumber, Salmon, Avocado, Tamago, Unagi, Tobiko, Dynamite, Pickled Mushroom and Pickled Radish.

Temaki (Hand Roll in a cone shape)- Shrimp Tempura, California, Spicy
Tuna, Cucumber and Surf Clam, Cucumber, Avocado, Spicy Salmon, Salmon,
Cucumber and Avocado, White Tuna, Crab Meat, Sweet Potato, Unagi,
Snapper, and Tamago.

Teriyaki- Chicken, Grilled Pike/Mackerel, Salmon, Salmon Head, Beef, Salmon Neck, Eggplant, Mackerel

Tempura- Shrimp, Squid, Crab Meat, Eggplant, Vegetable, Snapper, Potato, Mushroom, and Toro.

Teppanyaki- Baby Muchroom Beef Roll, Green Onion Beef Roll, BBQ Eel Fried Rice, Seafood Fried Rice, Sirloin Beef, Chicken, Salmon, Vegetable, Japanese Fried Rice, Vegetable Fried Rice, Chicken Fried Rice, Chicken Fried Udon, Japanese Fried Udon, Seafood Fried Udon, and Vegetable Fried Udon.

Udon (Thick Noodle) & Soba (Thin Noodle) in Soup- Vegetable, Dumpling, Spicy Seafood, Seafood, Beef, Tempura, Spicy Beef, Crab Meat, Chicken Teriyaki, Chicken Cutlet,  and Pork Cutlet.

You may also get any of the following foods deep-fried: Scallop, Dumpling, Pork Cutlet, Chicken Cutlet, Curry Chicken, Capelin Fish, Curry Pork, Tofu, Curry Beef, Spring Roll, and Squid Ball.

Desserts include Green Tea Ice Cream, Red Bean Ice Cream, and Vanilla Ice Cream.

Price guide: All You Can Eat Dinner $25  A La Carte $3-10 (per order) Hibachi $17-34

What We ordered: My companions and I first shared this large bowl of edamame (soy beans)

Akita-edimame1000

I started with a Dragon Roll (tempura shrimp, cucumber, avocado, and rice rolled with salmon or tuna on top and then drizzled with spicy mayo sauce).  This was one of my favorites! I loved the combination of flavors and the slightly sweet crunch of the tempura shrimp along with the spicy sauce on top. One order includes 8 large pieces, almost too big to fit in my mouth. (I think I ate two full orders of the Dragon roll just to myself!)

The spicy tuna rolls were also delicious.  The tuna seemed to be cut into very fine pieces and mixed with a spicy mayo sauce, then paired with finely-sliced cucumber and wrapped with seaweed and rice.

Akita-dragonroll1000
Next I tried

some sushi; Salmon, Yellow Tail and Surf Clam.  The fish was sliced thin and was of pretty decent quality; fresh.

Akita-salmonyellowtailsushi1000
We also tried the Beef Teriyaki, which was thinly sliced, tender and slightly sweet form the teriyaki sauce.  The order is big enough to share with others and conveniently cut into thin pieces.

Akita-beefteriyaki1000
The Fried Scallops were also very good.  I have eaten many scallops in my time, but I had never had them deep-dried until now.  Very good! The outside was very crispy and the inside was hot, but the combination of the tender scallop meat with the crunchy outside was a great combination, similar to a fish-stick or nugget, but so much better.  The top was drizzled with a creamy sauce (mayo?)

Akita-friedscallop1000Another companion tried the Unagi (eel)

Akita-eel1000
Another companion ordered the Octopus Sushi with Surf Clam and Yellowtail Sashimi.  The sashimi is sliced very thin and almost melts in your mouth.  The octopus does not have a real strong flavor, but the texture is quite chewy.

Akita-octopus1000
For dessert we each tried the Green Tea Ice Cream (although I think we were all too full to really enjoy it).  The small scoop was just the right amount to cleanse your pallet after a very filling meal of sushi!

Akita-greenteaicecream1000

Service: I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect as I had read many mixed reviews about the service at Akita, but my visit on a quiet Tuesday night was quite good.  The hostess wasn’t very friendly and our waitress spoke limited English, but we were able to get by without a problem.  All of our food was made-to-order and brought to us in a reasonable amount of time and our drinks were refilled in a timely fashion.  We were able to order as much as we wanted, whenever we wanted.  Our server was very up-front in letting us know that they have a surcharge of 15% for excessive waste, so it isn’t the best idea to order foods that you will not eat.
Overall Impression: Best All-You-Can Eat- Sushi offering that I have found in the Cities yet! For $25 I was able to try a large selection of the menu and ate enough to be totally stuffed out of my mind.  Try going on a Monday or Tuesday when it is less busy and you should be happy with the service.
Akita Sushi & Hibachi on Urbanspoon