Mar 112010
 

Cuisine: American, Fish, Irish,  Steaks
Restaurant Features: Bar, Banquet Room, Live Music, On-Site Parking, Patio,
Location: White Bear Lake, MN
Address: 2171 4th Street White Bear Lake, Minnesota 55110 651-426-2300
Hours: Mon-Sun 11a-2a   Kitchen

Links:* Manitou Station Website * Manitou Station Facebook PageGoogle Map

Atmosphere: Located in a newly constructed two-story building at the heart of downtown White Bear Lake, Manitou Station is the newest and grandest restaurant in town. If the beautiful gazebo built above the front entrance didn’t catch your eye, one walk through the beautiful space and you can see that fine attention was put into every detail.  At the heart of the main level is a spectacular wooden bar (built by Dick Barth) that is a re-creation of a bar in Galway, Ireland.  The beautiful ceiling is made of tin tiles that were hand-pounded into an intricate design and then painted.

The main dining room is spacious and open, with large windows running the length of the room and brighten it with natural light.  At night the chandelier lights are dimmed and it takes on a while new mood, one that could be either lively or romantic, depending on who you’re with.  There are a number of high-backed large booths around the perimeter of the room, with wooden tables spread out in the middle.  There is also another smaller dining area adjacent to the bar, as well as seating at and around the bar.

The second floor of Manitou Station is where you will find the Grand Station Ballroom.  With gorgeous hardwood floors that stretch the length of the entire building, the large space will seat up to 200.  There is also a second banquet area on the upper level called the Whistle Stop Room, which will hold up to 50.

In the front corner of the banquet space (directly above the front entrance), there is a beautiful Gazebo-style room that overlooks downtown White Bear Lake from several angles.  It’s a very cool view!

Menu: Appetizers at Manitou Station include Walleye and Wild Rice Cakes, Beer Battered Onion Rings, Parmesan Chicken Strips, Steamer Clams, Scotch Egg, Sunny Sandwiches, English Fish & Chips Basket, Window Pane Chips, Brie & Fruit with Crustini, Fries, The Station Sampler and Mediterranean Sampler.

Salads offered are Starter Salad, Traditional Cobb, Steakhouse Wedge, Shrimp Louis, Apple and Walnut, Classic Caesar, Grilled Chicken Caesar, Blackened Chicken Caesar, Greek with Oregano Chicken.  Soups include Beef & Guinness Stew, Clam Chowder, Crab & Whiskey Bisque, Cheddar and Ale, Chicken Wild Rice and French Onion.

Sandwich and burger options at Manitou Station are the Parmesan Crusted BLT, Corned Beef Brisket Melt, Rachael, Deli Style Turkey, Deli Style Ham, Chargrilled Salmon Club, Curried Chicken Salad Croissant, Prime Rib Dip, BBQ Bacon Cheddar, Mushroom and Swiss, Avocado Cheddar Ranch, Cheddar, Swiss or Blue Cheese, California Burger or Chicken.

Entrees include English Fish & Chips, Flat Iron Steak, Beef & Guinness Stew,  Chargrill Finished Prime Rib (12-16 or 24 oz),  Filet Mignon, Roasted Chicken, Parmesan Encrusted Walleye, Sage & Brown Butter Seared Scallops, Peppercorn Ahi Tuna, Salmon Oscar, Pasta Carbonara, Chicken & Artichoke Alfredo, Wild Mushroom Risotto, and Rock Shrimp & Lemon Risotto.

Desserts at Manitou Station include Vanilla Cheesecake with Berries, Peaches Foster over Ice Cream, Apple Crisp and Ice Cream, Chocolate Ganache with Berries, and Bread Pudding with Ice Cream.

Mantiou Station has a wide variety of tap beers and specialty beers including Boddington’s, Magners Irish Cider, Moose Drool, or Matilda.  Some of the Specialty drinks include Mango Cosmo, Absolut Paradise, Summer Vacation, Woodford Manhattan, Dirty Blue Martini, Jameson & Ginger, Manitou Breeze, Chocolate Truffle, Pontoon Ride, Irish Bulldog and Baby Guinness

Price guide: Appetizers $7-11  Salads $9-13  Sandwiches/Burgers $8-12  Entrees $13-25

What we ordered: We started with the complimentary rye bread, fresh from a local bakery.  The thick, dense bread was neatly sliced and had the flavor and slight dryness you would expect from a rye bread.  Caraway seeds too!

Manitou Station is known as the place to go for Scotch Eggs, so we tried these to start.  Delicious! A simple hard-boiled egg that is wrapped with a sausage patty, lightly breaded and then deep fried.  These treats were served with a mustard dipping sauce.  If you haven’t ever tried one, what are you waiting for?!

I had also heard great things about the Steamed Clams so we got an order of these too.  These clams were superior to any others I have had around.  They were steamed open with fresh garlic, white wine and butter; all flavors that go so well with seafood! They were cooked for just the exact amount of time and were soft and tender, easy to extract from the shell.  Squeeze a little lemon on one of those little guys and you will have eaten half the plate before you know it.  Would you believe that this large plate of clams is only $8??!! You can’t even see half the clams in this photo because they were covered by the three large pieces of bread that came with.  They totally under-priced these little gems but you won’t hear me complaining!

The Parmesan Crusted Walleye came highly recommended and sounded like a great choice, so that is what I ordered for my entree.  Fabulous decision! The walleye fillet may have been the biggest I have seen to date and it looked incredibly appealing as well.  The fillet was lightly seasoned and topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese, then baked until the cheese was a dark golden color.  The texture was both light and flaky, just as it should be.  I also loved that it didn’t have a thick breading on it like you see at many other restaurants (great for a low-carb diet!).  The wild rice pilaf that was served with it was also on the light side and perfectly complimented the fish.  Another great example of how fish and rice were meant to go together ;)  The steamed broccoli was also very good, with just a little butter and salt to season it.  The order was very big and even after sharing with my companion, my plate was still half full. (Have I mentioned I love leftovers?)

My companion ordered the Filet Mignon with Mushroom Demi Glace (other options included Blue Cheese Butter or Bearnaise Sauce).  The tender cut of meat was aged, giving it that extra-special meaty flavor so many carnivores (like me and my companion) love.  It was mildly seasoned with salt , then chargrilled until it was medium-rare.  The meat was so tender it practically melted in my mouth.  I confess I ate more than a few bites of my companion’s steak, I loved it so much.

With the steak we also ordered a Crock O ‘Shrooms, which is large enough for at least two people to share.  These are a must-have if you like mushrooms with your steak!! Sauteed in a  broth of garlic and butter, these little button mushrooms hold flavor like a sponge.  Yum!

Despite being very full after the appetizers and entree, I ordered dessert as well.  I had never had Peaches Foster but it sounded wonderful and tasted even better! The dish was prepared with fresh, firm, peaches that had been cut into bite-sized pieces and coated with brown sugar, then cooked until they were caramelized.  The peaches were served over vanilla ice cream, giving a whole new twist to peaches-and-cream.  The texture of the peaches was similar to cooked apple,  and they were just the perfect blend of tart and sweet.

They brought us some complimentary truffles, made in-house daily.  These truffles happened to be mint but the flavor changes every day.  Very good!

We also tried a couple of the Specialty House drinks: Chocolate Truffle Martini and the Pontoon Ride.  The chocolate truffle martini was made with Kahlua Mocha, Creme de Cacoa and Bailey’s Irish Creme.  A yummy, creamy, chocolatey treat that is great after dinner (if you still have room!).  It was not only drizzled with chocolate but also had a homemade truffle in the glass.

The Pontoon Ride was made with Finlandia Grapefruit Vodka, Sierra Mist, and a splash of orange juice.  Very cool, refreshing citrusy drink.  Would be great out on the patio in the summer

Service: We had excellent service! The people at Manitou Station know how to treat their customers right.  There are two parking lots available to customers, one in the front and one in the back (general purpose parking), as well as on-street parking so we had no problem finding a space.  We were greeted with a  smile at the hostess stand and were given a nice big booth.  Our server, Nick, was very knowledgeable of the menu and did a great job of giving recommendations.  Our food was paced at a leisurely rate as we ordered different courses, and drinks were served and refilled promptly.  The Management staff (including restaurant owners) seem very considerate of their guests, periodically stopping at tables to ask how everything is. I really appreciate the personal touch… not enough restaurants do that these days.

Overall Impression: We loved everything about Manitou Station: Cool atmosphere for either lunch, dinner or drinks, great service, creative cocktails, scotch eggs, seasoned clams, giant walleye, tender-aged beef, and peaches foster….. need I say more?  I will be back again soon!! Also, Mantou Station is going to be a happening place on St Patrick’s Day with a special menu, event tent and live music.
Manitou Station on Urbanspoon

Jan 222010
 

 

**** Glaciers Cafe has closed as of June 2012 and is now known as Mosaic Cafe***

Cuisine: American, Breakfast, Delicatessan, Healthy Eating, Ice Cream
Restaurant Features: Bar (beer & wine only), Catering, Counter Service (in addition to table service), Free Wi-Fi, Patio Dining
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Address: 3019 Minnehaha Ave So. Minneapolis, MN 55406 (Mosaic Building) 612-746-1504
Hours: Mon-Thurs 8am-9pm Fri-Sat  8am-10pm  Sun 8am-7pm
Links: Glaciers Cafe Website * Glaciers CafeGoogle Map

Glacierscafe-outside
Atmosphere: Glaciers Cafe is conveniently located on Minnehaha Ave at East Lake St in the beautiful Mosaic Building, just a couple of blocks from the Light-Rail Line.  The inside of the cafe is somewhat small but modern and trendy with a variety of seating arrangements including wooden tables, an over-sized booth, and bar-height seating that looks outward along the wall of windows.  There is also small counter where guests can order or pick up coffee, food or frozen custard to-go.  The lighting at night is just right, not too dim and not too bright.

One thing that I think is really cool about Glaciers Cafe is that it is an eco-friendly restaurant.  All fruits and vegetables are organic, they serve fair trade organic coffee, meats are vegetarian fed and antibiotic free, and all to-go items are served in biodegradable disposables.  Save the Glaciers!

Glacierscafe-inside
Menu: Breakfast is served all day and includes Fresh Fruit, Granola, Breakfast Burrito (eggs, meat, peppers, cheddar, salsa, and sour cream served with cumin dusted potatoes), Three Egg Omelet, Muffins and Scones.

Appetizers at Glaciers Cafe include Mini Burger Sliders, Buffalo or
Sesame Teriyaki Wings, Bruschetta, Mozzarella Sticks, House Salsa &
Chips, and French Fries.  There is also Homemade Chili and a Soup du Jour served every day.

Salads are served with breadsticks and include Greek, Buffalo Chicken, Albacore Tuna, or Classic Caesar.  Side green salad also available.  Add chicken to any salad for $1.75.

Glaciers Cafe also makes Flat Bread Pizzas.  Build your own starting with either the House Marinara or Roasted Garlic Olive Oil and then top with ingredients such as the standard pepperoni, sausage, or go with chicken, bacon, pepper mix, roasted veggies or kalamata olives.  The “Glacier Goodie” Flatbread is the house specialty with BBQ Chicken, Caramelized Red Onions, Cheese Blend, Chiffonade Basil, and Applewood Smoked Bacon.

There are a handful of really delicious sandwiches and burgers at Glaciers Cafe, all made with lean, hormone-free meats.  Sandwiches are served with pickle, and choice of kettle chips, roasted veggies or upgrade to french fries (trans fat free!) for just $.75 more.  Options include Marinated Char Broiled Chicken on Ciabatta served either: California Style (cheddar avocado, lettuce, tomato, roasted garlic mayo), Buffalo Style (buffalo sauce, lettuce, tomato, caramelized red onions and bleu cheese dressing), or the Glacier House Chicken (melted cheddar, smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, caramelized red onions and roasted garlic mayo).  Burgers are char grilled and served on a multigrain bun, either Buffalo style or the Glaciers House Burger (melted cheddar, smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, caramelized red onions and roasted garlic mayo).

Other sandwich options include All Beef Vienna Hot Dog (plain, Chicago-style, or chili-cheese), Turkey/BLT/Swiss, Roasted Vegetarian Wrap, Toasty Cheese (grilled cheese with cheddar, swiss and tomato), or the Mexi-Cali Burrito (jalapeno cheddar tortilla stuffed with beans, rice, cheeses, lettuce, tomato and avocado.  Chicken additional.  Served with choice of cumin dusted potatoes, roasted veggies or chips and salsa).

One of the best reasons to visit Glaciers Cafe is for the Frozen Custard.  You will always find chocolate, vanilla, and a Flavor of the Day or you can create a custom flavor by adding “mix ins”.  Frozen custard can be served in a cake cone or cup, or buy a quart or pint to-go.  Other options include Malts, Shakes, Floats, Smoothies and Sundaes.
Mix in and topping options include Gummy Worms, Heath Bar, Marshmallow, M&Ms, Oreos, Reeses, Snickers, Sprinkles, Butterfinger, Chocolate Chips, Whoppers, Butterscotch, Caramel, Chocolate Sauce, Hot Fudge, Hard-Shell, Marshmallow Sauce, Peanut Butter, Blueberries, Bananas, Pineapple, Strawberries, Raspberries, Pineapple, Almonds, Chopped Peanuts, Coconut, Pecans and Spanish Peanuts.

Glaciers Cafe is also a great stop for coffee and espresso.  Drinks include Dark & Light Roast Coffee, Latte, Cappuchino, Chai Tea, Iced Latte, Mocha or Caramel, and Coffee Coolers.

Price guide: Appetizers $2-6 Flatbread $9  Sandwiches/Burgers $6-8  Salads $7-8   Frozen Custard $2.75-4.75   Coffee Drinks $1.50-$3.50

What We Ordered: My companion and I started with an order of Buffalo Wings.  The order came with eight very large chicken wings and a generous coating of Buffalo sauce.  The sauce was thin and mildly spicy with just a hint of sweetness.  The portion size is just right for two people if you plan to have a meal as well.

Glacierscafe-buffalowings For my dinner I ordered the Glaciers House Chicken sandwich served on a ciabatta roll. Great choice! The main star of this huge layered sandwich was a large breast of chicken marinated in a blend of fresh herbs and spices, then char broiled. The meat was wonderful- very tender and flavorful.  I enjoyed it even more knowing it was hormone and antibiotic free! The chicken sat atop lettuce and tomato and was then topped with melted cheddar, thick applewood smoked bacon, and caramelized red onions.  The sweet, soft caramelized onions provided a sweetness that perfectly complimented the smokey flavor of the applewood bacon and the zesty herbs of the chicken.  The roasted garlic mayo was delicious as well and added to the party of flavors.  I upgraded to the trans-fat free fries for $.75 more (what a deal!).  The golden fries were hot and crispy.

Glacierscafe-glacierchicken My companion ordered the Glaciers House Burger, the ground beef version of the chicken sandwich I had with melted cheddar, thick applewood smoked bacon, and caramelized red onions.  The burger was served on a multi-grain bun.  The patty was 1/3- 1/2 lb of lean, vegetarian-fed beef, that was still slightly juicy but not at all greasy.  The toppings on the burger were enjoyed every bit as much as on the chicken, as were the fries.

Glacierscafe-glacierburger Frozen Custard is a specialty of Glaciers Cafe, so I made sure to save room for a Turtle Sundae.  This sundae was bigger than I expected, served parfait-style in a large glass.  The sweet, creamy vanilla custard was layered with caramel, hot fudge and pecans then topped with whipped cream and a cherry.  So heavenly!  Have I mentioned that ice cream/frozen custard is probably my favorite dessert?!

Glacierscafe-turtlesundae My companion ordered the Banana Supreme Sundae, a parfait of frozen vanilla custard, chocolate sauce, slices of banana, and Spanish peanuts, then topped with whipped cream and a cherry.  The custard is so creamy and smooth! Yummy.

Glacierscafe-bananasupremesundae
Service: I had no problem whatsoever in finding a place to park during my dinner-time visit, but please note the only nearby parking is metered so bring your quarters!  A sign greeted us at the door to ” Please Seat Yourself” and since the restaurant had only a few other diners at that time of the night, my companion and I chose the large, over-sized booth.  Our server was very nice and admitted right away that she was a new employee, but she did great! Our drinks were filled in a timely manner and we were given plenty of time to look over the menu before ordering.

Overall Impression: Glaciers Cafe is a great place to stop at any time of the day, whether you want a  coffee, an appetizer, salad, sandwich or the delicious frozen custard.  The prices are extremely affordable for the portion sizes you get and the food is prepared with only quality ingredients.  Quick and friendly service.
Glaciers Cafe on Urbanspoon

Jan 172010
 

Cuisine: Pizza
Restaurant Features: Bar, Flatscreen TVs, On-Site Parking,
Location: St Paul, MN

Address: 421 East 7th Street  St Paul, MN 55101 651-227-1437
Hours: Mon-Sat 11a-11p  Sun 11a-10:30p
Links: Google Map

*Red’s Savoy Pizza in Coon Rapids, Hugo, St Paul, and Uptown are all Delivery/Take-out Only

Savoyinn-outside

Atmosphere: Red’s Savoy Inn is the original Savoy location, found just on the edge of downtown St Paul at the corner of 7th St. and Lafayette.  There are two entrances into Savoy’s on the west side of the building, one near the parking lot in back and one one the side near the front.   The restaurant is divided into two sides, with the Bar Area being what you see when you first enter.  The bar stretches the length of the room, which has tables and booths as well.

Savoy-bar

The main dining room is adjacent to the bar area with an open walkway in between.  Also between the two rooms is a giant aquarium with live tropical fish.  It is quite dim inside Savoy, there are no windows and the only lighting comes from the soft yellow glass orbs overhead.

Savoy-dining ea

Menu: Appetizers at Savoy Inn include Buffalo Wings, Deep Fried Cheese Ravioli, Mozzarella Sticks, Jalapeño Poppers, French Fries, Onions Wings, Garlic Cheese Bread.

Sandwich options are the Meatball Dip and Hot dago with Cheese.

Pizzas come in two sizes, 10″ or 14″, Hand Tossed Thin Crust. Topping options include Sausage, Pepperoni, Hamburger, Mushrooms, Onion, Green Pepper, Green Olive, Black Olive, Sauerkraut, Pickles, Canadian Bacon, Banana Peppers, Jalapeños, Pineapple, Bacon, Shrimp and Anchovies.

Price guide: Appetizers $5-7  10″ Cheese Pizza $8.45  Toppings $1-2/ea 14″ Cheese $11.40  Toppings $1.50/2 ea (premium toppings more)
What We ordered: My companions and I started with an order of mozzarella sticks.  They were just as mozzi-sticks should be, crispy golden brown on the outside and hot melted mozzarella inside.  It came with a side of sauce.

Savoy-mozzarellasticks

Our group ordered a variety of pizzas.   The pizza has a very thin crust at the base of each creation, then covered with spicy pizza sauce, toppings and mozzarella cheese.  This was a 10″ Pepperoni, Mushroom and Shrimp.  I have really come to enjoy shrimp on pizza over the past couple of years and this was the first time I had tried it at Savoy.  The shrimps were very little and there were plenty of them covering the pizza.   The not-too-thick-not-too-thin pepperoni had great flavor while not being too greasy.  We ordered our pizzas “well-done” so the cheese on all the edge pieces was browned and crispy.

Savoy-pepperonimushroomshrimp

Another pizza was a 10″ Pepperoni, Banana Pepper and Onion.  Great combo of toppings! The banana peppers spiced it up a notch and the onion added a touch of sweetness, perfectly complimented by the zesty pepperoni.  The crust is very thin and crispy, but not at all chewy.  Overall the Savoy pizzas were a success and a few of my companions even declared Savoy pizza to be their favorite or “the best”.

Savoy-pperonibananapepperpizza

We also had a 14″ Special Pizza with Sausage, Pepperoni, Mushroom, Onion, Green Pepper and Green Olive.  This pizza was loaded with ingredients and cheese.

Savoy-specialpizza

One of my companions also ordered a side of Rigatoni with sauce.  I thought the portion size was just right for a side order.

Savor-siderigatoni

Service: It wasn’t very busy on the late Wednesday evening of my visit, so we had no problem getting a parking place in the small lot in the back of Savoy’s and easily found a table inside the restaurant.  Our server was nice but took her time checking on us even though there were very few other customers.  Food was prepared in a reasonable amount of time.
Overall Impression: Savoy pizza is one of the better thin-crust pizzerias around St Paul, especially if you like a spicier sauce and pizza loaded with toppings and cheese.  The prices are comparable to many other local pizzerias but you get a hefty amount of toppings for the money.
Red's Savoy Pizza on Urbanspoon

Dec 282009
 

Cuisine: Burgers
Restaurant Features: Banquet, Bar, Happy Hour, Pull-Tabs
Location: Downtown St Paul, MN
Address: 354 N. Wabasha Street St. Paul, MN  55102  651-222-2123
Hours: Mon-Fri: 11am-2am  Sat-Sun: 4pm-2am

Links: American Burger Bar Website * American Burger Bar Facebook PageGoogle Map

Americanburger-outside

Atmosphere: Located on Wabasha just one block north of Kellogg Blvd, American Burger Bar is in the home of the former Matty B’s Supper Club.  The decor is still rich and masculine with dark wood work throughout.  There are many booths as well as a few tables and a bar area with additional seating.

Americanburger-inside

Menu: Appetizers at the American Burger Bar include Skinny Truffle Fries, Cheese Curds, Onion Rings, American Favorite Sampler, Fried Calamari, American Burger Sliders, Meatballs ona  Stick, Best Damn Wings, Rib Eye Splitter, Chili Cheese tater Tots, and Nachos.

Salads include Caesar, Shrimp Salad, Cobb Salad, and House Salad.  Soups offered are Chili and Clam Chowder.

Sandwiches include Open Face Pineapple Chicken, The Gallivan (grilled ribeye with mushrooms, onions and bordelaise sauce) and Grilled Chicken Breast Sandwich.

Build-your-own burger options start with 1/2 lb of your choice of meat: Black Angus, Kobe Beef, Bison, Turkey, Veggie and Lamb.  Over 20 ingredients available to top your burger with! All Burgers come with Skinny Fries.

Chef Burgers at American Burger Bar include American Classic, Cheese Steak Philly-Style, The Experience (Kobe beef topped with foie gras, black truffles, shaved parmesan cheese, braised short ribs, grilled onions and bordelaise sauce), The Wild Range (bison and lamb with fresh herbs, mushrooms and chardonnay) , Juicy Klucy (kobe beef stuffed with cheddar and topped with monterey jack), Rino 911 (Jalapeno) and South of the Border.

Entrees include 14oz Angus Steak, Diablo Pasta, Minnesota Twins (Twin Angus patties), Mac’N Cheese, and Kobe Ravioli.

Desserts include Apple Turnover, Deep Fried Cheesecake, Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwich, Bread Pudding, Cheese Cake, Ice Cream Shakes and Malts.

Price guide: Appetizers $5-8  Salads $7-13   Burgers $9-19  Entrees $11-29  Desserts $6

Happy Hour:

  • M-F 3:30-6:30p & 10:30-Close
  • $2 Beer $3 Rails $7 Martinis
  • $3 Appetizers (skinny fries, onion rings, clam chowder chili, wings, meatballs on stick)
  • $6 Appetizers (Burger Snacking, Tuna Tartare, Sliders, Cheese Curds)

What We Ordered: My companions and I were very hungry and ordered a couple of appetizers to start with.  First we tried the Fried Calamari which was very good.  The order was a decently sized, with bite-sized pieces of fried calamari as well as a couple of bites of fried cheese and pepperoncini peppers.  Served with marinara and signature seasoned mayo.

Americanburger-calamari

We also got an order of buffalo wings.  The wings had great flavor but I was really disappointed with how tiny they were.  There were a dozen of the some of the smallest wings I have ever had served to me at a restaurant.  I would not pay full-price for these again at $8 but the Happy Hour has them priced at $3 which seems much more reasonable.

Americanburger-wings

We also ordered the Sweet potato fries which were crispy and very tasty.  Perfectly salted.

Americanburger-sweetpotatofries

There were many burgers on the menu at American Burger Bar but after hearing the server’s suggestions, it was the South of the Border Burger that was calling my name.  This burger was ginormous! Made of Angus Beef, the patty was grilled perfectly and then topped with a patty of chorizo, sauteed onions and mushrooms, pepperjack cheese, jalapeno bacon, spicy salsa and guacamole then served on a ciabatta bun.  There was so much going on with this burger that I don’t even know where to begin! The beef patty was juicy and moist and packed with flavor.  The chorizo patty added some spiciness and texture that really enhanced the overall burger experience, as did all the other quality toppings.  Guacamole ona  burger with bacon? Divine.  I loved that it was served on a grilled ciabatta bun which was hearty enough to hold all the toppings.  A sun emblem was branded onto the top and added a personal, fun touch to the burger.  Overall this burger was amazing, although much too big for me to eat all at once.  The skinny fries that came with it were good, and very skinny as the name implies.  I would almost call them matchstick fries because the longest pieces were just 1-2″ long.  Crispy but still soft on the inside.

Americanburger-southoftheborder

One of my companions had the Rino 911.  This burger was quite spicy, a half-pound Angus patty topped with roasted jalapenos, pepperjack cheese, and jalapeno bacon served on an onion bun.

Americanburger-rino911

Another companion had the Juicy Klucy, the American Burger Bar’s take on the famous local Juicy Lucy cheese-stuffed burger.  This burger stands above all other stuffed cheeseburgers that we have tried locally (so far) and the ingredient that put it over the rest is the fact that it is made with fresh Kobe beef.  If you have not had Kobe beef before, you must try it immediately!! It has so much more natural flavor than even the best Angus beef.  The Juicy Klucy at American Burger Bar is stuffed with Wisconsin cheddar cheese and topped with melted Monterey Jack and served on a white bun.

Americanburger-juicyclucy

Another companion ordered the American Classic Burger.  This truly is a classic bacon cheeseburger made with Angus beef then topped with American cheese and bacon, served with lettuce, onion and tomato on the side.

Americanburger-americanclassic

Service: My companions and I paid a visit to American Burger Bar late one Tuesday evening.  The dining room was closed for the evening so we were seated at a booth in the bar area.  Our server was very friendly and had good suggestions for us.  Like most downtown restaurants you must park at a ramp or at a meter (most meters downtown St Paul are free after 4:30pm).
Overall Impression: Awesome burgers!! A tad expensive but top quality.
American Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Dec 272009
 

Cuisine: Mexican, Kids Menu
Restaurant Features: Banquet, Bar, Catering, Happy Hour Specials, On-Site Parking,
Location: Roseville, MN
Address: 1754 Lexington Ave North St Paul, MN, 55113 (651) 487-2847
Hours: Kitchen: 11a-Midnight  Bar : 11a-2a

Links: Ol’ Mexico Website Google Map

Olmexico-outside

Atmosphere: Located just off Hwy 36 in Roseville, Ol’ Mexico is easy to get to from either Mpls or St Paul.  Ol’ Mexico has been open since 1979 and is an enchanting restaurant that is quite reminiscent of its namesake.  The restaurant itself is quite large with many different seating areas, the center if which is a beautiful indoor courtyard complete with a fountain at its center.

Olmexico-courtyard

In the areas surrounding the central courtyard there are two tiers of additional seating.  The lower level has large round tables within semi-private alcoves that are perfect for parties of eight. The lighting is dim and romantic throughout the entire restaurant.

Olmexico-inside

Ol’ Mexico also has a large open bar area with great Happy Hour drink specials and a taco bar every Friday.  There is also Karaoke ever Thursday night from 9p-1a and nightly Buzztime Interactive Trivia.  There are also several HD TVs that play local games and ALL NFL Football games, as well as Nascar races.

Olmexico-bar

The Bar also has a Dining area with tables to seat around fifty or so.  The lighting is just as dim as the rest of the restaurant but it just doesn’t have the same ambiance as the more formal dining room.

Olmexico-barseating

Menu: Appetizers at Ol’ Mexico include Nachos, Black Ben Nachos, Fresh Guacamole & Chips, Shrimp Cocktail, Mexi Wings, Chile Verde with Flour Crisps, Taquitos and Chile con Queso.

Salads offered are the Taco Salad, Tostada Salad, Grilled Chicken with Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette, Caesar, Santa Fe Chopped Salad, and Dinner Salad.

Ol’ Mexico has a “Eating Fit” menu as well that includes Spinach Salad (with chicken or salmon), Grilled Marinated Salmon with Steamed Asparagus, Grilled Chicken Breast with Steamed Vegetables, and Lettuce Burger Wrap.

Burgers and sandwiches at Ol’ Mexico are Cheeseburger, BBQ Bacon Cheddar Burger, Mexican Sandwich and Veggie Sandwich.

Entrees include Four Cheese Quesadilla, Steak or Chicken Fajita Quesadilla, Pocket Taco Enchilada Style, Pocket Taco Platter, Chimichangas (choice of ground beef, ground chicken, spicy seafood, shredded beef and bbq beef), Sizzling Fajita Platter, Southwestern Spicy Seafood Enchiladas, Diablo Shrimp tacos, Pollo Fundido, Grande Burro, Macho Burro, Fajita Burro, Bean & Veggie Burrito.

There are number of combination Mexican dinners and you can also create your own combo.

Grilled Entrees include 14 ox t-Bone Steak, Fresh Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa, Fresh Grilled Tilapia covered in Jumbo Shrimp, Grilled steak, Chicken, Shrimp or Vegetable Skewers.

Desserts at Ol’ Mexico include Mexican Fried Ice Cream, Brownie Sundae, Fresh Strawberry Shortcake, Chocolate Caramel Lava Cake, Fresh Fruit Plate, and Fresh Strawberry and Banana with sweet cream, walnuts, raisins and coconut.

Kids Menu includes Chicken Strips, Chhese Melts, Taco, Mexi Dog and Hamburger.

Price guide: Appetizers $4-8  Salads $9-13  Sandwiches $10  Entrees $10-16   Grilled Entrees $15-17  Desserts $ 7-8  Kids Menu $5

What I ordered: My visit to Ol’ Mexico was during Happy Hour so I took advantage of the 2-for-1 special and ordered peach margaritas.  These are so amazing!!! They are the best peach margaritas I have had anywhere.  They use some sort of fruit syrup for all of their fruit margaritas (other choices include strawberry, raspberry, watermelon, wild berry, blue raspberry, pomegranate, banana, melon) and they are packed with tartness and flavor.  The chips were also very good, warm and freshly fried to a crispy golden brown.  I am not sure if my taste buds were off on this visit, but I did not care for the salsa as it tasted way too salty and not very spicy.  The chips and the margaritas made up for the salsa though!

Olmexico-chipssalsamargaritas
For dinner I made my own combo with a Chile Relleno, a Cheese Enchilada and Mexican Rice.  This was a great choice! The Chile Relleno was stuffed with shredded beef and cheddar cheese then breaded and fried and baked with cheese on top.  The beef was tender and was seasoned to give it a lot of flavor, especially when paired with the spice of the pepper.  The enchilada was stuffed with cheddar and topped with enchilada sauce and even more melted cheese.  Rice was decent.

Olmexico-chilerellenoenchiladarice

My companion had the build your own combo as well, with ground beef hard corn taco and ground beef enchilada.  The ground beef was only slightly seasoned and very boring, and had several pieces of onion mixed in with it.  Would rather have had the shredded beef than the ground beef.  The beans were good.

Olmexico-tacobeans

Service: My companion and I met at Ol’ Mexico around 3:30 on a snowy Tuesday afternoon and the happy hour crowd was only just beginning to arrive.   We were seated in the bar area although had we been given the option, I would have preferred any of the tables in the courtyard or formal dining room.  Our server was nice and was great about letting us know that the Happy Hour specials included 2-for-1s on all their drinks.  Food came really fast.
Overall Impression: Ol’ Mexico is one of the few restaurants I ate at while growing up and it was always considered my family’s “favorite” Mexican restaurant in the 80’s and 90’s.  In the past decade I have come to eat better Mexican food at other restaurants, but I still love the charm and atmosphere of Ol’ Mexico in Roseville.  The fruity margaritas are so good and the 2-for-1 happy hour drink specials are a pretty good deal.
Ol' Mexico on Urbanspoon

Dec 202009
 

Cuisine: Steak
Restaurant Features: Bar, Banquet Facility, On-Site Parking, Pull-Tabs, Live Music
Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 531 West 7th Street  St Paul, MN 55102 651-224-7345
Hours: Sun-Thurs 4:30-10p  Fri-Sat 4:30-11p

Links: Mancini’s Website * Mancini’s on FacebookGoogle Map

Mancinis-outside

Atmosphere: Located on West 7th Street just a mile from downtown St Paul, Mancini’s Char House has been one of St Paul’s most well-known and popular steak houses since it first opened in 1948.  With capacity to hold 600 guests, Mancini’s is a very big restaurant.  There are two main dining rooms that each hold 200 people and a large lounge area that holds an additional 200 guests.

The lounge area is laid back yet lively, with live music from 8:30-12:30 Wed-Sat.

Mancinis-lounge2
The lighting in Mancini’s is dim and inviting, with candles lit on every table.  It is currently festively decorated  with wreaths, pine boughs and white fairy lights.  The main dining room is a big, long space that has several wooden tables as well as a series of tables along the outside of the room that have bench-style booths on one side and wooden chairs on the other .  You can see the open kitchen at one end of the dining room, where the only cooking equipment needed is the charcoal grill.

Mancinis-openkitchen

Menu: Appetizers include Herring and Crackers, Mushrooms, Antipasti Salad Plate, and Shrimp Cocktail.

As the name implies, all Entrees at Mancini’s Char House are char-grilled over an open charcoal pit. Options include 8 oz or 12 oz Sirloin, 13 oz New York Strip, 8 oz or 12 oz Fillet, Beef Kabob, Chicken Breast, Walleye Dinner and Lobster Dinner.  Two steak and lobster combinations available.  All entrees come with a side salad, baked potato and bread.

Desserts offered are Vanilla or Spumoni Ice Cream, Cheese Cake and Lemon Cello Gelato

Price guide: Entrees $19-28  Surf & Turf $45-48  Dessert

What we ordered: We first started with a complimentary plate of pickles, pickled peppers and fresh tomatoes.

Mancinis-garnish
We were also served this giant basket of complimentary garlic toast which had at least a dozen thick slices of white and pumpernickel.  Both were lightly buttered and seasoned before grilled on the charcoal pit and they tasted wonderful.  I liked that the inside was still slightly soft while the outside was perfectly toasted.

Mancinis-garlictoast

Every entree comes with a small Dinner Salad with romaine, red cabbage, carrots, cherry tomatoes and choice of dressing.

Mancinis-dinnersalad

My usual choice for steak is ribeye but since Mancini’s doesn’t have ribeye, our server suggested the New York Strip.  This might just be my new favorite! The perfectly char-grilled steak was really tender (cooked medium) and had a great aged flavor, with just a sprinkle of salt for seasoning.  The baked potato was really big and filling.

Mancinis-NYstripbaked

One of my companions also ordered the New York Strip, with french fries.  This cut of meat seemed to be thicker than the cut I had but was just as tender.  The fries were crinkle-cut and fried to a light golden brown with a soft, hot ce
nter.

Mancinis-NYstripfries

Another companion ordered the 12 oz filet mignon with baked potato.  Another thick, tender cut of char-grilled aged beef. I didn’t try any of this steak but it looked really good.

Mancinis-filet

And another companion order the steak and lobster dinner.  The sirloin was 8oz, very lean but aged to give it more flavor.   The 6 oz lobster tail was pulled out of its shell and then char-grilled and served with melted butter.  Delicious!

Mancinis-steaklobster

Our server recommended the lemon cello for dessert, so we all shared one order.  The dessert was made up of light, creamy lemon-flavored gelato  and some kind of tart lemon sauce. What a refreshing treat!

Mancinis-lemoncello

Service: We had excellent service at Mancini’s.  Anticipating that it would be busy on a Saturday night, we called ahead to get a table for four.  The restaurant was really busy and our table was not quite ready when we arrived, so we went to the lounge to have a drink while we waited.  After ten minutes or so our table was ready and we were seated in one of the main dining rooms.  Our server, Sonja, was very knowledgeable about the steaks and cocktails and did a fantastic job of getting us everything we needed.  Our food was prepared reasonably fast for how busy the restaurant was but we never felt rushed.
Overall Impression: Mancini’s is a  St Paul dining landmark for good reason. The char-grilled steaks are some of the best you might find for such reasonable prices.   I like the relaxed but intimate atmosphere at Mancini’s and will be back to eat there again soon.
Mancini's Char House on Urbanspoon

Dec 112009
 

Cuisine: American, Burgers, Wings, Pasta
Restaurant Features: Bar, Games, Happy Hour, Pull-Tabs, Sports Leagues ( Volleyball, Broomball, Boot Hockey and Dodge Ball)
Location: Vadnais Heights, MN
Address: 1460 Co. Rd. E. East Vadnais Heights, MN 55110  651.484.6119

Bar Hours: Sun-Thurs 11a-1p  Fri-Sat 11a-2p

Kitchen Hours: Sun-Thurs 11a-10p  Fri-Sat 11a-11p

Links: Sak’s Sports Bar Website * Sak’s on Facebook Google Map

Saks-outside

Atmosphere: Located on County Road E just a block from Hwy 61, Sak’s Sports Bar is in the location formerly known as Bentley’s restaurant.  The space is pretty big, with a couple of different seating areas.  Pictured below is the gaming side of the restaurant, with dart boards, pull-tabs, several large  flat-panel TVs and bistro tables.  The other side of the restaurant has a large bar separating two additional seating areas, one of which is the main dining room and the other is a row of booths running parallel to the bar.

Sak’s is also known for its Outdoor Sports.  Leagues are available to play Volleyball, Broomball, Boot Hockey and Dodgeball.  Sporting areas not pictured.

Saks-inside

Menu: Appetizers include Buffalo Wings, Ranch Wing’s, Crispy Chicken Wings, BBQ Ribs, Spicy Pork Sliders, Boursin Sliders (green chile ketchup, boursin cheese and fried onion strings), Hot Dago Sliders, Classic Sliders, Slider Platter, Pulled Pork Quesadillas, Fried Chicken Quesadilla, Nacho Bar (chips with melted cheese and all other ingredients on the side to make-your-own), Garlic Cheese Bread, Bucket of Fresh-Cut Fries, Walleye Fingers, Onion Rings and Tator Tots Bucket, Warm Chips with Charred Corn and Black-Bean Salsa.  They also have Chicken with Wild Rice soup and a Soup du Jour

Salads offerings at Sak’s include Asian Chicken, Chopped Cobb, Cranberry Almond, Chicken Club, Red, White and Blue (red onion, bleu cheese), Beef and Garden Salad, Bird of Paradise, and Side Salad.  Any salad can be halved during lunch M-F.

Sandwiches include Hand Craved Butcher Sandwiches (beef brisket, ham or turkey breast), Italian Chicken Hoagie, B.A.L.T., Crispy Chicken, Grilled Chicken, Battered Walleye, Twisted Tuna (on English muffin with guacamole, bacon and melted Swiss), Honey Mustard Chicken Salad, Cucumber Chicken Classic, Grilled Vegetable Melt, Chicago Hot Dog, The Cuban, Buffalo Chicken Wrap, California Turkey Wrap, Chicken Gyro Wrap, The Monster Club and Millionaires Steak Sandwich.  All sandwiches and burgers come with kettle chips but you can upgrade to fresh-cut fries, onion rings or tator tots for $1.59

Burger options are the Classic Ground Chuck, Cowboy (bbq, bacon and cheddar), Bleu Cheese Lover’s, Ranch Burger, Cheeseburger, Shrooms and Swiss, Juicy Lucy, The Big Sak (two patties), and The BMFB (18 oz patty with all the classic fixin’s!)

Pasta Specialties include BBC Pasta (broccoli, bacon and chicken with penne and chipotle cream sauce), Chicken Al Fresco and Pasta, Big People Mac and Cheese (caramelized shallots and four cheese sauce), Blackened Chicken Pasta, Chicken Meatballs and Spaghetti.  Half-sized pastas available for lunch M-F.

Entrees at Sak’s are the BBQ Ribs, Grilled Top Sirloin, Grilled Marinated Chicken Breast, Beef & Beach (sirloin and walleye), and Beer Battered Walleye Fillet.

Price guide: Appetizers $ 5-9  Salads $7-10  Sandwiches/Burgers $7-9  Pasta $9   Entrees $13-20
Weekly Specials:
Tuesday- Sliders 3 for the price of 2

Wednesday- $.25/wings

Happy Hour M-F 3-6pm  7 days 9-11pm ~ 2 for 1 on all drinks  Select half-price appetizers

What We ordered: My companion and I visited Sak’s during Happy Hour and opted to go with a couple of the half-priced appetizers from the Happy Hour menu.  We started with 2-for-1 Blue Moon draft beers and the pork quesadillas which turned out to be an awesome choice!  The shredded pork was tender and flavorful, nestled up with melted cheddar cheese and sauteed peppers and onions.  In addition to the filling being great, the crisp and flaky, buttery flour tortilla was browned to a beautiful, dark golden brown.  It was drizzled with sour cream and cilantro and served with a unique black bean and charred corn salsa.  Delicious!

Saks-porkquesadilla

We ordered another half-priced appetizer (why not at that price?), the Alley Cat’s Ranch Wings.  The ten wings were fried then tossed with melted butter and ranch seasonings, and served with ranch dressing on the side.  These wings were pretty good if you like ranch flavor, which I thought was a unique but very smart way to season the chicken.

Saks-ranchwings

There were a number of sandwiches on the menu that sounded good to me, but I decided to order my standard Reuben from the Daily Specials menu.  I thought the Reuben was very good.  The deli-style corned beef was sliced thin and piled high with tangy sauerkraut and melted Swiss cheese on a lightly toasted rye bread.  It came with a generous serving of crunchy, seasoned kettle chips.

Saks-reuben

My companion ordered the Juicy Lucy with fresh-cut fries.  Juicy indeed! The beef was cooked perfectly and inside was a hot cheesey mixture of American cheese, cream cheese and green onion.  The generous helping of fresh cut fries were also very good, not too greasy but just salty enough.

Saks-juicylucy

Service: We were able to get a table for mid-afternoon lunch without a problem and were seated at a booth in the bar area.  Our overall service was decent.  The hostess who sat us was friendly and the male server we had was nice but he didn’t seem very personable or outstanding in any way.  Drinks were filled as needed and food came reasonably fast.
Overall Impression: Another great sports bar to try in the Vadnais Heights/White Bear Lake area .  Wide selection of appetizers, sandwiches and burgers on the menu all at very reasonable prices.  Great Happy Hour specials!
Sak's Sportsbar on Urbanspoon

Nov 282009
 

Disclosure: I was invited out to do this review and my meal was provided by the restaurant. All opinions are my own.
Cuisine: American, Sushi, Seafood, Steaks, Pasta
Restaurant Features: Bar, Happy Hour
Locations: Mall of America, Edina (Galleria), St Louis Park (Shops at West End)

Addresses & Maps:

Mall of America– 368 South Avenue Bloomington, MN 55425 952.854.5000 (3rd Floor Across from Macy’s)
Edina-520 W. 70th Street Edina, MN 55435  952.697.6000

St Louis Park-1603 West End Blvd. St. Louis Park, MN 55416 952.933.6500

Hours: MOA- Lunch 11a-4p  Dinner M-Sa 4p-10p Sun 4p-8p

Edina- Lunch 11a-4p  Dinner M-Th 4-10p Fri-Sat 4-11p Sun 4-9p

St Louis Park- Lunch 11a-4p  Dinner M-Th 4-10p Fri-Sat 4-11p Sun 4-9p

Links: Crave Website * Crave on FacebookOpenTable Reservation

Atmosphere: The Mall of America location of Crave is on the 3rd floor of South Ave, across from Macy’s.  The restaurant is large and spacious, with a large bar off to the left side near the entrance and a sushi bar centrally placed along the wall in the middle of the main dining room.  Although the majority of seating is at tables throughout the dining room, there are also several high-backed booths that allow for more privacy.  The lighting is dim and romantic, with mood lighting created by the illuminated art behind the sushi bar and the softly glowing candles at each table.

Crave-inside
The kitchen is open along the back of the restaurant, with subtle views of the place where the chefs work their magic.  The lighting from the kitchen also gives the nearby tables a soft glow.

Crave-kitchen

Menu: The menu changes seasonally and features natural, organic and locally grown ingredients.  All beef is certified beef.

Appetizers on the new Fall Menu at Crave include Calamari, Chicken Satay, Lemon Garlic Wings, Pita & Spreads, Seared Scallops, Baked Crab & Artichoke Dip, Pesto Shrimp, Mini Burgers, Gingered Beef Eggrolls, Artisan Bread Basket, and Edamame.

Salads offered include Asian Noodle Salad, Atlantic Salmon, Steak Niçoise, Starter Crave Salad, Starter Caesar, Starter Roasted Beet & Walnut.  Soups include Hearty Tomato Pesto, Roasted Chicken & Wild Rice, and Leek & Potato.

Pizzas and Flatbreads at Crave are also quite popular.  Flatbread choices are the Roasted Chicken (with pesto, sun dried tomato and portobella mushrooms), Grape & Apple (with Amablu cheese and honey), Thai Chicken (a peanut sauce with cilantro, Asian cabbage and marinated cucumber), and the Napoleon (with garlic prosciutto). Pizzas include Pepperoni or Sausage, Margarita, Shaved Ribeye and the Chipotle BBQ Chicken.

Sandwiches on the dinner menu include Steak Sandwich, Ahi Tuna Steak and Crave Burger.

Pasta selections at Crave include Seas Scallop & Shrimp Fettuccine, Fettuccine & Roasted Mushrooms, Shrimp Scampi Al Fresco, Roasted Chicken and Penne, Baked Truffle Macaroni, Baked Cheese Penne, Spaghetti Pomodoro, and Ravioli Bolognese. Crave offers the option of a half-order of any of their pastas.

Crave has a nice selection of dinner entrees as well, such as the Grilled Petite Tender, Grilled Ribeye, Crab Crusted Filet Mignon, Tuscan New York Strip, Brined Pork Tenderloin, Chicken Stir-Fry, Crispy Half Chicken, Mango & Prawns, Grilled Ahi Tuna, Pistachio Crusted Salmon, Minnesota Walleye, Miso Glazed Sea Bass

The sushi selection at Crave is also pretty extensive.  Nigiri and Sashimi offerings include Crispy Rice Bars with Spicy Tuna, Scallops Poppers, Amaebi (sweet raw shrimp), Hamachi (yellowtail), Hirame (flounder), Hokki-Gai (surf clam), Maguro (red tuna), Mutsu (escolar), Sake (salmon), Suzuki (striped sea bass), Ebi (cooked shrimp), Unagi (cooked eel), Masago (smelt roe), Tako (octopus), Tobiko (flying fish roe), Wasabi Tobiko, and Seaweed Salad.

Maki Sushi offerings are the Tekka (tuna), Sake (salmon), Negihama (yellowtail and scallions), Unagi (cooked eel), Kappa (cucumber), Spicy Shrimp Cones, Chipotle Ocean Roll, Keilani;s Roll (shrimp tempuraavocado, wrapped with eel), Mexican Roll (yellowfin and escolar with avocado, cilantro,  jalapeños and spicy mayo), Number Nine (crunchy Spicy Tuna Roll), Dragon Wraps, Rainbow, Caterpillar, Spider, Veggie Roll, Tempura Roll, Spicy Tuna, California, Minnesota(cooked smoked walleye), Dynamite, Spicy Salmon, Crunchy Roll and Fire Roll.  There are alsoa  couple of sushi combos like the Sushi Sampler, Sushi Lunch Combo and Sashimi Lunch Combo.

Crave also has a delicious selection of desserts that changes seasonally.  The Fall desserts at Crave include Golden Raisin Bread Pudding, Key Lime Pie, Molten Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Bean Cheesecake, German Chocolate Cake, and Coconut White Cake.  The dessert menu also includes a variety of after-dinner drinks such as the Girl Scout Cookie and Buttery Bailey’s, Ports and Dessert Wines, and hot cafe drinks.

Price guide: Appetizers $8-13 Salads $8-15 Pizza/Flatbreads $12-13 Pastas $14-24 Entrees $24-37 Nigiri/Sashimi $6-10/order  Sushi Rolls $7-19/order
Happy Hour Specials:

Crave-happyhourmenu

What we ordered: My companion and I started with a couple of the Crave specialty cocktails, the Cranberry Smash and the Blueberry Lemonade.  The Cranberry Smash was made with vodka, ginger ale, mint leaves and cranberry juice.  The Opulent vodka revved up the drink but it wasn’t overly strong. The ginger ale gave it a pleasant sweetness that I wasn’t expecting, but the cranberries were tart enough to counter the sweetness.  I loved that the cranberries were frozen into ice cubes and floated at the top.  The Blueberry Lemonade was also very good and slightly sweeter than the Cranberry drink.  Excellent blend of flavors.

Crave-cocktails

The Pesto Shrimp appetizer came highly recommended by our server so we started with that.  What a great start to a great night of food! The sauteed tiger shrimps were served
on little slices of crostini toast that had been topped with oven-dried tomato, and then the shrimp toast was covered with pistachio pesto.  The shrimp was perfectly cooked so it was tender and complimented the crunch of the toast.  The pesto sauce was creamy and rich, a perfect sauce to go with the shrimp.

Crave-pestoshrimp

The Panko-Crusted Scallops also sounded really good so we tried an order of those as well.  These scallops may have been some of the best I have ever eaten! The scallops were large and coated with a layer of panko bread crumbs before being seared to a golden brown in the pan. They were cooked so that the meat was tender enough to melt in your mouth, yet the panko and seared edges gave it a nice crunch.  The scallops were served with a dressy arrangement of picatta buerre blanc and fresh field greens.  The butter and capers added the perfect touch of saltiness to compliment the sweetness of the scallop meat.

Crave-scallops

Sushi Chef Tony Lam brought us a special sampler platter that included a Mexican roll, ceviche, flying fish roe with quail egg wrapped in salmon,  amaebi (sweet raw shrimp), crispy rice bars, prawn heads, and three different fish mixtures atop cucumber slices.

Crave-chefsushiplatter
The Mexican roll (pictured top right in photo above) is Crave’s most popular roll and became my new
favorite after just one bite.  This roll is the perfect marriage of
Mexican and Sushi, two of my most favorite foods.  It had both yellow fin
tuna and escolar with avocado, cilantro, a slice of fresh jalapeño
and spicy mayo wrapped in rice and seaweed.  It is then topped with a soy citrus sauce (ponzu), and
chili oil with fresh lime juice squeezed on top. It was so good! I
loved the spiciness of the jalapeño, and the lime and cilantro gave it a
fresh citrus twist.  The tuna and the escolar inside the Mexican roll
were very tender and not at all fishy. Bravo!

The Crispy Rice Bars were also wonderful.  The rice cake was like a thick chewy rice cracker and had a lot more flavor than ordinary sticky rice.  It was topped with a heaping pile of spicy tuna mix, flying fish roe, and sliced jalapeno pepper. The combination of textures went together really well and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Crave-crispyricebar

The ceviche was one of my favorite items that Sushi Chef Tony Lam made for us to try.  A very thin slice of potato was fried with tempura batter and then topped with sliced raw fish that was marinated with a citrus soy sauce, scallions and fresh chili peppers.  It was packed with flavor and the tenderness of the fish paired with the texture of the tempura potato went perfectly together.

Crave-chefsushiceviche
The sushi was so good we ordered even more of Sushi Master Tony’s creations.  Clockwise From Lower Left: The Mexican Roll, Fire Roll, Number Nine, Dragon Wrap (top right), Hokki and Hamachi Sashimi, and Scallop Poppers (pictured in photo after the one below)

Crave-sushiplatter3

The Number Nine was filled with pieces of shrimp
tempura, spicy mayo, kaiware and yama gobo wrapped with salmon and
avocado and topped with a sweet soy based sauce. The Fire Roll was filled with pieces of shrimp tempura, cucumber, kaiware and yama gobo wrapped with
a spicy salmon mix and topped with chili oil.  This one was nice and spicy, just the way I like it.  The Dragon Wraps were also good.  Instead of rice, this roll is made with an egg omelet wrapped around  spicy tuna,
fresh water eel, avocado, fried green onions, crunchy flakes and miso
dressing.  Served in two big rolls.
The Scallop Poppers were also excellent. The scallops were baked in spicy dynamite sauce then wrapped in salmon and topped with crunchy panko flakes. Loved the combination of flavors and textures.

Crave-scalloppoppers

For my entree I ordered the Crab Crusted Filet MIgnon. This was outstanding! The filet was thick and cooked medium, as I requested.  It had a creamy crab and cheese mixture with just the slightest hint of buttery breadcrumbs baked on top and served on a bed of lobster cream sauce.  This absolutely melted in my mouth. The crab and cheese together created a rich flavor that went slendidly with the tender and juicy beef.  Herb roasted new potatoes and buttery seasoned baby carrots were also served, both were very good.

Crave-crabfilet
My companion had the Miso Seabass.  The perfectly-cooked Korean miso sea bass was served atop a bed of steamed white rice and adorned with baby bok choy and a crimson ponzu sauce.  Asian pickled cucumbers sat layered atop the fish.  This dish was delicious as well! The flavorful yet mild sea bass went really well with the sweet, fruity panzu sauce.

Crave-misoseabass

Despite being extremely full after enjoying all of this delicious food, we also tried a sushi dessert.  What an extraordinary creation this was! The middle of the the roll had homemade vanilla-bean cheesecake and a slice of fresh mango then wrapped with a thin layer of rice and topped with a thin slice of strawberry. The roll was arranged atop a drizzling of chocolate and vanilla sauce.  The cheesecake and rice were such a unique combo of flavors and textures and together it was like a thick, fruity, creamy and sweet rice pudding.  So different and so, so good!

Crave-dessertsushi
Service: We had exceptional service at our first visit to Crave.  The hostesses were very friendly and our server, Dawn, was very knowledgeable about the menu and had some wonderful suggestions about appetizers, entrees and cocktails too.  We ordered a lot of food and took our time but never felt rushed since food was paced perfectly.  The restaurant wasn’t too busy (nor was the Mall in general) on this pre-holiday-shopping-season Tuesday evening and we were able to get great customer service and attention from everyone all the way up to the manager.

Overall Impression: The culinary and sushi creations were outstanding. I tried quite a variety of foods and loved every single thing.  The Mexican Roll should win an award! There is quite a variety on the menu and the Happy Hour specials are a really good deal.  Great place to have a casual yet elegant dinner and worth every penny for the fine ingredients.  The service was exceptional.  I can’t wait to go back again soon!
CRAVE (Mall of America) on Urbanspoon