Jun 052010

Cuisine: American, Burgers
Restaurant Features: Bar, Happy Hour, Kids Menu, On-Site Parking, Patio
Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 1811 Selby Ave     St. Paul, MN 55104    (651) 493-1865
Hours: 11am-Midnight
Links: Blue Door Pub Website * Blue Door Pub Facebook PageGoogle Map

Blue Door Pub

Atmosphere: Located on Selby Ave at Fairview, Blue Door Pub is a small neighborhood bar/restaurant known for their Juicy “Blucy” hamburgers.  The inside space is divided into two sides; the Pub on one with the bar and a few tables and then there is the dining area with a few tables and three large booths.  The room is literally so small that I could not capture it with my fixed 50mm lens, but I was able to get a shot of the famous Blue Door which leads into the kitchen.

Menu: Blue Door Pub has a brand new menu as of today and I have not yet seen it.  I will revise this menu (pre 6/5/10) as soon as I get a copy of the new menu.  Appetizers include Spam Bites (Breaded, deep fried Spam, cream cheese and pickle), Beer-Battered Green Beans, Hand-Cut Fries, Tator Tots, Chicken Wings, Cheese Curds, and Deep Fried Pickles.

Salads at Blue Door Pub include House Salad, Cobb, Blue Cheese, and Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps.

Specialty offerings are the Jiffy Burger (peanut butter, mayo, pepper jack, bacon and pickle), The Pub Sandwich (bacon, egg, pepper jack, lettuce and tomato on bread), Chicken Strip Basket and Black Bean Burger.

The Blue Door Pub is well-known for the many varieties they have of  “Juicy Blucys”, which are what they call their version of the locally known cheese-stuffed burgers.   Options include the Blucy (bleu cheese and garlic), The Luau (stuffed with mozzarella and pineapple, Canadian Bacon on top), The Classic (cheddar cheese), Breakfast Blucy (cheddar, bacon topped with fried egg), Bangkok Blucy (mozzarella soaked in coconut milk and topped with pickled carrots, cucumbers, red onions and ginger), Cajun Blucy (pepperjack and jalapeños), Mushroom Swiss, Bacon Blucy (cheddar and bacon), The Frenchy (swiss and caramelized onions witha  side of au jus), and The Merriam Park (bacon, bleu cheese, garlic and topped with red currant jelly).  Fries and tator tots are $2 extra.

You can also Build-Your-Own Burger (or chicken!) with a long list of cheese, toppings and sauces.

Kids Menu includes Grilled Cheese, Chicken Strips, Mac & Cheese, 2 Mini Cheeseburgers, PB & J.

Blue Door offers Pie Bites for dessert (homemade cheesecake bites)

Price guide: Appetizers $3.50-8.50  Salads $4-9  Burgers $6.50-8.50  Kids Menu $4-5
What we ordered: This was my first time to the Blue Door Pub and the long list of different stuffed burgers was very intriguing; several of them sounded like something I would try but I ended up going with the Merriam Park Burger.  This 1/2 lb of Angus beef was stuffed with bleu cheese, chopped garlic, and bacon.  It also comes with red currant jelly which I asked for on the side.  It seemed a strange combination but our server made me promise I would try it with the jelly because it was her favorite.  I was skeptical at first but with just one bite of the jelly on the burger, I became a believer! I actually ended up eating my entire burger with the jelly! The combination of the sweet with the stronger flavor of the blue cheese was a winner.  If you like the salad dressing combo of French/Bleu cheese, you would like this.  Even without the jelly it would’ve been an excellent burger.  Loved it.

My companion ordered the Bacon Blucy, an Angus burger stuffed with bacon and cheddar.  We were surprised to see that the Blue Door Pub did not make any of their stuffed burgers with American cheese, which is what a traditional Juicy-Lucy is made with.  That is fine with me since American cheese is the one food in the world that I have an aversion to and just simply cannot stomach, but my companion was disappointed.  This Bacon Blucy was still very delicious, with gooey sharp cheddar melted inside with thick cut bacon bites.

Fries can be added on to any burger for an additional charge, or you can get a basket of fries for half-price during Happy hour ($2!).  Was very happy when the server pointed that out to us.  They were fresh, home cut fries fried to a golden brown with a generous amount of salt.

Service: My visit was on a Saturday in the middle of the afternoon and I was able to get a spot in the parking lot.  This was my first visit to the BDP and I wasn’t sure if they had a hostess or not but we were ignored when we walked in, so after standing there for a minute or two, I went and sat myself at the one of the few tables to choose from. It was starting to get busy by the time our burgers came out.  The drinks were a little slow to be refilled but the food came out within 15 minutes of ordering.  Our server was busy and only stopped to check on us at the end of our meal.  We were given our check and when I paid, the original receipt was missing so I asked for another copy.  The server came back five minutes later and said she had forgotten to add one of our drinks to the original bill ( a $2 soda) so she presented us with a 2nd bill to pay for that drink.  I was a little annoyed since I had already paid for our original bill and didn’t want to have to run my card again for a measly $2.  Thought it would’ve been nice to leave that one on the house and just reprint me my original receipt.
Overall Impression: I thought the burger was excellent and I don’t hesitate to say it was best “Juicy Lucy” that I have had around town (however remember I will only eat those that don’t include American cheese so I am biased).  The service wasn’t too great but the burgers made up for it.
Blue Door Pub on Urbanspoon

Mar 282010

This is an updated review from the original I wrote in May 2007.  I have eaten at Norman Quack’s countless times since then and felt a new, updated review was long overdue!

Cuisine: American, Fish, Steaks, Chops & Ribs
Restaurant Features: Bar, Happy Hour, On-Site Parking, Flat Screen TVs
Location: Forest Lake, MN
Address: 843 West Broadway Avenue   Forest Lake, MN 55025    651-982-6777
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-10p   Sun 11am-9pm
Links: *Norman Quack’s Website *Norman Quack’s Facebook Page *Google Map

Outside of Norman Quacks
Atmosphere: Norman Quacks is conveniently located at the end of a small strip mall facing Broadway Ave, between Hwy 61 and I-35.  The space is big and open, with a bar area to the left when you walk in and the dining room on the right.  There are a number of booths and tables throughout the restaurant, with space to accommodate larger parties in the back.  Everywhere you look there are interesting objects hanging on the walls, and a library’s-worth of books stacked on the half-wall between the booths, giving the restaurant character while making the booths more private.

The Bar Area also has tables as well as seating at the bar.  There are also a couple of flat-screen TVs that typically view local sporting events.

Menu: Appetizers at Norman Quacks include Colossal Onion Rings, Quesadillas, Potato Skins, Cheese Curds, Chicken Tenders, 7 Layer Dip and Chips, Buffalo Tender Bites, Peppered Tips & Blackened Toms, Chicken Wings, BBQ Pork Ribs, Creamy Pepperjack Queso & Chips, Coconut Shrimp Kabob and Garlic Alfredo Toast.

Salad offerings are the Chicken Tender Salad, Spinach Tips and Tomatoes, Fajita Salad, House, Salmon Black & Blue, Chicken Caesar, Oriental Shrimp, and Caesar Salad.  Soups include Creamy Baked Potato, Prime Rib Stew, and Soup of the Day.

Sandwiches include BBQ Pork and Cheddar, Buffalo Chicken, Prime Fajita Melt, Walleye, Catfish Po’ Boy, Monte Cristo, Skinny Ribeye, Roasted Bahama Chop (pork with jerk sauce, mozzarella and pico de gallo), Dante’s Revenge, Triple Play Sandwich (layers of ham, turkey, roast beef and bacon with cheddar, mozzarella and jack), French Dip, Philly French Dip, B.L.T, and Blackened Salmon Melt.

The following sandwiches can be made with either chicken breast, ground beef burger or bison burger: Plain Jane, Sloppy Rio (with cheese sauce, beans and sauteed peppers), Mushroom, 4 Cheese, Smoke Head (sauteed mushrooms, onion, bacon, bbq sauce and cheese), Peppered with Bacon and Blue Cheese, Patty Melt, Clubhouse and Bacon Blue.
Price guide:
Appetizers $7-9  Salads $7-9  Burgers/Sandwiches $7-10  Entrees $11-17

Happy Hour: 4-6pm EVERYDAY.  1/2 Priced Appetizers (all except the Samplers)

Weekly Specials:

Sunday- $10.95 12 oz Prime Rib with Onion Rings
What we ordered: We started with the basket of freshly baked Ciabatta Bread.  The bread is served with a flavored whipped butter, the flavor of which changes daily.  We had garden-herb butter on this visit.

Bread Basket at Norman Quacks

We also got an order of Cheese Curds.  I love the cheese curds at Quack’s! The gooey white cheddar curds are battered with  the same unique batter that is used on the giant onion rings, and are slightly salty.  They are fried perfectly until crispy golden brown on outside, and not too greasy.  Great dipped in the ranch that comes with it.

For my meal I ordered the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, which is what I order 90% of the time I visit Quacks. This is my favorite sandwich on the menu and is the best Buffalo Chicken sandwich I have had anywhere. They start with the biggest chicken breast they can find, then bread it, deep fry it, and coat it in delicious and mildly spicy Buffalo sauce. It has a couple of sliced of thick-cut bacon and melted cheddar cheese, tomato and lettuce served on the side. Very big and very messy, I usually end up using silverware to eat it.

One of my companions ordered a “double” of the the Sunday Prime Rib Special (usually 12 oz cut served with onion rings for $10.95). This GIANT cut of prime rib weighed in at around 25 oz, most of which was meat with just a small amount of fat.  Served with au jus and creamy horseradish.  Excellent cut of meat for a great price, making Quack’s a popular place on Sundays!

Another companion ordered the Two-Pork Chop Dinner (can order one or two chops), served with fries (choice of potato) and soup or salad.  These were two big, tender and juicy pork chops, with Cajun seasonings.  Big enough to share between two!

One of my companions also ordered a Bloody Mary, which came dressed with beef stick, olives, celery and pepperoncini pepper.  Thick and spicy!

We did not have dessert on this visit but here is a photo of the Giant Chocolate Cake that I took just a few months ago on a different visit.  Heavenly and gigantic with at least four layers of dark chocolate cake nestled between more layers of thick, chocolate butter cream frosting.  I recommend that you share this big boy!

Service: Our service on this occasion was great!  We were greeted and seated immediately and our order was taken promptly.  Within minutes of being seated we were given a nice big basket of bread fresh out of the oven right.  Drinks were refilled promptly  and food came out at a reasonable pace.
Overall Impression: I’ve already mentioned that Norman Quack’s is one of my favorite restaurants.  They have a fine selection of quality steaks and fish, the specialty sandwiches and burgers are all really good, and the half-priced appetizers during Happy Hour are a great deal.  The Buffalo Chicken Sandwich and Prime Rib are what we crave, in fact there is a good chance you’ll find me (and at least one companion) here on any given Sunday. See you there!
Norman Quacks on Urbanspoon

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

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!

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.

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

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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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

Oct 152009

Cuisine: American
Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking
Location: Cottage Grove
Address: 7240 E Point Douglas Rd S, Cottage Grove, MN 55016 (651) 768-0303

Hours: M-Th 11a-9p Fri 11a-10p Sat 8a-10p Sun 8a-9p
Links: Google Map

Atmosphere: As one would expect from a restaurant named American Motorsports, the restaurant is decorated with a variety of Nascar memorabilia.  The bar area is a popular place to be during racing events, with bar stools surrounding the bar as well as some booths along the far wall.


There is a dining room attached to the bar area that has several basic wood tables and a couple of booths.


Menu: Appetizers at American Motorsports include Mozzarella Sticks, Cheese Bread, Potato Peels, Onion Rings, Chicken Wings, Artichoke Spinach Dip, Fried Cauliflower, Fried Mushrooms, Quesadillas, Jalapeno Poppers, Cheese Curds, Nachos and Mini Tacos.

Salads offered are the Chef, Lemmon Pepper Chicken Caesar, and Taco salad.  Chili as well as a soup du jour are offered as well.

Sandwiches include Maui Chicken, Buffalo Chicken, Cheesy Chicken, BLT, French Dip, Reuben, Clubhouse, Monte Cristo, Hot Dago, Philly Beef, Cod Sandwich, Pulled BBQ Pork, Chicken Cordon Bleu, and Artichoke Spinach Chicken sandwich.  Burgers include Cheeseburger, Mushroom Swiss, Bacon Cheese and Turkey Burger.

Dinner Entrees all come with breadsticks, veggie, soup or salad and choice of potato.  Choices include Sirloin, Garlic Butter Sirloin, Liver & Onions, Chicken Marsala, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Carribean Chicken, Pulled Pork Dinner, Walleye, Pecan Crusted Walleye, and Fish & Chips.

Pasta dishes at American Motorsports include Fettuccine Alfredo, Chicken Parmesan, Sicilian Cheese Tortellini, Baked Ziti Pasta, Pasta Primavera.

Desserts include Apple Crisp Ala Mode, Hot Fudge Sundae, Cheesecake with Topping, Rootbeer Float and Old Fashioned Malt.

Breakfast is served on Saturdays and Sundays from 8am-2pm and includes Pancakes, French Toast, Belgian waffle, Three Cheese Omelette, Ham & Cheese Omelette, Country Omelette, Veggie Omelette, Chili Omelette, Steak and Eggs, Eggs Benedict, and Classic Two Eggs.

Price guide: Appetizers $5-10   Sandwiches $7-9  Entrees $10-20 Pasta $10-13  Desserts $3-5  Breakfast $5-8
What We ordered: We started with the Soup du Jour which happened to be Clam Chowder.  The soup was flavorful and delicious! It was creamy and seasoned with just a hint of dill, giving it a unique rather than traditional flavor for clam chowder.


We also tried the Deep Fried Mushrooms.  These were hot, crunchy and tasty fresh whole mushrooms battered and fried to a golden brown then served with a side of ranch dressing.


We also ordered the Walleye Fingers, which were long fleshy fingers of fried walleye fillets.  They were lightly seasoned and fried to a perfect golden brown and served with homemade tartar sauce on the side.


Service: My companion and I ate at an odd time of day and were the only people sitting in the dining room, all other patrons were watching the races in the bar area.  Our service was decent, but drinks were not always refilled as quickly as needed.
Overall Impression: Cool, fun place to get a bite and watch Nascar events.  Good Happy Hour specials and amazing clam chowder!
American Motorsports Bar on Urbanspoon

Aug 302009

Disclosure: I was invited out to do this review and my meal was provided by the restaurant. All opinions are my own.

Cuisine: American
Restaurant Features: Bar, Patio, Live Music, Night Club
Location: Stillwater, MN

Address: 305 S Water Street Stillwater, MN 55082 (651) 439-5718


  • RESTAURANT Sun-Thurs 11am-9pm    Friday & Saturday 11:00am-10:00pm
  • NIGHT CLUB  Friday & Saturday 9:00pm-2:00am

Links: Freight House Website * Freight House on FacebookGoogle Map


Atmosphere: The Freight House restaurant is located near the St Croix River in downtown Stillwater, in a building that was originally built in 1883 as Stillwater’s freight depot.  The inside of the restaurant has been converted into a lovely two-story dining room, with a selection of booths and tables.

Freighthouse-insidediningThe decks at the Freight House are vast and spacious, running the entire length of the Restaurant and Adjacent Night Club. There are enough tables to seat several hundred people and also a couple of outdoor bars. Great view of the St Croix!

Freighthouse-outsidedeckThe Freight House also offers Live Music on the deck over the weekends.

Freighthouse-livemusicThere is also a popular Night Club that is open weekend nights, with a full bar and DJ.


Menu: Appetizers at the Freight House include Artichoke Dip, Buffalo Wings, Onion Straws, Mini Burgers, Pizza Sticks, Walleye Fingers, Zucchini Fries, Rough-Cut Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, Fruit Plate, and Chicken Wild Rice Soup.

Salads offered are the Steak Knife Chicken Caesar, St Croix Cobb and Bistro Salad (with candied pecans, dried cranberries and bleu cheese).

Freight House also has a large selection of 12″ pizzas including Margherita, El Taco, Quattro Formagi, BBQ Chicken, Wild Mushroom Brie, Pepperoni, Sausage, and Smoked Brisket.

Sandwiches include BBQ Pulled Pork, Smoked Beef Brisket, Chicken Sandwich, Cajun Chicken, Grilled Reuben, Hawaiian Chicken, Veggie Wrap, Southwest Chicken Wrap, Walleye, Atlantic Salmon, Jumbo Hot Dog, and Fish & Chips.  Burgers include Freight House, MIni Burgers, California Turkey Burger, North Dakota Bison Burger, Black Angus, Swiss Mushroom Black Angus, and Black Bean Veggie Burger.

Price guide: Appetizers $9-11  Salads $10-13  Pizza $11-13 Sandwiches/Burgers $9-11
Weekly Specials: Wednesday Night Fish Fry -All You Can Eat Cod, Cornbread, Salad and Rough Cut Fries $12.99 (kids under 12 $6.99)  4pm-Close

What I ordered: The Artichoke Dip came highly recommended, so my companions and I ordered that to start.  The dip was very good, with several chunks of artichoke throughout the cream-cheese based dip.  The dish was creamy and had cheese baked on top as well. The pita wedges were hot and slightly toasted, a great combo with the dip.

Freighthouse-artichokedip I also ordered a Spicy Bloody Mary, which came with a beer chaser.  I do not often drink Bloody Mary cocktails, but I thought this one was very good.  It was spicy, not too thick, and was garnished with olives & pickle spear.

Freighthouse-bloodymaryFor my meal I was debating between a couple of different sandwiches.  The server helped to make my decision easy when he explained that Freight House uses real corned beef form the brisket, so of course I went with the Reuben(please excuse this terrible photo, the photo I snapped at the restaurant was somehow damaged so this one was taken at home of my leftovers).  The Reuben was great! The corned beef was indeed the real-deal, slightly shredded and piled on top of the grilled marble rye bread, and the Thousand Island dressing and sauerkraut were plentiful.  I ordered my sandwich with the rough-cut fries and thought they were also very good; hot and slightly crispy.

Freighthouse-reubenOne of my companions had the Walleye Sandwich with Sweet Potato Fries.  The walleye fillet was large, lightly breaded and pan-fried.  The walleye had excellent flavor but wasn’t very crispy on the outside.  It was served on a toasted & buttered hoagie bun.  The sweet potato fries that my companion ordered were awesome. They were thinly sliced and crispy, the best sweet potato fries any of us had tried before!

Freighthouse-walleyesandwich Another companion had the Smoked Brisket sandwich.  Wow!  This was a monster sandwich, with at least a half-pound of shaved beef brisket and caramelized onions piled onto the sourdough hoagie roll, then covered with melted white cheddar, served with a side of seasoned mayonnaise. Also came with a giant pile of sweet potato fries.

Freighthouse-brisket Another companion ordered the Freight House Burger.  This delicious, flavorful burger comes from grain-fed Black Angus and is topped with sauteed onions, wild mushrooms and white cheddar cheese then served on a toasted ciabatta roll.  Sweet potato fries were selected as the side.

Freighthouse-burger For dessert we shared the Turtle Cheesecake.  The cheesecake itself was very creamy and good, but when drizzled with caramel and pieces of cinnamon-roasted walnuts….. we have a big winner!  Extremely delicious and rich, perfect for sharing.


Service: Our service at the Freight House was excellent from the time we arrived.  The hostesses and manager were very friendly and the server was also great.  Our visit took place on a very nice, busy weekend day and my companions and I were all impressed with how quickly our drinks and food were served.

Overall Impression: The Freight House is the perfect place for patio dining, especially if you like a nice view of the water.  The inside is nice as well and the Night Club is a fun place to go on the weekends.  The service was excellent and the food was very good.  I would also recommend checking out the Minus 5′ Ice Lounge that is temporarily located on the deck of the Freight House for just a little while longer!
Freight House on Urbanspoon