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 232010

Cuisine: American, Bar & Grill, Chicago-Style
Restaurant Features: Bar, Happy Hour, Patio, Nightclub, On-Site Parking
Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 788 Grand Avenue  St Paul MN 55105 651-291-2525
Hours: Daily 11am-2am
Links: Wild Onion Website * Wild Onion on FacebookGoogle Map

Atmosphere: Located on Grand Avenue in St Paul, Wild Onion is a full-service restaurant that also moonlights as a nightclub.  During the day, Wild Onion is a casual, relaxed restaurant that has become a popular place for lunch by local residents, shoppers, and also people who work around St Paul.  The restaurant is fairly large and has many tables and booths around the edges of the space.  The brick walls have a variety of beautiful original canvas paintings hanging about.

At night the Wild Onion turns into a really fun place to hang out with a large, centrally located Bar and dance floor.  Most nights there is a DJ playing after 8pm so it can be quite loud, as expected.  Very popular with the 21+ crowd, especially local co-eds, birthday celebrations, and bachelor/bachelorette parties.

Menu: Appetizers at Wild Onion include Singapore Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Nachos, Walleye Fingers, Grilled Chicken Quesadilla, Cheese Curds, Onion Rings, Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna, Pot Stickers, Italian Fries, and Chicken Wings (Double Diamond, Buffalo, Wild Fire, Baked Cajun Wings, and Asian Battered Wings).

Soup and Salad options include Mixed Green, Caesar, Black and Blue Shrimp, Wild Onion Signature Chopped Salad, and Buffalo Chicken Salad.  Soups include French Onion, Chili and a Soup du Jour.

Chicago-Style Specialties include Chicago Hot Beef Sandwich, Chicago Dogs, Hot Italian Sausage Sandwich, Michigan Ave B.L.T., Windy City Fettuccine, and Spaghetti and Meatballs.

Sandwich options are BBQ Pork, French Dip, Walleye Fillet, Reuben, Widow-Maker Club (chicken, bacon, avocado and spicy Scorned Woman sauce), Prime Rib, Bad-to-the-Bone (shaved ham with sauteed peppers, jalapenos and onions), Turkey Melt, Superheater Sandwich (grilled chicken with pepper jack, habanero peppers and diamond sauce), and Turkey Burger.  Tortilla Wraps include Thai Chicken, Fresh Veggie, Walleye, Tijuana Chicken and Blackened Ahi Tuna with Avocado.

Wild Onion also has a variety of burgers (served with kettle chips) and sliders including Original Beef Sliders, Walleye Sliders, Blackened Chicken Sliders, Grand Avenue Burger, Chipotle Pepper Jack Melt, Juicy Lucy (stuffed with Swiss cheese), Onion Mac, and the Steakhouse Burger.

Handmade Pizza options include Four Cheese, Wild Onion Combo and Buffalo Chicken.

Entrees at Wild Onion are the Bricked Chicken, Dijon Marinated Sirloin, Steak Frites )fries topped with Bistro steak and Bordelaise sauce), Canadian Walleye, Steak and Eggs, and Szechuan Chicken Rice Bowl.

Price guide: Appetizers $7-9  Salads $5-12 Sandwiches/Burgers $7-9 Pizza $8-12  Entrees $10-16

Happy Hour: Monday-Friday 3:30-6:30pm

  • $1 Off Domestic Bottled Beer, Cocktails, House Wines
  • $1 Off all 20 oz. Mugs
  • $2 Small Plate Menu available in Bar Area
  • $2 Off all Martinis, Manhattans and Gimlets

Weekly Specials:

Monday- Hot Chicago Beef Sandwich $6.99, $2 Off All Steaks and Wings, $1 Off All 20 oz. Mugs, Shake Dice for Drinks @ the bar, Super 34 oz. Mugs – $5.50 Domestics, $6.50 Imports

Tuesday- Birthday Specials

Wednesday- $9.97 Steak or Chop Plate.  Choice: A 10 oz NY Strip or 12 oz Bone-in Pork Chop  served with house salad and signature cheesy scalloped potatoes.

Thursday- (Italian Night) Porketta $9.49, Fettuccine Alfredo $7.49, Chicken Parmesan $7.49, Macaroni and Cheese $7.49, Spaghetti & Meatballs $7.49,  $2 off glasses of wine

Sunday- $3.50 Build-you-own Bloody Mary Bar (11am-3pm), $6.99 Signature Burgers (5-11pm),

What I ordered: I did not want to order a full meal for lunch so I opted to get the chicken quesadilla appetizer.  Very flavorful choice! The two large flour tortillas were stuffed with bites of grilled white meat chicken, roasted sweet corn, sauteed peppers and onion, cheddar and jack cheeses, and then grilled until everything was hot and melted.  The tortillas were a crispy golden brown and slightly buttery, then topped with chipotle ranch, sour cream and crumbled Mexican cheese.  It was served with sliced fresh peppers, salsa, and chopped greens on the side.

One of my companions ordered the Ahi Tuna and Avocado Wrap.  This wrap had Sushi-grade yellow fin tuna seared rare and wrapped inside a tortilla with shredded carrots, avocado, tomato, wasabi and a white-balsamic vinaigrette. Served with a side of avocado ranch and fresh fruit.  (Comes standard with kettle chips or you can upgrade to fresh fruit or french fries for $1.50 extra)

Another companion ordered the Veggie Wrap with fries (upgrade from standard kettle chips).  This wrap included Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado, green and red onions with Swiss cheese. Tossed in a white balsamic vinaigrette and served with a side of avocado ranch.

Another companion ordered the Juicy Lucy, which was stuffed with Swiss cheese and served on a toasted bun.  I didn’t try it but it looked great and my companion enjoyed it very much.

Service: Our visit was on a Friday for a late lunch but we were luckily able to find a parking spot in the attached lot.  As soon as we arrived we were greeted by a friendly hostess and then seated.  Our server was patient as we took our time looking over the menu, and offered a few suggestions to make ordering easier.  It took at least 20 minutes for our meals to be served, but drinks were filled in a timely manner.
Overall Impression: The Wild Onion is a happenin’ place to eat or drink on Grand Avenue, with good food and great birthday specials.  Check out Wild Onion at night with a group of friends if you’re looking for a fun place to dance and have cocktails.
Wild Onion on Urbanspoon

Feb 062010

Cuisine: American, Bar & Grill, Burgers, Dessert
Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking
Location: Maplewood, MN  (Sister restaurants include 5-8 Club in Minneapolis and 5-8 Bar & Grill in Champlin)
Address: 2289 Minnehaha Ave S Maplewood, MN 55119 (651) 735-5858

Hours:11a-12a (Kitchen closes at 11p)
Links: 5-8 Website * Google Map


Atmosphere: Located in Maplewood at the corner of McKnight and Minnehaha Ave, 5-8 Tavern & Grill is the sister restaurant to the famous 5-8 Club in South Minneapolis.  The building is divided into two distinct sides, the tavern is to the left when you walk through the front entrance and the dining room to the right.  The dining room  had both tables and booths.  Walls were decorated with a combo of neon lights and 50’s memorabilia.



Menu: Appetizers at the 5-8 Tavern include Nachos Supreme, Jumbo Battered Wings, JoJo Potatoes, Extreme JoJos (with chili and cheddar), Deep Fried Cheese Curds, Chicken Fingers, Quesadilla, Onion Straws, Onion Rings, Buffalo Popcorn Shrimp, Potato Skins, Battered Fried Mushrooms, Mozzarella Sticks, and Summit Pale Ale Cheddar Dip.

Salads offered are the Turkey BLT, Grilled Chicken, Taco Salad, Chef Salad and Tossed Salad.  Soups include Chili and a Soup of the Day

5-8 has several basic sandwiches including Clubhouse, Hot Dog, Chili Cheese Coney Dog, Grilled Cheese, BLT, and Corn Dog.  All served with kettle chips and pickle.

Specialty sandwiches at 5-8 are Pork Tenderloin, Walleye, Chicken Club, Philly, French Dip, Patty Melt, Grilled Chicken, Reuben, Buffalo Chicken, Chicken Bacon Ranch Wrap.  Served with French Fries.

Roadhouse Classic Sandwiches include Steak sandwich (served on Texas Toast), West Chicken (grilled with BBQ sauce, pepper cheese, and bacon), and BBQ Pork Sandwich. Served with JoJo potatoes.

The 5-8 is famous for its “Juicy Lucy”, a 1/2 lb burger stuffed with melted cheese (choice of American, Swiss, pepper or bleu) and has several other specialty burgers as well.  Specialty burgers include Mushroom Swiss, Bleu Cheese, Santa Fe (guacamole, pepperjack and bacon), Supreme (bacon, pepperjack and bbq sauce), the Speakeasy Burger (Swiss, ranch and bacon), Big Jim (double cheeseburger with 4 cheeses), the Saucy Sally (cheeseburger stuffed with special sauce), California Burger, Montana Jack (Heinz 57, bleu cheese, mayo and onion straws), Pizza Burger (marinara and mozzarella), Roadhouse Burger (bacon cheeseburger with 5-8 sauce), and The GCB (garlic cheeseburger).  All burgers are made with Angus Beef (or substitute any burger with with Veggie or Bison patty (with exception of Juicy Lucy or Saucy Sally).

Dinner Entrees include BBQ Pork Ribs, Walleye Basket, Shrimp Basket, 8oz. Sirloin Steak, BBQ Chicken Dinner, Hamburger Steak, Chicken Delight (melted pepperjack and mushrooms ), and Fajitas.  5-8 also has Genuine Broasted Chicken (cooked under high pressure).

Desserts include Chocolate Supreme Cake, Fried Cheesecake, Grasshopper Pie, and Muddy Paws Cheesecake.

Price guide: Appetizers $5-8  Salads $7  Burgers $4-7  Sandwiches $4-8  Entrees $7-11  Broasted Chicken $8-15  Desserts $3-5

Happy Hour: Mon-Fri 2-6pm,

  • $3 Appetizers include 2 mini cheeseburgers, 2 chicken sliders, deluxe fries, beef nachos, onion straws and slider of the day.
  • $2 Appetizers include garlic cheese bread, chips and salsa

Nighttime Happy Hour: Sun-Wed 8:30p-close

  • 1/2 price appetizers
  • 1/2 price taps

Weekly Specials:

Monday- Chef’s Choice $6.99

Tuesday- Hot Beef Sandwich $6.50

Wednesday- Meatloaf $6.50
Thursday- Hot Turkey Sandwich $6.50
Friday- Broiled Walleye $8.99 or  Beer Battered Cod Lunch $6.50 Dinner $8.99
Saturday- Jumbo Shrimp $6.99
Sunday- All-you-can-eat Spaghetti $6.95

What we ordered: My companions and I started with the Deep Fried Mushrooms.  The mushrooms had a thick, crunchy, solid breading that had been fried to a dark golden color.  I thought these were very good but the mushrooms inside the breading had shrunk quite a bit while cooking, leaving a lot more batter than mushroom.  It was served with a mild blue cheese dressing for dipping.


My companions also ordered some of the Potato Skins which were covered with melted cheddar and Monterey jack, bacon, green onions and sour cream on the side.  I did not eat these but my companions liked them.


For my entree I ordered a Swiss cheese Juicy Lucy with bacon ( because bacon makes every burger even better).  The burger was made with two 1/4 lb patties pressed together with cheese melted in the middle.  It was extremely hot so I cut it in half as seen below (served whole).  There was a substantial amount of cheese escaping the pocket of meat but it sure was great tasting! There was a thin layer of pickles under the patty.  I liked it a lot but honestly didn’t have that different of an experience than I would with a traditional bacon and swiss burger.  The french fries were an “add on” to the burger for an additional charge.  Tasty but basic shoe-string fries


One of my companions ordered the American Cheese Juicy Lucy with mushrooms in a basket with Onion Rings.  The Juicy Lucy was indeed hot and juicy, loaded with melted cheese.  The onion rings were fried to a crispy dark golden brown and were just the right thickness for my liking

Another companion ordered an American cheese Juicy Lucy with Bacon and Swiss melted on top, also in a basket with onion rings and a small side of coleslaw.


Service: This was my first time at this location of the 5-8 and the restaurant was pretty busy, being a Friday night.  I have to admit I was a little confused when I first arrived because there was no hostess stand or a sign anywhere inviting guests to find a seat and there didn’t seem to be anyone handy to ask.  My companions and I took the liberty of seating ourselves in a booth and were greeted shortly after by one of the wait staff.  Our server was very friendly and also had a great sense of humor.  The food was prepared in a reasonable amount of time considering how busy it was.
Overall Impression: If you haven’t ever had a Juicy Lucy before, what are you waiting for? The 5-8 is a great place to try the famous creation and they have four different varieties of cheese so there is something for everyone.  They also have a variety of other sandwiches and entrees on the menu with very reasonable prices, especially considering the large portion sizes.  My only suggestion is that 5-8 should have malts on their menu because what could go better with a burger basket than a nice creamy ice cream malt or shake?!
Maplewood 5-8 Tavern & Grill on Urbanspoon

Apr 182009

Cuisine: American, Bakery, Burgers, Desserts, Steaks
Restaurant Features: Bar (beef and wine), On-Site Parking
Location: Brooklyn Center, MN
Address: 5524 Brooklyn Blvd, Brooklyn Center, MN‎ – (763) 560-4947
Hours: Daily 11am-10pm
Links:50’s Grill Website * Google Map

Atmosphere: As the name suggests, the atmosphere of the 50’s Grill is one that takes you back in time.  When you first walk in to the restaurant, you see that all the servers are wearing pink Poodle Skirts!  There is a large bakery counter filled with delicious pies and cakes, and there is also a counter where Old Fashioned ice cream treats are made (complete with black & white tiling and antique malt mixer!)


If you didn’t already feel like you were in the 50’s just upon entering the building, the dining room will surely do the job with its’ black & white checkered flooring, blue and pink neon lights around the edge of the ceiling, and an impressive collection of framed posters and art from the 50’s Era.  The space is divided into several four-person hot pink high-backed booths that allow for more privacy.  There is also a section of the dining room near the windows that has tables that can be arranged to accommodate bigger groups.


There is also this lounge area to the right when you first enter 50’s Grill


Menu: Appetizers and sides include Shrimp Basket, Chicken Tenders, Onion Rings, Pepper Jack Cheese Fries, Krinkle Cut Fries, and Mashed Potatoes.

Salads at 50’s Grill are served with homemade bread and include Grilled Chicken, Caesar, Chicken Caesar, Shrimp Caesar, Orange Almond, Ranch, Garden, Chef and Turkey Salad (mayo based).

Homemade Soups: Mon- Chicken & Wild Rice, Tues-Split Pea & Ham, Wed- Cream of Broccoli, Thurs- Navy Bean & Ham, Fri- Seafood Chowder, Sat/Sun- Beef Barley

Sandwiches offered are the Santa Fe Chicken, Cajun Chicken, Rajun Cajun, Grilled Chicken Club, Turkey Guacamole and Bacon, Turkey Reuben, Walleye, Turkey, Turkey Club, Turkey Salad, BLT, Cod FIsh, and Veggie Burger.

Burgers at the 50’s Grill are made from 6 oz. of fresh ground beef include 50’s Grill Burger, 50’s Grill Cheeseburger, The Big Cheese, Bacon & Smoked Cheddar, Guacamole Burger, Multi-Grain Melt and Patty Melt.  4 oz burgers can also be made and include Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Pepper Cheeseburger, Bacon Cheeseburger, and California Burger.  Bison Burgers are also available made from lean ground Bison.

50’s Grill Dinners are all served with fresh baked bread, soup or salad, real mashed potatoes and homemade gravy, and vegetable.  Entrees include Carved Turkey, Rotisserie Roasted Chicken, Homemade Meatloaf, Hamburger Steak, Hot Turkey Sandwich, Canadian Walleye, Jumbo Shrimp, Famous Chicken Pot Pie, and 8 oz Sirloin.  There are a coupe of surf & turf combos as well.

The number of Desserts to choose from is astounding! Handmade Pies baked fresh daily include Apple, Sugar-Free Apple,  Apple Crisp, Wild Blueberry, Cherry, Strawberry Rhubarb, Banana Cream, Coconut Cream, French Silk, Lemon Merinque and Pecan.  Cheesecakes include Plain, Cheesecake topped with strawberries, raspberries, chocolate or caramel, Turtle Cheesecake, and Raspberry Hot Fudge (topped)Cheesecake.  Award-winning Cakes include Carrot, Chocolate Fudge, Turtle, and German Chocolate.

Ice Cream treats include Old Fashioned Ice Cream Cones or Dish, Old Fashioned Malt (25+ flavors), Sundaes, Banana Split, Root Beer Float, and Ice Cream Sodas.

Price guide: Appetizers    Sandwiches $6-8    Burgers $6-8   Dinner Plates  $9-15  Pie $3.79/slice  Ice Cream $3-5
Weekly Dinner Specials: Monday- Stuffed Rotisserie Chicken, Tuesday- Carved Roast Turkey with Dressing and Mashed Potatoes, Wednesday- Pot Roast with Carrots & Onions Thursday- Hot Roast Beef with Mashed Potatoes, Friday/Saturday- Hickory Smoked Bar-B-Que with Coleslaw and Baked Beans
What I ordered: Many of the many choices looked great but I was in the mood for a burger so I had the Guacamole Burger. The ground beef patty was pretty big and tasty and was served on a toasted bun baked fresh at the restaurant.  The bacon and fresh guacamole added the expected flavor and really made the burger.  I think it would’ve been even better if I had added Pepper Jack or Swiss cheese and maybe even some jalapenos (I love spice to kick things up a notch).  The krinkle-cut fries were your standard frozen krinkle fries.


My companion had the 50’s Grill Cheeseburger, topped with American cheese, tomato, lettuce and red onion.


I couldn’t come to a restaurant like 50’s Grill that has so many desserts and not try a few (for the sake of this review of course ;) ), so we also got a couple of slices of pie to-go.  The strawberry rhubarb pie was delicious! You could tell from the freshness of the ingredients and flaky pie crust that this was fresh, homemade pie.  The filling had large pieces of both strawberry and rhubarb, both a little sweet and a little tart.  Delicious!


We also tried the Coconut Cream Pie because this is one of my favorite types of pie.  The filling was  thick, vanilla-pudding-based (homemade and not from a box!) with grated coconut shavings mixed within.  The pie had a thick layer of real whipped cream atop the pudding, then topped with toasted coconut flakes.  Delish!


Service: We were shown right to a table when we arrived and were then promptly greeted by our server.  Our server (dressed straight out-of-the-50’s with her poodle skirt and bobby socks!) was nice and made some good suggestions about the menu.  Our food was served quickly and beverages were refilled often.
Overall Impression: Fun place! Good burgers and awesome desserts!
50's Grill on Urbanspoon

Apr 122009

Cuisine: American, Burgers
Restaurant Features: Bar, Games
Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 492 Hamline Ave. So  St Paul, MN  55116 (651)698-4647
Links: Nook Website   Google Map
Atmosphere: The Nook is tucked into its' Highland Park neighborhood within a little building just across the street from Ball Field of Cretin-Durham Hall.  The dining room of the restaurant is long and narrow, accommodating approximately twelve tables.  There is a variety of local memorabilia framed and hung on the walls, in addition to a handful of nice flat-screened TVs that are also hung up throughout the restaurant.  I am pretty sure I also saw a couple of video game machines at the very back of the dining room.  There is also a bar when you first walk in that seats about eight.

Menu: Appetizers at the Nook include Jalapeno Poppers, French Fries, Runyon Rings, Cheese Curds, Mozzarella Sticks, Mini Tacos, Mini Corn Dogs, Leprechaun Legs (fried green beans!), Nokie Wings with your choice of eight original sauces, Boneless Wings, Chicken Drummies, Chicken Tenders.

Pizza offerings include Deluxe, Sausage, Pepperoni, and Double Cheese.

The salad choices at the Nook are Dinner Salad, Garden Salad with Chicken, Caesar, and Buffalo Chicken.

Sandwich offerings include the Reuben, Bourbon Bacon Chicken, Charbroiled Chicken Breast, Charbroiled Chicken Club, BBQ Chicken, Buffalo-style Charbroiled Chicken, Chicken Tender Melt, Pork Tenderloin Sandwich, Half Pound BLT, Battered Cod, Salmon Burger, and Grilled Shamrock's Cheese.  All sandwiches come with fresh cut fries and pickle.

Burgers are what the Nook is known for! With many to choose from such as The Mickey's Original, Cheeseburger, Bacon Cheeseburger, Patty Melt, California, Pepperjack Burger, Shwishmushroom Burger, Bourbon Bacon Burger, Alumni Burger (Worcestershire sauce enhanced), Casburger, Nookie Supreme (Double Decker cheeseburgers with special sauce), Juicy Nookie (stuffed cheeseburger), Paul Molitor Burger (stuffed with pepperjack), Matt Birk Burger (two patties with pepperjack), Lodge Burger, Bleu Cheeseburger, Burger of the Month, and Garden Burger.  All burgers come with fresh cut fries or sub for onion rings just $1.50 extra.

Dinner Entrees come with coleslaw, garlic toast and French fries and include 7 oz Filet Mignon, a Surf and Turf Combo, Steak Sandwich, 8 oz. Ribeye, Fish & Chips, Fried Shrimp, Fried Chicken Wings, and Pork Chops.

Price guide: Appetizers $ 6-8 Sandwiches & Burgers $6-8 Salad $4-7
Weekly Specials: Sunday- Kids eat free from Kids' Menu  One child per adult.

Monday- Dollar Burgers from 8:30-10:00 (smaller burgers)

Tuesday-Bourbon Bacon Burger with fries $5.50

Wednesday- Ribeye and the Works $9.95

Thursday- Breaded Pork Tenderloin $5.95

Friday- Fried Shrimp or Fish Fry $9.95

Saturday- 4pm to close 10oz. BBQ Pork Chop Dinner

What We ordered: My companion and I started with the Cheese Curds.  This was a pretty generous helping of cheese curds, which were all bite-sized with a semi-hard outer breading and hot melted Wisconsin Cheese in the center.  Delicious! They came with a side of ranch for dipping.  I would recommend a minimum of three people share these rich treats.  I love them but can't eat too many at one time and I ate way more than I should have before the main course.


Our server told us that the favorite burger of everyone that works at the Nook is the Lodge Burger, so I ordered that to see what it was all about.  The seasoned beef patty was obviously fresh, very flavorful and juicy.  It had two layers of cheddar cheese, one on each side of the beef, plus bacon, tomato, lettuce and a special chipotle mayo.  I crave flavor and this burger did it for me! I was on cheese-overload from all the cheese curds I ate earlier and could have done without the second layer of cheese on my burger, but otherwise it ranks up there as one of the best burgers I have had.  I opted to sub Onion Rings instead of Fries and received a big portion of the golden rings.  The rings were thick-cut and also thickly breaded.  Good stuff!               


My companion had the Juicy Nookie with fresh sauteed mushrooms.  The medium-cooked burger was stuffed with a mound of melted American cheese that oozed out. My companion loved it and agrees that the Burger at the Nook is one of the best ever consumed.  The big pile of fries were fresh-cut and dense in the middle with just a slightly crispy outside and lightly seasoned with cracked pepper and garlic salt.


Service: Great! I had heard that the Nook is one of the few restaurants in town that consistently has a wait for a table, so my companion and I were pleasantly surprised that there were plenty of tables for us to choose from on a Monday afternoon around 4pm.  Our server did an excellent job of making us feel welcome and took his time to suggest different burgers and stayed on top of the drink refills.  Food was ready in a reasonable amount of time.  It started to get more busy as the hour progressed and by 5 pm every table was filled.
Overall Impression: Some of the best burgers in the Twin Cities, at great prices.

Feb 242009

Cuisine: American, Breakfast, Steak, Chops
Restaurant Features: Bar

Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 1305 West 7th Street St Paul, MN 55102 (651) 228-1408

Hours: Daily 8am
Links: Bennett’s Website * Bennett’s Facebook PageGoogle Map


Atmosphere: The Dining room at Bennett’s is a large open space with several round and rectangular wooden tables adorned with white table cloths and a layer of white butcher paper in lieu of placemats.  A bar runs along one long wall with additional seating that provides  an excellent view of the TVs hung over head.  It was mellow at lunch time but looks like it could be a fun place to come before/after an event at the Xcel Energy Center or other downtown St Paul venue.


Menu: Bennett’s is open for breakfast and has a few classic breakfast combos with egg, hashbrowns, choice of meat, and toast, pancakes, or French toast.  They also have a selection of 3-Egg Omelets such as the Farmer’s, Italian, Ham & Cheese, Cheese and Mexican.  Signature breakfasts include Eggwich on English Muffin, West 7th Special (hashbrowns with veggies, eggs and cheese), Eggs Benedict, Little Charlie Benedict (eggs benedict served over tenderloin medallions with caramelized onions),  Italian Skillet, Veggie Skillet, and Yogurt with Fresh Fruit.

Bennett’s has a long list of appetizers including Smoked Salmon, Bruschetta, Stuffed Mushrooms, Grilled Scallops, Onion Rings, Walleye Strips, Chicken Drummies, Chicken Quesadilla, Chicken Wings, Tenderloin Tips, Crab Cakes, and Spinach Artichoke Dip.

Specialty salads offered are the Caesar, Chop Chef, Buffalo Chicken, Raspberry Pecan Chicken, Oriental, and the Rio Grande.

There are a pleasant number of sandwiches and burgers and all come with chips, including the BLT, Club House, Little Charlie’s Tenderloins, the Reuben, Veggie Delight (Grilled Asparagus), Meatloaf, Open-Faced Sandwich, Braised Short Ribs, French Dip, Shore Lunch Walleye, Dante’s Inferno, Spicy Italian, and Emma’s Original Turkey.  Substitute chips with fresh cut fries for an additional $1.  The selection of chicken sandwiches alone is impressive with the Teriyaki Chicken, Buffalo Chicken, Chicken Parmesan, Pesto Chicken, Swiss and Mushroom, Fort Road, and the Crispy Chicken.  Specialty 1/2 lb. burgers include the Juicy Lucy, Patty Melt and the Black N Blue.  Fresh cut fries included with burgers and chicken sandwiches.

Pasta is also a specialty of Bennett’s with dishes such as Cajun Chicken, Chicken Alfredo, Lemon Shrimp over Fettuccine , Spaghetti with Meatballs and Lobster Ravioli (dinner only).

Dinner entree items include Apple Bourbon Glaze Pork Chop, Creole Meatloaf, New York Strip, 16 oz Ribeye, Liver Steak with Bacon and Onions, Braised Short Ribs, Sirloin, Beef Tenderloin Kabobs, Petite Filet, Filet Mignon, BBQ Pork Ribs, Walleye Pike, Colossal Scampi,Grilled Salmon, Lobster Tail, Chicken Kiev, Chicken Osacar, and Chicken Pot Pie.

Bennett’s is known for their homemade carrot cake and fresh fruit pies.

Price guide: Breakfast $4-8 Appetizers $6-11 Sandwiches $ 7-9  Pasta $13-18 Dinner Entrees $14-30

Weekly Specials:

Monday 1/2 price bottles of wine and 1/2 price appetizers
Tuesday All you can eat Spaghetti – $12.95
Wednesday Birthday of the week night – Free Sirloin Dinner
Thursday Burger of the week night
Friday All you can eat Snow Crab Legs – $26.95
Saturday 14 oz. cut USDA Choice Prime Rib – $14.95
Sunday Family Night – Kids 10 and under eat free

What we ordered: To start, my companions and I shared the Tenderloin Tips.  These were melt-in-your-mouth tender and infused with flavor that had a pleasant kick.  The homemade bernaisse and horseradish sauces looked good but I loved the beef without it.  My only complaint is that the portion seemed like just a few bites, not much to go around if you’re sharing.


We also ordered the Stuffed Mushrooms, which came as an order of four giant mushroom caps filled with wild rice and Mornay sauce and loaded with mozzarella and cheddar baked on top.  These were delicious!


For my entree I was really debating between the Dante’s Inferno or the Reuben.  I am a Reuben girl and had to follow my heart, so Reuben it was. The corned beef was the real deal, sliced thin and then topped with melted Swiss and sauerkraut that had a touch of thousand island dressing mixed in.  It was on thick pumpernickel bread that was grilled to a crispy golden brown.  I up-graded and got the fresh cut French Fries for $1 extra.  It was worth it, as the portion was pretty big and the fries tasted just like the fresh French Fries you can get at the MN State Fair, with the insides still just slightly firm.

Bennetts-reuben1000 One of my companions had the BLT sandwich, served on ciabatta bread.  The bacon was crispy and the lettuce and tomato fresh.

Bennetts-blt1000 Another companion ordered the Chicken Pecan Raspberry Salad, which looked so good!  It came with a large chicken breast grilled and sliced atop a bed of fresh spinach and other greens.  It was also loaded with bleu cheese crumbles, candied pecans and a sweet raspberry dressing.  It comes with one fresh warm breadstick but my companion asked for an extra.

Bennetts-chickenpecansalad1000 Another companion had the Oriental Chicken Salad.  There were a few pieces of crispy white-meat chicken atop a bed of mixed greens with carrots, with crispy chow mein noodles and mandarin oranges and then tossed with an oriental sesame ginger dressing.


Service: Our visit was at lunch time on a Wednesday and fortunately for us it wasn’t too busy.  Our service was very good, with food and drinks served in a timely manner.  The server was good about answering questions and helping with food selections.  There was a slight mistake with one of the orders and it took awhile longer to be served than the rest of the food, but Bennett’s was gracious in correcting the slight mix-up.
Overall Impression: Lunch is served quickly and they have a lot to choose from on the menu.  Prices seemed a little high for what you got, but the food was quite good and so was the service.  I would like to go back and try the dinner sometime.
Bennett's Chop & RailHouse on Urbanspoon

Nov 032008

Cuisine: American, Fish & Seafood, Steaks, Chops,
Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking

Location: Forest Lake, MN
Address: 9726 Scandia Trail N. Forest Lake, MN 55025 (On Hwy 97 four miles east of Hwy 61) (651)433-5646

Hours: Mon 4-9pm Tues-Sat 11am-10pm Sun 11am-9pm
Links: Old Log Cabin WebsiteGoogle Map


Atmosphere: There are two dining areas in the Old Log Cabin, the main dining room with a variety of booths and tables (not pictured) and then the bar area which has a handful of high tables with additional seating at the bar.  Like it’s name suggests, the Old Log Cabin has a rustic feel and the building itself is made from several large logs.  Nearly every square inch of the bar area is covered with business cards of every variety!


Menu: Appetizers include Fungus Humongous, Mozzarella Sticks, Buffalo Wings, Onion Rings, Artichoke Dip, Chicken Strips, Potato Skins, Cheese Curds, and Nachos Grande.

Salads include Chicken Chef, Taco, Crispy Chicken, and Chicken Caesar.

There is a large selection of 1/2 lb burgers with names such as Musher, Alaskan, Prospector, Kodiak and Yukon.  Sandwiches include the Trapper (prime rib), Ptarmigan, Cottage Chicken, Log Jammer (Prime rib with onions and peppers), Fish, Hot Prime, Grilled Chicken, Grizzly Chicken (BBq & Bacon), Steak and the French Dip.

Dinner entrees include Ribeye Steak, Cabin Steak (10oz sirloin), Black Angus Sirloin, Chopped Sirloin, Sirloin Tips, Ork Chops, Broasted Chicken, Marinated Chicken Breast, Broiled Walleye or Shrimp, Fried Cod, Seafood Platter, Fish & Chips, and Fried Shrimp.

Desserts offered are Carrot Cake, Strawberry Shortcake, Bread Pudding, and Root Beer Float.

Daily dinner specials begin at 4pm and include:

  • MON& Tues- Mexican Food
  • Wed- All you can eat Fish Fry
  • Thurs- Steak Night
  • Fri- BBQ Ribs $11.99
  • Sat& Sun- Prime Rib $15.99

Price guide: Appetizers $ 5-8 Salads $7-9 Burgers & Sandwiches $7-9 Dinner Entrees $10-18  Desserts $3-4
What we ordered: We started with the Fungus Humongous and like the name suggests, these fried mushrooms were HUGE!  The extra-large fresh mushrooms were halved, lightly battered and then fried to a crispy brown and served with a honey-mustard dipping sauce.  Delish!


For my meal I ordered the Ptarmigan Chicken Sandwich (the server affirmed that this was a great choice!).  This was a grilled chicken breast topped with creamy spinach artichoke dip and melted cheese on a toasted bun.  The chicken was tender and juicy and the artichoke dip was flavorful and had a decent amount of artichoke.  The french fries were mediocre, with a slightly crispy textured outside and very little seasonings (reminded me of Burger King fries).


One of my companions ordered the Hot Prime Sandwich which consisted of thick slices of prime rib served between slices of fresh white bread, a large scoop of mashed potatoes and then smothered with gravy.  This is obviously the type of sandwich that is meant to be eaten with silverware! I tried a few bites and thought the prime rib was good, but the gravy wasn’t my favorite.  My companion enjoyed this meal.


Another companion ordered the steak sandwich, which was literally a steak thrown between a couple of slices of toast and then served with a side of au jus.


Another companion ordered the Sirloin Tips, which came with a cup of soup, dinner roll, and baked potato.  The sirloin tips were tender and juicy, smothered with sauteed onions and mushrooms.


Service: Our visit was on a Saturday afternoon between lunch and dinner, so there were only a few other customers dining at the time.  Our server doubled as bartender, but was prompt and friendly for the most part.  My only complaint is that the fried mushroom appetizer was served with the meal instead of coming out first but it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Overall Impression: The Old Log Cabin was more laid back than I had expected and the food was priced very reasonably for the amount that came with each order.  The service was good too!
Old Log Cabin on Urbanspoon