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

Oct 272008
 

Cuisine: Italian
Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking

Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 425 West 7th Street, St. Paul, MN 55102 – (651) 291-7105
Links: Degidio’s Website * DeGidio’s on FacebookGoogle Map
Degidios-outside1000

Atmosphere: Located less than a mile from downtown St Paul, DeGidio’s is a large family-owned restaurant that has been operating in its original location since 1933.  The restaurant is very big, with at least two dining rooms and a large bar area with additional tables and booths.  The ambiance of the restaurant was one that seemed very relaxed, with several parties enjoying the weekend night.  Decor wasn’t anything special.
Degidios-inside1000

View of the Bar area
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Menu: Appetizers include Pizza Calabrese, Crostini Plate (olive tapenade), Pizza Olivino, Baked Goat Cheese, Bruschetta Dip Pomodoro, Garlic Cheese Bread, and Chicken Wings.

Salads offered at DeGidio’s include Greek Chicken, Chicken Strawberry, Caesar, Godmother Salad, Godmother Lucera, and Sirloin Caesar.  The Dinner Salad, Strawberry Salad and the Caesar are all offered as sides as well.

Italian specialties offered are the Spaghetti, Mostaccioli, Old-Fashioned Hot Dago, Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo, Linguini Salsiccia, Spaghetti Neapolitana, Beef Ravioli, Cheese Ravioli, Olive Tapenade, Mostaccioli Salerno, Italian Sausage Dip, Italian Meatball Dip, and Spicy Penne Arrabiata.

American Favorites include North American Walleye, Shrimp Platter, Sirloin Steak, Chicken Platter, Hamburger Platter, Steak Sandwich, and Italian Chicken Breast Sandwich.

DeGidio’s dessert specialties are Spumoni Ice Cream, Chocolate Raspberry Cream Cake, Lemons & Cream Shortcake, Tiramisu, and Triple Chocolate Pinstripe Cake.

Price guide: Appetizers $7-10 Salads $4-11 Italian Specialties $8-11 American Entrees $8-14 Desserts $4-5
What We ordered: My companions and I started with the Pizza Calabrese, which was made of a thin crispy flatbread, and topped with a thin amount of olive oil, melted mozzarella and provolone, sauteed bell peppers and Italian sausage.  I thought this was delicious! The sausage was spicy and slightly on the salty side, but had good flavor.  I loved the crispiness of the crust in combination with the cheese.  I would have liked a side of sauce to dip the pizza in, but it was good enough without it.
Degidios-flatbread1000

We also received this  basket of garlic toast when they brought out our meals.  The bread was thickly sliced, buttery, and flavored with a decent amount of garlic.  I liked that the bread was just slightly crispy yet still somewhat soft in the middle.
Degidios-garlictoast1000

I had been debating whether to order the cheese or meat ravioli for my meal, and took the server’s suggestion to get the Cheese Ravioli with a Meatball.  The raviolis were stuffed with ricotta cheese and then topped with DeGidio’s Homemade Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella.  I liked the standard-ricotta ravioli, but nothing fancy stood out about it.  Same with the sauce…I thought it was good and liked that it had small chunks of tomato and onion in it, but it didn’t set itself apart from many other red sauces that I have had before (including varieties found at the grocery store).
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One of my companions ordered the Meatball Dip.  This dish consisted of three homemade meatballs served atop a plate of mostaccioli and then smothered with sauteed bell peppers and mozzarella.  The meatballs were very good, but the peppers could have been sauteed a little longer to make them a little softer.
Degidios-meatballdip1000

Another companion tried the Hot Dago after seeing it served to others before we ordered.  The patty was made of Italian Sausage and then served between two thick slices of bread and then topped with sauce and cheese.
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Service: We arrived at the height of the Friday-Night dinner rush without a reservation.  We were told we would have to wait about ten minutes, so we went into the bar area and ordered drinks.   Less than five minutes after we arrived, the host came to tell us our  table was ready.  Our server was friendly and prompt when taking our order and refilling drinks.  We ordered the appetizer at the same time as our meals and they were spaced just perfectly so that we were just finishing the appetizer when the meals were served.  Our server was happy to give us more bread to take home with our leftovers.
Overall Impression: I thought the food was pretty good, but nothing about it stood out as anything truly special or unique in my eyes.  Being that DeGidio’s has been around for 75 years now, there are obviously many people who would disagree with my opinion.  I also thought the menu was kind of limited but I was pleased with the service and thought the prices were very reasonable.
Degidio's Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon