Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Great Steak and Potato Co.

I've been working in downtown Minneapolis since June of last year and I love it so far. One of the many reasons I love downtown is the variety of lunch options available in the skyways. That goodness for the skyways. I'd never leave the office otherwise! 

A good sandwich option I was introduced to by a co-worker was Great Steak and Potato Co. They specialize in grilled sandwiches and baked potatoes with assorted toppings. 

On this visit I ordered the Great Steak Cheesesteak which is steak, onions and provolone cheese. You can choose from assorted toppings like lettuce, tomato and onion. I also ordered a side of fries. The fries are some of the best I've found downtown; very crispy and not greasy at all. They also have a really good ranch dressing you can ask for to put on the sandwich or dip the fries in. (They usually don't charge extra for ranch either! Just ask for it at the end of the line when they ask what you want on your sandwich.) I know, I know, it's terrible to dip fries in ranch, but it is a very tasty treat sometimes! The sandwich was pretty good too with steak, fried onions and cheese sauteed together. The sandwich is not bad, but it could be better if the bun was toasted possibly. The quality of the meat is just ok; sometimes it can be a bit gristly. 

Great Steak is located in a food court on the third floor of Gavidae Common with other fast food options like McDonalds, Subway, Broadway Pizza, Manchu Wok and Kabobs Indian Grill. It's a good spot if you are with a group of indecisive people at lunch.

Discounts: I have not seen any coupons for Great Steak. It seems like a lot of places downtown don't offer discounts at lunch time anyway.

Great Steak and Potato Co.
Gavidae Common
Food Court, third floor
651 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oceanaire update

We went back to Oceanaire for our anniversary on February 9th. I just realized the other day I'd forgotten to post the photos form that visit. Anyway, we arrived at 6:30 pm and the restaurant was very busy. I suppose the recent relocation of Oceanaire has renewed interest in it.

The new setting is very nice and a lot more open than the dining room in the last location with higher ceilings. They still have the comfortable large half circle booths. I think the overall capacity is slightly higher than before as well.

We were seated promptly, but the server did not stop by our table for quite some time. Finally, after about 6 or 7 minutes our server stopped by and introduced himself and took our order. After this, his service was excellent.

For appetizers, we ordered the same thing as last time, the tuna poke and oysters. Once again, both were very good.

We both ordered scallops, just different preparations. I had the scallops with orange sauce. They were very good and the scallops were cooked perfectly.
John ordered his scallops grilled. They were cooked fine, but they were very, very salty. Probably over salted.
And to celebrate our anniversary we once again received complimentary baked Alaska. This time it was filled with chocolate ice cream.
Considering this is sort of a new restaurant, that had only been open a couple of weeks, everything seemed to be operating perfectly, aside from the wait we experienced after being seated.

Discounts: Oceanaire still offers happy hour specials and the choices are very similar to what was offered at their old location, so there are some good deals available. I'd recommend checking their website for a current happy hour menu.

The Oceanaire Seafood Room
50 South Sixth Street
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Phone: 612-333-2277

Friday, February 17, 2012

Hell's Kitchen

We went to Hell's Kitchen for Saturday brunch. We've been meaning to check it out for awhile and I tend to forget about it since they are downtown. It is worth the trouble to come downtown on a Saturday though.

We arrived mid-morning and there was a short wait. Reservations might be a good idea, especially if there is some sort of event downtown.

I decided to order the Huevos Rancheros and I added bacon to it as well, per a menu suggestion. This was really good! It was cold out and I was in the mod for something spicy. The salsa on top was really good and tasted freshly made. Lots of flavor. It also had black beans, scrambled eggs, hash browns, cheese, and a tortilla on the bottom. I maybe should have ordered it with guacamole on it and left off the sour cream as I mostly ate around the sour cream. My small attempt at eating healthy I guess. This was very delicious and I'd order it again.
John ordered the classic all American breakfast with scrambled eggs, bison sausage, toast and rosti potatoes. The rosti potatoes are really good. They tasted rather rich and buttery. I tried a bite of them and wished I'd ordered some! I also had a bite of toast with their house made peanut butter. Oh, the peanut butter is soooo good. John liked the peanut butter a lot and he does not care for peanut butter at all. He was not crazy about the bison sausage as it was quite dry.
They even had breakfast entertainment. I believe the group was a Johnny Cash cover band. It was not overly loud either, just made this brunch unique. And going to Hell is certainly a unique experience. Sorry had to make the joke! No, really, they have a lot of interesting sayings and artwork on the walls that fit the theme.

Discounts: Can't say I've ever come across any coupons for Hell's Kitchen. They do have a good happy hour though. Beers starting at $2 and food starting at $3. Check it out here:

Hell's Kitchen
80 9th St S
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402
(612) 332-4700

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bullfrog Bar

We visited Bullfrog Cajun Bar on 2/3/12, because I'd recently bought a Crowd Cut certificate thinking it sounded like a good deal and was somewhere I wanted to try. The certificate was $30 certificate for $15.

We found free parking at a meter in the next block over since it was after 6pm. They do not have a dedicated parking lot that we could find. It was fairly busy when we arrived and we seated ourselves. The noise level was pretty loud, due to a large group and the music was a bit loud as well. The noise level was not so bad we could not carry on a conversation though.

I ordered the shrimp po'boy and sweet potato fries. I also added seasoned sour cream to dip the sweet potato fries in. This was an excellent sandwich, and I was not expecting I'd like it so much since I was comparing it to the shrimp po'boy from the Smack Shack food truck. The sandwich contained a large number of shrimp and the breading was not too thick either. There was some sort of sauce on the bun, which was mayo or mayo based and very good. I also added some hot sauce to spice it up a bit. The sweet potato fries were really good as well. I really liked this sandwich and I'd come back and order it again.
John had the catfish po'boy and cole slaw. The sandwich was good with a good bun and crispy breading on the catfish. It was really good with the hot sauce added to it as well.
I liked the Bullfrog Bar crocks on the table! The Louisiana Hot Sauce is really good on the po'boys as well.
They had a wide variety of beers on tap and many were unusual selections. Apparently Bullfrog is owned by the same people that own the Bulldog Bars around town. I had forgotten this tidbit. I suppose that explains the interesting beer lists.

Discounts: We bought a certificate from Crowd Cut and used it on this visit. We also used 4square to check in and there was a deal through American Express for $5 off if you registered your AmEx card in advance. I believe the $5 off is in the form of a statement credit. They also have a happy hour but it ended at 6pm, not sure of the start time.

Bullfrog Cajun Bar
1111 Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Raising Cane's 1/28/12

Raising Cane’s is one of my favorites for a quick fast food meal. All they have on the menu is chicken fingers and crinkle cut fries. They also make a chicken sandwich, but the chicken inside of it is just several chicken fingers, not a patty. The food quality is great because all of the chicken is fresh, never frozen and they do not pre-cook the chicken and let it sit under warmers. No reconstituted chicken here. 

The dipping sauce that comes with the fingers is excellent, just a touch of spice. I have no idea what is in the secret sauce though. Maybe something to do with Lawry’s seasoned salt and mayonnaise, but I could be wrong. 

The breading on the chicken fingers is great because it is pretty light and not overly greasy. I almost forgot to mention the garlic bread that is included in the box combo. It is a delicious crave-able treat, very good garlic flavor on a piece of bread that is crispy on one side and toasted on the other. 

Too bad they don’t have a location in the West metro though! Hopefully they will someday! There are currently two Twin Cities locations Dinkytown and Apple Valley.

Also, if it is any type of holiday, be sure to call and make sure they are open. We’ve driven down on more than one occasion to find them closed. Good for the employees, bad for my cravings.

Deals: I've never found any coupons or Groupons for Raising Cane's. However, if you join their Caniac Club you get free box combo for signing up and other deals though out the year. Check out for details.

Raising Canes
825 Washington Avenue SE # 104  
Minneapolis, MN 55455
(612) 378-3243

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Runyon's 1/6/12

We decided to finally check out Runyon’s since it is always on the Twin Cities lists for best wings in town. I quite like the atmosphere as it is a very old school bar, with a long bar down one side and tables and booths on the other side. When we arrived we simply seated ourselves and a waitress stopped by right away to take our drink orders.

I ordered the buffalo shrimp. The shrimp were cooked properly and the portion was generous. I think I would have preferred this item if the shrimp had some breading on them. I suppose without the breading this is a healthier option, but it would be tastier if breaded and fried! Also, they have a great blue cheese sauce at Runyon's. It is very thick with lots of blue cheese chunks in it. We also ordered some fries. We received a gigantic basket of fries! The fries were good. I'm not sure if they were fresh or frozen. Frozen I think. 

John liked the wings, but felt the sauce on them was not very spicy and would have been better if it was spicier. I thought the level of spice was ok and I really like how their wings are very crispy on the outside. 
My friend Michele joined us on this outing and she ordered the cheeseburger and fries. She said it was a pretty good burger, nothing wrong with it, nothing really memorable about it either.

Overall, the food received mixed results on this visit. I liked the wings and atmosphere and I'd suggest Runyon's  to others. 

107 Washington Ave N
MinneapolisMN 55401

(612) 332-7158

Friday, February 3, 2012


We decided on the spur of the moment to visit Ciento in Brooklyn Park on January 2, 2012, which we both had off as it was a work holiday. We chose Ciento because we had a coupon from the Twin Cities Dining Club. The location is a little farther away, but since it was a Monday we figured traffic would be light, which it was. 

When we arrived we waited at the door for a few minutes, as it appeared there was just one server in the whole place and no greeter or bartender. After we were seated, the service was fine as there were only 5 tables occupied at most during our visit.  

I had the chicken fajitas from the lunch menu and they were really good. The chicken seemed to be marinated and had good flavor. The portion size was a good amount, even if the lunch portion is smaller than the dinner portion. I really like to order fajitas if they are an option; I guess I like to play with my food or something! My point is, I'd go back just for these fajitas. Also, I believe we both just had soda to drink and did not try any margaritas on this visit. We definitely need to try them next time. 
John had the steak fajitas from the lunch menu. He said they were very good as well and the steak was not chewy or gristly, which can be a problem with steak fajita meat. With each entree we were offered the choice of black beans or refried bean, which is a nice option, not many places offer.
We were very impressed with our first visit to Ciento. The food was good and the service was acceptable. The prices were very good due to the discount card. I felt the food was comparable to Don Pablos or other Mexican restaurants around town. We would certainly return and recommend Ciento to others as well. (I do wonder if it is affiliated with the short lived restaurant also called Ciento that was along 394 a couple years ago. If it is the same people, I am not sure if this location is better or worse as we never visited the old location.)

Discounts: We used a punch card form the Twin Cities Dining Club on this visit. This card is good monthly for $8 off if you buy 2 entrees. Since we ordered off the lunch menu this was a great deal. Plus it made us try an new restaurant we would not have stopped at otherwise.

9660 Colorado Ln  
Brooklyn Center, Minnesota 55445
(763) 898-3724

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

3 Squares - 12/17/11

Maple Grove is chock full of chain restaurants; some good, some not so good. 3 Squares is part of a locally owned chain, the Blue Plate Restaurant company and because it is locally owned I tend to not think of it as a chain in the traditional sense, but I guess it really is. All of the restaurants in the Blue Plate chain are pretty good. Some examples of sister restaurants are: Edina Grill, Highland Grill, Scusi and The Lowry. All have slightly different menus from what I've noticed, but they all have a few things in common like the yummy sweet potato fries, solid burgers and good breakfasts. 

On this visit I ordered a special, the short rib sliders and sweet potato fries. I love, love, love the sweet potato fries at all of the Blue Plate restaurants. They come with this really awesome chipotle aioli dipping sauce. The sauce probably has something to do with mayonnaise, but it is just a little bit spicy to jazz up the sweet potato fries. The short rib sliders were really good because the meat was very tender. 
John ordered the bacon cheeseburger. Look at that quality bacon on the burger! The burger was very good and cooked to order.
They accidentally brought John sweet potato fries and not the regular fries he ordered so he ended up with a giant plate of regular fries. The waitress was very quick about bringing out the correct fries for him.
We've been to 3 Squares before and would absolutely return again. The service was friendly and efficient.

Deals: 3 Squares has an excellent happy hour and a great variety of tap beers with a nice selection of local beers. I recommend checking out their website or calling for the most up to date specials. They also have a rewards card and/or stamp card program.

3 Squares

12690 Arbor Lakes Parkway
Maple Grove MN, 55369
Tel: 763-425-3330
Fax: 763-494-3339