Friday, April 27, 2012

McCormick and Schmick's

We decided we wanted to have a night out downtown a few Saturdays ago and we settled on McCormick and Schmick's. I've been there a few times for dinner or happy hour with friends, but John had never had a chance to check it out.

John wanted some oysters and he usually likes the kumamoto oysters. He was not sure which oysters would be similar so we asked our server and he recommended the Canadian carraquette oysters. John liked them quite a bit since they had a mild briny flavor, they were probably the best choice out of the oysters they had available the day we visited. 

John ordered the simply grilled scallops that came with mashed potatoes and green beans. He thought the scallops were cooked perfectly and were not over-salted as scallops often can be. There was a rich butter sauce to pour over them which was good with the scallops and the potatoes. The green beans were just lightly sautéed so they were fresh and crisp tasting. The mashed potatoes were rich and creamy with large potato lumps, which he liked a lot.

I ordered the seared sea scallops entree with sun dried tomato pesto, lemon butter, crab potato hash, and sautéed spinach. The scallops were very good as was the spinach and the lemon butter. The sun dried tomatoes did not have a lot of flavor for some reason. I was not that crazy about the crab potato hash since there was hardly any crab added to it and I did not care for the green peppers sautéed with the potatoes. It is just not one of my favorite flavor combinations and the potatoes did not have a lot of flavor or seasoning. 

We enjoyed our dinner at McCormick and Schmick's a lot. It offers the food quality of the Oceanaire, but the prices are slightly lower and the atmosphere is a bit more casual. The service was polished and we received some good recommendations from our server. 

Deals & Discounts: There are four coupons for McCormick and Schmick's in the current Entertainment book, two are for lunch discounts and two are for dinner discounts. On this visit we used a coupon for 20% off your entire dinner purchase. They also have a great happy hour with deals on food; I'd check out their website for more details as they change the menu choices occasionally.

McCormick & Schmick's Seafood & Steaks
800 Nicollet Mall
(9th St. and Nicollet Mall)
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Also another location in Edina at the Galleria. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

World Street Kitchen food truck

I think I've discovered my new favorite lunch spot and my new favorite lunch food. Check out the Korean BBQ short ribs yum yum rice bowl from World Street Kitchen below. Ok, ok it is not a bowl, but a box, but they call it a bowl on their menu for some reason! I tried it for the first time last week and I was dying to go back and try it again this week. Yesterday they did not have it on the menu, but they had it today. Maybe they only have it available on certain days of the week. I'm not sure yet, but I intend to figure it out!

Anyway, this box contains a multitude of goodies. I had to make a list of the contents the first time I tried it since I kept running into more and more delicious goodness. They start with sticky rice and piled on top is Korean BBQ short rib meat, mushrooms, chinese broccoli, caramelized onions, green onions, a poached egg, peanuts, sesame seeds, cilantro, Thai basil, and some special sauce. There could have been more goodies I missed!

The meat was tender and had a sweet BBQ sauce on it. There is a nice hit of crunch from the chinese broccoli and the other greens too. The secret sauce is a little bit spicy, though I did see some people adding some rooster sauce to their orders. All of the ingredients fit together really well and you get a different flavor combination in every bite.

This is really enough for two meals since the box contains a lot of food. Some might feel the $10 price tag is a bit steep, but the ingredients are high quality and freshly made. That combination is harder to find among the lunchtime options downtown that you might think.

With WSK and all food trucks, I recommend following them on Twitter to find out their daily hours, location and menus. This truck is always pretty much always parked at Nicollet Mall and 5th Street in the corner of a parking lot next to the light rail station.

World Street Kitchen
Twitter: @eatwsk1

Monday, April 23, 2012

C & G's Smoking BBQ

We've been trying to expand our horizons and try other places around town that frequently make the best ribs and best BBQ lists. Unfortunately, not many of the best places are close to where we live. The west metro is a bit of a BBQ dead zone unless you like Famous Dave's.

So, we decided to give C & G's Smoking BBQ a try. It is just off 35W on Nicollet Avenue, so it is pretty easy to get to. They also have a few tables so you can eat in if you can't wait until you get home to eat your ribs. Otherwise it is mainly carry out service.

John ordered the half slab of ribs with fries and coleslaw. The fries were really good and definitely hand cut, fresh made fries. The ribs were ok, the meat was a little bit chewy and tough. The BBQ sauce was really good though, it was a little bit sweeter sauce with quite a bit of brown sugar flavor, which we both liked a lot.

I ordered a combo meal with three ribs and three wings and sides of macaroni and cheese and baked beans. The wings were really good with a light breading and a great hot sauce, that was spicy and rich. I also thought the ribs were a bit tough, but they did have a nice smoky flavor. The baked beans were very good as well; they also had a delicious brown sugar flavor much like the BBQ sauce. I was not very crazy about the macaroni and cheese. The macaroni seemed a bit overcooked and too soft and it did not have a good cheese flavor, very bland.

When we ordered I noticed they also have a variety of sauce flavors. I was deciding which to choose and the cashier (who is also one of the owners I think) mentioned many of the sauces were brand new sauces they recently developed.

Overall, we enjoyed C & G's. I'd definitely go back for the chicken wings.

Deals & Discounts: Apparently they had a Groupon or Living Social deal recently, because other people were using them, but we missed that deal somehow. Plus, I think it was for a couple sandwiches and sides, so I probably would not have bought it anyway. I recommend watching for other deals in the future.

C&G’s Smoking Barbecue
4743 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55419

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Papa's Cafe

We've been thinking about trying Papa's Cafe for awhile now, if only because they have very creative advertisements that come in all of the coupon booklets that arrive in the mail. They change the ads with the seasons too. Tell me that ad wouldn't make you curious too!

I just had the eggs, bacon and pancakes. The bacon and eggs were fine. The eggs were cooked perfectly by the way. The bacon was ok, nothing great, but nothing wrong with it at all.

The pancakes were pretty good. I'm forever in search of someplace with pancakes as good as those at Al's Breakfast, and these were not quite that good. But they were light and fluffy and cooked just right. Quite good overall.

John had the scrambled eggs, home fries, sourdough toast and hamburger patty. The hamburger patty was pre-formed but he said it had good flavor. The potatoes were good, definitely hand cut and crispy on the outside and a bit chewy on the inside. The sourdough bread for toast was a nice change from regular white or wheat toast.

The service at Papa's Cafe was very efficient. We had two different waitresses help us, it seemed like they shared all of the tables. It seemed like there were a lot of regulars there and the waitresses knew most of them. Overall, we had a good, inexpensive breakfast and I think we'd probably go back, especially since it is so close to where we live.

Deals & Discounts: Papa's always has coupons in the local mailers that come to our house, such as the Coupon Connection book and the Metro Super Saver. Both allow many coupons to be printed online and the deals are usually $2 to $4 off depending on the amount spent. We also have a Metro Dining Club monthly punch card for Papa's good for $5 off per month.

Papa's Cafe
7181 42nd Ave N
New Hope, MN 55427

Monday, April 16, 2012

Victor's 1959 Cafe

We ended up at Victor's after trying to stop at Colossal Cafe for breakfast a couple weekends ago. (It was packed at Colossal and we will have to try going back on a weekday.) We decided to check out Victor's instead as it was sort of close by.

Victor's was also quite busy, but we were able to grab a spot at the bar right away. It was not the best place to sit as people waiting for tables were right behind us, but we did not feel like being choosy about where we sat. I really liked the menu with the Cuban influenced menu choices. A lot of the choices reminded me of menu selections we saw on menus on a recent trip to Mexico. And things that remind me of vacation are always good, right?

I had the Cuban Scrambler. It was scrambled eggs with black beans and creole sauce with plantains. The creole sauce is basically salsa and it was good salsa at that, even a bit spicy. I really liked the plantains served on the side since they were fried and cooked perfectly. It also came with a side of Cuban toast and guava jam. The Cuban toast was really good toast; very light and fluffy and toasted on one side with lots of butter on it. It was different than normal toast and something different, but in a good way. I'd go back to Victor's just for that toast!

John had the Professor Stavrou Special with bacon, seasoned house potatoes, Cuban toast and guava jam. The house potatoes had some cayenne on them and were really good with some spice and crunch. The bacon was very tasty and cooked just the way John likes, a bit on the rare side. He really liked the Cuban toast too.

The service was very good at the bar. The server was very efficient and the food came out pretty quickly as well. Victor's is a cute little place and we look forward to returning soon. There are a lot of other items on the menu that sounded good to me. Victor's is also open for lunch and dinner. Some of the dinner entrees sound good, so we might have to try them for dinner next time.

Victor's 1959 Cafe

3756 Grand Ave S
Minneapolis, MN
(612) 827-8948

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Haute Dish

I went to Haute Dish a couple weekends ago with a good friend of mine, Steph, for a girls night out. We were trying to think of somwhere newish that neither one of us had been to yet and we settled on Haute Dish. OK, so they've been open a couple years already, we're a little slow I guess. 

We had made a reservation on Open Table and we were seated immediately. We both really liked the look and feel of the long narrow building. Lots of dark wood and brick. The interior is much larger than I would have guessed. 

I started off with the Minneosta Mule, which is vodka, lime juice and ginger beer. I really liked it as it was quite light and refreshing. My friend had a glass of wine to drink.

I started with the green goddess salad. Oh my goodness, this salad was divine. The menu simply said blue prawn, avocado, bibb lettuce, spicy bread crumbs, but this salad was so much more. I think the prawns were marinated in lemon or lime juice and they had wonderful flavor. There was even some seafood mixed in with the avocado. I don't even think there was any dressing on this salad, but when you got some of the avocado, prawns and crunchy breadcrumbs all in one bite, it was so flavorful that it did not need additional dressing.  

Steph said the house salad was awesome, one of the best wedge salads she's had. The homemade buttermilk dressing was great as well as the fresh tomatoes. She said she does not normally eat cucumbers, but because they were cut so thinly (rather than the thick wedges you normally get), they tasted great. I had some of this salad as well and the bleu cheese dressing was so rich and creamy, with just the right amount of zing from the bleu cheese. 

I ordered the mac and cheese with king crab. This was really tasty, with perfectly cooked pasta, however I felt like there was not much crab in the dish. Steph liked the fact that is was light on crab, since she is not big on seafood. So it depends on what you like I guess. 

Steph ordered the steak and potatoes and she thought it was awesome and a large portion of food. The steak was cooked as ordered. There was gremolata on the steak, which I just learned is lemon, garlic and parsley. The dish also came with bone marrow to put on the toast. Steph did not want to try it, so I did. I'd never had bone marrow before either and it was sort of like spreading butter on toast with a slightly more gelatinous consistency. I'm not sure I was crazy about it actually. Maybe it is an acquired taste. The toast was excellent too...very thick. The portion of the potatoes was perfect, not too many.

For dessert we ordered the doughnuts. The dessert was very good too, as most desserts are. They did not have any chocolate items on the dessert menu that I noticed, and since I am a chocolate addict, I like to usually see something that screams choclate. Even though we had doughnuts for dessert, which might sound heavy to some, I thought they were kind of refreshing with the pistatshio ice cream and the chai glaze sauce we poured on them. 

We both thought the portions of each course were perfect. Not too much and not too small. We walked out feeling very full, but not stuffed. All of the food was so beautifully presented that I felt bad having to destroy it to eat it! The menu descriptions were very vague and did not elaborate on the items very much so when everything arrived we were surprised by the elaborate look of the food. 

The service was very good. We were never left waiting for anything since she seemed to check back at just the right times without hovering. The service felt somewhat casual, especially when you compare it to the nice room and the beautiful food. I think that is what they are shooting for here, a modern fine dining experience that doesn't feel stuffy, and I think it works. It made me think that you could come by anytime, not just for special occasions, though some of the prices are in special occasion territory, they have other items that are less expensive. 

We really enjoyed our Haute Dish experience. We were seated in the back near the kitchen so we could see a lot of the different dishes as they were finishing them and sending them out. Great scenery! I look forward to going back soon. 

Haute Dish
119 Washington Avenue North 
Minneapolis, MN 55401
(612) 338-8484

Monday, April 9, 2012

Keys Cafe

I've been to Key's at the Foshay a couple times recently, once for lunch and once for dinner. It is conveniently located, the food is good and the service is always friendly, quick and efficient. I've been wanting to visit for breakfast or brunch with John so when I recently saw a Daily Deal I snapped it up.

On this visit I ordered the Farmer's omelet which has ham, onions, hash browns and American cheese inside. It also came with a side of toast with homemade strawberry jam. The omelet was gigantic and very tasty. I'd definitely order it again.

John had the Number 1 combo with egg whites, turkey sausage, hash browns and toast. The turkey sausage was really good and not at all bland like turkey sausage sometimes can be. He also ordered grapefruit juice, which was fresh squeezed with lots of pulp.

I remembered to take a couple photos when I went for lunch with co-workers the week before the breakfast visit. We like going to Key's for lunch because the service is very quick and the food is always good.

I had the french dip with sweet potato tater tots. I think it may have been a special as it is not on their regular menu. The sweet potato tots are a new menu item and pretty good, though I think they could use a dipping sauce of some sort maybe. The french dip was quite good and the au jus was a bit more like gravy than standard au jus, but it had a nice garlic flavor that was very tasty.

My co-worker had the chips and guacamole, which is also a new menu item. The guacamole was quite good, but the chips were just ok, your average packaged chips. It is a good menu choice if you just want a little snack.

Deals & Discounts: On our breakfast visit we used a Voice Daily Deal from I bought form City Pages deals which got us $20 credit for $10. The Foshay location has a daily happy hour from 3-7pm as well.

Key's at the Foshay
114 South 9th Street  
Minneapolis, MN 55402
(612) 339-6399

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Q Fanatic update

We make it to Q Fanatic every so often, even though it is not really close to where we live, but I often forget to take photos on our visits. (Actually, I forget to take a lot of food photos when I'm really, really hungry!) Anyway, in my opinion, other than Ted Cook's BBQ, I'd say Q Fanatic has some of the best ribs in town. But we have a lot of other places around town we need to try yet.

On this visit, I had the BBQ brisket with vodka sauce and a side of baked beans. The brisket was very tender with a nice touch of smoked flavor to the meat. The meat was somewhat fatty, but I just cut it off as I think it probably adds flavor to the meat while cooking. I had the vodka sauce, which is sort of peppery and sort of spicy all at the same time. They charge extra for it, but it is worth it. They offer a wide variety of sauces at Q Fanatic and all of them are very good. Seems like they have a sauce type to fit almost everyone's taste. I also had a side of baked beans and they were really good and had a lot of added meat. I ended up taking home most of the beans and the second dinner roll to eat later.

John had a half rack of ribs with vodka sauce and a side of wedge potatoes. The ribs are quite tender and there's a lot of meat on the bones. He really likes the vodka sauce because it is spicy but not overly so. When you order they do ask if you want the sauce applied to the ribs or on the side. The wedge potatoes are good as well; they seem to be fresh cut potatoes and they are very crispy with a bit of seasoning salt on them.

Q Fanatic is very casual, you just order at the counter and they bring the food out to you when it is ready. They seem to be in the process of expanding into the adjacent space as well, but I don't think the project is complete yet. The dining area is quite a bit larger and more open than it was in the past so it will look nice once it is finished.

Deals & Discounts: Q Fanatic has a punch card in the Metro Dining Club, which is good monthly (buy one entree, get one free, up to $8) and the are also in the Twin Cities Happenings/Entertainment book (buy one entree, get one free, up to $8).

Q Fanatic
180 Miller Rd., 
Champlin, MN 55316
Phone: 763.323.6550