Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bar Abilene

Just a quick post today. I wanted to share our recent visit to Bar Abilene. We went back last Friday for National Margarita day. We had happy hour drinks in the bar and moved over to the restaurant for dinner.

Here is a link to our last visit to Bar Abilene:

 I had the stacked enchiladas. They were good with a lot of tomatillo flavor and it was a lot of food! 
John has the tacos al pastor again. 

Deals and Discounts: This time I found a coupon through the Star Tribune Daily Steals site. It was a $40 certificate for $20 and it had very few restrictions. I think you only could not use it after 11pm on Friday and Saturday nights.

Bar Abilene
1300 Lagoon Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55408

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Raku Sushi and Lounge

A new location of Raku Sushi opened at the Shops at the West End near the end of 2012. The area is becoming a very popular destination for dining and date night as the Showplace Icon movie theater is located there as well.

The restaurant is more interesting inside than I was expecting as well. When you enter, there is a host stand and off to the right is a small bar area. Behind the host stand are several tables covered in yellow stone and lit from within. The chairs and tables are built-ins you step down into and made from that stone and they look really neat, though I don't imagine you can move your chair or table around at all. There is a larger seating area in the back, with red booths and origami birds strung from the ceiling that look very pretty. The menu also had a much wider variety than I was expecting as they have a variety of Japanese entrees on the menu in addition to sushi selections.

We started with the pork goyza, which were excellent, although I was starving and I forgot to take a photo of them. They were pan seared and had just the right amount of crunch on the exterior.

I tried the lotus special roll, which had spicy tuna and yamagobo inside and tuna, avocado and spicy mayo sauce on the outside. I had no idea what yamogobo was, but it turns out it is a vinegar marinated ginger root. When I was eating the sushi roll, I thought it was carrot because it did not have much flavor. The sushi roll was great and I would definitely order it again.

John was feeling super adventurous and ordered the marine sashimi platter. It was 18 pieces of assorted fish ranging from fatty tuna, yellow tail tuna, salmon, red snapper, shrimp, fluke and tomato, which was described as an omelet.  The portion was quite large, very filling and all of the fish tasted very fresh.

The service was good and the food arrived pretty quickly. Our server was great at keeping our water glasses refilled and checking back to see if we needed anything on a regular basis. Overall, we had a great time and I think we will return again soon.

Deals and Discounts: Groupon had a deal back in December for $15 for a $30 certificate, which I jumped on. When we arrived I also noticed they had signs for a variety of happy hour specials as well. I would call or visit their website for the current happy hour deals, as I am sure the offerings can change frequently.

Raku Sushi and Lounge
5371 W 16th St
St Louis Park, MN 55416
(952) 378-1803

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hoagie's Restaurant

Since I've lived or worked near Hopkins for many years, I have always wondered if Hoagie's Restaurant was any good, but never ventured inside. It is one of those places that is only open for breakfast and lunch and it appears to have been around forever.

John and I decided to stop in for breakfast on a Saturday morning recently. It reminds me of the Wagon Wheel Cafe in Mankato. (Actually, a lot of things about Hopkins remind me of Mankato for some reason.) It is a basic room with wood paneling, booths and counter service seating as well. There is nothing fancy or trendy going on here. Seat yourself and the server stops by quickly. The service was efficient, and though not overly friendly, the server was not rude either. There appeared to be a lot of regulars dining as the servers knew a lot of people by name.

John went with the basic breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast. The bacon was not very good quality. The hash browns and eggs were fine.

I tried the daily special of the croissant breakfast sandwich, which had eggs, ham and cheese inside and hash browns on the side. It was a very filling sandwich and I would probably order it again. The hash browns tasted freshly grated, though I am not sure if they were or not.

Overall, Hoagie's was OK. I am not sure I would go out of the way to return there. There are many other options a bit closer to home for us with better food and ambiance.

Hoagie's Restaurant
824 Mainstreet
Hopkins, MN 55343
(952) 935-2865
No checks, no credit cards.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Butcher and the Boar

I was beyond excited to visit the Butcher and the Boar for our anniversary dinner this year. It opened during the last half of 2012 and I have been reading about it ever since and trying to think of an excuse to visit. It is not often a restaurant lives up to all of the hype surrounding it, but the Butcher and the Boar was everything I expected, if not more impressive.

The interior was rather understated with a large wood bar on one side and the dining room and kitchen on the other side. The floor is covered in pennies, which add a bit of shine and texture to the floor.

We started with the smoked olives. Wow, who knew you could smoke olives. They had a light smoky flavor with some garlic cloves in the dish as well that added to the flavor. These are a very tasty snack.

We ordered the highly recommended smoked beef long rib with Tabasco molasses BBQ sauce. The meat was very tender and delicious, though a bit fatty in some spots. The crispy edges were especially good. The sauce was amazing; savory, sweet and spicy all at once. I think they could apply that sauce to almost anything and it would taste amazing.

The blackened cauliflower seemed to be seasoned with cumin. It was very delicious and just lightly sauteed.

For dessert we tried the s'mores which are molten marshmallow, manjari chocolate ganache inside, dogwood coffee ice cream and graham crackers. The s'mores were awesome and had great flavor, though they were barely warm when they arrived at the table. I wish the marshmallows had been hot. The bits of chocolate ganache inside the marshmallows were a fun surprise. I enjoyed the coffee ice cream more than I expected, mostly because the coffee flavor was not too strong.

The service was very good. We had a short wait when we arrived, but once seated everything went very smoothly. I think we used a lot of restraint in ordering and did not over-order on the entrees. There were a lot of items we wanted to try! It was the perfect amount of food and our bill was not as expensive as we thought it might be. I am looking forward to returning soon. I'd really like to try some of their sausages because there were a bunch of interesting combinations not commonly seen in this area.

A word of warning, we made our reservations over six weeks in advance in order to get in at a prime time on a Saturday night. I would recommend planning ahead as well as I am sure they will be very busy for some time to come.

The Butcher and the Boar
1121 Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55403
(612) 238-8888

Monday, February 11, 2013


Stanley's in Northeast Minneapolis is quickly becoming a favorite stop of ours. They have a great selection of beers on tap and a great menu with a wide variety of choices. The service is always friendly and quick as well. It is definitely a good place to watch football or basketball games on TV since they have quite a few TV's.

I love the pretzels at Stanley's! I've ordered them the last couple times we have visited. The honey mustard dipping sauce has great flavor and the pretzels taste freshly made as they arrive warm. These are probably the best pretzels I've found around town!

John ordered a burger and did the build your own burger with bacon and Swiss cheese. He said the bacon was very tasty and it was a solid burger overall.

I ordered the grilled chicken sandwich with bacon and pepper jack cheese. It caught my eye on the menu as it also had the honey mustard sauce on it. The sandwich was quite good. I am not that crazy about the french fries for some reason. They have some sort of coating on them that does not improve them at all.

Deals and Discounts: There is a coupon in the 2013 Entertainment book for Stanley's this year. They are a new addition to the book and a good one too. The coupon is buy one entree get one free (up to $10 off). Stanley's also has a good happy hour and wide variety of specials all the time. We were unable to use the coupon on this visit as they had bloody Mary's on special and we could not use the coupon with other specials. That's ok, we will use the coupon next time.


2500 University Ave NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418
(612) 788-2529

Friday, February 8, 2013

Big Bowl

We decided to stop into Big Bowl over the holidays, while doing some shopping at Ridgedale. I had not been to a full service Big Bowl restaurant for some time and it sounded good on a cold, snowy day. We do visit the Big Bowl Express at Byerly's on a regular basis and while it is good, it is not exactly the same. We had a short wait for a table, but the wait time was much shorter than what was quoted.

John ordered the kung pao chicken. He asked if he could get it without peanuts, since he doesn't care for nuts in his stir fry. The waitress was happy to comply and it arrived as ordered. The chicken was very juicy and tender with a spicy, savory kung pao sauce.

I usually get the kung pao chicken, but I decided to try something new this time. The cherry bomb shrimp was very good. The shrimp had a light breading on it, but not too much and the shrimp were cooked perfectly, though a bit on the small side. The sauce was sweet and spicy. When I ordered, the waitress asked if I liked spicy food and I said yes. She said she checks because some people find the dish too spicy, though I thought it was perfect.

The service was friendly and prompt throughout our visit.  The restaurant was very busy, but our server never seemed overly rushed.

Big Bowl is probably one of the best dining choices available at Ridgedale right now. A couple other restaurants in the mall recently closed, Origami sushi for one, so hopefully they get some interesting new choices added soon.

Big Bowl
Ridgedale Center
12649 Wayzata Blvd
Minnetonka, MN

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Lindey's Prime Steak House

It seems to me Lindey's is one of those places that has been open forever, since 1958 to be exact, though you really don't hear very much about it very often anymore. Maybe it is because it is off the beaten path up in Arden Hills or because the menu is rather limited.

Lindey's only offers four entrees on the menu: sirloin steak, prime sirloin, broiled shrimp and prime chopped sirloin. All entrees come with house salad, garlic bread, hash browned potatoes and watermelon rind. For the price, the full meal is a good value.

The garlic bread was very buttery and tasty. I believe we also received starter salads with our meals, but I forgot to take a photo of them. They were rather basic iceberg lettuce salads.

They bring the steak out on a cart and slice it into four pieces table side. For some reason, I love it when food is finished or prepared table side. The steak was cooked perfectly and very tender. We could only eat about half of the steak and took the rest home for a lunchtime treat the next day.

The au gratin potatoes, or as they call them hash browned potatoes, were quite good, not overly cheesy or greasy either.
This is a slightly better photo of the steak. I was trying to avoid using my camera's flash.

They also give you pickled watermelon rind, which is in the little cup in front of the steak in the photo above. The waitress said it is supposed to be a palate cleanser and it will allow your tenth bite of steak to taste like the first bite again. I'm not sure it worked like that for me, but I tried it and found it to be a sweet break from savory foods.

Overall we were pleasantly surprised with our dinner at Lindey's. The food was good and the service was pretty good too. The waitress seemed very rushed throughout our visit, but she took the time to answer any questions we had. Our drink order too awhile to arrive, but the food arrived pretty quickly. The atmosphere is very old school. It is not fancy, just a wood paneled room with wooden tables and chairs. Due to the location being quite far from where we live, I am not sure we will return anytime soon however. There are so many choices for steak in the metro area.

Deals & Discounts: I had signed up for their birthday club and coupon was good for a couple months after my birthday, so we did not exactly rush to get there. The deal was for $25 off your dinner, which  is a very good value since the special sirloin is $28.95.

Lindey's Prime Steak House
3600 Snelling Ave N
Arden Hills, MN 55112
(651) 633-9813