Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Parma 8200

Stephanie and I met for dinner the other day and decided to try Parma 8200 in Bloomington. It is located in one of the office buildings right off 494 and 100, but it is not in  visible location, so I tend to forget all about it.

The room is very open and yet cozy and comfortable all at the same time. Definitely and inviting atmosphere. And it is easy to forget you are in an office building. They even have a nice patio out back. They even had a jazz trio playing in the bar while we were there. The music was at a good level, not loud at all. We were seated right away, though I had made a reservation on Open Table in case it was busy. It was pretty quiet when we arrived, but it filled up later on.

We started with the fried Sicilian rice balls at the recommendation of our server. They sounded odd to me at first, but they were very tasty. The red sauce on top was very tart and I liked the contrast of the crisp exterior against the soft rice inside. Stephanie also ordered the apple salad, but I forgot to take a photo of it. It was amazing with a wonderful gorgonzola dressing, candied hazelnuts, apples and romaine lettuce.

I ordered the Friday special of the shrimp risotto. It had a generous portion of shrimp, asparagus and risotto. I could not finish it and ended up taking the leftovers home to eat the next day. The sauce was very rich and creamy.
My poor photo skills are in play again here. Stephanie ordered the broiled lemon chicken and it was amazing. I had a few bites and it had a tart lemon sauce with perfectly cooked chicken and delicious roasted potatoes and arugula.

Our entrees took a long time to arrive, but we really had not even noticed as we were visiting and having fun. The manager stopped by to let us know what the delay was and offered to take the lemon chicken off the bill and also offered us a complimentary dessert as well. So we were very happy about that as we were probably going to order dessert anyway. Too bad more establishments do not stay ahead of issues in such a professional and proactive manner.

For dessert we ordered the butterscotch panna cotta with sea salt chocolate shortbread. This was amazing and almost as good as the butterscotch pudding we had at Tilia awhile back. Maybe better. The panna cotta was very rich and creamy and the generous amount of caramel on the top put this dessert over the top. The sea salt shortbread helped cut the sweetness of the panna cotta if your palate needed a break. I would not hesitate to order this dessert again and I’d maybe stop in just for drinks and this dessert!

Even though we had some slight issues with our food taking a long time to arrive, we had a great visit to Parma. I’d like to go back and sit on the patio sometime.

Parma 8200
5600 W 83rd St #100  
Bloomington, MN 55437
(952) 896-8888

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Gopher Bar

I’ve been craving a Coney island from the Gopher Bar lately. Unfortunately, it is not in a convenient location near my home. Why are all of the best places so far away? Maybe it is for the best, so I don’t eat these things that are probably really bad for me so often! It is worth the drive over to St Paul though.

A couple years ago we stopped in at the Gopher Bar and had the Coney islands for the first time on St Patrick’s day. I thought maybe the fact that I had consumed several beverages prior to eating the Coney had clouded my judgment, but they were just as good on this visit as our first visit.

We each ordered a Coney Island and shared a side order of fries. I asked for my Coney without onions. John had the onions on his and he said they were very fresh and crunchy. There was a lot of chili under all of the freshly grated cheese. The griddled, toasted  buns are amazing. Very soft and buttery. The chili is not spicy, it seemed more like seasoned hamburger to me than chili, though everywhere makes chili differently. Actually, on their menu they refer to the chili as mustard meat sauce. That explains it I guess. The hot dog had a nice snap to it as well.

The service or ambiance is nothing notable, though it is fun to read all of the colorful and interesting quotes on the walls. The place is basically a dive bar, that happens to have decent Coney dogs. Nothing more nothing less. Nothing trendy around here. The bartender’s service was quick and efficient though. But it was not at all busy when we stopped in at 6pm on a Saturday evening, so we were in and out pretty quickly.  

The Gopher Bar really does have the best Coney Islands I have ever tasted. If you are ever in downtown St Paul I highly recommend you go and check it out for yourself.

Gopher Bar
241 7th St E  
St Paul, MN 55101
(651) 291-9638

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Smack Shack

Michele, John and I made it to the Smack Shack restaurant over Memorial weekend. We made a reservation in advance, though I am not sure it was necessary as it was busy, but not all tables were occupied during our visit. It might have been slower due to the holiday weekend, I’m not completely sure. We were seated at a nice table near the large open doors, though they had to close them awhile after we were seated as it became rather chilly and windy. Will the weather ever warm up around here? The patio will be great if the weather ever improves!

I started off with a hurricane. Quite tasty and not overly sweet.

Michele and I shared the lobster corn dogs with lemon chive aioli dipping sauce. There were huge chunks of lobster underneath the crispy and light corn dog breading. These were very good and not at all greasy.

John started with the west coast oyster assortment. Nice presentation. 

John had the shrimp po’ boy with chips. He said he liked it a lot as the shrimp were lightly breaded and crunchy with a good spicy flavor.

Michele had the original Smack Shack lobster roll with chips. The griddled milk bread is amazing. And the contents of the sandwich are still mostly lobster, in case you were wondering—no filler here.

I had the Connecticut style lobster roll with chips, which is a new addition to the menu. This roll simply contained warm lobster with butter, lemon and chives. This is the lazy person’s way to eat lobster! It was so delicious and yet so simple and perfect. 

The service was excellent- attentive but not overbearing. The whole atmosphere was casual and laid back, thought the room was a bit too loud at times. It is very open with nothing to baffle the noise. The bar area was very large and there were two bars. One is straight ahead as you walk in and the lobster boil area is there as well. The other bar area is off to the left and had tons of seating as well. The bar areas were not all that full when we arrived either. I suspect you could arrive a little early for dinner and not have any issues getting a table in the bar.

The menu is considerably larger than the menu from the food truck or the 1029 bar. There are lots of interesting seafood items I’d like to go back try like the crab cakes, lobster boil and maybe the fried chicken. They even offer a hamburger and wings for the non-seafood eaters in your life. And try not to brag too much about all the goodies they are missing!

Deals & Discounts:  Happy hour is your best bet for deals at Smack Shack. The daily happy hour runs Monday through Friday 3-6pm and 10-midnight. They have $1, $3 and $5 appetizers on special.

Smack Shack
603 Washington Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN