Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Surly Beer Hall

We are so out of the loop when it comes to visiting new places. The Surly tap room has been open for quite some time now, December of last year I think, and we just recently visited. Guess this blog is not the destination for reading about new, trendy restaurants. Oh well.

We seated ourselves at the bar and perused the beer list. They have enough taps for 20 different beers and the bartender said many of them are only available at the tap room.

I tried the Surly Hell and the Surly Mild. John had the Doomtree and the Todd the Ax man.

The space is very large and there are garage doors that open up to a large outdoor patio area. The place is quite loud and boisterous, but the atmosphere seemed fun to me, not overly loud.

They also offer a full food menu. We were not very hungry, so we shared a couple small plates.

The pretzel comes with pimento cheese dip and a spicy ale mustard dip. The pretzel was freshly baked and quite large. We did not care for the pimento cheese dip, but the ale mustard was quite spicy, flavorful and addictive.

We also ordered the smoked mushroom, goat cheese, garlic and thyme pizza. It is more of what I’d call a flatbread, with a thin cracker type crust. The smoked mushrooms were divine, tons of smoky flavor and they worked well with the goat cheese. This was a really good snack or entrée and I’d order it again. I love goat cheese a lot though.

The rest of the menu has a wide range, from salads to seafood and a variety of BBQ options too. I was scoping other people’s food and the brisket looked quite good as did the shrimp and grits.

It should be noted that there are no TVs in the tap room. We had hoped they would have the Wild game on, but no dice.

Also, tours are offered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays at 1pm and 3pm, and Fridays & Sundays at 1pm, 3pm and 5pm. You need to sign up in the company store one hour before the tour, cost is $4 per person and you get four samples, a tasting glass and a donation to Open Arms Minnesota. Tours last one hour and you must wear closed toed shoes.

Surly Tap Room
520 Malcolm Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN
(763) 999-4040

Friday, April 24, 2015

Dan Kelly's Pub

Over the winter, Dan Kelly’s was sold to new owners, who also happen to own Republic and the Red River Kitchen food truck. It underwent a remodel and retooling of the food and drink menus as well. Since I work very, very close by, I was interested to see what they had done with the place. I visited with a few co-workers for lunch. We seated ourselves at the bar.
I had the fish and chips and found it to be quite good. The fish, line caught wild cod was flaky and light with a crispy breading. The fries looked and tasted freshly cut and fried and were very good. The tartar sauce was not my favorite, but it was acceptable. I liked the crushed minted peas, though I did not detect any mint, they just tasted like fresh smushed peas.
One of my co-workers had the corned beef and cabbage. The portion was very large and the corned beef was very good. It is Peterson farms beef brisket with braised cabbage and caraway roasted onion.
My other co-worker had the salmon with honey glazed parsnips, carrots, potatoes and dill butter. The dish looked very delicious and she said it was excellent. The portion for the salmon was very large as well.

Overall, I thought the food was great. It was not at all busy when we visited, so the service from the bartender was very good. I think a happy hour visit is in order to try the many whisky selections on the drink menu and try a few appetizers. The menus and atmosphere are definitely an improvement over the previous owner’s offerings, so hopefully they do well.

Deals & Discounts: There is a happy hour from 3-6pm daily with a few food specials and select tps, house wine and rail drinks are $4. 

Dan Kelly’s
212 7th Street South
Minneapolis, MN 55402
(612) 333-2644

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Las Vegas trip report - 3.27-3.31.15 - The one with another 40th birthday

It's time for another Las Vegas trip report! We had not been to Vegas since Thanksgiving, so we were itching to go back! The purpose of this trip was to celebrate Megan's 40th birthday, which was actually the week before, but everything was really expensive due to basketball playoffs, so we went one week later.

John and I arrived Thursday night after work, a day before Megan and Jason. We had gotten an offer for a free room for three nights at the Downtown Grand, so we booked that for Thursday through Saturday. Our flight was fine and we arrived downtown pretty quickly via taxi. Check in went quickly as well and I think we got an upgraded room for free as we were on the top floor of the tower across the street, the grand tower I think. It had larger windows and a larger sleeping area with a sitting area and an extra room across from the bathroom with a closet and vanity area.

wet bar, no fridge though
king bed
sitting area

vanity, sink and closet area across from main bath 

We went over to the Golden Nugget and grabbed out first drink of the trip. Next, we headed over to the Golden Gate for a blackjack session. We both did OK and played the Hangover slot a bit, for tradition's sake, but lost.

We played a few slots at the Fremont on our way back to the room. I managed to turn $20 into $100 before going to sleep, so that was not bad. We were out until 3 am! Late for us!

We slept in pretty late, until 10 am I think. We decided to go to Magnolia's at The Four Queens for breakfast. We used a coupon form the American Casino Guide (ACG) for buy one entree get one free.
basic breakfasts! Excellent sourdough toast!

When I went to the player's club the employee told me I had $10 in free play on my card so we played that after breakfast. No wins.
view from our room
DT Grand pool from our room

We went to the pool for awhile and relaxed. I should say, the pool at the DT Grand is greatly improved.  Last time, there was loud music and a DJ and this time it was at a nice level. There were plenty of chairs open and servers were making the rounds regularly.

After the pool, we went over to Nacho Daddy for a late lunch. Started with some guacamole and chips.
carne asada tacos from happy hour menu
shrimp tacos from happy hour menu

All of the food at Nacho Daddy was very good and a great deal since it was all at happy hour prices. 

After lunch, we wandered around downtown using some free play coupons form the ACG book. We stopped at the Plaza, Vegas Club and DT Grand and then headed back to the room so John could watch North Dakota's West Regional hockey game. Megan and Jason arrived and we went and met them at Walgreen's and they came back to our room to watch the end of the game. 

After the game we went down to the casino and gambled a bit and then decided to go to Pizza Rock for dinner. It was very busy with a long wait, but we managed to find room at the bar with no wait. 
fried green beans, quite strong garlic flavor 
Sicilian deep dish pizza

The pizza was quite good, but I don't think any of us knew it was deep dish until it arrived. Not sure I'd order this one again. The cheese slid to the center pieces too.

After dinner we all went over to the Golden Gate for the nightly blackjack session. We called it a night around 1 am. Let's just say there were lots of awful blackjack players at the Golden Gate on this trip.

Saturday morning we met Megan and Jason and had breakfast at DuPar's. We all had a few comps on our cards, so breakfast was pretty cheap.

Jason scored some free shrimp cocktail coupons the night before. 
John's usual
By the way, DuPar's had excellent sourdough toast!

After breakfast, Megan and Jason had to check out of the Golden Nugget and they brought their stuff over to the DT Grand so we could go to the pool for awhile. Plus we had time to kill until the 4pm check in time at the Elara. We all took a taxi to Elara and Megan and Jason's room was ready, but ours was not, so we just out our stuff in their room and went to PBR Rockbar to watch the Badger basketball game.

PBR nachos on potato chips
chili dog

The food at PBR Rock bar is just average and overpriced. It was a good places to watch the game though. I don't think I'd eat there again though.

We went back to Elara check in to our room and watch the ND hockey game. Good thing they really did have ESPN U. I had called earlier and asked, and the person on the phone said they didn't have it, but they did.

strip dark(ish) for Earth Hour
earth hour

We headed over to the Cosmopolitan to have dinner at Blue Ribbon Sushi. There was a short wait for a table, but we got right in  by sitting at the sushi bar.

lychee martini
rock shrimp tempura
meatball skewers
assorted sushi
John had an assortment of sashimi
famous fried chicken 

I was adamant that we try the fried chicken at Blue Ribbon and it really was quite good. We ordered it as wings, so it would be easier to share. The skin was very crisp and a bit spicy and the sauces were a sweet honey one and a spicier buffalo type sauce. The food and service were all very good at Blue Ribbon.

After dinner we visited Lucky Cat at the Cosmo.

We decided to walk down the strip a bit and we ended up deciding to just go to Hooters to play blackjack. We again had pretty good dealers and had a fun night. Not sure how late we stayed out, but we took a taxi back to Elara rather than walk. 

our room at Elara

view from Elara room

Sunday morning we all met and walked to Paris for breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi. There was a short wait and we played a few slots while we waited.
three eggs with bacon
Benedict special
egg bacon crepe
three eggs with sausage

Breakfast was very good and we had a bunch of points from Social Rewards, so it was mostly covered by the comp. The service was excellent as always.

We went back to the hotel and relaxed by the pool for a good part of the day. The weather was perfect in the low 90's for the whole trip during the day.

We all grabbed a quick lunch at Earl of Sandwich at Planet Hollywood. I had the chipotle chicken avocado. We all had coupons for free sandwiches for signing up for their loyalty club. The sandwiches are good. Good place to stop for a quick bite.

Harmon tower is slowly getting smaller!

We walked over to the Cosmopolitan to have drinks. I've been waiting to try the famous verbena for awhile now. It is an unusual drink. You eat a flower bud and it makes your mouth numb and tingly. The flavor of the drink also changes while it is all tingly.

We only used one MyVegas comp on this trip. Our options were very limited since we did not stay at an MGM property. We used buy one get one drink free at Double Barrel at Monte Carlo. We intended to use a couple more at NYNY, but the line four the slot club was super long and no one wanted to wait in line for a couple free drinks. I think the program is losing its value unfortunately.

We went over to MGM and played a bit of video poker and then some bubble craps. I didn't do well on VP this time as you can see. The bubble craps was unexpectedly fun as one guy was on a roll and winning everyone a ton of money! We didn't really want to leave for our dinner reservations at Craftsteak! And we had been looking forward to it all day!

beautiful room at Craftsteak
dinner rolls
oyster assortment
diver scallops appetizer

dry aged ribeye
flatiron steak
kobe ribeye
potato gratin
Brussels sprouts and mushroom mix in background

All of the food was very good. I loved the dinner rolls. Very fresh and soft. The scallops were excellent. The ribeye was very good. We all tried a bit of Jason's Kobe ribeye and it was really, really tender meat. I liked the Brussels sprouts a lot too as they were sautéed with bacon or pork belly. I had a pear martini that was quite delicious. 

After dinner we went over to Hooters to play blackjack for the rest of the night. Yup. Craftsteak to Hooters. I guess I'll pay for good food, but I don't like to gamble at high limits. Or should I say Megan and I played blackjack and John and Jason played craps. Unfortunately, I think our luck at Hooters had run out as I lost all night long.

Monday morning Megan and I were up bright and early for spa appointments. We quickly grabbed a couple breakfast sandwiches at Earl of Sandwich and took a taxi over to Aria. I had a massage and Megan had a facial and a manicure. The spa was very large with lots of different activities; hot tubs, eucalyptus steam room, cedar sauna and an outdoor pool. We drank our fill of cucumber and lemon water and enjoyed the variety of products to use. The robes were quite fluffy too! 

Aria spa

We stayed at the spa until about 2 pm and decided to grab a quick lunch at Jean Phillippe Patisserie. The food was OK and rather overpriced. The dessert trio I had was quite good though. 
Megan's salad
I had a ham and cheese sandwich and a sweet trio of desserts. 

While we were at the spa, John and Jason went to the Orleans to check it out and play some blackjack. They also stopped at In n Out Burger for lunch. I was kind of jealous they went there!

We decided to spend our last night downtown, so we headed to Main Street Station to play some video poker at the Boar's Head bar. We had very little success. No four of a kinds or royals. boo.

Jason loves the Wizard of Oz with the Big Event! 

We played a few slots at the Golden Nugget and decided to grab some dinner at Cadillac Mexican Kitchen.

tacos al pastor

seared tuna tacos
The food was good and the service was OK. We were in and out pretty quickly, so that was nice.

We went to the Golden Gate for one last night of blackjack. Things started out great, but went downhill at the end of the night as the dealer was quite cranky and not at all fun. It made leaving early a lot easier.

Tuesday morning John and I got up early to grab breakfast at Planet Dailies as we had a somewhat early flight at 11 am. We were seated right away and the food arrived incredibly quickly. We used more Total Rewards points from the Social Rewards program to make it another free meal.

bacon and eggs
I'd like to point out that the sourdough toast at Planet Dailies is excellent. 

We went back to the room and packed up our things, said goodbye to Megan and Jason and headed to the airport.

USB ports and new personal entertainment systems on Delta airlines. Very nice!

We had another great trip! The gambling was not that successful, but we ate at a couple new restaurants  that were very good and had a great time at the Aria spa. Unsurprisingly, I am already thinking about planning our next trip!