Friday, June 26, 2015

Bratfest, Bret Michels & Wasabi Japanese Restaurant In Madison, WI

That title sounds a bit like the start to some sort of bad joke. But it is a short summary of our Memorial day weekend trip to Madison, Wisconsin, to visit our friends Megan and Jason.

We started with Bratfest, which is a pretty big deal in Madison. It is sponsored by Johnsonville brats and they track the number of brats sold throughout the weekend. So we got into the giant line for brats, which moved pretty quickly. I should have taken photos of the brats and the lines, but I totally forgot.

Up next, Bret Michels, the free entertainment. I have photos of this! Megan and I enjoyed ourselves, but I’m not sure everyone else was as excited.

The next day we did a bit of shopping around Sun Prairie while Megan and Jason attended a chidren’s birthday party. There was a bouncy house, so the short people were pretty pumped up about that!  We headed to downtown Madison with the intent to hang out at the terrace later on.

For some reason we decided we all wanted sushi so we went to Wasabi Japanese. It is right on State Street and we totally over ordered. Gyoza are above.
 tempura vegetables
 sushi boat
 more sushi
After sushi, we went down a few blocks to watch people finishing a 5k run. We sat on a patio in front of the Buck and Badger tavern cheering the racers. It was a nice night and fun to watch everyone go by. Plus a friend of Megan’s was running  so  we had to watch for her and have a beverage with her and her group afterwards. We had a fun weekend in Madison and headed home on Sunday morning.

Wasabi Japanese Restaurant
449 State St #2G
Madison, WI 53703

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers recently opened in Maple Grove. We stopped in for a quick weekend lunch to try the food. The service was fast and cheerful and the room was certainly busy and bustling.

We both ordered the Single Steakburger with cheese and a side of fries. The burger is made from high quality beef and served on a butter toasted bun. The burgers are quite thin as a result of the cooking process. The fries are very, very thin matchstick fries. They are very fresh and hot and tasted quite good. There is a special seasoning salt you can add to the fries and they have a special fry dipping sauce as well. Both just seemed to make everything quite salty however.

Other menu selections include frozen custard, chicken sandwiches, Chicago Style hot dogs, onion rings, chili, chili fries and chicken fingers, so there is something for almost everyone.

While the food was fine, I’m not finding any reasons to go out of my way to return. The burgers are very, very similar to Culver’s and there are a lot more Culver’s locations in Minnesota than Freddy’s locations. (Freddy’s does have a second location in Savage, MN.) The burgers appear to be made in a similar manner to Culver’s in that they are smashed thin on the grill and made from high quality meat. The menus are slightly different, but the custard selections seem similar as well.

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers
11600 Fountains Dr
Maple Grove, MN 55369

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Prairie Dogs & Fuji Ya

We decided to head down to Lyndale and Lake Street on a Saturday night awhile back. We wanted to get something to eat and check out the new brewery, LynLake Brewery. I totally forgot to take photos at the brewery, but I have some food photos to share.

I ordered the tuna tarar to start. Diced tuna, avocado, ginger, garlic, lemon chili oil with soy tobiko. The tuna was fresh, but I was not a fan of the tobiko.

I also had the gyoza, which were crispy and hot. I got 5 house-made pan-fried pork or vegetable pot stickers. Very good.

John ordered the age calamari. It was quite rubbery and not great. We tried it but did not eat very much of it.

John was still hungry after his not great calamari, so we stopped in at Prairie Dogs so he could get something to eat. Good choice! It is a tiny little restaurant, with a menu featuring hot dogs and sausages.

John went with the Micho’s Sonoran Dog which is bacon wrapped and grilled, cilantro aioli, bean spread, avocado, cotija, onion, tomato, salsa verde. This was phenomenal. The salsa was spicy and fresh. The hot dog had a nice snap (they use Vienna hot dogs) and the toppings were all fresh and flavorful.

We added an order of the double fried fries with prairie sauce. The fries were amazing, so fresh and crispy. Why can’t all French fries be made in house and taste this great?

Prairie Dogs had a nice list of local beers on tap and in bottles too. We thought it was a great place to stop in for a quick snack. The prices are affordable for the quality of the food and service was excellent.

Next, we went to LynLake brewing. The taproom is really cool with a large first floor with huge garage doors that open to the street. The rooftop patio is really nice, with a view of downtown and the surrounding area. There is a second bar on the rooftop as well. I totally forgot to take photos, have to do that next time.

Prairie Dogs
55408, 610 W Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55408
(612) 223-8984

Friday, June 12, 2015

Cap's Grille

We stopped at Cap’s Grille for dinner as we were in the area and I had heard their ribs were good. It is conveniently located along the Blue Line light rail route as well. There is also ample parking available in front. We seated ourselves and menus were brought over right away. The dining room is small but comfortable. We placed our orders and the food arrived pretty quickly.

I had Cap’s Original  Pork Ribs, 4 rib order with baked beans and cole slaw. The ribs were tender and had a nice smoky flavor. I was not impressed with the BBQ sauce, it was a basic ketchup-based sauce, without a lot of flavor. The cole slaw was  very rich and creamy, really delicious. The beans were OK, nothing different about them, but there was nothing wrong with them either.

John had Cap’s Original  Pork Ribs, half rack rib order (6 ribs) with cole slaw and Cap’s steak fries. John liked the ribs as well, but did not love the BBQ sauce. The steak fries were crisp and hot.

The meal was affordable and filling. The food, while fine, did not stand out to us when compared to other rib joints in town. The service was good and all of the employees we interacted with were very nice and friendly. I don’t know that the food is enough to make us want to drive across town on a regular basis, but it is a good option if you are in the area

Cap’s Grille
5000 Hiawatha Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55417
(612) 722-2277

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Bonefish Grill

We stopped into Bonefish Grill on a Tuesday night for a quick dinner. It was not busy at all and we were seated right away. I suspect things are a lot busier on the weekends though, when the West End gets quite busy. Reservations are accepted.

The server brought some bread and olive oil with pesto to start.

We ordered the Bang Bang Shrimp at our server’s suggestion for our appetizer. They are crispy, lightly breaded shrimp with a spicy and slightly creamy sauce on them. They were quite flavorful, though the shrimp were a bit on the smallish side. Also, the bottom of this dish was filled with lettuce, so the portion was not as large as it looks in the photo.

I ordered the Spicy Tuna Bowl. It is seared ahi tuna with avocado, sweet chili sauce, jasmine rice and passion fruit salsa. The tuna tasted fresh and the portion was quite generous. Once you assembled a little bit of each element on the plate, the combination was very flavorful. Since I enjoy working with my food, I liked this dish, but I can see that some people might not appreciate it.

John had the Wood Grilled Sea Scallops and Shrimp. While this sounded like it was perfect for him, he thought the scallops were pretty salty and the shrimp were a tad mushy. So it left a lot to be desired. He liked the jasmine rice and the pea pods were crunchy and fresh tasting.

Overall, the food was OK. I don’t think we were overly impressed. While the menu has more variety than other chain seafood places, I don’t think the quality impressed us very much. We did find the service to be very good. Our server was quite attentive throughout our visit.

Bonefish Grill
1607 West End Blvd
St Louis, MN 55416
(952) 746-4058

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

New Bohemia Wurst & Bier Haus

We've been going to New Bohemia in Golden Valley for trivia on a pretty regular basis. We went for dinner when they first opened to try the food and saw a sign about trivia and we could not have been more excited as it is close to home, they have a variety of beer and the trivia is early, starting at 6:30pm. But, I keep forgetting to take photos when we go. 

To order food and drink, you place your order at the register as you enter, they give you a number and the food is brought to your table. There are no servers checking back, so if you want another beverage, you need to go to the register or go to the bar. A bit unusual, but it works fine. 

The menu is centered on interesting brats and sausages. It seems like they have something for everyone, from a basic brat to crazy stuff like elk, duck and alligator. You also get to pick two free topping for each sausage order. 

variety of house made mustards and ketchups

On our first visit I tried the smoked jalepeno and cheese sausage. It was pretty spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. The bun was buttered and lightly toasted, very nice and very fresh.

The freshly made pretzels are very good, although we don't care for the cheese sauce that comes with it. I prefer to dip the pretzel in one of the mustards on the table. The pretzel is huge and meant for sharing.

John has been getting the kielbasa on almost every visit. He said it is delicious. Looks like he added fried onions and sauerkraut to this one.

On our last visit, I had the buffalo blue cheese sausage. It was a bit spicy, but I did not get much flavor from the blue cheese. The apple jicama slaw added a nice crunch and a bit of sweetness.

Our favorite things about New Bohemia are the interesting sausages, wide variety of craft beers and the trivia at 6:30pm on Thursdays. All of those things will keep us coming back on a regular basis for some time to come.

Deals & discounts: Happy hour is daily from 3-6pm, and Monday-Thursday, 10pm-close. It includes $3 select drafts, $3 beer cocktail pints. They also offer $3 pints from Third Street brewing during trivia.

New Bohemia
8040 Olson Memorial Hwy
Golden Valley, MN 55427
(763) 544-1882

there is also the original location in NE Minneapolis:
233 E Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN
(612) 331-4929