Monday, December 26, 2016

Rookery / Travail Bar visit

I visited the Rookery, the bar at Travail, recently with Tonya and Dawn for a girls night out. We just grabbed spots in the bar and did not make an reservations. The menu is somewhat limited, but we found plenty of fun things to try. We arrived around 6pm and did not have any trouble getting a place to sit either. It did fill up closer to the time of their second seating, around 8pm.

Sean Pecannerry drink
 salad with leroco vinaigrette, radish, aracerra, lareca
 Sexy Greg Bites - pretzels, mustard, prosciutto
Bagel Bites - bagel, marscapone, salmon, pickles
 Fries with carrot ketchup
 Taco - gordita crunch, tomatillo, apple pico, slaw, lime vinaigrette, creme
Mai Tai with flaming lime!

We had a lot of fun sitting in the bar and the service was good as well. We all enjoyed the food and drinks immensely. I highly recommend going if you just want a few fun bites and a fun atmosphere. Plus it is a good way to get a taste of the Travail experience without the reservations.

Travail / Rookery
4124 W Broadway Ave
Robbinsdale, MN 55422
(763) 535-1131

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Nighthawk's brunch

We made it to Nighthawk's again the other day for brunch. We arrived around 10:30am on a Sunday morning and got right in. Lucky I think maybe. We were seated at the front bar.

John had the blueberry lemon pancakes. They were very good with lots of large blueberries inside.
I had a special that day, the brisket hash. It was smoked brisket on top of smashed potatoes with pickled onions, guacamole and topped with an over easy egg. The brisket was phenomenal. It has a wonderful smoky flavor and was very tender and fell apart when I touched it with the fork. The smashed potatoes were better than I expected as well and when you got a bite assembled with some basket, potato and guacamole it was the perfect brunch food.

I loved my food on this visit and look forward to going back again soon. I can't recommend Nighthawk's enough for brunch.

3753 Nicollet Ave S,
Minneapolis, MN 55409
(612) 248-8111

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Rock Elm Tavern

The former location of Eat Shop in Plymouth on Highway 55 win Plymouth as a new tenant called Rock Elm Tavern. Let's hope this one sticks. That location must be cursed or something. I had noticed they had a birthday club so I joined and got a coupon around my birthday for a free hamburger, so we thought that was a good excuse to visit. The restaurant has been downsized slightly, what used to be the bar area is now a gym of some sort.

We visited for dinner on a Sunday evening and were seated right away. The server came by after a few minutes and took our drink order and recommended a few items and pointed out some specials. The menu features burgers and also has salads and a nice variety of entries with something for everyone.
They had a Sunday special of a Minnesota tap beer and a cheeseburger for $12, so John went with that.
I had the bleu burger with montfort bleu cheese, bacon, roasted tomato aioli, lettuce and fries. The server said the fries were made in house, but they tasted like standard frozen fries to me. The burger was cooked medium as ordered and very juicy. The bun was fresh and soft, but strong enough to hold up to the juices from the burger.

Our server was excellent and the food was good at a competitive price. I'm not sure if it is worth driving across town for, but if you live in the area it is worth checking out.

Rock Elm Tavern
16605 County Rd 24
Plymouth, MN 55447
Phone: (763) 208-4451

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Loring Pasta Bar

We went back to the Loring Pasta Bar recently as we were in Dinkytown for hockey game recently. I had called ahead for a reservation, which was probably a good idea since it filled up pretty quickly as they had been closed for a wedding earlier in the afternoon.

key lime martini was rich, creamy and fantastic!
John had the flat iron teak adobo with baby red potatoes, watercress salad, chimichurri burgundy demi-glace, mushroom and eggplant risotto. He said the steak was excellent and cooked medium even though the server never asked how he wanted it cooked.
I had the goat cheese ravioli with house made ravioli, fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic, chicken. It was very filling with lots of tender ravioli and I loved the goat cheese as opposed to dairy cheese.

The food was excellent once again and the service was pretty good. The room and ambiance were great as always, there was a three piece band playing on stage throughout the meal. This is defiantly one of the more upscale choices in Dinkytown as the area is mostly fast food and bars.

Loring Pasta Bar
327 14th Ave SE,
Minneapolis, MN 55414
(612) 378-4849

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Mercury Dining Room and Rail

The old location of Brasserie Zentral has been reopened recently by the Blue Plate restaurant group and is now called Mercury Dining Room and Rail. It is skyway accessible and just off Marquette by the light rail in the Soo Line building.

We were seated right away and the service was great throughout our visit. The room is light and bright with lots of large windows on two sides.

My co-worker had the muffuletta sandwich with bologna, ham, olive relish, provolone on herb focaccia. He said it was very good.
The other co-worker had the grilled cheese with avocado. It is served on sourdough and has Parmesan, cheddar and provolone cheeses with ginger tomato chutney and avocado. It was a huge sandwich and looked great.
I had the Caesar salad. It was a little different than usual as it had roasted Brussels sprouts in it in addition to the usual ingredients. I like it with the Brussels sprouts as it added a different flavor and made it feel very filling.

Even thought Mercury had just opened a couple dos before our lunch visit, everything was great and seemed to be running smoothly. I look forward to going back again soon.

Mercury Dining Room and Rail
505 S Marquette Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Phone: (612) 728-1111

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

4 Bells - revisit

We went back to 4 Bells recently to celebrate my birthday. I don't have a lot to say about it as the food and service were excellent again, but I did take photos, so I thought I'd share everything we ordered.
Black Beard's Revenge & Blueberry Smash drinks
We started with market ceviche, which was scallops served with plantain chips. Very fresh tasting. 
I had the scallops which were served with butternut squash, curry, mango, cashew nuts and cilantro. The scallops were prepared perfectly. 
We also had the brussels sprouts side to share- very good, grilled and a little spicy.
John had the halibut with peperonata, pesto and smoked olives.

4 Bells
1610 Harmon Pl, Minneapolis, MN 55403
Phone:(612) 904-1163

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Jefe: Urban Hacienda

We tried Jefe at the recommendation of one of John's co-workers. It is on Main by the river in Minneapolis, kind of one of those hidden spots we tend to forget about. It has a great view and a nice patio once that weather comes back.

We were seated right away and greeted pretty quickly by our server. The inside is lots of dark wood and high ceilings with lots of cool art flourishes around the room.

I had the Jefe margarita and it was excellent. Good margaritas should be easy to make, but sometimes they are not if the ingredients are not good.
 We started with some chips and freshly made guacamole. 

Next up, the augachile, basically a  ceviche with hamachi , lime, cilantro, cucumber, jalapeno, avocado, onion, and housemate tostadas. It was fresh tasting and the serving of fish was generous.
We both had the camarones tacos made with sauteed shrimp, pickled pineapple, jalapeño, cilantro crema, peppers, cotija, and avocado. The fillings were generous and the shrimp had great flavor.

The tacos were very good and I even liked the corn tortillas, which I don't usually love. These were very fresh tasting and very soft and flavorful. You could tell they were made in house and fresh.

We both enjoyed Jefe and I thought their brunch menu looked interesting as well as the happy hour deals. We will have to go back soon!

Deals & discounts: we just missed happy hour, I think it goes form 4-6pm Monday to Friday. But you may want to verify that in advance.

Jefe: Urban Hacienda
219 SE Main St
Minneapolis, MN 55414
Phone: (612) 255-2000

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Nicollet Diner

We visited Nicollet Diner on Eat Street in Minneapolis for the first time awhile back for a weekend breakfast. It was not too busy when we arrived and we easily found parking on the street. We were seated quickly in a booth along the windows on the side.

We both had the All American breakfast with two eggs any style with your choice of bacon or sausage, served with crispy hash browns and a biscuit, toast or English muffin. We both substituted pancakes instead of bread on the side. While the food was good, I was just not overly impressed by anything.

The pancakes were OK, though the menu said they were made with buttermilk, I really could not taste it in them.

We found the service to be a little on the slow side. It seemed to take awhile to get our order taken and for our food to be ready. The place had not filled up that much since we arrived either.

Deals & Discounts: We had a coupon from the Entertainment Book, good for buy one entrée get  the second entrée free for a maximum discount of $10 off.

The Nicollet Diner
1428 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Hours: Open 24 hours
Phone: (612) 399-6258

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Vito Lucco food truck

We came across a new (to us anyway) food truck at Indeed brewery recently, called Vito Lucco. They specialize in wood fired pizza and also offer a hot dog and chips.

John ordered the Don Vito pizza, which was topped with andouille sausage, pepperoni, mushroom, onion and green peppers.
I had a build your own pizza topped with green olives and pepperoni. The crust was pretty thick and doughy and the toppings were generously applied. I did not get much flavor from the wood fired oven unfortunately. The pizza did hit the spot with the beer from Indeed Brewery and I would probably order from Vito Lucco again. It is not as good as Punch pizza, but not bad for a food truck.
There was a 20-25 minute wait for the pizzas, but they just took down your cell number and texted you when the order was ready, so that was handy.

Vito Lucco Food Truck
Twitter: @vitolucco

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Dagwood's Deli

I tried out Dagwood's Deli recently in the Minneapolis skyway. I've walked past it quite a few times, though it is in the far reaches of the skyway for me; it is toward the river at 2nd and Washington.

I ordered the Dagwood Special, which is topped with pastrami, ham and salami as well as lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, mayonnaise and Dagwood's special dressing. The bread was lightly toasted and it was a large sandwich and quite filling. I enjoyed it, but I don't know that it is a lot better than Jimmy John's or Subway. The prices are decent- the cost was $6.99 plus tax.

The rest of the menu covers the sandwich basics from turkey and ham to tuna and roast beef. Mama Mia's also seems to be the same owners and the same kitchen and has an Italian themed menu with pasta, flatbread and Italian sandwiches. I may have to try that next.

Dagwood's Deli
250 2nd Ave S, 
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Phone: (612) 371-0687

Monday, September 19, 2016

Las Vegas Trip Report 8.31-9.5.2016 - The One With Opposite Accommodations

I'd gotten an offer for two free nights at the Cosmopolitan before our last trip and we could not resist the chance to stay there, so we decided to go over Labor Day weekend arriving Wednesday night before the holiday. I had booked a King Terrace Studio over the phone with the booking agent, though I had hopes for an upgrade to a fountain view room.

Our fight out on Wednesday evening was running a bit behind schedule, but we departed just a little bit late and arrived just about on time. The plane was not very full and the exit rows were wide open, so once the boarding doors closed, we moved back a row to an exit row. Once we landed our bags came out pretty quickly an we took an Uber to The Cosmo.

I tried the $20 trick at check in at the Cosmo and asked for something with a fountain view. The agent made a phone call and ended up telling me that nothing with a fountain view was available, but he could give me a One Bedroom Terrace Studio with a strip view, which sounded great to us, so we were happy. The room was beautiful as you can see in my many pictures below!

view from the terrace

The safe was locked when we arrived, so we had to call to have it unlocked. It did not take too long for them to arrive, but they did send a maintenance man an two large security guys, so that was  interesting.

After settling in we played video poker at Bond Bar for a bit, played a few slots and ended up playing bubble craps for some time and doing quite well actually. Even got a bunch of comp drinks.
Before calling it a night we popped into Secret Pizza to grab a couple slices to take to the room. It was early so the line was not bad.
The pizza certainly hit the spot and was good quality. I'm not sure if it was really that great or because it was kind of late, but it is worth getting if you are in the area. Not sure it is worth going out of the way for.

Thursday we were up pretty early as we ad not figured out the blinds in the room very well, so we went to Overlook Grill for breakfast. The place is not very big, but we were seated right away and service was quick.
breakfast burrito for John
I had the Overlook Omelet with bacon, tomatoes, avocado, jack cheese. Both items were very good.
After breakfast we went back to the room to change and went to the Boulevard pool. There were plenty of chairs available and the music was at a good level.
view from Boulevard pool

It was pretty toasty outside and we were getting crispy after just a few hours at the pool, so we headed back to the room to get ready. We headed over to Paris in hopes of finding a $10 3-2 table, which we did. I don't think I did very well, I think John did OK. We walked over to Monte Carlo to redeem a couple MyVegas awards. We both had a free pint at the Pub at Monte Carlo and watched some college football too. They were running out of some beers as the bartender said they were coming in three weeks, but we managed to find something we liked.
John had wings and fries at The Pub also. 

We also stopped at Hit Bar for BOGO drinks from MyVegas. We had a fun time chatting with the bartender there and hearing about everything that was going to be closing or changing on the property.
Next, we went to Andre's for happy hour and I had the sliders with fries, which was very good. Too bad they are closing also.

We went back to the Cosmo and played some slots and headed off to bed around midnight.
view from Cosmo terrace at night, so cool!

Friday morning I tried to ask for late checkout, but they said it was not available. Rats. I was hoping to enjoy that room for as long as possible.
We waited in the line for Eggslut for breakfast. I have to say, the line moves fairly well and the sandwiches are certainly worth the wait.
I had the bacon, egg and cheese sandwich
John had the Fairfax sandwich

It was not cheap, each sandwich is about $10, but they were filling, freshly made and very delicious.

We realized we never found the Bamboo pool, so we went to check that one out. It is a bit quieter than the Boulevard pool, but both are very nice.

We stayed as long as we could, but we checked out of the Cosmo at 11am and grabbed an Uber to downtown. We were staying the rest of the weekend at the Golden Gate and we knew this was going to be a tough transition. We were lucky in that we were able to get our room right away when we checked in at 11:30am or so.
This room was about the size of the bathroom at the Cosmo. And older. A lot older. But it was clean with updated furnishings.
queen bed, comfortable anyway.

We played a few slots at the Golden Gate and Golden Nugget and decided to grab lunch at DuPar's. I'm not sure what time it was, but there was no wait for a table.
Started with shrimp cocktails. Finally used the coupons Megan! 
John had a burger and fries
I had lemon meringue pie, which was quite good. 
This is a temporary facade in front of the former La Bayou. That building is coming down for a likely expansion of the Golden Gate.

We played some video poker at Main Street at Boar's Head bar, wandered through the Cal and decided to do the Sip and Stroll drink package at the Golden Nugget. For $40 you get eight drinks at eight different bars around the property. We split the package as there were some drinks I did not want and some John did not want. Plus it is a lot of drinks for one person! We played slots in between visits to the various bars.

We decided on Carson Kitchen for dinner. We had tried it a couple years ago and have not had a chance to go back. We did not have a reservation, but got seated right away at the bar facing the kitchen. It is a great spot to sit and watch everything come out.
BBQ burnt ends to start
sea bass
secret Sunday chicken sandwich and tots

Everything was really good and we would highly recommend Carson Kitchen.
After dinner we went back to the Golden Nugget and resumed the Sip and Stroll and playing slots. This is the chocolate martini from Rush Lounge. It was great.
Chart House's Pear Rita. John had a mango mojito from the Sip and Stroll. After that we played a few more slots here and there and called it a night fairly early.

Friday we were up somewhat early and headed to Magnolia's Veranda at the Four Queens for breakfast.

excellent sourdough toast, as always 

After breakfast, I decided to go to the Spa at the Golden Nugget for a massage. It was very good, but not cheap, cost was $195 for 50 minutes. You do get all day use of their facilities as well. John played blackjack at the Fremont and Golden Gate during that time. Once I was ready I played with him at Golden Gate with a fun older couple for awhile.

We headed over to the strip after a short stop at the Palms. At the Palms we realized nothing much was open for lunch, so we decided on Mon Ami Gabi at Paris for lunch instead.
classic steak frites
Bordelaise steak frites for me

After lunch we looked around Paris a bit, but the $10 tables from earlier in the week were long gone. We took an Uber over to Ellis Island Casino as we had a bunch of coupons from ACG and Las Vegas Advisor to use. It ended up being unexpectedly fun. We both had a bunch of slot play to use and I ended up on that and we played blackjack for a bit as well, I think results were just OK there though.
We had both bought Groupons to the Golden Tiki a tiki bar off strip we had visited once before.
The Groupon was a great deal and the drinks were excellent and strong as expected. Next, we took an Lyft to the Golden Gate and played blackjack for a bit.
We decided to have a late dinner at Pizza Rock. We went basic, with a pepperoni pizza, which was excellent as always. Side note, the restaurant was quite busy, but we were able to find open spots at the bar with no waiting at all.

After dinner we went back to the Golden Gate and played blackjack a bit more. I wasn't doing well, s I gave up and went up to the room. John stayed up a bit later and was doing very well at the tables. It is convenient to stay at the Golden Gate since we do play there a lot and it is nice to be right there.

Sunday we had breakfast at Seigel's 1941 at the El Cortez. Breakfast sandwich for me.
John's breakfast. Too bad they do not have hash browns. The food was OK, nothing all that great.
After breakfast we went over to The Plaza and checked out their newly redone pool area. Since we were not hotel guests we had to pay $10 admission. It was not crowded at all and the area was very nice with music at good levels. Since we did not have a pool, it was a nice option.
view from the rooftop pool area at The Plaza
After leaving the pool, we got ready at the room and headed over to 777 Pub at Main Street Station for a quick lunch. John ad a Caesar salad.
I had an Asian tuna salad, which was excellent. The portion was large and the tuna was sushi grade.

We played video poker at the Boar''s Head bar for awhile and I got a few four of a kind hands as well as the bonus scratch off cards. One was for $3, instead of the usual $2 bonus. Maybe someday one of us will win more than a few bucks on that bonus, but it is still pretty fun.
Next, we took an Uber to the Cromwell. We wandered around there a bit and decided to have drinks at Bond Bar toward the back. The day club on the roof was getting finished for the day, so it was entertaining to watch the parade of crazy go by.
Plus, we were able to use comps from our cards from Social Rewards social media sharing, so the $17 drinks didn't cost us anything but tip. We had the Cromwellian and the Never Say Goodnight, both coffee based cocktails.
We walked over to the Cosmo as John had to cash out from his sports betting application he'd been using to do bets. We played video poker at Chandelier bar. for awhile. I should mention the redone Chandelier bar looks exactly the same as before except the carpet and chairs seem to be new.
I got some more four of a kinds there, but no bonus cards here. ha. I should have kept track of how many I had as I had a lot that day, it was a decent VP day for me. No drink ticket system was in effect, but the bartenders said it was coming soon. yuck. We also played a bit at the sports book bar. I should mention the new sports book at the Cosmo is excellent. Very spacious with lots of TVs and quite a bit of seating.
We went to China Poblano for dinner. We started with the Slat Air margaritas. Surprisingly, I found it to be too salty with the salt foam on top.
siu mai lucky 6 
tuna ceviche
shrimp mojo
20 vegetable fried rice

China Poblano was good, but I'm not sure I thought it was great. Maybe we didn't order the best items? I also hated the dining room with the large shared bench seating tables. The seating was not at all comfortable, I think the point was so you didn't stay long.

After dinner, we headed back to the Golden Gate and played some blackjack before going to bed.

Monday we set an alarm so we'd have time for breakfast before going to the airport. Of course, we ate at DuPar's. It is the best breakfast downtown.
The usual items
After breakfast, we had time to wander around downtown a little bit, but I was pretty much done gambling for awhile. We took Uber to the airport and our flight home was right on time.

We had a great time on our Labor Day weekend trip. I think we both agreed that we'd love to stay at the Cosmo again. Hopefully we get more offers to stay there or they have some good deals on rooms! I don't think we would stay in the standard rooms at the Golden Gate again, though free rooms are hard to pass up, I think we'd only stay there if we could upgrade to their newer suites in the back.