5th- bloomington park tavern, bloomington
6th- fuddruckers, st. louis park
11th- timberlodge steakhouse, st. louis park
13th- buca di beppo, eden prairie
14th- boston garden, hopkins
15th- baja torilla grill, eden prairie
20th- chatterbox pub, minneapolis
20th- ciao bella, bloomington
20th- hops (guest review), eden prairie
21st- big bowl, edina
21st- tj's, edina
24th- fat lorenzo's, minneapolis
28th- good earth, edina
29th- ihop, maplewood
5th- bloomington park tavern, bloomington (c)
well, huh. they slipped this time (as compared to the last time i went), though not on my usual (catfish sandwich, misnamed the po' boy, which would be better without the bun, oddly, and a side o'fries, which were ok for what they were... packaged, but decent and hot). why? the service, for one. for an almost empty place, the wait seemed a bit long for food.
and the person i was with ordered a bass ale, which was on tap. what was delivered was guessed as a moosehead with overtones of cigarette ash. it was returned, a bottled beer was ordered (who wouldn't). they also went with one of the specials, turkey with fontina and aioli on ciabatta, with the chicken tortilla soup. though the turkey was real turkey and not oft slimy deli kind, apparently the bread was inedible (a bit too stale, which doesn't surprise me).
6th- fuddruckers, st. louis park (c)
not a lot of things from childhood taste the same as an adult. (though i don't recall the ostrich burger being on the menu back then.)
11th- timberlodge steakhouse, st. louis park (c-)
unlike the last time we went there, this time we got waited on. i am not sure if this is an actual improvement or not. nothing was really rude and gross, it's just that many things were not at all tasty. the onion flowery thing app (whatever cute name they give it) was not coated on about half the onion, and the 'dip' was horseradish sauce, and what appeared to be ketsup and mayo but tasted like... nothing. bleach.
the honey wheat bread was bland, and the butter served with it had way too much parmesan cheese and herb in it and just tasted odd. the garlic mashed potatoes seemed to have no garlic and had a weird aftertaste, the random veggie mix was cold (fresh, they said, which apparently means frozen and unthawed). the service was erratic. for example, we were asked if we wanted more dip with the onion when it was served. we said yes, but it didn't get there until we were done with the onion, more than 5 minutes later. however, the food got to the table at a decent clip.
why not a d? the northern lights chicken (why they named it that, i know not, as it can be seen during the day) was pretty darn good... a pounded out chicken breast coated with ground almonds and parmesan breadcrumbs (if i recall correctly), and sauteed.
13th- buca di beppo, eden prairie (a-)
it's always better to go here with friends (rather than relatives with bad restaurant karma, at least. you can avoid this with takeout... anyway). it's good to order the garlic mashed potatoes. and the torta grazia for dessert. and leave with a ton of leftovers. though if you sit at the kitchen table here, dress for heat. and if you can't stand the heat... well.... don't sit at the kitchen table. bad joke, but hey....
14th- boston garden, hopkins (d)
really, there's no reason to go here, at least for the subs (marinara on a philly cheesesteak sub? huh?). big 10's right across the street, and they have better subs on better bread, with better tasting ingredients. they have better fries too. and nonsticky, nondirty tables. and the waitstaff tend to be better. and they have longer evening hours. perhaps boston garden's pizza is better. who knows.
15th- baja tortilla grill, eden prairie (b-)
the salsa bar is good, and the chain is a whole lot better than chipotle (chipotle seems to think that the main ingredient in anything they make is white rice... bleach). but sometimes the food needs more... flavor. even with the salsa. seasoning. it's good, better than most fast foods, but that's not saying a lot. i will say the shrimp in the shrimp tacos was plentiful, and didn't taste like rubber, which is not something you can say about a lot of places that serve shrimp items. well, you can, but it wouldn't be true.
20th- chatterbox pub, minneapolis (b+)
if the waiter had shown up for work, they would have gotten a higher grade, as the food was tasty and the atmosphere interesting and stuff (good background music), but as i never did get my parmesan curry mustard (or whatever it was...) after requesting it twice... alas. they did knock off the price of a beverage for it, which was nice. they also had a pop emergency while there. perhaps a pepsi machine exploded? who knows. not me.
the hot turkey sandwich with artichoke hearts and spinach with parmesan dressing and tomatoes on ciabatta comes with seasoned fries, and is big enough for two (as are the pile o'fries, which are very good for bar fries), unless you're famished, and is very tasty. i hear the burgers are good, too.
20th- ciao bella, bloomington (c)
good drinks. salty and/or bland food. strange restaurant practices (dark room, seating people way the heck in the back of an empty restaurant... ambience? whatever.). did i mention the drinks were good? the kir royale makes a nice festive champagne cocktail. the mushroom flatbread tasted better cold the next day. the chicken would have tasted better without being highly salted, ditto the roasted potatoes. the bread could have used the extra salt.
20th- hops, eden prairie- a guest review (d-)
so my family decides we're going to grab a bite at hops, last time we were there my kid liked the food, my salad was great, and my husband enjoyed his meal very much. the service was spot on and the beer was tasty (they're letting their brewer experiment a bit, it's not all substitute bud). it's been a couple of months since we were last there.
things start out ok, our server is perky. we get our beer, it's good. we get the kids menu, and our kid spots chicken strips and a chocolate shake, all is good. the regular menu is new. but hey...we haven't gotten any popovers. hmm. it says right on the menu that everyone gets them. hmm. we order pot stickers, the recipe has changed a little, but they're tasty and properly cooked. we place our order. my husband sees a sandwich go by that appears to be the 'catch of the day,' delicately fried grouper, with a mounding heap of french fries, looks great. i decide on the cobb salad, crisp field greens topped with buttermilk chicken tenders, fresh roma tomatoes, avocado, peppers and onions, cucumbers and blue cheese crumbles.
but then... the food arrives. my husbands supply of french fries is woefully small and the sandwich is a piece of fish (though generous and well cooked) in a smallish hamburger bun. that's it. no garnish, no lettuce, no tomato. my kid's chicken tenders are a bit on the spicy side for the kids menu. and my salad has corn in it. and no avocado and no blue cheese. this is not a cobb salad.
i look about the room for our server, she's disappeared into thin air. finally, she reappears and i point out that this is not a cobb salad. she's surprised. she brings it back into the kitchen, returns with the salad and says that the kitchen manager told her it was a cobb salad. grr. i point out that there's corn on it, which shouldn't be there, but there is no avocado or blue cheese, which should. she brings it back to the kitchen and returns to tell me they're making me a new one.
the manager returns a few minutes later. he's brought me the same salad but added blue cheese crumbles to the top. still no avocado. i wonder what it takes to get a cobb salad in this place. i point out the lack of avocado, ask him to grab a menu, and point to the description of the cobb salad on the menu. he concedes that the salad in front of me does not match the description and he's going to go have another one made up. he scurries away.
shortly thereafter, i decide i've had it. i try to find our server, who of course is missing again. so i ask two other servers to get the manager. neither accomplishes this in any reasonable time. but our server finally returns, and i tell her to go get the manager to tell him to forget it, i just want to be done with this place. she goes off to fetch him. my husband and kid have finished their meals in this time. why do i have to waste time in my life arguing with a nitwit about the ingredients in a cobb salad?
said nitwit returns. he apologizes and shows me the bill, the balance being $0. he apologizes again and give me his card. next time i want a cobb salad i'm to call him, verify he's there and he'll personally make it.
we stopped at culvers on the way home so i could finally have my damn dinner. they managed to use the right ingredients.
21st- big bowl, edina (b-)
the chix mix with stix wasn't quite up to my standards. but it was still pretty good, as was the hibiscus iced tea. i also tried a spring roll, it was very... lettuce-y. ah, well. the waiter... tried hard. he seemed new. and again, the patio is the way to go on crowded days.
22th- tj's, edina (c-)
probably fastest turnaround time in a sit-down, non-fast-food type of restaurant i've had in ages, less than 5 minutes after ordering, 3 dinners were on the table.
too bad the food wasn't really worth it. greek salad was missing flavor (the veggies were too long in the fridge, and there was little feta, olives, etc., that made the salad greek instead of dinner), the fries were just sad. probably the only thing with decent taste were the pickle slices, and the pita that came with the salad was ok, but strangely it was unstuffable.
maybe i've been to too many restaurants these past few days. or maybe i'm pickyass. or both. or neither, but i like nonchemical (or plastic....) flavor in food prior to any salting or peppering tableside, or even ketsuping. silly me, no?
22th- fat lorzeno's, minneapolis (d)
soda in cans and charging for refills are bad. and even though the pizza wasn't all that great, i kept eating it. why? perhaps i thought it would taste better. strangely, unlike most pizzas, i like the crust and not the toppings, and it wasn't even stuffed with cheese, maybe that's why i ate it. go figure.
also, we ordered a pizza with one side to have black olives and the other side green, but when we got it, it was both all over. and they didn't care. or do anything like comp us the soda. poor customer service, that. plus, even though the place was not so full inside, they tried to bum rush us out. hrm.
28th- good earth, edina (b-)
hey, it's a b- for the edina location, slightly worse than roseville. heh. again, the roseville one is more granola. this one, at least at lunch, is a mix of edina moms their kids (it's an the 'upscale' minimall thing, you know) and office people. roseville i feel more at home in, it seems warmer, and the servers there more... real. if that makes sense. the edina ones are more... edina. not that it was bad service...
huevos rancheros again. i know some people are against ordering the same thing over and over in a place, but i had a specific craving for it. and some times i just want to get the same thing again. so there? anyway, the huevos were good, as usual, but the potatoes were too peppered, and way too crispy for me (i prefer being able to stab mine with a fork without seeming like norman bates). perhaps it was 'cause people have already left for the weekend, but the place was less crowded for lunch than i've seen in ages.
29th- ihop, maplewood (c)
i wanted pancakes. it made sense at the time, the other options i was given a choice of were denny's, which i have never eaten at and never will, and perkins, where the pancakes sometimes have a spongy thing happening which is not so very appealing.
after a drive there that was roundabout (i can't recall ever being in or driving through mahtomedi, and i am only half sure i spelled that right), my friend and i get to ihop, one of the few in the twin cities area. my friend is impressed with the 4 syrups on the table, plus the hot one that is delivered, but is less than impressed that they are encased in blue plastic things. they need target's designers or something.
though the place is not full, there just doesn't seem to be enough servers. after being there a while, we get the standard 'i'll be with you in just a minute,' which as we know translates to 'we'll get to you when we have a chance.' the minute thing fools no one. anyway, it's about 5 minutes later we get to place the order. i wanted to order the freshfruity thing just to say the name, but i get pancakes that have grain n' nuts, which sound like they taste better. and it's n, not and. which, when ordering, i say. if it's stupid they want, stupid they will get. i also order hash browns.
the food gets to the table in a reasonable amount of time, but the hash browns are not a part of this delivery. they have been forgotten, so i request their presence, and the order for them is placed. when they are delivered in a few minutes.
the pancakes are decent enough, but oddly bland for being filled with grains n' nuts. i find i like the butter pecan (or something like that) syrup best with the cakes of pan, though i don't like butter on 'em. life isn't always logical. the hash browns i could have lived without. i don't think we were charged for them, which works out in the end, i suppose.
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