1st- vincent a restaurant, minneapolis
2nd- lone spur, minnetonka
7th- dino's gyros, shakopee
8th- tejas, edina
11th- eddington's, edina
17th- pastrami jack's, eden prairie
21st- steak escape, shakopee
22nd- godfather's pizza, golden valley
29th- minnesota state fair, st. paul environs
30th- perkins, edina
31st- d. fongs, savage
1st- vincent a restaurant, minneapolis (b+)
service in the bar here has always been not quite as good as the restaurant (couldn't get my water glass filled, ordered fries that didn't get delivered... admittedly there may have been some confusion, but still...), but sometimes i just need more or less a quick burst of said fries.
which i had, along with a carmelized onion, olive, and anchovy flatbread. quite good, but with cripser flatbread and maybe a bit of cheese, it would've been superb. i did get some free bernaise for the fry mix up, the best rendition i've had in a while (not surprisingly). the burger and the croque monsieur were also enjoyed by others at the table.
it was fairly busy in the bar at around 5:30 pm on a rainy tuesday, possibly due to a show at orchestra hall, and the server we had usually works the dining area.
weirdest thing... i had lost my voice, and after i ate the fries, it came back. do they have healing properties? was i, as someone put it, 'potato deficient?'
2nd- lone spur, minnetonka (a-)
probably the best overall dinner mrs. brk and myself has had here... she went with the quarter chicken this time. usually it's too dry for her, this time, dead on. with it she got one of the better renditions of steak fries i've had in a while, and some decent enough cole slaw. i had the chicken fajitas. i prefer mine more charred around the edges, but the chicken was flavorful, the toppings plentiful, and it was as good of a rendering than i've had in quite a while. even the service was spot on.
7th- dino's gyros, shakopee (b+)
this is the place where i typically eat lunch at once every other week or so, and you don't see every time i eat there, as a lot of time it would be pretty much 'ditto.' this is more or less the same thing i had last time i wrote about it, but with a difference. this kind of discusses the same thing as the time before that, too, for that matter. boy, am i boring.
recently i've been on a 'large greek salad with chicken gyros' kick there (but of course sometimes i break down and get one of the sandwiches like the chicken mushroom swiss or the falefel or the the chicken gyros, which you can look up yourself... and naturally.... fries with that). today i went for something that looked to be the same thing only different, the gyros plate with a side of greek salad.
you order the salad, you get greek dressing, no tzaziki, more olives, more feta, fewer tomatoes and fewer onions. you don't get tons of chicken, you get lots of lettuce.
you order the chicken gyros plate with the small greek salad, you get the dressing on the salad, tzatziki, not so many olives, not much feta, quite a few tomaotes and onions, and about an equal amount of meat and lettuce, and it is cheaper. (other side options for the gyros plate are fries with that or rice, instead of the salad.)
with both you get a pita, quartered.
and a breath mint.
i'd say it's kind of a draw as to which one works better. i supect i'd like the salad version more in the summer and the plate more in the winter, what with the cold to hot ratio of the food. they both aren't bad, though the plate suffers from the tomatoes (not happy ones, even in season) and the tzatziki is pretty much yogurt. nice yogurt, but not much else there.
8th- tejas, edina (b)
once again i went to a tco tuesdays restaurant and forgot to request a slip. i hate it when that happens. they should just stick them in the checks for people with bad memories. anyway.
i've not been here since the postponed due to inner ear infection birthday dinner over a year and a half ago or so. hey, still not quite as good as it could be. the menu is kind of seasonal, but more of a lighter food kind of thing than seasonal offerings.
mrs. brk and i split the tablesode guacamole to start, and it's amusing they serve it in what looks like the traditional clay bowl, but it's plastic (why they bother having real flowers at that point... anyone's guess...). anyway, we both liked it, she more than i. i prefer the stronger taste of raw garlic to the roasted they had, and we both thought it needed salt. or maybe the chips did. i then had a cup of a soup on special, a spicy chipotle potato. nice and mouth-heating, spicy for minnesota, sure. but it needed something, as nothing really stood out about it.
she had the seafood salad, which was a nice summery mix of scallop, crab, lobster, shrimp, jicama, and mango in a kind of citrusy-tasting vinagrette over bibb lettuce. light and summer, and nice, though they had taken away the bread plate and it needed something like that to go with it. the smoked chicken nachos were also good but not great. odd they had chunks of chicken, shredded would've made a lot more sense and not fallen off the chip. i did like the salsas they were served with.
when at the table, service was attentive, but it did take quite a while (like through an entire course) to get the water filled. not the best service ever.
this was one of the cases where i think for what we paid it was good, but if we were paying full price (we had a discount), not so much some things seemed more overpriced than others- the guacamole was not worth $9, nor the salad $17... but the nachos were right on at $8.
(next day update- mrs. brk brought in the slip from tuesday, and they did let her fill in the tco certificates for each of us. that was nice of them.)
11th- eddington's, edina (b+)
better soup than last time, worse breadsticks (cold and kind of tasteless, until they put in a few warm ones).
mrs. brk went with a cup of the only non-cream based soup, the chicken noodle, which she thought a tad peppery but otherwise good. she got a sonoma wrap to go with it, with chicken, lettuce, bacon, cheese, sour cream. it was pretty huge, but just average tasting. she also got two chocolate chips cookies, which she thought too squishy (she's of the hard-and-crunchy cookie camp).
i did the bottomless bowl again, and managed my three ladle-helping again. two of the same, the cheese, which was much improved and quite good except for one monster carrot hunk, and the white chicken chili with improved chicken. instead of the basil pine nut combo, i got the clam chowder which was pretty good as these things go. it had chunks of clam, didn't taste canned, was well-seasoned and such.
this time it was even more affordable, as i scored a $10 off coupon for $1.50, but we did have to get $15 worth of stuff (thus the cookies). it was less than $4.00 per person. well worth it. it was even less crowded than last time, only one other family stayed the time we were there (two people left), and just two or three take out orders came in. it's usually fairly quiet in the evenings at this one, it's a more work-lunch rush crowd.
17th- pastrami jack's, eden prairie (c-)
since i couldn't recall what i got last time and take it into consideration, i once again started with the salad. big mistake. it was very warm, slightly rusty romaine, quite a lot of it, with a bit of diced tomato and a few croutons. it was kind of gross. i sent it back, and didn't want a replacement. since the deal is you get two sides for $3 with your sandwich, they took that and the other side (average mashed potatoes) off the bill.
this time mrs. brk had the turkey rachel, and somehow we ended up being thematic, as i got a sandwich named after ross gellar (from the one monica character made on the show, per the menu)- a hot turkey sandwich with a slice of bread soaked in gravy in the middle. it was ok, but it needed toast to have some kind of... backbone. it was ok.
the turkey rachel was a lot better than last time. mrs. brk also like the beef and cabbage borscht, a soup which i don't like in all its forms. most of the food there required salt, even from mrs. brk who tends not to lean towards tons of it. not a good sign.
service was not that impressive. they were against water refills apparently. never a good sign when you start draining the water of others. when before we got our sandwiches asked if we wanted more cole slaw or pickles that come with all meals, i asked for more pickles. they didn't show up until we asked again, and then were done with our food. mmm, dessert pickles. i think service is well meaning but maybe we had a newbies.
i do think the price is a bit high for most things, still, though the reubens seemed to be a better deal than other things. weird.
21st- steak escape, shakopee (b)
it's also a taco john's, but i was in a sandwich mode, having been thwarted in my usual dino's hit... it may or may not be closed for good, dino's, but i would be quite bummed if they were. but that's another story...
since i was in a sandwich mood, i went for their 7" chicken philly sandwich and small fries. yes, this does violate my rule of 'order the food in the name of the place' rule, but since i don't eat red meat and i was thrown by the whole dino's thing... i was all confused. the place name is kind of weird anyway. do the steaks escape there? do you escape steaks? escape to steaks?
the sandwich was decent enough, though not quite a philly (it lacked a certain oniony quality) and needed (a) more chicken and (b) have the chicken sliced a la philly instead of in chunks. the fries were touted as fresh cut, and they were the skin on kind. almost like state fair fries only different. not bad, not as good as dino's, but they went well with the malt vinegar they had out. it was a nice touch to have it available.
i would probably go in for their lunch special again (if dino's has gone away)... $5 for a 4" sandwich, fries with that and a drink. reasonable and all. it's not as good as said dino's, but it is better than the one hamburger fast food place i will go to now and then, wendy's, and most of the othe fast food availabile to me at lunch.
the place is paired with a taco john's (two, two, two fast food joints in one....), which i will have to try at some point, though they seem to throw in their tater tots (aka potato oles, which is not pronounced as in 'sven and...' though you kind of want to, or at least i do) in a lot of their burritos and such, which is kind of weird and not in a good way.
22nd- godfather's pizza, golden valley (c)
well, it was worth about what we paid for it. mrs. brk and i had a two for one on the dinner buffet, bringing the cost per person to $3.71 (with tax, water for both beverages). it maybe was worth that, which makes it the only buffet in recent memory worth the price of admission.
the pizza was the least good thing on the hot part of the buffet, and it was mostly pizza... many kinds which i don't eat (they had various beef and/or pork products on them). so i tried the veggie (not worth it) pizza, the cheese (slightly better but only when hot and not warm) pizza, the dessert (better than the regular kinds which is not saying much) pizza, the potato wedges (skip them), and the best thing... the garlic cheese bread, which tasted ok when hit with the parmesan, the red pepper flake, a bit of salt, and dipped into the marinara. i had more of the garlic cheese bread than anything. .
the less said about the salad bar, the better. at least nothing in it was gross, it was just boring, and the tomatoes were sad.
and since it was a self-filling beverage night, yep, i had no problem with getting my water glass refilled by me.
again, worth what we paid, but i didn't like the pizza there (odd, given that they're a pizza place). maybe if i ate the other kinds they're better (mrs. brk stuck with cheese, so i have no idea how those are). somehow i thought they would have other items (like spaghetti or something) on the buffet, but nope.
29th- minnesota state fair, st. paul environs (a-)
one of these years (i've discussed 2004 and 2005) i will get around to trying more new things, but it's hard to do when you go with only one other person. the bounty is not shared as much, so you can't cram as much in, variety-wise. i had hoped for something food-related, as it was minnesota food day and the whole chef's demo thing seemed promising, but it seemed a bit infomercially rather than anything of value. i kind of wanted more of the chefs (lenny russo, for instance) and less of the host plugging homegrown agriculture. he wasn't even wearing a sweater vest.
i did check the listing of new fair foods and read up on them, but there was nothing that really appealed... though the concept of tater tot hot dish on a stick is interesting, it's more of an abstract interesting, as i hate cream of mushroom soup and such, and don't eat tater tot hot dish at all ever. giggles campfire grill had a chicken dish with mango that looked ok, but not exciting enough to get one, apparently.
anyway, the food. for breakfast, such as it was, i had the usual minidonuts (tom thumb, the only place that matters), which were hot and fresh and such, followed by cheese curds from the place with the name i still can't recall but is next to the wcco radio booth (hard to eat as it was mostly a few big curds bonded together, and i was trying to walk at the same time... but still, fried salty cheese... mmmm....).
after a long break in the action, i picked up some fresh lemonade, which was not too sweet. after pondering something sandwichy, i went with dino's (as i can't get it in shakopee anymore, but at least there's one not too far from my house...) and thought i would do some early nostalgia tripping. bad way to go, as the people in the booth thought 'chicken gyros' meant 'salad.' so we waited, and waited, and waited (and started to get sunburned). i was asking for our money back to go elsewhere when it arrived. and it wasn't as good as the usual one, it had salad mix in it and the carrot shreds were a bit odd. and not surprisingly priced higher for what you got.
mrs. brk wanted some ice cream, but not a lot, so we of course headed to the empire commons (or 'dairy building' as most people call it still) for a cone (nice and rich-tasting soft-serve). she also got a tiny cup of salad shrimp in cocktail sauce at a food stand, worth the $1 she paid for it, maybe. we also went with the 'fresh french fries' booth (as opposed to the other fries with that booth). they upgraded their ketsup options, you can now get a nice sweet onion ketsup and a garlic one too. i still prefer the malt vinegar with it.
the last stop was a sampling of sweet martha's cookies (we got some to take to someone). since they weren't warm, they were not that good.
random sampling at the fair wasn't as rampant as other times... and most people wanted you to fill things out or what have you to get their candy, cookies, etc.
unlike most places, though the fair is more about the setting than the actual food in a way...
30th- perkins, edina (d-)
i wanted breakfast for dinner, mrs. brk didn't want to drive far, so we ended up here.
bad idea. well, for me.
her breakfast for dinner was actually a bonus- she ordered off the 55+ menu, but they gave her the regular version- two eggs over easy, breakfast meat, nicely seasons breakfast potatoes, rye toast.
mine was a mess. my breakfast potatoes were bland (i.e. not at all seasoned), the pancakes were barely warm when they hit the table, the first omelet i ordered (pollo grande, or 'big chicken...')... the first bite i took of the filling had crunchy inedible chicken bits in it. the swiss mushroom omelet replacement had swiss on top of it, but none discernable in the omelet itself. and it was also very, very bland- as in no salt and pepper bland.
did we get offered a muffin or have the bad omelet taken off the bill or anything? nope, no gesture like that. we shouldn't go here again. we didn't for a while due to bad service, now maybe due to bad food. last time and the time before it was just ok. now it's worse.
so i still want breakfast for dinner, but i will specify a very good breakfast for dinner... maybe i'll just give in and make it myself.
31st- d. fongs, savage (c-)
i had intended to go to mexican buffet (cactus grill), but since they are closed, that wouldn't work so much. so i went here, mostly as it was not too far from it. don't think i'd go back. the cream cheese puffs were icky and weirdly flabby instead of crisp, with cold cream cheese inside. the chicken fried rice was decent, but the sweet and sour chicken i ordered was odd because it had bits of tomato in it. the sauce was too sweet, too. the chicken was decent, though, after getting it away from the sauce.
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