1st- arby's, hopkins
2nd- 112 eatery, minneapolis
3rd- dino's gyros, shakopee
4th- perkins, edina
6th- salut bar americain, edina
11th- olive garden, bloomington
14th- rudolphs, minneapolis
18th- crossroads deli, minnetonka
23rd- thailand view, shakopee
24th- edina grill, edina
27th- big 10, minneapolis
1st- arby's, hopkins (b-)
i really don't like most of the food from this place, though now and again they have a sandwich here i get into. of course these are the ones that are available only for a limited time, because that's how my life is. things are fleeting. anyway, it was take-home arby's for dinner tonight.
the last time this happened, arby's put out a chicken and pesto panini that put the vast majority of the fast food sandwich category to shame, tastewise, i thought. i can't quite say the same for their grilled rachel, alas, but i will say that for a fast food sandwich, it's pretty decent.
could use a bit more of the thousand island, but that's a small quibble. they have good quality turkey, some good marble rye and sauerkraut, the sandwiches were toasted to a decent level. not the best one i've had in my life, but it was quite decent, especially for fast food.
i wanted to try the potato bites here, too, being under the impression they'd be filled with some sort of cream cheese mixture, but it was cheddar-filled. not bad, but i was disappointed. the sour cream ranch sauce that came with the bites didn't complement them much, but it was good with veggies.
2nd- 112 eatery, minneapolis (a)
the best way i have to describe this place is kind of like an american food vincent, collapsed into one tiny space and a lot noisier. (and i do mean tiny, as in if someone's in the aisle putting on their coat, the server has to wait for them to leave before they can get to the kitchen or the table they need to get to).
they do bar food really well, they do upscale food well, dessert, wine list, etc. says so, according to the strib. they ranked it the best restaurant of 05. city pages had them near the tops in the best fries in the twin cities, which is what i bet all y'all were waiting my verdict on.
they are the best american style fries i've had in the cities.
are they the best fries?
alas, i'm still going with vincents, i prefer more of a pomme frites fry to the larger american fry.
you get a huge cone of them with ketsup and some kind of aioli for $6, sized to share. they didn't really go well with either sauce, they tasted best with the brie that was oozing out of the hamburger the person i was with got (she said it was one of, if not the best, she's ever had... but again, she's not been to vincents. i'd be interested to know how the two stack up). the burger was on an english muffin. wonder why they went with that versus the more tradition bun.
with it i got the sea scallops with wild mushrooms with some black truffle in there for good measure (i think, wouldn't swear to it, but that's what i heard). never though of the two paired, but boy did they play nicely together. i thought the mushrooms would go quite well on the very good bread they serve, but they were better with the scallops.
i was a bit full, so only tasted the pot de creme (chocolate, tasted more dark than milk or semi-sweet) with chocolate lacy wafer things (done in white and dark chocolate). rich and lovely. split it if you get it.
the wafers were just part of the whole emphasis on presentation. everything you order is plated quite beautifully, even the pickles and peppers served with the burger were attended to. and it wasn't like all fussy, either. hard line to walk, but they got it right.
they have some nice nuts and almond at the table when you are seated, which is nice, because there may be a bit of a wait for food. it was a wait to sit down- i got there at 7 pm on a monday night when a lot of people who usually work downtown were not there, and it was an hour and a half wait for a table. i'd recommend reservations, especially for larger groups.
they said half a hour for the bar, or we could be seated at the kitchen counter. the bar cleared a bit quicker than anticipated, so we sat there, but i bet the kitchen would've been interesting (though probably very warm). may have been quieter in there, too- the place is loud. service was friendly, though sometimes a step slow, mostly due to the large number of people everywhere.
i'd be interested in trying some of the other things i saw people order, like the chicken squashed with a brick (that's what is was, though called something else on the menu), the crostini with avocado and anchovy, and the duck salad (quack).
3rd- dino's gyros, shakopee (b+)
large greek salad with chicken gyros on top. it seemed a bit better than last time, fresher veg cut into smaller, bite-sized pieces, better compostition. fresher pita, etc. more balanced, somehow. suggestion... serve the olives sans pits.
4th- perkins, edina (c)
the reason mrs. brk and i we went to perkins for dinner is lost to the mists of time (but may have had something to do with a coupon and ennui). i generally avoid perkins and perkinslike things most of the time.
what was strange was the unrelenting averageness of all. the food was... food tasting. what had the most flavor of both dinners- ketsup. mrs. brk went with cod, which came with a salad and a side item. she got a baked potato, which was warm outside, cold inside. the fish tasted bland. the tartar sauce tasted bland, as did the roll that came with it.
i went with an omelet, the almost everything (it was an everything omelet, but i had them leave out the meat bits, and frankly that's a misnomer anyway that i really don't think it's worth anyone's time getting into...), though none of them seemed really appealing (the only one i really liked hasn't been on the menu in ages, a santa fe omelet or something like that....).
it was... yep... bland. the breakfast potatoes with it were less so, but they had said ketsup on 'em. and added salt and pepper. i went with a pumpkin muffin, which seemed to be missing the same spices that usually go with pumpkin baked goods. so it was therefore... fill in the blank... bland.
not surprisingly, service wasn't good nor bad.
i guess it's just designed to be average here.
the only weird note, and one that brought about a moment of cultural dissonance, was the music. mostly 80's pop, but really, a ramones tune ('i wanna be sedated,' natch....) for the wednesday dinner crowd? ok, contextually funny for me, but probably not anyone else there.
6th- salut bar americain, edina (a-)
from the parasole group, owners of muffuletta, figlio, chino latino, manny's, and the oceanaire comes a faux french (franglish? such as le cheeseburger) 50th and france spot that was surprisingly crowded for lunch today. i can kind of see why, in that corner, though they are a lot of restaurants, they do kind of fill a hole there. it's where the amepersand used to be, though it seems larger than ampersand was. lunch had my favorite foods- bread, cheese, and fries. but what one place does with it can vary widely, but you can usually trust any place in the parasole group to do a lot of things well..
lunch started with a tasty small baguette and a dish of butter (yeah, we had a few more of those), and progressed to pommes frites with bernaise as an appetizer. the fries with that were fairly good, about a b+ in an of themselves, though a little salty for some tastes. probably they have the saltier than usual salt they have on the tables there. more sodium salt? something like that.
i went with the sandwich trio on baguette slices. a creamy lovely brie that wasn't too rich was paired with green apple slices, then tomato slices with gruyere, then goat cheese with some kind of warm sauce that was too eggplantly (even if it didn't have eggplant in it, though i think it did) that was good with the sandwich kinda, but not alone. it was served with a small salad, roasted garlic, and a bit of what we think was roasted red pepper sauce of some sort which were really tasty on the baguette.
and the plating was amusing and carefully planned- each sandwich had a toothpick with a bit of content on top (an apple slice, a tomato slice, and an olive). they even put slices of apple and tomato under the sandwiches so none of the warm eggplant stuff would get on them.
the fries were in a cone-shaped cup (what's with the cone shaped serving of fries? seems to pop up a lot in the past year) and scattered around, the beet salad was arranged attractively, and the best my dining companion's had in quite a while. her soup of the day, cream of mushroom, may be the only cream of something soup i've ever tasted and liked. her lemonade was also fresh-squeezed and not too tart, not too sweet.
since the place was packed, service was a step slow, but they put a carafe of water on the table, and there wasn't usually too long of a wait before someone wandered by. the room is attractive and spare, with french touches here and there. the oyster bar looked spare too, in a bad way. it was kind of loud, and some of the music choices odd (frank sinatra is not vaguely french, really), but it works. i'll be back.
11th- olive garden, bloomington (c+)
i've managed to avoid this place for almost a year and a half. and hey, finally up from that c average it was sporting, but not really 'cause of the food. mrs. brk thought it was slightly better than perkins, but i thought it still had that bland thing happening, even in the zesty (or whatever the hell adjective) they use in regards to their arribata sauce in the shrimp primavera i went with.
as for the rest of the dish the pasta was ok, not mushy, but not al dente. the sauce was... not horrid. the shrimp, mushrooms, and peppers in the sauce were overcooked. the spaghetti and meatballs (there were oddly 3 and a half of them in there) were ok, though the meatballs lacked salt, as per mrs. brk. the breadsticks were of course not as good as i recalled, and the salad needed a lot more dressing and better olives in it.
the service was good though, and i am not just saying that because the server was taken with my hair. water was filled quickly, and we were asked how everything was perhaps a bit too much. the upgrade was mostly for said service rather than the food.
when did they start giving out wine samples here? that was kind of odd.
and apparently the redecorated since we were here last, as i recall it as very very dark, and now it's bright with yellow walls, (and you can actually see the menu) with wooden chairs instead of those weird roller ones they had.
14th- rudolphs, minneapolis (b)
it's a rib place (it's a few steps above a 'joint,' so they would get mad at me if i called it that...) so if you don't like ribs, go elsewhere. they do ribs really well (though apparently the chicken wings ain't bad either). and sometimes details fall by the wayside on a busy night- i ordered a spiked coffee drink which was supposed to have a vanilla sugar rim on it. so of course it had nothing on the rim.
to start, i split the 'big chill' which is hummus, red pepper hummus, fiery feta cheese dip, kalamata olives, and warm pita bread. the fiery feta was spicy, but the rest of the plate (thanks for the three whole olives by the way) was just kind of ok. odd they had huge mounds of dip and maybe half the pita bread needed (and not warm- see details).
we also tried the 'popeye' spinach and artichoke dip with warm pita bread, which had more than needed pita bread. besides the feta, nothing was particulary worth noting, just a decent rendition. 'dracula' wings (i didn't try them) took home the statue (see, i can be thematic...) in the appetizer category.
in case you're wondering about the names of the dishes, the place is named after valentino and has a kind of hollywood glamour theme to it, but not in a tacky way. though some of the menu items are weird. citizen cornbread? is that a citizen kane ref, or something weird? either way it makes no sense. is the 'nora desmond' a typo, or would they be sued for using norma? weird.
for dinner, more splitting. this time the 'king kong,' a rack and a half of spare ribs, six pieces of chicken, four pieces of 'citizen cornbread,' a quart of cole slaw and a quart of garlic mashed potatoes. the tatoes had some nice crispy onion things on top and weren't bad.
the cornbread was liked by most, i prefer the less cakey, more gritty cast-iron style (more of an og thing) but it wasn't bad. everyone who had the ribs liked them. the chicken wasn't all too meaty, and the pieces were more like half-pieces. someone else got the brisket and said it was a bit on the stringy side but not bad.
their somewhat recent 'facelift' paid off in a more modern feel (rather than going back to childhood kind of feel), though the restroom set up is a bit odd- individual locked stalls, then across a bit of a high-traffic area are the sinks and mirrors for both genders. service was a bit slow sometimes but that was probably due to the large crowd.
in case all y'all are wondering about i'm taking into account the group experience here for the grade, not just mine. everyone who had ribs was all into them.
18th- crossroads deli, minnetonka (b)
new style crossroads, they revamped the menu and location so it's less 'deli.' dunno why. because they can? so yeah, new food. probably for the better. you get fewer pickles in your relish tray they bring to your table, but you get bread and butter now. so take the good with the bad... they seem more generic on the face of things, less authentic.
i got the grilled rachel, an open face version. quite good, lots of 'real' turkey slices (not processed), swiss, sauerkraut. the toasted rye could've been a bit more toasted to better face up to the sandwich pile on top of it, and it needed a hint more of the thousand island for my taste, but a good rendition (would've been better with more bread, but a lot of things would, really). the fries with that were acceptable. apparently the same kind of thing happened with the stuffed cabbage. good main dish, the mashed potatoes with it tasted like they were trucked in, not made on site.
service was weird. after a table that sat down after us got the bread and relish tray thing before us, etc., we got served first. and right quickly. refills were also timely. so i don't know about that either. some of the prices are on the high side for some things. a half chicken dinner was about $12, which seemed reasonable, but the sandwich i had was around $11.
i'm trying not to make a bad crossroads joke right now, in case y'all were wondering and even if y'all weren't.
23rd- thailand view, shakopee (b-)
they have a buffet now. same thing as the menu, only different.
they started it with american salad and a bowl of peel and eat shrimp in ice water. the shrimp were ok, but really, hard to ruin. next up, white rice and some kind of soup. they labelled most things, just not the soup. main dishes included their not the worst i've had chicken pad thai, fried rice, red and green curries also with chicken- the green was quite good, but had not a lot of chicken in it, i skipped the veggie only dishes, one had a lot of green beans that i was not in the mood for, the other just didn't appeal, then i tried the chicken kaprow, which had more chicken than any other dish, plus basi i believe and was the best of the birdie dishes.
the standout dish was the spicy muscles on a half-shell that were quite tasty. chicken wings weren't spicy enough, and the dumplins i am sure would've been better warm (they need to turn the heat up more under the pans. a lot of the stuff was quite cold by the time i got it back to my table all of 5 feet away...). i also skipped the dessert selections. sliced fruit breads seemed an odd choice to have, and the other selection was orange slices
it was also still dark inside (no lights except by the buffet and the windows) and it was almost too quiet, with no music and only a few others there chatting. the total price was $8.50 or so with tax (i just had water). i'm kind of ambivalent here, i like having this kind of restaurant choice in the area, but i'd also like it to be better than it is so i would feel better recommending it to others and such.
24th- edina grill, edina (b)
instead of the usual breakfast here, we went for dinner, and i actually got dinner. seafood stew. tomatoes, potato chunks, 2 mussels, three shrimp, and some bluefin tuna and salmon served with crostini with rouille (a la bouillabaisse). it was pretty decent and filling and reasonably priced, though the tuna and salmon were on the overcooked side. mrs. brk had the fish and chips. ditto. though the chips were a bit off somehow. service was pretty good despite the fairly busy place.
27th- big 10, minneapolis (b+)
i've not been to the original one in minneapolis in ages. the hopkins one is more convenient in general. i had the usual, turkey half sub and fries with that. we got some seasoned sour cream which tasted like the color pink and was odd. the grill and other cooking equipment here have more years of seasoning so the food just inexplicably tastes better than it does in hopkins. maybe only slightly, and maybe it's only perception, but it does. why we didn't get one turkey sub instead of two halves we shall never know.
weirdass music here... metallica, deeee lite, n'sync, abba, ini kamoze (that would be 'here comes the hotstepper' from the movie pret-a-porter)... etc. brought back some memories.
why do bars have music and tvs with different channels all over the place? do you need to talk, eat, listen, and watch at the same time? anyway....
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