5th- woody's grille, plymouth
6th- vincent a restaurant, minneapolis
7th- pastrami jack's, eden prairie
10th- northcoast, wayzata
12th- stella's fish cafe and prestige oyster bar, minneapolis
18th- kfc, shakopee
21st- brit's pub, matty b's urban bar and grill, minneapolis
22nd- sea salt eatery, minneapolis
29th- broadway pizza, apple valley
30th- szechuan star, edina
5th- woody's grille, plymouth (d)
brk breakfast. waiting at podium, as instructed, to be seated takes way too long. omelet number one is bad (wrong ingredients, some burnt, with a large hole in the omelet, and takes over 20 minutes to get out with no orders on deck). omelet number two is missing ingredients. rather than waiting for another one for ages, i opt to have them transported to my table by themselves. both omelets are crap (rubbery eggs, most inner ingredients are too raw or burnt). the hash browns are undercooked. the toast is, well, not burnt. the new breakfast cook has no idea how to make breakfast. the server is tops, though, so the grade reflects good service on a complete crap meal. i don't get charged for the meal. why is getting a decent breakfast out so difficult?
6th- vincent a restaurant, minneapolis (c+)
once again i try to get a side of fries, and they don't hit the table with the rest of the meal. what's up with that? hrm.
so yeah, the happy hour service is still kind of iffy. they brought the fries after i inquired as to there whereabouts. they're still tops, and after the gaffe i think they brought me the largest portion of happy hour fries i've had here- the order's kind of small, understandably.
i also got a flat bread pizza-type affair that was supposed to have the following: sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, pesto, smoked (or smocked, as the original, funnier, typo read) chicken, tomini cheese, and peppadew pepper. it tasted very much like tomato, with a hint of chicken and cheese, and the rest of the ingredients were not so much in evidence. it was overly tomato-y, and could've been crisper.
they can do better with this. disappointing.
(though of course, every else's food was good to great... the burger with fries, potato-leek soup, chicken morsels, etc, and they still pour a nice kir royale, so worth happy hour prices and more.)
7th- pastrami jack's, eden prairie (b-)
since i was largely feeling ambivalent about dinner, i had the turkey reuben again (though hey, last time i did get something different). we now have a card where we can get some cash off (if we buy two drinks, natch), so it saves a bit so the sandwiches don't seen hideously overpriced. the bread on the sandwich still has integrity problems (needs more toasting so you can pick up the sandwich and eat it sans disintegration), but is decent. the fries are tolerable.
this is one of the few places i recall that has diet sprite (or diet 7 up or what have you) on their fountain. points for that, and the very large glasses, with lots of refills. nice. i enjoy the pickles quite a lot, probably more than the rest of the meal- sour and half-sour dills. quite decent service, unless you get new servers.
10th- northcoast, wayzata (c)
ok, it's weird when people don't tell you they have a regular menu besides a brunch buffet at a restaurant. apparently at northcoast if you sit upstairs on the patio you can get the menu, but if you want to sit on the waterside on the main floor, you're brunch buffet bound, baby.
which i would not recommend. it's not crap, but it's not good. you know how at buffets there's usually one thing you can find that you go back for at least once? here, maybe fresh cut pineapple. that's it. that's one-third of the good things about restaurant, the others being the lovely view of the lake, and the dessert we got because it was someone's birthday (it said brulee on the receipt- though there was no charge- but it was more like a chocolate mousse with a hard, glittery shell and some decorated chocolate pieces with strawberry bits). sad, isn't it?
the rest, eh. the rest of the fresh fruit was a mixed lot, all baked goods were ok, not great, the waffles looked sad so i didn't have any, the french toast wasn't that... french or toasted. they had crepe 'station' where you could put a variety of random things on crepes (everything from the trad cherries to pb, marshmallows, and cashews... it was a bit odd), weird-looking scrambled eggs, ok breakfast potatoes, 'interesting' breakfast pizza, skippable muffins and a sad sweet roll on the more breakfasty side of side, plus brownies that had a few too many flies near them. (ick.)
the more lunch side of things i didn't have much off of, just some smoked salmon and peel and eat shrimp. there was an unidentified soup (anyone up for random soup?), some mixed greens with one or two other veg, some fried chicken (i was scared to try it), a weird-textured mashed potatoes (our theory was that they were frozen mashed- a step above the boxed instant, but ain't nothing like the real thing), and unattended carving station with some meat... lumps, and boxes of cereal.
they also had an omelet bar. nice in theory- you get a list of items and you can check of any and all of what you want. the result wasn't crap- they're generous with the fillings, even the crab, and the eggs were not rubbery. but again, it was just ok.
off the drinks menu, the mimosas were heavy on the oj, but relatively a good buy with brunch- priced at $3.50 (you can also get champagne for that, too). that would be the only bargain... the stated price of this meal was $18.95 pre-tax (i can see why there were not many takers- so not worth it at that price). it would've been better to order off the menu. really, it would've.
service was a bit slow... there was some plate pile up, and after mentioning the omelet station, there was no hint as to how it worked or where it was from the server.
we were at a taller table, with very heavy metal chairs. let's just say maneuvering the chairs to sit close to the table was not pretty. what dumb chairs for them to have. yes, they won't blow away, but really, they should all be lower (they had some lower ones, too), or everyone needs to sit a foot or two from the table.
the person i was with held some hope for the regular menu, but the real attraction to this place is the view. you'd be better off putting together a picnic and eating nearby.
12th- stella's fish cafe and prestige oyster bar, minneapolis (b)
triple word score on this one. as mentioned last time, we maximized our stella's value by booking the table at open table (2000 points gets you a $20 gift check to use at any open table restaurant), going on a tuesday for tco tuesday score (4 restaurants on tuesdays gets you the $50 gift certificate), and we had a two for one card.... well worth it.
my sandwich was better this time, surprisingly. i had the catfish po' boy, mrs. brk stuck with the shrimp. both suffered from large bread syndrome (too much bread for the catfish/shrimp, though mine stacked up better). i'd get it again. the fries are still above average (and oddly way better with malt vinegar than ketsup, though not frites-style). the coleslaw was good only on the sandwich, and the pickled veg that came with it were not pickled. the food is still big.
service was odd. i think we had a new person, and at the end of the meal there was slowness getting the check and a box for leftovers. when we were seated, the booth we were shown had random bits in it (gum? paper? food? all of the above?), i asked for a new one.
18th- kfc, shakopee (d+)
don't judge me, dammit. i am not sure why i ended up here.
maybe once every decade or so i have to go to a kfc buffet to remind myself how much i don't like their chicken, their weird mashed potatoes, and suchlike.
the coleslaw ain't too bad, however. the mac and 'cheese' not the worst i've had, and the biscuits are edible. but i am so not sure what (or why, or any question word, really) about the fakehoney and fakebutter they have to put on the biscuits. if you like the stuff, the price is reasonable for lunch. it's just that i don't want to eat much of it. it would probably be cheaper to get the slaw to go than spend the money on the buffet for me.
the rest of the buffet was odd (well, perhaps odder). the salad bar part was skippable (lettuce and toppings, more or less, versus the kind that has vegetables besides lettuce). as for the rest, there were some unidentifiable things (was that stuffing or apple crisp? i am honestly not sure and did not want to find out), inexplicable things (peas in gravy, not sure that that's about), gross looking things (corn floating in something that was probably hot water, but you never know) and banana pudding for dessert, which was actually not completely crap (high honors!).
the last time i was at a kfc buffet (it was about 10 years ago), it was larger, and had better stuff (like their fries, too, instead of just the weirdtatoes).
so now i don't have to go again for another 10 years or so.
funny- overzealous employee cleared off my table when i went to get dessert.
21st- brit's pub, matty b's urban bar and grill, minneapolis (c, c+)
mrs. brk and i were at brit's to do the cosgrove quiz (we were doing well as a two person team until my inability to recognize any beatles song, etc., sunk us in the music round) and decided to get the chicken wings before the show, as it were. loved the blue cheese dressing, the sauce was nice, but the wings themselves were overcooked, dry, and stringy.
matty b's... i guess they must make money during game nights. when we were here, there were more than a few servers standing around with not a lot to do, which made our slightly below average service all the more sad. (slow, missing stuff, etc.). as it happens now and then, i got better food than everyone (well, everyone in this case being one person).
ironically, beatles songs played the whole time we were there.
anyway.... i had the fries cooked in rendered duck fat (off the app menu). the ones made with the regular spuds were lovely, though could use a bit of crisp. the sweet potato fries were ok, but the grill chain (highland, longfellow, edina, etc.) does those better sans duck fat. they were served with sour cream. and they were also inexplicably served with shredded lettuce in the bottom of the paper cone, which just made it difficult to pick out the fries on the bottom and also made them cold. bizarre. the server wasn't sure what was up with that.
because sometimes i feel like i should eat more than fries for dinner, i also got the white bean chicken chili. the cheese melted on top and the sour cream (they love the sour cream here) were a nice touch, and the chili was good, though it needed more seasoning. and more chicken, for that matter.
mrs. brk's reuben sandwich needed more toasting, more sauerkraut, and the thousand island dressing they forgot to bring with it. the thousand island dressing, when brought out after a request, seemed to be ketsup, relish, and not mayo, but the house condiment, sour cream. it was odd.
so the food was average, the service was slow (it took almost 25 minutes to get the food out, and we were the only order in at the time), and the place in daylight kind of seems unfinished and ugly. the bathrooms were odd, too, like they forgot to add things when they were building or got the wrong size of sink or something. also, we had a two for one card, which is usually good on most menu items, but here they were good only on the entrees (not sandwiches, dinner salads, etc.), and most of the menu, especially the entrees, is strangely unappealing. i don't think i would go back. maybe the supper club, but this place feels like so much ennui when it's not game night.
22nd- sea salt eatery, minneapolis (a)
you know you've had a good lunch when you blow off whatever you were going to do after it because you have the need to nap, which is what i did immediately today. i could barely stay awake enough to drive home. yep, finally some good eats this month (the food network won't sue me for using that, will they?)
lunch on a friday is a good time to come here, as apparently in the evening hours, especially on weekend nights, you have to wait around a million hours for dinner here. i was here with four other people- one person got the fish basket, which they loved, another the shrimp tacos, spicy in a good way, reportedly, and someone got the veggie tacos, which i can't pretend to understand (hey, let's go to the mexican restaurant for burgers later, ok?). i mean, these people get the pick of coastal seafoods. weird.
i know i've not had a soft-shelled crab sandwich since i visited north carolina... i've not tried one. it's minnesota, and in most every other place around here, i wouldn't bother to try one.
but here... it's best sandwich i've had in possibly years. the crab was crispy on the outside, nice and squishy on the inside (in a good way), on a large, very tasty bun with a bit of lettuce, tomato slices, a bit of mayo... after tossing some of my coleslaw on it and a few shots of hot sauce... oh, my. you should get yourselves down there and have one.
and since the dessert offering was sebastian joe's ice cream, i though the black cherry squid ink would be appropos. unlike a lot of flavors, it's not sweet. the black cherry was strong in this one (sorry, had to go there), and the ink made it a bit salty and it turns your tongue an interesting color.
the tables outside near the falls provide your scenice outdoor dining area. and you should eat outside here, as the music inside was at earsplitting, no conversations allowed volume when we were there. it's be perfect if they turned it down a bit and had some fries to go with the meals (the stuff they serve begs for it). but still...
29th- broadway pizza, apple valley (c+)
a lunch buffet, and by far not as scary of an experience as the world buffet of ickiness. that was depressing. this, not so much. the salad bar part was not that impressive, though it had an ok variety of stuff in a small space, plus some decent blue cheese dressing. there were some cold sub sandwiches on the buffet, that didn't seem necessary.
there were about six pizzas, and i had bits of four of them... the cheese was a thin crust, which was ok (not enough cheese for me), the veggie suffered from soggy crust but had lots of veggies on it, the chicken with white sauce was the best of the lot, though both it and the veggie could've benefitted from the removal of the tomato slices. the cherry dessert pizza was interesting. the breadsticks and cinnamon bits were skippable (though i tried them), as was the pasta and sauce (i skipped them). nothing too impressive, nothing too bad.
good service, though. with kind of 'old school' server that have probably been there for years and seen it all. the place is very pizza parlor, and has one of those train sets running along a track that hangs from the ceiling. it seems very old-fashioned in a been there forever sort of way, which is hard to come by in apple valley, i bet.
30th- szechuan star, edina (b-)
i kind of wonder how this place stays in business, as there's never more than a half-dozen tables filled when we go. large and numerous takeout orders? lots of lunch business?
anyway, not as good as last time, but the veggie lo mein, what i was in the mood for, was tasty, as was the egg drop soup. that's what i had most of. most other things were eh to ok. nothing horrible, though. that's a good sign. service was quick and cheerful.
i think this will be the last buffet for a while. it's kind of hard to find a good one that stays good.
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