6th- dixie's on grand, st. paul
7th- brit's pub, minneapolis
8th- dragon cafe, shakopee
9th- taste of thailand, apple valley
15th- hunan restaurant, bloomington
22nd- crossroads deli, minnetonka
28th- buca di beppo, eden prairie
6th- dixie's on grand, st. paul (c)
mrs. brk had a $50 tco gift certificate to here, so we went on a tuesday to get another tco credit. makes sense. she also brought along a friend, as it would've been tough to use it in one go otherwise.
i think it's one of those places that seems to have been around forever, but i'm pretty sure it's not. it's also one of those places who need to update their web site menu or state that it's representative, as there were some major discrepencies in prices, for one... and things like the online menu said some things come with two sides, and they came with one.
anyway, food. that's what you're reading for (probably). i was the only one who got a first course, the crab soup. quite nice, creamy, seasoned perfectly. i would've liked lump crab instead of stringy crab, but hey, it worked. quite nice. though a bit spendy for a bowl of soup, around $6. though it had crab, it was still... soup. we all got a baking powder biscuit then, too. not my favorite bread, but hey, it's a southern place. most breads are good if you slather butter and honey on them, like we did with these.
i was supposed to have a fried shrimp po' boy for the main course, but it was more of a regular sandwich... scant remoulade, sad tomato bits, a random bit of lettuce here and there, served on a too-large, too soft bun (not toasted) that fell apart really quickly. there was lots of shrimp, but they were just ok. i got the mashed potato with cream gravy side, but had to send the first one back, as it was very cold. the new one was hot, but just ok.
mrs. brk also had to send her crab cakes back to be reheated... they were made of the same crab strings (not lumps) that were in the soup, and came with a jalapeno tartar sauce that obliterates the flavor of the crab cake when you use it. odd, that. especially as they had no alternate tartar sauce. so that was less than thrilling. she got fries as a side, but they, too, were slightly below average.
her friend got the jambalaya, which was actually good, though a bit rice-heavy. it came with too-dry cornbread. her side was the southern-style green beans, which turned out to be some canned green beans with bacon thrown in. not thrilling, either.
service was a bit flaky, but earnest. there were a few random delays there. the space is interesting, and they had surprisingly decent bathrooms. for some reason i thought they would be worse. not sure why. maybe the southern angle.
7th- brit's pub, minneapolis (b+)
good thing i ate here before pub quiz, as vincent's was packed with the pre-concert going orchestra hall crowd. i wasn't in the mood for fried things, so i didn't do the happy hour menu, but got a bowl of cock-a-leekie soup... only partially for the highly amusing name... a classic scottish soup of chicken, leeks and barley simmered in a rich chicken broth (cut and paste time again). quite good and very filling, though i would've liked to taste a few more leeks. it served with decent, though small, hunk of bread and good butter. and very quickly, i may add. so hey, that's another thing i can eat here.
8th- dragon cafe, shakopee (c)
so everyone i was with liked their lunch a lot more than i liked mine, but there was no way to order the lo mein spicy. maybe it was because i'm used to a different lo mein, with more veg, no large pieces chicken (there was no vegetarian lo mein), and flat long noodles rather than the small, tiny tiny noodles in this dish.
a little more flavor would not have hurt the dish, either. the fried rice was ok, the cream cheese wontons were just odd, in a crispy way. maybe my taste buds are just out of whack and need a tune up or something. it seems these days i'm getting a lot of food that has no food taste to it... in this case, even dumping soy sauce didn't help. maybe it's ingredient quality. je ne sais pas.
the menu has low prices, and you do get a lot of food, and i am not sure if that's good, bad, or neither. it's an american-style chinese restaurant (hey, it's in shakopee, what do you want?). if i tried something else here, i'd do takeout, though, as it's in scott county, which had no ordinance against smoking in restaurants, and the barrier between the two sections is pretty nonexistant. ick.
9th- taste of thailand, apple valley (d)
st. paul is not apple valley, and what works in one doesn't quite in the other.
the weird grotty charm of the dive-y down st. paul location oddly works in it's favor. maybe it's the music playing, or the many people eating and the string of people stopping by for takeout. maybe it's the service, which is brisk and and runs on the good side of efficient.
however, the apple valley location seems run down and sad, from the sticky tables to the not quite clean-looking 70's green shag carpet, to the silent grim determination on the face of the diner when they have waited 15-20 minutes for an entree when they didn't order an appetizer.
it seems longer than it is in that bleak place.
(and no, it was not that busy in the place, and they didn't have too large of a to-go order they were working on as far as i could tell... and i had my order in before the few others in the place.)
what's weird is that it can't be all that old of a place (per their web site), but when they took the space over, they half-assed tried something with the walls and slapped on some pictures and things up on them, left the rest in it's dying state, and called it a day. it's not welcoming, it's depressing as hell.
and yeah, this is one of the times someone may disagree on the grade... but this particular restaurant is depressing to eat in, so no matter how good the food is, it's not a place you want to be in at all, which impacts the whole of the dining experience.
and when the server tries the old 'it's only been...' and trails off when they realize just how long it has been, well... it's not a happy thing.
but i really wanted my own pra ram long song ( a mild peanut curry sauce on steamed spinach) with tofu. but i messed up, or maybe they did, as the tofu was fried. next time i do take out at this location ('cause that's a 'hell no' on actually eating there) or go to another, i will specified the not-fried tofu in this dish, as the fried doesn't quite work, texturally... it's chewy, which is wrong for the curry. the smooth unfried tofu, well, that's the thing.
they should also clip the spinach stems, as the unclipped ones don't soften like the rest of the spinach and also detract from the dish. the sauce was still tasty, but that's about all.
so... in a depressing space with a rude service vibe (very much an f), with food i know they could do better on (c+ on this particular meal). that's why the harsh grade. i feel like warning people to not eat here, but maybe do takeout, possibly because if you want thai in apple valley, this may be it.
(interesting aside, someone was surprised they couldn't get chow mein here.)
15th- hunan restaurant, bloomington (a-)
it's been so long since i've had chinese food... a whole week. this lot, though, completely different. mrs. brk and i were headed to steak and ale (possible motto- 'yes, we still exist') but they inexplicably had half an hour or more wait, as did the red lobster (her choice, fyi... she pays, etc.). so we ended up here, though i did try to convince her to go to tandoor next door.
but i coped, as this was good. fresh, didn't taste of msg, very reasonable prices for a dinner for two- $21 gets you two bowls of soup, two apps, two of a selection of main courses, a ton of fried rice, lots of hot tea, and an almond cookie. (it was actually enough food for each of us to take home another dinner.)
we both had the egg drop soup, with extra-tasty broth, and split some vegetarian egg rolls and cream cheese puffs, both of which were the right crispness. for the main course, the sesame chicken was hot and crispy and didn't have any of that frozen chicken rubber texture that strikes this dish so often. the kung pao chicken was tender and tasty and was not as gummy and cartilage-filled as many renditions are. all dishes tasted fresh.
maybe it's because usually i get my chinese food from a buffet, and this was cooked to order and served right away. anyway, service was quick (except during the takeout orders, where it slowed a bit). and the place is not crowded with pictures and bric-a-brack and such that many places tend to overdo, nor dingy like some places can get. we both liked it here.
they also look to have a chinese menu, too, not just the chinese-american we ordered.
22nd- crossroads deli, minnetonka (b-)
sometimes i think i should post about what i eat every day... i wonder if people would read the boringness of it. what it has to do with crossroads... it's been over a year since i was last here, yet out of all the menu selections i of course ordered the same thing.
as the comments are pretty much the same... i'll quote myself... '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).' this time i asked for more dressing. the fries, previously acceptable, were still not that good... i can't recall how average or whatever they were previously. they were the kind with the weird crunchy coating and were underseasoned.
mrs. brk went with the broasted chicken, and her dinner was good, except for the weird gravy. it was half a chicken, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, and such. both meals came with bread, not enough pickles, and pickled beats (that's the app, more or less).
however, pricing and service were still odd. she got maybe twice as much food as i did for maybe $.70 more. (the sandwich clocking in still at around $11, vs. closer to $12 for her half a chicken). we got a new server, so the details were a bit odd... like after saying something like i'll be back with ketsup and your refill, i would get one or the other. it lasted throughout the meal, but at least the server seemed to be ok with it. they were trying.
28th- buca di beppo, eden prairie (b-)
so the whole frigging point of going to an italian place this close to the no-eating flour time was to get... pasta.
so did i get pasta? of course not.
i did have bread, i suppose that'll help tide me.
in fact, i had garlic bread and regular bread. the garlic was ok, but needed a bit more butter. and for that matter, perhaps more garlic. crunchy, sure, not tons of flavor.
then i had potatoes, and more potatoes.
(though really, i kind of want pasta, still.)
since it is buca, i find myself ordering the garlic mashed no matter what else i get there. i quite like them here. when they're warm, that is. alas, when we got them, they were not so much warm. and by the time we were able to flag down the server (who seemed to not want to look at our table), they were not so happy. so got new ones.
we also tried a newer dish on the menu (per mrs. brk's choice), the gnocchi al telefono (gnocchi n a light marinara sauce with fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil, per the cut and paste). so yeah, i had tatoes with tatoes. and some bread, and some bread that came with the meal. my kind of meal, no? if i only had more cheese in it... anyway....per the new york times, it's called 'al telefono' as the mozzarella is supposed resemble phone wires when melted. not a lot of basil, however. and i pictured the sauce more of a regular marinara with the cheese on top, but the cheese is in the sauce.
mrs. brk was thinking it should have been different, somehow, until i explained to her that gnocchi are more of a comfort food thing. she was picturing something more... exciting or something. anyway, it was ok, but i don't think i'd order it again. they have better things on the menu.
she did like her meatball (on the side order part of the menu)... that was always mr, brk's favorite buca food... the meatball in the marianra.
as mentioned, the service wasn't the best, though when the manager stopped to ask how things were and we told them about the tatoes, they did take it off the bill (though we did explain we had them heat it up and it was fine). that was nice of them. with the $10 off coupon we had (and our leftovers), it was very reasonable for a per meal cost.
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