1st- kfc. shakopee
3rd- satay 2 go, apple valley
5th- good earth, edina
16th- american pie pizza, minnetonka
18th- red moon chinese cafe, eden prairie
26th- french meadow bakery and cafe, minneapolis
29th- black sheep coal fired pizza, minneapolis
1st- kfc. shakopee (c-)
since it wasn't really my choice for the dinner, i ate mostly what i know i like from the takeout spread. like anthony bourdain, i do have an odd fondness for the mac and 'cheese' from here (he admitted it on his show). so lots of that. and the slaw. the biscuits are also passable. i did try the popcorn chicken, which i hate a lot less than their regular chicken, though why it didn't have some sort of sauce with it i will never know, and mostly don't care. it could've used it. ignored: beans (why?), mashed potatoes and gravy, fakebutter, fakehoney.
3rd- satay 2 go, apple valley (a)
same as it ever was. need to get my noodles in before next week ("mee goreng, $7.95. an indo-china dish with a flare. egg noodle stir fry with chicken, tofu cube, egg, and vegetables"). the other people i was with had the chicken briyani, a spicy and sweet chicken dish served with coconut rice ($8.75). mine was, of course, better, but theirs was still good. i love the noddle dishes here. and i got some red bean paste buns to go, also. they make nice car dinners. or breakfasts. anytime, really...
5th- good earth, edina (f+)
so very many things went wrong with the meal that i am only giving them a + because we didn't have to pay for anything, and they did offer dessert.
after waiting too long to have someone get to the table after we sat down (within minutes of us leaving, in face), we were ready to order when the server finally got there (with water, at least).
mrs. brk opted for the three smaller courses for $9.95 or so- a cup of soup or what turned out to be more or less a saucer of mixed greens, you get a choice of fish with black beans and salsa, or bbq chicken with pineapple and some rice pilaf (she opted for the second), and a lemon bar or fresh fruit for dessert.
bread and what i think is some sort of red pepper hummus (no explanation) was brought to the table in what was to be the only reasonable interlude of time that happened in the source of service. mrs. brk had her tiny salad. fine so far. though the multigrain rolls were too cold, and one of the crackers (a rolled one) wasn't crisp. one out of three- the other cracker was fine.
alas, more problems... because people who had sat down quite a while after we did, say it with me... got their food first. now, you know what mrs. brk ordered, but i had... chicken nachos ($7.95 for nachos plus $3 for the chicken). a dish that is not notorious for time-consuming prep and cookery. even with the chicken.
we would've asked the server before then, but they were off in their own private idaho, i can only assume. when we were finally able to flag them down, they chose not to address why the other people were served first. just that the food would be out 'right away' (and i gave mrs. brk the five minute notice after he said 'right away,' as if it wasn't there by then, we were out like scouts on a new route).
this is when i was both practical and tempting fate, and uttered... 'at this point you just know that something with be horribly wrong with my food, and/or there's non-food things in it.'
at that point the manager popped by the booth and said something that they knew not why the food took that long, it should not have, and they would pay for the nachos (the spendier of the two dishes, i may add). that was sporting.
then the food finally got there. and now it's irony time, because you can just guess that it was maybe passably warm. including the sour cream and guacamole on top of the nachos, typically cold items. the items that were supposed to be hot, like the chicken and rice, were not. so yes, it had been sitting there, not picked up, for a good amount of time. so it wasn't just the kitchen, was it?
so we were eating, and i wasn't paying too much attention to things. the stoneground chips were the only good thing about my nachos, the rest was underseasoned (beans, guacamole) or unbalanced (not enough cheese), and there was maybe half a handful of chicken on it, not worth $3 for sure. near the bottom of the pile, i was picking through things for one last bite... that was the time for the plastic. a piece of white, curly plastic (think dental floss diameter, but sturdier) about an inch and a half to two inches long.
when the server finally dared to return, we let them know of (1) the plastic and (2) the chicken, in fact, had sat so long (and so undersauced) it was dry and not tasty- mrs. brk gave just the food in her meal a d. she did complain about that. at that point, when the server came back again, we were told that the entire meal was free, and we could get dessert.
i opted for a lemon bar (usually $2.10) because i knew they had them and didn't want to stick around any longer than i had to.
not at all surprisingly at this point... both mine and mrs. brk's had crust that was so cold, dense and unbreakable, we couldn't use the fork they gave us to eat it. so i didn't..
i hadn't been here in almost five years. now i will be back... bloody well never.
16th- american pie pizza, minnetonka (a)
you know how i have bad restaurant karma and get crap service (see above) and find things in my food (see above also) all the time? well, omg, the opposite happened here.
since it was time to consume mass quantities of bread and such again, mom and i hit the dinner buffet here. first off, i think it's usually $10.50 or so (maybe- math is hard) but there was a sign saying that it was 20% off that night so it was $8.49 per person. and they let us used our $7 coupon off (coupons that large are rarely good for buffets). so hey, score big on the prices, $10.67 for two all you can eat dinners.
as i scanned the buffet, i noticed they had all things i can't or don't eat on top of pizzas. i am willing to pick the stuff i can't/don't eat off, but in the interesting of pacing myself (they have salads and pastas available, too) i asked if there was anything with say chicken, or plain cheese or just veg coming out soon. the server checked in with the kitchen and said no... but... get this... they'd make a small veg one just for our table. that's $10.99 worth of pizza right there. and what a gesture that was. some kickass customer service. the kind that rarely happens to me.
so while the pizza is being made, we start with the salad bar, which had a decent small selection of fresh cut veg that didn't taste bagged or stale or look brown or weird, toppings, and a few pasta salads that tasted homemade in a good way. the breadsticks were nicely garlicky (we opted out of the marinara). the salad dressings were pretty good, too.
pasta course next. whereas mom opted for the spaghetti with mariana (she said it was quite good for what we think was a meatless sauce), i of course opted for the mac and cheese, as there is no choice for me when it comes to cheese. the surprise here is that it's the best i've had in quite a long time... just creamy goodness. not floury, not fussy, not too al dente, with a nice creamy cheese sauce. it's all good.
when the pizza came out, we weren't exactly clamoring for more food, but we did make a dent in it. it was pretty ok- lots of veg and cheese and such. about average. but here the grade's more about the service (water glasses filled quite right too) than the pizza (though it is in the name) or the decor (clean but very plain)... it's an upgrade for that, but it's still pretty b+ without the extra mile.
18th- red moon chinese cafe, eden prairie (b-)
kind of average, smallish buffet ($10.49 for dinner one, though they only do that friday and saturday, plus we had $1 off each buffet coupon for up to six people from their web site). though they seem to use fresher ingredients than most in some of the dishes i tried. the lo mein veg were either fresh or came from much better frozen ones than you usually see, but they went with a smaller noodle than the usual spaghetti or fettucini.
since it was a small buffet, and they had a decent amount of shellfish (shrimp by itself, and scallops that were deep fried, for instance) and pork (egg rolls, pot stickers, etc.) and such, there wasn't much for me to choose from. the cream cheese wontons were crispy warm, but got cold quickly. the chicken wings were decent (and they had legs, too). the problem i had with some of the dishes (like general tso's chicken) was that even though they were tagged spicy, they so were not. not even 'minnesota' spicy. that was a bit disappointing. desserts were the usual 'feel free to skip.'
in general, i've had worse buffets, and this one's decent enough. faint praise? perhaps. i think if there was more i could/would eat i would've liked it a bit better, as the people i was eating with would agree. the service was friendly, with decent water-filling. the decor is almost the usual, but a bit more modern, maybe because of the unique construction. the lite fm in the background was an interesting choice.
oh, i believe it's obligatory for me to mention that they twitter their specials and such.
26th- french meadow bakery and cafe, minneapolis (b)
apparently i didn't think to check on my last time out here, my bad lunch. i did remember the better dinner we had before that, though. again, we started with the tasting plate.
this time out it was the mushroom pate again (still good), a generous dollop of a nice duck liver mousse (more a pate) on a toast with nice strong mustard, cassees fenouil olives (supposedly tasting of fennel, i didn't get that flavor from them, they were still decent), a miel italiano honey (or honey italian honey, if you want to translate it, which goes into... if it's french honey why is the name italian in french, etc... maybe it's italian style honey.... so distracting for me to consider...), and a good sized hunk of the correct-temperature fourme d'ambert blue, which was most excellent with the honey and the balsamic figs on the plate. still $8, too. and whereas the bread was tasty with a variety of flavors, it would've been even better with the plate toasted or at least not cold. i'd say the plate was an a, but more of a a-/b+ with the cold bread.
mrs. brk was more impressed with her entree- scallop risotto ("arborio risotto with bay scallops, spanish chorizo, oven roasted
tomatoes, leeks, organic spinach, and parmigiano reggiano," $14). she would've liked larger scallops (but bays usually are small). the chorizo bits did spice up the dish nicely, even for someone who isn't into the sausage usually. she gave it an a-.
i ran into a problem. since it's national grilled cheese month (!), i was craving their grilled cheese (see also: grilled cheese fest- one of the best in town). which is not on their online or written dinner menu, nor on the lunch menu online (i didn't see the chalkboard menu, but was assured it's still on for lunch). i was told i could get a kid's grilled cheese, so i did.
the last time i wrote down the price of the adult one it was $6.99 (probably a bit more now) for two slices of large piece of organic sourdough (about 1.5 or more sizes of average slice of square bread), with cheddar and swiss with roasted red peppers, tomatoes, and dijon mustard. the kid's version was just white cheddar on the organic sourdough (same size as the adult) with the same organic tortilla chips and house-made salsa (still no fries, alas) for $5. i liked the adult one with the peppers and mustard (though sans the tomatoes in winter) better. i did dump the parm-reg from mrs. brk's salsa on mine, so it made it a shade more interesting. it was decent enough. i'd say this part of dinner was more a b-.
service was quite ok. above average, not great, though. the server seemed distracted or something. music this time was less blaring, mostly as it was live jazz (currently sunday-wednesday, but apparently that'll be gone soon... half priced wine night will stay). dinner was better than lunch, but has no grilled cheese. so... dilemma on when to go back again.
29th- black sheep coal fired pizza, minneapolis (b+)
best thin crust in town. ok, not saying tons as i am usually not a thin-crust pizza person (or even a medium for the most part... i miss the chicken alfredo pizza that you could get at the now-absent from these parts uno for a few months... best... pizza... ever... sigh). but this was more or less tasty, and not at all crisp like most thin crusts. just.... well... more pizza like. chewy.
it seems a bit spendy (and/or i am out of touch with pizza prices). our table of three split a 12" meatball $(9) and a 16" oyster mushroom, smoked mozzarella and rosemary one ($16 i think... the online menu reads more, but we got two sodas, a glass of wine, and both pizzas for $39 with tax, and the beverages were $10-$11 or so.... so something's off on the online menu price... math is hard!) and had two slices left over.
i tried the non-meatball part of the first, and boy, was that sauce tasty. i mainly concentrated on the fungus-laden one. it needed a hit more cheese and a hit more salt. probably as it had no sauce. which i think it needed. just a hint of white. or a bit more oil on the crust. and with both, you get a hint of coal flavor in some of the burned bits near the crust.
good service. they took my up on the 'bring me tons of water now to save time in the end' suggestion.... and our table... ok... i got the geek refs the server threw down (python, lebowski). amuse me now! it almost mitigated the 30 minutes plus wait. almost. and they gave me a taste of a wine to see if it was girly enough for me (wasn't) while we waited.
the room is very... insanely crowded and very loud basement. the chairs were interesting... they're metal and look solid and heavy and sturdy, but are very light. why they have music on i know not, as all you can hear is the base (how low can you go...).
was it worth the long, loud wait? hmmm.... well, everyone did put it near the tops of their pizza list... so... i'd just say it may be way easier to go the takeout route next time.
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