4th- the lowbrow, minneapolis
11th- cici's pizza, plymouth
16th- pizza luce, hopkins
17th- good day cafe, golden valley
22nd- sun street breads, minneapolis
25th- bruegger's bagels, minneapolis/haute dish, minneapolis/lone spur, minnetonka
4th- the lowbrow, minneapolis (b)
i was thinking that during labor day weekend, the wait at tilia for a relatively early dinner wouldn't be as bad... and it wasn't, only 45 minutes vs. the usual hour and a half or so. not wanting to wait that long (i'll have to try an early lunch maybe?) we started towards nicollet to see what would catch our eye.
mom picked out the lowbrow, i guess she was in a burger mood. indeed, she had the namesake burger. like all their burgers it was made with 100% minnesota grass-fed beef. it came witth shredded lettuce, tomato and onion ($7.75) and she opted for fries instead of a salad. even though she ordered it medium, the burger still was tender and flavorful, but a tad underseasoned- besides ketsup and mustard, she did add salt to the beef. (and unlike myself, she usually doesn't maximize the salt in everything)
after inquiring if it were 'real' turkey (not lunch meat) i went for the turkey rueben ($8.75) and of course i opted for fries. the sandwich was served on a sourdough which i quite liked (though when the sever brought back it was from tribeca oven, a place that parbakes bread in new jersey, my thought was... 'huh.... it's not like we have no bakeries around here).
there were a few sandwich integrity issues, mostly as the bread wasn't lined up and the cheese had slid to one side so half of it didn't stick. and since the thousand island was on the side, i had to unstick part of one to get it on there. but as a turkey rueben goes, it was pretty solid on the flavor.
the fries were probably a bit better than the sandwich- they were crispy and skinny, i'd say maybe twice fried. since i had extra thousand island i didn't get mayo with them, but that would've been quite awesome. they were served hot and fresh too. a-/b+ on the fries, for that genre of them.
service was solid- i think there wasn't the usual mass there appears to be in many of the review i glanced at. we were seated right away, i got decent paced water refills, it didn't take ages for the food to come out. i will say some of the mural isn't something i wish to gaze at while eating, but i liked the rest of the decor, it was bright and airy (even the table, which had a smallish hole in it, though not big enough that anything could fall through- they were made from reclaimed douglas fir, per their facebook page, which is pretty cool). it was interesting and not quite the shea-clone that's a bit too popular nowadays.
11th- cici's pizza, plymouth (c-)
i was at cici's pizza/pasta/salad/dessert buffet in eagan about three years ago... and obviously it wasn't worth rushing back to. we only ended up at this one because mom wanted to try it, and she had some sort of deal where dinner and a beverage was less than $5 per person (and it's not that spendy to begin with). we've had worse for more money.
digging into my pointless memory bank, i remembed liking more or less just the mac and cheese 'za, so when i saw none i inquired, and they made one and stuck it on the buffet- props for that. most of the staff seemed friendly (in a trained to do so way, but not in a 'i hate my life and i am doing this only because i get paid' way), but the table wasn't cleared at all.
but hey, i got as much of the mac and cheese pizza i wanted, as boy, was that place not at all busy. which meant most of the other foods sat out perhaps a bit too long. the chicken soup (i did try it this time- it was better than you think it would be),
i skipped the very sad salads this time (wilted), the breadsticks were better when i had them fresh, the marinara was still decent (not the sweet kind). i had a slice of some sort of spinach pizza before the mac and cheese one, it was... um.. edible. the mac and cheese was of course not as good as i remembered, but being hot and fresh it outshone pretty much everything else
i ate. the brownies on the dessert table looked scary to me, but mom liked them. the rolls had a texture issue from sitting. the dessert pizza was the best of the lot. which isn't saying much.
the mac and cheese pizza and the pasta in marinara share the same noodles (they're too large for the soup and a bit large for the pizza). the marinara is on the pizza, pasta, and as a dipping sauce for the breadsticks. everything with chicken has the same chicken cubes. the same ingredients are on a lot of pizza. you can see the economy of doing that. but it's a very industrial way to cook that loses flavor when you do that. i used more than the usual red pepper flakes....
overall not a place i'd return to dinner at unless there were larger crowds and i were really really hungry. otherwise there's better pizza out there... it may be spendier, but probably more worth eating.
16th- pizza luce, hopkins (b)
since a pizza was my reward for helping someone out, this time i went with the lil' gracie ('mozzarella cheese and red sauce topped with veggie sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, and our muffaletta blend of green and black olives, garlic and roasted red peppers) with real cheese instead of the soy we got last time. plus i got some extra goat cheese on it, because doesn't goat cheese make a lot of things taste better? (it was $27-28 or so for a large, with tax).
and it probably was the vegan cheese that made it a bit more problematic last time as it all held together a lot better on this go around. i think both the last and this one were both delivered, so that wouldn't be the factor. the cheese version could still use better coverage and, well... more cheese. the goat cheese tended to clump when it melted, so that didn't help everywhere and there was no overall feeling and barely the flavor of cheese in a lot of spots, it probably acted as glue holding things together and becoming one with them (cheeseborg?). when reheated with more cheese covering the bare spots, it was even better.
we were down to our last free artichoke dip coupon, alas. (again, that's around $7-8 when not free) that comes with two focaccia loaves. this one was more creamy than the last, and the heat was more pronounced, both of which were improvements. even the bread was cut better and tasted fresher.
17th- good day cafe, golden valley (c)
once more not at the intended restaurant, and once more i was boring and indecisive and got the grilled rachel ($11.95). this time the place we were going was randomly closed. i have bad restaurant karma in many many ways. anyway, the sandwich here was not as good as the lowbrow version, nor were the fries.
the turkey was rotisserie, but it was too uniform to have been made and cut there (in my opinion, i could be wrong), it was on a pretzel roll, which was tasty, but caused a huge sandwich integrity problem, and there wasn't a lot of cheese, sauerkraut, or a lot of thousand island dressing to add on. the fries were average, though they did have a few herbs on them. both items were undersized, portionwise. or maybe just 'real' portions that were overpriced for what you get... the lowbrow was cheaper, larger, and better for the same meal.
mom really loved her liver and onions plate with fries ($14.50). well, the liver and onions part, her fries were just ok. really good liver, though, she said.
service was also ok, though i was a bit underimpressed for the room being half full. it's easier to get in here in the nighttime during the weekend for sure, and they do some breakfasts all day. but since i have bad breakfast karma more so than other meals, i didn't quite want to go there.
22nd- sun street breads, minneapolis
i've been wanting to get to sun street since it's opened, but per usual i always have to wait a while until the construction scents go away before i can go places and be... well, less allergic at least. ended up for lunch, have been wanting to try the biscuit sandwich, so i did.
the basic biscuit plus (you get egg, cheese and meat or fake meat, $5.75) was of the 'best ever' persuasion. those are the real thing. don't even put them in the same category as anything from a can or mix. loved them. i'm also giving them major props for the pinto patty- it was a very nice vegetarian take on a breakfast meat, especially the texture, without having to rely on premade goods that are made to look like fake sausage. i would love to see a spicy version of that with the sandwich. the basted egg was good, but i was able to get more of a yolk drip going- yes, it would've made eating it messier, but then it would've made it tastier and less dry- i used ketsup for that instead.
the yolk would've been nice to dip fries ($3.50 for a side) in. i have heard good things about the fries, but while above average, they didn't blow me away like i thought they may. ah, well. a strong 'b' for those. they needed a bit more crisp on the outside and a shade more salt. i would've liked them better dipped in mayo, but really that holds true for a lot of things.
the people i was with also gave the place high marks for their sandwiches, especially the bread. they do have real turkey in their turkey sandwich (as one would expect from here). always a plus.
it's a counter service place, but it is welcome there. (which was good as i was feeling way indecisive over what to order... lunch or breakfast). they have not so many tables, i can see why it's packed for weekend brunch.
25th- bruegger's bagels, minneapolis/haute dish, minneapolis/lone spur, minnetonka
bruegger's bagels, minneapolis (b-)
woke up this morning with a very specific craving for their cinnamon raisin bagel with honey walnut cream cheese ($2.25). since i've not had one in ages, i went with it. i think i wanted the bagel texture, it's not very cinnamon, though you can taste raisins. they used to do more of a generous schmear though, there wasn't hardly any on there. and the upselling was just odd.
haute dish, minneapolis (b-)
despite it being the brunch menu, i believe since we ate closer to 2 pm than actual brunch time, my worst restaurant karma of the meal didn't hold. i got the chicken and waffle, sans bacon. it does say waffles on the menu, but i got waffle so that is what i'm going with. it was a sourdough version and, well, i've had worse, but it's not really the star of the show, even with the maple ice cream served with it (awesomely).
the buttermilk fried chicken was the best i've had in ages (though i don't usually ordered chicken). i'd like to eat that with almost everything, but finally get it with waffles. crisp and tasty on the outside, so very very tender and moist on the inside. want more. want with potato products. but it still is very nice with waffles and maple ice cream.
my friend loved her ropa vieja (slow cooked, shredded meat) served on top of sweet potato hash with poached eggs on top, charred corn and avocado on the side and charmed cherry tomatoes on top of the lot. the hell fire sauce is on the side ($13).
schoenfeld is a master of menu planning with taste and textures playing very nicely together, they both come in layers, too. but i think it may be the b crew in the place on some sundays- what my plate looked like and pictures on the review sites? two completely different things. the waffle, as mentioned, suffered. sevice was... well, ok. for menu prices it could be better. they were more on their game when i went for dinner and they were more crowded.
lone spur, minnetonka (d)
i stupidly ordered the salad here- well, i figured from the other things i ate today i should lay off a bit, so that's the direction i went. the house salad ($7.45). it was 'mixed' greens (a mammoth hill of iceberg and romain, perhaps) from a bag, sliced olives from a can, presliced mushrooms, a few slices of sad tomato (no excuse for that), and maybe three wee slices of red onion.
i requested two kinds of dressings on the side- an uninteresting blue cheese and a surprisingly good avocado ranch. i wasn't told there was an upcharge for the blue cheese. it was only $.50 but it's the principle of the matter. anyway, the whole thing was not fresh-tasting and about halfway through i got bored with chewing the lettuce and sorted most of it out. it came with texas bread (supposedly toast, but it wasn't quite).
mom thought her meal was below par here also, more average than usual and she had the 2/3ths rib platter ($13.45), and they're usually good at meats. i tried a few things off of her plate- the steak fries didn't taste like anything (always weird when that happens) and the chicken noodle soup had good tasty chunks of chicken and noodles a bit too wide for the cup they were in, but was in a sauce that reminded me of cream gravy- it was almost more like the interior of a pot pie-like than soup.
service had a bit too much wait, and again, major points off for the not letting us know about the upcharge.
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