8th- key's cafe, minneapolis
10th- brit's pub, minneapolis
15th- aji japanese restaurant, hopkins
29th- c&g's smoking barbecue, minneapolis
8th- key's cafe, minneapolis (c-)
mom had a groupon for two breakfasts (at any time) and two fresh-squeezed ojs here. i figured going for brinner (breakfast for dinner) may minimize the brk that seems to be most acute the closer i get to breakfast. service was decent, though a bit slow on some of the refills. and we did get to swap the oj for other beverages free, which was good. we were both not feeling it that for dinner for some reason.
mom went for the spendiest breakfast allowed, $13.25 for two eggs, hash browns (instead of american fries), steak (other option: cajun pork chop) with sauteed mushrooms and sourdough toast for whole wheat ($.75 upcharge for the bread made in house). i went with two eggs scrambled with fresh spinach, fresh garlic and cream cheese, american fries (not hash browns), and went with the sourdough homemade toast (no upcharge, maybe because i hadn't hit my breakfast limit).
i find that hash browns tend to be served kind of very underdone to almost raw in most places, and that was the case here. thus my chosing the american fries in the first place (learning from brk). i liked that they used red potatoes, but they needed a lot more seasoning. but they were at least cooked through. they served a large pile of either one.
the eggs were too bitter between the spinach and the garlic, i wonder if they also had been seasoned better that would've helped. they were overcooked in addition to the bitterness, so that was disappointing. adding the mushrooms from mom's plate helped a bit there. those were tasty.
sadly what i liked best was the toast (though underdone) served with the house-made strawberry jam. not quite as sour as i like, but very thick-cut and tasty. but um, i can make toast at home that's good also. so there's that...
10th- brit's pub, minneapolis (b-)
i had a weirdly specific craving for a turkey burger on this day. since i had to be at brit's that evening and i knew they had one, i figured what they hell, why not try theirs ($9.95). and for food here, it was surprisingly edible. maybe they've just gotten better in the kitchen or maybe i'm just so used to things here being meh. both?
anyway, i did swap out the pepper jack cheese for cheddar. the cajun dill mayo was neither, just a very odd orange color. the lettuce fell out, i don't recall any onion (that was listed on the menu as an ingredient) and the tomato was sad. but the burger was not dry, and done to the correct shade of not pink without being overcooked. the bun was ok, but needed toasting. the fries were really really hot, the least bad fries i've ever had here... though the mayo i got to dip them in probably helped a bit with that.
and we happened to be in the 'good server' section, which is unusual at brit's. somehow we usually end up in the 'bad server' one.
15th- aji japanese restaurant, hopkins (b)
why not. hadn't been here since it had opened, had restaurant.com gift certificate where you get $25 off of $35 and it costs a few bucks or so (on sale), i figured mom and i could try it.
i hadn't been here when it was more of a sandwich/cafe sort of place, but i am guessing it didn't look as nice as it does now. the vibe is a modern take on japanese touches, lots of reds and blacks and such. lighting is very flattering, they have a lovely gas fireplace, too. even the restrooms were outfitted nicely (but could use less fake scent and also a good scrubbing of the sinks). though the playing of kdwb at too loud of a volume was out of place in a few ways and kind of ruins the vibe- it would be a great date restaurant if not for that one element.
to start with, mom and i split the edamame ($4.75). i would say it's probably the least good version i've had anywhere. it was ok, i guess, but the pods were rubbery so they were probably frozen then overcooked and the beans didn't have a snap to them when biting into them. the top of the pile was salted, but the salt didn't hit the lower layers. sadly i enjoyed the appetizer plates more than the dish itself, they were more interesting in every way.
instead of dinner, i got a few appetizers. the first was the hamachi kama ($9.50), the collar of a yellowtail fish. it was grilled and served with a sauce that was a tad too vinegary (i added soy to mellow it out, that worked well), mixed greens with a shade too much dressing. the fish itself was a shade overcooked but still had a nice flavor (probably due to the fat in the fish), so much so that i was complimented on my ability to clean it out pretty well. i would've liked a lemon with it, i should've asked for that. i used some of mom's rice to get at the liquid that was at the bottom of the plate here.
the second app was the vegetable yakisoba ($4.75). i decided to concentrate on the kama first as the yakisoba seemed a bit overly sauced and i was hoping the noodles would absorb some of it if i let it sit. i was right, but it still wasn't very intersting. maybe if they had used a different noodle instead of a thin spaghetti, or the sauce was better or the veg tastier. it was kind of a nonevent.
mom's hibachi shrimp ($19.50) dinner had 4 large shrimp, a mango sauce (she said) and a creamier sauce, too, plus some grilled veg (squash and carrots), the mixed greens with less dressing than i had, and a bowl of white rice. she thought her food was quite good. maybe they're better with grilling in general than other forms of cooking, that's one hypothesis. but i don't think the kitchen handled anything with subtlety and also i think it may be more about quantity here than quality per se- $17.50 for all you can eat soup, salad and sushi is the main draw, it seems (you can't use your coupon for that).
so the food is not entirely exciting, but the service was quite good. i appreciate that much, but i am not sure if that alone is enough for me to rush back anytime soon, especially as their menu looks to be heavy on shellfish and full of things i mostly don't eat, too.
29th- c&g's smoking barbecue, minneapolis (b)
mom went for their groupon deal a while back, so we got stuff to go. i think it was $9 or so for two sandwiches (up to $7.75 each, so you can't get slaw on them) and one side (upt o $4.99). mom ended up with the smoked bbq beef brisket, i had the smoked turkey ($7.75 each), and we opted for the fried mushrooms ($4.99) and also got a small side of mac and cheese ($1.59).
it was well worth the groupn, and i'd say the sandwiches would be worth full price, per what mom said about hers and how i enjoyed mine, it was the best sandwich i've had in a while because the turkey is that good. the best turkey in a sandwich in recall, i'd think. tender, flavorful and yes, real turkey, not that compressed crap that many people try to pass off as turkey.
mom thought the brisket was among the best she's had in town, also, lest you think that a lesser sandwich. i did try the sauce on it, it was on the sweet side of things, which i like in a bbq sauce, but not overly so. it was enough to make her want to try more of what they offer.
they do the sandwiches on flavorfully eggy, challah-like soft onion buns, which adds to the enjoyment of the 'wich. if only i had remembered to ask that the sad tomatoes be left off. the lettuce was fine. i wish i would've added the slaw instead, though.
the sides were less interesting. the mushrooms were fine, even after reheating in the oven. a bit bready and slightly too greasy, but not overly oozing it. i would've preferred fried pickles (and pickles on the sandwich in place of the winter tomatoes of doom, for that matter... though unfried), but they don't have them.
the mac and cheese was... well, it was real ingredients, but i like a very cheese-filled version (yeah, not surprising, i know) and this was the opposite of that. lots of noodles, little sauce. it wasn't horrible, just not really worth it compared with the meats.
they have a sign suggesting you call in for an order as it does take 10-15 minutes to put things together, even for this order it took about that. so yes, do that. get the meats. and maybe try the slaw or red beans and rice, or greens and hot water bread with them (the fries look universally poorly reviewed). be warned, there are some menu oddities- you can get bbq chicken as a meal or whole or half chicken, but not as a sandwich. the turkey comes only as a sandwich, not as a meal or standalone meat. oh, they do have a few tables there if you want to eat in.
© The bent sun as risen