Category Archives: Food- Out and About

Channeling NorCal in Downtown Minneapolis

A couple weekends ago, I had the honor of celebrating my dear friend Christine and her upcoming nuptials. With Christine’s maid of honor {lovely sister Linds} having her homebase in Boston, we tried to make a weekend out of the bridal activities by having a shower and bachelorette one after the other.

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The bridal shower was hosted by the bride’s sister and cousin and consisted of a fun palm tree theme with cocktails crafted around the various travel destinations of the happy couple {sorry I completely forgot to take pictures}! It was a great time and Christine was surrounded by lots of love and even more laughter.

For night 2… the bachelorette, we started our evening at Marin Restaurant and Bar .

Marin combines inspirations from a Northern California mentality and farm to table approach to quality food, with a distinctly urban vibe.

This concept not only intrigued me but also made me very excited to view the menu and eat the night away!

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The bride’s mother graciously started our evening with a round of drinks sent all the way from Florida. For me, it was champs.

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We were seated in the gorgeous main dining room {check out website for photos} which was warmly lit and very comfortable. The bride was excited to learn that the manager is a friend from high school who kicked off our Marin experience with a beautifully plated amuse bouche consisting of smoked salmon, peppered cream cheese, dill, pickled onion and a housemade chip. Divine.

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The divinity continued when we received the menu. I opted to start with the Asparagus, Frisee, Morel and Grits crouton salad topped with a light tangy vinegarette. This dish was absolute perfection. The salty and tangy of the veggies and dressing mixed wonderfully with simple yet crunchy grits croutons.

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The entree decision was quite difficult. There were a number of items on the menu that sparked my interest. From the Ahi and Scallops to the Ramen and Pork, I had a difficult decision. But after hearing that the evenings special was Halibut over a bed of broccolini, my decision was made. And it did not disappoint.

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One of my favorites gals and fellow bridesmaids, Ashley sat next to me and ordered the oven roasted chicken which looked amazing.

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As a lover of seafood, I was thrilled to have visited a restaurant with great seafood. I believe Marin to be filling a void that we have here in this fine city. I appreciate the diversity of the menu, the great ambiance, spot on presentation and amazing service. I will absolutely be making my way back to Marin Restaurant and Bar in the near future.

No question, the night continued… here are a few snippets… that is all you get!

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Cheers!

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Gotta have that scoop

As per usual, summer has flown by and I find myself asking, “where did it go?” It seems my weekends have been filled with bachelorette parties, bridal showers, weddings and the like. But there is one summer rite of passage that cannot be overlooked; ice cream.

A couple Sundays ago my boyfriend’s mom invited us out to the Izzy’s Minneapolis location. I have heard a great deal about Izzy’s but never made the trek to St. Paul for that oh-so-raved-about-Izzy Scoop. Genius idea by the way– pick your main ice cream flavor and then receive a small {about melon ball size} scoop of one to try.

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The Minneapolis location is nestled right next to Gold Medal Park and I am pretty certain you can smell the sweet waffle cones being made from about a block away.

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Upon entering {if you don’t have to wait in the line typically out the door} we are greeted by the waffle cone station and that enticing scent. Cue the drooling.

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You are also completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume and variety of flavor choices offered. For my first trip I picked Creme Fraiche as my main scoop and Honey as my Izzy scoop. I quickly parked myself on a chair outside and indulged.

To say the ice cream is thick and creamy or oh-so-decadent is an understatement. This ice cream was pure heaven.

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While it is my understanding that the flavors rotate on a fairly consistent basis, I will most certainly be ordering the Honey again with a different Izzy Scoop. I can’t forget to mention that they also have sorbet, cakes, tubs of ice cream to go and delicious snacks. Izzy’s is a gem for Minneapolis and I can’t wait to go back!

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It’s about time…

Over the course of the 5+ years I have lived in Minneapolis, I would imagine that I have made it to the Bulldog NE quite a bit more than is healthy to admit. With that in mind, it dawned me while visiting last week that I have never featured this NE staple on the blog. Here it goes…

After a long day of work the last thing I wanted to do was cook dinner. So, I was thrilled to learn that my boyfriend shared the same sentiment. We headed over to The Bulldog NE to grab a burger and a drink. The burget list is extensive and has changed a few times over the years. But I was feeling pretty traditional and thus ordered the house burger sans tomatoes add white cheddar.

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The burgers are made from a Waygu beef blend and mine was thick and juicy; while the the bun was soft-as-can-be. I can’t believe I havne’t told you about these fries– they are truly divine. Thin potatoes strips fried to brown and crispy perfection then sprinkled with sea salt…serious heaven status.

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The house burger with fries did the trick, hit the spot, was spot on… all those wonderful phrases you use when something was just what you were craving! If you haven’t checked out The Bulldog NE I would recommend doing so ASAP… and don’t forget to try their amazing assortment of beers…. and the brunch, it is one of the best around!

Cheers!

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They have brunch!?!?

As if my posts have not been telling enough, I love food. Breakfast for dinner, sushi always, Thai whenever, a great burger; I am pretty much equal opportunity when it comes to food and feel like I have a pretty good idea of the scene in Minneapolis. Needless to say, I was floored to learn that Pizza Luce serves brunch! Yes, you read that correctly B-R-U-N-C-H! The Minneapolis pizza hub has had brunch for years, and from the recommendation I received, it might be the best around. So, it goes without saying, I had to try!

No lie, I am pretty sure I sent the server away three times before I decided what to order from their lengthy menu. The drink option was a no-brainer- I went for the pomegranate mimosa!

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As for the main dish– decisions had to be made, so I ordered the Cajun Breakfast Skillet– with one small modification; fresh jalapenos instead of green bell peppers.

Now, to tell you that this was amazing would be a gross understatement. This was absolute perfection. My overeasy eggs sat atop a bed of portabello mushrooms, crispy hashbrowns, and spicy italian sausage topped with creamy and tangy hollandaise.

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This breakfast was not for the faint of heart or those on a diet. But if you are looking to indulge (and we all should) this is one of my favorite brunch places in Minneapolis!

Still shocked they have brunch?! Check out Pizza Luce’s weekend brunch menu–you will not regret it!

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Cheat day.

Sunday was my cheat day. You know, the day where you can stray from your healthy eating plan and enjoy whatever it is that your little heart desires.

So… this happened.

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‘Tis the season, right?!

Cheers!

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Fat Nat’s Eggs: no frills, all food

A couple weeks back the Polar Vortex roared it’s ugly head for the second time. When Saturday morning hit, I was going stir crazy. So while most people stayed off the road, we kicked the all wheel drive into high gear and headed to Fat Nat’s Eggs for a old school diner breakfast.

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Fat Nat’s is a “no frills” breakfast joint located off of 252 in Brooklyn Park (although there are multiple locations). Nestled in a rather unassuming strip mall, I wasn’t sure what to expect. When you walk in you are greeted by a sign to add your name to the seating list. A server then comes over and escorts parties to their tables. Seating is simple and straight forward— but the scents wafting from the kitchen caused instant hunger pangs.

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The no frills attitude is evidenced in the menu as well.

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I am pretty traditional when it comes to breakfast but with this being my first visit, I thought it only fitting to try one of their specialities. So I channeled my dad and went straight for the biscuits and gravy while my boyfriend opted for the breakfast slider.

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When my biscuits and gravy arrived I knew there was no way I was going to “clean my plate”. The portion was HUGE– literally four oversized biscuits just smothered is gravy-deliciousness. Oh, and did I mentioned it was accompanied by a monster sized plate of hashbrowns and two eggs!

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And the slider looked pretty amazing as well. Stacked high with meat, eggs and hollandaise– it appeared this was a can’t miss!

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The staff was on top of their game, waters always full and quick service. The food definitley “hit the spot” for my nagging breakfast need. I would absolutley return when on the hunt for a traditional diner atmosphere and food!

Check out Fat Nat’s Eggs website to look at locations and their monster menu!

Cheers!

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Don’t judge a book…

We have all heard the adage “you should never judge a book by its cover”. And I am the first to admit, I have done just that (many, many times). Typically on this blog when I write about food it is either food that I have made or food at/from a restaurant. With that in mind, this might come as a surprise to you but today, I am featuring the Thai Shrimp Bisque with soy and coconut from the cafe at my office. Yup, you read that correctly, the cafe at my office. I don’t know where you work but in most employers’ cafes, the food tends to be pretty run of the mill.

Needless to say, I was stunned when the soup “tasting spoon” hit my lips. Upon first taste, I knew I had to get a bowl.
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The color of the soup was a vibrant orange and rather than being smooth like many other bisques, it was thick and chunky. There were diced shrimp, chilies, green peppers, and long grain rice . The soup had a ton of zip. I say zip over spice because I tend to prefer things on the hot side and I don’t think is quite qualifies as hot. There was nice balance between the zip and the sweetness of the coconut. It was well-balanced and a nice mid-day surprise when I had thought I was going to be lost to salad bar oblivion.

Lesson-learned– grab a tasting spoon, try it out… you might be surprised!

Cheers!

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Killer Quiche

Saturday my boyfriend and I rose bright and early (everyone did that right?!) to hit the gym in Uptown. Following our visit and a quick haircut (his) at Floyd’s we hopped on over to Bluestem. Bluestem is an offshoot of French Meadow Bakery where you are able to sit down and receive table service.

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Many of the French Meadow items are found on the Bluestem menu. But inside of sitting on Lyndale you are tucked away in a beautifully lit and teal-tiled hideaway. I honestly have no idea what was in this space before. There is a large winding bar and a few booths along the side of the wall.

We were seated at a round booth in the bar area and had a very sweet, and shockingly red headed bartender as our server. We must have arrived just in time as the space started to fill up quickly. When looking at the menu, my eyes were immediately drawn to the Sprouted Bagel with Cream Cheese and Lox; much to my disappointment, this no longer on the menu and thus not availabe. With a quick re-visit of my options, I opted for the Deep Dish Quiche, and he went for his go-to Breakfast Burrito.

The quiche has to be the deepest quiche I have ever had! With layers of flakey pastry, egg, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, leeks and goat cheese, I was melting in quiche-heaven. The mixture of the veggies with the sweet creaminess of the cheese was an absolute homerun!

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Hope this made you hungry– be sure to check out Bluestem !!

Cheers!

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Bier and Sausage: The Perfect Pair

I was invited to join my boyfriend’s family at happy hour on Tuesday. As usual, we arrived earlier than the others so we made ourselve comfortable at one of New Bohemia’s large german style tables. A little before 5pm the bar became inundated with people. Uncertain what was going on, my boyfriend pointed to a sign that read, “10 cent Beers on Tuesday from 5:00-5:30pm”. Can you say perfect timing? The line formed quickly… and was out the door in no time. Promptly at 5pm the beer started flowing.

At first I thought, “how can they (New Bohemia) afford to do this?” Then I saw the perfectly sized glasses– think OJ glasses at your Grandma’s house. There were two options an IPA and a Summer Ale that were both delightful. I love that the beers were served in the small-glass form as they stayed nice and cool rather then reaching room temp before I got to the bottom!

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Not only are the 10 cent beers a draw to this NE hot spot, they specialize in sausages. From traditional to exotic, New Bohemia has it covered.

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I opted for a Savory Italian topped with sweet and hot peppers with a side of fries and blue cheese bacon sauce. No lie.

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In addition, we ordered a GIANT pretzel (sorry for the lack of photo). When I say giant I mean cross your arms in front of your body. Now picture that as hot twisted dough, lathered in butter and dusted with salt. Oh and how could I forget?! Served with a side of spicy white cheese dip. Now, I may or may not consider myself a soft pretzel addict– and this is one of the best I have ever had! Not down with the spicy dip? No worries you can get other options or eat it plain; you really can’t go wrong.

New Bohemia is a great addition to Northeast Minneapolis. With it’s large windows, open communal concept, and an array of beer and food options, New Bohemia is going to be around for a while. Next time I think I am going to try one of the “Exotic” sausages maybe the alligator or rabbit? Anyone want to join me?!

Cheers!

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Smack down!!

My visit to Genuine Smack Shack Lobster was LONG over due. I fell in love with the Smack Shack offerings at the 1029 Bar years ago but was thrilled to try the brick and mortar location. On a date night back in May I was so excited to finally indulge in a larger menu– though my love of the Lobster Mac has not waivered. We had a reservation and arrived about 45 minutes early to have a few cocktails. Much to our surprise they were able to seat us right then. Don’t worry we still tried the cocktails!

The Smack Shack is situated on the corner of Washington and 6th in the North Loop. The bright neon sign is hard to miss and the valet ever-so-prompt. Once inside, the atmosphere is loud and bustling. It is very much an open concept with high ceilings, large beverage coolers that separate the entrance from the first bar area and which leads you to the hosted stand nestled nicely next to the second bar, lobster tank and massive boiler.

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We were seated at a comfortable 2-top in what I would consider the main dining area, near the kitchen. For libations, I opted for a Mass Mule (SS’s play on the Moscow Mule) and he ordered the Cucumber Cocktail. While the Mass Mule was nice and sweet, it was not my favorite; his on the other hand was light and clean and not too sweet. A great summer option and perfect pairing with seafood.

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The options on the menu were endless. He went with fish tacos and a wedge salad and I went with the Connecticut style po’ boy.

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The food was delicious; absolutely mouth-watering. But next time, I think that I am going all out and ordering the lobster! From those around me it looked like a can’t miss!! As I had predicted, I will most certainly be returning to eat again and again!

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