Hour(s) of Happiness – Republic

•May 16, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The beginning of a week = *drumroll*

Time to start thinking about Happy Hour!

My pick for this week is Republic, located on Seven Corners.  Many years ago this area used to be my stomping ground when it included progressive beer night at Grandma’s and at some point in the night, I was sure to get my hands on a Miller Lite for a dime.

Thank God my tastes have matured in both beer and choice of venue.  That said, I still love a bargain and you can find one at Republic, sans sweaty dance floor, bathroom lines and drunk frat boys.  Well, I can’t make any promises on that last one, but I didn’t see any.

Some of the food options on the HH menu include a 1000 Hills hot dog, which is covered in slightly spicy sport peppers, some mustard and some relish.  It includes some fries, too, and they are good fries, all for $5.  Add a tap from their monstrously long list for $3 and you’ve got yourself a Happy Hour!   A 1000 Hills grass fed beef burger is another good option, especially for $6.  The guy sitting next to me at the bar also suggested the spinach dip, which is a mere $4.

My Hour(s) of Happiness included the hot dog & fries and a Boulder Mojo nitro tap.  I’d say there is no false advertising in their Happy Hour because I certainly left a little happier.  Dinner for under $10, some good conversation at the bar and thirst quenched.  Cheers!

Hour(s) of Happiness – King’s

•May 7, 2012 • 1 Comment

It’s MONDAY!  That means it’s time for the Hours of Happiness special of the week!

This week’s winner is……King’s! 

Now I like King’s for a few reaons.  First of all, I can walk there.  Second, they have a decent wine and beer list.  Third, now that the sun is shining they have outdoor seating and for this girl, once I can be outside for happy hour, I must be outside for happy hour!

Here’s the dealio:

$2.00 off of tap beer and wine by the glass.  If you like to go a little lowbrow on your beer selection once in a while, you can also score a hamburger or veggie burger and a Hamm’s (the beer refreshing), for a mere $7.  This girl cannot, no will not do Hamm’s, but for someone out there, this is a heckuva deal.  I don’t love everything about King’s, but they do serve up a good burger.

One other thing I’ve got to say about King’s:  Tots.  Yes, tots.  If I were going to order for you, you’d have a bowl of tots in front of you with that gruyere & bacon dipping sauce, an additional side of ketchup, and a Fulton Lonely Blond.  Or wait…maybe a Furious.  Either way…you’ll be well-fed and not as thirsty in a few minutes and you won’t have to throw down too many sheckels.  Now that I think about it, I’m a little thirsty now, so what are we waiting for!?  Let’s go!  If you beat me there, save me a seat on the patio~



P.S.  In other exciting Happy Hour news…did you hear that Edina finally decided to allow Happy Hours for its establishments?  Good news, my friends, good news.  I wonder who will be on board?  Mozza Mia?  Edina Grill?  I, for one, am looking forward to finding out!  Hurrrray for the H.H.!

George and the Dragon

•May 4, 2012 • 3 Comments

I happen to live in the neighborhood surrounding George and the Dragon.  I happen, in fact, to be very close neighbors to Fred and Stacy Navarro (by close I mean proximity-wise.  My thoughts in no way reflect a relationship with them…I met them for the first time at G&D), co-owners of the new hot spot on 50th & Bryant.   All this means that I get to hear all of the rumblings around the ‘hood.  I usually expect to hear the good, the bad and the ugly when a new place opens, as everyone scrambles to get in the door and check it out for themselves, and then talk about it in the hallways at the elementary school and on the corner at the bus stop.  What I’ve been hearing is that the service is impeccable, the food is delicious, the tap beer selection is superior and somewhere in the conversation, it is almost guaranteed that I also hear “and you have to get the dragon burger.”   The Dragon Burger is a burger topped with pepperjack cheese, chipotle mayo and pickled peppers ($10).  I mean everyone is talking about the Dragon Burger.

My first opportunity to get over there, though, was this afternoon to have lunch with a neighbor.  I thought about ordering The Dragon Burger, but then decided it might be a little too much for lunch and so I put it on hold and instead ordered a salad.  Yeah, I know…a salad.  Well, check this out.  Both of us ordered salads and they were two of the most delicious salads I’ve had in a while.

I went with the Elizabeth.  For $8, it is a field green salad with aged Widmer cheddar, chunks of green apple, and toasted pecans in what they call their “pub vinaigrette”.  The vinaigrette was tossed perfectly throughout the salad.  Not too much, not too little.  Everything was crisp and fresh and perfect for lunch.  My friend ordered the Katherine, which is also a field green salad, topped with sliced sirloin, Amablu cheese crumbles, dried cranberries, parmesan dressing and an onion ring.  Also perfectly tossed so that the dressing isn’t too heavy or too light, the steak cooked to tender perfection, and the onion ring a lovely touch, all for a more than reasonble $12.  We also split an order of the appetizer prezel bread with homemade butter for $3.  It’s a small pretzel bread, perfect to share and ours was served warm, soft, and for bread lovers like myself and my dining companion, it was heavenly.  The butter, and in fact, all of the dairy they are using comes from a dairy out of Montrose, MN, I believe they said.  Anyway…delicious.  All of it.

I knew through word on the street that the beer selection is good and that there are 3 nitrous taps, which I must admit was very tempting, but I passed on the liquid lunch option and instead ordered one of their homemade ginger ales.  Very, very good.

I do a weird thing when I go to places, and what I’m about to say does not imply that my mind cannot be changed either in the positive or the negative, but I like to just “feel the space”.  I’m not sure how else to describe it.  I frequently tell friends and family that I just get a good vibe in some places and not so much in others.  It doesn’t really have anything to do with the food or the service, or anything else tangible.  Its the “feel” of the place, and at George and the Dragon, I liked what I felt.

I’m already planning my second visit and it will include that Dragon Burger and a nitrous tap of Boulder Mojo.  So what if it’s 7.2% A.B.V., I can walk home.  I think George and I are going to be good friends.  Oh, and the Dragon.

Oh, and here’s my Elizabeth salad and a little glimpse of my homemade ginger ale.  It was a beautiful thing, my lunch.  Thanks G&D…see you soon!

P.S.  As a fun challenge, check out the artwork to your right as you step in to the entryway between doors.  Can you find the dragon?

Singing Songs of Praise for Sea Salt Eatery

•May 4, 2012 • 3 Comments

Sea Salt Eatery down at Minnehaha Falls is nothing new, having been slinging some of the freshest fish in the Twin Cities since around 2006.  That said, each year around this time I start getting excited to get down there and just experience it all again and feel like I’m kicking off my summer.

Tonight I got my chance.  It wasn’t my first attempt, mind you, but the last time I made my way over there the line was, as sometimes is the case, winding out the door and around the path away from the Falls and I just didn’t have the time to fight my way through the madness.  Tonight though, I made it by about 5:15 p.m. and was just ahead of the rush…and I mean just.

As I walked down the path from the parking lot, I could already hear the sounds of a folk singer belting out a tune on the patio, while notes of laughter and conversation floated up to greet  me.  Ah yes…spring in Minneapolis is arriving.   After a short wait in line we ordered up a an appetizer special of crab stuffed avocado with tortilla chips ($7.95), a couple of beers, a fried fish po’ boy ($10.95) and a fried fish basket (also $10.95).  This was enough to feed 2 adults and 2 children and then some, though of course we left room for a little scoop of ice cream.

Out of all of my many trips, tonight was one of the first times I’ve actually sat inside instead of out at one of the wonderful patio tables with the backdrop of the waterfall and the melodies of whatever musician happens to be there that day.  Today, I dined to blaring beats of some early 90’s frat party music as we sat at the big picnic table to the side of the kitchen.  It was actually perfect.  It didn’t take long for one of my dining companions to notice the rows and rows of hot sauce and insist on giving some of them some taste tests.  He’s 6 and let me tell you, he made it through more of them than I did.

The food actually started out on a low note.  The crab stuffed avocado was lifeless and sort of tasteless.  The chips were inconsistent.  Some of them nice and crispy and a little salty and some of them under done which left them with a stale sort of not-quite-crunchy texture.  But, I was here for the fish, and once again, Sea Salt didn’t disappoint.  The fried fish basket was full, and I mean full of lovely, crispy, fantastic fish, a nice scoop of decent coleslaw and a big hunk o’ melon.  Nothing fancy here, folks, but it was fantastic..and it fed me and two kids.  The fried fish po’ boy was so huge it was almost ridiculous, and just as delicious as previous years.  The music?  Well, it was fine by me having been a college student in the ahem, early 90s, and plus, the inside seating was unoccupied enough at the time we were there that it allowed for a 6 and 2 year old dance party.  For a few minutes in my head I replaced the 90s dance tunes with zydeco and I was transported to a little neighborhood shack I once found in New Orleans where the fried fish was plentiful, the beer was flowing and everyone was dancing.  Nuthin’ wrong with that….

When the dance party wound down and all beer, fish and ice cream had been devoured, it ended up being the perfect night for a stroll down to the Falls…with the melodies of that folk singer drifting along with us as we strolled.  Who could not love this place?

Hour(s) of Happiness

•April 23, 2012 • Leave a Comment

It’s that time again, folks!  Monday has rolled around yet again, but this time the sun is actually shining in our fine corner of the world.

With soaring moods from the wonder of a bright day after all of the gloominess of rain and cold, my thoughts drift to outdoor patios and happy hour chit chat over an array of appetizers selected by various palates, as one and all complain about their work day, share tales of the now gone weekend, and the peal of laughter drifts down the waves of the river.  Wait.  River?  Who said anything about a river?   Plus, that was a ridiculously long sentence.  I think I need a drink.  And a river.

Oh, just so happens, I know the perfect place!  Did you know that Wilde Roast recently relocated to larger digs and a trendier, hipper view?  That’s right…Wilde Roast is movin’ on up and we all get to enjoy the perks!

3:30-6:30 Monday thru Friday we all can enjoy half priced tap beer, wine by the glass, and any (yes any!) appetizer.

I’m thinking about ordering the Truffled Tots, The Three Little Pigs (BBQ sliders with stout mustard and sweet chili) and that scrumptious artichoke dip.  Whaddaya think?  Oh wait  Can’t forget the important stuff.   Pull up a chair, order us each a glass of the Lagaria Pinot Grigio and we’ll all toast to summer in Mpls…on the river.  Cheers!

Wilde Roast Cafe

Newly located at:  65 Main Street SE

The Anchor Fish and Chips

•April 21, 2012 • 9 Comments

I drove home from dinner tonight with a tune in my head.  One that I hadn’t heard on the radio lately, or wait, maybe not ever.  One that I more likely heard at some fraternity party in the early 90s while I swilled beer out of clear plastic party cups and never worried about what I was going to have for dinner.  It was good old Public Enemy and the song that reverberated in my skull was Don’t Believe the Hype.

What could this possibly have to do with fish and chips?  Well, nothing really.  I think what prompted this 1991 flashback was the fact that I have heard people talking about “Anchor” for a year and a half now.  I have had friends tell me that I’ve “just gotta get up there”, “up” referring to “all the way up in Nordeast”, right?  Anyway, I haven’t heard a bad thing about the place, but I just haven’t gone out of my way to get there, I guess…until tonight.

Tonight I made the effort.  I waited in the line that told me this place was gonna be as good as I’d heard.  I waited in a line that promised crispy, delicious, fried fish on a Friday, and well, every other day, I suppose.  I waited, packed in to a hot, shoulder-to-shoulder crowd for what I was sure was going to be a basket of greasy heaven, because truth be told, a well-executed fish fry can be pretty damn good.

So I waited.  And waited.  An elderly woman I made friends with as time slowly ticked past told me that she’d been there recently and waited so long she ended up having to leave, “but”, she assured me, “that time the line was down the block.”  I almost drooled thinking about good this was gonna be.

About 40 minutes later when it was my turn for a chance at slightly salty, crispy, mild deliciousness, I eagerly leapt in to my assigned booth and thanked the heavens that I hadn’t even had time for lunch because I was about to seriously tear up an order of the fish and chips.  I ordered as soon as the server asked me if I wanted a beverage.  No need for delayed gratification here!  Two orders of the fish and chips and 2 Summits, my dining companion and I declared.  I salivated thinking about what was to come.  My fish loving friend threw in a ringer and ordered an appetizer of the curry fries.  I just thought that was unnecessary.  Bring on the fish!

Our fries arrived quickly and with one look at the gelatinous blob of curry gravy slopped on to our fries, I kinda figured I’d take a pass and save my appetite for the real deal to come, but I did try a couple.  The fries were soggy from the curry gravy and honestly, there wasn’t much flavor to the whole unappealing mess.

Thankfully the fish arrived shortly after.  The serving size was plentiful and the outside of the fillets looked crispy and browned, just like I like.  I cut the end off of one of my fillets and tore in to it while they were still scorching hot.  I couldn’t be forced to wait a minute longer.  A burned mouth was something I was willing to sacrifice.

My first couple of bites caused a pause in the action.  It was like time stopped and the buzzing background noise of the small, noisy place faded to grey.  I glanced up at my dinner partner.  “You try yours yet” I asked.  “Yeah” he replied.  No further deets offered.  That’s bad.  That’s very bad.  I was hoping there was something uniquely messed up about mine, but that he’d kindly share his heavenly portion with me.  “Um, what do you think” I asked hesitently.  And then it happened.  “Meh”, was all I heard.  Oh no.  Say it ain’t so!  “Yours kinda bland?” I probed further.  He nodded the affirmative.

Gah!!  It was true.  We’d fought our way through the wait, pressed in like sardines, waiting to dine on what just had to be the best fish in town, only to find that it was not even close.  Not even the $8.95 price tag appeased me or made me feel right about going a little easy on them.  The truth is, I found the breading, though it was crispy on the outside, to be mushy and, well, boring on the inside.  The fish itself was also lacking and left the whole thing just plain old…well, plain!  The tartar sauce, which is an extra .50 charge was also pretty bland and didn’t do anything for the tasteless mess in front of me.  I didn’t end up finishing my order because of it’s overall lack of appeal and that was okay because the pre-teen busboy at the end of my table came around every 2.4 minutes to ask if he could clear our plates, obviously trying to shove more people through the tiny space as quickly as possible.

Now, clearly the wait reflects that a lotta people are hip on this joint.  Clearly the constant chatter about the place 2 1/2 years after they opened means something, but as for me, I’ll be in my car, listening to some Public Enemy on my way to Sea Salt to have some fried fish.

The Cha-Ching:

$8.95 for a large portion of breaded, deep-fried cod and some decent but not fantastic fries.

$4.50 for a Summit

For a little under $15 I got to spend 40 minutes shoulder-to-shoulder with a crowd of other hungry folks and an additional 30 minutes drinking a Summit and wishing I’d gone somewhere else.

Bread & Pickle

•April 18, 2012 • 1 Comment

I received good news this morning in the form of a fantastic reminder about what quickly became one of my favorite little spots to unwind last year.  Now, shhhhh!  Don’t tell anyone, but Bread & Pickle is pretty much the epitome of one of the things that makes me happy as a lark to be a member of the six-one-two.

I have a bigger secret, and it’s one that makes me hang my head in shame.  I love Starbucks.  I mean, I really, really love Starbucks.  Every stinkin’ morning except for a few here and there, I have made my pilgrimmage to the ‘Bucks for a latte.  Usually a vanilla latte, though I have dabbled with others.  I’m even more ashamed to say that I drive past many fine privately run coffee shops to get one.  I’ve tried to like some others, whose names I won’t mention because what I’m about to say is, I just don’t like them as much.  Whew~  It feels so good to get that off my chest.  I’ve been carrying this shame for three long years!  The point of my confession this morning is this…back to Bread & Pickle…I love, love, LOVE their lattes!  So, on mornings when I have a tad extra leisure time, you can find me there instead of at, ahem, that other place.  There’s one more thing I love about the a.m. at B&P and you can read about it here.  There isn’t a better way to enjoy life in this fine city of ours on a warm, sunny, summer morning than sitting lakeside for a few moments sipping one of their lattes and munching on one of their sammys. Consider it my morning sun salutation.  You should give it a whirl.

Can’t make it in the a.m. for a little java meditation?  Come later for a burger and some perfectly crisp fries.  Other than said lattes, I consider myself a fry foodie.   If I’m going to indulge, they better be good.  Fries should be crisp on the outside, not too greasy, and you should still be able to tell that they were made from a fresh potato on the inside.  They should be soft and full of spud splendor, but don’t forget that “crisp on the outside” part…soggy won’t cut it.  And they should be salted, but not too much.  They shouldn’t be overpowered for the seasoning.  Let the potatoey goodness shine, people…I don’t want a salt lick.  That said, Bread & Pickle has got it down.  Their fries are near perfection and I have been seen sitting on the edge of the wall out front, feet dangling down toward the waters of Lake Harriet, city ducks swirling around me, and partaking in a bag of these beauties.

So, now that the birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and the sun is (sometimes) shining in the six-one-two, you can enjoy any of the above during the following hours.  Welcome back, B&P…I’ve missed you~

Open M-F 11am-7pm and Sat & Sun 7am-7pm through April 29th. Open 7am-9pm daily starting April 30th