Wednesday, 10 August 2005

Friday, 22 July 2005

Back from Boulder, Thanks All Around

Balance Rock

Jen and I just returned from Boulder, Co via Rapid City, SD and Kansas City, MO and I wanted to send out thanks to everyone helping to make it a fantastic journey through the midwestern states. In roughly chronological order, I’d like to extend a big thank you to:

  • Jen for booking the hotels and being in the car with me for 6+ hours a day for 6 days.
  • The RVing clerk at Wall Drug for recommending the Mt. Rushmore lighting ceremony.
  • Deadwood, SD for reminding me every town has a story to tell.
  • Lindsay, Brian, and Sidney for their exceptional hospitality and driving recommendations through the Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Two Hands Paperie for giving Jen her paper fix and putting a spring in her step.
  • Jen Bohmbach for originally recommending the Boulder Dushanbe Tea House and joining us for dinner. Try the Persian Vegetarian Kooftah Balls and you can thank Brian also.
  • Roland for suggesting we stop at the Garden of the Gods.
  • Brian, our server at the Kansas City Kona Grille for a meal (amazing Maui Tacos with catfish) I’d gladly pay double for and service to match. Special bonus thanks for recommending the local Latte’Land when asked where to get a good cup of coffee. Yes, a Kona Grille would be an excellent addition to the Minneapolis dining landscape.
  • Griffin Technology’s iTrip and MacAlly’s PodCig for filling the long stretches of South Dakota and Wyoming with our favorite driving songs.
  • Chrysler for making a car that stays cool on the inside even when it’s 100+F outside.

A couple dozen photos are now up over in my Flickr site in the Boulder Road Trip 2005 set.

Friday, 15 July 2005

Great Service at Acadia Cafe and Highland Grill

This week included 2 of my best restaurant experiences ever.

  • Highland Grill
    771 Cleveland Ave S, St Paul, MN 55116

    The service at the Highland Grill is always above par yet today they even outdid themselves. Our server was personable, chatty, and just indignant enough to remind us this was her turf. She made spot-on recommendations and when my dining companion asked about hot sauce, she brought him his own bottle of Tabasco and a side of their special spicy concoction.

    Jen highly recommends the calamari tacos.

  • Acadia Cafe
    1931 Nicollet Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55403

    Same here, very personable staff with spot-on recommendations. I threw her a ringer when I ordered the Gueze Giradin. Which I couldn’t pass up. Here’s an mp3 of the story on my first Gueze tasting. She handled it expertly.

Wednesday, 13 April 2005

Italian-American Comfort Food at Cossetta’s

Last night, Darrel and Mark W. from and I grabbed a bite at Cossetta’s in downtown St. Paul.

When we were in Evanston, IL, Jen and I lived right next to Panino’s Italian Cafe. Panino’s is a little takeout italian place with decent pizza, soggy italian beefs, and overdone onion rings. All 5 minutes past their prime. Though Panino’s is not a place for culinary epiphanies – it does have its place. Conveniently for Panino’s, that place was between the commuter train and my apartment.

Cossetta’s is the larger, St. Paul version. Conveniently close to the Xcel Energy Center, their limited menu offers a handful of options for salads, sandwiches, pizzas, and other red sauce-laden entrees. I found the path through the store confusing. One line for pizza, one line for everything else, both lines converge on the same checkout. It wasn’t clear which person I order the meatball sandwich from, the person underneath the sandwiches menu? the person in front of the red sauce-laden dishes? the person making the cold sandwich? Yes, 3 different people.

Answer: Person in front of the red sauce-laden dishes.

The meatballs were plump, moist, and just the right texture. The bread, I want to say it was the wrong bread for that sandwich. Though, it was the same half-chewy, half-soggy, meat-delivery-device Panino’s uses. Perhaps this bread is like parsley. More for presentation than ingestion.

On the way out, I grabbed some pizza and a tiramisu to enjoy while watching the Amazing Race (Go Lynn & Alex!) with Jen. The tiramisu was exactly right; creamy, espresso-y, and rich.

Three things in closing:

  1. Their wine pours go all the way to the top.
  2. Bus your own table.
  3. Check out their Italian market, full of interesting foods you won’t find at the local Cub.

211 West 7th St
St. Paul, MN

UPDATE: 18 May 2006, Two MN Foodies Cossetta’s review is even harder on them.

Friday, 8 April 2005

True Thai is Our New Thai Place.

Last night, Jen and I ate at True Thai down on the south side of Minneapolis.

This was our second attempt at dining there. Attempt #1 was trying to seat a party of 6 on a Saturday night, without calling ahead = bad idea.

I haven’t been real pleased with the Minneapolis’ Thai offerings. Sawatdee‘s offerings are fair and their locations are many, and their staff is sharp. Like Dunn Bros.

There’s a bad place just north of us. Bad. Awkward service, bland offerings, bizarre staff. Like bad milk, I don’t see a need to share. Anyway – that’s not True Thai.

The only odd thing about True Thai is, well:

“I am assuming he is the owner, but, I sometimes wonder what restaurant owners do. Well, at least, what was he doing at the front desk if he was incapable of seating us? Better off letting the staff, who knows what is going on, run the show while he plays with the books. Anyway, aside from the owner who rudely passed us off to a staff member, our time at True Thai was enjoyable.”

Scott McGerik wrote this back in November of 2003, Jen and I had the exact same experience – 18 months later. Something to be said for consistency.

My side of the table was their Spinach Curry in Peanut Sauce with Mock Duck. Yes, spicy – to 11. Initially, it was exactly what I was looking for. In the end, it was a little too sweet. Jen enjoyed her bite of it. On her side of the table was the Calamari Pad Thai. You can’t go wrong with that. Can’t.

Sunday, 27 March 2005

Punch Pizza No Knock Out

Last night Jen, Jer, Sam, and I went for a leisurely dinner at Punch Neapolitan Pizza.

Punch Pizza is continually declared the best pizza in the Twin Cities. The City Pages included Punch on their Best of Lists in 2003 and 2004, the Mpls.St.Paul Magazine also ranks it highly.

On this particular Saturday night, the space was loud. So loud, catching up with friends was impossible. The only way to keep a conversation going was to lean halfway over the table (also the only way for to get comfortable in the tiny chairs). Conceivable for a party of 2, impossible for 4.

I’m a big fan of rosemary and quite enjoyed the foccaciafocaccia bread. My main course, the Cortin – gorgonzola, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and garlic – I did not enjoy. I expected subtle, rich flavors. All I tasted – crust.

Jen had a fantastic time. She gives high praises to the roasted olives, and her selection – topped with capers, olives, onions. “I wouldn’t have stopped eating it, except I wanted left overs.”

We took half of each pizza home, put it in the fridge. I had the Cortin for breakfast this morning. Perhaps it was the quiet leisure of cold pizza on a Sunday morning, I finally tasted the deep flavors I expected the night before.

My vote for best pizza in the Twin Cities: Pizza Luce’s garlic mashed potato with chicken on Punch’s crust.

Be sure to catch Scott McGerik’s review of Punch Pizza. He and I agree Pizza Nea offers the best non-mashed potato pizzas.

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