Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Scoreboard Bar & Grill – Minnetonka, MN

Sometimes, you just need to leave the office for lunch. I rounded up JJ and we headed to Scoreboard for a business lunch. The place is decorated pretty plainly, but they do have a number of sports-filled televisions all over the walls and ceiling. The menu has pretty standard bar fare with burgers, sandwiches, salads, and fried appetizers.

I went with one of the specials for the day – a breaded pork sandwich. I made sure with the server that this was indeed a breaded pork tenderloin. I’m a bit of a Pork-T snob from my years in the central Midwest, where they truly are the best. See THIS post for the best in recent years. I also had the option for sweet potato tots, which I DID order, and also a side of buffalo sauce. JJ went with the salad bar, since he’s trying to cure his summer illness from the inside – sucker.

The food showed up and I was a little disappointed with the size. I know I’m spoiled by some of the biggest pork-T’s in the world, but I was expecting something bigger than what I got. There was a delicious sri racha mayo on top and generous helping of pickle slices, but the size was the biggest disappointment. The meat itself was just alright. Nothing to write home about, since there wasn’t a ton of flavor (the ketchup and buffalo sauce helped the sri racha mayo). The tots were equally disappointing as they were a little more potato puffs than shredded hash brown tots. Too small to even dip in the buffalo sauce without getting it all over your hands. I ended up using a fork to dip these gnocchi-like puffs in the sauce. Disappointing.

JJ was pretty happy with his salad bar decision, but mainly because he had access to unlimited saucy boneless wings no the salad bar. Those were actually pretty good, to be honest. I should have gone with the salad bar and pretended to be healthy while mounding chicken nuggets on my plate.

The end of the meal is topped with sprinkles since you get to get yourself a bowl of ice cream from the soft serve machine. Sadly there weren’t actually any sprinkles, much to my chagrin. I am beginning  to think I expect too much from some places. Hahahah..

Top 5 things about Scoreboard Bar & Grill
11. It’s really close to the office
22. They have beer – and SURLY, in fact
33. The lunch specials all sounded pretty good
44. You can get ice cream after your meal
55. Salad bar has boneless wings on it

Bottom 5 things
11. Pork-T was a little disappointing (size and flavor-wise)
22. Sweet potato tots were too small
33. Boring interior
44. It isn’t by anything else EXCEPT my office
55. No sprinkles on the ice cream after dinner

Friday, September 4, 2015

Tin Fish – Edina, MN

My friend Paulio and I hadn’t met for lunch for a while and thought we’d better remedy that. Since Morty’s has been closed due to the renovations, Paulio thought we’d better do another golf-themed lunch place. Apparently, there is a Tin Fish location in the clubhouse of the Braemer Golf Course in Edina (basically Eden Prairie). It’s pretty much a fancy snack shop with a delicious menu.

The menu is pretty seafood heavy, but that’s what their main restaurant location in Minneapolis is known for, so no surprise there. I’ve been in the mood for fish n chips, so I ordered that. They do serve beer and wine, but I opted out since I had a couple of meetings to hit up. We grabbed a seat outside on the patio, despite the fact that it was a billion degrees out (closer to 92, but who’s counting when it goes over 70- degrees). We got caught up and the food showed up during the first of many of my embellished work stories.

The batter on the fish and chips is the crumbly panko crust variety, rather than the thick beer batter on most fish n chips. I was also surprised the fish, while plentiful, were in very small fingers or slivers, rather than a larger piece or three. The crumbly batter was a little floppy for my taste, although the fish inside was pretty delicious. The slaw was the vinegar-y kind and good, but a little dry, like they didn’t use enough vinegar. The waffle fries were the best part though. Big fan of these and there were a ton of them. Overall, the whole meal was fine, but not mind-blowing. I know not every meal has to be, but this one was right down the middle good. I may end up back here again if I’m looking for some unique place to eat, or need to get in a round of golf over lunch (the course is under serious construction this summer, but next year, it’s going to be awesome). Thankfully, it’s pretty close to me work, so it wasn’t a huge inconvenience to get here – less than a 10-minute drive.

Not enough to do a Top 10 list, but it’s a decent lunch place.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Minnesota State Fair 2015 – St. Paul, MN

Well, I tried talking myself into getting on the every-other-year state fair bandwagon, I caved and decided to go this year. I thought I’d document everything I ate, in case some friends wanted my thoughts on some of the new food items at this year’s fair.

I got there too late to get the breakfast that I wanted, so I switched up my order at the Blue Barn. I got the Cowboy Dave’s cluck & Moo. Smashed potatoes, roast beef, and grilled chicken covered with beef gravy, french fried onions, and bĂ©arnaise sauce. This was really quite good (and unfortunately more filing than I had hoped). But it was a good start to the day.

I also got the caramel apple beer they had. I’ll be honest, it was sickeningly sweet (and I generally LOVE sickeningly sweet drinks). I couldn’t even finish all of this beverage, so I was anxious to move on and get something else in my face hole.

I went to Sausage Sisters, as I general have had good luck with their menu items. I had my eye on the Sriracha Sausage Sliders. I was surprised that I had to sauce these myself, but I gave it a decent squirt of the sriracha cream sauce (after I took the photo – sorry). Then, I gave the other slider a generous squirt of the peanut sauce they had there. I took a few bites of the sriracha one and discarded the bun – it was just too much bun/filler. I did the same thing with the peanut sauced one. I ate a couple bites with the bun, and then I focused on the sausage. Great flavor, but you could probably pass on the buns to save yourself some filler.

Popped into the 1919 booth for a quick root beer. It’s my favorite drink at the fair and is always good.

I headed to the Ball Park CafĂ© for the battered and deep fried ribs. I was impressed with the batter flavor , since it was seasoned well and was really crispy. The ribs were decent, but not the best (I’m a bit of a rib snob, though). They weren’t fall-off-the-bone tender, but they were fine. The BBQ sauce that came with it helped the ribs out a lot. Decent, but not mind-blowing.

I washed it down with a nice Pineapple Wheat beer. For a fruity beer, it was pretty good. Not too sweet, but still nice and refreshing since it was getting really warm out at this point.

I went over to Minnesota Wine Country and grabbed some battered and deep fried (in wine) kale-ettes. This was clearly the healthiest thing I ate all day. And, thankfully, it was really good. The fry on it was nice and crispy without being heavy. The chili sauce dipping sauce was a great addition to the fried flavor, as well. This was one of the best things I had at the fair.

Then to the Agriculture building for a beer flight. I got the dark beer flight, but I honestly can’t remember which beers were included in this. I should have taken a photo of the board that listed the beers, but I forgot. Obviously, they were really dark beers. And delicious.

I dropped by LuLu’s Public house for a Mac & Cheese Cupcake. It’s pretty straight forward, but I didn’t realize until the end that the mac & cheese was sitting on a nice crust of corn bread at the bottom. If I had known that, I would have dug deeper into the cupcake earlier on. The squirt of easy cheese was a great topper to this thing. I’m guessing if these were fresh out of the oven, they would have been fantastic. As it was, it was a tad dry, but still had good flavor.

I washed the cupcake down with a Blueberry beer from Grainbelt. I had one of these last year and I was a fan. It’s got a fun little layer of blueberry ice on top that makes it even more refreshing in the million-degree heat.

I needed to relax, so I got to watch a fun African drum and dance troupe do their thing in the plaza. I think I burned off some calories watching these guys.

Then, I had to pet some dogs in the pet barn.

D.Rough told me I needed to try the BBQ pickle ice cream, so I headed over to the R&R ice cream shop – it’s the one that churns the ice cream using a John Deere motor. Lots of fun to watch, especially for those of us that bleed green (I used to work at Deere headquarters back in the day). 

Yes, I did say BBQ pickle ice cream. It’s as weird as it sounds. It’s got tiny chopped up pickles in it and also some really light swirls of bbq sauce. It’s pretty freak show, to be honest. I’m glad I tried it, but I don’t need it again.

My friend LooseChange wanted to try the Bacon Maple Funnel Cake, so I obliged her and picked one up. It’s a funnel cake covered in a maple sauce, powdered sugar, chopped up bacon, whipped cream, and some cherries. It’s really good, but it’s really heavy and funnel cake-y. My friend Coach is a funnel cake aficionado and would definitely have approved of this concoction.

I try not to eat “normal” foods at the fair that I can get anywhere else. But I always cave when it comes to cheese curds. Mouth Trap cheese curds are the best at the fair, but generally, you need to share them with someone. Thankfully, D.Rough helped me out with a few of these.

D.Rough and I headed over to the Dairy Barn (where they keep the blocks of butter carved into the shapes of the various Fair Queens that year). D.Rough had heard about this puff corn sundae and thought we’d both check it out. She was less than impressed with the amount of corn puffs, but I think the whole thing was redeemed by the flavor of the ice cream and caramel. IT was really quite good and I’m glad we tried it. The fact that D.Rough is lactose intolerant and still thinks sundaes from the Dairy Barn are worth the pain should tell you how good these shakes and sundaes are.

I like my dessert a little heavier, so I headed to the Blue Moon Diner and got a chilled Bread Pudding with vanilla sauce and sugar cookie topping. The only downside I see to the chilled bread pudding is there are too many options – pick your bread, pick your sauce, and pick your toppings. I say “Just tell me what’s good!”. But as good as this thing was, I feel like I chose correctly on the combination. I love me some bread pudding.

One of the best things (and last things I ate) was the Cowboy Bites from the Frontier Bar. They’re basically corn kernels and jalapenos rolled into a ball and deep fried – served with some nice ranch dip. I was really happy with these little fried balls as a finisher. No complaints on this one and I really enjoyed leaving the fair for the night with these in my belly.

Overall, I did some damage, but was a little disappointed in the flavors of new items this year. Not every year can be the most amazing in the world. I was happy with everything over all and glad I went, but there were a couple of other items I skipped, in favor of trying new items. Next year will be better, right?! I'm sure of it!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Meat Mountain: Arby’s Off-Menu Monstrosity – Eden Prairie, MN

If you didn’t read about #1Fan and my past off-menu culinary adventure, you should – The Air, Land, and Sea Burger. #1Fan and I decided we needed to do a similar stunt and, since neither of us had an insurance-related biometric screening scheduled anytime soon…. we thought we would go get a Meat Mountain. I know this sandwich is sooooo 2014, but I haven’t tried it yet. To quote #1Fan’s bastardization of George Mallory’s quote, “This time we're scaling the uncharted heights of the meat mountain, BECAUSE IT’S THERE."

When we ordered the Meat Mountain, the counter kid didn’t even bat an eye. Probably totally over it by now. I love that it is actually an item in their computer system (even if it isn’t actually on their printed menu). For those of you not familiar with the Meat Mountain, it’s every meat they have in the restaurant on one bun. With two slices of cheese for color.

  • 2 chicken tenders
  • 1.5 oz. of roast turkey
  • 1.5 oz. of ham
  • 1 slice of Swiss cheese
  • 1.5 oz. of corned beef
  • 1.5 oz. brisket
  • 1.5 oz. of Angus steak
  • 1 slice of cheddar cheese
  • 1.5 oz. roast beef
  • 3 half-strips of bacon
  • 1 bun
That’s a serious sammich, my friends.

And yes, we got curly fries and some of their new house-made parmesan potato chips. And DIET sodas.

When the sandwich came out, I laughed because the counter people are handing out two-inch-high wrapped sandwich after sandwich and then ours came out - it was like three times taller than everyone else’s sandwich. That’s when you puff your chest up and shoulder your way to the counter to pick up your macho lunch tray.

Doesn't look that big, you say?

First off, this thing is waaaaaaay bigger than you can fit into your mouth. Since humans fail miserably in the separate-your-jaw-to-eat category, you have to tackle this with some strategy: Top to bottom? Bottom to top? Layer by layer? With a fork (not recommended because you were already ballsy enough to order this sandwich – why wuss out now)? I went top to bottom then bottom to top.

Second, this thing may have a few milligrams of salt in it. Just be ready for that. I can’t help you there. Even if you put sauce on it, all of the sauces are sodium heavy. Maybe mayo might be the trick.

Third, this sandwich could use some lubrication. See #2 for the salt-caveat.

Fourth, the things it DOES have going for it are the flavor and the texture. Flavor-wise, it’s fantastic. I suppose only if you’re not a vegetarian, however – in that case, you’ve given up all joy anyway. But honestly, the meats actually tasted different from each other and the texture of each meat still kind of showed through in each bite. The best part are the chicken tenders that are on there. A really pleasant crunchy bite was fun in the mix. Much better than I even expected it to be.

I think you’ll be happy with yourself if you order one of these. Don’t look for it on the menu, it isn’t there. It’s a “secret menu item”, remember? You just have to ask for it by name. And then, immediately after you find yourself HAPPY with your decision, you’ll find yourself (or your spouse) REALLY angry with yourself.

Note, I would also recommend NOT eating this if you happen to be in a rush to get back to a meeting at work. I think forcing down that many pounds of meat was the most difficult part. It certainly wasn’t the curly fries. Just saying, you’re going to want to savor this thing with each bite. Consider postponing your meeting or do what I did – warn them you’re going to be late for your 1pm meeting. And sleepy. And smell like meat. And groaning periodically.

#1Fan remains a champion amongst men when it comes to food consumption. He had finished his sandwich and was tapping his foot hurrying me along before I had conquered the Meat Mountain completely. A most impressive showing.