Saturday, August 30, 2008

Playing Wii at M and Trash’s house - Minneapolis, MN

If you didn’t know, Gerd is a Wii junkie, which is hilarious because she doesn’t own a Wii. There have been emergency trips to Best Buy to play the demo models there. There have been children pushed out of way to play Wii games. There have been hours where she disappeared at friends’ houses during parties when she discovered they had Wii. Since this Wii was purchased by M a few weeks ago, this topic has come up at least 10 times a day at random points. “Hmmm, it’s warm out. I wonder what M’s Wii is doing now.” (Sad but true.)

We got invited over to M and Trash Giant’s house to play some Wii. We showed up with some girly drinks – my specialty. I whipped up a couple of orange or green colored drinks for us, got yelled at for not utilizing THEIR liquor, and we headed to the basement.

Trash told M and I that we would be boxing for her amusement. The last time we played, I got my ass handed to me (clearly M had been watching old game tapes of Mike Tyson). This time, I focused on two moves and returned the ass-handing to my good friend M. I also threw in some sweet dance moves for the ladies’ entertainment.

We played some tennis, which we all played poorly, but was hilarious. Then we did some bowling, which Trash REALLY gets into. She flails about wildly and kicks her feet (did I mention this is bowling?). So you know, they made those wrist straps for Trash. She commanded I stand up while I bowl because I figured out how to bowl while leaning back on the couch. I was a couch Wii star in my own eyes, and still managed to get over a hundred.

We ate craploads of candy, and had a couple of drinks, which puts Trash right to sleep. But we had to end the night with the most pointless game of all time. It’s called Cooking Mama. You have to stir things and crack eggs and peel vegetables. M and I loathe this game, yet somehow ended up giving advice to help out Gerd. Gerd loves games without a point. I think this way, she doesn’t feel like someone else can beat her. You have no idea how pointless this game is, so do yourself a favor and don’t find out.

We can’t wait for the next trip to their house. We always end up leaving with a headache from laughing so hard. I’m trying to live up to the high expectations of providing quality girly drinks, so I’ll have to come up with something new. If you’ve got suggestions, send ‘em over.

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse - Minneapolis, MN

We decided to visit Ruth's Chris after Chao's dad told us about their Summer Special. For $89.00, the Summer Special includes two first courses, two side dishes, two main course entrees, and a dessert to share. They have a special menu so you can't choose the Porterhouse for Two (regularly $80 alone) as one of your options, but there were still several great items to chose from.

We both got the Caesar Salad for our first course and it was amazing. It came with peppery cheese crisps and the dressing was creamy and fabulous. For our side dishes we chose two potato dishes, au gratin and mashed. Chao described the mashed potatoes as cloudlike and he was right. Chao ordered the Petite Filet and I ordered the Mixed Grill which included a smaller than Petite Filet, a Crabcake, and Stuffed Chicken Breast. If you are unfamiliar with Ruth's Chris, they serve their entrees on a really hot (like 500 degree) plate with butter that sizzles. Best. Idea. Ever. The Filets were fantastic. They only season them with salt and pepper and use a high grade of meat, and are cooked quickly in a 1800 degree oven or grill or some type of heat element. I didn't pay attention - I was too excited. The Stuffed Chicken Breast was as good as chicken gets but was attached to some bone and the Crabcake was the best I have ever had with big chunks of crabmeat. For dessert we split the Warm Apple Crumb Tart. By split I mean Chao had two bites because he hates dessert and I ate most of the rest. Score!

This meal was so good I wish there were Ruth's Chris lock-ins so I could stay there and eat all night. The server was awesome and it is one of those restaurants where they regularly scrape crumbs off of your table. I have eaten lots of fancy and expensive steak and this was by far my favorite. The Summer Special was a fun and fairly affordable (in comparison) way to experience the restaurant. We will definitely go back and we will definitely talk about this meal for weeks.

Top 5:
1. Sizzling butter on hot plates
2. Quality meat with fantastic flavor
3. We had a super fun server who looked and talked like Gwen Stefani
4. Everything was excellent from bread through dessert - I am not sure you can go wrong here
5. Great atmosphere

Bottom 5:
1. It is expensive
2. The bathrooms are hard to find and they escort you there if you ask
3. No lock-ins or other overnight programs offered
4. Valet parking
5. Lots of snooty rich people

Atlantic Buffet - Bloomington, MN

We had a great Mongolian place back in our hometown, so we have been trying to find an equally palatable Mongolian restaurant. This wasn’t it. It was a Mongolian and Sushi place (mixing nationalities). We pulled up and saw a lot of ginormous white trash people coming out. Based on other restaurants I’ve been to, when you see that, just turn around and go someplace else. We got seated right away, which is always bad on a Friday night. Gerd went and grabbed some appetizer-y food while I hopped in the Mongolian line.

The selection at the Mongolian station was about 4 veggies and 4 meats. You also got to choose between like 6 sauces (spelled souces on their signs). One guy was working the grill, extremely slowly, so it took me more than 10 minutes to get to the front of the line. Meanwhile, Gerd has gotten up, gotten more food, and stopped over at least twice to harass me about waiting so long.

When I made it back to eat, the food was well below average with stringy meat pieces. I finished up what I could and headed to the buffet portion. I’m not a fan of Chinese food buffets, so I’m not sure why I thought this one might be different, but it wasn’t. The food was pretty bad. Fortunately, Gerd had already sampled a ton of things while I was standing in line, so she saved me some horrifying food testing.

The best thing on the buffet was the sesame chicken (which had ZERO sesame seeds on it). The next best thing was the tap water they brought to our table.

As we were eating, we were treated to a giant woman getting dizzy and calling 911. The fire and ambulance folks showed up and carried her out. I hope she’s ok, but the hilarious part was that people were still coming in and being seated. It’s kind of a rule of thumb - if there’s an ambulance out front of a restaurant, I pick a different place.

Top 5 Things
1. Fun to try sushi, since you don’t feel bad about throwing the gross ones away with everything else that was gross
2. Millions of servers cleaning tables
3. Ice cream was ok
4. Cream cheese puffs were ok for one out of two of us
5. It’s possible to NOT overeat here, because you can’t find anything worth filling up on

Bottom 5 Things
1. Most of the food was really awful
2. The Mongolian selection was tiny
3. I waited more than 10 minutes to have my Mongolian Food cooked
4. People keeling over while you eat
5. You can’t get INTO the parking lot. It’s a maze.

Minnesota State Fair - St. Paul, MN

Apparently, I’m the only person in the US who has never been to a state fair. So I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured it would be a large county fair – I was right. But it was honestly huge on a level I can’t comprehend. We basically went to eat and people watch. I didn’t think it was legal (or fair) to show photos of some of the freak shows that were walking around there, but it’s super tempting. So we’ll focus on the food.

This is what we’ll call at State Fair Baby. This is what happens when you eat for 4 hours straight – seriously 4 hours straight. I will raise him and love him and call him George.

We started the day off with some macaroni and cheese on a stick (the stick is crucial to good fair food) from Axel’s. They were pretty good. I don’t know that I would fight anyone for them, but they were good. Can’t complain.CIMG3578

Then we found some bison on a stick, which sounded appealing. It was kind of a shish-ka-bob sort of thing. The meat was really juicy and flavorful and ended up being an awesome snack. I’m guessing the American Indians thought, “Hey! Why didn’t WE think of leaving the spear right in the bison while we were eating it??? It tastes so much better on a stick!!!”CIMG3580

We kept seeing signs for breakfast foods. Since it was before noon, we thought what the heck. And why would you want something plain when you can have fair food. We ended up with a breadbowl breakfast with Cajun potatoes, eggs, and sausage jumbalaya on top. This was REALLY good. I don’t get to eat a Cajun breakfast very often, so it really hit the spot.CIMG3579

We then saw the Sham-Wow booth which our friend Coach is enamored with. It is basically a super absorbent towel. You can throw it in the ocean and destroy the world’s ecosystem in one move. Still not impressive, but the people that do these real-life infomercials always have waaaay too much energy.CIMG3585

We checked out the dog and pet center. I won myself a shirt by spinning a wheel. We saw some dogs whose main job is sit behind gates and get petted by like 500,000 people. Rough life.

Next, we had a hankering for some Elk, so we found an elk burger at Giggly’s and split it. Great burger, but I don’t know that the elk tasted that different from a bison burger, honestly. It was a great burger, though, so I won’t complain about it. Giggly’s has a personal condiment girl who will put toppings on your sammich. That’s class.CIMG3586

We’re getting thirsty at this point, so we hit up one of the best root beer stands in the country. 1919 is quality barrel root beer. I’m hard pressed to think any root beer is better than Sprecher, but if 1919 is not better than Sprecher, it’s neck and neck. Seriously, this root beer is awesome. I will fight you if you say different.CIMG3588

Then dessert sounded good, and since you can get everything in the world deep fried at a fair, we ended up with the deep fried cheesecake. It wasn’t what I expected, in fact, it looked like an eggroll of some sort. But I guess they have to have a way of keeping the cheesecake from running free. It must have been good because I didn’t get a single bite of it. Hmmm. How does that work?CIMG3590

Then we needed additional desserts, so that led us to Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar. We have heard people talking about this place for months, so it was part of the master plan before we even got to the fair. These cookies are served warm, which makes them better. I didn’t see a stick option on these cookies, so I can only assume people’s heads exploded at previous fairs due to the stick adding too much awesomeness. You can buy these in a bucket, but then you have to carry the bucket around with you all day. If you go to the fair, you should probably make a point to get some of these. They’re just chocolate chip cookies, but they’re warm and gooey, so take ‘em or leave ‘em. CIMG3593

Let’s see. What culinary adventure haven’t we partaken in yet?.... hmmm. Something salty, yet sweet. What solves both of those needs? Chocolate covered bacon from Famous Dave’s booth. Yes, I’m serious. They’re called Pig Lickers. I’ll be honest with you, I almost opted out of this abomination, but I’m not one to pass up bacon EVER, so I caved. And you know what? It wasn’t bad actually. I’d recommend trying at least one piece at some point. You’ll be weirded out, but you won’t be disappointed.CIMG3596

Then we went and watched part of the cattle show. Yup, a real live cattle show with judges and hot cowgirls and grizzled farmers. I’ve never experienced this subculture, but apparently, this is what cattle, horse, sheep, pig, and goat farmers live for each year. So you owe it to yourself to see what the fair probably was originally based around. We stayed for a short while, and got a chuckle out of the winners getting their photos taken like it was prom. Awesome.CIMG3602

We then went to the birth center or baby farm animal barn. IT was pretty interesting. They artificially inseminate the animals so they can have a pretty good idea of when they’re going to give birth. Then they bring them into this barn around fair time and kids can be absolutely horrified at the miracle of birth. Seriously you have no idea, unless you’ve seen it before. Great and gross learning experience. We didn’t see any birthing, but we saw random things coming out of various animals, and we heard kids (and grown-ups) “ewwwww”-ing a couple of times.CIMG3604

But wait, it’s not over yet! We’re still hungry. Don’t ask me how. We needed more items on a stick! So it was off to get a pork chop on a stick. We’ve heard other fairs do not actually have a stick, but rather a bone. This, as explained earlier, detracts from the flavor. But Go Minnesota for having sticks! The pork chop on a stick was super good. They had seasoning salt for you to put on it, but it clearly did not need anything else. It was perfect.CIMG3609

To put a cap on a day at the fair, we needed to find (an additional) dessert. So we found some Minnesota gelato (which pales sadly in comparison to its European brother). It was a great finisher to an awesome day at the 2008 Minnesota State Fair.CIMG3611

So, 4 hours and a hundred bucks later (yes, really), we headed home for nap time.CIMG3598

Top 5 things about the fair
1. Anything fried
2. There are MANY root beer stands
3. It’s huge – people go multiple days
4. If it’s hot, the outfits get skimpier
5. Honestly, the food isn’t THAT expensive.

Top 5 worst things about the fair
1. It’s FULL of white trash people
2. IF you don’t go in the morning, the place is packed to the gills
3. There’s not enough shade for our pasty skin
4. If you’re on a diet, or watching cholesterol or fat, then slash your wrists at the gate
5. I don’t have 7 stomachs like a cow…

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Minneapolis Central Library - Minneapolis, MN

I received the news that I would be taking a field trip from work to the Minneapolis Central Library for some research. I was excited about this because I do lots of sitting in my job and repetitive tasks and was looking forward to something different, hoping it would make my morning go fast. I made the walk of only a few blocks in good spirits and with the confidence that only librarians can feel when visiting a library they have not been to before.

I arrived on the floor housing the business collection and looked up the resource I was looking for in the catalog. I wrote down the call number and was on my way. I found the Business Reference collection which was where I was directed to and located the call number range but didn’t find the book. I then see a Directories section and check there but the call numbers weren’t making sense. I was confused so I went back to the catalog and indeed confirmed that the resource I was looking for was in the Directories section of the reference collection. There is not any further information as to the location of this book in the record. By this time I have attracted the attention of a librarian who comes over to check to see if I needed help. I explain my situation and she then informs me that the directories are in order by subject. Which means the call number I had been looking for – the call number some cataloger worked so hard to assign with the intention of aiding the patron in locating the item – was worthless. So then I ask the librarian what subject the book I am looking for is under. She doesn’t know. The other librarian doesn’t know either. So I resort to scanning shelves and eventually find it.

Onward in my research journey I locate the copy machines and pull out two five-dollar bills from my wallet. Both are new fives, and of course neither this machine nor do the other change machines on the floor take new fives. I inquire at the desk and am directed to the first floor service desk for change. I exchange one of my fives for a nice older one and return to the second floor to get my copy on. I begin my mission and am approached by a library staff member and an elderly lady with a walker. The librarian tells the woman she will have to wait as this is the only copy machine on the floor and then proceeds to leave the woman with a 4 inch thick, heavy, medical encyclopedia to wait for me. I stop my copying as I have a large amount that is needed and tell the woman to go ahead. She thanks me, places the book haphazardly on the copy machine and then says, “Now what do I do?” So I proceed to make her copies for her which I am more than happy to do and listen to her surgical story (thus the medical research out of the large reference book teetering on her walker) and then she is on her way. I return to my copying realizing that one five wasn’t enough. I swear several times under my breath, put my hair into a ponytail because my body temperature was rising alongside my frustration, and return to the first floor.

On this visit to the first floor I bring the reference book with me because I am hoping there is at least one copy machine on the first floor I can use and I was taking what I can only assume would look like a suspiciously long time being away from work on my field trip. I return to the service desk and asked a different person to exchange my five for me, muttering, “Well, if we HAVE any old fives” as she did it. I was preparing my argument about the reserve of old fives they should keep if their copy and change machines in a fairly new building don’t take new fives when she found one in the bottom of the drawer. I locate what I am assuming is the only copy machine on the first floor and discover that a person has left their drivers’ license and social security card on the copy machine. I briefly contemplate stealing someone else’s identity as I wasn’t please with how my own day was going but decided I couldn’t pull off being a black male and returned to the service desk to wait in line again. After ensuring the safety of the items in the library’s lost and found I finally finish my copies. I breathe a sigh of relief along with a few last swears of frustration and exit the building. As I tuck the copies under my arm and start along the sidewalk back to work I suffer the worst paper cut of my life.

Top 5 Things:
1. The building is beautiful and almost new.
2. The business reference collection seems extensive.
3. Lots of databases that can be accessed remotely.
4. The building isn’t cluttered.
5. There are lots of security personnel.

Bottom 5 Things:
1. There is only one copy machine on the second floor which has the science and business collection as well as government documents.
2. The change machine does not take new $5 bills.
3. Some call numbers are meaningless.
4. It was warm in there and the crabbier I got the warmer it became.
5. Some of the reference librarians do not know their collections well enough.

Potbelly - Minneapolis, MN

I’ve never been to this chain restaurant, so we decided to go there after work one day, despite it being really far out of the way for me. It’s got a pretty slimmed down menu for sammiches, which, to be honest, was a welcome change from having to decide between 50 different items. The sammiches were well described, with the exception of mortodello, which I thought came from morte=death and dello=I don’t know: loosely translated as death-meat. It was not. It was actually kind of like ham. They also have a sammich called the “wreck” which rules. It has everything on it. It’s a mama-cass killer.

The guy working the counter was hilarious. He held up the mortodello and modeled it for me. I started to talk about toppings and he told me we would have that conversation a little later. The guy was awesome. He talked us into buying some broccoli cheese soup, which was pretty good, although the broccoli was a little soggy. Other than that it was good. We talked toppings and drinks and he finished up the sammiches. The guy had dreads and awesome sideburns, so if you deal with that guy, sit back and enjoy the ride. The girl behind the counter was also funny, commenting on how the wreck was her favorite sammich. She loved to get wrecked. She couldn’t wait until she got wrecked again.

The sammiches are toasted, which I’m usually not a fan of, but they ended up being more warm than toasted, so everything was quite good. They both had a good amount of meat, good amount of cheese, good amount of toppings. No complaints. The Italian sammich and the Wreck were both great. I would go back and get either anytime.

Top 5 things
1. The staff, both the guy and girl there were super helpful
2. Small menu, but still had everything I needed
3. Really good price. Like $4.50 or something. Wurd
4. Soup was tasty
5. They have all kinds of crazy milkshakes

Bottom 5 things
1. If you’re looking for a big menu, this isn’t it
2. No pepperjack cheese
3. In a college-ish area, yet a distinct lack of hot college ladies
4. I’m still not a fan of toasted subs
5. Doesn’t anyone have Mt. Dew in the Twin Cities?!!?!?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hell's Kitchen - Duluth, MN

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to going to a touristy place for a meal in Duluth, especially so near Grandma’s compound. All of the touristy magazines and brochures recommend this place for its fun (but evil) atmosphere. We heard you needed to get reservations for the Sunday brunch if you wanted to get in, so we called and set something up, with the thought of canceling if we got a better offer.

I’m glad we didn’t. The place was fun. Apparently on Sunday mornings, the wait staff are allowed to come in their pajamas, which I thought would be hokey, but was simply amusing. We checked out the menu the day before and there were enough fun and awesome looking things on the menu that we lowered our “scared” quotient. I’ve generally found any place that serves bison is a place worth trying. We got there way early, canceled our later reservation and got seated right away.

I ended up with juevos rancheros which came on a tortilla with hasbrowns and black beans. Probably one of the top three juevos breakfasts I’ve ever had. I also ordered a side of thick cut bacon. The waiter actually asked me if I wanted them crispy, and I assured him I didn’t – this is the first time I’ve EVER been asked this. Major props to our waiter.

Gerd decided just to mix and match breakfast side dishes, so she ended up with bison sausage, baguettes with various toppings, weird potatoes, and pit ham. The meal ended up being REALLY good, minus the bison sausage which we had high hopes for. It ended up being kind of strong on the sage and onion portion. Also, don’t believe the hype on their homemade peanut butter.

The atmosphere is kind of hokey/creepy with black drapes and scary stuff and people with border-line costumes and makeup on, but there were enough white-bread tourists in there to lame it up enough that it’s not obnoxious. Check this place out if you get the chance. I understand there’s one in Minneapolis as well, if you’re not up for the drive.

Top 5 good things
1. The juevos were top-notch
2. The wait staff was really fun and responsive – big tips for these guys
3. Great menu, not just for breakfast or lunch
4. Wait staff in pajamas
5. Very generous portions

Bottom 5 things
1. Attracts a pretty vanilla crowd
2. Bread spreads were communal (ie, they came from other tables)
3. Really busy, so we saw some people waiting a long time
4. Wasn’t “hell-y” enough to be evil
5. Bison sausage fell waaay short of expectations

Captain J’s Mini Golf – Superior, WI

This was the second stop in the great mini golf challenge. It started when a certain someone decided to begin crap-talking about mad skills on the mini golf course. Well, never one to ignore a challenge (which has gotten me into trouble numerous times), we decided to settle it on the course. Fortunately, we drove past a random mini golf course while visiting the Duluth/Superior area.

Captain J’s is right outside the world’s only remaining whaleback ship – the U.S.S. Meteor, which no one seemed to pay any attention to at all. It’s medium-sized, it’s a ship, … next. The course seemed to be pretty full and lots of kids, which, to me, hearkens of EASY. And it was.

Pretty ho-hum holes with no water hazards or crazy dancing clowns with tridents spewing fire or acid. A couple of rocks in the way and some oddly shaped brick-lined walls. Hit it up the middle, and you’re going to get close. One hole shaped like a tiny volcano, which was a huge bottleneck for people. We waited forever, despite the fact that there was a “supposed” 7-stroke limit per hole. Also one hole with like 5 random sized humps (I wish they were lovely lady lumps) in the surface which was an almost-challenge.

Honestly, we had fun. Don’t get me wrong, but when you’ve played some serious courses, you get used to a certain level of challenge (or at least interesting-ness). I’d recommend it if you’re passing through and want to kill a half hour. It’s dirt cheap, so it’s got that going for it.

Top 5
1. It was cheap (like $4 or something)
2. Great for kids (or a crap talking girlfriends with lacking skillz)
3. Close proximity of public bathrooms (on board the U.S.S. Meteor)
4. Hole with the humps
5. There’s a place to get ice cream across the parking lot from the course

Bottom 5
1. Boring design
2. Lacking in the shade department
3. No water hazard or acid
4. No chance to win a free round on the last hole to award your marksman-like skill
5. D-bags trying to give Tiger Woods-style putting tips to their whore girlfriends (or escorts)

Duluth, MN - Yeah, the whole city.

Since it was the last weekend we have free for a while, we decided to go relax in Duluth, MN. People from the Twin Cities talk about it, so we went to see what the hubbub was about. We weren’t going to stay, since hotels there are expensive – it’s kind of a touristy get away right on Lake Superior. We stumbled on a cheap motel, so that changed our mind about staying. There are a lot of big name hotels, but there are a lot of quaint places that aren’t scary, so plan accordingly.

Duluth seemed to be a two street shopping/tourist attraction. There’s Superior Street which has shops and a couple of restaurants overlooking the Lake – which is an awesome view, by the way. And there’s the Canal Street area, full of touristy chains and the Grandma’s compound. That’s about it. I can sum it up in one sentence. “If you’re not in the cute part of town, you’re in the BUSTED part of town.”

It’s a good place to spend the weekend, but don’t get too excited about staying there longer. You’ll run out of things to do (unless you like to eat 24/7 – which they have PLENTY of awesome restaurants). There is a decent disc golf course at the local college and a lot of homeless people at 8am on a Sunday morning (totally unrelated).

Top 10
1. The local strip club had a special feature erotic contortionist performing. Now THAT’s culture, my friends.
2. Amazing food, everywhere we went
3. Everything (except hotels) is affordable. Not tourist inflated.
4. Got to see an oil tanker go under the lift bridge. Very cool.
5. The Superior Street area is connected with the Canal street area by a long skyway
6. Plenty of beaches for the 50 degree water, which people were utilizing
7. Decent disc golf course (Miller Creek) where I played golf with Dale – random local – Happy Birthday, Dale!
8. It’s one of the best views of nature in Minnesota
9. Duluth is home to DBU – which I assume is Douche-Bag University
10. Superior, WI (right across the river) has a whole corner of town filled with dirty, scary strip clubs.

Bottom 5
1. The Leif Ericson Viking ship was covered with a tarp in hopes of soliciting funds - angrifying!!!
2. Has some serious economic downturn
3. Still had kind of a white trash touristy feel to the whole thing – lots of tank tops and Disney clothing
4. Grandma apparently owns everything on Canal Street
5. I’m guessing it’s frighteningly cold in the Winter….

Saturday, August 16, 2008

King & I Thai - Minneapolis, MN

We went to the King & I Thai restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. We were a little confused by where to go to get to the restaurant. We saw people seated in a lower garden area eating, but we couldn’t find the entrance to the restaurant and went inside this odd apartment building, where an old lady to go back down the stairs and turn right. The inside looked very nice and fancy-thai-like, but we decided to eat outside.

We couldn’t decide whether our waitress had tourettes, parkinsons, or had just downed a 12-pack of red bull, but we eventually landed on a kilo of coke. Let’s call her “Twitch.” Even the other tables were making comments about her. Seriously it was to the point where we felt like we could spit the words of our order out fast enough. I’m still laughing about it.

Our appetizer was a couple of curry potato puffs. I’m not a fan of curry, but these were quite good. They were served with sriracha sauce and a cucumber salad, which was the perfect combination to cool your mouth after the sriracha. Fantastic.

The Bangkok Pad Thai was by far the best pad thai of all time. Seriously, we all know that pad thai is the spaghetti of Thailand. Everyone makes it and you pretty much know what you’re going to get no matter where you get it. This one was waaaaay better than any I’ve ever had. Top- notch. Not sure what the secret was (can’t say it is ancient Chinese secret though), but it was incredible. I can’t use enough adjectives to describe it. Bright, happy flavors with super fresh veggies, chicken and shrimp. The chicken had a grilled flavor to it, which just added to the whole dish.

The Holy Basil Chicken was a wonder of modern culinary science. It said on the menu it was four out of four on the spicy ranking, so I asked Twitch, “Seriously how is it?” She warned me it’s really really spicy, and some people cry. Well, she wasn’t lying. It was the second hottest meal I’ve ever had (EE Sane in Milwaukee wins that honor). But impossibly, it had one of the best flavors I’ve ever had as well. Truly fresh basil and awesome white meat chicken pieces in a brutal sauce dipped straight from the River Styx. It came with white rice which came in really handy, except the temperature of the rice, tended to make things seem even hotter. So I had to wait forever for things to cool off. If I get this again, I’ll go to a 3.

Our candle-lighter/water refill waiter was extremely awesome and friendly. (That must be the best job ever.) Blonde guy with a prison beard – give this guy a raise. He was right on top of our refills and also offered suggestions for reheating our leftover foods with eggs (like a thai stir-fry) for breakfast. Brilliant!

We seriously thought about tipping our waitress with rolled up dollar bills, but decided against it at the last minute. Sometimes we have tact…

We will be back, fo sho.

Best 5 things
1. Best Thai food we’ve ever had – without question.
2. All of the wait staff were super cool and helpful.
3. Flavor combinations were complementary, not thrown together
4. Sitting outside with tube lights and table cloths was fun.
5. Menu had some really awesome things we wanted to try, including fun girly-drinks.

Worst 5 things
1. Waitress was clearly on coke.
2. Appetizer server boy would be sent out of the kitchen with appetizers and be expected to find the table that ordered it. We saw this 3 times.
3. Valet parking – some people love it. I don’t.
4. It’s below an apartment building, so if you eat outside, there’s air conditioner window units dripping and rif raf walking around (geeesh, I sound like I live in Edina, don’t I?)
5. There truly aren’t any more down-sides.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Doolittle's - Eagan, MN

Top 5 Positive Things
1. Meat
2. Aroma
3. Variety of dishes on the menu
4. Great salads
5. Hot Voyeur Rotisserie Action

Top 5 Negative Things
1. Prices can be slightly high
2. Our waitress thought Chao was a girl (actually this was funny because she felt terrible)
3. Lamb
4. If you get a burger the garnish makes the bun soggy
5. Location (only because I don't live in Eagan)

Great Place for: business lunch, TV sports spectators, family outings, dates

Doolittle's is one of those places where you step out of your car and your hunger level is multiplied by 6 because you can smell the meat cooking. Even if you don't like meat. Its science. When you are brought to your table you are walked by a giant rotisserie with glass so you can see the meat spin inside on the skewers. I love watching rotating meat but it leaves me with many questions. Such as, how often is the meat removed? When we are there and the restaurant is closing in an hour, why is there still so much meat being cooked? Who is this meat for? Is it used the next day and if so, is that alright? Next time I am totally asking and will update with what I find out.

We have been to Doolittle's a few times and have gotten a variety of different things on the menu. It is one of those places where you can get salads, sandwiches, burgers, or expensive steaks and other entrees. I have had the Beef Tenderloin with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce and the Hickory Burger. Both were fabulous. Chao had the Rotisserie Lamb Focaccia on our second trip which he wasn't too excited about but he also had the Asian Salad which he liked. I have had both the Caesar Salad and the Bacon and Spinach Salad and I highly recommend both.

Definitely stick with meat. Get a salad. Avoid the lamb.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Redstone American Grill - Eden Prairie, MN

Top 5 Positive Things
1. Atmosphere/Decor
2. Strawberry lemonade
3. Varied lunch menu with good flavor combinations
4. Portion sizes were appropriate for a healthy eater
5. The cornbread appetizer was really good (and can be ordered in single slices with your meal)

Top 5 Negative Things
1. Prices were slightly high
2. Some salads are presented all fancy-style, which means they are a pain to cut into bite size pieces
3. Tornado siren testing happened during lunch RIGHT outside the building – wow.
4. Lunch crowd gets the new wait staff until they’re good enough to serve the dinner crowd
5. A LOT of staff – we met 5 or 6 people in our culinary journey (who am I tipping?)

Great Place for: business lunch or singles pick-ups at dinner (from what I’ve heard)

A group of my co-workers went to lunch at Redstone American Grill and had a great experience. I was hard-pressed to come up with 5 negatives. Right off the bat, the parking lot had some of the best food smells I’ve ever been around, I could tell it was going to be good. The place is beautiful inside. Large dark wood tables and walls that open up to let in the breeze or let you eat outside. The staff was really nice, if a bit young, and pretty attentive. I ordered the Kai Thai Chicken Salad, over my second choice of the Redstone burger – tough call, but I ended up just fine. Enough people in the group wanted cornbread with their meals that we got one for the whole table. It was served by a trendy chap with silvery sunglasses right out of a cast iron skillet onto our appetizer plates. Really good and buttery, which apparently some people thought was too heavy (they don’t have the hick relatives that *I* do obviously). I can’t go on enough about the strawberry lemonade. I’m not usually a flavored lemonade guy, but it sounded right, and it was. Perfect combo of flavors. The salad was better than I imagined. It was NOT iceberg lettuce and had carrots, tortilla strips, lime vinaigrette, and was drizzled in peanut sauce. Top notch salad (this coming from a non-salad guy). Everyone else seemed happy with their meals. Apparently, flatbread pizzas are a specialty and looked really good – those that ordered that raved about them. Soups and other salads seemed to hit the spot for other people. Looks like you can’t go wrong with anything on this small but varied menu.