Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ron Sexsmith – Varsity Theater – Minneapolis, MN

I’d been looking forward to this show for a couple of months and it didn’t disappoint. Trash always mocks Ron in public, but is a closet fan. After this show, she said, “I forgot how much I like his music. I’m glad I went.” In your FACE, Trash. I win. Also, it makes us deeply miss our surly Asian friend from Vancouver, WA – who introduced us to Ron Sexsmith in the first place and who will be seeing Ron and Meagan out in Portland, OR in a week or two.

The venue is a really cool place to see a show. The sound quality was good, and they had it set up coffee-house style since there wasn’t a chance in hell of a circle pit breaking out. Low lighting heavy drapes on the walls, small tables, and some comfy chairs and couches made this a really great venue for this type of show.

Meagan Smith opened the show. There’s something I like about her and something that gave me issues. I’m not sure which was which or why really. She has a great voice and sings half serious-half amusing songs. But she seemed uncomfortable talking to the crowd – and not in a cute way. It made me feel weird watching her talk. Her songs were good, though I’m still undecided on the song that some hiphop dj made prerecorded samples for. Weird, but maybe it comes off better on CD. She’s worth checking out. She got signed to a major label, so I’m guessing they’ll white it up and it will sound a bit better.

Ron played a really solid set, as usual. Played from a set list which included songs from all his albums (which I now own), and he played a couple songs that people shouted out from the crowd. He’s got good report with people and was cracking wise more than I’d seen him do the other times I’ve seen him. It was hilarious. There were some technical glitches with microphone buzzing, but he kept right on – didn’t even bother him. He made a joke about some feedback early in the show and kept right on. He even messed up a guitar part, laughed, apologized and went right on. He’s a professional, but he’s human. I like to see that once in a while. He’s a great performer, though someone once told me he looks like an ugly woman – it’s true though.

Gerd had some sort of conniption after the show about him stealing a Crosby, Stills, and Nash song (she's VERY touchy about her classic rock/folk music). But she was bored most of the show, so hopefully, she sat and stewed about that first song and it gave her something to do for the next hour. I'm kidding...

I’ll be back to see him the next time we are in the same city, so if you’re game, let me know. The more the merrier.

Top 5 things about the Ron Sexsmith show
1. Ron is an awesome guitarist – very underrated
2. Great venue
3. Ron’s backup musicians are very good
4. He’s human, emotional, hilarious, and sensitive – you should totally marry him (whoever “you” are)
5. Tickets were $10 – wurd

Bottom 5 things
1. Electric guitar was a smidge too loud
2. Loud talkers next to us
3. Ron stocks only M and L shirts – I refuse to lose weight for Ron Sexsmith
4. I didn’t get one of the previously mentioned “comfy” chairs
5. There was a drunk guy in a duster coat staggering around the crowd during the show

http://www.ronsexsmith.com/

Annie’s Parlor – Minneapolis, MN

Trash, Gerd, and I got to the Ron Sexsmith show about an hour early (before the doors were even open to the venue), so we walked around Dinkytown a bit in search of entertainment. We did some second-hand clothing browsing (I think it was at Everyday People), looking for apparel for our team Halloween costume. Items almost purchased:
• Skin head flight jacket which said “Brass Knuckles” on it
• Bull fighter tiny jacket
• Blue see-through silky shirt with leg holes
• Square dance duds
• A Lorax-fur jacket
• Purple ruffle-y shirt
We didn’t find anything worth buying for the costume, but I will tell you this – Trash has issues telling the difference between square dancing and polygamist. (I’ll just let you ponder that for a while…)

Trash recommended this burger place for us to try, which is amusing, since she’s a vegetarian, but whatever. She walked us to Annie’s Parlor and then up 300 stairs. The place has a weird vibe – kind of divey, but you have to wait to be seated. But the people seemed friendly enough (though the host took a personal call as we were walking up to the desk and he waved someone else over to seat us – rude).

Gerd and I had already eaten, so we split a bacon cheese burger (sad, but true). Trash ended up with a veggie burger after she harassed the waitress – “Is the veggie burger ASS or is it GOOD?! – Oh, you hesitated, it must suck.” She decided on getting it anyway, but the transaction made our already skittish waitress more uncomfortable. We split some fries, which Trash said were awesome – they were. The veggie burger, which we were all forced to try was edible from my standpoint. Being familiar with the taste of flesh, this patty (I refuse to call it a burger) made with smashed sticks, grass, and other parent-less items tasted like all of the above. Even the cheese covering the top didn’t help. However, Trash said it was really good. So all you vegetarians, this might be a place to get a decent veggie “burger”.

Gerd and I’s burger was really good. More than enough for both of us, even cut in half. Really juicy and flavorful, and ample bacon and cheese. I got a look from Trash when I mentioned it was better than Matt’s. There must have been some mistake when we went to Matt’s – but my burger wasn’t that good. I’m willing to accept someone had a bad night in the kitchen or someone new was starting, so I WILL give Matt’s another try. Geeeeesh, some people are touchy.

If you’re in Dinkytown (near the University of Minnesota), this is a great place to go. I’ll go here again and I’ll get my own burger. The malts looked good, but I would have exploded fo sho.

Top 5 things about Annie’s
1. Great burgers
2. Fries
3. Anything with bacon
4. Pretty quick to get in and out (TWSS)
5. The milkshakes/malts looked awesome

Bottom 5 things
1. 300 stairs
2. Weird vibe
3. No parking
4. veggie burger (from a carnivore viewpoint only)
5. I wish I hadn’t eaten before coming here

http://www.dinkytownminneapolis.com/eat/annies/index.asp

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Uncle Franky’s – Minneapolis, MN

This restaurant was one that I drove past and almost turned the car around to eat at about 15 times. Today was the day. I had a hankerin’ for some meat on a bun. This place is a hidden gem in the Twin Cities. It’s not in a great part of town, but it’s not in a terrible part of town. Don’t let the outside fool you – there is quality food inside. The inside was actually a lot nicer than I expected it to be.

The place is decorated in kind of a Scooby-doo theme. It’s actually kind of creepy, in fact, There’s figurines from the 70’s in the windows and on the shelves, and watching you while you eat. You order at the counter after reading the hand-written chalkboard menu. Then you sit and someone from behind the counter yells out to you about what toppings and condiments you want on your meat.

I will give SERIOUS props to the owners of this place for having a Wesley Willis drawing hanging on the wall. It’s a HUGE one as well. I’m not sure if it’s an original or not, but it looks like one. I recognized it when I first walked into the place. Awesome. They also had an arcade stand-up version of 1943: the Battle of Midway. It’s an airplane bombing game I used to play back in the 80’s. That’s seriously old-school. (I couldn’t scrounge up a quarter to actually play it, but I was still impressed.) If that weren’t enough to tantalize you to go here, they had what looks like a paint-by-number Fantastic 4 painting hanging up as well.

I ordered the “Gut Buster”, which is an Italian sausage in a bun with Italian beef layered on top of it. The guy yelled out, “You want this dipped?” I didn’t know what he meant until he dunked my bun and sausage into the simmering Italian beef juice and then piled the Italian beef on top of it. Brilliant idea!!! It was awesome, truly awesome. I threw on some ketchup and BBQ sauce and ate the best bun-related meal I’ve had in years. They also had strawberry pop, which I’m a huge fan of, so SCORE!!! Gerd got a cheese burger and a hot dog – standard issue with the condiments and such, and they were also really good. It doesn’t look like you can go wrong with too many things on this menu. They had chili burgers and chili dogs, and couple of wussy chicken sandwichy type things. But I would go back here anytime I get the need for a dog. I know they have a new location, but you need the ambience to eat at this place. Don’t go to the Franky’s stands at Home Depot either, those are fine, but again, you need to have things dipped and you need to be yelled at, and you also need to bask in the Wesley Willis-ian glory.

Top 5 things about Franky’s
1) Fan of Wesley Willis
2) The Gut Buster
3) Dipping whole meals into meat juices
4) Strawberry pop
5) The menu is extensive for a hot dog place

Bottom 5 things
1) Scooby-doo creep show
2) Near some sketchy neighborhoods (It’s still safe, though)
3) The pop might have been homemade, so the diet cola tasted weird
4) Limited seating
5) No quarters for 1943

http://unclefrankys.com/

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fort Snelling - St. Paul, MN

So Gerd and I went to Ft. Snelling. It's a historical fort in Minneapolis that served some military purpose. There was a 17 minute-long video (shot in the early 80's) which was supposed explain the history and purpose of the fort, but fell sadly short. Honestly, it was the life of random guy in the army back in the time of Colonel Snelling and it basically showed NOTHING about the fort being built, rebuilt, use of, or modernization of the thing. Seriously what I got out of this movie was that there were airplanes flying in the background back in the 1800's and a creepy soldier could talk to small boys and everyone seems fine with it.

The reason I'm writing about this particular trip is because there are people dressed in period attire sitting in various rooms of the fort to answer questions about churning butter, or cooking over a hearth, or being Mrs. Snelling, etc. So Gerd and I were in one of the rooms checking out the bunk beds in the barracks where they sleep head to foot in each bed - FOUR per bunk bed. Then we hear, from the next room, the lady say "Some of the soldiers wore these tard hats." So I start cracking up and we move closer to the door between the rooms, so I can hear more. Then the lady says, "Those hats are the rejects." So we casually stroll into the room to see these tard hats while I try super hard to contain my laughter. It was then that I realized the lady was saying the hats were actually covered in tar to make them water-proof. So indeed the hats were tarred.

What a buzz kill. I still kept laughing through the rest of the tour. And then I got a photo of an airplane flying over the fort (just like in the early 1800's) to complete the day.

Fortunately, we checked out free passes to the fort from the public library (brilliant idea), or I would have been really mad at being led to believe there were special hats for retarded people.

Top 5 things about Fort Snelling
1. Tard Hats
2. It was free with help from the public library
3. The video had us laughing for hours
4. Musket demo (why does that sound dirty all of a sudden?)
5. Super modern bathroom in the basement of a rustic building

Bottom 5 things
1. LARP-ers
2. The video had us laughing for hours
3. Didn’t get to eat food from the hearth cooking demo
4. Got lost trying to find it
5. I hope these reenactors have real jobs

http://www.mnhs.org/places/sites/hfs/

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Salut: Bar Americain – Edina, MN

This one is going to be a long post – I have a lot to say.

Let’s start by saying we’ve wanted to go here for a few months now, so we were really keyed up when we decided on this place. Salut is kind of an American-fare restaurant with a French twist. Inside it looks a bit like a French bistro, with red and white checkered table cloths and upscale without being completely snooty. We always see people sitting on the patio and the place looks packed all the time. We got some reservations and did it up.

As usual, we looked at the menu online, so we knew with about 85% confidence what we would be getting. Of course, the specials sometimes confound that plan, but we’re versatile in most situations (when it comes to food, especially).

The waitress brought us out some crackers with garlic/beet puree. It looked red and scary, but was actually pretty darn good. (I’ve decided I can do beets now, thanks to Dwight Schrute.) It was kind of the like the chef’s special appetizer. It ruled. We also got some French bread (it’s kind of French, remember?) and some super salty butter which I’m a huge fan of (getting huge-er).

Gerd decided on the burger, which we saw made the list of best burgers in Minnesota. It was huge and awesome. All covered with cheese and stuff. Honestly, it’s one the best burgers I’ve ever had. It should be number one on that list from what I’ve seen, but I know the people at Matt’s will put up a fight if I start lobbying for that. Seriously. It was awesome. The fries we’ve also heard about and the waitress recommended us trying them since we hadn’t been here before. They were REALLY good fries. Lightly seasoned and cooked much darker brown than fast food places. Get these fries, people. You’ll thank me for it.

I ended up with the Roasted Chicken Tagine. I discovered the wonders of the tagine this past summer at Williams Sonoma. I saw this triangle shaped pan on the shelf at WS and couldn’t figure out what it was. So I asked (Yes, I’m a guy, but I can still ask for help when I need it – see previous statement about food-related things). The worker told me all about the tagine, I don’t remember any of it, except you cook it with this pyramid shaped lid on it and all the juices run back down the sides and back into the food. You can cook many things at once and they all end up super moist. I was sold. Unfortunately, these things are multiple hundreds of dollars, so the tagine was not sold to ME. (If I find out I can make mac and cheese or bacon in this thing though, I might reconsider…)

Since I saw it on the menu, I went for it. Basically a half chicken with Moroccan spices and couscous. It had to be good right? The server (not our waitress) brought it out and promptly dumped a container of sri racha sauce onto my pants and freaked out. There were all kinds of napkins flying around and apologies. I told her not to worry about it after we got it cleaned up as well as we could. Then she said, “good thing I’m not your waitress,” and walked back into the kitchen. Hilarious. A manager came over to make sure I wasn’t going to stab anyone and gave me a shout pen to help with the stain (they’re in the washing machine right now, so I don’t know if the stain is coming out yet). He also was super apologetic. And our waitress came out and apologized as well. I think we’re good here, folks. It’s fine. Now I have hot pants. No worries.

Back to the tagine-ified chicken. This is a brilliant way to cook chicken. The flavor was awesome. I can’t tell you what Moroccan spices really are, but I know they are good. The couscous absorbed tons of the flavor as well, so the whole thing was awesome. I will stop right here though and tell you about my hatred of high-labor food. I hate to eat things that take longer to dismantle and get ready to eat than they do actually eat. Half-chickens are near the top of the list, as are whole walnuts, oranges (depending on my mood), and fajitas. Only lychees and peanuts are worth me spending any time on. And now, the tagine half-chicken is almost making it into the list. I really loved it, but I need to hire a food servant that will disassemble the chicken for me next time (I wonder if they’d be offended if I asked for chicken strips instead of bone-filled chicken) (I wonder if I could combine the tagine with Popeye’s and melt people’s faces with the awesomeness that would be what I would call – ca-jine [Cajun + tagine]) (I rule).

Bottom line, buy yourself a blast shield for your clothing and go eat here. It’s awesome. It’s slightly pricey, but you really will get what you pay for here. They have a raw bar there also – which is where you can hunt your own oysters (they’re fast critters from what I hear) and slurp them away from the table you’re sitting at.

Top 5 things about Salut
1. Tagine chicken
2. Amazing burger
3. Frites (French fries) ruled
4. Very friendly (and apologetic) staff
5. Beet/Garlic paste

Bottom 5 things
1. High-labor food
2. Spill-y McGee
3. Slightly pricey, especially in today’s economic… blah blah blah
4. It’s usually packed to the gills
5. I should have whipped my pants off after they spilled on me, just to guilt them into a free meal

http://www.salutbaramericain.com

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pizza Lucé – Minneapolis, MN

We got a tip for this place from a guy I work with. He has the best recommendations for ANY kind of food and has never steered us wrong. I’m continually giving him gold stars for his suggestions. We added it to the culinary tour of the Twin Cities with Gerd’s mom because she wanted to get a feel for the downtown. We needed to do some shopping downtown, so we picked Pizza Lucé for a quick dinner.

The restaurant is known for its pizza, but it has a lot of other things that look really good on the menu. The pastas all look great as do the salads and sandwiches. There’s nothing bad in the entire place. They also cater to Vegans, but that’s not my thang. Good beer selection and drink specials as well. The staff are hip punk rockers who are normal non-kiss-ass functional staff. They get the job done without schmoozing, but they’re super helpful. This place has won all kinds of city awards for being awesome.

We started with the Focaccia Katerina for an appetizer. It’s a loaf of Focaccia bread sliced, covered with pesto, tomatoes, and provolone. It’s served with red sauce which was waaaay better than standard marinara. Not sure what’s in it, but it’s darn good. Having stuffed ourselves with appetizer bread, we began to haggle over whether to get three pizzas or two.

We decided to get two 10” pizzas since we would be walking and didn’t want to gorge ourselves (well SOME of us wanted to, but were denied, we won’t mention any names…). We got a baked potato pizza and The Wrangler. The Wrangler is a BBQ chicken pizza with mushrooms and cheese (we left off the peppers and onions due to someone’s name which rhymes with Nerd…). It was awesome. The sauce was really good and the chicken wasn’t gristle-y. What’s a baked potato pizza you ask? Only the best pizza idea ever (with a close second being tater tot pizza from Pizza Joynt in Milan, Illinois). Pizza crust without red sauce, but covered in ruby red mashed potatoes. Add some broccoli, tomatoes, cheese and bacon bits and serve with a side of sour cream. Seriously, it’s awesome. I’ve been to a couple of places in Minneapolis with mashed potato pizza of some sort but this one is the best, I’m saying. It’s really really really good.

Top 5 things about Pizza Lucé
1) Random pizza selection which will shock you at first, but will make you want to experiment
2) Awesome décor (cool menus) (downtown location only – we haven’t been to the other ones – yet)
3) Staff are “quirky” but great
4) Menu has soooo many good things on it
5) They have a “slice” line for grabbing a quick and cheap lunch if you work downtown

Bottom 5 things
1) Only have one stomach
2) Location can be crazy during normal work hours
3) Some of the staff might be mistaken for surly
4) Like any downtown restaurant in any city, there are some freakshows that roll in
5) Some of the waiters wear those stupid punk rock skin tight pants

http://www.pizzaluce.com

Chiang Mai Thai – Minneapolis, MN

We took Gerd’s mom here on the culinary tour of the Twin Cities. It’s one of our favorite places in the area, so we’re totally biased. I’ll just tell you that up front. We met M. Giant, Trash, and Bitter at the restaurant, since we’re not allowed to eat there without them.

When we arrived, the other three had ordered one of every happy hour appetizer on the menu, which ruled because they were like 2 or three dollars each. All of the appetizers were amazing, and we all got to try some of everything (except those of us who are scared of dead things – lame). We ended up with like 13 plates on the table and no room to move until the waitress brought out the entrees.

Gerd got the Pad Thai which is Thailand’s version of spaghetti. It’s hard to go wrong with it. It’s always really good there. Great flavor and generous portion size – enough that I finished my own meal, ate some of hers, and still took some home for later. Gerd’s mom got the Khao Cadeukadeek – it’s beef tenderloin on top of tomato-fried rice. It comes with hoisin sauce and sri racha and is one of the best things on the menu. It’s truly amazing, but people always point to it on the menu when they order it. I usually go into the bathroom and practice saying it a few times. (Imagine walking into the restroom hearing Cadeukadeek chanted from the stall – Hilarious!) I ended up with the Pad Sri Racha. All kinds of vegetable bits with some chicken in a spicy sauce. I hadn’t had it before this trip, but I’m always up for trying new things at this place. I’ve never had a bad meal there.

It also has a great restroom, just in case you were wondering.

Top 5 things about Chiang Mai Thai
1) Everything food related
2) Super-cheap appetizers and drinks at happy hour
3) Really good girly drinks with fun names
4) Décor rules
5) The service is top-notch

Bottom 5 things
1) Parking – suddenly it’s valet only
2) Can be a long wait on weekends
3) It’s “technically” in a mall (but not really)
4) “Khao Cadeukadeek” is really hard to say – but you have to try it!
5) There is never enough room for dessert…

http://www.chiangmaithai.com

Friday, September 19, 2008

5-8 Club – Minneapolis, MN

We’ve heard all the hype about which place has the best Jucy Lucy in Minneapolis. We’ve tried a couple places (Matt’s, the Nook, etc). With Gerd’s mom in town, we thought we’d better hook her up with the Minnesota staple food. If you don’t know what that is, it’s easy – it’s a cheeseburger, but the cheese is stuffed INSIDE the burger. Modern science working to your advantage, friends. Matt’s was too far, The Nook was way too far, so we went with the other place our friends have spoken about – the 5-8 Club. We’d never been there, so we told Gerd’s mom to… uhhh… not dress up, since it is likely a seedy dark bar with 5 tables (like the other Jucy Lucy places are).

We hit the road and actually found it by accident, based on Gerd’s totally messed up Google map program which shows a map totally unrelated to the highlighted driving route it gives you. It’s hilarious. I’ll throw a photo up here so you can see what I’m talking about.

We pulled into the ample parking lot and were amazed to see decent, respectable folk going into and out of the place. Weird. We get inside and it’s like a restaurant in there. Not at all what we were expecting. We found a table pretty quick, but got there just in time as we saw a slew of old people and pregnant people standing and waiting after we sat down. Not our problem, is it? (I’m totally kidding – if a pregnant woman were standing and waiting, I would invite her to sit and wait at our table…)

It actually was a tough decision because of the awesome looking OTHER food on the menu, but Gerd and her mother both ended up with the standard Jucy Lucy and JoJo’s which are like potato wedges (I feel the cooks get sick of cutting standard sized fries and just cut the potato into quarters to get through them faster – just my own theory here. They're probably exhausted from stuffing cheese inside hamburgers, so I'll cut them some slack.). The Lucys were delicious and more than one comment was made about the them actually being better than other places – sorry to offend, since some people will take that previous statement personally, but it’s true. Great potato wedges as well, so no complaints at all. We did have to remind Gerd’s mom not to eat the Jucy Lucy right away. See, the cheese is super heated to molten lava inside the burger. Your first bite usually ends up with cheese running down your face (and shirt and pants for some of us). Now warm cheese is fine, but scalding fire on your face is sure to leave a mark and force some sort of primal scream out of you in public – funny for others, not funny for you.

I ended up with the Saucy Sally, which is a half pound burger stuffed with frisco sauce (they call it secret sauce, but I’m totally on to their game), topped with American cheese, shredded lettuce and Thousand Island dressing. I’m SURE there couldn’t have been more the like 150 or 200 calories in this thing. Ha ha ha ha. I also got the onion rings which looked mighty tasty when the waitress walked other people’s orders past us as I was ordering. And this place is one of like two restaurants in the Twin Cities that serves Pepsi products, so I was able to score some Dew there. Seriously, you have no idea how much that means to me. The Sally was amazing, and Gerd kept trying to distract me so she could steal my frisco sauce and Thousand Island dressing dippin sauce for her JoJos.

I’ve mentioned the onion thing before in the Malt Shop post. I don’t eat the onions, just the fried part. So I left my usual pile of onion ring innards in the basket. Here’s what I’m talking about.


I’m a freak show. What do you expect?

Bottom line is – we’ll be back to this place. And for some reason, both Gerd and her mom raved about the bathroom. Seriously. The bathroom.


Top 5 things about the 5-8 Club
1. Saucy Sally
2. Jucy Lucy
3. Onion Rings
4. They have Mt. Dew
5. It’s more restaurant than bar, so you can bring the parents

Bottom 5 things
1. Can be tricky to get to
2. Not a dive bar – you decide whether this is good or bad
3. You’ll wait if you show up after like 6
4. Too many awesome looking dishes to try
5. We saw a sign on the wall for pig powder and are unsure what that means

http://www.5-8club.com

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Barbette - Minneapolis, MN

Barbette is a French-American cafe sort of restaurant in Uptown. We went there with my mom as part of the Gerd's Mom Restaurant Tour which took place all of this last week. My first impression of entering Barbette was that I was so not cool enough to eat there. There was cool art, cool lights, cool staff, cool furniture, and I am not cool.

Let me tell you what is the coolest, though, and that is the Cheese Fondue Appetizer (the cool kids call it an amusement on their menu). The Cheese Fondue came with fresh mushrooms, diced apple, and baguette pieces. It ruled. I had a petite tenderloin which was served with spinach salad and leeks. It was also really good, but absolutely none if it was dipped in melted cheese. Let's be honest here though about the petit tenderloin - I could've eaten four of them. Just saying it was a bit too petit for me. Chao had some type of pork tenderloin with crunchy grass, baby food squash and albino beets. The baby food ruled. My mom had risotto with shrimp and veggies mixed in. Their dinners were good (yes I tried everything - I told you mine was petit), but mine was clearly the winner. I would 100% go back to this place to get Cheese Fondue and maybe some wine, but I might skip it for dinner. They also seemed to have good happy hour specials so that might be worth doing, also.

I am starting a new tag with the post and it will probably be a series so look out for that. It is called, "the server called Chao a girl." This happens often in restaurants when the server comes up behind Chao and sees only his long hair and then begins with, "Hi ladies." It is hilarious when this happens because they all react differently. Here at Barbette, it didn't even phase her and she moved right on. She was far too cool to be embarrassed.

Top 5:
1. Cheese Fondue
2. Hip place
3. Awesome lights over the bar
4. Cool art
5. Cute tables to sit at outside if you are into that sort of thing

Bottom 5:
1. No refills on pop
2. Petit is seriously petit
3. There is apparently a cold spot in the restroom
4. Small tables (too cafe-ish?)
5. The mushrooms were cut too big for the fondue

http://www.barbette.com/

Friday, September 12, 2008

Christos – Minnetonka, MN

My work team decided to celebrate our boss’ birthday by going to Christos Greek Restaurant in Minnetonka. It’s not really close to work, but with the boss along, how can we get yelled at for taking too long, right? Score.

The place is not easy to get to. The restaurant website even says so, so if you’re planning a trip here, print out directions from their website – they give turn by turn directions and you’ll need them. Once you get there, you’ll be greeted by (impending broad generalization statement) typical surly Greek staff. Hey, I do know a LOT of Greek people. After they reprimanded us for bringing such a large group and not calling ahead (which we most certainly did and they forgot), everything ran quite smoothly.

I won’t go into what everyone ordered since there were like 12 of us. However, I got a Hot Sampler (which sounds just a tiny bit dirty), which has some gyro meat and a couple of unpronounceable items also. According to the website, it also came with Loukaniko and Koupepia. The Loukaniko is a spicy pork sausage (kind of like a spicy brat for you Packer fans). It was really good and flavorful, especially dipped in the tzatziki. Highly recommended. The Koupepia (also known as Cyprus Dolmathes) were grape leaves stuffed with ground beef, lamb, rice and herbs, and topped with a lemon sauce. This had potential, but I think the sauce was so overpowering that it took away from the whole thing. You could tell it was super good though. I would get it again for sure. The gyro meat was good like it usually is, so no complaints there either. Topped off with some fresh squeezed lemonade and you’ve got yourself a pretty awesome lunch.

If you can find this place (I know there are easier to find locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul), I would suggest going there. It’s really good. It’s not a gyro stand kind of fast food place. It’s a full-on sit down just-short-of-fancy restaurant.

Top 5 things about Christos
1. The Loukaniko
2. Everything on the menu was explained in detail
3. Lemonade was really good
4. Very classy restaurant
5. Homemade tzatziki sauce

Bottom 5 things
1. Super hard to drive to
2. Surly Greeks (No offense)
3. My belly (despite it’s external profile) is too small to eat everything on the menu
4. I chuckled when I thought about the TV newscaster saying, “Let’s go Greek” (if you don’t know, don’t ask) (if you do know, don’t tell my mom)
5. This is another Greek restaurant that doesn’t offer a Snuffalupagus.

http://www.christos.com

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Red Dragon - Minneapolis, MN

The Red Dragon is probably the restaurant I have been told the most about from a few different people since moving up here. I have heard that the Wondrous Punch is fabulous and the food is not. We went to try it the day I came down with pneumonia (well Chao has been here before). Jim, don't be mad that we didn't call you. This was a total last minute decision after I made a serious error in the kitchen. I can cook a lot of things, but if it involves toasting bread, everyone is screwed. After burning the bread for our dinner at home (well, the bread was the entire dinner - we were lazy), we went out and ended up at the Red Dragon. Whew! That was a lot of extra information. Sorry.

We get to the Red Dragon and both order Wondrous Punch. If you are interested, you can find the recipe here. I have done a fair amount of drinking in my time but due to the fact that I am not in college anymore and the reason behind my nickname, I have significantly reduced this habit. I stick to strictly things that taste good including anything Chao makes, beer and wine, and small amounts of whatever it is. Wondrous Punch does not taste good. Unless mine was made wrong, it has very little juice mix in it and has large amounts of alcohol in its place. It didn't taste Wondrous. However, not one to back down from a culinary challenge, I went for it anyway using every strategy I could think of short of plugging my nose and chugging to finish. Chao was getting very nervous. I was getting very tipsy.

Our appetizer arrived which was either crab rangoons or cream cheese wontons. I Wondrously can't remember which, but they were super good! The sweet and sour sauce is served in plastic red ketchup containers and the hot mustard sauce is served in plastic yellow mustard containers making me feel like I was on a Chinese picnic. The only thing missing were picnic baskets with Peking Ducks hanging out the side. Our food came next and it was really good. Mine had shrimp and chicken or pork (again a bit fuzzy on this) and some other stuff I can't recall. I liked it though and am glad I didn't listen to people who knocked the Red Dragon's food. Chao liked his too. Don't ask me what he had either.

Top 5:
1. Cream Cheese Wontons or Crab Rangoons.
2. Picnic condiment holders.
3. Crazy people watching goodness.
4. Good food.
5. Fun atmosphere.

Bottom 5:
1. Wondrous Punch needs more juice as I am a lightweight.
2. During busy times you have to wait as it is a happening place.
3. Kind of expensive.
4. Parking.
5. I didn't mean to get all dru@4lkd)$312avpqmx/

Pneumonia - My Lung

I recently updated everyone on my emergency room visit but I felt as if I left a few things unsaid about pneumonia as a whole. First off, I should complete the story. Chao and I were at the fair enjoying the mass amount of food we photographed for everyone's enjoyment. I began to get extremely tired, and kept asking if we could sit and rest. At first I thought I was just lazy and had eaten too much, but then realized I was at a whole other level of tired. When we got home from the fair, I fell asleep on the couch, and when I woke up I had a pain in my ribs. I figured I slept on the couch funny, as I was avoiding smashing a wee dog who seemed to need to share the couch with me, and pulled a muscle. So naturally we decided to go eat and start drinking. After a less-than-wondrous punch (which is a story for another post) I was feeling quite happy about my situation (I will say this - there is a lot of alcohol in that drink). We returned home and I proceeded to throw up (hey, I didn't say this story would be pretty!) (The question is...can I use any more parenthesis? Let's find out!)

The next day I woke up and couldn't take a full breath without screaming. My biggest problem at that point, however, was the fact that we were out of Diet Mountain Dew. So I convince Chao to go to the store with me to satisfy my caffeine addiction, and of course I choose to go to the fancy one that always has a plethora of samples on weekend days. We walk around shopping, sampling, and of course I screamed a couple of times if I took a deep breath. After our trip I decided it might be best to visit a doctor, which you read all about in the earlier post about my hospital visit.

To sum up last week, I missed an entire week of work (minus Labor Day which I already had off), I slept a LOT, I have leftover Vicodin, Chao is extremely patient, and I don't want to get pneumonia ever again. I am feeling better now, although in the process of being stabbed repeatedly by the IV Special Teams, I now have phlebitis in my arm. This means I can't touch my vein or it hurts but I get to take codeine. Not the worst exchange in the world.

Top 5:
1. I am NOT a bossy girlfriend, but I totally got Chao to do all kinds of things for me while I was sick.
2. No work for a whole week although it wasn't the most enjoyable way to spend the occasion.
3. Pain killers.
4. I watched lots of terrible TV.
5. I didn't have to wear pants everyday!

Bottom 5:
1. Pain.
2. Public embarrassment from yelling as a result of pain.
3. I was really funny all week but couldn't say anything funny out loud or I would laugh, and then scream in pain, and then cry from the pain, which caused more pain.
4. IV Special Teams.
5. Phlebitis.

Pneumonia

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Malt Shop – Minneapolis, MN

So Gerd and I went out for our anniversary dinner at the Malt Shop since we had received an e-mail offering buy one entrée, get one free. Really classy for an anniversary dinner, eh? I’m like that. Also, it wasn’t REALLY our anniversary. I’ll let you in on a little hint. When you sign up for restaurant mailing lists, some of them have a field for anniversary date. If you spread random dates out throughout the year at various restaurants, you’ll end up with a free something-or-other about once a month. Yeah, I’m that guy.

The Malt Shop is more than just an ice cream place, they have really good sandwiches, salads, soups, and a handful of dinner entrees. It’s not a huge menu, but if you want something light, it’s a really good bet. We started with a Caesar salad – I should say that Gerd started with a Caesar salad (strangely forgoing the fried side items she usually doubles up on). I ended up eating half of it, when I realized the croutons on the salad were the second best croutons in the world (the first still being Outback – without question). So I ate a generous helping of really good Caesar salad with exceptional croutons and waited for the serious food.

I ended up with an LS Burger. Not sure what the “LS” stands for, but if bacon or cheese started with an “L” or an “S”, then that would be what it stood for. Really good restaurant style burger. Not fabulous, like Matt’s or The Nook, but a quality burger, overall. I upgraded the fries to onion rings and was really happy with that decision. The batter was really good. I know it’s kind of hard to screw up onion rings, but I’m one of those “texture” people and can’t handle the crunch of onions, so I pull the onions out and only eat the batter. I end up leaving a heaping pile of naked onion rings on the plate and raise a few eyebrows of waiters. I know, I’m five, but that’s how I roll. So some onion rings and I don’t get along. THESE onion rings and I got along fabulously. Top all that off with a strawberry shake that was really good (and served in both glass and metal cups – for those of you who like that sort of thing).

Gerd ordered what I called some sort of hippy sammich. It was a chicken sandwich with a bushel of sprouts, cucumbers, some tomatoes, and a slab of cream cheese on it. She left a small chia pet on her plate just to get the thing into her mouth, and then complained that the cucumbers were too much. Really? So I got the cucumbers. The sammich had some buffalo sauce on the side for dipping, and apparently that helped lubricate the thing down your gullet, but still wasn’t the greatest. The bread was a tad dry and crumbly as well, from the bite that I was able to eat. Honestly, the flavor was quite good though. I can’t complain. It’s not every vegetarian sandwich that you can throw a piece of chicken on and it works out. Actually, the place is very vegetarian-friendly – if that’s your thing. Gerd got the chocolate malt and said it was fabulous. I’m a purist – the only thing you use malt for is your balls. Malted milk balls.

Top 5 things about the Malt Shop
1. Croutons
2. The Malts/Shakes
3. Burger
4. Waiter was really good
5. Little kids with blinky-light shoes playing under the booth. "Tiny Rave"

Bottom 5 things
1. Dry bread on the hippy sammich
2. Chia pet topping
3. It can be cramped
4. The slogan on the shirts is stupid – "What’s your malt?" – what does that even mean?
5. A lot of old people


www.themaltshoprestaurant.com

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Intronaut, Behold…The Arctopus, Mouth of the Architect – Des Moines, IA

The last time Intronaut played near me, there was a huge ice storm that prevented me from going. I was not pleased. So a 4 hour drive from the Twin Cities was not even a concern for me. I met Sarah, Coach, Tara, Jim, and Smalls at Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines for this stellar show.

I missed the opening band(s) due to the fact that I was starving – see the post on the Royal Mile. But I walked in to see Intronaut saying who they were and starting the show. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this show. I absolutely love these guys. It’s a sick combination of metal and jazz. The bass player has some serious jazz chops and drives the jazzy portion of the sound. The guitarists are extremely good and don’t play stupid power chords. There were some real chords being used as a weird mix of metal and jazz. Hard to explain. The drummer was an absolute machine with all kinds of time and temp changes and insane accents where you weren’t expecting. They played some new stuff which was insane. I can’t wait for the new cd to come out in a few weeks.

Behold…The Arctopus played next. Three piece insane tech metal act with a catch. They have two guitarists a bass player and a drummer. Sounds like four but it’s not. One of the guitarists played a twelve string, thick necked “war guitar”. Let me try to explain: Imagine two guitar necks fused together to accommodate twelve strings. Six regular strings and then a six string bass above that, but strung inverted. So you’ve got kind of a high-low-high stringing. The guy tapped both parts at the same time. Absolutely insane arpeggios. He looked like he was playing piano, while jumping around and flailing about. This going on while the other guitarist, playing a standard guitar, shredded some of the most intricate patterns I’ve ever heard. The drummer sounded like he was soloing the entire time, yet, everyone seemed to follow him like clockwork. People stood there in amazement, not sure who to watch. I bought their DVD which shows multiple 3-pane shots of all of them playing. It’s awesome.

While Arctopus was playing their last song, the Intronaut guys stormed the stage and dismantled the drumset while he was playing. Everyone was cracking up, but the drummer kept going with like 2 drums and a cymbal. It’s SOOO nice to see bands have fun on stage.

Mouth of the Architect played next. I was unfamiliar with them, but Sarah reminded me they were a sludge band. If you’re not familiar, that means you play excrutiatingly slow repetitive patterns for like 10 minutes. It’s terribly boring. I was worried that I might drive home at 35 mph after listening to them. I left after song two (which sounded exactly the same as song one)(and just as boring). Which got me home far earlier than I expected.

If you are looking for some extremely talented musicians playing metal, then look no further than these two bands. I will also commend the venue for having amazing sound as well (though I suspect, the bands have their own sounds dialed in to be perfect no matter where they were playing).

Top 5 things about this show
1. Intronaut
1. Behold…The Arctopus
3. The jazzy bass player from Intronaut
4. The 12-string war guitar
5. Cheap merch!

Top 5 bottom things
1. No 2X shirts – come on, I’m tubby
2. Mouth of the Architect
3. The bathroom was REALLY exposed
4. A LOT of tight punk rock pants on the guys
5. Didn’t get to hang with Jim and Sarah after the show

www.myspace.com/intronaut
www.myspace.com/beholdthearctopus
www.myspace.com/mouthofthearchitect

The Royal Mile – Des Moines, IA

English pub with one of the best Scotch menus I have ever seen. I ended up here with some friends before a show I went to across the alley. The Scotch isn’t cheap, but then good Scotch is not. Everyone else had eaten, so I grabbed a food menu and decided on the Inglehoffer and some Glenmorangie Sherrywood Scotch.

The Scotch was good, but not as sweet as I expected it to be. Not the pub's fault. The Inglehoffer was a sandwich with a halved sausage, ham, and melted swiss cheese on it. It was amazing! Thick cut French bread with meat and cheese. That’s a good combination. The waitress was awesome and super helpful, and the place was clean yet dark. Kind of like a standard English pub. Go Des Moines for putting together some of the mother country in its downtown. I could have eaten about 90% of the things on the menu. They even had scotch eggs, which are my favorite.

Everything was fine until the douche-bag wedding group showed up, including the bride who kept publicly fixing her breasts. We left then.

If you’re in downtown Des Moines (don’t know why you would be, but whatever), go here.

Top 5 things
1. Scotch selection
2. The menu was seriously extensive
3. The Inglehoffer ruled
4. Wait staff were awesome
5. The food was REALLY affordable. I think I paid 7 bucks for a sammich and fries.

Bottom 5 things
1. Next to a metal bar
2. D-bag wedding party
3. The restroom – after Jim used it for a half hour
4. The sign looks like it says Royal Milf
5. I had to rush my dinner to catch the show

http://www.desmoinesalive.com/locations/des-moines/royal-mile

Roscoe’s Ribs & Barbeque – Rochester, MN

We met a former co-worker from our previous job in Rochester for dinner. We hadn’t seen BatHater in about 5 years, so we were due. He recommended a barbeque place, since years ago, we gorged ourselves on ribs and steak at Carson’s in Chicago.

The place was like a smaller Famous Dave’s kind of place, but not as tacky. Not a lot of room, but waiting to be seated, you could see how awesome the food looked. The menu was pretty thorough, but you could tell they were a BBQ place. EVERYTHING on the menu looked awesome. I decided on the rib platter and Gerd got the pulled pork platter.

The rib platter was a half slab of ribs served on homemade fried potato slices and it came with baked beans and cole slaw. The baked beans had tons of bacon in them and the potatoes were an awesome addition to the plate. The meal came with garlic bread, which was apparently awesome, but I didn’t want to fill my belly with needless bread. The ribs weren’t falling of the bone tender, but the sauce was really good and they were REALLY meaty. No complaints at all. I also got the rootbeer which they claim is famous, but it was just average in my eyes. I’ll vote for 1919 or Sprecher anyday.

The pulled pork was served on the potatoes as well, which ruled. The meat was more chunked pork than shredded pork, which ruled. And covered in sauce, which ruled. The sauce is optional, but come on, you’re at a barbeque sauce place. Gerd also got a handful of deep fried shrimp to complete the platter. Word on the street is that it was awesome.

Quality meat, great sauce, good friends. That’s what it’s all about. Sounds like a Hamm’s beer commercial all of a sudden. Hanging out with BatHater was great. He is hilarious and one of the best dressers I know. He also has great taste in cologne, and he’s scared of rodents like no one you’ve ever met. EVER.

Top 5 things about Roscoe’s
1. Sauce
2. Great ribs
3. Pulled pork
4. Super waitress
5. Variety of things on each platter

Bottom 5 things
1. CRAZY hot-air balloon decor
2. Too far away for us to drive to regularly
3. Lots of ugly people in there
4. You will wait a long time if they’re busy
5. Rootbeer not up to the hype

http://www.roscoesbbq.com

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Rhinoceros, xTyrantx, Venia, Birth Of A Hero - St. Paul, MN

I hit up Station 4 in St. Paul for a sweet hardcore show on the 31st. Since I’m a bonehead, I completely forgot about the Republican National Convention, and the fact that the entire downtown area of St. Paul was under military protection. I got completely lost due to them re-routing all the roads. I ended up having to circle around the east side of St. Paul and sneaking in one of the side streets. It was worth it. I blame myself.

Birth of a Hero, local Courage Crew act, started it off. It was my first time seeing them, but I knew the signer through one of my previous bands, so I needed to check them out. Most of them had good energy and good sound. One of the guitarists broke a string in the first song (good for him for rockin it out), and took forever to change strings. Someone yelled, “Buy a backup guitar!” I second that. It’s just professional and courteous not to make your audience stand around for what seems like ages. The other guitarist seemed like he was trying hard to play the right notes, which as we all know is not the point of hardcore music. I think Brett, the singer, is a good front man. He’s got a ways to go, but he’s got a great start. I like his style.

Venia played next. I don’t know much about them, but the singer blew his voice out early. They weren’t bad. The singer had on a “god filled” somethingorother shirt and talked about abortion, but he wasn’t preachy about it, so it was fine. He sang as long as he could and tried to get the crowd to sing some to relieve him. They didn’t play anything that really stuck with me and didn’t have a ton of energy, but they were listenable. But I will give these kids credit for dancing for every band. I love to see that, even if I’m too fat and old to do it myself. These kids have fun

xTyrantx played next – that’s who I came to see. John, the singer of this tough guy Courage Crew band, has come a long way from his early days of hardcore. His pipes have gotten better. His stage presence has gotten better. He’s become an amazing shirt designer. We talked about when played in King of Clubz back in the day – it was nice to see him grown up musically and personally. His band has a bunch of good guys in it as well. These guys are pretty tough. I was disappointed because their second vocalist Dave wasn’t there, but John pulled it off really well. These guys are tough. Go check them out. They’ve got a new cd coming out. Can’t wait.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see the headliner, Rhinoceros, due to the fact that I had to make a quick trip to the emergency room – see previous post. I’m sure they were good, though.

My favorite local hardcore (kind of) guy was there also. He looks like a slimmer version of Kevin James from King of Queens. He thinks he’s way bigger than he is. He walks with his arms out as if he were too huge to put them at his sides. He wears too small polo shirts and occasionally takes it off. He doesn’t dance all that well, but he protects his face at all costs, to the point of comedy. Classic. I look forward to that guy at every show.

And as usual, Station 4 has great sound. It tends to be a big venue for all ages hardcore shows, but it’s still a good venue.

Top 5 things
1. xTyrantx is tough
2. Birth of a Hero – glad I got to see them finally
3. The Kevin James guy
4. The venue has fans blowing everywhere, so it’s bearable – only venue EVER to do that
5. Sound quality of the venue

Bottom 5 things
1. Venue is too big for hardcore
2. Couldn’t get to the venue due to the RNC
3. Got lost trying to find Jimmy Johns with Tyrant
4. I missed Rhinoceros
5. Waiting for the guitarist to change strings


www.myspace.com/BIRTHOFAHEROMPLS
www.myspace.com/veniamusic
www.myspace.com/xtyrantx
www.myspace.com/rhinoceros716

Fireside Pizza - Richfield, MN

We decided to order pizza last night and wanted to try something new so I used google maps to find a pizza place with a good chance of delivering to us. I called Fireside Pizza and was put on hold. I waited 4 minutes and asked Chao if he thought I should hang up and call again. He told me to wait. After 7 minutes he agreed that they might've forgotten about me. I called back and was put on hold again for about 5 minutes. I figured at this point this was just routine for them. I tried to think of it in a positive way. Such as, "Hey! This place must rule if you have to be put on hold for long periods of time to place an order!" Anyway, I finally placed the order and as I was asking how long it would take for delivery she hung up on me. We weren't in a terrible rush so that was fine.

I can't even tell you how long the pizza took because I wasn't paying attention but if I was forced to guess I would say about an hour. Their pizza is thin crust and we ordered it with breakfast bacon, canadian bacon, pepperoni, and italian sausage (we sort of like meat). Their website declared that they make their sausage fresh daily which sounded promising. I also ordered a full order of garlic bread with cheese because I wanted to ensure leftovers since I am home from work for a few days this week with the pneumonia situation. After living in the suburbs of Chicago for three years I have high standards for pizza. When I think of great thin crust pizza I compare to Rosati's as their thin crust is fantastic. This was just average in comparison. The meat was pretty good but the sauce was just okay. The garlic bread with cheese was big slices of bread covered in garlic butter with a thick layer of cheddar and mozzeralla cheese blend on top and that was super good. This place was way better than Ramy's, but in no way as good as Carbone's which is the best pizza we have had up here so far. I would order from Fireside Pizza again if we need a place that delivers to us (which Carbone's does not) and if they had a good special.

Top 5:
1. Good meat
2. Garlic bread with cheese was good
3. We are in their delivery area
4. Didn't take too long for delivery on a holiday
5. Made decent leftovers

Bottom 5:
1. Kind of expensive
2. Sauce could be better
3. Phone orders take a long time
4. Not enough cheese
5. Average pizza as a whole

http://dinewithfiresidepizza.com/

Monday, September 1, 2008

Rey Azteca - Chanhassen, MN

I’ll just start by saying this past summer, I’ve been totally blown away by a couple different restaurants that happened to be in a strip malls. Rey Azteca was one of those experiences. It was REALLY good. We’ve complained about the lack of quality Mexican food in the Twin Cities and have been lucky enough to find a couple of edible places. It’s outside the cities a ways, but it’s worth the drive.

The place is set in a strip mall with a Cub Foods and other random smaller stores, so it honestly doesn’t look like much on the outside. In fact, once you walk in, it doesn’t look like much on the inside either. You stand in line (if you have to wait for a table) right in the line of traffic. People are eating next to your elbows and you have to keep dodging servers. It’s one of those non-flow layouts.

We didn’t wait long to sit. We ended up ordering some things we didn’t usually get, since we were feeling risky. And we ordered margaritas. The margs were pretty big, so one of us was a little tipsy by the time it was all said and done. But the food was amazing. The chips and salsa were great, including this white cheese/ranch sauce that was served with the salsa. I’m convinced it wasn’t ranch, since I loathe ranch, but apparently there was a small amount of ranch in it. The enchiladas were really good and cheesy, and the chimichangas were especially tasty.

The server brought us our order and then came back 30 seconds later and told me he had given me two of the same chimichangas, instead of one beef and one chicken. I assured him it was fine, and he demanded to bring me out the correct thing, which came out like 2 minutes later. The guy took pride in his work, so I’ll give him super credit for it.

The guy taking money was like the Hispanic Michael Scott (from the Office), except he was kind of a d-bag. Very efficient, but no smiles and kind of ordered people around when they were standing in the line of fire while waiting for a table. Luckily, he was distracted when I went to pay, so I didn’t have to deal with him, but it wasn’t like he was a pro-active jerk, he just wasn’t personable at ALL. That’s who he is and he’s fine with that.

Eat here. It’s really good. Bottom line.

Top 5 things
1. Margaritas were huge, and not terrible
2. The enchiladas were cheesy and good
3. The white cheese/ranch dip ruled
4. Super fast service
5. Our server wouldn’t stand for mistakes

Top 5 bottom things
1. Bad location
2. Money guy
3. Bad layout inside
4. Décor was a little strip-mall-y
5. No mariachi band, as advertised

http://twincities.metromix.com/restaurants/mexican/rey-azteca-mexican-restaurant-chanhassen/313758/content

The Chalet Motel - Duluth, MN

When all of the big name hotels are booked in Duluth, where should you turn? Motels. When we stopped at the Duluth Visitors Center for brochures, we found one that had a list of motels in the area. We began calling and found one with one room left. Dirt cheap. They asked when we could be there and we told them 20 minutes.

We drove straight to the Chalet on London Road without any problem. Gerd said, “We should go check in now and look at the place, so we know how much we have to drink to be able to sleep there.” Turns out, we didn’t need to drink at all.

The place was like an old German chalet with stucco and exposed beams on the exterior. The inside was like a typical one story motel you see in the movies (with the exception of there being a second floor). Blue carpet with blue bed sheets and blue curtains. The bathroom and shower were tiled floor to ceiling with beige and white tiles. But it was livable, and actually quite quaint and quiet (three Q-words). And they had expanded cable (but no internet).

The form we had to fill out was like an index card like in the old days. There was a field on the form entitled “Representing.” Gerd was confused what to put there, so I told her to put South Side The check in guy told us it was the name of the company if they were paying for us. Our bad. Also Gerd told me, “The can of Raid behind the counter was for wasps and hornets, not roaches, so it’s ok that we stay here.”

I did get yelled at for laying on the comforter, but I can only assume I would have gotten yelled at for that anywhere we stayed. I’m a guy, I just don’t think (or care) about stuff like that. Apparently, it’s a big deal that the comforters aren’t washed as often as the sheets. Whatever.

Seriously, it’s under 65 bucks on weekend, and is worth it if you don’t intend to spend a whole ton of time there.

Top 5 things
1. The price
2. Extended cable
3. The room and bathroom were clean
4. Really close to the action, less the 5 minute drive to Canal Street
5. There was a mini fridge for my dew

Bottom 5 things
1. No Internet
2. Still living in the 70’s
3. No online reservations
4. No place to set things in the shower
5. Curtains didn’t cover the window all the way

There’s no website, so don’t bother.

Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital ER - St. Louis Park, MN

Chao and I spent a few hours of our Labor Day weekend in the Emergency Room at Methodist Hospital. I couldn't breathe without a sharp pain in my chest and if I laughed or coughed or inhaled deeply I yelled involuntarily like someone with Tourette's. I finally figured out after awhile that I could pull off a small laugh,which Chao pointed out sounded like Peter Griffin. Of course this made me laugh harder and then yell again. I had been to the convenient care doctor earlier and after a negative chest x-ray and a normal EKG, they sent me home to await blood test results. The doctor called later and told me I should go to the Emergency Room because the test for blood clots came back abnormal.


We headed to the ER and they took me behind the curtain to triage me. Apparently breathing problems are serious so othey took me back right away and I didn't have time to tell Chao I was headed back. They asked me some questions, took vitals, and I asked them if Chao could come back with me and they said they would go get him. Meanwhile they were going to put an IV in because they were planning to do a chest CT scan and they needed the IV to inject the contrast dye. I have been told that being somewhat of a redhead sometimes involves having small veins that are hard to find. Lately, when I have had blood drawn, they have had to use my hand veins because they are superior to my arm veins. However, for a chest CT they have to use an arm vein. The ER nurse tried twice to get a vein and couldn't. She packed my arms with warm packs to aid the process and this was about the time Chao showed up. He sat with me for a few minutes until the IV specialist arrived to give my veins a go. Chao opted to sit in the hallway as he doesn't appreciate needles. The IV specialist tried several times to get a vein, even making use of a sonogram to try and find one. Other ER staff would poke their heads in to see if I had been IVed yet. I was becoming quite the celebrity. I never knew that sticking me with a needle could be a spectator sport. This specialist eventually gave up and called another IV specialist to try. The third person was eventually the charm as she did end up threading a vein but at this point I can't tell you how many stabs I suffered but I can show you how my arm looks now (keep in mind this is only one arm - the other is not as impressive):
At this point, after over an hour of being stabbed with a needle, I was wheeled up to have the CT scan. They told me I would feel warm, have a metallic taste in my mouth and would feel like I have to pee. This was 100% true. It was kind of cool. After that test I was wheeled back downstairs. My nurse was going to take the IV out but I stopped her. I asked if there was absolutely any way I was going to possibly need another IV later if we could just leave that one in. She hesitiated and then agreed to leave it for awhile. I bet people don't normally request to have IV's left in longer than necessary but I knew there was no way I could go through that ordeal again. Chao and I were then left to wait for the results and were checked in on by a hot hospitality dwarf. Seriously though, we both agreed that Alyssa was the hottest dwarf we have ever seen. Then, maybe 15 minutes later, the doctor came back in and told me that I did not have a blood clot, but instead had pneumonia. Way more favorable.



Top 5:
1. Super nice hospital staff.
2. Hot dwarf.
3. They didn't kill me despite their best efforts.
4. I didn't have to wait on them (other than the IV thing) and they had estimated wait times posted.
5. They provided Chao with a chair and water.

Bottom 5:
1. I was their pin cushion for over an hour.
2. I saw lots of my own blood which shouldn't have been the case as I was there for lung problems.
3. There were lots of police escorting people around for whatever reason.
4. No TV's in the rooms.
5. The ventilation system kept running randomly and was loud.

http://www.parknicollet.com/Methodist/