Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Asian Hon – Shakopee, MN

Some people think I only have good things to say about restaurants I go to, which, if you really read these reviews, you’d find is not true at all. I will admit, I’ve had way more good meals than bad, but I’m not always positive in my reviews. This will be one of those reviews on the more negative side.

The Thai place I originally wanted to go to was apparently closed when I got my lunchtime Thai food hankerin’. So I found this other place in Shakopee. Asian Hon. I read a couple of decent reviews about it, saw some photos, wrote down some dishes I thought I might try if I wasn’t feeling the buffet, and headed there.

I walked in and was the only one there – right about noon? That’s a bad sign. I sat down and the smoking hot Asian waitress came over to ask what I wanted to drink. I said water, but I wanted an order of fresh spring rolls and some of the special noodle soup (I had seen a photo on the internet with a good review, so I thought I’d try it). She was very confused and said, "I thought you were getting the buffet." I assured her I was, but I wanted some other things too. She wasn’t sure about this soup, so I described it and she went back to the kitchen to figure out which one it was. No one knew, so I skipped the soup.

The buffet is a decent sized buffet. Fried and white rice, 5 or 6 entrees, two vegetarian things and some soups. I grabbed as many different things as I could, including a fried egg roll and a bowl of shrimp noodle soup (which I had to use thongs to get – weird and probably a mistake). One of the most hilarious things on the buffet was one of the serving dishes on the buffet was filled with saltines. Seriously.

I went back and started eating. It was one pretty bad thing after another. The shrimp noodle soup was really fishy tasting (REALLY), and I stopped after 2 bites. The egg roll was basically a cinnamon celery roll (I did finish that, but only because I was using it as a shovel for my plate and the sauces killed the flavor). The General Tso’s chicken was preformed and breaded chicken-flavored pieces in a bland orange-ish sauce without any heat. The hunan chicken had a good flavor, but the chicken pieces were a bit inconsistent. The broccoli beef was a bit rubbery and the broccoli was in giant pieces which were difficult to cut into bites. The fried rice was actually really awesome – it had eggs, peas, carrots, shoots, and minimal onions. The thai-style lo-mein was decent as well.

I will admit, I did go up to get a second portion, just to double check, but mostly because I was starving and the fresh spring rolls hadn’t come out of the kitchen yet.

Eventually, the spring rolls came out and looked delicious. They were some of the largest spring rolls I’ve ever seen, and since they’re my favorite, I have eaten these at a LOT of places. It didn’t come with hoissin sauce, which I was bummed about, but sometimes the clear red-ish sauce is good. This was not the case. The sauce was not good at all. The inside of the spring roll was filled with iceberg lettuce, large pieces of pork, some bad shrimp, and some small white noodles. I was super disappointed. It was so bad, I didn’t finish them. I left more than half of one on my plate.

I will say the people that work here are REALLY nice. Yes, the waitress was really cute, but there was a guy who kept popping out of the kitchen who I was really surprised by. I’m going to be incredibly superficial, but I think it’s ok, since I generally look like a sasquatch. He looked like he had been down on his luck for a while and was saving to pay for his Harley that was repo’d when he went to the county jail trying to break up a trailer fight between his wife and his best friend. Mustache, shaggy hair, Harley shirt, it wouldn’t have surprised me to see a crap-ton of biker/racist tattoos all over him, but that’s just the outside. This guy was SUPER nice. He talked to me while I was getting my food, asking me how I was doing. When I left the building, he was out there sweeping, he talked to me out there and talked non-obtrusively about his regular job that he gets home from at 5am. Honestly, this guy was a stand up citizen. I am embarrassed to have judged him at all. That’s what I get for thinking I’m justified being mean just because I look like Sabertooth.

The food was pretty cheap, so I have no complaints about that. But upon leaving, I saw a sign that said the buffet-to-go is $3.50 per pound and they had a scale there to weigh it for you. Classy.

I don’t think I’m going to go back here. Kidding. I KNOW I’m not going to go back here. But if I see that maintenance guy in the Harley shirt anywhere, I’m going to hang with him.

Top 5 things about Asian Hon
1. The people that work there
2. Fried rice
3. It’s cheap
4. Saltines on the buffet slayed me
5. Makes me want to go back and see if I can eat my weight in bad Chinese food. It would cost about $700 – ha ha ha ha

Bottom 5 things
1. Fresh Spring Rolls
2. General Chicken
3. Awful Shrimp Noodle Soup
4. Broccoli Beef
5. Hunan Chicken

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hiawatha Golf Club – Minneapolis, MN

TheDoctor, Smallz, and I have been golfing fairly regularly this summer. Sadly, Smallz is the only one showing improvement to his game. Bastard. I should have been studying for a midterm exam in statistics which is scheduled for this week, but golf seemed like a fair distraction. In fact, I had mentioned to TheDoctor the previous day how I hoped it would rain, so I could study for this test. TheDoctor is a bad influence on me, I think. TheDoctor invited another guy to complete our foursome, who I’m sure had no idea what he was getting into. Kook showed up and towered over Smallz and I. Apparently, the only people TheDoctor knows under the 7 foot mark are Smallz and I. When Kook started the smack-talk on the first hole, I knew he’d fit right in.

The Hiawatha course is decent for a public course. There’s some grass burnout in spots, the ponds are scummier and overgrown than the private courses, and the greens are just in OK shape. And oddly, this is the first time I’ve ever noticed this, the ground is painfully non-smooth while driving over it in a golf cart. Most courses, you can drive on the grass, even in the rough, and have a pretty smooth ride. Not so at this course. We were being thrown all over the place and in some spots, you couldn’t even drive at top speed (which is about 5 mph in a golf cart). You couldn’t even take a sip of whatever liquor you snuck onto the course because it would be impossible to actually get the drink anywhere near your mouth.

The course is pretty flat, with a couple of slight elevation changes, but I was really impressed with the dog-legs on the course (I’m sure that will send off all kinds of alarms at PETA central headquarters). There were some serious placement shots required on this course. If you went too far, you were in the crap or in the water. If you played too short, you couldn’t make the bend and had to take an extra shot. Good shot selection was pretty crucial. Thankfully, I can’t hit very far, so I didn’t require THAT much laying up.

The thing that sucks about not being able to hit very far is that this course has a high number of par 5 holes. Par 5 holes tend to be lengthy and cater to the big hitters – which I am not. At one point, Smallz actually said, “ANOTHER par 5? Seriously?”

I started out strong on the front nine. Actually played well (for my usual game). Then on the back nine, I fell apart. Not just regular fell apart, but Space Shuttle Challenger fell apart (I know, it’s inappropriate, but that’s the mental picture you really need to have to come close to what happened). I added TWENTY strokes to my game on the back nine. Not one extra stroke per hole worse. Not even two extra strokes per hole. And some of those were way more than that. In fact, I lost 13 balls on the back nine, one of which was over a public road about 100 yards to the left of my fairway. So you know, I haven’t hit a ball that went left (unless you count the trees I’ve hit that ricocheted the ball left) in 20 years.

I kept mostly level headed, but only in the way that mean’s I didn’t turn green, shred my shirt, start stabbing innocent bystanders in the throat with plastic butterknives, and leave my golf bag in flames in the parking lot. So scale that back a little, and you’ll get a couple of thrown clubs, a LOT of loud cursing, and eventually finishing the last few holes using only one club since it didn’t matter at that point.

So, the course is decent and not terribly difficult (but does have its challenge factor), and apparently, I need to only golf 9 holes the rest of my golf career, which seems like THAT might get shorter and shorter every time I shoot in the 60s. I seriously loathe this game sometimes. Unfortunately, I play with really awesome and fun people who keep me coming back (I think it helps THEIR esteem). Grumble grumble… stupid awesome friends and their funfulness…grumble grumble.

Top 5 things about Hiawatha Golf Club
1. Decent course design, especially dog-legs
2. It’s pretty cheap to golf here
3. Some of the holes seem short for par 4s and par 5s. Makes you feel like a crusher… Then you 5-putt and want to see how many pieces you can break your putter into
4. The weather was beautiful - I know it has nothing to do with the course, but I had to put in something nice as I was reliving my awful back 9
5. Very nice tree-lined fairways make for beautiful views from the tee

Bottom 5 things
1. I’ve got to be in the bottom 3 percentile of golfers in the world – sadly if I wasn’t going to fail my statistics midterm because of golfing, you could trust that statistic.
2. Am I REALLY that old that I can only handle 9 holes of golf?
3. The course was amazingly bumpy to drive over – like Moon Patrol
4. Enough par 5s to cause alarm
5. Greens and ponds could have been in better condition

Conga Latin Bistro – Minneapolis, MN

My friend, RPM, from my first Master’s program was in town visiting his mother (who lives right down the street from me – which is waaaay “small world”), and since Trash and I went to school with RPM, we thought we’d take him and his partner, LutherLover, out to dinner. To preface this dinner, RPM and LutherLover are from Arizona and love Mexican food. Since Minnesota has terrible Mexican food, I suggested half a million other ethnicities for us to try. They’ve eaten Mexican food all over the world and they assured me, it could not possibly be as bad as the Mexican food they had in Iceland (which consisted of jalapeno peppers on a pizza), or some of the other exotic countries they visit regularly. So I was stuck finding them a palatable Mexican food option.

[Note: Trash and I REALLY wanted to go to King and I Thai, but RPM hates peanut sauces and Southeastern Asian food, so we were stuck. Plus, I will do anything to keep RPM happy. He’s one of the most fun people in the world.]

I did a couple of things at this point. I looked up Mexican food in Minneapolis on Google. I went through previous blog posts on YouCareWhatWeThink. I asked some friends which Mexican food places aren’t embarrassing. I consulted the list of restaurants that Gerd and I compiled and use as a checklist of places we need to try (I still keep this list updated, even though Gerd isn’t here to add 50 new places per week like she used to). I checked to see if they had any ideas. One place in particular kept coming up.

Conga in Northeast Minneapolis.

Gerd talked about this place all the time and threatened to go there for her lunch break (she worked very near Conga), but I guilted her into NOT going unless she took me. I did a quick scan of the menu to make sure Trash could eat something there (she’s vegetarian). Yup, they have rice, so Trash is good to go (she’s going to punch me for that one). The rest of the menu had some unique but appetizing-sounding things on it, so I booked us a table.

After driving to the wrong hotel to pick up RPM and LutherLover (don’t ask)(it was totally my fault though), we headed downtown and parked directly in front of the restaurant – clearly, I’m a rock star. The place is brightly painted, but the lights are really low, so it still looks happy, but a restrained happy. And, there are two 10-foot-tall congas on either side of the entrance to the dining room.

We had a really cool waitress that put up with all kinds of our harassment and she took it all with a smile. And then would come back to chat with us when she had some down time with other tables. She was relatively new to the restaurant, but she was SURPRISINGLY knowledgeable about all of the questions we had about food. She hadn’t tried all the wines on the menu, which we gave her crap about, but she was willing to help us out in any way possible.

Trash ordered the Tilapia (apparently, Tilapia is vegetarian in Trash’s bizarro world) (maybe if she doesn’t know the animal’s parents, she can be in denial that the animal did in fact have parents), against my suggestion to go with the rice. I ordered the Parrillada Argentina. We enjoyed an empanada sampler with cheese, beef, and chicken empanadas and started with a bottle of wine. I think it was a White Temperillo, but it was very good. The empanadas were very good – all of them in fact. Trash got to eat her cheese ones and the rest of us cut up the others and shared like civil people.

Trash’s Tilapia came out and actually looked pretty tasty. My apologies for the photo – it was very low lighting.

The tilapia came with lime juice, lemon pepper and was sautéed in curry and coconut sauce. Oddly, it was served with a scoop of mashed potatoes and some veggies. Trash was less than thrilled with this dish than she had hoped and agreed that she should have gone with the rice as I suggested (I LOVE being right). The fish was slightly overcooked and dried out and not as flaky as she would have liked. She ate it, but I was really surprised.

The Parrillada Argentina was really really good though.

The menu said it is for meat lovers. Guess what? I love the meat (twss). It was beef tenderloin, chicken, port loin, and Spanish sausage all charcoal grilled. What’s not to like about this. Of course, when the dish came out and we all saw the sausage, we all turned into jr. high boys and made comments (yes, even Trash was a jr. high boy – in fact she made the first comment). But honestly, it was REALLY a good dish, especially paired with the Tostones, which (despite sounding like male anatomy) are fried green plantains.

RPM ordered the Churasco Argentino, which he said was good, but not what he expected. It kind of sounded like a stew, but ended up being a long piece of steak on a plate. This was after he haggled with our waitress about the “correct” pronunciation of Yuca – the Arizona pronunciation or the Spanish pronunciation. They agreed to disagree. And sadly, I can’t remember if LutherLover got the steak and scallops or just talked about it. I should have written this review right after dinner, but I was busy NOT studying for a midterm. Ha ha ha.

And of course we needed another bottle of wine, since we drank the first one pretty quickly. We sat around for another hour or so telling stories, talking politics, laughing loudly, and getting caught up on our lives. We seriously had a fantastic evening. If I could go to dinner with RPM and LutherLover every weekend, I would do it in a second. I haven’t been down to Phoenix to see them in 6 or 7 years and now I’m looking at my calendar to see if I can reset that clock!

All in all, I liked Conga, but I’m not sure Trash did. I think it probably depends on what dish you get there. They have a pretty unique menu and not a lot of standard Mexican fare on it. I think RPM and LutherLover liked there’s but they didn’t rave about it, so I expect it was just ok (which is high praise in Minnesota, I’ll remind you). And we won’t discuss how lost I got trying to drive back home from downtown… ha ha ha

Top 5 things about Conga Latin Bistro
1. Got to have dinner with RPM and LutherLover, who are the best people in the world, truly
2. Parrillada Argentina
3. Tostones
4. Awesome waitress – if I remembered her name, I would tell you to ask for her
5. There are quite a few other things on the menu I’d like to try, including the conga drinks

Bottom 5 things
1. I felt terribly guilty eating here without Gerd since I had talked her out of eating here so many times. I think she would have liked it but not been overwhelmed
2. Trash wouldn’t let me order any girly conga drinks
3. Trash’s Tilapia was not as good as it should have been
4. One man band in the other room got louder and louder
5. Still embarrassed by any food south of the border served in Minnesota, especially to expert Mexican food eaters

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Eddie Cheng – Richfield, MN

I’ll preface this review by saying Gerd and I went here at one point last year. Sort of. We walked in and Gerd walked right back out, shaking her head. She had great intuition about food places.

I had to run some errands for lunch and I remembered this place was nearby. You’re not likely to drive by it, since it’s basically behind a big-store strip mall. However, if your errands take you to the Richfield Liquor Sto (which mine did not), then you’ll see Eddie Cheng’s from the parking lot if you look really hard.

Since the place was sort of in a strip mall, I had high hopes for this restaurant, despite walking out of the place before ordering last year. During lunch they have an “express lunch” where you order off this buffet-style thing and they throw it into a Styrofoam container for you. Or you can order off the menu if you’d like. I ordered Hunan Chicken, Broccoli Beef, and Kung Pao Chicken. It came with pork-fried rice and I also ordered an egg roll. The guy heaped the food into the container to the point where *I* was even impressed. LOADS of food.

I found a table in the oddly empty dining room, snapped a quick photo, and started eating.

The egg roll was probably the best part. Lots of veggies and no cinnamon – it was one of the better ones I’ve had up here in Minneapolis. The huge portion of pork fried rice was good and had lots of bite-sized pieces of pork in it. The Broccoli Beef was sub-par actually. The pieces of meat were kind of gristly (my John Deere friends call it “snapper beef” cause it snaps you in the face when you break through the gristle), and the pieces were too big to actually fit in your mouth (and I have a huge mouth – ask anyone). The Hunan Chicken had a good flavor, but again, the pieces were REALLY big. The hunan sauce was spicy and sweet at the same time and I kind of liked this stuff. Lots of broccoli and baby corn and peapods. The Kung Pao Chicken was not the greatest I’ve ever had. It was missing a lot of the Pow that I find at other places, in fact a lot of the flavor was gone. There were lots of veggies though – green peppers, water chestnuts, baby corn, and celery (which Gerd would have hated).

All in all, not the greatest Chinese food I’ve ever had. I’ve had some that were worse, but not many. I probably won’t go back, but I’m glad I checked it off my list. At the very least, it was fast and I got back to work on time.

Top 5 things about Eddie Cheng
1. It was fast
2. Eggroll
3. It was cheap
4. Pork Fried Rice
5. Hunan sauce for the hunan chicken

Bottom 5 things
1. I was totally wrong in second guessing Gerd’s food intuition
2. Giant pieces of meat (twss)
3. Flavorless Kung Pao
4. Everything served to go
5. The place is really difficult to accidentally find – maybe that’s why it was empty at lunch – or maybe there are other reasons (see above review)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rudolph’s – Minneapolis, MN

Since HotgirlsBrother had already been to this BBQ place, and he had to work late, LowVee and I went by ourselves to knock this one off our list of rib places. We had heard some things about the place, both good and bad, but we have to try it out ourselves for it to be officially ranked on the list of Twin Cities Rib Quest 2009.

The place has a bar area and also a full service restaurant area. The bar area we walked through seemed pretty nice, so I’d have no problem eating in there sometime. But tonight, we needed to be seated and pampered. We also noticed an inordinate number of wheelchairs in the place – weird. We grabbed a tabled and began to scour the menu. Brandon, one of the best waiters ever, came to help us out and answer questions. And, he surprised me with 1919 root beer on tap – oh, that cheeky Brandon. Brilliant suggestion!

We knew we needed a skillet of cornbread so we ordered that right off. Then LowVee got a half slab of spare ribs and some coleslaws (it’s called the Rudy – as in the retarded munchkin football player, also from the Cosby Show, also retarded), and I got the Hollywood which is a full slab of spare ribs and some baked beans. I also got a Caesar salad because I’m classy like that.

The cornbread came out still in the cast iron skillet and with a scoop of butter on the top. Amazingly awesome! Sweet without being sugary (like me), and PLENTY to go around (also like me). This cornbread was also very moist, not all dried out like it had been back there a while. The coleslaw (according to LoVee) was really quite good – as good as Scott Ja-Mamma’s coleslaw, but slightly less good than Lee and Dee’s. The Caesar salad was also really good – it’s hard to wow someone with a Caesar salad, but sometimes, you just gotta have one.

The ribs they brought out looked fantastic. Brandon told us they don’t cook the spare ribs with any sauce, so they’re a bit more dry than the baby back ribs. That’s the way LowVee likes her ribs, and she really liked these spare ribs. The baby back ribs were really juicy and flavorful and almost no fat at all on them. I’m glad I went with the full slab. I was really hungry. LowVee developed some concoction of the original BBQ sauce and the spicy BBQ sauce which tasted quite good. Both sauces on their own were just meh, but together, they were pretty awesome. The sweetcorn on the cob was dangerously hot - I could tell because LowVee yelled out and basically threw the cob onto her plate immediately after picking it up - sorry for laughing LowVee. The baked beans were some of the better ones I’ve had on this Rib Quest, despite their being large chunks of onion in them. The flavor was really nice and not liquid smokey like some places.

Bottom line is this place was waaaaay better than I expected it to be. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and throw out a preliminary ranking of the places we’ve been so far, just so you know the standings.
1. Lee and Dee’s (sleeper bbq)
2. Mr. B’s
3. Big Daddy’s Saturday BBQ (will need to re-affirm this with a more recent trip)
4. Ted Cook’s 19th Hole BBQ
5. Rudolph’s
6. Scott Ja-Mamma’s
7. Cap’s Grille

The best part is we really haven’t had BAD BBQ anywhere, so don’t hesitate to try any of these places. But someone has to be at the top of the list and someone has to be at the bottom of the list. That’s how rankings work. Cap’s Grille is just fine (don’t be offended, Cap) – in fact, go there and spend some money and prove me wrong.

Top 5 things about Rudolph’s
1. Baby back ribs
2. Spare ribs
3. Cornbread
4. 1919 Root beer
5. Brandon, the best waiter in the world

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd did love her some ribs, and I know she would have eaten a full slab with me. She was courteous like that.
2. HotGirlsBrother couldn’t join us. You’re a part of this team, brother! Don’t ever think differently.
3. I get yelled at when I say I had a date with Ribs and LoVee is just coming along as a third wheel – ha ha ha
4. I really really want to comment on the waitresses working in the back dining room where we were, but I’m a gentleman (but only on Tuesdays)
5. It’s not a cheap place to get ribs, that’s for sure

Joe Senser’s Restaurant & Sports Theater – Bloomington, MN

Yes, that’s really what it is called.

How have I never heard of this place? It’s been rated by Sports Illustrated and ESPN's Cold Pizza as one of the “premier sports bars in the country.” Everyone I suggested this place to from my work group had all heard of it as well. Maybe it’s because I don’t typically go to sports bars nor actually care the slightest bit about most sports. Maybe it’s not so weird I’ve never heard of this place…

After the mini-golf work-funded teambuilding exercise, a large group of us (25 or so) headed to Joe Senser’s for a quick happy hour. I got there later than other people and didn’t have a chance to peruse the menu, so I got a simple Jack and coke. While waiting, I had a chance to look at the menu and realized I made a mistake. A serious mistake. This place has INCREDIBLE girly drinks on the menu. Tons of fruity drinks made with Monster energy drink. A whole list of shots made with Monster energy drink. Tons of fruity daiquiri/pina colada combinations. And lot of other drinks that I would be mocked for drinking in public.

The waiter was a little weirded out that I ordered a second drink when he set my Jack and coke down on the table. Whatever. Just punch it into your little computer and bring it out. The Jack and coke was fine – difficult to screw that drink up, really. But I ordered a Liquid Butterfinger. This is a drink with Kahlua, vanilla cream, some other liquors and crumbled butterfinger candy bar on top. It looks like a milkshake. And it’s awesome. Yes, I DID get mocked, but it’s been happening for years, so I don’t even care. I got what I needed.

Our table ordered a whole bunch of appetizers which I chose to pick at since I was going to be eating ribs with LowVee immediately after leaving Joe Senser’s. We got onion rings (decent), waffle fries (decent), nachos (really good), flatbread pizza (really good), and cheese quesadillas (decent). But seriously, the food totally pales in comparison to the girly drink menu.

What’s troublesome is now that I know this place is 15 blocks from my house, how will I talk myself out of stopping here all the time for my own private happy hour after work…?

Top 5 things about Joe Senser’s Restaurant and Sports Theater
1. AMAZING girly drink repertoire
2. Liquid Butterfinger
3. Flatbread pizza
4. The name of this place is hilarious
5. It is REALLY close to my house

Bottom 5 things
1. Happy Hour still isn’t as happy without Gerd
2. I ordered a standard drink and an awesome drink instead of two awesome. If only I had taken my time.
3. I didn’t take any photos of the Liquid Butterfinger
4. Vegetarians at my table = no meat for miles
5. I can’t see a Big Buck Hunter game without thinking of Coach (that’s a whole other story)

Centennial Lakes Park Mini-Golf – Edina, MN

My employer periodically puts together these fun events and calls them team building. And I assure you, they really are fun. You get to hang out with people you don’t work with all the time and swap stories about the people you DO work with all the time in a semi-competitive environment. We went bowling once an split up into random teams and the high scorers won some nominal prize and crap –talking rights for a week. The losers (which was my department) were forced to write and perform a rap song for the rest of the large department (don’t ask to see it, you won’t). I’ll also point out right off the bat, that the last time we did team building, there were multiple workman’s compensation claims filed, including for one person who went to the ER with a concussion and internal bleeding (I’m completely serious). We had gone curling, which involves ice – I don’t really need to explain it much more than that, do I?

First off, this place is terribly difficult to find. It’s on France Avenue in Edina, which a lot of people are familiar with. That’s not the hard part. The hard part is you have to park in the lower level of the parking garage and walk between two multi-story strip mall buildings (right by Chuck E. Cheese) and go behind the buildings and cross over a steep bridge to get to the mini-golf place. It’s an adventure just getting there.

The mini-golf course is pretty unique in that it is natural grass cut into putting surfaces which resemble fairways. There are actual tee markers on the starting area, so they can move them around and let the grass recover from damage (just like a traditional course). Also, there are no clown heads or swinging poles (twss) or loop-de-loops or bouncing off of things. You play the natural hills and valleys and turns they have cut into the fairway. Very unique experience.

The course is along a man-made pond where you can also paddleboat (rented at the mini-golf stand), so it’s actually kind of picturesque for a mini-golf course. It’s as close to a real golf course as they could make it. The facility also has a HUGE lawn bowling/croquette area near the mini-golf course. It’s a pretty nice facility honestly.

The course is much more challenging than you’d think, being as there aren’t any ludicrous obstacles in your path. There are some significant water hazards and some of the shots you must take have to be planned out so you don’t go too far or miss a turn. I was pretty impressed with this course, and not just because I really impressed my team by canning amazing putts. Seriously, why can’t I do this on the real golf course? There were a couple of burned out spots on the course, but all in all, the whole thing was in pretty good shape. But around the “tee areas” of a couple holes, you were starting on sand.

This place is pretty fun. Kind of an executive-style mini-golf course. I think I still prefer plastic penguins and tubular systems and swinging hoops, but this place is really nice.

Top 5 things about Centennial Lakes Park Mini-Golf
1. These work team building things are always fun
2. Free mini-golf
3. No one ended up with drain bamage this time!
4. Really unique approach to mini-golf
5. It’s a really well maintained facility in a cool relaxing setting

Bottom 5 things
1. Mini-golf was something Gerd and I did every chance we got and it was really tough to do and not think of her all the time
2. Since I was with work people, the crap-talking was kept to a minimum
3. It was 8004 degrees outside and very little shade (and NO beer cart girl)
4. Terribly difficult to find if you haven’t been there
5. The place is REALLY popular and packed

Monday, July 20, 2009

Big Mac Chicken – Clear Lake, IA

There’s been all kinds of media hype (alright, not THAT much, but a couple of horrific food blogs have mentioned it) on this Big Mac Chicken hybrid sandwich. You basically take a Big Mac from McDonald’s and replace each bun with a McChicken patty. So you’ve got five layers of meat.

On a previous trip back to Illinois, HotGirlsBrother managed to eat a modified version of this meal using a single McChicken patty and Big Mac. I was pretty impressed when I saw him eat it, but deep down on the inside of my guts, I knew I could do the real thing. So we tried it on the way back to Minnesota. [Note: I’m building up to trying the 7 pound breakfast burrito at the Jack N Grill in Denver next month, so I’m basically in training.]

When ordering, I tried to be non-chalant by pausing between food items like I was really thinking about what I wanted. I didn’t want to let on that this was totally a pre-meditated purchase. I ordered a Big Mac, looked around the menu a bit, and then ordered three McChickens, looked around a bit more and then ordered a Diet Coke. I’m not a Savage, people. I’m trying to watch my figure.

I got way too excited about this sandwich, to be honest. HotGirlsBrother stuck with his modified sandwich, but snapped a photo of me assembling the Big Mac Chicken.

And then a couple of me eating it.

And then I took one of his disapproving look as to how much “bun waste” there was after eating all these meat-flavored patties.

Honestly, the thing was really tasty and I would definitely do this again. I was also surprised at how cheap it was. It was like $7 – less than you’d pay for a restaurant burger at a lot of places – and it’s really juicy and flavorful. In fact, when I was finished, I really considered getting a second one, or going to taco bell across the parking lot. It was substantial, but it honestly wasn’t enough to fill me up – or even close. I’m a tubby bastard, I’ll eat the crap out of some fast food and keep coming back. (I'll call your attention to the shirt I'm wearing in the photos - that I just noticed, ha ha ha.)

The whole thing is under 900 calories (since you don't eat the 150 calorie buns), which is actually difficult for me to do when eating at other fast food places. I'm anxiously awaiting my next Triglyceride count!

HotGirlsBrother mentioned in Canada, they have Double Big Macs and Canadians are doing the Double Big Mac Chicken, so I guess that’s the next challenge. Apparently, you can assemble your own in the US, you just have to order two Big Macs and five McChickens. Which, judging on the level of fullness I experienced, REALLY shouldn’t be a problem at all. I just wouldn’t be able to fit the sandwich into my mouth – I’m not above using a fork and knife for this.

I won’t even give a top 5 for this. Just try it. It’s really waaaay better than you’d think.

[Totally unrelated to anything chicken-related... For the record, HotGirlsBrother is the best iPod shuffler in the business. With the exception of playing Judas Priest (which I abhor), he played 6+ hours of flawless metal brilliance on the ride home. My hat from 2007 (which was the year of the hat) goes off to you, my friend.]

Bad Movie Night – Coal Valley, IL

I tricked a couple of Gerd and I’s friends, ImposterChao and Nutmeg, into hosting bad movie night in the Quad Cities on a weekend I would be home. It’s usually a potluck, so they just had to provide a cool space for us and people would bring food. Bad movie night is where a group of us sits around and watches a couple of B-movies and loudly laugh, mock, and yell along with when ridiculous things happen. We’ve done quite a number of these and always have a great time. We usually have a bigger crowd, but there was a lot going on in town this weekend so some of our regulars bowed out this time around.

We usually have a theme for the two movies and along with the theme, we ask guests to bring along some food item related to that theme. For example, we had a midget-theme one evening and everyone was asked to bring miniature food items. We had mini corn dogs, mini-bruschetta, tiny filet mignon (wrapped with tiny bacon of course), and all washed down with 8 oz sodas out of Dixie cups.

Tonight’s theme was “blood”, so people were asked to bring red or pink colored food. We had tortellini with marinara (aka blood noodles) from Grinders in Moline, IL. Party punch from my mother (to which we added rum)(sorry mom). Pink and red flavored shakes from Whitey’s Ice Cream (the best ice cream in the world). Red velvet cupcakes from our resident baker, SuperGreat. Gheyspanic brought raspberry sherbet and a bottle of vodka to make drinks and got HILARIOUS!!! (We heard about his Jonas Brothers pendant numerous times throughout the night.)

ImposterChao went crazy overboard – he loves to entertain apparently. Three different kinds of cocktail weenie sauces – A&W, Dr. Pepper, and Budweiser – in a fancy three pan heater thing. Then there was a heated nacho plate thing with an area to keep the nacho cheese warm in the center. Huge cheese and cracker plate. Two large crock pots of chili – one spicy and one mild. He just put the word “blood” in front of them to go with the theme. Hey, it’s his house, his rules.

ImposterChao and Nutmeg have an awesome house for entertaining – it’s like Wonderland East, not the least of the reasons being there is a stripper pole installed in the basement. Literally. Apparently, Nutmeg mentioned there was a stripper workout video and before the words were out of her mouth, ImposterChao was on the phone ordering the DVD, shipping a stripper pole and rubber matting for the floor, and calling a friend to help install it within the hour. Sadly, ImposterChao almost lost one of his “boys” when he thought he’d give the thing a spin without watching the video first. Nutmeg was really quite good at the said workout machine, and ImposterChao had placed folding chairs around the pole (I’m dead serious). This is why I love ImposterChao. SuperGreat also gave the pole a spin (twss) and turned out to be quite the prodigy as well. A great applause came from those seated at the folding chairs. I didn’t see any dollar bills exchanged though – probably a good thing. Also ImposterChao has this plaque with boobs on it that he’s VERY proud of. It’s basically one of those singing fish things you hang on the wall, but it’s boobs, so it’s MUCH more mature and funny…. Or is it?

Blood Car was a huge hit except for a few scenes that I forgot to warn people about. I did put out the disclaimer in the e-mail invite about the cruelty to cute furry animals and also the wee bit of blood spewing all over the place, but apparently, I forgot the water sports scene, the fish-shaped oven mitts, and the cruelty to kindergartners scenes – all of which horrified people. My apologies. But it was the best movie of the night. It really was a winner. Lots of places for all of us to yell.

Bikini Bloodbath was not as much of a hit, but it had potential. Really campy acting and gratuitous nudity on women over thirty playing high school girls. The best part is the actors are wearing shirts that say what their part is in the film. Not their name so much, but all of the football players have shirts that say “football player” on them. I still think it’s hilarious, but obviously Blood Car was the winner of the night.I will preview the sequel which I also own - Bikini Bloodbath Carwash. I'm assuming it's equally awesome. It might show up at a Bad Movie Night eventually.

Everyone had a great time. Only one drink was knocked over and that was totally my fault (sorry about that). Only one person needed a ride home – and wow, did he need a ride home (in multiple senses of the phrase). I’ve got another bad movie night scheduled for the Minneapolis area, so I’ll be hosting a bunch of crazy people at my house in august for a similar event.

Top 5 things about Bad Movie Night
1. Blood Car
3. The chili… er, I mean “Blood Chili” ImposterChao made was really good and spicy
4. Mom’s party punch kicked up a notch or four
5. I really needed this entertainment as I had a really rough day (thanks, you guys)

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd loved Bad Movie Night and all of these people that usually go to it
2. I totally punted Coach’s drink (that’s not code for anything ghey, I actually kicked over his drink)
3. Apparently, Gheyspanic’s glass of vodka with a tiny scoop of raspberry sherbet was undrinkable to anyone except Gheyspanic, who had multiple glasses (and then enjoyed a ride to the bar after the party) (and then enjoyed –not as much- a trip to the ER after falling at said bar)
4. Some of our regulars bailed on us (not mad, I’m just saying you were missed)
5. People were WAAAAY more upset when puppies got shot with a BB gun that they were when kindergarten children were shot execution-style. What is WRONG with you people?!?!

Kelly’s – Sterling, IL

I came back to Illinois and had lunch with Gerd’s mother and brother, whom I miss terribly. The past few years, when we’ve gone home to visit, Kelly’s had been brought up, but for some reason or other we never ended up going there. This time, I remembered on the way to their house and actually remembered to say something about it.

Make no bones about this place, it’s an Irish bar. There’s Irish language (Gaelic, right?) translated on the menu and there’s shamrocks all over the place like a leprechaun puked. And then the middle section of the menu is Mexican food. I’ve only heard about Kelly’s because of its Mexican food, so I was actually unaware that they had regular bar kinds of food. So I scoured the menu and came across a couple of things I could eat. When I got to the Loco Grande Burrito, I knew I had found a winner. I’ll translate for you – Loco Grand Burrito means “crazy big burrito.” I didn’t ask the waitress how big it was, I just ordered it. So you know, I’m gearing up to eat the 7 pound burrito at Jack N Grill in Denver next month, so I’m trying to pace myself like a marathoner. I’ll let you know how that goes.

And since I was in Illinois (even SMALL town Illinois), I knew I could safely order a Mt. Dew and be pretty confident they would have it on tap. Cha-ching! I was right. The burrito came out and I was not disappointed. I would guestimate it about 1.5 to 2.0 pounds. It was really big. Filled the entire large plate it was on. Super thick layer of un-namable cheese on top and the insides were a combination of chicken and steak, rice and beans, and a metric crap-ton of red and green bell peppers.

It started out pretty good, in fact, even for an Irish bar burrito. Lots of meat in there (twss). However, the peppers in there were more than flavoring – they were filler. Lots and lots of filler. I may not have to eat another bell pepper for another 6 months after this thing. The flavor was just fine, but it was like a 3 to 1 ratio of peppers to meat on each bite. It wasn’t a great burrito, but it was a LARGE burrito. I don’t know that I’d recommend it, but it’s a good place to figure out how I’ll do out in Denver.

I felt really bad for Gerd’s brother and mother since they sat there and watched me eat for another 25 minutes after they were done. Ha ha ha. They told me not to rush, so I just kept shoveling it in. I hope I didn’t horrify them or anything. And they didn’t mumble anything mean under their breath when we left after I finished it all (except for a couple of forkfuls of peppers that were left.

All in all, the Mexican food would have ranked really high in Minnesota using the weighted ranking. As it was, I’d give it about a 6 or 7 in normal Mexican food ranking. I would have no problem going back to Kelly’s and trying some of their other food. Gerd’s mother’s enchilada looked tasty and Gerd’s brother’s buffalo strips smelled delicious (although there were some weird colored parts inside – I’m just sayin’). And of course, I look forward to any opportunity to go out and see Gerd’s family, including Gerd and I’s wonderdog, Zoey, whom I miss terribly.

If you’re in Sterling, don’t be afraid to try Kelly’s.

Top 5 things about Kelly’s
1. I got to spend time with Gerd’s family and see our dog
2. Loco Grande Burrito is like a pillow filled with meat and peppers!!!
3. Chips and salsa were really good
4. For an Irish bar, they have some good girly drink specials
5. They have Dew!!!

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd should have been eating lunch with us and it would have made everything 12,973 times better
2. Bell pepper overload
3. There’s a “bit” of road construction on the street near Kelly’s
4. Felt bad that Gerd’s family had to watch me shovel food into my mouth looong after they were done with their meals
5. My guts are sooooo displeased with me right now

Friday, July 17, 2009

Most Ingenious Idea EVER – Eden Prairie, MN

As I was returning from lunch today, I was almost in an accident. I’m glad I didn’t hit anyone, but it would have been a hilarious conversation with whatever cop came to the scene. “Officer, I saw THIS and had to immediately cut across two lanes of traffic to take a photo.”

Yes, please click on the photo and zoom in if you can. It really DOES say “BBQCARWASH”. That’s right, folks. It’s a carwash where you can eat ribs and get your car washed and detailed. Seriously. I’m not even playing around. I did some web-checking and apparently J.J. takes his ribs VERY seriously. I’m guessing probably as serious as I do. This place will be put on the list for the 2009 Twin City RibQuest.

This is the most brilliant business plan ever created. J.J., you get a high five from me, brother. Read the article here: And now I’m wondering if my friend Schammlette has snubbed me since he drives this road to work every day and hasn’t told me about this place. Rude.

This idea tops (and I never thought it would be possible to top, honestly) high school cheerleader bikini carwashes.

I will now attempt to drive through every puddle I see on the road from here on out. I’m guessing the next time you see me, my car will sparkle like it’s hot off the showroom floor. Even if you saw me every day for the next 5 years. It’s really kind of rude to have a dirty car and I don’t want to offend people, so I’ll just do my duty to keep the peace, and fill my belly with delicious ribs multiple times a week.

Thank you, J.J. I don’t even know you, but I already love you.

Pablo’s – Shakopee, MN

I’d seen this name pop up a couple of times when I would search for food around my workplace, so I figured I’d need to try it. I also had to check and make sure it wasn’t a shortened version of Don Pablo’s, which I’m not a huge fan of. And I also knew I had to go when the boss was off work, so I could take some liberties with the lunch “hour” since Shakopee is basically another country away.

Even with all the time zone changes, I still made pretty good time and my GPS took me right to it. It’s in downtown Shakopee, so it’s by a lot of things. The restaurant is on the lower floor of what looks to be an apartment building, but it’s the entire lower floor, so it’s pretty darn big. It has two outside patios and also a full bar inside. It looked out of place, but you can’t judge from outside.

A pregnant hostess seated me in a corner (sometimes they do that when you’re alone so you can face the wall and not feel self-conscious – which I never do.)(Actually, maybe they do it so I don’t creepily stare at other diners – ha ha ha.) The menu had mostly standard far on it, but a couple of good looking combinations, so I went with the Choppo’s Feast. Two taquitos, an enchilada, and a tamale, served with beans. I asked if they had coke products, to which she replied, “yes, we have Coke products, but we also have Mt. Dew.” This place is already moving up the food rating ladder!

I studied some operations management material and munched on a delicious basket of chips. The good kind of chips with some texture, not the plain white ones. The salsa was also pretty good. Much better than average.

The food came out and I was pleasantly surprised. It looked really good (not all blurry like in the photo – I didn’t have any margaritas since at THIS job, I can’t drink on the clock).

The pork tamale was just average. Kind of dry and not a lot of meat inside. I had to cover it with the salsa to make it better. Not bad, just not anything to talk about. The carnitas enchilada was quite good, in fact. I’m not usually an enchilada guy, but this thing was tasty. He sauce was a deep red and had a more hearty flavor than a lot of the enchilada sauces I’ve had in Minnesota. They got this one right, I’m thinking. The chicken taquitos were the best part. I know it’s kind of difficult to make taquitos stick out in a crowd, but they really did. Usually the chicken is kind of flavorless and all you taste is “fried” (not that I’m complaining at ALL about that flavor), but these taquitos you could taste the chicken, the seasoning, AND the “fried”. Excellent.

On the Minnesota-adjusted ranking scale for Mexican food, I’d put this at a high 8. If I find a reason to go to Shakopee again, I’ll definitely see if I can find a reason to go back here. Maybe polish off a few margaritas and THEN rank it. ha ha ha.

Top 5 things about Pablo’s
1. Chicken taquitos
2. Carnitas enchilada
3. Chips and salsa
4. They have Dew
5. Preggo hostess was a good way to start lunch

Bottom 5 things
1. I feel guilty finding decent Mexican food now that Gerd isn’t here to enjoy it
2. It’s not even remotely within lunch-time driving distance from my office in Eden Prairie
3. Tamale was a bit dry and light on meat (twss)
4. I got stuck facing a wall (and still managed to get very little studying done)
5. I had issues with an ultra hot but spin-y plate. It wouldn’t stay still and I couldn’t hold it down (twss)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dragon Jade – Minnetonka, MN

Anytime I hear the word Jade, it reminds me of a story about my two friends, Chicken Little and Coach, fighting over who had dibbs on a stripper named Jade. It’s been a heated argument that gets brought up regularly over the past 10 years (yes, I’m sure Jade looks really pleasant now). Thankfully, I wasn’t involved in this trip to the strip club, so I’ve remained STD free while reaping the fruits of this hilarious competition that no one would really be a winner in. Needless to say, whenever I see anything related to Jade, I have a natural inclination to go there (physically and metaphorically).

I found a Chinese food place called Dragon Jade while searching for restaurants I could drive to during my lunch break. Sure, it’s not even remotely close (it’s in Minnetonka), but I figured I could do it anyway and work off the extra hours if caught. When I found the place, I was pleased since it was in a strip mall, which we’ve all learned by now is a great indicator of good Minnesota cuisine.

The inside of this place is the cleanest I’ve ever seen for a Chinese food place. It’s like dentist office clean with similar painting schemes. The decorations of course are all Asian-heritage, but it’s still immaculate. Weird (it’s sad that I think that’s weird in our developed country, but I do – ha ha ha). I brought some things to study since I have a mid-term exam last night and while I should have been studying last night, I went to see the new Harry Potter movie with some friends.

I checked out the lunch menu and found some non-standard things on it. The Drunken Pork with Peanuts intrigued me, so I went with that. It came with an egg roll and I’m always up for trying egg rolls at different places. I studied a little bit (enough to move me from a failing grade to a less failing grade, certainly!), and they brought the food out pretty shortly after that.

The egg roll was pretty good. A little too much cinnamon for my taste. I’m wondering if cinnamon is standard in Minnesota Chinese food and not in Illinois Chinese food. Might just be my preference since I grew up without it. Whatever. The pork itself was in a rich brown gravy, which I always enjoy gravy-related food items. The veggies were nice and crunchy and the pork was really flavorful and tender and not at all fatty, which is nice. Probably nothing flashy about this place, but it’s not one of those Chinese places where they all have a standard menu – Dragon Jade puts some effort and love into their food.

While eating I eavesdropped on this hilarious conversation on a girl and her sister at a table near mine. The younger girl was going on and on about her life dreams. “First, I’m going to join the Air Force and I’m going to play rugby. Then I’ll go to University of Minnesota for four years. Then I’m going to move to Ireland for a while and then come back to the US and work for Best Buy. But that all might change when I go to high school next year.” Seriously, the girl is in jr. high school and planning out all these hilariously detailed life plans. Hell, I STILL don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. The best part was her talking about rugby to her prissy older sister and how she should try it, but she might get a little bit dirty during the scrum. (If I had a nickel for every time I've said that...) Classic lunch conversation, especially coming from a jr. high girl.

Also, I got another fortune cookie message that borders on teh ghey (if you really reach for it): Success won't taste so good, without Failure as appetizers. [Yes, it had all the gramatic errors as shown.]

Top 5 things about Dragon Jade
1. Drunken Pork with Peanuts
2. Immaculately clean
3. Really cheap for lunch
4. Non-standard dishes to choose from
5. It reminds me of the Battle for Jade

Bottom 5 things
1. I talked myself out of ordering cream cheese wontons since they were Gerd’s favorite and I didn’t need 8 of them to myself
2. I got very little studying done
3. It’s a long haul for lunch if you work in Eden Prairie
4. The restaurant is NOT named after a stripper
5. Cinnamon in my egg roll – I might just have to get over this issue I have

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Boolay – Minneapolis, MN

I was really hungry for Mexican food and ventured to a new place to take a study break – I brought my book with me to study, so shut it (your face, not the book). When I got to the place I intended to go to, they had just shut off the lights and closed. It was 8pm. Seriously? 8pm? You’re closing for the night? Whatever.

So I walked down the street to a place I had walked past before but never tried. It was called Boolay and judging from the building that it’s in that contains an African Market as well as some other African shops, it was a safe bet it was African food. Ding! Ding! Ding! I was right. The address, since it's impossible to find on the Internet, is 1817 Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis.

I strolled in and looked around. It looked pretty beat up, but there were a couple of people at various tables, so I grabbed a spot in front of the TV which was playing soccer. I didn’t care that it was a game from November of 2008 – soccer is soccer (Except when it’s futbol, then it’s still soccer). I looked around and someone saw me and came over with empty hands. I asked if they had a menu and the guy said in broken English, “we only have menu of the mouth.” This was going to be interesting. “We have Rice chicken. Rice fish. Spaghetti chicken. Spaghetti fish.” I waited for the rest. And... we’re done, apparently. My lovely vegetarian friend would be SOL in this place. Oh wait! She could get all crazy and get spaghetti rice maybe! I asked for the chicken rice. The man asked me what kind of chicken. He said a couple of words I didn’t understand and then I heard “bar-b-que.” I told him bar-b-que was fine. He hollered it back to the kitchen and walked away (back to the kitchen where he could have said the same thing much quieter). Ha ha ha ha.

I opened up my book to study, and got about three paragraphs in and then started watching soccer. Oh well. I tried. The guy came back and brought a banana and a bottle of water. I REALLY need to figure out the proper timing of eating the banana at African restaurants. Can anyone help with this? I ate it with my food, and this time didn’t get yelled at about it, so I figured at least that timing wasn’t offensive to Africans.

I watched some good soccer between Madrid Real and Malaga (I have NO idea where Malaga is at). Then the food came out on two large plates. Since I had no idea what to expect (other than some iteration of chicken and some iteration of rice), I was pleasantly surprised. Apparently, the people of Boolay are freakin serious about their rice. It was a platter dedicated to saffron/curry rice with some shaved carrots and onions. It was fantastic, but wowwie kazowie there was a lot. The other plate held some veggies (onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and lettuce) and three pieces of fried chicken. There was also a menacing looking dipping sauce as well.

The food was really really good. I was very impressed. It’s not flashy, it’s not highly seasoned, but it’s really tasty. Normally, I don't like to eat fried chicken as it's in my category of high-labor foods due to bones and such. This chicken fell off the bones and was fork tender, so I didn't complain at all. The dipping sauce was kind of a bbq spicy chutney kind of sauce. It was fantastic and spicy and also combined with the banana I was eating was a really unique experience. I devoured this meal, including almost all of the rice on the plate. There were a couple of limes on the plate, so I squeezed those over the chicken but it just made it taste more limey – not bad, just limier.

I watched way more soccer than I should have since I needed to get home and study. The guy checked on me and made sure I was doing alright (this was the opportunity I expected him to yell at me about eating the banana wrong, but it didn’t happen. Maybe I did it right this time.). I saw another dish brought out for someone else with an even larger platter full of rice, which made me think you’d really better like rice when you come here.

I will definitely go back here again, especially when I don’t feel like I can handle too many choices thrown at me. The food is really good, but don’t bother looking for a menu.

Top 5 things about Boolay
1. Honestly, the rice was the best part
2. The chicken was quite tasty, especially with the spicy sauce and banana combo
3. They show soccer on their big screen
4. It’s the perfect place to study if you want to watch soccer instead of studying
5. No one gave a single questioning look at the blonde Viking sitting alone with a text book in a crowd of…um…non-blondes…

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd would have written a MUCH funnier review than I’m doing if she went here. I wish I could have read her review and toned it down before the public saw it
2. It’s not the cleanest place in the world (Boolay OR Africa)
3. There’s seriously no menu
4. I need to figure out the banana timing (twss)
5. I had no idea spaghetti was a popular dish in Africa

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Psycho Suzie’s Part 2 – Minneapolis, MN

Smallz and TheDoctor took me to Psycho Suzies last week to try some girly drinks. I tried one that was just alright, but I was determined to try more there since everything on the menu was pretty much out of my dream recipe drink menu. Also, I didn’t notice this the first time, but Suzie’s has wooden-plank patterned carpet on the floor. It rules. That’s true class.

Since golf was over and since TheDoctor drove specifically to facilitate my inebriation compliments of Suzie, it was ON. I ordered the Paradise Island – the reason for them bringing me to Suzie’s in the first place. It’s 54 oz of liquor and fruit nectars served in a giant diamond head crater ceramic vessel. Seriously, it’s awesome. And I don’t just mean the container itself is awesome. This might be my favorite girly drink of all time.

TheDoctor ordered Pele’s Fire Bowl, which is a bunch of rum with mango, pineapple, and orange served ON FIRE. It’s only 48 oz, so you know it’s not nearly as awesome as the Paradise Island. But it’s served in a large bowl (again, ON FIRE) so we would periodically yell loudly “Let’s get ready to rum bowl!!!” And of course this happened more and more frequently as we neared the bottom of our containers. This also got more and more hilarious as I drank more and I ended up saying it on my own multiple times, sadly. The best part about the drinks was the waitress very explicitly asked us if we knew the drinks we ordered were usually “multi-person drinks”. The menu even says so – Serves 2-4 people. We assured her we knew what we were doing and we’d be fine.

I also got some of the world famous (supposedly) pizza I’ve heard a lot of people talk about, but to my surprise, it was actually quite good. I made sure I was sober when I critiqued it. I got the Hemi Cuda – which they refer to a heart attack on a plate. Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Canadian Bacon, ground hamburger, onions, green peppers, and mozzarella. It was absolutely amazing. One of the best pizzas I’ve had in Minneapolis. Truly good.

I polished off the Hemi Cuda and the Paradise Island. And since it wasn’t enough, I ordered the happy hour special which was the Angry Geisha or Geisha of Death or something with Geisha in the name. They were smaller drinks, but I ended up drinking mine and then most of another persons.

Let me remind you that TheDoctor was driving for this very reason. Lots of other people showed up, including HotGirlsBrother, Lo-Vee, SB, HB, MegaColon, and In-Nate. The party started to wind down when people got sick of drinking girly drinks and needed to go home.

Which is exactly what Smallz and TheDoctor and I weren’t going to do. We drove (I’m not kidding here) less than a block to the next bar called Jaros’, since TheDoctor had some golf chaffage and was in no shape to walk the 150 ft to the next bar. The reason we went to Jaros’ was so Smallz could buy TheDoctor and I the house specialty, known as “greenies”. As it turns out, they fill a class about 90% full of cheap vodka, another 9% with club soda, and then a splash of green coloring along with a sprinkle of this weird pixie dust. The drink is green and it’s strong. Weird things happen when you get one of these drinks in your system...

I shouldn’t have drank mine before everyone else, but I did. And surprisingly, it was pretty good. It made TheDoctor saying the word "cooter" 15 times even more hilarious than it normally would have been. I’d go back here and drink these again. Plus there were a LOT of tranny-looking ladies, in here, which I MIGHT have said too loudly when they walked past us. A LOT of trannies. We polished off only one of these each, before Smallz dumped his all over the table and we headed out.

Smallz and TheDoctor continued on, but I needed to go home, so I caught a ride back home. Safe and sound. Of course with all of my stuff in the back of TheDoctor’s car. Oh well. I wasn’t going golfing anytime soon. I was actually making breakfast for some of these random folks the next morning and I needed to be at my best!

Top 5 things about Suzie’s
1. Paradise Island
2. Hemi Cuda Pizza
3. Greenie at Jaros’ (I KNOW it’s not Suzie’s so shut it)
4. Evil Geisha or whatever it was
5. Hanging with super cool people at Suzie’s was really fun

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd would have yelled at me for drinking 75+ oz of rum, but she would have laughed at me getting loud, I’m sure of it
2. I would have felt a lot better NOT sitting in my own sweat and sunscreen from golf
3. There were some scary people at Jaros’
4. People got lame and didn’t want to go bowling with Smallz and I
5. MegaColon dumped my fruit skewer out of my drink onto the dirty table (then she felt bad and made me drink the rest of her Geisha drink)

Theo Wirth Golf Course – Minneapolis, MN

I had never heard of this course before, but TheDoctor had booked us a tee time, so I was basically locked into the outing – it sounds like I’m complaining, but I am not. I was just feeling a little tender after spending much of the previous night at Mickey’s Dining Car.

We showed up way early and they were having a tournament, which meant they were low on carts. We waited around till just about our tee time and someone returned a cart from the tournament. Smallz and I were saved. I knew it was going to be three billion degrees out, so I was hoping we’d score a cart with a roof on it. Thankfully, we did.

None of the three of us started out particularly strong, but Smallz has gotten his game working better and better each time we go out. He really did hit some impressive shots. TheDoctor and I, much fewer shots of awesomeness. I played the front nine with some consistency and my usual not impressive, but solid round. And I shot under 50, which always thrills me. In fact, I beat the other two. The second round was a different story.

As far as the course goes, this is a super tough course. LOTS of elevation changes, but the designer really took the heights into account for the course as well as incorporating the view of the cityscape into the background of the course. There were just some pretty holes out there. The back nine was significantly more difficult than the front nine. The elevation changes were far more extreme and there was less margin for error.

I’ll be the first to admit I totally fell apart after the turn. Then TheDoctor fell apart, and Smallz managed to maintain his game though not quite as well as the first nine. We really had some difficulty on the back nine with water, rough, trees, sand, and anything else that would wind up in our way.

Since I was playing my usual game of bouncing off things, I kept up the hilarity. At one point, I said, if I can just bounce this off the cart path, it will go the rest of the way to the whole. I bounced it off the cart path and onto the green. TheDoctor pointed out, "You are the ONLY person I've ever met that applies mini-golf strategy to regular golf." And it's true. I'll bet if I put a windmill and a clown out on the course, I'd shoot a lot better.

I won’t go into detail, but LOTS of shots, many lost balls, and a broken 3-wood later, we finished the stupid round and headed to Psycho Suzies to meet some friends and drown our sorrows in girly drinks. IT was well needed. Thankfully, none of us got sunburned and we DID truly have an awesome time. IT sucks playing bad golf, but it is still fun NOT being at work and hanging out with golfers of the same caliber as you.

Top 5 things about Theo Wirth Golf Course
1. The elevation MAKES this course
2. This course has awesome views of the city
3. It really wasn’t terribly busy, even for a weekend
4. Both Smallz and I canned serious chips shots from off the green
5. Smallz scored me some girly drinks for the back nine – which I now blame for the back-none meltdown

Bottom 5 things
1. The back-nine melt-down
2. The fairways had some serious burnout and disease showing
3. The course is not forgiving – not the courses fault
4. No Mt. dew in the beer cart
5. The snack bar ran out of hot dogs before noon – not good

Mickey’s Dining Car – St. Paul, MN

I’ll start by saying I went to Karen192 and Charlesworth’s wedding reception at Mancini’s before Mickey’s even came up. These two had gotten married on a Friday and done things all day with friends and family. So they invited all their riff-raff friends to meet them all at Mancini’s after everything was over and done with. This was a brilliant idea and anyone getting married on a Friday night should consider it for their working friend s(or if they have riff-raff friends like me!).

Mancini’s was a blast as usual. If you haven’t been here, just go. It’s a swanky (but like vegas red leather swanky, not pricey swanky) old-people lounge. They have old guy bands and old guy drinks. It’s awesome. I knew DeltaForceCommander and FireRetarded would be there but wasn’t sure who else. Fortunately, I knew a bunch of people there.

Let’s see… what happened here that I can talk about:
- FireRetarded was wearing a fedora hat which he claims why he kept getting his butt grabbed by the older matrons in attendance
- I met DeltaForceCommander’s x-fiance (which we won’t go into right now)
- I got into a bad movie discussion with DeltaForceCommander’s x-fiance which was awesome
- We got into a discussion about midget/dwarf pornography
- Got into some hilarious discussion about stereotypes of librarians
- Got offered free drink tickets, but had to decline since I needed to be sure I was fine for driving later – thankfully, I was

We bailed on the party because it was winding down – we won’t discuss what hour this party was winding down, only that it was winding down. I had discussed numerous times going to Mickey’s Dining Car with DeltaForceCommander and FireRetarded and we thought tonight should be the night. Mostly because neither of them were in any shape to drive, and I was so I thought pumping them full of greasy diner food might help. Ha ha ha Once we got into the car, the “that’s what she said jokes” started flying…

We got there and surprisingly had to wait about 2 minutes for one of the four tables to open up and be cleaned off. It’s a really small place, but it’s a classic so people don’t mind waiting. I had heard people tell me I needed to try the Sputnick. So once I found it on the menu, I was ready to roll. It’s basically a cheese burger built like a big mac (bread stuck in between two meat patties (twss) with lettuce and cheese on it. I, of course, ordered bacon to be added to this thing. I also got baked beans instead of fries, and I’m glad I did.

The sammich was actually pretty good for a greasy spoon diner. The bacon was the big finisher on this thing. Cooked just the way I like it, slightly underdone. It was awesome. The baked beans were really amazing though,. There was bacon in them as well as tons of pepper. These things were seasoned to perfection. Really, this was a pretty good meal.

DeltaForceCommander wowed me by ordering simply a side of bacon. That a girl! And FireRetarded got a stack of pancakes. He kept talking about how good these pancakes were and once given the opportunity to try it, I was glad I did. These were pretty good. Much better the standard fare you get from Denny, Perkins, or Village Inn. You won’t be disappointed with these things, I assure you.

We were amazed by some of the patrons of the dining car, as many of them seemed to be fresh from a night of whoring and clubbing. Lots of people who were also trying to sober up before facing the work day in the morning. A couple of trashy girls were consoling another girl who was on the verge of puking and thankfully, we left before anything happened, although, I’m pretty sure it was imminent. We were also impressed by the signage in the place. We’re not even sure one of the signs appeared before or after Michael Jackson death announcement appeared… ha ah aha Sorry, too soon.

This place isn’t the best greasy spoon diner in the world, but it was honestly pretty good. It’s not awful, if that’s what you’re expecting. I would come back here anytime I’m trying to sober up a couple of people who are unsafe to be behind the wheel. Thankfully some pancakes will absorb the heck out of some wedding-style alcohol!

Top 5 things about Mickey’s Dining Car
1. The Sputnick with bacon
2. Baked beans
3. Pancakes, oddly enough
4. The whores
5. The signage

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd loved greasy spoon diners and we talked about eating here with these guys all the time
2. It’s not the cleanest place in the world
3. The clientele leaves a lot to be desired
4. Milk shakes are like $5
5. DeltaForceCommander didn’t offer to share her bacon - rude

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Bacon Cheesy Potato Burrito – Taco Bell

Say what you will about Taco Bell, but the people that come up with new creations are some of the best in the industry. Every month or two, they crank out some new tortilla-based item that no one ever thought of doing. This time it’s the Bacon Cheesy Potato Burrito. [Does anyone else’s spell check want to change “cheesy” to “chesty”? – I GAURANTEE I’d order that if it were on a menu, FYI.] Also, I love to drive up to the drive thru window and ask, “What do you have with bacon on it?”

Back when I worked at John Deere in Illinois, one of my favorite co-workers, NickNamer, would compare notes with me on what we thought of each TB creation. I really miss that, living in Minnesota. No one here shares the passion for Taco Bell that NickNamer and I have. Clearly, they’re morons.

I stumbled across this newest creation at random. I didn’t even know these things existed before 11:25am today. I was walking to my car at 11:26. I heard there was bacon in it and I was sold already. Someone said it’s like a loaded baked potato in a tortilla. Which is exactly what it is. Fiesta potatoes, seasoned ground beef, cheese, sour cream, and bacon. This thing is, in every way shape and form, a Vegan-Killer.

I was going to take a photo of the inside contents, but Taco Bell food generally looks like poo in a tortilla and I don’t want to leave any sort of negative ideas in your heads. This thing is really good, as long as you like loaded baked potatoes. It’s bigger than a regular burrito , but smaller than their stufft burritos (which I also like). You’ll get good and full eating this thing (I won’t mention the other items I got as well, ha ha ha).

NickNamer, go try this thing as soon as possible. I think you will agree, it’s awesome.

Top 5 things about the Bacon Cheesy Potato Burrito
1. Not only is bacon contained within, it is the FIRST word in the name of this thing
2. It’s not a wimpy burrito
3. Taco Bell has hired some magnificent bastard in their test kitchens with taste preferences similar to mine
4. If you have a standard-size appetite, you will get full
5. I can sleep easier knowing I have access to these gems within five minutes of home OR work

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd would have gone to Taco Bell every day during this promotion. Guaranteed
2. I miss comparing Taco Bell notes with NickNamer
3. It still looks like poo in a tortilla, no matter what camera angle you try
4. I didn’t get an e-mail from my friend BeltBuckle about this new bacon-themed item like I usually do
5. When Taco Bell makes something gross, I’ll lose weight. Until then, all bets are off

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Psycho Suzie’s Motor Lounge and Tiki Garden – Minneapolis, MN

Those of you who know me (or read this blog regularly) know I have a penchant for the girly drinks. Anything fruity, purple, or with an umbrella is my kind of drink. I get mocked for it all the time, but if I’m going to drink, I don’t want it to taste like urine or hamster bedding – I want it to taste like Hawaiian Punch, so I can drink more of it.

A couple of people have told me I need to try Psycho Suzies, but they never told me why. And now I know. It’s a tiki bar, meaning, the interior is decorated like it’s an island and the drinks come in fun tiki cups with characters on them and it serves drinks with crazy amounts of fruit (and rum) in them. Tiki bars generally serve rum-based drinks and don’t laugh at you if you try to order planter’s punch or pineapple-chambord, like they do at every other bar I go to in the continental United States. This place is the bar I’ve dreamt about.

We grabbed a booth and began to look at the menu. I will say I was sorely disappointed by the lack of coconut-shell bras on the waitresses, but I will let it slide this time. The drink menu was amazing. It’s like they took girly drink formulas out of my head and reformulated them into even more girly drinks and have put them into various tiki-shaped glasses. Brilliant. And they also have multi-person drinks, which I was told I would not be ordering for myself. Rude. But the huge drinks (the 48-60 oz drinks come in giant bowls which are available for purchase. They also have giant volcano-shaped serving … uhh… cups? bowls? vessel? for giant drinks as well. That’s what I’m talking about. Don’t worry, Suzie. I’ll be back.

It was happy hour and since 2009 is the Year of Happy Hour, I needed to celebrate. I settled on a Walking Dead –w hich is basically a zombie in a tiki glass with an umbrella. Wurd. Smallz had been talking up this pulled pork bbq sandwich called the Pontiac (it IS a motor lounge, after all). Apparently Smallz and Driveshaft have discovered these delicacies are just as tasty sober as they are with a BAC of 2.3. I got one of those as well, but instead of fries, I got the tots (second time today for tots – it’s been a good weekend for taters).

The Walking Dead came out and it was decent. Not a stellar zombie, but still the umbrella and the tiki cup moved it up the scale to a standard girly drink. I’ll just say it – not enough rum. Smallz doesn’t look thrilled to be sitting this close to one of the ghey-est drinks on the planet.

Smallz and TheDoctor had ordered some onion rings and they ended up being delicious. Very fat and really battered (say it… like I like my ladies…). I, of course, got mocked for pulling the onions out and eating the fried nothing, but I don’t care. I’ve done it for years and have been mocked by classier people than these guys. I’ll keep right on doing it. (Thanks for loaning me a ring for the review, guys.)

The sammich came out and I was moooo-ey impressed. It came on ciabatta bread and had a handful of French-fried onions strings on top (I can eat those, since it’s too difficult to pull the onions out of those things). Really, the pork was super tender and the sauce was really good and not runny or liquid-smokey. I really liked it and now know why these guys come back here. Apparently, it’s not for the girly drinks. I call LAME.

I’ll seriously come back here anytime. And the next time I come back, someone else is driving and I’ll be drinking 60 ounces of various rums and pineapple juice out of a volcano cup and then telling people what I REALLY think of them. Maybe I should do it on Festivus, so I can do a proper “airing of grievances.”

There, Doctor, did I mention your name enough?!?! Whiner.

Top 5 things about Psycho Suzie’s Motor Lounge and Tiki Garden
1. It’s my dream bar
2. The Pontiac BBQ sammich was stellar
3. How can you NOT think 60 ounces of rum served in a ceramic volcano is a brilliant idea?!?!?!
4. I love that my friends will mock, yet vehemently support my girly drink habit
5. Onion rings were pretty darn good

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd loved her some girly drinks as well, despite the fact that she was allergic
2. No coconut bras
3. Smallz and TheDoctor are volcano-blockers
4. I could have used more fruit pieces in my drink (and rum)
5. Do people seriously refer to this place by its full name or can I just call it Psycho Suzie’s?