Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tandoor - Bloomington, MN

It had been a while since I had had lunch with Trash, so when she decided we needed to go out for Indian food, I agreed. She suggested Tandoor, even though she didn’t know the name of it and had to describe where it was located – a hilarious exercise that I’m both used to and an expert player.



The inside is larger than I expected, and the buffet is spread across two buffet units. I could see there were lots of things that I was going to be eating today. I may not be able to remember the names of what I’m eating, but I can tell it was delicious by the smells. We grabbed our plates and started the feast.

They have excellent vegetarian pakora (deep fried chick pea battered vegetables), and something made with chick peas in a sauce. I should someday write down the names of these things, since I eat at Indian buffets often enough. Maybe I just like the adventure of thinking I’m eating something new and adventurous each time. Tandoor also has one of the most delicious dishes I’ve ever eaten. It was called the Chef’s Vegetarian Special or something like that. It is cabbage and tons of peas with black pepper – absolutely stellar! They also had small pita chip/naan chip things that were delicious. I’ve never seen these before, so I was glad I checked them out.

I had to go back for more. They had a vegetarian dish that looked like it had meatballs in it. Trash is a vegetarian so she was scared by it. I went for it. It turns out, it is a sort of dough or corn meal ball, almost like a dumpling. Also, it was delicious. I grabbed some naan, since I had forgotten the first trip and also some chicken something or other. And, of course, some more Chef’s Special. Everything was amazing.

Still hungry for more of this place. I got another helping of the Chef’s Special and more chick peas, along with a fun rice dish and more chicken. Alright, I give, I’m full.

...But since they had it, I had to get a couple of bowls of Kheer for myself. It’s perfectly acceptable to get two bowls of dessert, but only when there are two people sitting at your table. Then people think it’s for the other person – which it isn’t. hahahaha. Decent Kheer – no complaints from me (on either bowl hahahaha).

This is a great place for lunch and I really liked the dishes there, especially the ones I hadn’t seen before at any other restaurant. I’m looking forward to going back here. The people are very nice and the price is comparable to most other Indian buffets.

I won’t give a top 5 for this place, since I’ll just embarrass myself by not having any idea what the names of the dishes are. My apologies. I just like to eat it, not memorize the names. Sue me.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Los Jarritos – Moline, IL

When I go back to my hometown to visit my family, I try to get people together in one place so I don’t have to run all over and see people all over town. I can see them all in one spot. I got a recommendation from my friend Rafael to go to this new Mexican restaurant in Moline called Los Jarritos. I called them ahead of time and warned them that approximately 25 people had RSVP’d and to make sure they could fit that many. Thankfully, they could.
It’s a very non-descript exterior, but it’s easy to find, since it appears to be one of the only things open on the block. There’s a small sign out front indicating the name of the place and also that it’s now open, so I knew we had found it. Inside, the walls are painted bright colors, the tablecloths are brightly colored and everything looks new and shiny. I found my group of people and grabbed a spot for D.Rough and I to sit.
I went through the menu to find something eat. They had much more than most Mexican places I’ve been to. Delicious sounding dishes – some traditional and some a little out of the box. They have tacos, burritos, and tostadas, but also Tortas (sandwiches) soups, and regional entrees. Even though I had a couple of dishes in mind when I got here, I changed my mind approximately 30 times while looking at the menu. I finally decided on Albondigas, which are meatballs in a sauce with a helping of rice, and served with your choice of corn or flour tortillas. I also ordered a cheese crisp, since this is something our area is known for.

We tried to order margaritas, but the restaurant’s liquor license hadn’t gone through yet, so we were apologetically told they didn’t have anything. They mentioned you could bring in your own if you wanted to. So a couple of guys immediately got up and walked a block or two to Bent River Brewery to get growlers of microbrew for themselves. Excellent idea until this place is allowed to serve drinks.

There are chips and salsa out on the table, and Los Jarritos gave a good showing of flavor and spice level for the meal starter. Not too spicy, but lots of flavor. I was a fan so far.
The cheese crisp arrived and D.Rough stole my first bite. I was distracted by a conversation and she wanted to check it out. She liked it a lot more than some others we’ve had in the Quad Cities. Once I got my first few bites, I agreed. It wasn’t as greasy and the homemade shells really made the difference. Great tasting and very simple dish. It’s melted cheese on a fried flour tortilla.
The Albondigas came out shortly after and I was surprised to see only two meatballs on the plate. In fact, D.Rough made a comment about it looking like they forgot the spaghetti on my plate. The sausage balls were sitting in a shallow pool of some red sauce that smelled delicious. I cut up the meatballs into smaller chunks and began building my tortilla with the rice, sauce, and meat. It was fantastic. The meat had tons of flavor and the sauce had already begun to sink into the balls. With the extra sauce on the tortilla, it was perfectly tasty and made me want more. I had ordered corn tortillas, and you could definitely taste the corn flavor, even among all the other strong flavors of the meat and sauce. I’ve had Albondigas soup before at another restaurant, so I’m definitely familiar with the Mexican meatballs, but this dish blew the soup out of the water – it was a fantastic dish and I’d highly recommend it. I didn’t think two meatballs would be enough, but they are large enough to be plenty of food to make three or four normal sized tortilla wraps without skimping.

The servers were absolutely fantastic with our group. I know groups this large can be quite unwieldy, especially for a brand new restaurant, but they handled us like a champ and were very personable and friendly with us. I thanked them afterwards for being so gracious and courteous. I also told them I would recommend them to as many people as possible – so that’s what I’m doing. Please go here – it’s very worth it.

Top 5 things about Los Jarritos
1. Albondigas
2. Cheese crisp
3. Wonderful staff
4. They have Dew!
5. Very comprehensive menu of delicious-sounding food

Bottom 5 things
1. No alcohol license as of Thanksgiving – but that will change (BYOB isn’t a bad idea, however)
2. Lots of spelling errors on the menu – they’re new so they’ll work the bugs out, I’m sure.
3. It isn’t well lit on the outside, so it almost doesn’t look open, but it IS
4. Nothing else bad to report
5.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Los-Jarritos-Comida-Mexicana

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Madball Show at the Triple Rock Social Club – Minneapolis, MN

This is a combination food and music review, just so you know what you’re in for. Also, this is from a few months back, I just finally got around to editing my notes and posting it. My apologies.

I’ve been a Madball fan since the early 90’s, which means they’ve been around approximately 20 years. That’s a long time in the world of hardcore music. It’s a REALLY long time in the world of tough-guy hardcore music. I won’t get into all the intricacies and sub-genres of hardcore, but suffice it to say, this band brings with it a track record of blood, fighting, punching, and kicking to its live shows. When I heard they were playing in Minneapolis at the Triple Rock, I was pretty sure I was going. When I realized it was oan Wednesday night that I didn’t have my MBA class, I knew for sure I was going. What’s the significance of Wednesday night, you ask? Well, Wednesdays are “Free Bacon Night” at the Triple Rock. Could this be the best day ever!!?!?!???!!?

After some timing discrepancies on when the show actually started (the tickets and one website said 4:30pm, another website and Facebook said 7:00pm). I got it all straightened out and headed over. There weren’t a lot of people when I got there and they hadn’t started the show (likely for that reason). I grabbed a Strongbow from the concert-area bar and just stood there like a dummy. Free bacon didn’t start until 9pm, so I had some time to kill.

The first band went on, “Big Bang Fury”, and were decent. The lyrics were a little Dr. Suess – literally “There’s a Wocket in my Pocket” – and the band really didn’t move at all, but I have heard way worse. I probably won’t pick up their CD, but I’d stand through them again. At the time, there were maybe 30 people there at the show, including what appeared to be relatives of the band members and such. Hilarious. (And yes, I’ve been there, so I know what that’s like).

After they finished up, I decided to hit up the real bar and peruse the menu. I also grabbed another Strongbow while I was waiting to decide on something. The menu here at the Triple Rock always impresses me. I somehow forget that this place has MUCH better than average food and also cater to vegetarians where possible. One of the things I always seem to get is the Poutine. For those that don’t’ know, I’m huge Poutine fan – it’s French fries covered in cheese curds and gravy – that’s hard to pass up even if you’re not from Canada, where the dish was invented. I decided to try something new and got the BBQ Cajun Chicken Po Boy. And a Jack Daniels – neat.

People watching at the Triple Rock I always fun, so there’s never a lack of entertainment when you’re waiting for food. Also, they have fun things hanging on the walls in the bar area. For example, this memorial photo of Ronnie James Dio (RIP), and also a dolla dn photo of Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrisian from Star Wars).
9 o’clock rolled around and I saw the first of the bacon baskets rolling out. The bartender brought me over a basket along with some popcorn – I hadn’t seen that here before. So the skinny on the free appetizers is this: the bacon is baked partially and then finished in the deep fryer, so it’s amazingly awesome. The popcorn is then cooked in the bacon grease, so it is almost as delicious as the bacon itself. I was REALLY glad I came to the show tonight.

The Po Boy came out right after I got the popcorn and bacon, so that worked out really well for me. This Po Boy is one of the better ones I’ve had. It had a few onions in it, but the chicken was delicious. Seasoned with Cajun seasoning and with delicious BBQ flavor and with potatoes and pepperjack cheese, this sandwich was a force to be reckoned with. Sooooo good. The bun seemed tiny when compared with the insides of the thing, but even the bun had some butter on it and was toasted nicely. Top notch sandwich that I would recommend highly.
I knew I had missed at least one band, but was bummed to find out I actually missed the other two bands. So when I went into the show, they were setting up Madball’s stuff on stage and there were considerably more people there. I was still surprised this place wasn’t more full of fans, but maybe they’re not the big deal they used to be (in some people’s eyes). It didn’t matter, the people that were there were there because they love Madball, or because they’re old guys like me and loved them back when we were all kids.

video
The show started and things got very aggressive very fast. Not much of an intro – just straight into the songs. They played a lot of old stuff (they do have a ton of albums to choose from, so that’s not difficult), but they also played some stuff off their 2010 release “Empire”. These guys played REALLY straight forward, almost simple, tough-guy hardcore. IT isn’t meant to be impressive. It’s meant to get you feeling aggressive and want to punch people. I’m NOT kidding. It is very drum driven and the guitar and bass are secondary. The lyrics are generally about brotherhood and fighting for your boys and keeping your word. A lot of people don’t get this and just see the violence (which is pretty easy to spot, since people are punching, spin-kicking, and just running into crowds of people and punching wildly), but music was originally meat to evoke feelings and this follows that line of thought at its most core and basic sense.

I didn’t see any blood on the floor and the crowd seemed more subdued than previous crowds I’ve seen. But everyone seemed to know the words, even to the new songs which is always nice. The guys in the band still get the crowd going. Freddy, the singer has filled out, but isn’t fat. He’s just no longer a scrawny scrappy kid covered in tattoos. He’s done some jail time and has clearly been working out. He seems to have mellowed his stage presence over the years in that he was actually nice to the crowd and appreciative people were there, even if they weren’t on the floor punching the hell out of each other. Frankly, that was nice to hear him say. There were still kids jumping onto the stage to sing along, and jumping off the stage to take out as many people as they could, so that was as it should be and a welcome comfort.
This was one of the tightest shows I’ve seen them play. They’ve been doing this a long time, so you’d think they’d be tight, but this style of music, anything goes. The louder and harder, the better. The music is secondary to the message and emotion. You don’t have to play flawlessly to bring out the tough-guy in everyone in the crowd. That’s what you can always count on from these guys.

For my friends that missed the show, even though I had free tickets for them, you missed a fantastic show. I however, was filled with bacon and testosterone and will be listening to nothing but tough-guy music for the next couple of weeks. I don’t mind reliving my youth and being pissed off for a time. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about when I say tough-guy hardcore, see if you can find some youtube videos by these bands. Then you’ll understand better:

Madball
NJ Bloodline
Clubber Lang
I.R.A.T.E.
Knuckle Dust
xDeathstarx
Sick Of It All
District 9
Judge
On a Warpath
Die…My Demon
Born From Pain
Cast Aside
Cataract
Disrespect
Betrayal

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fish & Chips Soul Food Heaven – St. Paul, MN

EnyaFace! and I like to grab delicious food from time to time and on our way back from the Rice Street Deli, I drove past this place called the Frogtown Deli. I mentioned we should eat there and we finally managed to coordinate our schedules enough to both make it. When I showed up, it no longer said Frogtown Deli, and the sign on the window said it was now the Fish & Chips Soul Food Heaven. No worries there. I was going to eat whatever was inside.

I went inside to have a minute to check out the menu. They have a printed menu and also a menu over the counter. Look at both, just to be on the safe side, because the menu over the counter has better descriptions of what things are. Oddly enough, it had some similar items to Rice Street Deli on it. In fact, it had Gangsta Burgers and Gangsta Fries on it. Wait, did Rice Street Deli change locations? I’ll have to get to the bottom of this. The inside is sparsely furnished with a couple of booths and a couple of tables. And the walls had crazy tropical murals painted on them like it used to be a Mexican restaurant or something…. But I’ll get to that.

Also, one of the guys coming out of the restaurant told me they deliver, so definitely keep that in mind. Here’s the menu, since there isn’t going to be one online for some time.

I finally decided what I wanted just in time for EnyaFace! to show up. I got a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich and EnyaFace! got some fried chicken. I also thought we should share a SMALL order of Gangsta Fries. (We tried the large order before and barely made a dent between the both of us.) And I scored an Orange Fanta, since I’m a fan.

And yes, it does say maximum occupancy is TWELVE. Awesome.

The food you order gets shouted out from the counter and you go get it. I got my sandwich first, and it looked delicious. Really really really delicious. It comes with fries (which I hadn’t realized, so I guess I’ll have double fries. I had to go up to the counter to get ketchup on them (the guy squirted it on my fries for me – I only knew he would do that because I overheard another customer getting the same thing done), but it isn’t a big deal. He was generous with the ketchup, so no complaints. I had to wait for EnyaFace!’s food to come out before I started in on mine.

I went up and got the Gansta Fries next. If you haven’t heard me rave about Gangsta Fries, then you haven’t hung out with me very much. I talk about them a lot. They’re fries, covered in gyro meat and then covered with tzatziki sauce. You can also get a bunch of other ingredients on top – which I did: peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, banana peppers, etc. So I picked up the Styrofoam container that came in and waited for the fried chicken to get finished. It wasn’t that long, I promise you.

We got all of our food and dug in. The Gangsta Fries are as good as I remember. Slathered in cucumber sauce, they start crispy and then get soggy towards the end, just like I like. The gyro meat is delicious and the other toppings give it some zing. These are some of my favorite fries (that aren’t poutine, of course). Again, stick with a small order unless you’re feeing a family of you’ve got 20 people over for football or something.

The Philly Cheesesteak was delicious as well. Great flavor in the meat and the green peppers weren’t overpowering. (I also ordered it without onions, to save my guts for certain doom, so keep that in mind.) The cheese they put on there was tasty and there was just a small amount of mayo on the top, so I was happy to see the focus was on the meat (twss). Really a delicious sandwich. It isn’t going to compete with one from Philly, but it certainly hit the spot for me.

EnyaFace! gave me one of her fried chicken wings and I was surprised they were as good as they were. They didn’t look flaky like KFC, but they had great flavor and weren’t greasy. There was a decent amount of meat on them, which is sometimes not the case at other places with wings. But again, the flavor was great, so no complaints. I’m not sure if 6 of them would fill me up though. I’d probably have to go with 12 if I was going to order this.

As we were finishing up our meal, the owner walked in and asked how everything was. And I’m almost positive it is the guy from the Rice Street Deli. I should have asked, but I was in a food coma. The owner said he had just bought the place two weeks ago and changed the name. In fact, he was going to close for a few days and totally renovate the place. Actually, there were guys there all of a sudden with buckets of paint and moving furniture so they could paint the interior walls. “Oh. You mean NOW.” He said he was going to put in some flat screens and spice it up a little bit and make it more inviting. The owner is a super nice guy and again, I’m pretty sure it’s the guy that let me take pictures of my first Gangsta Burger a couple of years back, over at the Rice Street Deli. Very good guy and proud of his work – he should be, it’s top-notch.

I’m hoping he’s open again now and I can’t wait to see the inside of the place. The food is delicious and not expensive and it’s a pretty low-key operation. If you’re in that neck of the woods, go grab some food to go. Or apparently, they deliver. Sadly, I’m positive I’m out of the delivery zone, but I can always come harass EnyaFace! and bring her chicken. I’m sure she won’t complain.

Top 5 things about Fish & Chips Soul Food Heaven
1. Gangsta Fries
2. Philly Cheese steak
3. Fried Chicken
4. Really nice owner and staff
5. They deliver AND they’re open until 11pm weekdays and midnight on weekends!!!

Bottom 5 things
1. It isn’t fancy – this isn’t a downside, but I like to warn people who are more high-falutin’ than I am
2. I have no idea what the interior will look like, since they were painting when we left
3. They ran out of forks while we were there, so we had to spoon everything hahaha
4. Really, there’s nothing bad about this place, I’m gasping for straws (which they also did not have hahaha)
5. Quit reading. I’m done. There aren’t any more bad things!!

Chicken & Fish Soul Food Heaven
444 West Maryland Avenue N.
St. Paul, MN 55107

Monday, November 21, 2011

Donut Cooperative – Minneapolis, MN

I had heard rumblings about this new donut shop opening up in the Seward area of Minneapolis. In fact, I had even “liked” their facebook page in hopes of finding out when they would open and maybe a menu or something handy like that. So when E-Jens messaged me about going here on a Saturday morning, I was in, for sure. …That was, until I read a post about them only having cake donuts. That didn’t bode well. I have a moral objection to cake donuts. If you haven’t heard me rant about it on this blog before, here’s the premise: If I wanted cake, I’d eat cake. I don’t want cake, I want donuts.

I message EJens back threatening him with all kinds of unkind words in this review and gave him the opportunity to reschedule once they started to make raised (aka REAL) donuts sometime in the future (for the record, raised donuts take longer to make and with the volume of people The Donut Cooperative have been seeing since they opened, they didn’t have time for people to be standing around waiting for raised donuts – that’s the reason. Fair enough.) EJens said we were still on. I also found out Captain MacGillis would be joining us – that means I couldn’t back out.

As I drove to The Donut Cooperative that morning to meet those guys, it started raining tiny ice pellets that were borderline snowflakes. No worries. Except when we got inside the place, all the tables were full and the only thing open was the picnic table outside. Hahahahaha. Seriously. It’s Minnesota – that’s what we do. We pretend it’s very European. Seeing the line grow and shrink, Captain MacGillis and I decided just to order and Let EJens fend for himself. I looked in the case for the donuts and only saw one tray of donuts. Weird. I looked in the other cases. There were caramel apples, cookies, pepperoni sammiches, and vegan sammiches (their own vegan Banh Mi), but I wasn’t in the mood for a sandwich. It was donut time. I asked if they had any other donuts. The super nice ladies told us they only had this one tray of donuts. They were cake donuts with lingonberry filling in the middle of it. Sure that sounded delicious, but I thought they’d have crazy things, like Pez-Jalapeno glazed donuts and pickle-onion donuts. These seemed tame to me. But I was there, so I thought I’d better at least try it so I’d have something to write about. I also noticed in one of the other cases there was something called Donut Bread Pudding.I’m a fair weather fan of bread pudding, so the addition of a donut could only make things better. The server said it was warm, and it made it better. I was feeling saucy (which the server cracked up used that term) and got a slice of that as well. I got a chai tea to wash it all down. They put the things on small plates and Captain MacGillis and I headed out to the picnic table to wait for EJens. Fortunately, he showed up right then and headed inside to order.

Here’s what my goodies looked like. See? Not bad, eh?

I started with the Donut Bread Pudding since I didn’t want it to get cold. I’ll also mention that it had started snowing/sleeting harder at this point, but we all chose not to acknowledge it and just powered through like it was 80 and sunny. The Donut Bread Pudding was cut into slices like slices of bread or coffee cake. It was very moist and sticky, but I didn’t have a fork, so I just went at it with my fingers. I can’t explain how awesome this was. It was like a cross between cinnamon bread and donuts and unicorn sprinkles. So amazingly delicious. I made EJens and Captain MacGillis grab chunks of it to try and they appeared to like it almost as much as I did. It is one of the best sweet desserts I’ve had in a long time and I’d go back to this place simply for the donut bread pudding, at this point.

I also noticed that EJens had some other kind of donut that I didn’t see inside on his plate. Apparently, they had brought out a tray of honey glazed donuts right after we had walked outside. Looked good, but I didn’t swipe a bite of it, even though it would have been for journalistic purposes only. Next time.

I sipped some of the chai tea I had gotten and I remembered I’m not a fan of chai tea. I’m a fan of chai tea lattes. I’m a moron. So I sulked and sipped on it, even though I wasn’t thrilled at all. Totally my fault though. It will not be reflected upon in the review, I promise.

The Lingberry filled donut was much better than I had anticipated. I really expected to blow up and begin my usual rant about cake vs. raised donuts like I usually do, but this donut was fried crispy. Something I’ve never seen before. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but I quite liked it. It wasn’t soft and moist like mini donuts at the fair. It was hard and crunch on the outside and soft and moist on the inside – almost like a hush puppy or something. Quite a good donut after all, and with the lingonberry jam in the middle, it was even better. Some sugary stuff helped this thing taste even better.

At this point, it’s snowing pretty solid and the wind had picked up. We had acquired another person who couldn’t find room on the inside of the place, so we told him he could sit with us – though we couldn’t guarantee he wouldn’t be offended by all of our ridiculous discussion. He was in town for a few months on work – apparently his work hates him and sends him up here (from Arizona) at the exact time it decides to blizzard. Welcome to Minnesota, friend. We assured him it wasn’t always like this and the snow piles occasionally get below twenty feet. I think we scared him ust fine:)

I know this place is new and they’re going to be working through some bugs for a while. I get it, I promise you I do. I’m very willing to cut them some slack, especially with the amazing publicity they’ve gotten and excitement over having a super fun donut place in the Twin Cities (FINALLY and THANK YOU!!!!!). But I sort of expected to see a guy using a shovel to scoop delicious donuts into cases from an infinite pile of donuts being tended by chained up rogue Keebler elves (I have really messed up dreams, can you tell?). I didn’t expect to see 12 donuts come out at a time on a tray and there only being one variety (which is the exact opposite of variety). After all, the word “Donut” is in the name of the restaurant. It should be first and foremost about donuts, not sandwiches, nor cookies, nor caramel apples – MAYBE about coffee and chai, since they kind of go hand in hand. If I went to International House of Pancakes (which I would never do) and they ran out of Pancakes, I’d probably flip my lid. But as I said, I’m VERY willing to cut these people some slack, especially based on the quality of what I was able to get this lovely Saturday morning. I know it sounds like a rant, but it truly isn’t. Just wait, when these guys get in their groove and start making raised donuts and have their cases full or horrific combinations of fun-itude, you will see all kinds of write up about this place. It will be well-deserved too. In fact, I’m looking forward to it. I can’t wait!!

Bottom line is, I’m still going to stand by the fact that raised donuts are exponentially better than cake donuts. And if the Donut cooperative can make raised donuts as well as they make cake donuts, I’ll consider relocating to the Seward neighborhood. As it stands now, you need to get there shortly after they open to get the best variety of options. I’ve heard of some awesome combinations they’re selling there and I’m pretty sure the facebook page they have set up usually gives some of the options for the day. They change recipes and themes every day, so you may not get the same thing twice when you go there. But I have a feeling you’re always going to be happy when you leave. Even if it’s snowing ice pellets and you slide for 75% of the hour-long drive home that usually takes 10 minutes. Still worth it.

To p5 things about The Donut Cooperative
1. Donut Bread Pudding
2. Lingonberry filled cake donut
3. Super friendly staff
4. Plenty of on street parking
5. Very adventurous with their donut flavor combinations

Bottom 5 things
1. They were out of almost all of their donuts
2. I understand you have to get there REALLY early to get the maximum selection
3. It is VERY busy here, though there is a lot of inside seating
4. The way the line flows in the ordering process; it’s hard to decide what you want until you’re standing at the register
5. I can’t wait for them to have raised donuts!!!!

www.thedonutcooperative.com

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Big Daddy’s – St. Paul, MN (Bar-B-Quest 2011)

HotGirlsBrother had to utilize a coupon he had purchased for Big Daddy’s and he invited me along so we could knock out another BBQ place from our large list on the Bar-B-Quest 2011. We have both been to Big Daddy’s before and it’s always delicious. Seriously, one of the most consistent places for rib (and sides) quality in the area. Plus, the people that work there are really fun and upbeat and friendly.

Here’s some history of Big Daddy’s. When I moved up to the Twin Cities, Big Daddy’s was actually called Big Daddy’s Saturday Barbeque. It was seriously only open on Saturdays. There was always a line out the door and you had to take it someplace else to eat it – we preferred local parks and a picnic atmosphere. Big Daddy’s added another day to the sign (Friday) and then, due to the building they were in being sold and redeveloped, they moved across the street and reopened a smaller location… but then added another day (Sunday). So needless to say, they dropped the “Saturday BBQ” part of their name and just went with Big Daddy’s. Now they’re open for lunch on Wednesday and Thursdays as well. You can tell people absolutely love this place, which is why they’re doing REALLY good business. That should tell you something, Twin Cities – GO HERE!!!!

HotGirlsBrother and I rolled in and said hello to the officer working the place (it’s not the greatest part of town, so they actually have an on-site police officer – he probably works for free since it smells so delicious in there and the people are so awesome). We always tend to get the same thing on this Bar-B-Quest, so we walked up to the counter and ordered a full slab of ribs for us to split. I got a side of baked beans and HotGirlsBrother got a side of coleslaw. They ask whether you want spicy or mild BBQ sauce with it: we both wanted spicy. They ask if you want white or wheat bread: we both wanted white. HotGirlsBrother got a Diet Coke (you gotta watch your figure when you’re on a Rib Quest) and I got a strawberry Fanta.

The nice thing about the new Big Daddy’s location (aside from it being bright, happy, and clean), is that you can sit along the walls and eat inside. There are bar stools and a small counter for you to put your food. They also have plates and silverware for you to use if you’re eating inside. Great move, Big Daddy!

We grabbed our goods and sat down to feast.

I started with the baked beans since the ribs were too hot to handle right away. They were very smoky without tasting like liquid smoke. I’m not sure what they put in them, but they’re delicious. Very flavorful. HotGirlsBrother said the coleslaw was top notch, and with a pinch of salt, would be near perfect. We swapped sides for a bit to try each others, and we both concurred: amazing sides.

We dug into the ribs. The amount of meat on these ribs is insane. I don’t know who their supplier is, but he needs a big ole high-five. Sooo much meat on each bone – more than any other place we’ve been on this rib adventure. You can pull the meat right off the bone without trying, that’s how tender these things are. The meat isn’t sloppy nor greasy, it just comes off the bone so you can chew it. The meat has a nice char on the top, so you get to work a little bit to break it down, but it’s exactly how ribs are supposed to be. Very little gristle and cartilage and the funny thing is that even when you DO find some, you don’t mind gnawing on it a bit to make sure you’ve gotten all the meat and flavor off of the bones. You’ll be surprised how clean you’ll lick these bones (twss). The extra sauce they give you is the perfect accompaniment to the meat and isn’t too spicy – just about right.

The bread is simply bread in a zip loc bag. Nothing fancy. But it’s really soft, so you can almost use it like a napkin to clean your hands off or use it to sop up sauce that you dripped all over your face. It’s a simple but effective side.

We were sooo stuffed after all this meat, but we were 100% happy with this meal. As usual, one of the best tasting BBQ meals I’ve had. I look forward to going back here again and again. Whoever goes up against Big Daddy’s in the Eastern Division bracket is going to have its work cut out for it.

Top 5 things about Big Daddy’s
1. Baby back pork ribs
2. Baked beans
3. Cole slaw
4. Super friendly awesome staff
5. Their slogan is “The giants of Outdoor Cooking” – they don’t mess around
6. Best funk music EVER playing over the speakers
7. If you can find their pumpkin creamcheese swirl cake, GET IT!

Bottom 5 things
1. There’s no downside. At all. “I ain’t lyin’” -Dolemite
2. N/A
3. N/A
4. N/A
5. N/A

www.bigdaddysbbq-stpaul.com

Monday, November 7, 2011

Donut Star – Burnsville, MN

It was another disc golf Saturday morning and, fortunately for me, there was a donut shop about three blocks from the course I was going to play with the guys. Donut Star is right on Cliff Road near Red Oak Disc Golf Course, so it would almost be rude if I didn’t stop there and check them out. I hate to be rude.
The inside has quite a bit of seating room and the glass case at the counter was filled with donuts. The super helpful and friendly man behind the counter was chatty and liked that I said I was doing “fantastic” this early in the morning. He was also doing fantastic.

I didn’t really have anything in mind when I walked in the door, but the first thing I saw in the case was a maple frosted long john with a strip of bacon on the top. SOLD! I also (because I bought Bobafred and apple fritter the previous week) thought I was in the mood for an apple fritter. It looked pretty large, so I had a feeling I was going to be full before this round of disc golf. I grabbed a chocolate milk and headed out to the car.
I started with the apple fritter, mainly because I wanted to casually eat a bacon covered donut in front of the guys like it’s something I do all the time (it isn’t). It’s definitely a conversation starter. The fritter was quite large, as I said, but was perfectly cooked. Hard and crunchy on the outside and soft and moist on the inside. Pieces of apple appeared here and there and added some sweetness ad texture to the fritter. I’m becoming a bigger and bigger fan of these apple fritter. I used to think they were old people donuts, since those are the only people I ever saw eating them. They’re delicious though.

The bacon covered long john was quite good. The bacon was thick-cut and cooked perfectly for a donut (I like my donut-bacon more crispy than I like my solo-bacon), and covered the entire length of the donut. The maple glaze wasn’t too sweet, like it sometimes is, so it was just about the perfect donut. I think if it had been warm, it may have been the perfect donut. It was quite filling and the guys were horrified by the idea of a piece of bacon on the donut. Mission accomplished.

Donut Star may have some extra points for the bacon-inclusion. They’re a standard donut shop with friendly people and a modest variety of donuts. Nothing wrong at all with this place. I’m looking forward to playing at Red Oak Disc Golf Course in Burnsville soon (even though I played like garbage this round).