Monday, March 31, 2014

Groveland Tap (Poutine Crawl) – St. Paul, MN

A bunch of fun people I know do a Poutine Crawl in the Twin Cities. Not all in one night, but this was the next stop on the list. We’ve been to a bunch of places and everyone has different opinions, so there’s no reason to rank any of them. But this one had HIGH acclaim from Rocky. He raved about it and swears it’s the best in the Twin Cities. Of course, it was our goal to shoot Rocky down.

There’s a lot of good food items at the Groveland Tap. They’re part of a restaurant group that also does good food, so it just stands to reason they would also have good food. I forget that sometimes.

D.Rough and I decided to split an order of poutine and an order of Fish Tacos. We were sure that would have been enough.

The poutine comes out in a small cast iron skillet. The server warns you not to touch the metal because it’s hot. Yes, we touched it. Yes, it IS hot. The crinkle fries alarmed some of us at first, but our minds were quickly changed. The crinkles held the gravy. The delicious delicious dark brown beef gravy. Lots of gravy. I can’t explain why it is so good, but it truly is. The curds were also the right temperature for being melty, but not dissolving. You knew when you had a curd, and then you were thrilled with how well it went with the fries and gravy.

Alright, Rocky, if it isn’t the top in the Twin Cities, it’s at least in the top 3. Kudos to you on your poutine-ranking skills, my friend!

The fish tacos were also fantastic. Plenty of crispy battered and fried fish in them and the toppings were fresh. A great flavor complement to the poutine.

Then when late people showed up to join us and also get poutine, it was incredibly difficult for all of us not to order a second round of poutine. It was THAT good.

Go for the cheap drinks, stay for the poutine. This place went straight to the Top 3 list of poutines in the area in MY personal book.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bad Movie Night (Heavy Metal Theme) – West St. Paul, MN

The Bad Movie Night theme this time was heavy metal. We usually do a potluck-style dinner ahead of time and people bring food items related to the theme. I encouraged people to dress in all black and bring some creative foods for us to eat. People got realllllllly creative with this theme, and I’m really glad.

Just to gloss over the movies, I showed Rock N Roll Nightmare about a Canadian rock band (yeah, hilarious, right?) who goes to record an album and slowly gets picked off, one-by-one. The second movie was Detroit Metal City – a Japanese film about a kid who really wants to sing trendy pop music but secretly sings in a scary death metal band to make ends meet in the meantime.

But the real treat of the night was the food. I’ll point out that we’ve never had anyone bring a cake to Bad Movie Night before and this evening, we had FIVE cakes. Hilarious.

I’ll start with the best one of the night. A Black Metal cake.

D.Rough tried to cut into it to dish it up and the knife clunked. She looked around to see if anyone had seen her cut into this what was going to be a terribly overbaked cake. Everyone saw it. UnicycleJoe had frosted an upside-down cake pan with black frosting. CLASSIC!!!! No actual cake was involved in this thing. Just frosting on a metal pan. Brilliant idea, Joe. You win.

Rum to the Hills cake from JessSayin’ and FireWally. This thing was amazing!!!!

Rocky brought Head-Bangers and Mosh.

I made Hail Seitan for our vegan friends.

B.Sweet brought Bull’s Blood – some wine from Hungary (do they even make wine there?).

D.Rough made a Blood Red Velvet Cake with Celtic Frost-ing (she’s the best lady in the world).

Hüsker Stü made a vegan black cake with a sri racha pentagram and candles in the corner called Cain's Sacrifice – awesome!

ShotgunMillie brought raisins, since they’re high in iron – a heavy metal. SVB made heavy metal cupcakes with metal colored frosting. And, we broke out the candelabra and red table cloth to make it official.

Such a good night. I’m honored to have so many creative friends.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Noah - The 2014 Movie

I saw the new Noah movie last night with M.Giant. We really saw this film to compare it to the last Noah’s Ark movie, which we forced large groups of people to watch for Bad Movie Nights in multiple states. While this film features some pretty A- list actors (Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connolly, Emma Watson, Anthony Hopkins), it isn’t the acting the holds this film back. It’s the story line and special effects that doom this particular version.

Here are some of the things you’ll see, if you decide to watch this movie. Director Darren Aranofsky made some serious leaps in this film in what is probably more “poetic license” than the religious die-hards that make up most of its audience will be comfortable with. It’s as if he never read the story and someone gave him the point A and point B of the film. God floods the earth because it is full of evil people. Then there’s a rainbow at the end. In fact, there’s no mention of “God” in the movie, only “the creator”. There’s no mention of 40 days and nights. No mention of cubits and that Noah was supposed to be 500 years old, while his kids are about 100 years old. There’s a lot left out, but since the director is an atheist, you have to cut him some slack, right?

  • There were multiple “Claritin clear” moments
  • There’s a glowing snakeskin which has magical powers
  • There are glowing rocks that burst into flame when you hit them with a knife or throw them into a boat – they might be called Zohan
  • Welding masks come in handy when trying to build weapons to take over an ark
  • There were rock monsters (just like the ones from Lord of the Rings – or more closely related to the original Clash of the Titans film)
  • In the movie there is a 35-day gestation period for a fetus, though there isn’t any mention of the 40 days of rain and then 150 days of floating - so if you account for that, it’s at least closer
  • 500 year old Noah gets to hang out with his grandfather Methuselah
  • There are two trees in the Garden of Eden, not one, as per the bible. Adam and Eve are only allowed to eat fruit from one of them. In the movie, this becomes tricky because the trees are intertwined! How can you be sure you're eating from the right tree? Maybe this is the director's way of saying it could have been a "whoops" situation and not a shift-woman-trick situation. Also, WHY ARE ADAM AND EVEN IN MY NOAH MOVIE?!?!
  • Women CONTINUE to be blamed for ruining everything in life and stepping between man and God’s plan. Not just in the Garden of Eden. It isn’t even subtle any more
  • I’m not convinced Mickey Rourke isn’t Tubal-Cain – Noah’s enemy in the film (which is even more comical because there IS a wrestler named Cain)
  • Hollywood needs to get better educated on how to make individual CGI birds. Flocks and flocks of birds they do alright, but not individual birds
  • I had to wait until the end of the movie for stock animal footage from National Geographic
  • Noah was drunk in the original man cave
  • I still waited for Anthony Hopkins to tell Noah’s wife he could smell her aunt with a C [Which MommasBoy just reminded me wasn't said by Hopkins. It was his cell neighbor and Hopkins just comments on it.]
  • There were serious rocket launchers in Noah’s time
  • Noah had a flare gun to get God’s attention in a maritime emergency
  • I, like Noah, also scream “HAAAAAMMMM!!!!!” periodically
  • There were armor-plated dogs in Noah’s time. Maybe they didn’t make it onto the ark. Bummer
  • Why did Noah grab the broken arrow from the armor-plated dog when he had a HUGE KNIFE
  • The producers tied evolution VERY nicely into the creationism montage – sneaky (because they know scientists are right)
  • Cain killing Abel turned into a montage of other war killings (Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I & II, etc.)
  • Whenever Noah would look up at the sky for God’s advice, I’d hear Yukon Cornelius’ voice saying, “NNNNNNuthin’!” every time
  • Noah kills SOOOO many people. I don’t remember that in the bible
  • When they panned out to show the entire earth, it was entirely covered in hurricane cloud swirls, ensuring Al Roker’s head would explode
  • There was an island of misfit toys and everyone is whining on it
  • Noah appears to be wearing a double-stitched denim biker vest in much of the movie
  • Rocks are secretly angels
  • In the previews, there was one religious movie and then a whole bunch of ridiculous CGI films like the new Transformers movie. Noah thinks VERY highly of its own CGI renderers
  • It looks like there is an oil pipeline behind the zohan mine
  • The D-bag next to me couldn’t understand British accents and would keep saying, “huh?” loudly (he didn’t have an insidevoice/whisper)…. And then he would loudly make out with his girlfriend
  • Only non-humans are knocked out by the magic sleepy smoke
  • Shem’s wife has twin girls so Shem’s brothers could have someone to have sex with
  • Noah has hundred of iron cauldrons for boiling boat tar. Where did they come from and who made them?
  • An early pregnancy test involved spitting on a leaf – if it glows, you’re pregnant
  • Where did Cain’s army get corrugated steel panels for barricades?!
  • Cain snuck onto Noah’s ark and had a porthole to look out that he plugged up every once in a while. Then, Cain died when the ark landed
  • Where did the really big chains come from?
  • No one ever explains the water creatures. Are they all shifted to salt water for a few weeks?
  • The title should have been Carnivores vs. Vegetarians

It was silent after the movie ended. Dead silent. Then someone said quietly, “…Well, THAT wasn’t right.” She said it in all seriousness and that's what made it so funny.

Based on the 1999 verison of Noah’s Ark, I was really disappointed there were no fingers in any jars, or orgies, or dinosaur bones, or God’s voice, or songs about kitchen sinks, or peddlers, or water battles, or hats, or flaming rats, or 2x4’s.

I found myself laughing through much of this movie, I must admit. I mean, the director even made a comment about it being the least biblically accurate bible movie ever made in an interview. It is really going after the special effects crowd, which I should have known when they ran tons of trailers during The Walking Dead. Sadly, the special effects were pretty average. I apologize for throwing so many spoilers at you all, but most of us know the story from Sunday School. And you too might be better off just sticking with the high points. 
  1. Flood. 
  2. 2 of every creature. 
  3. Rainbow. 
That’s all you need to know.

For my money, I’ll continue to push the 1999 version of Noah’s Ark on people. Where else can you see pirates trying to take over the ark and a koala bear poop on Mary Steenburgen?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Taco Bell Breakfast Items – Golden Valley, MN

There aren’t a lot of things that will get me out of bed in the morning earlier than I usually overslee... I mean, wake up for work. The new launch of Taco Bell’s breakfast menu items Is, in fact, one of those thing (8 am Happy Hour at Steve-O’s is another one of those things, in case you’re wondering). TheDoctor and I made arrangements to meet up at the exact time Taco Bell opened to be the first in the non-existent line for these items. And yes, we were both also late.

And, there wasn’t a line, either.

The first thing I noticed about this Taco Bell environment is the lights are dimmed down to a hangover-friendly level. Seriously, it’s a breakfast-appropriate level of light, and I’m guessing they hit the regular lights at 10:30 or 11:00 just to make sure there is an obvious ambience shift. Classy, Taco Bell, I like it. There are 13 new breakfast menu items – as you can guess, many of them are tortilla based.

As you can see, a couple of wrap things, a hashbrown patty, some Cinnabon bites, and even orange juice. The thing everyone has been pushing the past few weeks is the Waffle Taco and the AM Crunchwrap. I decided to go for BOTH. I’ll wait until later to pick favorites. The woman behind the counter regretfully informed us someone had just come through the drive thru and gotten $40 worth of Waffle Tacos so there weren’t any sausage patties left. MAJOR BUMMER. So TheDoctor and I both ended up with the same thing – a Waffle Taco with bacon and an AM Crunchwrap with steak. I also got a hashbrown patty to makes sure I could compare it with other breakfast fast food offerings.

Oddly enough, it’s difficult to decide what to drink at a Taco Bell for breakfast. I guess I never thought about it. Also, you have to figure out what sauce you’re going to squirt all over your taco – yes that was written intentionally. Do you go with their traditional hot or fire sauce or since there’s eggs and hashbrowns, do you go with ketchup? Tough calls this early in the morning might be the downfall of Taco Bell’s breakfast menu.

The Waffle Taco was surprisingly good. For this menu item, they make the condiment decision easy for you – they give you a small container of syrup, which is the right option.

I’ll say it’s one of the greasiest breakfast items I’ve had, but only because whatever was on the outside of the waffle basically covered my hands and needed multiple napkins to remove. I’ll pretend it’s butter and give it a greasy thumbs up. I’m guessing the sausage version of this would taste even better than the bacon version, but the bacon version was pretty darn good. Good balance of toppings so not one thing overwhelmed another. The eggs tasted real and the waffle itself had a good flavor. Great work on this new menu item. I’ll get it again.

I tried the hashbrown next. It’s pretty close to the McDonald’s hashbrown, so there’s that. If you like them there, you’ll like them at Taco Bell. I can honestly say I was bummed there wasn’t any magic dust on it like the potato ole’s at Taco John’s. Missed opportunity perhaps, but the things still tasted fine, if a bit plain. Add some ketchup or green salsa for this one.

The AM Crunchwrap is where it’s at though. Lots of ingredients (including a hashbrown patty inside) to make this thing pretty substantial. The steak flavor is what you’d expect at Taco Bell – good, but not a date-night steak or anything. There was a lot of cheese in this as well, so I was thrilled. I covered half of the inside with green salsa and the other half with fire sauce. The smokiness of the fire sauce won the day over the green, so I’ll go with that next time. Also, I forgot how difficult it is to refold a crunchwrap – and multiply it by 10 for breakfast sleepy finger dexterity issues. For your money, this is the menu item that will fill you up all day. It’s pretty damn good. TheDoctor agrees with me on this one, and he only lies on Mondays and Tuesdays.

And there you have a much-longer-than-any-Taco-Bell-review-should-be review of three of the new Taco Bell breakfast items.

[Additional editor's note: Jesse found the coffee to be "drinkable" at Taco Bell, for those of you interested.]

You’re welcome.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wrestlepalooza III – Minneapolis, MN

D.Rough and I have some really fun friends who like to watch wrestling. Not the stuff you see on TV, but the amateur stuff where people try to kill themselves getting noticed by the people who do wrestle on TV. There is an outfit called F1rst Wrestling that puts on a serious wrestling-themed party at First Avenue. They bring in bands and burlesque dancers and the whole thing is sponsored by PBR. It’s incredibly fun.

D.Rough has been to ALL of the events, but this is only my second. I was super excited based on the events at the last one. And as a bonus, we got to hang with D.Rough’s cousin Nolan, which we need to do more of, apparently.

I can’t possibly get into all the details of what transpired, but I’ll give you some rough overviews and hope that is enough to convince you to go to this thing next time it’s in town. Don’t think of it as wrestling, where you point out how fake everything is. Think of it as a huge party where some guys beat up on each other and you get to yell wildly inappropriate things at people standing ten feet from you.

A plug on Facebook announced there would be a cat vs dog match (The Charismatic Canine: Yellow Dog versus The Crime Fighting Feline: Wildcat), which was absolutely awesome(ly hilarious). The dog had a puppy toy that the cat used to distract him. And the cat guy had the crowd chanting meow loudly and regularly. Classic stuff. Anywhere you sit or stand, you're going to be pretty close to the ring.

Pretty quickly, we realized there were really awesome places to stand right next to the ring. So, despite our fear of being sweated on, we moved in real tight-like.

Then, we got pushed aside as they brought out the ladders, folding chairs, garbage cans, and cookie sheets to hit each other with.

I got to stand right where the wrestlers come out after being introduced. I was mere feet from Sheik Ariya Daivari, who was boooooed loudly by the drunkenly racist crowd and cheered for by our friend Rocky.

We got to see the Minnesota RollerGirls Announcer John Maddening get kicked in the jimmy before being face slammed before our very eyes (yes, it’s fake, and yes, he DID actually get hurt).

Then, the Wildcat and Yellow Dog came back out to smack around the two kilted fellows by jumping off the speakers onto the floor and then flipping off the top ropes for the pin.

We also got to see Zero Gravity wrestle with the North Star Express, Playboy Pete Huge, 6% Body Fat Rob James, Horace the Psychopath, “The Anarchist” Arik Cannon, and a bunch of other people killing themselves for our entertainment.

Big thanks to the really fun burlesque dancers SweetPea and Queenie von Curves!

And an equally big thanks to Lipstick Homicide, a female fronted punk band from Iowa City, and Bloodnstuff from Minneapolis.

Seriously, that was some of the best fun I’ve had in a long time. I can’t wait until Wrestlepalooza IV!!!!!!

Monday, March 17, 2014

112 Eatery – Minneapolis, MN

D.Rough and I were headed to a semi-professional wrestling event downtown, so we thought we’d grab a bite to eat ahead of time. 112 Eatery had been on our list for a while and I had stumbled across an article naming them one of the best burgers in the Twin Cities. We thought we’d check it out and see what else they had to offer.

112 Eatery is a little bit upscale, but not snooty-upscale. There were people in jeans there and people were enjoying sitting at the bar having appetizers and cocktails. (I, for example, was wearing a black band t-shirt and jeans, and didn't feel like I was being judged or anything.) It’s a multi-story building, but you still check in with the hostess on the first floor for a table.

Once seated, we got a plate of olives and some candied nuts to tide us over while perusing the menu. The menu is very manageable and doesn’t have TOO many things on , like some places. It’s got the right amount on it. Some small plates, some salads, a handful of side dishes, some entrees, and some desserts. It’s very manageable. (They also serve food up until close – midnight through the week and 1am on weekends – bonus!)

We knew we were going to get the 112 Burger, but we also needed some other fun things. We got some cauliflower fritters, some tagliatelle with foie gras meatballs. And, since we ended something green, we got the duck and radicchio salad. And a couple of drinks to unwind after the long work day.

They brought us a REALLY nice basket of bread to snack on before our food came out. A nice baguette and one of the best focaccias I’ve ever had. Sooo buttery and tasty. We should have asked for more, but we knew we were going to eat a lot, as it was. Next time!

The duck and radicchio salad came out first and they had split it into two small plates for us. We laughed because we ordered the salad for something green, and the cabbage was purple. Ha! But this salad was top-notch. The egg on top (possibly a duck egg?) was perfectly hard boiled and there were little pieces of duck throughout the salad. It was also drizzled with some gingery sauce which we loved. Seriously, this is an awesome way to start this meal.

They brought us the cauliflower fritters next. D.Rough is convinced they roasted the cauliflower first with some seasonings and then lightly batter and fry the florets. It didn’t matter It was amazing. They covered the whole plate with some parmesan and parsley and we absolutely fought over this dish. This, frankly was my favorite part of the meal – I’ve been on a cauliflower kick recently, so I’m a little biased.

The tagliatelle was good. Not amazing, but good. 112 Eatery recently got written up for its foie gras meatballs, so I had some high hopes for it, but I just felt they were good. Not mind blowing. I love foie gras, so it wasn’t that. I just thought everything would have a little more pop than it did. I wouldn’t complain at all about the tagliatelle, but it wasn’t my favorite thing on the table this evening. The generous layer of cheese covering this thing DID help, however!

The 112 Burger was pretty impressive. It’s an incredibly well seasoned burger patty served on an English muffin and has brie cheese on it. It got all melty and delicious as it warmed on the burger patty. Very few places take special care of the meet they put into a cheeseburger, but this place does. It’s definitely got butter IN the meat, but some simple seasonings made it stand out more than a simple appetizer burger. The whole thing is simple, but incredibly well done (I mean well executed, since we ordered ours medium rare). No wonder people rave about this burger. It comes with a small ramekin of pickles and ginger, but you honestly don’t need any additional flavors. The thing speaks for itself.

A fantastic meal, served by really nice (if not a little reserved) staff. We were happy with everything they brought to our table. We will happily head back to 112 Eatery again, especially since D.Rough and I were just discussing which places were open late downtown. Now that we know they serve food until 1am, we’ve got a new favorite late-night destination!

Top 5 things about 112 Eatery
1. Cauliflower fritters
2. 112 Burger
3. Right-sized menu (with awesome selections)
4. Duck and radicchio salad
5. Open until midnight during the week and 1am on weekends!

Bottom 5 things
1. Nothing was technically BAD, but I was slightly disappointed with the foie gras meatballs
2. The hostess stand is past the bar on the first floor and then you are advised to go up the elevator – just a little odd
3. The parking ramp I parked in closed at 8pm Friday until the following Monday. D.Rough made a few calls and got the security desk to let me into the parking ramp the following day. Bitter.
4. I’m bummed we didn’t ask for more of the bread basket
5. Nothing else negative happened, I promise!!!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Origami (Uptown location) – Minneapolis, MN

D.Rough and I had some friends in town and we decided to get dinner with them. Much to our chagrin, they had chicken wings the previous night so we couldn’t take them to the world’s greatest wing place – D-Spot. They love sushi, so we decided to go to Origami. We hadn’t been to the new location in Uptown yet, and they have a really reasonable happy hour.

D.Rough and I showed up early, specifically so we could have a drink and a chat about our day. I really like doing that, for that record. She got a Penny Dropper (I can’t remember what was in it, but it was damn good) and I got a Mango Chu-hai (fruit puree, vodka, and club soda). Both delicious and refreshing. We also (our friends don’t know this) ordered some Takoyako, which is deep fried octopus dumplings – basically the octopus version of the conch fritters we ate in the Bahamas every day – like a hush puppy.

It came with a drizzle of eel sauce and a dab of seasoned mayo – delicious. There were only five, but D.Rough and I were able to share the remaining 5th wheel and both eat half. Great crunch on the outside of the puff ball and the octopus was soft and not chewy/rubbery. Great appetizer. The server even cleared it away from the table before our friends go there to judge us. Hahahaha

Once our friends arrived, we pretended like everything was all bright and new and we had just gotten there. It’s like two separate happy hours!!!! I ordered the lychee-tini that I had my eye on earlier, and D.Rough got a pinot grigio.

The happy hour menu has a lot of different drinks on it, but the food menu is just as impressive. It was difficult to decide what to get. We made our server laugh when we ordered, “Futo Maki through Spicy Crab Maki”. The server heard those two rolls, and we corrected him by emphasizing THROUGH. So he added Spicy Yellowtail Maki, Spicy tuna Maki, Spicy Scallop Maki, and Spicy Crab Maki to the order. Hilarious. Thankfully, he hadn’t brought up the appetizer we had snuck in before our friends got there. Hahaha.

I’ll make this review really short, we made a mistake and ordered basically five of the same thing and one roll that actually tasted different than the other five versions. Completely our mistake. That being said, the rolls were pretty good, they just all tasted too similar in our minds. The Futo Maki is quite good, despite it being vegetarian (have to get my digs in where I can). The ingredients were fresh and it’s kind of an oversized roll. I liked it a lot.

The other rolls, like I said, were good, but they all tasted pretty similar. So you have five bite rolls, and five of them that tasted the same. That means you have twenty five pieces that tasted the same. Thankfully, they WERE good, otherwise, it could have been an nightmare.

Overall, aside from ordering error, we were happy with our meal. The happy hour menu will for sure keep us coming back, and I’m looking forward to trying some of their whiskey – which is one of the best selections in the area.

Top 5 things about Origami Sushi (Uptown)
1. Takoyako – octopus dumplings
2. Substantial happy hour menu
3. Very friendly staff
4. Futo Maki roll
5. There’s a parking ramp above it and a parking lot right outside (both cost dollars, but are close)

Bottom 5 things
1. We ordered all the things that taste the same (delicious, but the same)
2. The Chu-hai wasn’t very boozy
3. The restaurant isn’t visible from the main street – you have to mean to go there
4. Nothing else was a down-side

Thursday, March 13, 2014

B-52 Burgers and Brew – Inver Grove Heights, MN

I had a free night, so I headed to a place I had meant to go to for some time – B-52. I really wasn’t sure what to expect, aside from a serious burger menu. The restaurant is located right next to a movie theater that I’ve attended frequently, so it isn’t usually far from my mind.

The inside was different than I expected. From the outside, it looks like an medium-scale place, like a more affordable Granite City or Pittsburgh Blue. But once inside, it is much more low-brow than that. It’s really dark inside with some dark wood, and almost… I hesitate to say… divey (but a comfortable divey). It’s 1000% a sports bar, however. In fact, you know how in Vegas, all the booths in a place face the band’s stage? B-52 is like that, but all the booths face a wall full of television screens. MANY screen. You can’t look anywhere in the place and not accidentally view some sort of sports. While I was there, I was fortunate enough to see the Lady Gophers, the state hockey tournament, Minnesota Wild, some baseball game from last season, and a half dozen other sports. If you aren’t into sports, then this is NOT your place – be forewarned. To their credit, it isn’t particularly loud or dirty or anything, just really dark and set up like no restaurant I’ve ever been to.

The menu has a lot of things happening. Lots of wraps, fried appetizers, flatbreads, bigger entrees, and of course burgers. Lots of burgers. Also, they have a mac and cheese of the week – which I was tempted to get, but felt I owed it to the place to give them a burger review. They also have a Friday night all you can eat fish fry that I REALLY wanted, but still went with the burger. Next time, I’m going fish fry. Additionally, I was a little bummed at their beer selection. It’s got “brew” in the title of the place, but they had a pretty white bread selection of the standards. Not much local and not much weird.

I needed about 90% of the burgers on the list, but finally decided on the B-52. It’s got roasted jalapenos, banana peppers, pepper jack cheese, chipotle mayo, and B-52 sauce. I saw they had “the Mother of All Burgers” on the menu, which is a pile of stuff with 2 pounds of burger between a giant bun, but I wasn’t in the mood to die this particular evening. I also decided on sweet potato fries, since I’m always a big fan.

There was some interesting entertainment aside from that on the TVs in the place, so I enjoyed myself listening to a relationship end, a bunch of d-bags talk smack about their girlfriends who were sitting next to them, and a particular couple trying to do karaoke to the sound of the music on the sound system in the restaurant. Sound like every night is an enjoyable time at B-52.

The food came out and despite the dark, it looked pretty good. The bun is branded with the signature B-52 logo – a classy touch that I enjoy. There were also a handful of pickle slices which were REALLY thick cut and tasty. I was also amazed at the amount of sweet potato fries that were included here. Almost the amount you give someone to prove they can’t finish them – almost. There were a ton.

The burger itself was pretty good. Not in the Top 5 in the world, but pretty darn good. The combination of ingredients was fantastic and the meat was flavorful without being greasy. The ratio of toppings to burger and bun was spot-on, as well. There was a good amount of spice, but not enough to make me sweat (again, I’m not originally from Minnesota, so I actually do have a developed spice tolerance). Great work on the burger.

The sweet potato fries were great. They had good seasoning to them and were not floppy, nor crispy. Perfectly cooked. The seasoned mayo/sour cream that came with to dip made everything that much better, also. It was difficult to not blow through the small-ish container they gave me, but next time, I will ask for two. There are a lot of fries, and I hate holding back on my fry coverage.

Overall, I had a pretty darn good meal here. The server made sure I was well taken care of and didn’t even mock me for coming in solo. Looking around, I wasn’t the only one. I’m looking forward to heading back to this place before or after a movie sometime. Maybe on a Friday night when they have the fish fry or when they have some awesome mac and cheese special. It’s worth the trip from the Downtown area, if that’s where you’re at. Lots of things to choose from. But again, be forewarned, this place is a sport bar on crack.

Top 5 things about B-52 Burgers and Brew
1. Sweet potato fries and dip (amount and flavor)
2. B-52 burger
3. Really good menu with a lot of options
4. Really friendly staff
5. If you like sports, I’ll give you the fifth slot on the Top 5

Bottom 5 things
1. If you don’t like sports, I’ll give you the number 1 spot on the Bottom 5
2. It’s realllly dark in there
3. visually distracting with all the televisions showing every sport in the known universe
4. The B-52 war-time imagery that the place is named for is very much lost on the walls due to the televisions
5. Lackluster beer menu, considering “brew” is in its name

Friday, March 7, 2014

Lucky China - West St. Paul, MN

D.Rough and I have tried to find a solid Chinese restaurant near our house, so we've been trying a handful of different places. We've found a few that had one or two awesome items, but nothing wonderful across the board. I was working from home when I remembered I had to try this one particular place and give it a shot. Lucky China claims to be serving both Chinese and Korean dishes, so I was looking forward to that.

The inside is nice and clean and the hostess and servers were all quite nice and talkative. When I got the  menu, I was bummed to see a severe lack of Korean food on the menu. I was hoping for some Bi Bim Bop or Beef Bulgogi, but it wasn't too be had. I went the traditional Chinese cuisine route. (I later found on their website that they have a separate Korean food menu, so you either have to ask for it when you go there or know ahead of time what you're going to order - NOW I know!)

I was, however, amused to see this typo on the menu. The Teriyaki Chicken apparently is slices of beef. No major deal, but it did make me laugh while I was trying to decide what I was going to eat.

The lunches come with a bowl of soup, so I got the egg drop soup. There are two different styles of egg drop soup. One with a bothy consistency, and one with a more snot-like consistency (sorry for the graphic description). The one at Lucky China was about half way between these two styles. It was pretty tasty, in fact. One of the better egg drop soups I've had.

I got the Hot Pepper Chicken, which said on the menu it was spicy. I was suspicious of that claim, but ordered it anyway. It was quite a serious amount of food and served on a bed of fried rice. Lots of green pepper, carrots, onions, mushrooms, and celery mixed in with the pieces of chicken. The sauce was really flavorful, but wasn't spicy, by any stretch. I would, for sure, order this dish again (but I'd ask them to kick up the heat a little bit - it is really Minnesota-spicy).

Based on the crab rangoon, the soup, and the flavor of the dish, I'll be looking forward to the next time D.Rough wants Chinese food. I know where we'll be going. Thanks for the awesome lunch!

Top 5 things about Lucky China
1. Hot Pepper Chicken
2. Super friendly workers
3. Pretty comprehensive menu, especially now that I know about the Korean menu
4. Crab Rangoons
5. Egg Drop Soup

Bottom 5 things
1. I didn't think there was Korean dishes on the menu, but there are secret ones
2. Food does have MSG in it, but the server said it could be made without on request
3. Couple of minor typos on the menu, which don't really matter
4. Nothing else

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Birthday Vacations - The Bahamas

Sorry I've been out of touch for a while. I've been laying low trying to save money for D.Rough and my trip to The Bahamas!!!! It was to celebrate our birthdays and Valentine's Day and Christmas and any other holiday you can think of.

We got to drive personal bubble subs!

We went to an island covered with iguanas and fed them grapes!

We fed stingrays!

 We got to snorkel with sharks!

We had many birthday drinks!

We ate at The Poop Deck!

We went to the RumBahamas Rum Festival in an old timey military fort!

I even got to drive on the wrong side of the road! All in all, we had an absolutely wonderful time in The Bahamas and I wouldn't have changed any of it!