Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Prairie Tap House – Eden Prairie, MN

A-Wow and I were catching a movie at the Eden Prairie Mall and thought we needed a little happy hour after work. We were seeing a movie that we needed to pre-game for and I thought we should go someplace where we wouldn’t have to drive afterwards to the theater. I hadn’t been to the Prairie Tap House since they opened last year, so this was the best reason I could think of to check it out.

It happened to be snowing (no surprise there, right?) so traffic held up A-Wow a little bit. By the time he got there, I had already received my “Ready For Summer” beer flight – Wasatch Belgian White Ale, Lucette Shining Dawn, Magic Hat #9, and Lift Bridge Farm Girl. A pretty solid showing and with happy hour prices, was $6 total. A-Wow was pleased with the prospect of multiple choice beer imbibing, so he also did a Ready For Summer beer flight.

We thought we should order some happy hour-cheap-ified appetizers and then maybe split the sandwich. After some deliberation, we got the Maple Glazed Pork Belly, and the Thai Dragon Lobster Egg Rolls. Then, when a place is known for its Baltimore Pit-style beef, you get the pit beef – this time, in sandwich form.

And then, since you’re finished with your beer flight too fast, you get a Johnny Jump-up. Cider beer (in this case, Cider Boys’ First Press) with a generous helping of Jameson whiskey in it.

The food came out quickly, which was fantastic – even though we had plenty of time before the movie started. The appetizers were solid.

The Thai Dragon Lobster Egg Rolls were perfectly crispy and you could taste each of the ingredients. Nothing was over powering. The lobster tasted like lobster should – not fishy, and both the peanut dipping sauce and the dragon sauce were quite good. I didn’t even prefer one over the other – they were just different from each other and delicious.

The Maple Glazed Pork Belly was really good. It’s hard to mess up pork belly, to be honest with you. It was covered in a spicy peach marmalade which was fantastic. Though it was a bit heavy handed, so you had to scrape some of it off to have the correct ratio. But that was ok, since the pork belly slices were on a bed of pulled pork, which you could then continue eating with the spicy peach marmalade. It also came with a couple of toasted baguette slices. We tried to make little sandwiches out of them, but then decided the ratios were better if you just ate the bread on its own. Overall, still very good, however.

The Pit Beef Sandwich was probably better than the online reviews give it. The thin-sliced beef has obviously been sitting in its own juices for hours and is seasoned pretty amazingly. The creamy horseradish sauce was a thin layer, so it enhanced, rather than overpowered the sandwich. Incredibly tender meat and they had cut it into two equal pieces so we could both have our own sets of fries. A-Wow thought the fries may have been a tad over-seasoned/salted, but I’m a salt fiend, so I found them about perfect.

And then, of course, I needed another Johnny Jump-up. Hahaha. I probably could have used a few more for the movie we saw that night…

I really liked the Prairie Tap House. The happy hour deals are pretty considerable, and it’s really close to my work. I’d suggest anything you can get with that pit beef and be adventurous with the sides. The folks here are really nice and there’s usually 4 or 5 specials, so ask about those before you decide, or you’ll be in a world of confusion.

Top 5 things about Prairie Tap House
1. Pit Beef Sandwich
2. Happy hour deals
3. Maple Glazed Pork Belly
4. Thai Dragon Lobster Egg Rolls
5. Decent beer list and beer flights (though, I honestly expected more from a Tap House)

Bottom 5 things
1. Spicy Peach Marmalade was too generous
2. Not a ton of “healthy” options on the menu, but that’s not why you’re here, is it?
3. Portion sizes are pretty large here, just as a warning. If that’s your thing, then this shouldn’t be in the bottom 5
4. It isn’t a cheap date night, but if you hit up happy hour (until 7pm – which is generous), it’s quite affordable
5. The website raised an eyebrow from my cubemate at work – it’s standard issue pin-up style, but some work places are a little more conservative

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Acme Deli – St. Paul, MN

D.Rough had heard good things about this small mom and pop deli in St. Paul. We had a lazy Saturday afternoon, so we thought we would check it out.

When you get inside, you need to grab a yellow piece of paper, which has a sort of checklist menu on it. The menu has a few special sandwiches on it, but you can also build your own (you pick the bread, meat, cheese, veggies, sauce, etc). We found two that we really needed to try, which is not uncommon. But we heard the sandwiches are normal-human-being sized sandwiches and not a foot-long gargantuan sandwich with more calories than you need for a week. So we didn’t feel too bad about splitting two sandwiches.

We got the Acme Special #2 (roast beef, cream cheese, cucumber, and tomato on marble bread) and an Acme Special #3 (roast beef, turkey, swiss cheese, and cole slaw on a hoagie bun). They sent us into the small dining room to wait for our order. The dining room has four small tables and some really fun photos on the walls. Most of them are framed foods they serve there in the deli or of the people working there. Really a fun atmosphere.

The sandwiches came out quickly on paper plates and the plastic plate holders I haven’t seen since I was a kid. Really a vintage-y touch.

The sandwiches were absolutely perfect. Great fresh ingredients and bread. Fantastic combinations without being giant servings. We didn’t lolly gag when we were finished either. We had to make room for other people waiting to eat. The place does pretty good business during lunch and we saw a ton of people picking up food to take away. Probably having a picnic with all of this nice Minnesotan weather we’re having this week!

I’m looking forward to going back here. These people were really nice and the food is delicious. I don’t know what else you could possibly need!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Gorkha Palace – Minneapolis, MN

Gorkha Palace is one of those places I’ve driven by a lot, but never during lunch time since I work nowhere near the place. D.Rough and I decided to meet for lunch this week and despite planning to go to another place in Northeast, when we drove past Gorkha Palace, I knew we needed to eat there and today was the day.

The inside is smaller than I imagined, mainly because the building it occupies also contains multiple other businesses. But there is plenty of seating available. It filled up almost entirely during the lunch hour while we were there, but there’s quick turnover with an Indian food buffet, so that helps.

The buffet itself looks smaller than others I had been to, but don’t be fooled, the portions on the buffet are smaller, which means they can fit more items on the buffet, and they are fresh more often – both good things. They had these lentil crisps that looked like tortilla chips, but tasted completely different and also these Indian fry-bread things that were delicious. We didn’t see any naan on the buffet, but were still satisfied to eat the above mentioned two bread-like items.

The other items were a mix of vegetarian, vegan, and carnivore dishes, even a curried hardboiled egg dish and broccoli pakora. I filled my plate.

Then I filled my plate again.

Then I went and got some Indian-style chicken noodle lentil soup. Decent, but I wanted there to be more seasoning and pop to it. I’d eat it again, though. I also ate it so fast, I forgot to take a photo.

We had a great meal and got out of there pretty quickly so we could both get back to work. While Gorkha Palace isn’t a ground breaking Indian restaurant, it’s really good and you won’t be disappointed at all. The server was really nice and made sure we were happy with our meals, which we were.

I have trouble doing top 5’s for Indian buffets because I can’t ever remember the names of the dishes I’m eating. They’re all good though. Does that help? haha

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

World Street Kitchen – Minneapolis, MN

I had been to the food truck version of this place a few times and been pretty happy with the food I got there. [And now that I’ve looked back at the blog, I realize I’ve never written about them! I’m a jerk, apparently.] I was happy that D.Rough suggested we go there to check out a couple of special dishes.

I love the inside of this place. It’s sort of modern and minimalist, but still clean and classy. The menu doesn’t appear to have many items on it, until you get to looking at it. Then, you’ll realize you have a considerable job figuring out what you really want to eat. Seriously. D.Rough and I had to grab a to-go menu and sit down and really hash out what we wanted to share. It was no easy task, I tell you.

We decided on the Plate O’ Dips (hummus, smoky feta, and spiced olive tapenade with grilled pita), “La Panza” Caramelized Lamb Belly Yum Yum Rice Bowl with pickled cucumbers, daikon, and bean sprouts, and “Kingston 12” Jerk Beef tacos with mint chimichuri and queso fresco.

And, D.Rough was in the mood, so she got a very unique version of a Piña Colada. Unique means amazing in this particular instance. She was quite happy with this whole situation.

The Plate O’ Dips was delicious. Small scoops of various dips are usually pretty tasty, but the smoky feta was fight-worthy. The pitas were ultra fresh and not at all crunchy – just the way I like them. And as a bonus, there were actually enough pita triangles to finish all the dips! This was a great way to start the meal.

The Kingston 12 was pretty fabulous. Two street-style tacos filled with delicious beef, chimichuri, scallions, and cheese. The meat was really tender and the chimichuri was a delicious counter to the meat. Fantastic.

The winner of the day was the Yum Yum Rice Bowl – plus it is incredibly fun to say! The lamb was awesomely tender and the added pop of the peanuts really made this dish complete, in my opinion. The cucumbers and daikon were good, but the peanuts really stole the show. D.Rough got one small piece of fatty meat and the rest of it was perfect. No complaints at all on this bowl of awesome.

Verdict=Fantastic. Looking forward to coming back there and trying the same or new things. Either. We don’t care.

Top 5 things about World Street Kitchen
1. La Panza Yum Yum Rice Bowl (both eating and saying)
2. Kingston 12 Jerk Beef Tacos
3. Piña Colada
4. Plate O’ Dips
5. Very serious menu (and some boozy drinks)

Bottom 5 things
1. If you come there expecting to share with someone, you WILL fight over who gets what
2. You’re going to want dessert afterwards, and there isn’t much on the dessert front, but it’s ok because you won’t have room
3. I can’t decide whether I like the regular menu or the brunch menu better. These guys really nailed it.
4. Parking isn’t the best on Lyndale…
5. I can’t think of anything bad, so I’ll quit making things up now