Friday, January 11, 2013

Icehouse


Where/Why:
Craving a unique, cool, relaxed spot to hang out with a friend, watch some live, local music, and eat some great homemade food while you’re at it?  Icehouse has what you’re looking for.  Even when there isn’t live music playing they still make sure to give you the ultimate smooth, jazz feeling.  Sitting in the middle of the restaurant surrounded by tall ceilings and long wooden frames I had a feel of a ski lodge mixed with a warm, intimate venue with some great decorations - like the carboy light fixtures which were great!  Here’s a little taste:

 I think the moment I knew I loved this spot is when while immersed in my amazing bowl of shrimp gumbo, ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ came on, but with a jazzy twist that I had never heard before.  I almost forgot I was right on 25th and Nicollet, which is another thing that makes this place a perfect place to get away!

The Menu:
Offering four different menus depending on the time of day (lunch, dinner, snack, and brunch), Icehouse does a great job with comfort food for all tastes.  Their menu definitely isn’t something you’ll find at any other restaurant, in a very good way!  Take for instance the shrimp gumbo I had topped with a chicken wing for a twist.   This was amazing, huge pieces of shrimp, scallops, and pork tenderloin with great spice.  You can also get Bangers (sausage) & Mash, Scottish Salmon, Beef Short Rib Stroganoff, and Hash.  I’m not even skimming the top of it with that list either.  They also have great breakfast options, delicious snacks, and ice cream/sorbet selections you won’t find many other places.  Need and example?  How about beat sorbet , tobacco ice cream and smoked chocolate ice cream!   Not to leave out their beverages either, who could after seeing these!  You can get a Bloody Mary garnished with a mini-doughnut, or if you’d rather have a Screwdriver with a twist you’ll have to try the ‘WanDangSuperTang’.  I can’t wait to keep coming back to try another unique item on one of their inimitable menus!

The Price:
Prices are what you’d expect for Nicollet's eat street, but you definitely pay for quality food.  Lunches range from $11-$15, dinner from $18 - $22, small plates, desserts and snacks around $8, and beverages mainly range from $6 - $11.  You can also get a scoop of one of their many ice cream and sorbet selections for $2!  And daily late night specials, like $5 Tequila & Tacos Tuesday, and $6 Dawg & Tallboy Saturdays. 

The Service:
Icehouse can get busy and it definitely depends on the day, time, and if there’s live music playing so it might be a good idea to check out their website first if you’re wanting a quiet night (Icehouse ).  They do take reservations during their dinner and brunch hours if you want to lock down your munching spot.  Staff is friendly, and relaxed yet insightful and knowledgeable of the menu options.

Icehouse is just a great, unique, and easy to fall in love with restaurant.  The feel of the large open rooms and tall ceilings paired with the music and the unmatchable, strange, yet awesome and delicious menu, this is a place everyone should try, and try again. 


Icehouse on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Buster's on 28th


Where/Why:
Craving a relaxed bar you can go to, small enough that you’ll be noticed but loud enough you won’t feel like you’re walking into a silent movie theater?  Buster's on 28th is your spot.  This is a great place to come for some delicious bar food, great craft beer selection, quick service, and a little bit of laughter and rowdiness.  Great place to come to blow off some steam after a long day at work, or just to come have a beer with a friend.  Located on the North side of Lake Hiawatha, right on - you guessed it - 28th Ave.  Buster’s makes a fantastic neighborhood bar and restaurant and is not to be overlooked!

The Menu:
Their menu ranges from pizza and burgers to Po-boys and Panini.  From the buns to the meat, their burgers and sandwiches here are incredible.  One option you won’t be disappointed with (or left hungry with) is their Beer Braised Beef Sandwich.  Here’s some homemade comfort food at its best, just check out this picture:


It’s filling in all the right ways, juicy, with great flavor and tied together with a nice big bun and chipotle cream cheese.  I heard their burger has won awards but this sandwich has got to be in the running as well!  I also tried the Turkey Panini, easy to eat, light, simple, and mouthwatering.  Also, if you want to put a little spin on your sandwich or burger you can add all sorts of ingredients for a dollar, such as fried onions, mushrooms, bacon, beets, and blue cheese crumbles.
I also must mention the beer selection.  They have a wide variety to choose from, many which are local, and some great seasonal selections as well.  Some local taps include Fulton Sweet Child of Vine, Harriet West Side, Rush River Lyndale Brown, and Surly Furious.  Keep in mind these are subject to change but either way, as you can see, they have great taste in their beer selections.  They also have a ‘build your own beer flight’ where you can pick five of your favorite drafts and turn it into a nice flight of beer, which you might need to do if you can’t decide on which of their fabulous beers to get!

The Price:
Their dishes are very reasonably priced, especially given the sizes of some of them!  Their burgers are just $10, and most their sandwiches are $10 or less.  Served with your choice of fries, sweet potato fries (I highly recommend), chips, and other options.  Appetizers range from $4 - $12, most places don’t have anything on their menu for $4!  Beer prices aren’t bad either.  Most tap selections are either $5 or $6 and the ‘American Beer Flight’ is $14.

The Service:
I was really impressed with the service here, and this is with it jammed packed!  We were seated almost immediately, had waters right away, and our beverage order taken before we even knew what we wanted!  They were thorough, to the point, and quick – what more could you ask for!  Food came out before we knew it and we were actually out the door so quick I wondered how long we were even there! 

With their wide-ranged beer selection and classic American bar menu, you might want to stay for one more beer.  Buster’s on 28th is a great place to visit.  I loved the neighborhood feel of the restaurant and relaxed atmosphere.  Laugh out loud with a friend and enjoy some fantastic food and beer!
Buster's on 28th on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 12, 2012

Broders' Pasta Bar



Where/Why:
Hidden in the neat area of 50th and Penn is an amazing Italian restaurant as well as a great kept secret.   Broders' Pasta Bar is charming, romantic, warm, and the food is something to talk about.  I love the unique set up of the restaurant with a bar wrapping around a wine-dispensing contraption and metal strainers used as light fixtures.   It has a cozy feel with great decorations, flowers, candles, and seasonal decor.  It’s relaxed, yet very classy and impressive.  I’ll recommend this restaurant for anyone that loves great Italian food for an even greater price and a fantastic atmosphere.

The menu:
Their menu is full of fresh, authentic Italian dishes inspired from a trip to Bologna, Italy by the owners back in 1980.  Their egg noodles are made in-house on a daily basis, ensuring only the freshest of ingredients.  Their menu changes seasonally which is a nice way to get us coming back to see what’s new.  Oil and bread is served prior to your meal, and if you happen to be a wine-o you’ll certainly be pleased with their wine selection and dispensary. 
When I was there I ordered the ‘ravioli con cucuzza’ which is house made butternut squash ravioli with walnuts and a taste of sage.  It was absolutely delicious!  Each flavor was matched together perfectly; certainly a great Fall dish but I could eat this every day!
I also had the pleasure of trying their ‘fettuccine con manzo’ which includes beef tenderloin, zucchini and mascarpone cheese.  This dish was absolutely delicious as well, in fact my boyfriend stated this was the best pasta he has ever had, which I couldn’t disagree with after trying!  You can taste the thoughtfulness of each dish, each ingredient complementing the other in a simple, yet flawless way.

The price:
The best part about this restaurant is its amazing quality of food, professional service, and amorous atmosphere with prices that aren’t going to break the bank.  Most dishes range from about $9 to $16, appetizers between $8 and $12, and a nice price range for their wine list so you can get an expensive bottle of wine or a not-so-expensive bottle, ½ bottle, or by the glass.  I loved the variety of the wine options.    

The service:
Instead of sitting at a table we were sat right at the wrap-around bar so our server was always somewhere along the bar area which was very nice and made for excellent service.  From here you can even watch your meal being prepared in the kitchen right in front of you.  They were very professional, yet emitted a warm sense of friendliness at the same time.  I was very impressed with the service here from walking in the door and being greeted to walking out.  Do be prepared for a little bit of a wait if you go during regular dinner hours…but the wait is worth it, especially if you grab a glass of wine and relax in their waiting area, even there has a great feel – see my picture below:

Broders’ Pasta Bar is a great place for a romantic date to celebrate an anniversary or just because.  If you’re looking for a nice precooked Italian meal right in your home their menu is also available for takeout - or you can even buy some of their ingredients to make your own dishes at home with your own spin to it!  Don’t miss out on one of the best Italian restaurants in the area; make it soon to check out the Fall seasonal menu!
Broders' Pasta Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Uptown Cafeteria and Support Group

Where/Why:
Don’t let the name fool you, The Uptown Cafeteria and Support Group is far from the cafeteria you probably remember from your school days.  It smells much better and you won’t see any ‘Italian Dunkers’ on the menu.  It’s a unique place to come for happy hour with some friends or reserve a lounge area on their sky bar for your next special occasion and enjoy the amazing view.  It’s located on Lake Street, right smack in the middle of the Uptown’s main stream, you can’t miss it!
The Menu:
They really have delicious food here; I’ve never been disappointed with what I’ve gotten.  I love their appetizers, try their jalapeño-poppers and you’ll most likely be coming back for more.  Not a jalapeño fan?  They have everything from breakfast to dinner to cheese fondue, mussels, and tofu - catering to your everyday food lover (and hipster).  One of my favorite things on the menu is their ‘Big Hippie Salad’, pictured below. 
This salad is loaded with all sorts of veggies, quinoa, green beans, avocado, peppers, and a light vinaigrette that ties it all together.  This salad is definitely a meal, you will be full!  I usually have to split this with someone and I’m still full!  Another unique thing on their menu is a ‘late night pancake feed’ which runs Sunday – Thursday after 10pm.  It’s all you can eat buttermilk pancakes for $5...something to keep in mind if you want to mix up your usual after-bar food routine (mine was always Jimmy Johns!).   I also can’t leave out that incredible beverage next to my salad.  This is their blueberry mojito, it has actual blueberries in it and is absolutely delicious!  Be careful though, this is the kind of drink you can down like juice it’s so good!  Don’t forget this is an adult beverage despite its sweet and delectable taste! 
The Price:
Things can definitely get a little spendy here if you’re not careful, watch your drinks if you want to avoid that huge feeling of guilt looking at your bank account the next day.  I’m not saying it’s over priced - given their location, great food and drinks, and awesome view, it’s probably just about right…but you be the judge!  Lunch menu ranges from around $10-$13, and dinner menu ranges from around $12-$16.  Their beer is pretty reasonable, between $4-$7 like most places and drinks usually around $7-$9.  Tuesday nights after four they have an all-you-can-eat taco fiesta for $11…not bad!
The Service:
On any given day they usually have plenty of people on staff to help you get what you want.  They do get busy…extremely busy…especially if you’re looking for roof top seating, so just keep in mind evenings and weekends are going to be crowded, get there early or make a reservation! 
This is a great place to enjoy a summer evening on their sky bar, or a Sunday morning for their bloody mary bar and breakfast.  Cafeteria has one of the best roof-top views in Uptown and fantastic food and beverages to help you enjoy your experience.  Grab a group of friends and reserve your spot! 
Uptown Cafeteria on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Lowry

Where/Why:
The Lowry is located right on 21st and Hennepin Ave, you can’t miss it.  Some of you may remember their location as the old Hollywood Video like I do.  It’s conveniently located right off Highway 94, and has its own parking lot which is great, and certainly a necessity for the location.  But don’t let the chaos you encountered getting there fool you, sit on their secluded patio out back on a summer evening and you just might forget you’re sitting right off Hennepin Ave and feel like you’re at your own little get away.

The Menu:
They’ve got some fantastic options on their menu.  I’ve tried their breakfast and dinner and am fans of them both.  I have not tried their oysters yet which is one of their specialties but plan to soon.   Breakfast menu includes the usual – eggs benedict, biscuits & gravy, chilaquiles, frittatas, and your basic American breakfast which is perfect if you’re looking for just some eggs, hash browns and bacon.  I tried the spinach frittata which was absolutely delightful.  It comes with brie, spinach, parmesan, tomatoes, and fresh herbs.  It’s full of flavor and is extremely satisfying.  It’s filling, but not so heavy you feel like you need to be taken out on wheels. 

They also have some very enjoyable appetizers on their menu which they call their ‘snacks’ (love it!).  Some of their snacks include tempura green beans, sweet potato fries (extremely delicious and served with very tasty chipotle pesto), wings, cheese curds, and deviled eggs.  One I tried recently are their buffalo chips – if you try any of their appetizers I suggest these!  We didn’t stop devouring these until the basket was completely empty…and we still had burgers coming…they’re that good!  They come with Yukon potato chips, pulled chicken, blue cheese, and buffalo sauce drizzled on top to add the perfect spice.  A must have!

They have plenty of burgers and sandwiches to choose from but I have to rave about the turkey burger!  Talk about some great flavor!  They mix curry spices, peanuts, pepper jack, and pesto in with the ground turkey to make one of the best turkey burgers I’ve had.  It’s juicy, lean, and has a unique spice.  Skip the ketchup on this one, your taste buds will thank you!

The last thing I have to mention is the fact that they have an extensive beer selection to choose from, a lot of which is local which is wonderful.  Pick from Fulton Sweet Child of Vine, Harriet West Side, Surly, Summit selections, Deschutes, Finnegan’s, and that’s only to name a few!


The Price:
For the great location, quality food, and the comfortable urban feel of the restaurant, the prices are great.  You can get most the burgers for $9-$11, and appetizers from $6-$10.  They have great happy hour specials - like all places I love.  Monday through Friday they have $3 rails, and $3-$4 Tap Beers , it ends at 6pm though but it may be worth taking off a little early from work next Friday!  

The Service:
Each time I’ve been here the service was great.  They’re relaxed but certainly on top of everything.   Breakfast seems to me to be one of their craziest times so if you go in the morning or on the weekend early afternoon hours I’d suggest you call in and make a reservation, especially if it’s one of those Saturday/Sunday mornings when all you need is a bloody mary and some eggs and really don’t feel like waiting! 

My favorite time coming here was a Sunday evening sitting on the back patio which was lit with white bulbs around the edges and top, it’s relaxed and you feel a sort of calmness.  But even in the winter you’ll walk into a great ambiance - with the fire going in their fireplace, you’ll feel like you’re right in your own living room!
The Lowry Uptown on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 3, 2012

Kinsen Noodles and Bar


Where/Why:
Craving a unique, relaxed spot for some great Asian food?  Try Kinsen Noodles and Bar located right on Lagoon Ave. in the heart of Uptown.  It’s relatively new with an even newer patio that just opened in the alley next to the bar.  They take their Uptown location and run with it, giving a 10% discount to individuals living in Uptown and adding a great low-key spot to enjoy some fantastic dishes at an affordable price.  Their noodles and delicious sangria keep my boyfriend and I coming back for more! 


The Menu:
Kinsen has some great selections on their menu, and I’m pretty confident in saying I most likely have tried more things on their menu than most – unless of course you work there.  My two favorites are the spring rolls and their pad thai with tofu.  The spring rolls are wrapped in a light rice-wrap, they are also much larger than you’re going to expect (which you will be pleased by) and served with mouthwatering peanut sauce.  Their pad thai is absolutely delicious, you can get meat, seafood, or tofu on it, or mix and match - did I emphasize how laid back they are yet?  They will cater to whatever you have in mind, pick a dish and if you want to change it up they are willing to do so.  They also have house sauces so if you want to spice it up you certainly have a few levels to chose from.  Also on their menu are some amazing curry dishes, ramen (fancier than the ramen you ate in college), cream cheese wontons, egg rolls, veggie tempura, short rib and much more.  Another cool thing about this place is that they provide an option for meat lovers and vegetarians, you might want to try their veggie dishes even if you aren’t vegetarian, it is all cooked with lots of flavor and prepared with care.    
Their beverage selection is nice too.  You can get some great specialty drinks here that you won’t find anywhere else, of course the  sangria, and they might have a smaller on-tap selection but they have some very decent picks like Sapporo and Sierra Nevada.

The Price:
I already mentioned the 10% discount for Uptown residents but that’s certainly not their only great deal.  They have daily specials including Thursday night date nights where you can get an appetizer, two entrees, dessert and a bottle of wine for $45.  Monday is ‘Movie Monday’ where they have happy hour all day and actually show a movie right in the restaurant starting at 9pm with a drink special that goes along with the movie.  They also have industry night on Sunday where you get 40% off if you work in the food industry.
Regular prices aren’t bad either, you can get most their noodle entrees for $11-$14, and appetizers between $5-$7.  I must say, these are better prices than the bar right across the street and the food quality and atmosphere is ten fold! 

The Service:
Friendly, down-to-earth, and laid back is exactly how I’d describe the service here.  They will get to know you, and let you get to know them.  They are personable and definitely fit well in with the Uptown crowd. 

I love this place, it’s relaxed, fun, and in the mean time you’re devouring some of the best Asian dishes in uptown.  Come here with a friend for dinner or try out one of their daily happy hour specials and get a real feel for Uptown.  I love just sitting at the bar just as much as I enjoy their outside seating where you can really take in the feel of the area.  And try one of their Sangria!
Kinsen Noodles and Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Amore Victoria Restaurant

Where/Why:
I decided to do Amore Victoria  next because with all the new and popular bars and restaurants in Uptown this one seems to get forgotten amongst them, but that may be what adds to the elegant and romantic feel of this restaurant.  Amore has delicious Italian food and fantastic deals for their happy hour.  It’s also a perfect place for a date and to enjoy their newly opened roof top - below is the view looking off the side of it. 



The menu:
Amore’s menu is that of a classic Italian restaurant.  They have Antipasto, Tortellacci (which is a ravioli type noodle stuffed with beef, veal, and spinach), lasagna, gnocchi, ravioli, penne pasta, lobster, shrimp, mussels and much more.  My absolute favorite thing on their menu though is their pizza, it’s to die for.  I don’t know if it’s the crust, the cheese, or the sauce that makes this pizza so delicious but it’s got just the right taste to it.  It’s light, and there is a little bit of sweetness to it that makes this pizza unique.  Their happy hour menu is small but they have some great options including the pizza, artichoke spinach dip (which is also amazing), deep fried calamari, and bruschetta.  Another great thing about their menu is their wine and cocktail selection.  They have over 120 wines listed…which reminds me, you can also be seated right in their wine cellar!  They also have a well-reviewed mixologist on board which accounts for their customized and matchless drink selections.  Below is a picture of their ‘Uptown Crew’ pizza with prosciutto, roasted garlic, pepperoncini’s, feta, and mozzarella – delicious!! 


The Price:
You can get a $10 plate all the way to a $39 plate (the latter is a dish with lobster, clam, shrimp, and mussels over clam broth…yum!!) so if you bring a date here you better hope they aren’t craving sea food, or if you’re being brought on a date here…get it!  I am a fan of the happy hour of course.  It’s Monday – Friday 2-7pm and then they have a late night happy hour from 9:30-close.  I love their happy hour times; it’s hard to find a happy hour that goes past 6pm in the area so I love this.  The late night happy hour is nice too.  The deals are $5 appetizers and $3 tap beers and glasses of their house wine.  Not a beer or wine drinker?  You can also get a martini for $5!  Happy hour ends after 6pm for the rooftop so keep that in mind!

The Service:
Come here for a relaxed and stress-free time, when you’re far from feeling rushed and are ready to enjoy a great experience.  The staff is very professional and friendly, plus the fact that they have a popular mixologist behind the bar is a definite plus.

Amore Victoria is a great place to come and take in the charming and enchanting atmosphere, along with some very enjoyable authentic Italian food and great wine.  It’s sweet, cozy, and peaceful.  This restaurant is a perfect date spot or a great place to just go to unwind after a stressful day. 
Amore Victoria on Urbanspoon