Namaste Cafe – Uptown

A little background

I’m excited to post about this one not only because I’ve been dying to go here for the longest time, but also because they have spectacular Indian and Nepalese food.  Namaste Cafe is housed in a cute, three-story yellow house with red trim and plenty of outdoor seating (for the win!). In the summer, folks living around Uptown/Lowry Hill area take advantage of their outdoor seating whenever the weather decides to cooperate.

Namaste Café is a values-oriented restaurant and operates on the strength of its commitment to
a) Sustainable practices
b) Superior quality foods at moderate prices
c) Supporting local arts and artists
d) Creating innovative food and beverage options
e) Warm, hospitable, enjoyable atmosphere conducive to positive social interaction
f) Bringing a flavor of the world to your doorsteps

(yes, I did take this directly from their website, but I thought it was written perfectly and why mess with something that’s well written?)

What a great place to go to catch up with old friends, enjoy a nice meal, or, simply, to hang out and see some local art once a month.

Social Media
Twitter: Click here!
Facebook: Click here!

 My thoughts

My fiance and I went with our friend Brian one night after work. All three of us like trying new and diverse foods. We had to pay Namaste Cafe a visit. Of course, we had to sit outside. We’ve finally had good weather with no rain so we had to take advantage of it. Their outside patio is surrounded with diverse plant life, colorful lawn chairs, and, at night, stings of twinkle lights. (Perfect for a date night!) Take note, they do offer a date night special. Every Tuesday night after 6 p.m., you and your date can enjoy two entrees, a bottle of house wine, and dessert for $35.

The below picture was my dish of the night. I went with the Eggplant with Garlic and Scallions. This consisted of, well, eggplant of course! The chefs at Namaste Cafe saute cubes of eggplant in oil with soy sauce and mixed with garlic. Also mixed into this dish are tomatoes, scallions, and a generous serving of rice on the side. In addition to my entree, I had to order some warm, fluffy Indian-style bread to go with it. P.S. If you’ve never had naan or Indian bread, you are seriously missing out. Below, I chose the Roti, which is a filling bread cooked without oil. They serve it warm so it wraps perfectly around the rice and entree. You can also see that I had the house chai, iced.

Eggplant with Garlic and Scallions Small cubes of eggplant sautéed in oil with soy sauce and mixed with  garlic, tomatoes and scallions.
Eggplant with Garlic and Scallions: Small cubes of eggplant sautéed in oil with soy sauce and mixed with
garlic, tomatoes and scallions.

My fiance went with the Hot and Tangy Lamb with Potatoes, which included curry-spiced lamb, potatoes, green chillies, onions, garlic, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, and malt vinegar. I honestly liked this entree a lot better than my own. It worked much better with the garlic roti. Can you tell that we really wanted the flavor of garlic that night? I loved the seasoning of the lamb. It was well cooked so much that it was just “melt in your mouth” good. This was also served with rice.

 

Hot and Tangy Lamb with Potatoes: spicy curry of lamb and potatoes cooked with green chilies, onions,  garlic, cloves, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon and  malt vinegar.
Hot and Tangy Lamb with Potatoes: spicy curry of lamb and potatoes cooked with green chilies, onions,
garlic, cloves, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon and
malt vinegar.

Our friend went with the Namaste Special Curry. This is Namaste Cafe’s own specialty with ingredient typical to those found in Nepalese cooking. This one was also one of my favorites from Namaste Cafe. There’s just something about the curries there that really make the meal! Again, this dish was served with basmati rice.

Namaste Special Curry: A smooth and flavorful curry prepared with onions, tomatoes,  paprika and scallions. Chicken added.
Namaste Special Curry: A smooth and flavorful curry prepared with onions, tomatoes,
paprika and scallions. Chicken added.

 

Overall, if you are looking for a unique experience with “out-of-this-world” food and are not afraid to try Indian/Nepalese, I highly recommend dropping in. The service at Namaste cafe is extremely friendly and very knowledgeable about their entrees and what goes well with what. Come for date night! It’s sure to be a good time. I’ll see you there!

For a full view of their menu, check out the link below:
Dinner Menu
Lunch Menu
Happy Hour
Date Night
1/2 Price Bottle of Wine
Wine and Beer

Roat Osha – Uptown

A little background

Roat Osha is a casual, yet dramatic Thai restaurant located in Uptown.  By combining authentic Thai culinary techniques with an American flare, visitors will have a dining experience that will delight the taste buds.

Social Media
Facebook: Click here!

 My thoughts

I don’t know if I’ve ever digressed on Minnesota Munch about how much my fiance and I enjoy Thai food.  You know how Mac and Cheese, lasagna or a hamburger are usually the top foods that come to mind when “comfort food” is mentioned?  Yeah, my fiance and I think a little differently.  If we are having a bad day or, when in the depth of winter, we just need something to soothe our psyches, we instantly search out Thai food.  The spicy, hot chilies, peanut sauces, and garlic just hit the spot! If it’s not Thai food, we’re looking for Indian. Good thing we have access to many decent Thai and Indian places within the Twin Cities Metro!

To those who haven’t been to Roat Osha, you should really check this place out.  Not only is the food amazing, but they have a fun and trendy atmosphere with touches of traditional Thai/Southeast Asian artwork. We just couldn’t stop staring at the models of Thai ships or elephants. The intricate craftwork was simply eye catching.  Here’s another reason to love this place; they have a bar area if you aren’t feeling dinner and an outdoor patio for the warm summer months. I don’t know about you, but any place with a patio is okay in my books.

We decided to check this place out for our anniversary (when he officially asked me out, that is). On special occasions like this, we tend to order appetizers, entrees, drinks and desserts.  I like special occasions very much. 😉

We started with the Appetizer Platter. This includes three Chicken Satays, four cream cheese wontons, and three spring rolls. The chicken satays were marinated with Thai spices and grilled; and, they were served with a homemade peanut curry sauce and a sweet cucumber sauce. Literally, these are great for any guy who wants his meat. Plus, the peanut sauce was AMAZING with the chicken. I would actually order just an appetizer of these. The cream cheese wontons were like any other wonton: deep fried and filled with warm, delicious cream cheese. Lastly, the spring rolls consisted of ground pork, glass noodles, and vegetables. Since my fiance really enjoys his meat, I didn’t order the vegetarian kind this time. These were still a great app. and went well with the three sauces on the tray. The last sauce you see in the picture (the red one) was a basic sweet and sour.

Appetizer Platter: Chicken Satays, Cream Cheese Wontons, & egg rolls
Appetizer Platter: Chicken Satays, Cream Cheese Wontons, & egg rolls

He decided to get the Massamun Curry, mainly because he was craving a curry-based dish with chicken. According to the Roat Osha menu, this is a dish from southern Thailand. When you order the curries here, you can choose between a vegetarian option, which would include cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, onions, and mushrooms; or you can choose from a meat option, which includes chicken, pork, tofu, mock duck, beef, shrimp or squid, scallops, and a seafood combo.  Talk about giving you options.

Massamun Curry: Red Curry, peanuts, potatoes, onions, and Chicken added
Massamun Curry: Red Curry, peanuts, potatoes, onions, and chicken added

Feeling adventurous, I went with the Mee Kah Teeh. The base of this dish is rice noodles with red curry. The vegetables are all added later to preference.  At Roat Osha, they use red curry sautéed with rice noodles, egg, peanuts, garlic, and bean sauce. This Tum Rup Thai original is served with bean sprouts, fried chilies, scallions, cilantro and lime. Honestly, I thought this was perfect. It had a good amount of heat and a punch of flavor. Also, my serving contained a delightful balance of noodle to veggie ratio. Just look at this picture and tell me you don’t want to have a taste.

Mee Kah Teeh:  red curry sautéed with rice noodles, egg, peanuts, garlic, and bean sauce. Served with bean sprouts, fried chilies, scallions, cilantro and lime.
Mee Kah Teeh: red curry sautéed with rice noodles, egg, peanuts, garlic, and bean sauce. Served with bean sprouts, fried chilies, scallions, cilantro and lime.

At this point in our night, we were so full that we had to refuse dessert. Sad, I know, but filling up on the entrees, appetizers, and drinks were well worth it. Speaking of drinks, I forgot to mention what we ordered. I’ve listed them below. I’d definitely recommend the One Night in Bangkok. This was very refreshing and went well with the apps we ordered.

One Night in Bangkok: A cosmopolitan is made with UV Citruv, Triple Sec, cranberry juice and Rose’s lime juice, garnished with a lemon twist.

Bangkok Sunrise: This lemon drop martini is served in a sugar-rimmed glass, with UV Citruv, orange juice, sour, and a drop of grenadine, garnished with a lemon wedge.

Roat Osha is definitely the place to go for some amazing Thai food in Minneapolis. If you’re in the mood to try something new, you will not be disappointed.

For a full view of their menu, check out the link below:
Dinner Menu
Happy Hour Menu
Wine Menu
Specialty Drinks
Beer Menu

Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge

A little background

I’ll give you the slice on Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge.  Located in Northeast Minneapolis, a visit to this place will have you feeling like you are on a tropical vacation even in the dead of winter. Inside, you’ll find the walls adorned with over 50 tiki figurines of every shape and size. The inspiration for this winter oasis came from owner Leslie Bock’s love of 1920’s style tiki bars and the biker culture.  Psycho Suzi’s is known for serving up a wide variety of fried foods and their unique pizzas, which are made fresh to order.

Guy Fieri of the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” stopped in when he visited Minneapolis. See what he thought in the link below from his show.

Social Media
Twitter: Click here!
Facebook: Click here!

 My thoughts

A group of friends and I decided to head to Psycho Suzi’s to celebrate my friend Blake’s birthday. Minus Blake, all of us have been here before and we couldn’t wait to be back, especially since it’s been so nice in Minneapolis lately. Since the weather has been so nice, we’re able to sit on their outdoors patio, perfect for summer.  Deciding to try our luck for Blake, we asked our waitress if there were any specials for a customer celebrating their birthday. To Blake’s benefit, there is definitely a perk to celebrating your birthday at Psycho Suzi’s. You are given a free cocktail that will bring your thoughts to a tropical paradise upon first sip. After he allowed us to try some (it looked so good we couldn’t help but ask) we determined that it was mixed with rum, pineapple juice and some sort of coconut beverage.  It was pretty impressive and definitely fit the tiki theme.

Blake's Birthday Drink

After we got over the excitement of Blake’s birthday cocktail, we had to order something warm and deep fried. Funny enough, almost everyone at the table ordered up a side of tater tots. “Hey Napolean, can I have some of your tots?” – Napolean Dynamite, 2004. I don’t know about you, but that one-liner pops into my thoughts every time I hear or see tater tots! Now, hear me out. Not only are they served to you piping hot, but they come with a dipping sauce that really makes ordering them worth it. The sauce tastes a little like a mixture between horseradish, mustard and another tangy, yet flavorful condiment. All I can say is that the tots didn’t last long, thank you delicious sauce of awesomeness.

tots

The last couple times that I’ve been to Psycho Suzi’s, I didn’t end up ordering their pizzas. This is probably blasphemy to anyone who has had a slice of Suzi’s pizzas. The past couple times I’ve been here, I really just wanted a burger. Trust me, those taste great here too and are more unique than your typical patty, cheese, lettuce and tomato on a bun. On this visit, however, my fiance and I decided it was time and we ordered a large of their “Fastback” pizza. What’s the Fastback? It’s a thin crust pizza topped with artichokes, fresh spinach, tomato and Suzi’s signature white-wine garlic sauce. If that didn’t make your mouth water, there is just no hope for you. This was pretty much one of the best pizzas I’ve ever taken a bite out of. Not only was it cooked enough so that the cheese was stringy when pulled apart, but there was no hint of a burnt crust in any slice. Two thumbs way, way up for the person who made our pizza. You did a fabulous job and I will definitely be stopping in soon to try a deep dish pizza.

fastback pizza

I’d highly recommend a trip to Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge. This is simply a restaurant you must visit at least once if you are visiting the Twin Cities. Not only do they serve up unique versions of our favorite comfort food, but you won’t find an atmosphere quite like this. The wait staff are super friendly and are more than willing to joke around with you. Additionally, it’s a nice, casual hangout for anyone wanting to spend some time with buddies or someone needing a place to take their family. Rest assured, Psycho Suzi’s is the place to be.

For a full view of their menu, check out the link below:
Online Food Menu
Tiki Drinks
Beer
Specials

Gardens of Salonica

A little background

Since 1991, The Gardens of Salonica in Northeast Minneapolis has been serving up classic Greek cuisine that is fresh and flavorful.  The chefs make this possible by sourcing their products from local and organic producers.  Their cuisine is so good, The Gardens of Salonica are ranked as one of the best Greek restaurants in the area.  They are also recipients of the 2013 Talk of the Town Customer Satisfaction Award.

Social Media
Twitter: Click here!
Facebook: Click here!

 My thoughts

It’s funny how life throws you a curve ball every once in awhile.  A few years ago when my fiance and I were in search of Greek food after a date in the Twin Cities (we weren’t originally from here), we came acrossed a restaurant that had amazing food that we both remembered to this day.  A funny coincidence occurred the other day when my friend invited me to one of her favorite restaurants to catch up.  Since I adore any and all Greek food, I immediately said, “yes!”  When I walked into The Gardens of Salonica, my first thought was, “omigod, I’ve been here before!”  I realized that this was the exact same place my fiance and I had been years before and you better believe that I was excited to be back.

They have quite an impressive menu.  When I say impressive, what I really mean is that I wanted to order everything on the menu.  I was having a little bit of difficulty figuring out what I wanted to eat that night.  🙂  After a serious debate, my friend and I ordered an appetizer and I finally decided on an entree.  Here’s what we went with:

We started our dinner with a plate to share, introducing the Spinach Feta Boughasta.  Have no clue what this is?  I’ll tell you.  The boughasta is made of delicious, flaky phyllo dough (commonly used in baklava) and stuffed with fresh feta cheese, spinach, scallions and seasonings.  When served warm, it is possibly one of the best ways to start a Greek meal.  The boughasta has a lot of great, savory flavor and is perfectly light.  Personally, I loved it.  I thought it had just the right amount of flavor and I enjoyed the melted feta in the middle.  For anyone who enjoys these flavor combinations, I definitely would recommend this.  Also, a full one is just the right size to share for two people.

spinach and feta app.

I went with the house mousakas.  What you see below is a party for your tastebuds.  The Gardens of Salonica offer both a vegetarian and meat option so all guests can enjoy this one.  I went with the regular mousaka, which included meat.  The mousaka is composed of baked layers of oven roasted eggplant and seasoned local, pasture-raised ground beef, topped with bechamel cream sauce of organic milk, Hope butter, Schultz eggs and organic, aromatic spices.  Sound good to you?  I am certainly a fan of this one.  Not only did it taste fresh, but it provided the savory taste that I was looking for.  The flavors worked well together.  The layers of eggplant and the topping were my favorite parts.  The eggplant alone, did an excellent job of absorbing all the spices that were added in.  The top. made of the eggs and spices had a great texture that I enjoyed.  Sometimes, I can be a little bit of a texture person.  Overall, this dish was flavorful and one that I will be ordering again soon.  Use the pita bread served with your meal to mop up the saucy base.  It’s worth every drop.

mousaka

If you are thinking about visiting anytime in the future, trust me, you won’t be disappointed.  The entrees are served with your choice of a house salad or soup of the day and you automatically get a side of pita bread to go with your meal.  You really get amazing quality and a lot of food for a very reasonable price.  Make sure to put in a reservation beforehand.  Dinner time tends to get quite busy, but you should be fine if you are starting your dinner or lunch early.

For a full view of their menu, check out the link below:
In-House Menu
Take-out Menu

Caffeine Crawl – Minneapolis 2013

ticket

A little background

This past weekend, the Twin Cities were the host for the first Caffeine Crawl to grace the Upper Midwest.  The Caffeine Crawl was the idea of  The LAB, a group so passionate about quality beverages that they wanted to highlight local businesses that are dedicated to excellence.  At the Caffeine Crawl, participants sampled some pretty amazing coffee and tea.  In addition, the participants had the opportunity to learn more about the quality, technique, and roasting process of the products.  At each stop in the crawl, there was a brief presentation and a selection of free drinks available to attendees only.

Participants: Bull Run Coffee, Cafe Imports, Dogwood Coffee with Gray Duck Chai, J&S Bean Factory, Peace Coffee, Publika, Quixotic Coffee, Sebastian Joe’s and TeaSource.

(The hyperlinks for Bull Run and Dogwood direct you to posts on Minnesota Munch that I’ve written)

Social Media
Twitter: Click here!
Facebook: Click here!

 My thoughts

Apart from knowing that I would be consuming 10 times my regular caffeine intake, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the first caffeine crawl to hit the Upper Midwest.  Were we only going to be drinking coffee all day?  Absolutely not!  I have to give a shout-out to The LAB and all of the many sponsors of this crawl.  Not only did the participants get to sample AMAZING specialty coffees, chais, and teas, but we also had the opportunity to learn a thing (or two) about the sourcing, production, distribution, and preparation techniques of our favorite beverages.

There were two routes to choose from for this crawl.  One route covered many specialty coffee and tea cafes in St. Paul and the other had more stops in Minneapolis.  I was excited that my ticket took me on the St. Paul route because, as you could probably tell from my previous posts, I haven’t had the opportunity to write much about our state’s capital.  Not only was I shocked that I was missing so many great places, but I was ecstatic to meet the passionate people who bring Minneapolis/St. Paul residents something of quality and something that should be enjoyed.  I definitely want to share these places we toured with anyone who is willing/excited to explore a new place.  You won’t be disappointed.  Now, on to my route for the Caffeine Crawl.

First Stop

All of the participants met at Peace Coffee Roasting Facility where we were greeted by their staff and Jason Burton from The LAB.  We were given a detailed tour of Peace Coffee Roasting Facility that included the history of their company, a look at their roasting techniques, and information about the growth and sourcing of their coffee beans.  Towards the end of our tour, one of their baristas from Wonderland Park prepared a cold press coffee drink inspired by southern mint juleps.  What a great way to start our crawl!

Social Media
Twitter: Click here!
Facebook: Click here!

mint julep

Second Stop

We made the 12 minute trek from Peace Coffee to J&S Bean Factory in St. Paul for our second stop.  The Bean Factory, established in 2001, is an independently owned, local coffee shop and roastery.  Here, we were able to enjoy a sample of their cold press coffee and a bag of cinnamon twists from a local producer.  While enjoying their cold press and lounging in their spacious outdoor patio, we watched a coffee bean roasting demonstration.  The unique part of this demonstration was that they were using an original roaster from San Francisco.  It’s so old, that it’s serial number is literally all zeros.  That’s pretty cool.  Here, the cold press was a combination of a French Guatemala roast, an Ethiopian roast, and java.  Luckily, at this point, I was pacing myself and didn’t feel the affects of caffeine yet.  I would definitely come back here.  The baristas were very knowledgeable of their brewing and roasting techniques in addition to having a humor-filled personality.

Social Media
Twitter: Click here!
Facebook: Click here!

j&s bean factory

Their roaster
Their roaster

Third Stop

Not too far from the J&S Bean Factory was our next stop, Tea Source.  This was actually one of my favorite stops.  While I’ve always enjoyed a good cup of tea both full-leaf and teabagged, I never really bothered to research tea production and the differences amongst each variety.  Thanks to Tea Source, I now have a little more knowledge of tea varieties and tea growing than the average person.  Here, the staff at Tea Source gave us a thorough presentation on six different types of teas from Asia.  The first tea was a green tea from Japan that had an ocean-like taste.  One good tip I’ve learned about green tea is that you don’t boil the water when preparing it!  Next was a florally oolong from Taiwan followed by a Big Red Robe oolong from China.  The last two were black teas from China.  One was called Golden Dragon and this one was my favorite.  It had a nice, smooth taste and wasn’t too strong.  The last black tea was from the Yunnan province and had a very strong, earthy taste.  Definitely check this place out!  They have over 230 teas to try and a very knowledgeable, passionate staff!

Social Media
Twitter: Click here!
Facebook: Click here!

tea source

Fourth Stop

Quixotic Coffee was literally right across the street from Tea Source, which made getting to the next location on the crawl a snap!  By the time my group arrived here, it was around lunchtime.  We needed something quick to not only fight off hunger, but also to absorb the intense amount of coffee and tea we had been downing all morning.  Thank you Quixotic for your ridiculously good strawberry pastry with pistachios.  Yes, I did just say I had a pastry for lunch, but look at the picture below.  Can you blame me?

Getting back to the coffee again, they didn’t disappoint here.  The baristas at Quixotic gave a unique presentation on brewing the perfect cup of potato coffee.  I’m not kidding, the barista prepared potato defect for us to sample.  I’ve never heard of this before and was pumped to try it out!  FYI, it smells to high heaven when they brew it.  Don’t get discouraged by this because it actually doesn’t taste half bad when it’s hot and ready.  This particular defect had a mixture of Rwandan and Burundi coffee.  Apparently this is a common brew in Africa.  (If anyone else has tried this … and has actually sampled it in Africa, please post! I want to know more!)

After doing a little digging, this blog post had the most information I could find about the potato defect.

Social Media
Twitter: Click here!
Facebook: Click here!

quixotic

quixotic 2

Fifth Stop

By this point I was definitely feeling a caffeine high.  With headaches creeping up and more energy than I could handle, thank goodness the next stop was to Cafe Imports.   Cafe Imports is an importer of specialty coffee beans from 20 countries.  They are considered one of the best distributors and they sell their beans to specialty roasters worldwide.  A few of their clients include Dunn Bros. Coffee, Bull Run (Mpls local), and Dogwood Coffee Company (also Mpls local and the last stop on our crawl).  If you have an opportunity to tour a warehouse, especially one that is filled with 23,000 large bags of coffee, take advantage of it!  Seriously, when are you going to see 23,000 bags of coffee in one place?  Oh, you saw my picture below?  You’re welcome.  For more information, please check out their website in the hyperlink.

Social Media
Twitter: Click here!

IMG_1510

Last Stop

This last stop was done in two parts.  There was Gray Duck Chai and there was Dogwood Coffee Company.  First of all, let me say that I love chai.  I really love chai and Gray Duck Chai has now captured my heart as my No. 1 go-to for chai.  Let me begin by saying that they gave a brilliant presentation.  Not only did they make the chai in front of us, but they also presented and discussed the attributes of all the spices and ingredients.  Who knew that cloves have 12 times the amount of antioxidants as the acai berry?  This was just one of the many interesting facts we learned from their presentation.  As for their chai, it was excellent and prepared like masala chais on the of streets of India.  You can’t get more authentic than that.  The authentic masala chais have strong notes of pepper and ginger.  Gray Duck Chai definitely incorporated these two spices to dominate the flavor of their chai.

Gray Duck

Gray Duck 2

Now, I’ve been to Dogwood Coffee Company’s cafe before in Uptown Square and I’ve enjoyed their hot miel coffee.  Dogwood Coffee Company began three years ago and was originally housed near Lake Calhoun in Rustica Bakery.  In 2010, they opened their own cafe in Calhoun Square and have been there since.  At their roasting facility, they chose to highlight their Zamboni Cold Press coffee.  In my opinion, perfect time for summer!  This coffee is a light-medium roast and had a nice, strong flavor.  Currently, they hand-make all their Zamboni batches for wholesale consumers, but they stated that they’re getting ready to produce smaller batches for individual sale.  I’m pretty excited about that announcement!

Social Media
Twitter: Click here!
Facebook: Click here!

Dogwood Zamboni

After Party

When things were all said and done, all crawlers met up at Common Roots Cafe in the Lowry Hill neighborhood for the after party.  At Common Roots, crawlers were given free samples of Fulton Beer’s collaboration brew, War and Peace.  If it’s being offered for caffeine crawl participants, it’s no surprise that the beer has coffee brewed into it.  In addition to sampling coffee beer, the after crawl included a raffle where proceeds were directly donated to Books For Africa.

Social Media
Twitter: Click here!
Facebook: Click here!

For such a wonderful event, I would like to thank all of the sponsors listed below.  This was truly a fun and informative day!

The LAB, Books for Africa, Peace Coffee, Dogwood Coffee Co., Barista Magazine, Stella di Caffe, yelp, Wholesome Sweeteners, Sleeve a Message, Rip van Wafels, and Baratza.

Barbette – Uptown

A little background

Barbette is a casual, eclectic French Bistro located on the corner of Lake Street and Irving Ave. S. in Uptown.  The owners of Barbette are a collaborative bunch.  They work with local farmers, organizations supporting local and organic agriculture, local brews and spirits, and other restaurants supporting local foods.  It’s because of these relationships that Barbette is able to provide its guests with an incredibly fresh menu that changes with the seasons.  Chef Sarah Master’s background in French bistro cuisine and skills in “nose-to-tail” concepts with meats and produce contribute to success and outstanding creations of Barbette.

Social Media
Twitter: Click here!
Facebook: Click here!

 My thoughts

I chose to check out Barbette’s Lunch menu because Minneapolis finally had a gorgeous day, which means outdoor patios are open for business!  Barbette has plenty of outdoor seating and fun, vibrant tables that reinforce summer’s arrival.

This was my first time here so I didn’t know what to expect.  I heard that they offer a darn good coffee so I had to order a cup.  I chose to go with their Thai coffee.  It was a pretty basic brew, meaning that it wasn’t overly strong.  This medium-roasted coffee had a little spice that I wasn’t expecting, but was surprisingly fitting for such a sunny day.  Unfortunately I was sitting outside so I couldn’t watch them make it; a “to-do” for my next visit.

IMG_1357

I had checked out their menu online and was dead-set on ordering the Star Prairie Smoked Trout Crepe.  Just look at the Breakfast and Brunch menu listed below and you’ll see why I was excited to try it.  When the waitress arrived to take my order, however, she totally changed my mind and I ordered the Pork Rillette & Terrine.

The Pork Rillette & Terrine was served with arugula, frisée, dijon vinaigrette and two grilled baguettes.  Big congrats to my waitress for recommending this one!  I totally understand that I’m about to talk about how good a salad and pureed pork ball was, but hear me out.

While this dish looks simple, the flavors were amazing.  Beginning with the salad, I was surprised and delighted to find spinach chips sprinkled on top.  They gave a regular salad a wonderful, salty, crispy texture that had me stopping to enjoy every last bite.  I haven’t been to a restaurant that’s done this before.  Additionally, I was so thankful to find that every vegetable was fresh.  I’ve been to a few diggs that actually serve the greens a little on the yellow side.  What’s included in this salad?  You get tomatoes, arugula, spinach chips, carrot, cucumber, pepper and asparagus.  Just delightful.

As for the Pork Rillette, I’ve never tried something like this before either.  (This was a day of “firsts” for me.)  Honestly, I would order this again for lunch.  Not only did the Pork Rillette taste fresh, but, with the addition of the dijon vinaigrette, it became perfect assortment of flavors.  Traditionally, the Pork Rillette is served at room temperature and that’s how I got it.  It was easy to spread and absolutely made my lunch a great experience.  A big thank you goes out to my waitress, who brought me more baguettes to help me finish it off.

IMG_1362

I’m definitely going back again.  If the rest of their menu is as delightful as the Pork Rillette, which I’m betting it is, I have many more surprises heading my way.  I do want to highlight a couple things about Barbette.  They have an extensive wine list and spirits list, which you can enjoy at their daily happy hours.  Also, be sure to check out their Prix Frixe Mondays where customers can have a four to five course dinner for $32.  I’ll have to check this one out myself!

For a full view of their menu, check out the links below:

Breakfast and Brunch Menu
Dinner and Dessert Menu
Late Night Menu

//

Dogwood Coffee Company

A little background

open cafeDogwood Coffee Company is a small, specialty coffee roaster in Uptown right off Hennepin Avenue.   They serve their coffee single-cup style; single-cup style means that each espresso is brewed to order and not a minute before.

It’s important give a call-out to Dogwood Coffee Co. because of their dedication to working with producers, exporters, importers, agronomists and educators who focus on sustainable living.  Building relationships with these individuals is clearly important to Dogwood Coffee Co. and this goal is apparent when reading their blog.  Yes, a specialty coffee roaster that blogs!  They post valuable content ranging from their experiences sourcing product to their favorite coffee moments.

Social Media
Blog:  Click here!
Twitter: Click here!
Facebook: Click here!

In addition to their outstanding dedication to providing a quality cup of coffee, they also work with local groups within Minnesota to make their coffees special.  They even go as far as sourcing the milk from local Minnesota producers!  I have to say, I’m very impressed with their dedication, passion, knowledge and involvement in enhancing the coffee experience.

 My thoughts

With a motto of “We work hard so you can have good coffee in your mouth,” it’s no surprise that baristas at Dogwood Coffee Co. know how to whip up a fantastic brew.  To kick off my morning, I decided to step outside my usual (vanilla lattes or chai) and order a café miel.  A café miel has a shot of espresso, steamed milk, cinnamon, and honey.  The name comes from the French word for honey, miel.  While it’s not my usual, I did enjoy it.  I would prefer more of a stronger coffee flavor, but I realize that a café miel is supposed to be a little tamer.  Overall, I would order it again.  My cup had a nice, smooth flavor and definitely gave me the kick I needed to get my morning going.  In addition, the baristas knew what they were doing and served up the perfect ratios of steamed milk to espresso.  A huge plus for me is receiving a cup with coffee art.  Not gonna lie, I’m a huge sucker for awesome coffee art. 🙂

cup with logo

I quickly want to mention their location.  Dogwood Coffee Co. is located in the Calhoun Square Shopping Center.  This place piqued my interest even more when I saw the entire brewing station in an open space!  Literally, a shopper could walk right into the area behind the counter.  What a perfect way for customers to view their brewing technique!  Lastly, there is a seating section that gives you a great view of Hennepin Avenue.

P.S. I’m also a sucker for huge windows that let me look outside when I write.  This place definitely got my creative juices flowing!

Sea Change Restaurant and Bar – Guthrie Theatre

A little background

SeaChange logoThe Sea Change is definitely a place to celebrate a special occasion.  From its stunning and dramatic interior design to the friendly staff, this is a great place if you want excellence in seafood.  Sea Change is a sustainable seafood restaurant and raw bar with their menu developed by 2009 James Beard Award-winning chef, Tim McKee.  Sourcing their products from fisheries that use environmentally friendly methods or gathering and farming seafood, you can rest assured that you are receiving a quality meal.  Additionally, they offer plenty of non-fish entrees so everyone is welcome.

You’ll be entertained in any place that you are seated.  From their large windows that allow you to view the Mississippi to their open kitchen, there’s plenty to look at if the conversation turns slow.  Let’s hope you have plenty to talk about, may I suggest the cuisine, but if you don’t, comment on the architecture.

Sea Change has had coverage from the New York Times highlighting Chef McKee, the atmosphere and, of course, their entrees!  To find more attention they’ve received from the media, please return to their website.

Social Media
Twitter: Click here!
Facebook: Click here!

 My thoughts

seachange wallMy fiance hit the nail on the head with this one.  He took me here for a surprise Valentines Day date (yes, I know it took me until May to write about it).  I would advise taking your date here and then check out one of the many Guthrie performances.  Really, this is a wonderful date.  Now, I really do apologize or the lack of pictures for this post.  I didn’t feel it was appropriate to snap a picture with my iPhone.  I would feel slightly…okay, a lot less classy if I did that in this place.  For pictures, please check out their Facebook page in the link above.

Now, on to what this post is really about…the dinner!  We went all out on this one.  We went for dinner and decided to order cocktails, an appetizer, entree, and finish with a dessert.  The cocktails of choice were “The Sun Also Rises” (this was totally mine) and “Aurora Borealis”.  Creative names for the perfectly mixed drink.  Our appetizers were soon to follow.  We ordered the grilled octopus completed with salsa verde, spanish peppers, and pimenton.  With that smoky flavor so characteristic of grilling, this was a hit for me.  With the sauces, it was just what we needed to get our appetites going!

The Entres

Tony decided to go with the grilled ribeye.  I swear, this place makes art with they way they present their plates.  His entree was arranged in small stacks that formed a circle around the outer rim of the plate and the middle contained the sauces.  He had no complaints.  Stating that “it’s so tender” and that “I wish I had more” pretty much summed up this dish.  What a happy man.

I went with a seafood option.  Mine was the Brandade.  The Brandade included ravioli pillows stuffed with freshwater fish.  The ravioli was topped with a sunny-side up egg yolk, bagna cauda, and tomato.  To this day, I will still remember it as one of my top seafood dishes I’ve ever had.  I absolutely loved the addition of the egg yolk in this.  It worked in combination with the bagna cauda as a dipping sauce for the ravioli.  The ravioli itself was prepared beautifully too.  There’s nothing worse than over/undercooked pasta, but Sea Change wouldn’t ever let that happen.  My fiance even loved this one and he’s not that much of a seafood kind of guy.

Dessert

We both decided to go with the Lime Pudding Cake.  Trust me on this one, save the room in your stomachs because this is well worth it. Life everything else they serve, the presentation was almost too good to eat.  I didn’t want to ruin it!  This would dessert reminded me of key lime pie.  It was presented with three circular, sweet sponge cakes topped with a dollop of lime sauce and pistachio financier (google it).  Coconut cream was also drizzled over the serving plate.  To me, this dish alone brought the feeling of summer to my cold, bitter winter.  Again, we spent a great deal of time enjoying this one.  It’s become a favorite of ours whenever we pay a visit.

Overall, I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone in the Twin Cities Metro area.  You can see the level of detail in everything they serve.  The presentation and cleanliness is always apparent.  I would like to note, their amazing wait staff.  They are very friendly and are focused on providing you with an amazing experience.  Plus, they have an extensive knowledge of their menu and offer excellent suggestions for those of us who are unfamiliar with items on their menu.

For a full view of their menus, check out the links below:
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu
Raw Bar Menu
Patio and Grill Menu
Wine List
Dessert Menu
Happy Hour Menu
Specialty Cocktails

Whew, talk about a wide range of deliciousness!

Bull Run Coffee

A little background

Bull Run Coffee is a family owned, single-cup specialty coffee roaster in the Lyndale neighborhood, close to Lake Harriet.  What makes this coffee house so special is their devotion to creating an exceptional cup of coffee.  To get the best flavor, they source Arabica beans from around the world and they prepare all their orders, “single-cup” style.

“Single-cup coffee” means that every latte, cappuccino, or gooey macchiato is made to order and not a single minute before.  They even grind the beans to each guest’s order.  This is no average “cup of Joe”; this is something to be appreciated.

Each barista is trained in coffee, espresso, milk preparation, and four different roasting techniques: siphoning, French press, manual brew bar, and the Clover, which involves weighing and grinding beans to craft a brew to perfection.

Baristas were also the first in Minneapolis to use the Synesso Hydra, which allows them to manually adjust the pressure levels, brew temperature, and moisture concentration to give guests a truly unique experience that will satisfy their taste buds.

Social Media
Twitter: Click here!
Facebook: Click here!

 My thoughts

bull run coffee co.
Boone’s Beard Coffee Creation

Remember when I raved about the coffee indulgences at Yum!?  I still love their coffee and will probably go there for a treat, but if you haven’t experienced the craftsmanship of Bull Run Coffee, I urge, drop what you’re doing and book it to 3346 Lyndale Ave. S.| Minneapolis, MN.  They know how to make one excellent cup of coffee.  Reminding me of the cappuccinos and lattes from Poland, I’ve since become a repeat customer.

Not only is it fun watching them prepare your brew, you get to admire their coffee art after you take a seat.  I feel so bad ruining it every time I take a sip! 🙂

As previously mentioned, the flavor is amazing.  I could really taste the warm, roasted flavors of the coffee.  There’s almost a nuttiness to the coffee that made my taste buds sing.  This is one cup that I certainly did not chug down.  I made it last a good long time before that precious last drop was gone.

If you aren’t a huge fan of a strong coffee flavor, this is okay!  They have many other options available to try.  I had an iced coffee the other day (it was finally warm here in Minneapolis) and they made it good and sweet.  Again, a special drink like this could not be downed in a hurry.

I encourage anyone looking for some of the best handcrafted coffee in the Twin Cities Metro to check it out!  Even if you are not a big coffee drinker, I still encourage you to take your friends and grab a cup.  The staff is very friendly and offer wonderful suggestions for anyone new to their shop.  A cool mix of people hang out here and it’s always fun to start a conversation.  You will not be disappointed.

Chino Latino

A little background

If you and your crew can’t decide between south of the border fare or Asian cuisine, Chino Latino has got you covered.  Offering a wide range of options from both cuisine styles, you can mix and match your entres.  The cornerstone of what makes Chino Latino so great is their emphasis on using the freshest ingredients and combining them to create something unique.

Here’s one suggestion, ALWAYS go with a group of six or more unless you are going for their happy hour (more on that in a moment).

I advise a larger group because the restaurant serves everything family style and in large portions.  Plus, the options are a little expensive (around $12-18 for an app and 24+ for a larger plate) so the more people you bring, the more you can get and the cheaper it will be.  Knowing this was the case, I took a large group with me to celebrate my friend Sarah’s birthday.

 My thoughts

To begin, we started with appetizers.  Chino Latino serves you as the food is prepared, meaning not all of your selections will arrive at the same time.  We started with their Popocatepe.  What is this??? Well, it’s french fries, loaded with black beans, queso fresco, guacamole, sour cream, chile de arbol, and pico de gallo.  Honestly, I order this every time I go back there so I’m a little biased.

Image

The second appetizer that arrived was the Queso Fundido with Chorizo.  All I can say is that it is the mother of all cheesy dips.  It arrived with warm tortilla chips to boot.  This was a popular one at our table.

Image

Sarah and her boyfriend wanted to try something a little different and ordered the Yoshi Smokin’ Hot Rock for themselves.  This literally comes out with a hot Japanese river rock and a couple pieces of beef to cook yourself.  It was fun watching them do this because we haven’t ever seen this before.  You’ll get a piece of fat that you smear over the rock to prevent the meat from sticking.  Then cook away!  Be extra careful and use the fat generously.  The stone is very hot and your meat will stick.

Image

The Entres

The Chinatown Lo Mein Noodles was the first to arrive.  This is your basic lo mein wok tossed with onions, carrot, bell peppers, and straw mushrooms.  We added chicken to ours.  There was plenty to go around for our group of nine.

Image

Next was the Cuban Pork Crisis.  On top of the brilliant presentation of this dish, my favorite part was the four warm and gooey plantains that come with it.  Here’s what you get: citrus marinated pork slow roasted and placed on top of a bed of jasmine rice and black beans.  It’s served with cabbage slaw, queso fresco, and banana chips.

Image

Yes, we ordered a third entree.  It was our first time there and we absolutely had to try as much as we could!  I insisted we get the Pinoy Paella.  In all its amazing glory, I was the happiest girl on the planet.  This dish comes with jumbo shrimp, abodo chicken, mussels, chorizo sausage, calamari and saffron-annatto rice.  The flavor of the Pinoy Paella was out of this world.  Best part of all was the portions.  Not only did everyone at the table get some, but we were able to take a lot of it home as well!

ImageImage

Overall, this is one of my favorite spots to take a crowd.  You’ll love what Chino Latino has to offer and won’t leave on an empty stomach.  Plus, if you are looking to wow your guests, the interior is well done and is sure to impress.

To see more of their menu, check out the following links:

Dinner Menu
Happy Hour
Drinks
Desserts
Street and Sushi