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Merlins Rest

19 Jul

I stopped by Merlins Rest the other night, to see how the dinner fare was. Merlins Rest is the owned by Lee Tomlin and in addition Bill Watkins, of the former Molly Quinns is often there as well. Bill’s official title is Minister of Culture, which he embodies whole heartedly.

He is the author of three books A Celtic Childhood“, “Scotland is Not for the Squeamish” and “The Once and Future Celt.

I first met Bill at Molly Quinns for  none other than St Patrick’s day 2003 (or maybe it was 2002.) He immediately welcomed us in and asked us to call him Uncle Bill. Once MQ closed I thought I had lost Uncle Bill forever, that is until I had the good fortune to be invited out for New Years 2010 to Merlin’s Rest . Along with the festivities I was treated to my first Scotch Egg, and quite a bit of fun, but I hadn’t been back until recently for dinner. I had heard about the legendary Fish and Chips. (Best in the Cities, probably in the state). Of course I had to try them. I was quite impressed. Not that I can say that I’m a fish and chip connoisseur, but these were amazing.

They have exactly the right amount of malt vinegar and crunch to them. The batter is delicious and well, the white fish is white fish, but it was cooked well and flakey and delicious. With not even a hint of rubber to them which is often what I find when I’ve ordered fish and chips elsewhere.

They also offer a Yankee version, no newsprint, no malt, and no fun, if you ask me.

On another visit recently I tried the Ploughman’s with English Stilton which was completely unexpected and fantastic. They vary a bit away from a traditional Ploughman’s Lunch in favor of a much greener, healthier, lighter dish. Additionally there was a HUGE chunk of stilton, so they were already on my good list. As much as I pretend that the bread is part of it, I would happily eat the stilton by the handfuls without any bread or crackers. Oh and I haven’t even mentioned the basil butter, divine!!

After a healthy dose of Strongbow (and a Black & Tan for Noah) we enjoyed the splendid English Toffee Cake. My mother tells me this is almost exactly what her grandmother used to make so for her it’s completely nostalgic. For me it was just fantastic.

In addition to the food is the weekly live entertainment and trivia. While we were dining there was live music which both my daughters enjoyed dancing to and added to the welcoming ambiance.  I wholeheartedly enjoyed my dinner, and maybe if I get brave I may go back to try my hand at some trivia.

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Big Banana Night – Caribe Caribbean Bistro

27 May

Big Banana Night was hosted by Caribe Bistro, Shaina from Food for My Family and Dole Banana, since the Twin Cities is one of their Banana’s After Dark markets.

We started with Banana S’mores made by Shaina’s husband Ole.

Then moved inside for a delicious dinner, starting with the chickpea curry over fried bread, topped with banana ketchup as the amuse-bouche.

From there we moved on to an amazing crab cake topped with grilled banana aioli.

Our entrée was a grilled 5-spice rubbed frenched lamb chop (well, three to be exact) topped with a spicy banana-mango chutney. This was served with a side of coconut curry bananas and jasmine rice.

Dessert was a creamy banana coconut rum créme brulée

There were also two different banana drinks to go with our meals, and Adam Schulte from Ale Jail was there with beer that would pair well with the banana flavors in the food.

It was a wonderful banana filled evening. Thanks again to Heidi and Tony, Shaina and Ole & Chris from Dole Bananas for a fantastic dinner.

Masu – Part One – Lunch

20 Apr

As many of you already know Masu opened last Monday in NE Minneapolis. I went for lunch, and ended up coming for dinner too. They were very different experiences so I’ve decided to split them up in to two separate posts.

The first thing I noticed was the space. It’s beautiful and I really like the ambiance Masu has going. It’s got some excellent natural light, fantastic photography and hilarious bathrooms, more about that later.

I’ll start and the beginning, Lunch. I scanned the menu and immediately settled on the Pork Belly Ramen. It was a great choice, if I do say so myself.

The pork was buttery, melt in you mouth, fatty, delicious. The egg was soft-boiled so that when I broke in to it, it coated the noodles perfectly.

Which brings me to my next point, about the noodles, a little bird tells me they are specially made for Masu just for the ramen, and it shows. They are really some of the best commercial noodles I’ve had. (As some of you may know my husband has been on a quest to find/make the best pork ramen since our trip to Hawaii where we found this great place called Ezogiku, which had amazing ramen, but I digress)

I have never been able to finish an entire bowl of ramen before, until I tried Masu’s. That isn’t in any way to suggest that their portions are small ‘cuz they aren’t, it was just so good I couldn’t stop eating it until it was gone.

It was really, really good.

And I was full.

Until I was handed a dessert menu and told by one of the sushi chefs that I HAD to try the Mango Dango, that I would love it!

And I did.

Mango Dango is a purée of Mango’s, tiny baby mochi (rice balls) and red beans. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical, but it was really very good.  It has a nice balance between tangy and sweet and the mochi added a nice substantiality to it. I can’t wait to go back for lunch, I have a feeling it’s going to be a regular lunch spot for me.

Also, back to the ambiance for a second, the women’s bathroom (and I would assume the men’s however, I have no first hand knowledge of this.)

The toilet paper was in this little flower

(yes, I’m probably way too easily entertained)

and the walls in the bathroom show this cartoon only larger and more fantastically. I could only justify taking one bathroom picture!

Dinner is up next!

Mini Post – New at True Thai

28 Mar

Anna is creating a new dish at True Thai. She told me she took a nap the other day and this recipe came to her while she was napping. She brought us this huge helping of warm, sticky, delicious cashews. We are still thinking of a name.

They are like spicy candied cashews. Perfect with a Singha.

Be’wiched

22 Mar

I like sandwiches, you know, as much as the next guy. I was told I HAD to go to Be’wiched and try them out. I did and I was a bit disappointed. The sandwiches were fine, good even. I just let my expectations of what  really good sandwich could be get in the way of the fact that it is hard to feel super glamorous eating a sandwich. I ordered a Tuna Confit sandwich and a bowl of soup and couscous to share.

My husband had their famous reuben,  which he seemed to enjoy although he was a bit unimpressed by the flavor of the meat. which by all accounts is a big part of a reuben sandwich.

Maybe I’m making an unfair judgement, since I’m not a sandwich person. That is to say, I like ’em just fine, and my sandwich was good. It just wasn’t knock your socks off, “best sandwich of my life” good. I think I would have been equally satisfied getting a hoagie from Davanni’s.

Additionally, I was rather unimpressed with both the soup and couscous sides we tried as well. The soup was your basic cream based soup, but nothing spectacular and the couscous was lacking in flavor.

To top it all off the service we had left much to be desired and was actually rather off-putting

Now, after all that, knowing me, I’ll probably go try them again. I see potential as a decent lunch place and as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts I don’t like to offer up a review based solely on one visit. Every one has an off day, and sometimes it seems a bit unfair to judge something without any other first hand experience.

I’ll be back, and I’ll have a (hopefully more positive) update!

Restaurant Week

10 Mar

I’m finally emerging from the food coma that was last week, aka Restaurant Week. It was amazing!

I joked earlier this week with some of my other foodie friends that it would be great it if were Restaurant Month, but I’m actually not sure I would make it through a whole month!

I’m pretty proud of myself. I managed to do pretty well. Last week I made it to Vincent, Victors*, Cafe Latte, True Thai, Longfellow Grill, Punch Pizza, and La Loma in the Midtown Global Market. I attempted to get to Saffron, but neglected to realize they aren’t open for lunch, poor planning on my part.

Admittedly, most of these places weren’t in fact participating in Restaurant Week, but I still ate very, very well. I had originality planned to write about Vincent, but I decided instead of trying to get amazing pictures of my dinner, I was just going to enjoy my amazing dinner.

Plus Food Stoned did a fantastic piece on Vincent and it hardly seems necessary for me to duplicate his efforts.

* Twice actually, once for breakfast and once for dinner. I recommend both.

Corner Table

25 Feb

I had lunch with the ever gorgeous @freshtartsteph today, and she recommended that I get my butt over to Corner table (@CTkitchenTable). For those of you who missed her birthday blog post at Corner Table. It looked AMAZING. I already knew that I definitely was going to make it over there, but it just so happened that tonight worked for me so I dashed right on over there. But not before tweeting Scott Pampuch that I was coming by.

I was immediately impressed with how I was treated when I walked in the door. Most upscale places on a friday night take one look at me and my two kids and make ‘the face”. You know the one, the “Are they going to sit still? We are gonna have to clean up after them…I give it ten minutes until they are screaming and spilling stuff” that look.

Instead, we were warmly welcomed and given our choice of seating. Scott recognized me right away and smiled and waved and once we were settled brought apples out for Bella and said hello. It was so nice to feel as though I was being welcomed in to someone’s home. That set the tone for our whole fantastic evening.

I was originally going to try the tasting menu but the specials sounded amazing. I ended up with the Chicken liver and bacon ragu over egg noodles, and it was fantastic. Noah had the smoked turkey mole with sweet potatoes garnished with cilantro and lime. That too was great!

Bella had the aptly named nosh plate, and loved it! I think it’s the best kind of plate like that in town. I’ve never seen anything so well done outside of my kitchen. It was exactly her kind of thing, with aged sausage, cheese, some pickled things, which of course she didn’t eat, but left for me and crustini. I would go there and just get that for lunch.

I was perfectly full, the portion size was just right, but I couldn’t help myself and I ordered dessert. WOW. The strawberry basil sorbet was heavenly.

I had the rosemary and olive oil cake, which I really enjoyed. ( I don’t love overly sweet things and this was just the right amount of sweet but also very flavorful.) Noah had the cheesecake, and Bella the trio of sorbet. (Sophie wasn’t left out, she tasted pretty much everything we had.)

I should also mention that you can get some stuff to take home from the mini-deli case too. I’ll be having some amazing bacon come tomorrow morning thanks to Corner Table! I can’t wait to go back, and try the tasting menu!