Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Nicollet Diner - Warning Gravel Road Ahead

The Nicollet Diner
At the corner of West 15th St and Nicollet Ave, across from the Music Box Theatre, sits  The Nicollet Diner. Opening after at least a year of renovating the location, I was really excited to try a place so close to home. Sadly, the two times I visited The Nicollet Diner were supremely disappointing.  The opening weekend the waiter told us that breakfast was not being served. Since that is what I came in for I decided to try them again.

Three weeks later I tried again, thinking that they would have worked out the kinks in opening a new business. I was wrong. I visited on a nice sunny day in October at about noon hoping to catch a late breakfast. First of all, they do not have window treatments or blinds or awnings, so I came at the perfect hour where the sun was blinding and hot from the south windows. I was seated and the waiter did apologize and explain that the windows would receive coverings soon. Drinks were ordered and at least 10 minutes went by before receiving my hot coffee in my hotbox seat.

One hour (almost exactly) did it take for food to come out. The place was busy but not full. During this hour wait I was not offered to be moved from the blazing sun nor was I brought any water. It was the most uncomfortable wait in a restaurant that I have ever experienced. The wait staff looked confused and frustrated. I honestly don't think any of them had ever served tables before. The cooking staff looked just as confused and frustrated. They really need to figure out how to use their little counter bell. I heard it ring but no food was actually taken and it just continued to frustrate the servers.

When the food came it was an insult upon injury. The hash-browns were undercooked, the cheese was not melted, the eggs were over cooked, and all the condiments came from a tube. I could have made a better breakfast at home and in a fraction of the time. To try to remedy the situation a manager was circling the diner apologizing to tables and trying to sell them on their upcoming 24 hour service. I'm sorry, but a cut in my check and a desperate request to 'try us again' will not get me back into The Nicollet Diner for at least another year. Unless they gets their act together I will be surprised to even see them open in a year.

The Best Part: I didn't die from the heat or the food.
The Worst Part: I would give a lower review rating if I could.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Vegan and Vegetarian at Target Stadium

Diner Dykes at Target Field
At Target Stadium, home of the Minnesota Twins you can find all kinds of yummy vegetarian fare including giant pretzels and peanuts, but what about the iconic hotdog at a baseball game? Turns out there are not only one but two vendors dishing out delicious vegan hot dogs. In fact, there is an entire list of vegan, gluten free and vegetarian options for you to find in Twin's Territory. Some of our favorites include:
Hummus & Pretzels - Section 141
Vegan Dog - Sections 114, 305
Vegan Burger - Sections 109, 305
Giant Soft Pretzels - Everywhere!
The best part: You can have your ballpark frank
The worst part: Beer is still $9 a cup

Monday, July 21, 2014

Gorgeous Glam Doll Donuts

Glam Doll Donuts does not need my praise. The sure amount of people filling up the tables on a Tuesday morning at 8:30 am is proof enough of their popularity. Don't you people go to work? But let's talk about how great they are anyways.

The tiny shop sits behind the Black Forest Inn, on Nicollet Ave. You can't miss it due to the bright pink awning. The inside is a mash of vintage and retro soda shop styles accompanied by local artist submissions. The atmosphere is beautiful and relaxed. To compliment the pink and white walls you can get yourself a pink and white 'Outlaw' donut, filled with lemon cream cheese and topped with cherry icing and brown butter crumb. If you're in the mood for a Crispy Cream you are in the wrong shop.

All of Glam Doll Donuts are handcrafted recipes that use 100% from-scratch ingredients. The wide variety of menu items includes donuts with ingredients such as Siracha, bacon topped maple icing, vegan and gluten free options, and many many more. From the first step in to the last bite out, Glam Doll Donuts will not leave you disappointed. Hey, you might even find a date while you wait. ;)

The worst part: Share one of these donuts. They are rich & a little dense.
The best part: Every lesbian in town is there.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Muffin Top Cafe

Go ahead and laugh, Muffin Top Cafe isn't just a great name for a hole in the wall, they also make muffin tops from scratch! I picked up two tops, a blueberry and a strawberry rhubarb. Both delightful bake goods were fresh and tasted obviously home made. They weren't perfect, in fact the blueberry one had a large burn on one side but tasted good anyway. I was glad to know I was eating something that didn't have preservatives or come packed frozen in a box the size of my apartment.

I am reminded of the Seinfeld episode, you know the one, where they fight over the top of the muffins. Well, you don't have to fight! You can get a delicious local muffin top right in the Loring Park Neighborhood on Nicollect Ave. While you're there, enjoy seating for up to 40 people and plenty of electronic hook ups for the laptop lingering crowd. The owners also own The Nicollect Diner which is to open sometime this summer (2014) which I am super excited about. I found out that the owner's wife makes those cute little gardens in the vases (terrariums?), featuring tiny owls and fairies, check them out at The Muffin Top Cafe.
The best part: Home made muffin tops and tasty coffee.
The worst part: I missed the door three times. It's tough to spot!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Throw It Back - Uptown Tavern and Rooftop

It is my own fault for imagining that a tavern that specializes in charging me $8.50 for a single Surly Furious would ever have good food. That being said, it was the worst fish 'n chips I have ever eaten. The entire experience made me worry for other customers.  I will not order food from The Uptown Tavern and Rooftop ever again.

Had it been a one time incident, I may have excused it, but everyone in my party experienced the same issues with their fried fish. The Uptown Tavern, located next to the Lagoon Theater, has a Friday night all you can eat Fish and Chips special. The fish pieces were barely 2 inches long, not even a fish stick, and every tiny piece is covered in mushy undercooked batter with very little flavor. The only thing special about their Friday night fish 'n chips is that in every 2 or 3 pieces you get one piece that is solid fat and hard as a rock. I'm not saying that it is unappetizing, I am saying it is completely inedible.
The worst part: The worst fried fish I have ever eaten.
The best part: Nice service and decent drink specials.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Farm Fresh Food with a Refreshing Farm View

I would eat here every single day. If Oasis Eatery were closer to the cities I would stop reviewing restaurants and only eat there. Careful, you might miss it! Out in the middle of open fields along a lone highway in Wisconsin, near Redwing, is Oasis Eatery at Nesbitt's Nursery. I cannot rave enough about this place. The food, the location, the people, the pie!

Let me start at the end. After the meal we visited the Nesbitt's new Red Wing Confectionary. Unbelievably fresh and delicious samples of homemade chocolates, ice cream, and other desserts are available the first week of June 2014 for their Grand Opening. While we visited, peanut butters cups and rhubarb croissants were sampled. We went home with way too many sweets, including fresh made peanut butter cups that were the best I had ever eaten. I cannot wait to get more. Had I not been stuffed from brunch I would have bought a slice of pie from the restaurant, which the locals at Uffda raved about.

At Oasis the menu is very limited. When we visited on a Sunday morning the menu consistent of two options: Brunch or Lunch. All ingredients are local, organic, and homemade. They hand craft every day's menu, depending on what is available. When the food came, the presentation was just as appetizing as the rich and delicious food. Here was brunch:

Sausage gravy with a house fresh biscuit
Farm fresh eggs with asparagus and spinach
Roasted potatoes with herbs
Rhubarb croissant with Lilac Ice cream

The staff were extremely accommodating and down to earth. Since we are vegetarians we requested to omit the gravy. The cook came back and asked if we would like fresh morel mushroom gravy instead. Who does that?! The morels were so fresh they still had a little dirt on them. The flavor of the gravy, biscuit, and eggs were so rich I was stuffed half way through the meal. I will probably never experience food as fresh as at Oasis Eatery at Nesbitt's Nursery.

The best part: Freshest farm food with a beautiful farm view
The worst part: Everyone will hear you sit down because of the heavy, handmade, steel chairs. Ambiance could use some drop-down lighting.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Freehouse

My recent experience at the Freehouse left my mouth watering for more. Located in the North Loop of Minneapolis' once warehouse district, not far from the popular SexWorld, sits the new restaurant and brewery. The ambiance is amazing, high ceilings and drop down single bulb lighting. A large 360 bar with plenty of booths and tables all in view of the kitchen that sits a step above the rest. I did not feel like I needed to wear lace gloves to enter but then I did feel that this place was no hole in the wall.

For the Veggie eaters you will enjoy a variety of fresh vegetables and vegan options, including the 'Hippie Burger' made of quinoa. The carnivore options are many, including Kentucky Fried Rabbit, and Braised Short Ribs. But what you really need to visit The Freehouse restaurant for is the breakfast.

They are not only known for serving up a tasty microbrew but the most delicious english muffin I have ever eaten, and that was just on the side! Did I mention ciabatta french toast? Lobster toad in a hole, and so many more delicious options can be devoured for breakfast here. Many reviews have said that The Freehouse's food is 'kind of bland' but I tend to think that the flavors are subtle, not overwhelming.

I even tried the fish 'n chips. The fish was fried in homemade batter that included their own yummy beer. Served with plank fries and a mint pea mash. Who knew that mashed potatoes made a great condiment for fried potatoes! It was not the best fried fish I have ever eaten but it was definitely the most beautifully plated. Freehouse, you know the Dykes will be back!

The best part: FREE Parking. Amazing food!
The worst part: 1hour+ wait times on the weekends. Not the cheapest place.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Impressed by Vegan Jerky

There's no better excuse to consume an entire bag of mesquite BBQ beef jerky than on a 6 hour drive to Chicago. But what about vegetarian and vegan travelers? Have no fear, Primal Strips Vegan Jerky is here! I once joked that veggie jerky would be no more than a fruit roll-up, but I discovered that I was wrong! Primal Strips brand meatless jerky is incredible! And completely edible.

I purchased two flavors: Hot & Spicy, and TEXAS BBQ. What I did not know is that one is made of Soy protein and the other is made of shiitake mushrooms. The Hot & Spicy is the shiitake mushroom jerky was indeed a bit spicy with a touch of anise seed. The smokey taste was pleasant and not overwhelming. The mushrooms were ground and packed into what looks like a fruit strip or a dog treat, but that is to be expected from meatless alternatives. The meaty texture resembles jerky and was a little dryer than the BBQ flavor.

The TEXAS BBQ flavored jerky, made of soy protein threw me for a flip and I had to double check that what I was eating was, in fact, meatless. The texture was what got me. I was not expecting a chewy, stringy, meaty and moist jerky to exist for vegetarians. The BBQ sauce made the jerky moist and a little sticky mess but overall an incredibly enjoyable experience! I definitely recommend Primal Strips Meatless Vegan Jerky.

Dissclaimer: I was not paid by Primal Brand to make this review. This review was constructed in my own opinion. As a vegetarian going on two years straight, I can honestly say this is a great meatless product.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Farewell Tracy's Breakfast

Dear Tracy's Saloon & Eatery,

  After your remodel, your breakfast menu has us staying home for brunch. While the restaurant looks and feels new and beautiful with certain rustic red wood small town feel, you absolutely murdered a perfectly good breakfast menu. We were optimistic. First off, no hash browns? Our waitress informed us that a few items were removed because they took too long. This sounds like the answer to a lazy chef's complaint. Second, why would you ruin a good thing? Eggs are great as any of the many forms they can be prepared. Overwhelmed is the first word that comes to mind when a mouthful of your rosemary and feta eggs are consumed. Is this another lazy answer? Our guess is that someone did not want to make eggs to order and decided a big pan of 'house eggs' was the solution. The fresh herbs and feta saturate the eggs over time and had we come any later the flavor would have been nauseating. While we do like the idea of renewing the menu to match your fabulous decor but breakfast is a big miss. If you're trying to make breakfast faster, sure, go ahead and prep items early. But please do not ruin simple breakfast. Never again will you see the DinerDykes at Tracy's Saloon for breakfast.... unless you bring back cajun hashbrowns.

Fish 'n Chips Revisited

Because dykes like fish (yeah) we are always on the look-out for the best. As we scour the Twin Cities for amazing fish 'n chips, we realize that we needed to revisit our last line up. Some amazing choices may have been overlooked and we want to make sure you get the best fishy taste left in your mouth. You won't even need to take off your clothes to get it.

6. The Anchor Fish & Chips (Truck) - Food is best on wheels.
5. Baja Sol - Excellent fish tacos and free chips!
4. Hell's Kitchen - Garlic and parmesan crusted.
3. Merlin's Rest - British Style, Wot Wot.
2. Tracy's Saloon & Eatery - Two words, tater tots.
1. The Local - Seasoned to perfection and light homemade tartar.

The Best Part: Catering to our carnal desires.
The Worst Part: Tiny table could not handle the condiments!