Posts Tagged ‘food’

Vegas Trip Day 7, February 2010

March 29, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Because it was nearby and it was so tasty the day before, we ate at Hash House A Go Go for breakfast again. Tim had the salmon hash that I had yesterday. I had the basil, goat cheese, and sun-dried tomato scramble. It was a smaller portion than the hash (or maybe my stomach is expanding), so I finished most of it.

Scramble from Hash House A Go Go

The service was horrendous. The waiter didn’t acknowledge us for several minutes, and then he forgot we existed after he dropped off the check. We were going to get change, but luckily we had enough to cover the bill and an appropriate (small) tip, so we took off. They’re damn lucky the food is so good (plus we had a great experience the day before, so that helped).

I walked down to the Forum Shops to purchase lip balm at Kiehl’s. I was planning to buy bacony chocolate things at Vosges, too. As I was deciding between the milk chocolate bacon bar, the dark chocolate bacon bar, the bacon chocolate chip pancake mix, and the bacon chocolate toffee (or all of the above), the girl behind the counter said she had to run downstairs for a few minutes and if we (there were two of us browsing) would mind leaving the store. I figured that was a sign to not buy anything, so I left. The hourglass on my Vegas time was running out, and I didn’t want to wait around.

Still feeling the sting from video poker the day before, I decided to go to the Fashion Show Mall instead of the casino. I found some great deals at ECCOCI, where everything in the upper level was 80% off. I found a cute vintage-inspired black dress and a sweater for less than $30 total.

As I walked back to our Palazzo room, I thought I’d give the gambling one more go. I played Wicked Riches, one of the new variations on The Wizard of Oz slots, and walked away with a tidy $60 profit.

Wicked Riches slots

We packed, checked out, and checked our bags, then did a little more gambling at Palazzo. I put $20 back into assorted penny slots (Star Wars Yoda, Star Wars R2-D2, Gold Fish, Wicked Riches, and Fireball).

We had a quick cocktail at Fusion, a rum mixology bar on the Palazzo casino floor.

Fusion Bar at Palazzo

I ordered the Pisco Punch and Tim had the Hemingway Daiquiri. Both were tasty and refreshing. (And the male bartender was easy on the eyes, too.)

Pisco Punch and Hemingway's Daiquiri

For lunch, we ate at First Food and Bar. My eyes immediately went to the Pumpkin Chai drink on their menu, but they were in the process of changing over from fall/winter to spring and had phased out some of the options. Instead, I got the Cotton Candy Kiss, which started out with some fruit juices and alcohol poured over a piece of cotton candy. I was expecting it to be really sweet, but it wasn’t overpoweringly sugary, which was nice.

Cotton Candy Kiss

I had a salad with bleu cheese, cashews, grapes, and endive, while Tim ordered the turkey club. We split a batch of parmesan fries. The food was very good, and the portions weren’t overwhelmingly large. We also had really good service, which helped. They sat us by the window overlooking TI and Venetian, and the waiter was really attentive but not hovering.

Gilley's Construction at TI

Our final drink on the Strip for this trip was at the champagne bar on the Palazzo casino floor. Tim had a Captain Morgan/diet Coke while I opted for one of their specialty drinks, the Flowery Eclipse. It contained champagne, St. Germain elderflower liqueur (one of my favorites), and lemon juice. It was sparkling, fruity, and refreshing.

Flowery Eclipse

We took a cab to the airport and stood in the check-in line for 45 minutes. It’s a good thing we tend to get there early. They only had one person working the Sun Country booth, but someone from Delta jumped in to help out. We were lucky enough to get the exit rows, considering that most of the people in line were on our flight.

We were both completely knackered by the time we got to the terminal. We sat at an empty gate for a while and didn’t want to move. We had sandwiches from Quizno’s to tide us over and boarded the plane.

We had an amazing view on takeoff. The plane was on a runway parallel to the Strip, so we zoomed past all the illuminated casinos. CityCenter looked especially impressive from the air. We took one last look at our happy place before the plane tilted toward home.


Sea Change, Minneapolis

March 13, 2010

Kristen and I initially went to Sea Change for Restaurant Week in the first week of March, but we couldn’t overcome the temptation of ordering off the regular menu.

We arrived a few minutes before the restaurant officially opened, so we started with cocktails at the bar. I had a drink made with Bombay Sapphire, lavender-infused simple syrup, and lemon. It was light and delicious. A few sips later, and our table was ready, so I brought the drink along.

For an appetizer, I had the salad with warm roasted beets, pancetta, walnuts, and bleu cheese. It had the sweet/salty thing going on that I love so much. It was rich, but not overpowering. I ordered the ocean trout for the main course; it was served with spicy lobster sauce, pickled burdock, braised butter lettuce, and nori. Our waiter had mentioned that it was very healthy and filled with lots of amino acids, and it tasted like salmon but the flavor was not as overpowering.

I ordered another cocktail off their specialty menu. This time I chose the ginger-infused Makers Mark with apple-ginger foam on top. It was a great transition from the main course to dessert, and it looked like a cream pie in a martini glass, but it was more subtle and not overpoweringly sweet.

For dessert, I was pleased to see a pumpkin item on the menu even though it was March, so I indulged in the pumpkin ice cream sandwich. It was like three desserts in one: pumpkin ice cream between two slices of crisp gingerbread, little cubes of pumpkin/ginger cake, and poached pear with pumpkin seed brittle. Underneath it all was a layer of vanilla sauce with something herbal in it (possibly lavender again).

My fabulous dining companion Kristen had the oysters (accompanied with three sauces), the sea scallops (with potato/ dill crème fraîche/ oyster mushroom/ onion), and the banana cheesecake (topped with a hard meringue and passionfruit ice cream, and served with a tasty sauce and caramel corn on the side).

The room was a great place to have a conversation. I was expecting it to be louder than it was, but the noise levels were quite manageable. The windows offered a view of the Mississippi River and the Stone Arch Bridge.

The service was outstanding; everyone we encountered made us feel welcome. Our waiter paced the courses appropriately and knew the menu well enough to make recommendations (and I probably wouldn’t have tried the trout otherwise). The food was not inexpensive, but it’s well worth splurging for a special occasion, because the courses were delicious. The dishes had several layers of flavor to them, and every bite was a new adventure. The food was rich, but not heavy, and the portions were the perfect size; I left feeling full and satisfied, but not stuffed. I was also impressed with the cocktails, with interesting infusions and unique variations on standard drinks. From beginning to end, we had an outstanding experience and hope to return soon.

Town Talk Diner

December 24, 2009

Tim’s inaugural visit to Town Talk Diner in early December was a tremendous success. We had some amazing food and beverages, felt extremely welcome, and we can’t wait to return.

As we drove towards Minneapolis, I took a few pictures of the sunset (as seen from 35W driving south):
Sunset over Downtown Minneapolis

We sat at the bar, in seats close to the grill but away from the door, which occasionally let in the chill from outside.

Tim started with the Planters Punch, which contains dark rum, fruit juices, homemade bitters, and nutmeg. For a full list of ingredients, refer to their drink menu.
Planters Punch at Town Talk Diner

I began with the Hair of the Lion, which contains rum, egg white, and homemade bitters.
Hair of the Lion at Town Talk Diner

Because of their homemade bitters and their careful attention to mixology, it’s no surprise that several bartenders have worked at both Town Talk and Bradstreet.

For his next drink, Tim had the popular Jackson Pollock (Bombay Sapphire, grapefruit-lime sour, sparkling wine, basil oil). It’s as beautiful as it is delicious.
Jackson Pollock at Town Talk Diner

And I ordered The Green Fairy, which won third place in a national cocktail contest in Vegas. The Green Fairy contains Bombay Sapphire, green tea liqueur, absinthe, lemon, sugar, and egg white.
The Green Fairy at Town Talk Diner

Our food was amazing. It was comfort food, but it was rich and flavorful. Tim ordered the Philly Cheesesteak.
Philly Cheesesteak at Town Talk Diner

I had the Tomato Mac ‘n’ Cheese with grape tomatoes, grilled onion, and of course, bacon.
Macaroni and Cheese at Town Talk Diner

The staff was very friendly, and the bartender offered us some chocolate malt samples for dessert.

Everything felt familiar, as comfort food should, but it also felt new, like this was the simple dish taken up a notch. We’ve each been craving our entrees ever since, and I have a feeling we’ll be fighting January cabin fever with another Town Talk visit.

Sinatra at Encore Las Vegas

November 27, 2009

We had a couple things to celebrate the last time we were in Vegas (other than the fact that we were there), and Sinatra was the perfect place to go. They truly made the evening special.

When we first entered the restaurant, the maitre’d handed us a personalized card, thanking us for choosing to spend our evening with them. They seated us at a table for two overlooking the garden area.

View from Table at Sinatra

Table at Sinatra

When the servers came to the table, they wished me a happy birthday. It was nice and understated– obviously, no Wynncore restaurant is going to have servers standing around your table and singing.

We looked over the selections on the menu, but found that everything we wanted was on the Taste of Wynn menu. The restaurant offered an appetizer, an entree, dessert, and a glass of wine (red, white, or sparkling) for $59 each.

As a beverage appetizer, Tim had the Sinatra Smash, a delicious blackberry cocktail.

Sinatra Smash Drink at Sinatra

The bread basket and the butter were outstanding. The butter was the perfect temperature (not too warm, not too cold) and consistency (not too hard, not melting) and flavor (salty and slightly sweet at the same time). We could not stop eating it, and it gave us a chance to try the several different kinds of bread.

Bread Basket at Encore

As we dined, we heard several songs from Frank Sinatra’s vast catalogue. The music was the perfect accompaniment to the evening.

For the first course, Tim ordered the Crudo (yellowtail, tomato, zucchini, pepperoncino, prosciutto chips, oregano).

Crudo at Sinatra

I had the Biete E Arance (beet salad with citrus, goat cheese, and candied pistachios).

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad at Sinatra

Both salads are among the best we’ve ever had. Each bite had a slightly different flavor, yet all the ingredients played off each other. The beet salad had several kinds of beets, including a mousse, which created an interesting variety in texture. Between the salad and the bread basket, my taste buds were in heaven. The components in each dish were like musical notes, and the combination in each bite was harmonious.

For the main course, Tim had the Ippoglosso (Alaskan halibut with cauliflower, almonds, raisins, and black olive sauce). Like the salad, each bite featured a slightly different twist of flavor.

Alaskan Halibut at Sinatra

I ordered the Chicken Saltimbocca (chicken breast wrapped in prosciutto, asiago cheese, and sage). It was satisfying, rich, and delicious. The portion was huge, and I was unable to finish it due to the size and the richness of the dish. I didn’t let any of the prosciutto go to waste, though.

Chicken Saltimbocca at Sinatra

We each had a glass of prosecco to accompany our meal, and it was light and crispy and fresh.

We chose desserts on the lighter side. Tim selected the gelato and sorbet tasting.

Sorbet at Sinatra

I had sampled some panna cotta at the buffet at the M Resort a day earlier, so I had that on my mind. I was touched when they brought the plate to the table with a glowing candle.

Panna Cotta at Sinatra

The dessert was as delicious as it was beautiful. Like the earlier dishes, the panna cotta (one vanilla and one pistachio) had subtle complexities in flavor. The berries were fresh and juicy, and the sauce hit all the right notes.

I would wholeheartedly recommend visiting Sinatra. The experience far outweighed the cost, and the level of service was amazing.


November 27, 2009

The boys at Bacon Salt have been at it again. They have four new products, just in time for the holiday season. I’ve tried two of them, and I’m intrigued by the other two.

First, the two I’ve tried:

1. Bacon Salt BIGS Sunflower Seeds. I’m not a huge sunflower seed consumer, so that might have affected my view of this product, but I was a little disappointed. The seeds are bacony, but not as bacony as the other products. The shells seem to be a little stale, and they break into several splinters when you bite into them, rather than two neat halves. Then again, it might be my technique.

2. Bacon Ranch Dressing and Dip Mix. We’ve only tried the dressing so far, but oh my god is it delicious. Hands down, this is the best product Bacon Salt has ever created (and as you all know, I have a profound love for many of their products).

Bacon Ranch Dressing

Note that there was a lot more dressing in this bowl to begin with. We’ve gone through two packets in record time, and when I reorder I’m tempted to buy in bulk. The dressing is fantastic on salads, as a dip for vegetables (a holy union is achieved with carrots or tomatoes), or by itself with a spoon. The dressing combines a powerful punch of tangy ranch with the smoky flavor of bacon, and it is rich and balanced and flavorful.

Now for the two products I’m thinking of ordering when I restock our Bacon Ranch supply:

3. Bacon Pop. We’ve been making our own modified bacon popcorn for a while, with the help of several different varieties of Bacon Salt (cheddar works best) and some spray butter. At $3.99 for three bags, I’m tempted to give this a try. It sounds promising.

4. Mmmvelopes. This is a fun idea. Consider it the palate cleanser to all of those yucky-tasting regular envelopes. Sadly, I don’t write a lot of letters (I mean, look at how little I update this space…), so these would probably serve as my office decorations for a long time. But these would be a great gift for bacon-loving friends, or a whimsical way to correspond with them.

Vegas Trip – October 2009, Day 5

October 31, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Because we’d been up until 2:30 the night before, we didn’t awaken until 9:30. We still had the rental car, so we drove to Planet Hollywood (parking at Paris due to the construction on Harmon) and had Earl of Sandwich for brunch.

I had an Earl’s lemonade with Earl Grey Tea and my favorite, the All-American sandwich.

All-American at Earl of Sandwich

We played more video poker and some Gold Fish slots.

As a testament to my husband’s love for me, he drove half an hour out of his way to the refurbished Silver Slipper sign.

We passed some idiots taking pictures in the middle of the road across from Wynn and Encore. They were standing in the middle of the left lane of Las Vegas Boulevard, and were about to get run over for the sake of a picture.

The placement of the restored signs north of downtown made me wonder if people would do similar dumb things to get pictures of themselves with the signs, which were on the strip of concrete separating the two sides of the road. However, because the signs are fairly far from most of the tourist areas, they might not be as big of a draw.

We drove back down The Strip to grab some snapshots of the Las Vegas sign, which now has a parking lot to prevent picture-taking roadkill. The sign, like the others, used to be in the middle of the road, and people would dash across to get pictures of themselves with the iconic sign.

We went back to the room to rest and change before dinner (driving takes a lot out of you).

We took a taxi to Encore. The driver (like the others we had this trip) made a time-saving move on Frank Sinatra Drive during rush hour, allowing us to have time for a drink at the High Limit bar before our dinner reservations at Sinatra. We were serenaded by Baby Spice, whom I always hear when I visit a Wynn property.

Drink Menu at Encore High Limit Bar

I had The Peared Ginger. I thought I’d pass on the Millionaire Margarita. Maybe next time.

The Peared Ginger at Encore High Limit Bar

Tim ordered the Cranberry Mojito. Both were light and refreshing and delicious.

Cranberry Mojito at Encore High Limit Bar

We were going to ask for the Asian Equation, which our friend Steve had heard was supposed to be served at every bar. He inquires at every Wynn restaurant, just for kicks, even though he doesn’t drink.

We had dinner at Sinatra, which was so lovely and wonderful that it deserves its own post.

Because Tim is a nice guy, he agreed to accompany me to the Manolo store. On the way, we went into the Taste of Wynn store in the esplanade between Encore and Wynn. Each area of the shop represented a restaurant, and the area was divided into three columns: ingredients, smaller tools, and large kitchen accessories. It was a nice concept, allowing people to take a taste of their meal home or a portion of the kitchen.

We stopped in the Manolo store in the Wynn esplanade so I could fondle some footwear. I particularly lusted after the Carolyne and Tuccio models, but left (as usual) without buying anything. The saleswoman was really nice, and we chatted with her for a few minutes about topics other than shoes, so Tim’s time in there wasn’t too painful. I hope.

We took a taxi from Wynn to the Paris Diamond Lounge, where we hung out with Sal and Michael until they closed down.

We did some gambling in Paris, then it was back over to Planet Hollywood to give the deuces one more shot. I switched to Bonus Poker, then Megabucks (I have to try it at least once), then Gold Fish slots.

I was starting to get tired, so I tried a Rockstar energy drink mixed with vodka. It tasted OK (better than Red Bull), but it had no effect on my growing desire to sleep, so we took another taxi back to our palatial suite.

Vegas Trip – October 2009, Day 4

October 31, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tim played video poker at Planet Hollywood as I slept in. He was sitting at the machines when a large woman dressed in bright pink approached him. She asked him how he was doing, and because he was so focused on gambling, he didn’t realize who she was and answered “fine.” She then asked him if he wanted to have a good time up in his room and touched him on the arm. Snapping out of his gambling zone for a minute, he told her to go away. Five minutes later, he hit a royal flush. Now he calls her his lucky prostitute.

I had a gift card for Lettuce Entertain You, so we treated ourselves to breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi. We sat at a table outside near the doors.

Tim ordered the omelet with turkey and avocado.

Omelet at Mon Ami Gabi

I had the egg, bacon, and cheese crepe.

Crepe at Mon Ami Gabi

We split a chocolate bacon waffle.

Bacon Chocolate Waffles at Mon Ami Gabi

All the food was fresh and delicious and light. Tim said he didn’t get much of a bacon taste from the waffle, but the bacon must have been hiding in all my pieces. I didn’t even use the syrup or whipped cream, because the waffles themsleves were sweet enough.

We went back to play video poker at Planet Hollywood. As I was playing my usual nickel machine, I drew four deuces on the bottom line for a tidy $150 profit. I was quite excited.

We checked out of Paris and took a cab to THEhotel. We were fully expecting to check our bags until the room was ready,. The woman at the reception desk said that they didn’t have any rooms ready at that time, and they had a limited number of the rooms we’d booked. She went into the back room to check on something, and we thought it could be really good or really bad. She emerged a few minutes later and thanked us for waiting, and she told us she was able to get us a larger room. We tipped her $20 and thanked her profusely.

We got room 60903, which is one of their L suites. THEhotel has suites for each letter in “hotel,” with the suites getting progressively larger toward the end of the word. If you flip this picture, here’s a drawing of the layout.

It was a huge suite with many places to entertain.

As you walked into the suite, there was a small bathroom on the left.

There was a giant living room/entertainment area in front of us. On the right was a couch facing a flat-screen TV. Next to that was an area with some chairs. Across from that was a desk in an alcove. Next to the chairs was a dining room table with several chairs. Across from the dining room table was a bar area. There was an extra door next to the bar, which was handy for refilling ice. Here’s a long shot of the living/entertainment area.

The bedroom was also huge. There was a couch and a TV near the entrance of the bedroom. There was another TV across from the bed. There was also a TV above the tub, for a total of four TVs in the suite.

The bathroom was separated from the bedroom by a screen that could open and close. The bathroom contained a whirlpool tub, a steam shower (which Tim greatly enjoyed after a few nights of boozing), two sinks, a toilet, and a bidet. (A post on proper bidet use is coming shortly.)

We had a lovely view of Palms and Rio.

The suite was so large it was three times the size of the main floor of our house. If I was standing in the bedroom and Tim was standing on the opposite end near the bar, we couldn’t hear each other talk. It was crazy, but wonderful.

After absorbing the hugeness of our room, we drove to M Resort for lunch. M is nicely decorated, and it reminded me of Red Rock.

The buffet was outstanding. It offered a wide variety of Asian options (there were five Chinese/Thai salads alone, along with sushi, stir fry, noodles, and several other offerings). The meal came with a complimentary glass of wine or beer. I got a glass of cabernet, and Tim got a glass of lager from their in-house brewery. The lager was very good.

The dessert bar was the most impressive thing.

Desserts at M Resort Buffet

They had every kind of dessert imaginable– sorbet, pie, cake, tarts, you name it.

Dessert at M Resort Buffet

I settled on panna cotta, creme brûlée, and tiramisu. They were all delicious, and I managed to finish each of them.

Desserts at M Resort Buffet

On our way back to THEhotel, we stopped at The Liquor Outlet to get beverages for THEbash we were having that night. The guy at the store was extremely helpful. He pointed us to the Food 4 Less up the road for food and other supplies.

We hauled our stuff up to the room with help from the bellhop. I was really impressed with the service at THEhotel. Everyone had been very friendly and willing to assist us with any questions.

We set up the room, then had a quick dinner at House of Blues. We changed into our party clothes (including an ill-advised pair of four-inch purple suede heels that looked fabulous but made my feet ache after about 20 minutes). Guests arrived, and the rest of the evening, like the evening before, was a happy blur.

Honestly, I tried to write up some highlights of the party, but I don’t think “jizz crockpot” and “squeal like a pig” and “save Mike E’s taint” would make sense to anyone other than the attendees. The night was one of the best nights I’ve ever spent in this town, though.

Vegas Trip – October 2009, Day 2

October 26, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

After last night’s fantastic show, I had Fountains of Wayne songs popping in and out of my head for the next few days, like a soundtrack for the trip. I also heard a guy yelling “Troubled Times!” but that was only during my occasional loss at the machines.

We awoke in room 3164P, a Lyons suite at Paris Las Vegas. Last night, when we were checking in, Tim asked the clerk if there were any suite upgrades available, and luckily for us, there were. It was a smoking room, but we didn’t mind.

The suite had double doors which opened to an entryway with a small bathroom (toilet and sink) off to the side. Directly in front of us was a living room/dining area with a couch on one side and a dining table and desk on the other. Past the couch was the bedroom, with a TV that rose from and sank into an armoire at the end of the bed. There was a chair next to the bed, and above the chair was a picture of a chair. This amused me, for some reason. To the left of the bed was a small hallway containing a sitting area with a large mirror. This led to the bathroom, which had a separate shower and soaking tub. To the right of the tub was a sink, and to the right of that was a small room with a bidet and toilet. (More on proper bidet etiquette later.)

We had a nice view of the Strip and a partial view of the Bellagio fountains.

After basking in our glorious digs, we went next door to Planet Hollywood for breakfast at Planet Dailies. We both ordered the salmon omelet, which was delicious.

Salmon Omelet at Planet Dailies

We started gambling immediately after breakfast, and I was rewarded for my efforts by hitting four deuces on deuces wild. Yeah, it was nickels and a $50 payout, but it allowed me to gamble for a long time without losing, and that was my goal.

We walked down to O’Shea’s and had some morning beverages there (Bloody Mary for Tim and a Brown Cow for me). We continued down the Strip to Casino Royale, where we were disappointed at their shirt selection. We were hoping to find a blue shirt for Tim to match his black and red flaming dice shirt from last year. Oh, well. He wasn’t too concerned.

We tugged on the doors of Lagasse Stadium on the outside of Palazzo, but they were locked. We went inside and wandered around for a while before we found it. I was impressed with the place. It was quiet during our visit but it seemed like it would be a fun place to watch a game. It had several levels with comfortable seating and large video screens, and four different bars.

Lagasse Stadium at Palazzo

We played some video poker at Casino Royale and ordered a couple vodka and sodas (my downfall for the day).

As we walked past Flamingo, we noticed some guys handing out nightclub passes next to the usual pornslappers. The nightclub guy described his passes as a “titty buffet.”

We went to the Paris Diamond Lounge where Sal welcomed us with drinks, starting with a homemade Alize. Next up was a martini with Malibu, butterscotch schnapps, mandarin vodka, pineapple juice, and cream. It was light and refreshing and delicious.

Drinks at Paris Diamond Lounge

Our friend Brian was carousing in the vicinitey, so we met him on the way to Planet Hollywood and sat at the Extra lounge playing more video poker. We all needed to be hydrated, so when we were in the ABC Store picking up water, we saw this:

Horniest Goat Weed

We parted ways with Brian and had a late lunch at The Pub at Monte Carlo. They had several beers on tap. I chose a Delirium Tremens (because there’s nothing better for you after a day of drinks than a beer with 9% ABV), while Tim had Stella. We each had burgers and fries. They were tasty and filling, and definitely met our needs. But the burger was not life-changing like the burger at Bradley Ogden, for example.

Burgers at The Pub at Monte Carlo

The room was sparsely decorated and felt like a warehouse, so there wasn’t a lot of atmosphere to the place, and I would think it would get loud when it was crowded. I wouldn’t rule out returning if I happened to be in the area and had a need for some beer and some burgers, though.

We met our friends Hunter and Megan at a bar at Bellagio, which is funny considering we almost got kicked out of the place for being too rowdy a couple years ago. We had a good time catching up (and how I wish we could see them more often). Then they were off to dinner, and we went back to our hotel briefly before meeting some more friends at Bill’s Gambling Hall, Saloon, and Shootery. I did myself no favors by losing track of the number of vodka/sodas I consumed as we hung out with Dave, Olonzo, Robert, Mark, Mark’s friend whose name I can’t recall, Bob, and Beth, but I had a great time.

Kings Wine Bar

October 15, 2009

Kings Wine Bar is a small restaurant in the Kingfield neighborhood of Minneapolis (hence the name). I’d been meaning to try it since it’s been open, but my dinner partner Dave and I weren’t able to coordinate our schedules until a couple weeks ago.

The space is well-decorated. It’s modern, but cozy, and the staff makes you feel extremely welcome. The room just has a great vibe, and I can’t wait to go there again.

Dave and I were in a wine mood (and it is a wine bar, although they have a good beer selection as well), so we split a bottle of shiraz. We were debating between two bottles priced at $18 and $33 each, but the bartender steered us toward the less expensive bottle. It was priced that way because they got a great deal on it, not because of the quality, and we were extremely pleased with the wine.

Instead of ordering entrees, we ordered three appetizers: the Beet Napoleon, the Goat Cheese Fritter, and the Seared Sea Scallops. The napoleon was beautifully presented and tasty. The fritter was a ball of soft, creamy goat cheese with a flaky outside, and it melted in my mouth.

The scallops really deserve their own paragraph. We each took a bite of the scallops and immediately exclaimed, “Wow!” I found out from the bartender that they are flown in from Coastal Seafoods daily (so get there early before they run out). I’ve had scallops on the coast before, and I didn’t think that I’d ever have fresher, more tasty scallops, but this dish proved me wrong. They were perfectly seared and bursting with flavor. If you want a dish that will change your life (assuming you like seafood, of course), order the scallops. I’m still salivating as I think about them.

For dessert, the bartender (who had been a great food/drink guide for the evening) recommended the cream puffs. They were light and delicious, and a perfect way to end the meal.

Bradstreet Crafthouse Restaurant

August 31, 2009

Kristen and I hadn’t met up in far too long, and we wanted to try a new venue, so we chose Bradstreet in the Graves 601 Hotel in downtown Minneapolis.

There were three seating areas. One was a row of tables and booths in the restaurant area, one was around the kitchen, and one was at the bar. We chose the bar, because we wanted to learn more about the way the drinks were made.

I had heard that they take their mixology very seriously, and do they ever. They had a row of medicine droppers and vials along the back of the bar, and the vials contained specially blended bitters. The row of bottles was unlike any other I’d seen. I recognized a few familiar names (Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray), and many uncommon ones that I would soon come to love (hello, St. Germain liqueur).

I started with a Pimm’s Cup (Pimms #1, Lime, Tanqueray Gin, Mint, Cucumber, Strawberry), while Kristen opted for the Juliet & Romeo (Plymouth, Lime, Mint, Cucumber, Rose Water).  The drinks were fresh and aromatic. To drink at Bradstreet is an experience, from the way the bartenders mix the cocktails, to the visually pleasing presentation, to the unique smells and tastes of the cocktails. They have elevated mixology to an art form.

They are generous with the samples, too. One of the bartenders was creating a new drink for fall, and we tested it for him. It was delicious and whiskey-based — smoky and spicy with a creamy finish, even though there was no cream in the drink. Kristen said it tasted like the smell of the air when people are burning leaves.

For our next round, Kristen got the Black Walnut Old Fashioned (Bulleit Bourbon, Demerara Syrup, Nux Alpina Black Walnut Liqueur, House Orange Bitters), while I had the Son of a Preacher (a bunch of tasty stuff topped with absinthe). Both drinks were served in old fashioned glasses, with a giant sphere of ice in the middle. The large piece of ice serves two purposes: 1. For us to spin really fast while the bartenders finish making the rest of the drinks and 2. It melts more slowly, so it keeps the drink cool without watering it down.

For food, we had the Spicy Marcona Almonds with paprika, the crab cakes with honey fillo, and the spicy lamb sliders. Everything was delicately prepared and delicious. The almonds were a great starter and very flavorful. The crab cakes were seared to form the slightest crispy crust on the outside, and the honey fillo complemented the crab perfectly. The lamb sliders were incredible, and so were the fries and house-made ketchup.

We finished with dessert drinks. I was all set to order the Cooper’s Union (made with my new favorite St. Germain liqueur, which tastes like lychee), when the bartender stopped me and said he’d make me something else. The result was one of the most amazing drinks I’ve ever had in my life. He called it the Girls Can Tell (after an album by Spoon), and it contained strawberry, grapefruit, St. Germain, bitters, special bitters, and club soda. It was fresh and complex and herby and fruity and wonderful. And the cool thing is, if he were to make it again, it would turn out slightly different, so it was like lightning in a bottle (only much more tasty and less life-threatening).

We chatted briefly with a woman from Chicago. She ordered Amstel Lights because she had a presentation to give in the morning. We asked the bartenders if anyone ever came in and ordered rum and Coke. They said people did, but often they hear it’s the best rum and Coke the customer has ever had. They use small bottles of Coke, which tastes different (and better) than Coke from a can or gun.

The evening went far too quickly, even though we were there for five and a half hours. This is my new favorite bar and I can’t wait to return (especially if Ethan and Birk are working).