Ok I’m kind of loving the new song…”Glad You Came” by The Wanted. Probably because they’re British. I would secretly like to have children with British accents…ok that’s not really a secret. I love this song though…apparently I’m still 14 years old (boy bands? really? yes, really). I’m only kind of ashamed but I also love the lyrics where the last word in line is the first word in the last line: “Hand you another drink, drink it if you can, can you spend a little time…” This has nothing to do with food. You’ve probably stopped reading.
Anyways! Birthdays are the perfect excuse to go out of a yummy meal. In order to celebrate, exploring a new neighborhood deems necessary. Erte is quiet, dim, and still had 5 Christmas trees up late January.
I’d ordered the veggie burger that past few times I’d been out to eat so I ventured for some chicken (super adventurous) and the key lime for dessert. The chicken breaded and crispy and yum. The best part? The Old Fashioned I’d ordered – made me totally nostalgic for Madison summer eves at the Fluno. Definitely tasty, but probably not a joint I’d hit over and over again….
Yum! P.S. What the french toast does Erte mean?
Ugh, I wish I ate red meat sometimes. I don’t know why I just can’t do it. I think the last time I had a burger was at the Nitty Gritty in college (Go Badgers!!) and I remember being sick all the next day. Anyways, here’s a recap of my experience at Joe’s:
“I actually liked the meat this time, usually it’s the part I like the least”
“I would just get that bun and eat it, eat it, here, right here”
I guess it was the sweet bun, olives and blue cheese. Megan even claimed that we could eat there every time she paid us a visit. That good! I had the Southwestern Veggie Burger (lame I know) but I finished the whole plate. All of it. Including fries.
You like this photo, right? Sometimes the foods so good I don’t have time to snap a shot, but at least the fries still look de-lish.
ohmygosh this place is delish but IMPOSSIBLE to get a reservation (on a Tuesday nonetheless). I think because it’s small and quaint. Luckily, when my high school friends and I decided to go there for our annual holiday meal, we managed to get 3 seats at the bar. We shared the cheese plate (love me some cheese) and I really wanted fries with aioli, but no dice. They have a “bread man” as Sam liked to call him and Angie kept telling him to leave the tray of bread (also love me some bread) but he just smiled like we were joking. Um, seriously. Leave the bread.
I ordered the House Made Tofu – SO flavorful – tart and sweet and crispy and yummy. Sam ordered the Salmon which was fantastic! Hoison BBQ = genius.
For dessert GET THIS: coffee-cream filled donuts. If I’ve said it once I’ll said it again: I am not a fan of donuts. Apparently give me a hint of a fancy donut and I’m on board. The best part was the creamy coffee to dip it in.
They claim to be the first sake brewery outside of Japan, so of course I was immediately intrigued. The verdict? Go there for the sake and apps, but not from the entrees. This past summer I was on their patio so I suggested when Lindsay was in town to try it for dinner this time. As I overheard Linds saying “it’s good, but I’ve had better.” The sweet potato fries are divine with miso bearnaise and sesame seeds sprinkled on top. The pulled spicy chicken with thai chili ain’t too shabby at all. All apps were yummy. I ordered the drunken noodles and it was marginal. Linds and Dave ordered the pork shoulder a.k.a. abura ramen and I think like not love was the consensus. I highly recommend the pear sake, especially if you do not like sake (which I rarely do) and plan on a very enjoyable happy hour. Dinner crowd was surprisingly hipster so knowing that this place pulls on all different crowds I felt like I missed something. Is it really good? If yuppies come in for happy hour and hipsters for dinner? Seems there is something for everyone. Maybe I loved the happy hour I went to last summer due to the warm weather/sun? Regardless of the average food, the company was far above average so overall it was an enjoyable dinner. Sorry no photos, but I’m sure you can picture some noodles and a glass of sake just fine…I hope.
Mmmm food. As their website states it’s fresh, seasonal and organic. All-in-all an excellent combo for dinner with kStyle. You know it’s fancy when they’re only open for dinner, so take my word and make a reservation. We decided that rather than exchange holiday gifts this season, we would spend our hard-earned cash on good eats! The tricky and amazing part of Alma is that their menu changes every 6-8 weeks, so it’s always a good place to return to. They also have an excellent option of three-course tasting for $48. Given that dessert is a top priority when I dine out, Kristi and I decided to share multiple dishes and a couple of desserts.
We started with the Rabbit Rillets and the Roasted Beets. I tried Rabbit! I’m growing up! It was more of a Rabbit Pâté – pretty risky for a first time, but with a little bit of yummy mustard (shooting with technical terms here) it was pretty good. The Roasted Beets were fantastic! Such an unexpected mix of flavors – sort of pickled, and a definite must here.
As our second entrée we shared the Squash Ravioli which pretty much put all other ravioli to shame. Brown Butter? Pepper? Check yes! This might have been my favorite of all the dishes. But wait…
The Wild Striped Bass! SO GOOD. I love a good Sea Bass (um, Lurcat? Divine) but this was something I’d never experienced: fennel (always a yes), pecans, and citrus broth. A winning combination overall.
To top off an excellent meal and excellent company we shared the Spiked Chocolate Cake and the Creme Brule (I can’t remember the flavor) but regardless, get the Chocolate Cake. It’s hard to find a Chocolate Cake that’s not too dry not to mention with toasted marshmallows. Do it. Love it.
Grazi! Prego! Love Italy, and although Italian is not in my fav top 5 cuisines (well, unless bread and wine are a cuisine) it is still delicious. Kim and I decided to embark on Italiano night #2 (the day after Broders) and visit Sarah at her place of business. First, the cocktail Sarah had me order was a surprising little treat: the Caravaggio. A martini with several of my favorite things: limoncello, ginger syrup, and eggs. Yes eggs! I love them! ok, so it was actually egg whites and it was an amazing martini – sweet with a little taste of key lime pie.
I ordered the Pan Seared Wild Salmon and Kim the Lobster Gnocchi, and once again, am so glad I’ve developed a taste for fish. I LOVE Gnochhi, but had never tried lobster. I tried a bit of the dish and it was great – the sauce was creamy and perfect. The salmon! Oh the harrissa (which is a Tunisian hot chili, used in North African cooking) was perfect with the spinach. Of course the mashed potatoes totally helped this dish and its overall amazingness.
Now comes the best part (no not dessert, soon though): the baked polenta. A side dish, the Sarah required we order grilled with this amazing marinara on top. I LOVE polenta in Italian dishes, and this combo was just fantastic. So fantastic, I made my friend Jenn hit up Sopranos two weeks later so I could order it again!
OK – best dessert to order is the oatmeal raisin gelato sandwich cookies with chocolate something. I don’t know the technical term (Sar help me out) since I can’t find the dessert on the menu you should order this immediately, if you haven’t already.
*Sigh the holidays have come and gone. Although my family doesn’t celebrate the holiday I do enjoy most aspects of Christmas: food, friends, food, wine, sparkling wine, Love Actually, wine, presents (the thoughtfulness of them, not the materialism) and spending time with family. I was fortunate to see nearly all of my closest friends this season, to which I am thankful for. Of course this means I’m behind approx 7 or so posts – with all my besties back in town we all chose to celebrate by spending time together over a meal and several glasses of wine. Given I injured my back during *cough a “work out” (okay okay it was yoga) I had been careful in my eating considering working out was out of the picture. I gave up on being careful on Christmas Eve and let me tell you it was well worth it. I read on Pinterest that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, and there are a few things that do not qualify under this phrase. Lambrusco, my new favorite sparkling wine (tastes like juice, seriously) which I discovered on a Monday night at Broders thanks to my lovely friends Sarah and Kim, is one of them.
This place is happening – a 45 minute wait on Monday? Happening. It’s small, cozy and perfect for winter dinner dates. We ordered so many things. So. Many. Started with apps: the baked polenta cup (not as good another Polenta dish which I will post about soon), bruschetta trio, and the roasted garlic. Of the three, the roasted garlic was amazing, but I had had better in Napa (I know, I’m a tough food critic) but nonetheless I need to learn how to bake garlic! Is there much to learn? Probably not, but someday I want to be one of those great Mom’s who can cook amazing dishes with three things in her fridge and no recipe. The caramelized mushroom with goat cheese bruschetta was definitely tasty – gimme goat cheese and something caramelized and I will be your fan.
For my entree I ordered the ravioli di succa – butternut squash and it was quite tasty! I would highly recommend it. Loved the garlic in the sweet sauce. Sometimes I worry, only 6 pieces of ravioli doesn’t seem enough but I was good to go with enough room for dessert.
Thank goodness Kim and Sarah want to order dessert 100% of the time. This is one of the many reasons why we are friends. One pear-cranberry crostata and tiramisu later I was beyond full and happy. If you’re only going to order one dessert pick the crostata, you’ll thank me later.
What I would listen to on the way to dinner? Something comforting, yet upbeat such as Fader by Temper Trap.
My FAV in the cities…thus far. I went there two Sundays ago because they have an amazing date night special – $25/each for your own salad, entree, and dessert! The only flaw is that you have to share the bottle of wine that’s included in the price with your date (probably wise for a Sunday). Anyways, the date night menu is spectacular…okay okay you know I’m picky so there’s another minor flaw: the delicious miso sea bass (ha) is NOT included in the menu. at a whoppin’ $35.00 it might be the most amazing fish I’ve ever had – but alas this post is not about that. I ordered the Apple, Chives and Cheese salad which is probably the best salad I’ve ever had (okay my co-worker once asked me how many times I say that a week…probably at least 2, but it was good I promise) BUT the amazingness is that there is no lettuce/arugula etc in this salad – it is straight up slivers of cheese and apples and it is amazing. For my entree I ordered House Made Udon Noodles with Chinese Barbeque Chicken and Caramelized Orange Sauce. Anything caramelized is delicious and this does not disappoint. and for those meat eaters – my friends said the Pot Roast and Pork Tenderloin does not dissapoint (I can agree on the Pot Roast, I was rebellious and tried a bite…not bad, not bad at all).
Last but not the least the dessert: despite being so full I had to come home and lay down I managed to finish the Triple Chocolate Cream Cake (With a little help from my date) and I was a happy camper. Oh, the last picture is another dessert option: donuts. I’m not a huge fan of donuts in general, but these were enjoyable (and for some reason caused a lot of laughs at the table…apparently I get a little overly excited when eating dessert)
Lurcat is MUST go in the cities…can’t get enough. Sort of helps that I’m a mere 5 minute walk to it. Loves!
I’m a bad blogger…already. Not only are my photos sub par (I badly need to invest in the iPhone 4S) I COMPLETELY forgot to take a photo of my last Friday nights dining experience at Nami in downtown Minneapolis. At least you know that it was THAT good and I just dove in for a meal of edamame, 2 specialty rolls, and sake. Kristi and I tried the Oishi roll (pineapple and cilantro? check yes) and the VIP roll (spicy anything and mayo – the only place where mayo is worthwhile…wait, it’s also worthwhile in aioli). SO GOOD. Tasted fresh, excellent combinations and I couldn’t help to become obsessed with the sake. Thought, shamefully, we could only down half the bottle and had to cork – that’s the first time I’ve ever corked a bottle! Alas, I was pretty buzzed. I’ll find out the name of the sake and get back to you….oh and don’t worry, we finished the bottle later that week.
I might add that we had trouble picking a good sushi restaurant: I had heard Seven was divine, Kristi’s experience was not the best; Kristi had heard Origami was spectacular, but given my birthday experience there circa 2009 it was less than average. so after a quick text check-in with my sister, we decided on Nami (to quote Sangya: “delicious”).
The only other place in the cities where I love sushi is Crave, and it’s speciality is not sushi! In my 20+ years Ra, in Chicago (shout out to Lindsay’s bachelorette!) was the best sushi I’d ever had. So happy to have found delicious new sushi place in the cities! The atmosphere was pleasant and they played some Ritual Union by Little Dragon. The only weird thing was how not busy it was on a Friday night, but I can’t complain. My favorite thing on Friday nights is to linger over a long meal and some wine…FYI we completed the evening at Belle Vie for dessert (see previous posts.)
In an effort to explore my new neighborhood, I had added La Belle Vie to my must try list. SUCH a cute place – especially a winter hideout. Dim, twinkle lights, and old world style, what’s not to love? I actually tried it twice in the past two weeks. Just for dessert and drinks because that’s how I roll apparently. First, the drinks: I am currently obsessed with dirty martinis so I ordered the Night of the Hunter. Vodka, almond-stuffed olives, and salted caramel. Pretty good if you like a stiff drink. The second time I went, we were in celebratory mood for a bestie’s new engagement, so we ordered some bubbly. Love me some bubbly.
Anyways, to get to the most important part: DESSERT. I’ve tried 3 and they were all fantastic. The Orange Brown Butter Cake with Maple Custard and Apple Jam Ice Cream, Chocolate-Gingerbread with Sweet Potato Pudding and Butterscotch Ice Cream, and Chocolate Custard Torte with Cocoa Almond Cake and Elderberry. Ah-mazing. The best was the Chocolate Custard Torte, I highly recommend this place for a drink and dessert! The torte was unique but still had that home-y mama just baked a treat for the kids feel.