Thursday, May 28, 2009

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Roat Osha is trying to make the grade

After a few months in business are they doing it? We went for a visit after being ejected from Burger Jones. Just kidding, there was just a 45 minute wait. I like hamburgers as much as the next fellow, but...It looked like there was patio seating too and they were just making people wait. I'm sure that wasn't the case, but still, what the hell?

Anyways, our plans shifted from burgers to Thai food. Lucky us because we were close to Uptown which they might as well rename 'Thaitown'. We chose Roat Osha for the parking and the patio which had available tables (Dave called ahead, good work!). When we got there the place looked dead inside. There were a couple people sitting at the bar and the rest of us were outside. Still, the patio was not packed by any means. Good for us, bad for Roat Osha.

Since Mr. B and I had already eaten at Punch, we had time to sip some drinks and take in the sunshine. I was also preoccupied with the table next to us who seemed to be having an awful lot of trouble. I wouldn't usually have noticed, but out waitress spent most of her time talking with them and not so much attending to us. No big deal today, but I saw a flash of things that might come to be. Would the service at Roat turn as bad as the service Tum Rup? I hope not.

The Sister and the Dave partook in their regular spicy pad Thai with no egg. Everything was pretty normal and overall satisfying. Mr. B and I shared the mango with sticky rice dessert. The mango was fresh and delicious, but the rice was in a square, kind of bland and not impressive on a plate. I would recommend the mango sticky rice dessert from Amazing Thailand over the one served at Roat.

I think Roat Osha has the ability to be long lasting, but it needs to keep its service standards up. Don't worry, we will probably be back.


Ciao Bella

Ciao Bella
3501 Minnesota Drive
Bloomington, MN 55435

According to their website Ciao Bella is a 'contemporary Italian restaurant', 'dramatic, comfortable, welcoming and delicious.' I would agree with most of that. Technically located in Bloomington, this on the outskirt of Edina dining and drink establishment has been around for over a decade. The inside is sleek and classy, dimly lit and very intimate. There is also a small bar area with large glass doors that open all the way up to the reveal the patio and the nice weather the 2 months of the year Minnesota has it. Ciao Bella is owned by the same peeps as Bacio of Plymouth and Zelo of Minneapolis.

They have a lunch and dinner menu as well as fresh fish, dessert and wine. The wine list is fairly extensive and I saw a few that I like (Smoking Loon cabernet sauvignon and the Robert Modavi pinot noir). On our most recent visit we just went for a short lunch. On my usual visit I most often sit on the patio and enjoy a beer or two.

The salads my sister and I chose for lunch were good, but nothing super special. The Ciao Baby feature organic greens, goat cheese and pine nuts tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette. Basic, yet refreshing. My sister had wished there were a few more dimensions to the salad. As a side it would be great, as a lunch entree I would suggest something a little more interesting.

I went with the small chopped salad which included crispy prosciutto, chicken, tomato, onion and blue cheese crumbles with a spicy-sweet dressing. I did highly enjoy the dressing, a bit different from your average chopped salad dressing. The rest of the salad I could take of leave. The tomatoes were few and the ones I did find were at the bottom of the bowl and smushed. The crispy prosciutto looks almost like bacon bits and not the thinly sliced salty goodness I was expecting. Lastly, the chicken appeared to be boiled or something. It was not grilled, just wilty and almost too pink. I ate it though and I'm still here, so guess it was okay. The other thing I noticed is my friend who ordered the large chopped salad had a few more additions including fresh parmesian cheese on top. Her's looked better than mine, so maybe I was just unlucky.

Although Ciao Bella and the Cheesecake Factory are totally different dining experiences I would rather go to the Cheesecake Factory for their cobb salad than do another chopped salad at Ciao. For less than $8.50 (the amount for a small salad at Ciao) you get a huge 'lunch sized' portion at Cheesecake Factory and it has always been crispy and satisfying. While I do enjoy Ciao Bella for the atmosphere and wonderful patio, I will most likely pass on dining there anytime in the near future. In Ciao's defense many of my co-workers swear by this place. Plus, some of the menu items intregue me like the chicken and wild mushroom risotto does sound delicious. Nothing against you Ciao, but high class restuarant establishment does not always mean out of this world food.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ricotta Gnocchi

I am super proud of myself, I made gnocchi! And not just any gnocchi, good gnocchi! Thanks to the awesome recipe at and a little can do attitude I was able to pull these off on the first try. For those of you looking for the recipe in cups versus grams here's a little breakdown:

1/2-2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup of ricotta cheese
1 egg yolk from a medium to large egg
1/4-1/2 tsp of fine sea salt (I used regular table salt and it worked out fine)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Mix the wet ingredients first (and the salt) and then gradually add the flour a little bit at a time stirring with a wooden fork. The mixture will be sticky, but rolling it out in flour will solve that. If you take a floured finger and poke it should feel almost bouncy. The more flour you add the more dense your gnocchi will turn out.

These dumplings turned out fluffy and velvety just like deliciousdays said. I forked them (this is not necessary) and made a simple red sauce with spicy Italian sausage to go on top. I served the gnocchi with a spinach and arugula salad with a light olive oil, black pepper, salt and crushed red pepper dressing. This dish looks hearty, but because of the delicate texture of the gnocchi it didn't feel like you just ate a rock. I can't wait to make this recipe again and try some different variations with herbs or other seasonings!


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Is the Sushi Trend Endangering our Fish?

The simple answer is 'yes', but there is a lot more going on here.

It has been projected that we will deplete the Mediterranean bluefin population by 2012 if we keep our consumption levels at where they are today. With the fishing season open, now is the time to start making people aware of these issues. Fishermen have already noticed that the catch this year is looking smaller both in size of each fish and size of the schools. Please read the following to learn more about overfishing and what we can do.

Mediterranean bluefin tuna stocks collapsing now as fishing season opens

Some good news: There are people aware of this problem and they are taking steps to find solutions. I was glad to hear from the waiter during my recent visit to Fuji Ya that the restaurant is serving bluefin that are bred in a captivity.

Bluefin tuna successfully bred in captivity
Clean seas raise $24 million for breeding bluefin

I love tuna, I love it enough to help save it even though, if it had the chance, would probably eat me in the wild. Time to start moving towards sustainable food solutions.


Wakame Sushi to Open in July '09

Alas, Three Fish of Minneapolis-Calhoun is no longer. It's unfortunate because I've always heard really great things about Three Fish and after 7 years of business it has closed its doors and I didn't have the chance to try.

However, in July the presently vacancy Calhoun Commons spot will house Wakame Sushi. Is another Japanese-American/Asian Fusion restaurant really what this area needs? Let us make a list. In the Uptown and Eat Street area lives: Fuji Ya, Zen, Moto-I, Mt. Fuji, Tiger Sushi, Tum Rup, Roat Osha, Amazing Thailand, Chang Mai Thai, Kinhdo, Rainbow, Peninsula, Pho79, Sushi Tango, Saigon, Pho Tau Bay, Chang's, Quang's, AZIA, Seafood Palace, Red Dragon, King and I Thai, the list goes on. In the last year alone at least 5 of the restaurants mentioned above are new endeavors. That's not even including all the Asian places that have popped up in Downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Don't get me wrong, I love Asian cuisine and I'm not saying that the restaurants listed above don't have their own individualistic charm and unique reasons for being a great place to dine. However, I'm getting worried by the fact that we're seeing a lot of the same and all jumping on the trend train at once. Maybe we could use some variety? I'd like to see more places like Cafe Ena or the Blue Nile.

I'm on a new quest to seek out some interesting dining in Minnesota and try to stay away from Asian fusion for a bit. Despite my harsh tone and attitude I will most likely give Wakame a try or I will read reviews that will discourage me from going. You can keep feeding us sushi Minneapolis, but we don't need a million places to choose from.


Grilled Salmon Steaks

Please don't mention the fact that the posting before this one was about saving our fish population. I've realized the irony and the horribleness of my ways, now let me be.

Summertime is a great time for fish (again, don't mention my previous post and if you have to make sure you yourself are doing research on what fish are from farms and what fish are caught in the wild) because it is cool and refreshing and healthier than most of the other meats we slap on the grill. I had my usual hankering for fish and decided to do some salmon steaks. I've cooked salmon fillets before, but this was my first salmon steak cooking experience (and I did good!).

There's not much of a recipe here, I did everything up really simple. Just thought I'd post some pictures to prove that I actually do cook...once in awhile. I plan on doing a lot more cooking in the future when my days aren't consumed by my horrible job and my nights aren't consumed by school to get me the degree to get out of my horrible job.

Anyways, here it is: The salad was just arugula (prewashed from a bag) dressed in a little garlic oil, olive oil, black pepper and salt. I just drizzled the oils on top and gave it a little toss with a fork while it was on the plate. On top I added grape tomatoes (cut in half if that matters), cucumber, avocado and mini fresh mozzarella.

The tuna steaks I had fresh cut by the butcher. They had bones and all so we had to be careful, but whole fish I think are super awesome. I simply salted and peppered each side, heated up a skillet (non-stick with a little oil, the salmon is pretty oily by itself) and let it sear for about 2-4 minutes on each side depending on how big the pieces are. It's important not to move fish around to much while you're cooking it. You want to keep the juices in just like any other meat. Flipped, 2-4 minutes about on the other side, made sure it was golden and crispy on the outside, covered and turned of the heat.

Ta-Da! Salmon with arugula salad. I also added some mashed potatoes (Got them from the deli at Lunds, don't tell!) just because I love mashed potatoes and a couple wedges of Italian bread.
Yum! and way less expensive than going out. Only about 10 bucks per person! Plus cooking is fun and we should all be doing a lot more of it.


Chatterbox Pub

Chatterbox Pub
4501 France Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55410

And me without my camera...
An unexpected visit to the Chatterbox Pub with my sis and mum. It turned out to be an interesting experience, one that will most likely bring me back. When you walk in you're greeted by a large shelf full of games and decor that looks like your grandmother's house. In fact, I saw a few items on the wall that did actually appear in my grandma's house as well as the home of Mr. B's grandparents. Funny.

The menu is quite intimidating, but in a good way. There were lots of things I wanted to try. Chatterbox also serves microbrews, awesome! There are currently 5 different varieties at $3.75 a mug or $6 for a tall. The beer was really good and if I don't go back for the food I would go back for the beer.

In addition to the microbrew Chatterbox also serves up personal tvs to play videogames (you can rent a number of videogames at the pub and use their gaming that what the young people are calling it these days?) or to watch cartoons. And lastly, they serve all day, eveyday breakfast! YAYYYYYY! Wait...wait, there's more I forgot to mention. There is a large shelf full of games for those who like to juggle food and cards or other game pieces and if you can't make it to the location in Linden Hills there is also one located in Midtown (2229 E 35th Street) and Highland St. Paul (800 Cleveland Ave S).

So we went there for an early lunch. It was pretty quiet minus the kids playing card games and being really excited to be playing card games. One server welcomed us and both servers who seemed to be running the place were extremely nice and helpful. The menu was giant and was a lot to take in, but everything sounded really good.

We decided on these:
The Ultimate French Dip ($9.95) from their gourmet sandwhich section. Top sirloin, caramelized onions and swiss served on toasted ciabatta bread with French onion au jus and horseradish sour cream.

The Awesome Artichoke & Spinach gourmet sandwich ($8.95) also from the gourmet sandwich section. Turkey, spinach & artichoke dip, swiss cheese and tomatoes served on house made focaccia bread.

The Roasted Garlic Squash Wrap ($7.95) from the wraps section. This wrap is vegetarian (there are a few vegetarian options on the menu) and features roasted garlic squash, feta cheese, black olives, tomatoes and romaine lettuce wrapped in a garlic herb tortilla. This is not a date food people, you'll be smelling like garlic and cheese for days!! Just kidding.

We all chose the roasted red pepper mashed potatoes as our side, but you also have the choice of fries.

We were all very pleased with our meals. The only problem was everything was a little bit over salted. I loved the roasted red pepper mashed potatoes, they were really favorful, but again, really salty. I think the French dip was the best overall in favor and seasoning. The horseradish sour cream was also really good and paired well with the sirloin.

The saltiness was not enough to keep us from going back however. My mum returned for a second visit shortly after our first with my dad in tow. I think the ambiance and fun style of the restaurant and it's workers is something worth appreciating. I will be back with a camera for some all day breakfast and a microbrew.


Chatterbox Pub on Urbanspoon

The W Hotel 'Living Room'

Living Room @ The W Hotel
The Foshay Tower
821 Marquette Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55402
W Hotels
Living Room

Thanks to my wonderful friend Chong, who celebrated his 25th birthday this last Saturday (Happy Birthday!), we got to experience the 'Living Room' at the W Hotel in the Foshay Tower, Downtown Minneapolis.

Not going to lie, I tend to be skeptical when it comes to 'clubs' and a lot of places downtown. I'm more of a beer-in-a-lawn-chair sort of girl. However, I have to admit that the W changed my view on a few things and I might even be inclined to go back. I mean Molly Sims came all the way to MN for the opening, so it has to be good, right?

The decor is very trendy, but the attitude is laid back. The waitresses are dressed in black short shorts and lace tights, but all were extra friendly and accommodating. There are velvet and leather couches, love seats, overstuffed and high back chairs that fill the room. The overall lighting is dark and highlighted by a few giant metal lamps, chandeliers and neon lights (lights, not beer signs). The bar is huge and good news! The bathroom has an attendant.

I could see some people (i.e. me) who are not used to these kind of places being intimidated. Don't be. There is a large drink menu (be expecting to drop a few dollars, this is downtown after all) featuring martinis, beer, wine and other specialty drinks. Prices were reasonable, if you consider $14 for a martini reasonable. But if you're going to go celebrate might as well go all out. That, and the drinks we're actually really good and definitely not skimping on the alcohol,'s worth (see 'Behind the Green Door' to right).

I'm not sure what kind of deal Chong had finagled out of these people, but there was plenty of food and not everything you would expect from a place like the W. It seems that street food is the new filet mignon. I'm on board.

A few things featured on the menu: mini hamburgers, mini hot dogs, grilled cheese and tomato soup shooters, onion rings and fries, mac and cheese, crab legs and claws, oysters, tuna cerviche, mussles, jumbo shrimp cocktail and spicy seasoned potato chips. Not to mention the amazing strawberry cream cake from Buttercream bakery in St. Paul.

Mini Hot Dogs

Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup Shooters

Mini Hamburgers


Mac & CheeseStone Crab Claws

I was really impressed by the W Hotel and their Living Room lounge. Their staff did a great job entertaining and keeping everyone happy and believe it or not, they won my affection.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Gnocchi, what are you supposed to be?

I've had a lot of gnocchi in my life thus far. I love the little things! But there have been times when I've enjoyed them more than others. I wondered if there was a certain texture or recipe that defined what a good gnocco (the singular term for gnocchi) should be.

In Venice (My first gnocchi experience) is where I fell in love. The little dumplings possessed the floury goodness of pasta, but were more substantial and held up well in any sauce. If I remember right the dishes I had in Venice were pretty basic, but amazing. The gnocchi were not too soft, not too chewy, almost creamy in texture. Since that trip there have been few dishes that live up to the Venice gnocchi.

The gnocchi at Broders' Pasta Bar is definitely one that stands out to me, the gnocchi at the Bluefin Grille was unfortunately on the lower end and the gnocchi at Toscana was right in the middle.

What made the good dishes good was favor and texture. How well did the dumplings stand up to and/or mix with the sauce. Was the dumpling too hard, too soft? At Broders' there was the right mix of hearty gnocchi, a little bit chewy with a good homemade texture that allowed the sauce to incorporate and cover the gnocchi instead of it sliding around in a saucy mess. At Toscana the flavors were there, but the texture seemed a little off to me and the rest of the diners. The gnocci was certainly fresh, but the sautee made them a little too soft. Dave, who is a somewhat fincky eater, agreed that the gnocchi tasted good, but expected them to be a little more dense when he ate them.

On the bad end was the basil tomato gnocchi we had in Tofte, MN at the Bluefin Grille. Usually this place is great, so it made the experience even more disappointing when the gnocchi wasn't on. There were a number of things wrong with the dish. The gnocchi were rather large and I think it was because of this that they were almost too dense. There was too much dough going on. Secondly, the sauce, well, there wasn't much of a sauce. It seemed as though the dumplings were 'sauteed' with fresh tomatoes and basil, but there were not crispy brown spots to indicate they had been cooked with the rest of the ingredients. The 'sauce' was simply olive oil, and while I love olive oil, too much can be a bad thing. The oil covered the dense gnocchi making them slippery and slimy on the outside. Because of their bigness and the bigness of the tomatoes there was no way to eat a bite of veg and a bite of gnocchi at the same time.

I've found you need to get them fresh, don't over or undercook, make sure the sauce is worthy of covering something as wonderful as gnocchi, think bitesized and don't over oil.

This looks like a good recipe from

Basic Potato Gnocchi
2 1/4 pounds, mealy potatoes, peeled
About 1 1/2 cups flour (see note below)
A pinch of salt
In making gnocchi you should steam the potatoes rather than boil them. If you do not have a steamer, put the potatoes in a metal colander, set the colander in a spaghetti pot, fill the pot with water to just below the colander, and set the pot, covered, to boil. The potatoes will be done in 30-45 minutes, when a skewer penetrates but they are still firm. Peel them and mash them while they’re still hot (a potato ricer works very well here). Season the potatoes with a pinch of salt and slowly knead in enough flour to obtain a fairly firm, smooth, non-sticky dough -- exactly how much flour will depend upon how moist the potatoes are.

Roll the dough out into snakes about as thick as your finger, cut the snakes into one-inch pieces, and gently score the pieces crosswise with a fork. As an alternative to scoring with a fork, Bugialli suggests you gently press them against the inside of a curved cheese grater, to obtain a curved shape with a depression on one side. The choice is up to you.

Cook the gnocchi in abundant salted boiling water, removing them with a slotted spoon a minute or two after they rise to the surface. Drain them well and serve them with a few leaves of sage, melted unsalted butter and Parmigiano, or meat sauce, or pomarola, or pesto.

The quantities above will make gnocchi sufficient for four as a main corse, or 6-8 as a first course in an Italian meal.

I'll be trying this sometime soon. Tonight I'm going with a ricotta gnocchi. A little less time consuming as it does not contain potatoes. You can check out this recipe too, just click here: Quick Ricotta Gnocchi. From here on I'll be continuing my gnocchi education.


OPEN: The Tavern on France

The Tavern on France
6740 France Avenue
Edina, MN 55435

Recently opened is the Tavern on France. It's a tavern...on France. This particular piece of real estate has had lots of trouble in the past simply keeping any one business in business. Not too long ago it was Cafe Via, a highly over priced upscale dining establishment that I don't think lasted much longer than a couple years. I was tempted to visit (since it's close to my house), but after repeatedly looking over the menu and prices I discouraged myself enough to ignore it's existence. Then it closed.

Now last week it has turned a new leaf once again. It is now the Tavern on France. Same nice open patio, same exterior, but behold! There are actually people sitting outside. It looks like it's doing pretty good. I've read mixed reviews, but a co-worker of mine went there for lunch and gave it a thumbs up. I think I feel safe enough to give it a try. I will let you all know.

A little about the restaurant:
It does take reservations for parties of 8 or more. Parties of 8 or less can call up to a half hour before arrival to be put on the waiting list.

The Tavern Club WAS free to join, but now cost you about $15. If you live at the Tavern then it might be a good investment. It earns you points for every dollar you spend. At 200 points you recieve a $10 gift card. Also, club perks include a 20% food discount with no restrictions and $3.50 25oz tap beers.

They even have a HH (I'm not sure how in Edina, but they do!) every Monday thru Friday from 3pm-6pm and 9pm-close. Specials include $2 tap beers, $2 off cocktails, 1/2 priced pizza and 1/2 priced wine.

Sunday brunch buffet every Sunday from 10am-2pm. $13.99 for adults, $5.99 for kids 12 and under. Features dishes such as fresh carved roast beef, garlic mashed potatoes with gravy, bacon, sausage, eggs, a pancake bar and more.

As much as I try to keep in the Minneapolis scene, I find myself drifting more and more towards what is easy and accessable around me in the suburbs. I really do hope the Tavern on France works out. Edina could definitely use a few more unique and good dining establishments.


Anticipating the 'Great Minnesota Get Together'

The 2009 Minnesota State Fair runs August 27 thru September 7. Some might say I'm getting a bit ahead of myself, but I don't think so. I mean, in order to eat and drink everything I want for a week means I have to start working out now! Training for eating at the state fair is like training for an Iron Man where you eat instead of swim, bike and run...does that make sense?

All I know is I can't wait! And you bet there is going to be tons to read about after I'm done with it all.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Farmer's Market

United Noodles Asian Supermarket

United Noodles Asian Supermarket
2015 E. 24th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Deli Menu

Ever since I found out about United Noodles I have been in love. It's not the easiest place to find. Hidden behind buildings and surrounded by warehouses, United Noodles is literally a hidden treasure. Trust me though, once you visit you'll never want to leave...or at least you'll want to come back.

Established in 1972, United Noodles has been busy providing Minneapolis and beyond with interesting, fresh, exciting and tasty food items as well as hot food from their deli. According to their website they provide over 8,000 different items from 15 different countries including China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, India and more!

You can find any sort of noodle imaginable. The sauces, seasonings and canned goods are a cook's dream. They have a great produce section and tons of frozen food items such as buns, rice patties, dumplings, chicken, fish and desserts. Not to mention their great teas and a section that is devoted to just different kinds and brands of tofu (awesome). They also have a section for kitchenware so you can find almost everything you need to cook the things you buy. I plan on buying a hotpot in the near future so I can do cooking on the deck, only $55!

My personal favorites are the fresh Kimche, frozen rice patties and super affordable shitaki mushrooms, but what I also love about United Noodles is finding something new everytime I visit. United Noodles is a great establishment. If you haven't made a visit yet, do it!


A Remedy for Those Mourning the Loss of Gooloney's

Thinking about not having Golooney's anymore to provide Minneapolis with the greasy delicious heaven of a philly cheese steak is enough to make one sick to their stomach. So, I was super excited to hear that there is an alternative now that Golooney's has been 86ed.

Being a Uptowner myself I've often passed Caffrey's, but never stopped in. It's right between the Smiten Kitten and that bar with the cowboys painted on it, an interesting spot. My sister went this weekend and said their philly is almost as good as Golooney's. The bread is exactly the same and really the only difference was there wasn't as much "meat juice goodness". Maybe a little less greasy? Not sure, but the verdict that Caffrey's may be able to fill the void Golooney's has left.

Locally owned and operated, Caffrey's uses all fresh daily ingredients. They even roast their own beef and slice the meat to order! Awesome. If you can't stop in they deliver to all of Uptown and even most of Downtown til 3:00AM.

Reading up on the place I learned of a sub called the Blue Cow. The Blue Cow is among other signatures subs at Caffrey's and includes roast beef, blue cheese crumbles, bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onions and mayo. Holy! I will have to run a marathon and then get down with one of those.

3008 Lyndale Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55408

Mt. Fuji

Mt. Fuji
2819 Hennepin Ave

Went there for a quick lunch on Saturday. The first thing I noticed was the sign was really hard to read. No biggie unless you're driving down the street and miss it. It's right on Hennepin next to Old Chicago. Of course it's Uptown and parking is not always available, there is no parking in the rear.

You can't really tell from the outside, but inside is very nice and even a little classy. The bar is in one room and the sushi bar in the other. We must have got there right when they opened because we were the only ones there and a guy was mopping the floor. There are black leather booths and tables. decorative dishes (some I noticed from IKEA) hang from the walls. The floors are black stone looking tiles.

I found out later that they serve both traditional and French style sushi, as well as other dishes. I'm not sure what that meant so I looked it up. I didn't get a very clear answer except for the fact that French style means it's not purely Japanese. I guess Samurai in Des Moines is American, Japanese and French style sushi, so it seems to be a pretty normal thing here in the good ol' midwest. French style sushi is the Japanese art of sushi making with some French inspired ingredients and techniques...yeah, that sounds good.

Anyways, we just got a couple of pretty plain and simple things. I think we ended up with a california roll, a couple spicy tuna and a futo (my obsession). I had originally asked for the tuna and avacado roll and when the waiter asked me if I wanted the tuna spicy I figured it would be spicy tuna and avacado. Apparently there was a huge communication breakdown because I ended up with a spicy tuna.

Eveything was pretty good, plus there was lots on the menu with a wide range of prices. I wouldn't recommend the spicy tuna however because it's just tuna, no veg. Also, the tuna is ground up super fine, almost a pate or paste. I like to be able to feel the texture of the fish. That, and it wasn't that spicy. The futo maki was different, but good. My only complaint would be there wasn't any green in it. I like asparagus or spinach in my futo. Plus it makes the roll look more colorful and appealing.

Mt. Fuji has peaked my interest and I will be back.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Follow me on Urbanspoon!

I've found a new place to play.

Follow me: BananaWoo

OPEN: Tosca

3415 West 44th Street
Minneapolis/Linden Hills, MN
(Don't call 612-824-6013 for reservations, this is the Turtle Bread bakery number)

I think I will be the third or fourth person to write about Tosca thus far. There have been some mixed reviews as well as some confusion as to who is actually the head chef (I believe it is Adam Vickerman, the chef from Cafe Levain). Overall, I think people are hopeful that Turtle Bread owner, Harvey McLain's newest venture will be a success.

The Hot Dish (CityPages) food writer/critic had little to say except for the fact that this restaurant has been a long time in the making. It's true. What is now home to Tosca was, for a long while, a couple empty rooms (Turtle Bread's former kitchen and bakery. Now all that has moved to their Chicago location) with a few tables. No one really knew if this place was going to happen or not. Lucky for some, the doors did eventually open on April 17 of this year. They started with a breakfast and lunch selection, but now serve dinner as well.

See what others had to say about Tosca:
Trattoria Tosca on Urbanspoon
The Hot Dish, CityPages
EAT, Pioneer Press
Food+Dining, Msp Mag

We visited yesterday evening for my dad's birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD-ERS!) and the wait staff seemed happy and enthusiastic. They said they had a double niche being a delicious new Italian restaurant in a fairly quiet and un-retail-inhabited area.

The inside looked great. Quaint with a little bit of class and flare. The elevated open kitchen was something I personally enjoyed. We sat in the front (there isn't much of a lobby to speak of) near the host station and below the kitchen. Next to us sat a large table cover in a white table cloth that seemed to be home to the bread cutting and wine pouring station. Between the Turtle Bread deli/bakery area and the entrance is another seating area with dark leather booths.

The menu is small, but interesting. I have to say that I personally had a little 'sticker shock' looking at the prices. Then again, I'm in my twenties and still partake in the occasional cup o' noodle because they are fifty cents at the gas station. For anyone though, be prepared to spend about 20-25 bucks per person during dinner. Add a little extra if you intend on making a few selections from their wine or beer list too. They do have a reasonably priced (and a reasonable selection) of beers and wines though. House wines $5/$19, all bottled beer $5 too.

We all tried something different. The bucatini (my personal favorite in the world of pasta), the chicken with polenta, the gnocchi, the salad with anchovy vinaigrette, a pasta with cream sauce served with beets, a cooked greens dish and a local mushroom side. All were good, interesting and a little different. The portions are small, but if you think about it, they make sense.

Let me go on a little rant about portion size here. We, as Americans measure food value in portion size. Super size this, side of that, double this. And while the size portions at Tosca are small, they are what we should be eating. However, I do think it is still a little pricey for what you get, but that's a whole other story.

Some key notes from dinner:
-The anchovy filet on the salad was amazing and the vinaigrette was the best I've ever had. Not overly fishy or salty, but refreshing light and filling.
-The chicken breast was huge! The polenta was creamy and the chicken was juicy and perfectly cooked.
-The mushroom side was something I had really never seen before. A variety of mushrooms sauteed and topped with fresh herbs. I could not pick out the truffle however (I guess I'm not as stealthy as a pig), but it is supposedly in there.
-The bucatini was done just right. Not too chewy, not to mushy. I liked how the sauce had a little bit of a kick too.

Anyways, if you're bleeding money like most of us are these days (or you just want a nice place to eat out and treat yourself) try Tosca. I really admire the staff and Harvey for making this place work. I wish Tosca and the Tosca family continued success.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009


3016 Lyndale Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55408

We visited Zen one evening after a quick beer on the rooftop at Moto-I. I'm glad we went to Zen because it seems that Moto-I isn't getting great reviews. Also, Zen was very nice and the food was good. It was sort of sad to see the place empty though (it was a Tuesday evening), we were literally the only table there.

The menu was fairly large with a good variety of soups, noodles and stir-fry. There was also some fish options, some interesting apps and a good wine list. Also, during the weekdays wine bottles are half off, so that's a plus.

I went with my usual - Pho. Zen did a great job and it was only about 8 bucks. The broth was really flavorful and the meat was tender. There were thin slices of beef brisket and some meatballs (pretty traditional), lots of noodles and a few bean sprouts. On the side came fresh jalapenos and hoisin and sriracha sauce.

My sister had the Tom Yum, one of her favorites. It didn't come with noodles, but she asked if they could add some and the kitchen was very nice to add some and I think free of charge. The soup was spicy, the shrimp were large and cooked very nicely and on top were strips of fried egg. No complaints here.

Mr. B had the beef with broccoli (probably called something else, I don't remember). It was however very bright and colorful, lots of vegetables, crunchy and served with rice.


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Uptown @ Lyn & Lake

The first sake brewery outside of Japan! Could this be the new fad in Minneapolis? I can't say that I'm much of a saki expert, but I do like it so maybe I'll have to learn by attending a few happy hours. Moto-I was also rated best Japanese restaurant by CityPages this year. Wow, already making a name for yourself I see.

We just went for drinks and to take part of the awesome roof-top patio. I have to say that I'd go back for the patio and the decor alone. The inside consists of 2 small floors, each with their own bar (yay!). There is a full menu and full bar. However, during happy hour and on the patio they only serve drinks and apps. Moto-I claims their menu is "reminiscent of an Izakaya, a Japanese Pub." Serving small plates as well as noodle and rice dishes. I'm excited to find out.

Everything seems pretty reasonable. The only thing we questioned was the bao, or steamed buns. Three dollars a pop. My sister said they better be the size of my head. Or maybe they are really just that good.

I'm sure I'll return and get some full details on the menu. But for now, if you're looking for a great patio and atmosphere check out Moto-I!


Hoban - Something New!

Yes, it's official. I'm addicted to Hoban. But it is so great because I always find something new there. This week's new piece of deliciousness from Hoban is the Kimchi Pa Jun, a Korean style pancake filled with kimchi and green onions. The kimchi juice flavors the whole pancake. And a big plus - the thing is the size of my head. Awesome.