Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Lyndale Tap House
2937 Lyndale Ave South
Minneapolis, MN 55408

Website: http://www.thelyndale.com/
Menu: http://www.thelyndale.com/menu/

How Did I Find This Place?

While I recently went through a “bargain deal purge” where I unsubscribed to every Groupon, Living Social and numerous other websites that offer restaurant and spa deals that are just “too good to say no”….and I didn’t….I still had a few left when my sister Diane came into town for a week this summer.  Of the ones that I had left, the Lyndale Tap House sounded like the hippest option for two cool cat sisters.

Yeah, we're on a boat.

Atmosphere

Located in an area dubbed “Lyn-Lake” because of the cross streets, the Lyndale Tap House opened in 2009.  The interior is a gastropub concept with beautiful wood decor and tables.  The large windows facing the street also open in the summer giving many of the diners some fresh air and light breeze.

Part of the interior at Lyndale Tap House

Menu

Almost all of the dishes are best served with a nice tap beer at this high-end pub eatery.  Hot pretzels, maple glazed pork belly, wild rice waldorf, beet salad (a favorite of mine), pub pies, hand cut fries, brussel sprouts (another favorite), sandwiches and also serves brunch on the weekends form 10AM-3PM.

Then there is the pit beef, which is their specialty.  Straight from blue-collared East Baltimore, this top round of beef is seasoned with pepper for three days and then slow cooked for a crunchy outside and rare inside.  It’s then served cut paper thin with horseradish sauce (yes please!).

Meal

We decided to share an appetizer since we needed to spend the $30 gift certificate.  Look at this beautiful presentation!

Lyndale Tap Homemade Onion Rings: beer battered onion rings served with homemade spicy ketchup and buttermilk dressing

Diane is a pasta freak so when I glanced at the menu I was less than shocked when she picked the following:

Lyndale Tap Shells and Cheese: Wisconsin smoked cheddar, gouda, scallions, peas and bacon. Topped with buttery bread crumbs.

But I couldn’t go here and not try their specialty (especially since it sounded so interesting) so pit beef it was.

Lyndale Tap's Pit Beef Sandwich: served on a kaiser roll with shaved onion and horseradish sauce. Side of homemade pickles.

As far as the pasta, our conclusion was to skip out on the pasta and just stick with their specialty, well executed pub food.

BUT more about the pub food.  The fries were hand cut and fresh, the onion rings were some of the crunchiest and best I’d ever had and the pit beef sandwich was very good; I would give it a shot if you go.  The horseradish was also a phenomenal co-star!  Yum!

We had a work sponsored lunch this summer that featured cuisine from a place that I had been following…..the GRASTROTRUCK food truck!  I was thrilled!

Food trucks have been more popular than ever and while the Smack Shack will always hold a special place in my heart, the GASTROTRUCK was a very nice surprise for a weekday lunch.

The Grand Entrance!

Their seasonally inspired offerings by Chef Stephen Trojahn were well executed and through my research I observed that Chef Stephen fosters a farm to truck concept.  In short, they are proud of knowing where all of their ingredients come from (and they should be!).

The truck can be found on the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul depending what day it is and can also be booked for company events for unique catering that no one will ever forget!

Here’s a few of the things that were featured on their menu that beautiful summer day:

Gastrotruck Fish Taco with Shredded Beets with a side of Summer Salad

Gastrotruck Buffalo Blue Cheese Burger

The best place to find out where the GASTROTRUCK is parked for lunch or dinner is their twitter account or here at their facebook page, like all of the Twin Cities food trucks.  In addition, here is their website that has some great photos of other menu items that they seasonally feature.

So while the end of the season is near, try to get out there while there is still time!

 

CRAVE
Various locations
Website: http://craveamerica.com

How Did I Find This Place?

I had heard about CRAVE from some friends, seen it all over the review boards and had specifically been directed to try their fabulous happy hour specials.

Atmosphere

Very hip and chic, lots of marble, beautiful people and kind of loud music when it gets later…but I guess that is the “bees knees” with all the kids these days.

Menu

CRAVE offers lunch, dinner, sushi, desert, happy hour and extensive drink and wine menus. I would go into it but there is just too much and too many locations.  So I’ll let you research the one that you’re going to and give a couple of tips based on plates that I have dined on.

Meal

This small research project was over the course of multiple trips and with various people but here it goes:

Look at this monster serving of $4 Truffle Fries on the Happy Hour Menu!

CRAVE Korean Chicken Tenders, $5 on Happy Hour Menu

CRAVE Mini Fresh Margarita Pizza, $5 on Happy Hour Menu

CRAVE Walleye Fingers, $6 Happy Hour Special

Review

The Korean Chicken Fingers, Margarita Pizza, and Truffle Fries were all very good.  Other dishes that I’ve sampled there and have really liked include the Shrimp Pesto, Asian Noodle Salad and we also REALLY liked the seasonal Halibut dish that they had on the menu this summer.  I didn’t take pictures though; it would have been awkward and I didn’t want to seem like a TOTAL freak to the group I was with.

On the other hand, I can’t say that much about the Walleye Fingers; they weren’t too impressive.  Another dish to avoid is the Baked Crab and Artichoke appetizer; it’s literally one of the worst dishes I’ve ever paid for in my dining history.  It was extremely salty and fishy.

But besides those isolated incidents, CRAVE has a great atmosphere with wicked happy hour specials and some unique fusion dishes.  It also holds a special place in my heart since they were very charitable and supportive while one of their team members and our friends went through a medical battle.

In closing, I advise anyone to check out their happy hour specials in order to try a little bit of everything if nothing else!

I admit that I have put the blog on the back burner but it’s all for good reasons so don’t get too upset!  Wedding planning and going through transitioning to a new job has been the focus, and I have a couple of things to say about both of them before diving back into normalcy!

Hard Truth About the Beginning Stages of Wedding Planning
Anytime someone tells you that “wedding planning is fun!” then you have a pretty good guess on how they aligned with it…they are either not paying for it at all (or very little), they have been thinking about it since they were 12, or they are a crafty do-it-yourself freak.  While I’m extremely excited to marry a man that I respect and am in love with (and best friends with!) , it turns out that my “type A” personality has not boded well for wedding planning thus far.  Spreadsheets comparing photographers and their qualitative and quantitative aspects and similar other charts with reception halls, caterers, DJ’s and other services to ensure that we are not “getting taken” are being updated bi weekly, which I’m not sure is good for my health.

In a nutshell, I have a problem with purchasing things that aren’t “on sale” and have no return policy, and the wedding industry is a freaking rip off, no matter how you spin it.  To say that it has been confusing and misleading at times is an understatement!

New Job, Lower Carbon Footprint
Exciting news…I don’t have a 2 hour commute anymore!  While I’m extremely sad about leaving many of the people that I have had the opportunity to work with over the course of the last 3 1/2 years, I am very excited about the people and the opportunities to come at my new job that will put me near downtown Minneapolis.  I’ve always wanted to be a be a little hipster that works downtown so it looks like I got my wish!  I’m sure that there will be some great blog posts about downtown to come post Thanksgiving and I couldn’t be more pumped about it!

In closing, here’s to never going a month without not writing a post ever again!

Ah, where do I begin?

About the Author

Since I’ve already introduced you to Mr. Follett in my post another one of his novels, “Fall of Giants”, I will spare myself the space (and you the time it takes to read it) and just dive right into the novel.

About the Novel

“Pillars of the Earth” is a historical novel that was written in 1989, but, not made popular until word-of-mouth and popularity in Europe made it’s way across the Atlantic.  In fact, it wasn’t until 2007 that a lady named Oprah decided to put it on her book club list.  While I’m usually not a fan of her recommendations and didn’t know that it was on the list until after I had read it, she done good.  The woman done realllll good in this case.

The setting is primarily in a fictional English city, Kingsbridge, during the 12th century and centers around the building of a cathedral over multiple decades.  While a book about building cathedrals might sound lame…it’s not!  There is murder, adultery, romance, tension, women’s rights issues, corrupt Lords, royalty, beautiful duchesses, monks, political struggles, and most importantly….vivid characters.

Ken Follett has a gift that many other authors attempt and fail at, character development.  While he does have over 1000 pages to work with…he does such a phenomenal job of introducing you to them on every level.  Whether it be first person, second person, professionally or personally.  By the end of the book you are so familiar with the characters that you know what their reaction will be to a situation, which is something that few books and authors can claim (unless you read Nicholas Sparks and they all start to blend together).

My Favorite Characters

Since the story is too extensive to get into and I didn’t want to spoil it, I thought a good idea would be to give a bio of my favorite characters:

The story begins with Tom Builder, a father that finds him and his family fighting from starving after being let go after the building of a castle is cancelled.  Without giving away too much, Tom eventually finds himself running into Prior Phillip.

Prior Phillip is a 20 something devote monk that gave himself to God at the age of 4 after he was adopted by a monk after watching his parents being brutally murdered by soldiers.  Prior Phillip is a constant character that all others center around in the novel and was one of my favorites.  SIDERANT: It’s good to note that the book does a wonderful job of not making this into a religious book or giving it a “down with old world Catholics” type of message. 

Yes, it's so good that Starz made it a mini series!

Aliena is the daughter of the Earl of Shiring and the intended bride of the evil William Hamleigh.  Aliena has the world on a string as a responsible 17-year-old that will eventually reign the earldom beside her brother.  That is until the unspeakable happens and her future is ripped from beneath her, making her completely powerless and left standing in the ashes with her brother who is still a child.

Review

I LOVED it and have now begun to dive into the sequel, “World Without End” which is about descendants of the characters from “Pillars of the Earth” and takes place in the same location, about 200 years later.

If you’re a person that is looking for something different from the norm…but that has simple vocabulary and a page turning plots, this is your book. I 110% recommend it.

*****/5 stars!

Sunsets: Woodbury, MN

Sunsets
700 Commons Dr
Woodbury, MN 55125

Websitehttp://www.sunsetsrestaurant.com/woodbury/index.shtml
Menuhttp://www.sunsetsrestaurant.com/woodbury/menu.shtml

How Did I Find This Place?

I “found” Sunsets about five years ago when I began working on the East side of town.  I go here ALL of the time since it near where I work and I am embarrassed to say that I have never blogged about their phenomenal happy hour.  They feature appetizers ranging from $2.00 for a twice baked potatoes to various dishes up to $4.99 including the following:

  • Artichoke Cheese Dip
  • Buffalo Wings
  • Basil Pesto Quesadillas
  • Bruschetta
  • Chicken Flat Bread
  • Szechuan Wings
  • Mussels
  • Sunsets Sliders
  • Nachos
Here are the appetizers that me and my good friend Liz decided upon and overestimated ourselves on.  You might not be able to tell but the portion sizes are extremely large.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip, and the largest serving side West of the Mississippi

Bruschetta

Mushrooms...REALLY good ones

As always, Sunsets didn’t fail to deliver in this case.  It’s a restaurant that has reasonably priced food with a chef minded menu, focused on fresh ingredients.

Upon my visit home this summer, it was deemed official that I am a gardening ROOKIE. See here for photographic evidence of my lack of gardening skills and the awesomeness of my parent’s gardening skills:

Sneek Peek of my Mom's Garden

Yup, grapes in Wisconsin....

How great do these peas look, honestly?

Pretty sure I don't have broccoli. While I used to have cucumbers, those fell to the blade unfortunately.

Fresh raspberries, check!

All and all, the whole thing just kicks my garden all over the place!

%d bloggers like this: