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2014 State Fair Food -- report the hits and misses!

Good to know!

Sep 05, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

2014 State Fair Food -- report the hits and misses!

My report, finally…

Three items at the Blue Barn. The Chicken-in-a-Waffle is buffalo chicken nuggets with sausage cream gravy in a waffle cone. The chicken is tender, as others have said. The chicken and gravy are both spicy, and the cone, while clever, is pretty much a nonentity in the dish. If you want buffalo chicken with gravy, go for it - otherwise, I'd say skip. Wife loved the Meatloaf-on-a-Stick, especially the sauce. The blue cheese-corn fritters didn't have much blue cheese flavor. The chimichurri sauce was nice (and added some heat). However, despite not delivering much blue cheese, they were really excellent corn fritters. Big, moist, not too greasy.

Daughter enjoyed a 1919 Root Beer float. Wife and I hit the Hamline Dining Hall to try Izzy's State Fair flavors -- jello salad and mini-donut crunch. The jello salad was fun to taste -- marshmallow ice cream, bits of jello flavor, chewy bits of maraschino cherry. Overall, they nailed the concept. Mini-donut crunch had a more complex flavor, with nutmeg and cinnamon dominant. I would actually order that one outside of the fair, if it was offered.

We had some warm kettle corn from the booth just south of Giggles. I have to say, this was remarkably good, with both the salt and sweet being subtle flavors instead of overwhelming. A small bag is enough to feed a family for days.

Had to get a pronto pup, of course.

Had a fresh, tart apple at the Horticulture Building, along with an apple cider freeze (still the best and most refreshing deal at the fair) and their new apple rollover. Thumbs up for all three. The rollover wasn't a hot pastry (like a turnover), but had an apple filling in a flaky crust. Really good.

We also did some honey tasting on the other side of the building and ordered the mini-sizes of the two honey ice creams. I greatly appreciate them cutting down portion sizes, finally.

Dinner was a steak sandwich, antipasto salad, and pork wings at Mancini's. All three were satisfying. The antipasto is heavy on pepperoncini, as well as cheese, meat, etc., so it might be spicier than some are expecting for a salad.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something, naturally.

Sep 01, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

2014 State Fair Food -- report the hits and misses!

I can't believe it's day two already, and no thread! My family isn't going until next week, so I'll let the CH community wean out the good from the bad for me.

(Don't make me rely on Rick Nelson, whose descriptive scale runs from "Fab!" to "Skip" with nothing in between.)

Aug 22, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Perfect Lunch

Blue Ox is really nice. That neighborhood (or block, anyway) is starting to pick up some interesting food options. Besides the aforementioned Smoke in the Pit, there's now CityFoodStudio, a shared commercial kitchen. You can find extremely-small-batch ice cream maker FrozBroz there.

Aug 22, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Porchetteria

I'm a big fan of takeout and catering from the Cucina. They do a "family dinner for 4" that is a great deal -- huge loaf of bread or crispy flatbread, salad, entree (pasta or chicken parmesan or the similar), and four individual desserts (bars or cannoli) for around $40-50. They'll have it ready for you either hot or cold. We've also used their catering menu to serve parties -- they put together some terrific platters of cheeses, roast vegetables, Italian desserts, etc. for a reasonable price.

Aug 22, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Update to Italian restaurants in Twin Cities

Any thoughts about Louis, the new(ish) restaurant at Cossetta's in St. Paul? The menu seems to fit the bill, and they certainly know old-school red sauce Italian. I have not been there, though.

Aug 20, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Going to Origami - what non-sushi item is best?

I like their ramen and udon.

Aug 20, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Update to Italian restaurants in Twin Cities

I've heard the words "too much" and "garlic" together, but it's not a concept that makes any sense to me!

hot dog buns with poppy seeds on top

Musky_Hunter is right. The main brand in Chicago is S. Rosen's. (They also sell a lot of rye bread.) Costco here carries some Rosen's buns and breads, but not the ones with poppy seeds. Vienna Beef, which makes the traditional hot dog for Chicago dogs, has branched out in recent years to sell condiments and buns, too. Kowalski's usually carries some Vienna Beef products, and they have the buns occasionally. You might also have luck at Cecil's Deli, though I haven't looked there in a long time.

Aug 09, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Sausage Rolls

Potter's Pasties?

Aug 08, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Parents 50th anniversary

The Kozlaks own Jax's. They also had a few other places that have closed. You may be thinking of Kozlak's Royal Oak.

Aug 05, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

"Date night" offers--need suggestions

I would also suggest you look at Groupon. There are often deals available along the lines of $15 gets you $30 at a restaurant.

Jul 21, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Valley Natural Foods

I guess it's what they put there since they can't have wine.

Jul 02, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Valley Natural Foods

I dropped by briefly on Saturday. It's a big store, very nicely decorated. The produce section was a bit small, I thought, proportionally. Meat and seafood counters were nice. A substantial cheese area. There's also a salad bar and hot foods bar.

I didn't shop very much, but prices that I saw were reasonable. One peeve -- and this is a personal one, I admit -- is that they have what seems like a lot of space devoted to "natural remedies", essential oils, fancy soaps, and the like. This occupied a big chunk of real estate in the center of the store, similar to the layout you find at Whole Foods. I'd rather see that space devoted to more food.

Jul 01, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

State Fair 2014

Most creative/Minnesotan has to be the "jello salad ice cream." It sounds both brilliant and awful, and yet I want to try it.

A lot of breakfast-themed foods this year. Is the waffle the most common new ingredient?

Along those lines, the PB&J French Toast sounds like one of those things that someone should have come up with years ago.

I'm leery about the walleye mac&cheese at Giggles. They did a "walleye roll" (like a lobster roll) a few years ago, which was a good concept and very tasty, but so full of tiny bones that it was impossible to eat.

Several of these items could be in a mix-and-match game. Pick one from the left column and one from the right column -- any combination works!

Pizza Strips
Pretzel Taco
Prime Rib Dog
Schnitzel Curds
Shrimp Tots

Jun 26, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

A few days in Minneapolis area - did my CH homework

Lucia's is serving brunch on Saturday, not lunch.

Jun 26, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

It's Tuesday, and We Want Steak!!

I thought of Manny's, too, but from a little Google research, it looks like they only serve Choice steak … at Prime prices … although it is extensively dry-aged.

Pizza Burgers (MSP, but elsewhere in Midwest okay, too)

And then there's this...

Jun 19, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

ten top MSP breakfasts

Hell's Kitchen still makes MY list! We had a great brunch there on Mother's Day.

The Twin Cities are blessed with a multitude of great breakfast spots -- more so than most cities I've experienced.

Some of my favorites -- and I won't call them a top ten, just good ones that stick out in my mind -- include the aforementioned HK, Al's Breakfast, Craftsman, the Birchwood, Butter Bakery, French Meadow, Sun Street Breads, Bon Vie, Barbette, the Kenwood, Hot Plate, Good Day Cafe, Edina Grill, Mickey's Diner, Meritage … I'd best stop!

Jun 19, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Easygoing First Date Places?

Cheeky Monkey?

Looking for delicious, inexpensive food within a 1-2 mile radius of Surdyks

Sorry if my response was unclear. I wasn't saying "not really" to Zen Box but to the OP's question to me about walking across the river to downtown.

Jun 16, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Looking for delicious, inexpensive food within a 1-2 mile radius of Surdyks

Well… not really. Not worth the walk, if you want cheap eats.

It's a pretty good hike across either the Hennepin bridge or the Central Ave bridge. The Hennepin bridge is much more scenic, and you can stop at Nicollet Island. The Inn there is nice, though not cheap, and you an always picnic in the park there. In fact, grabbing a to-go meal from either Surdyk's or Lund's and having a picnic on the island would be a lovely summer afternoon.

Once you cross the river, you're on the north end of downtown, which is mostly offices. You could turn north on 1st, 2nd, or Washington and hit some of the trendy restaurants in the North Loop or Warehouse District-- the Bachelor Farmer, Haute Dish, 112 Eatery, Saffron, Origami. Some great food but not inexpensive. Perhaps Black Sheep Pizza would fit your bill.

If I was to do a big walking loop, I'd probably have that picnic, then walk along the riverfront to Izzy's for ice cream, and head back on the Stone Arch Bridge.

Jun 16, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Looking for delicious, inexpensive food within a 1-2 mile radius of Surdyks

There are a ton of cheap places in that neighborhood. Off the top of my head, you have both Punch and Pizza Nea, so you can do a Neapolitan-style pizza competition. There's the Bulldog NE, Kramarczuk's, and Brasa. You've also got some sit-down places that aren't super-cheap but aren't very expensive: Red Stag, Gardens of Salonica, Masu Sushi, Butcher Block, Ginger Hop, Gorkha Palace … and probably some others I'm not thinking of, as well.

Don't discount takeout from Surdyk's Cheese Shop or even the Lund's.

Places to eat around University of Minnesota - and candy?

All righty, then. Let's move on from the derail of this thread.

Jun 11, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Places to eat around University of Minnesota - and candy?

Next to Tofu House is YogurtLab -- a pretty good rendition of the frozen yogurt-with-lots-of-toppings craze, if you like that sort of thing.

Jun 11, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Places to eat around University of Minnesota - and candy?

Well, they use baguettes ("crusty bread") and mayo, although I don't know what you mean by "traditional mayo." As I said, it's not the best I've ever had, but it's recognizably banh mi.

I'm pretty sure there's no Vietnamese equivalent of VPN Neapolitan pizza certification for banh mi, so this is just hair-splitting between opinionated people.

Jun 11, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Places to eat around University of Minnesota - and candy?

Just to clarify, they do offer (more or less) traditional banh mi as well as some Americanized variants, but they are certainly not the best I've had. Most of the Stadium Village restaurants that I've recommended are fine for a decent lunch but not standout places for a memorable meal.

Jun 11, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Places to eat around University of Minnesota - and candy?

Well, yes, because Jasmine Orchid closed last year. It's been replaced by an outpost of Little Szechuan which has "CNN's 50 Best Chinese Restaurants in the US!" displayed all over its windows.

Jun 11, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Places to eat around University of Minnesota - and candy?

I work about a block from the Commons Hotel.

First, the Commons is really nice. They took an old, tired Radisson and remodeled it last year into something with a very local, quirky, academic flavor. There's a small hotel restaurant, the Beacon, which is nice.

Because you're smack-dab in universityville (Stadium Village), most of the local grub is cheap and college-focused. I recommend the Punch Pizza, half a block away, for a casual lunch or dinner of excellent Neapolitan pizza and/or high-quality salads. Other options include things like Chipotle, a decent burger place called MyBurger, and a passable banh mi place called Bun Mi.

If you head northwest from the hotel across campus, or follow University Ave northwest, you'll come to the campus business district on the north end of campus, called Dinkytown. There are more cheap eats there, as well as some quite good restaurants. I recommend Kafe 421 or the Loring Pasta Bar (partly for food, partly for cool decor -- be sure to check out the bathrooms).

On the more casual side, Al's Breakfast is a local institution and practically a national landmark. Annie's Parlour is a classic burger and malt joint. Wally's Falafel is a good lunch option, too. In the evenings, the Kitty Cat Klub is a good place for a drink and to check out the funky, laid-back atmosphere.

The brand new light rail line has a stop practically at the front door of your hotel. The line starts running this weekend. You can take it to either downtown (as mentioned) or to some stops along University Ave. in St. Paul where you can access good ethnic grub, particularly southeast Asian.

My recommendation for a great meal along the green line is Ngon Bistro. Take the line toward St. Paul and get off at the Victoria Street stop and walk one block east. This restaurant is a Vietnamese-French fusion place that uses some terrific local ingredients, including some of the best pork around.

Have Co-op Produce Prices Risen Astronomically, or Am I Just Noticing?

I like Cub better than Rainbow -- I generally find that their produce is good. Meat is OK, fish is fine if you want frozen. The selection is surprisingly good for a mass-market grocer -- Nueske's bacon and Morey's smoked fish are available at good prices, and they have a decent range of cheeses. If they could just up their baked goods game to even the level of Archer Farms and offer a better selection of deli meats, I'd be very happy with them.

Jun 06, 2014
Jordan in Minneapolis-St. Paul