Tag Archives: restaurant review

Caffe Biaggio, St. Paul, Minnesota

Friday night we had dinner for the second time at Caffe Biaggio located 15-20 minutes away from our house.  We decided to splurge for a change.   Another new favorite of ours, to be sure.  I can’t say enough good things about this place.  We asked for the same waiter that we had the first time we had dinner there.  Adel is a fine waiter indeed. After asking for a wine suggestion, he asked what I liked then offered a wine from northern Italy called Valpolicella. It was exquisite, I had two glasses!  I don’t always do that but this wine was soooooo good! And the food is delicious.  Hubby had their special, a Sardinian paella but substitute the rice for cous cous.  He looked to be in heaven eating it.  I got their lamb shank, the meat easily fell off the bone and it was served with an orzo pasta and a tomato sauce.  Oh. My. Goodness. It was luscious!!! So delicious, out of this world delicious.  I did not eat it all and had the leftovers for lunch the next day. It was just as good as the night before.  Wow. We also had the calamari appetizer and we split a Mediterranean salad, complete with arthichokes, two different kinds of olives and an Italian dressing.  Delish, all of it!!

I love the welcoming atmosphere of this outstanding Italian restaurant.  The food is fantabulous. It’s conveniently located on University Avenue in St. Paul close to Highway 280.  You must go.  Check out my gallery of photos and enjoy!!

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Oyamel Cocina Mexicana and Navy Memorial, Washington D.C.

I had a most delicious lunch at Oyamel Cocina Mexicana last week after visiting the National Gallery of Art.  I met my blogging friend Cathy of nomad, interrupted at the museum and we had a fun time viewing all the impressionism.  Please check out my post on that at the link.

For lunch we opted for this great Mexcian place just a couple of blocks from the museum.  We felt a little awkward when asked if we had a reservation.  Luckily they did have a table for us.  Our waiter advised us on how to order our meal. They feature antojitos, or small plates of food.  It is suggested that you get 4-5 antojitos to share then each of us choose a protein from the other side.  We opted for two items to share and we each chose an item from the other side of the menu. Everything was fantastic!  Come along and see what we had for lunch that day.  First some restaurant scenes:

We chose Frijoles refritos con queso: Slow-cooked refried beans stuffed with melted Chihuahua cheese, served with Mexican cream and fresh tortillas and Papas al mole: José Andrés’ favorite potato fries in a mole poblano sauce of almonds, chiles and a touch of chocolate, topped with Mexican cream and queso fresco.  I loved both of these!  Cathy chose a shrimp dish and I had a chile relleno but I’m not finding either on the menu online so I can’t copy the descriptions here. They were both very good! Albeit a little spicy. I didn’t get a photo of Cathy’s shrimp but here’s the rest of the food:

The rest of the photos in the restaurant were of the ceviche bar.  I’m not sure how it works but it sure was pretty!

On our way to the metro station we bumped into the Navy Memorial.  There were these 3D sculptures coming out of the wall that caught my eye.  I’m so glad we went that way or we’d have never seen this memorial.

It was a wonderful day in D.C. and I packed in a lot in a few short hours.  It can be done!

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Cheesecake Factory – Pembroke Pines, Florida

I just spent 10 days in Florida packing up my mother’s apartment with my sister and daughter.  Mom is nearly 92 and can no longer be on her own.  She is now living with my sister which gives me much comfort knowing she is no longer alone.  We had a most awesome team, my sister, my daughter, Mom’s aide and me.  We decided to keep Mom’s daytime aide so that we could concentrate on the sorting, tossing and packing and I’m so glad we did!  I am quite sure we would not have made the deadline if we hadn’t.  Merline was such a great help and we are all so thankful for the nearly three years of care she gave to Mom.  She was there the last day too and said “Well Goldie, do you have anything to say to me?” Mom said no.  “What?? You mean after almost three years you have nothing to say to me?” Then Mom said “I love you!!” So darn sweet.  We were truly blessed hiring Comfort Keepers and Merline.  I would not hesitate to hire them in the future.  We had such a good experience.

After I took Mom and my sister to the airport, my daughter and I had a few more things to take care of before we headed back home. I am writing this on our final night here in southern Florida from our hotel room.  And by the time you read this I will be on  my way home, finally.  We donated many  things to Salvation Army and the rest was picked up this morning by Hands on Property Services.  And I was so impressed with them.  I was given a quote over the phone and he ended up taking much more than what I told him I would have and he was going to charge me the same amount!  So I said “are you sure?” and then he added only $25 more!  Wow.  So if you’re in southern Florida and need junk removed, don’t hesitate to contact this company.  They were on time and just plain awesome.

So back to the restaurant review that is the title of this post.  My daughter and I decided to dine at the Cheesecake Factory in Pembroke Pines last night.  We had such a good meal that we decided to go back tonight!  Last night we both chose pasta dishes.  Miss M had the Four Cheese Pasta: Penne Pasta, Mozzarella, Ricotta, Romano and Parmesan Cheeses, Marinara Sauce and Fresh Basil.  And I had the Garlic Noodles with shrimp:  Spaghettini, Fresh Asparagus, Shiitake Mushrooms, Oven-Roasted Tomatoes and Parmesan in a Delicious Garlic Sauce.  I did not get photos of our meals but they were both fabulous!!  And there’s always room for dessert right? Heh, almost.  A friend had recommended the Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake and said it was to die for so that’s what I had.  He was SO right!!  Miss M had the Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake, also very yummy!  But we could not finish them and took them back to the hotel with plastic forks.  We attempted to finish them later last night, however, they were just too rich!! So our desserts were finished in three sittings, the last one earlier today.

Tonight’s meal was equally delicious!!  Miss M had their Margherita Pizza: Fresh Mozzarella, Basil and Tomato Sauce.  And I had the Grilled Steak Medallions from their Skinnylicious menu:  Certified Angus Beef® Served with Fresh Asparagus, Shiitake Mushrooms, Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes, Crushed Croutons, Mashed Potatoes and Madeira Wine Sauce.  Outstanding!!  I’m so impressed with the great selection, excellent food and service.  This time I got photos of our meals.  We chose to dine on the patio and had the perfect spot just outside the door where waiters were coming and going so every so often we felt a nice, cool wave of air mixed with the breeze of a warm, southern Florida evening.  It was perfect!

We were truly blessed and managed to get just about everything done by the deadlines.  We had one snag today with turning off the water. I didn’t realize that I had to do it in the apartment so Miss M and I went back to do that this afternoon however it was not to be.  For some reason, today the deadbolt would not budge.  We used it the entire time we were there.  Two nice gentlemen tried to help by spraying WD40 in the lock and then using a tool to try to pry the deadbolt out of the door jamb, to no avail.  One of them said he thought the pin broke.  The management company is going to get in there on Monday to turn off the water for us.  Thank goodness because I’m not sure I’d be able to sleep tonight.  Other than this last snag, everything went fairly well.  We had awesome people along the way, from the lovely folks at the UPS store to the funny guy at the U-Haul place, the awesome Salvation Army team who took many things that we donated and finally the great company that hauled away the damaged furniture that Salvation Army didn’t take.  And Mom is safe and happy in Virginia with my sister and her family.  Finally, I’d like to share a photo of Mom and Merline, her aide of nearly three years.  This was her last day in Florida.

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Stella’s Fish Cafe – Minneapolis, MN

Hubby’s favorite place to eat in the twin cities.  And it is very fine.  Every time we go, it’s another great experience. And so it was again last weekend.  Hubby loves oysters and this place does them well, apparently.  I am not a fan of this seafood.  I do love their peel and eat shrimp and the champagne mussels however.  So we got those and hubby had his oysters.  I also had their beet and pear salad which is light and refreshing.

If you’re a fan of oysters, this is the place to get them. Hubby leaves happy every time.

Stella’s Fish Cafe & Prestige Oyster Bar
1400 West Lake Street
Uptown Minneapolis, MN 55408
612-824-8862

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not our usual Thanksgiving

But it was a fine one nonetheless!!  Since we decided we weren’t going to turn on our new oven just yet due to our mice infestation issue, we opted to spend Thankgiving at a restaurant almost at the last minute.  I say at the last minute because when I started looking for restaurants that were open on Thanksgiving less than two weeks ago, some had already filled up!  And in the 2-4 hours that I started looking then booked our reservation, more reservation spots had filled up at Fire Lake Grill House.  A few days later a co-worker suggested Windows on Minnesota, which is atop the Marquette Hotel, also in downtown Minneapolis.  He said it was an excellent buffet and the views are fabulous.   I never could get in touch with anyone there.  Each time I tried I got a voicemail box and I didn’t leave a message.  It was probably about $5 more than the meal we had and from the sounds of it, it may have been a better meal choice?  I might consider Windows on Minnesota next year, we’ll see.

For nearly our entire married life, I have planned and cooked (and cleaned up after) our Thanksgiving meal.  It’s my favorite holiday, so much so that I created a post about it last year.  Feel free to read about it at the link.  Since we decided to spend the meal out this year, we opted to make just some appetizers to get us through the day until we left for dinner just after 5 p.m.  We had our usual deviled eggs, mixed nuts, cheese and crackers, longhorn caviar and cheddar stuffed mushrooms.  All were excellent and we staggered them throughout the day.  We all agreed that it was odd to not have much to do and that not much cooking was going on.

What’s interesting about this trip downtown is that there are plenty of places to park within walking distance of the restaurant.  We chose the lot adjacent to the restaurant.  It was an underground lot and when we drove down the ramp, we were greeted with a huge panel of doors with a sign that read something like “pull forward, the doors will open automatically”.  Like out of a sci-fi movie, cool!!  What’s also interesting is that we didn’t know this would be a nice, warm parking lot, meaning we really didn’t need to bring our coats.  However, being the weather saavy Minnsesotans that we are, we always bring our coats, boots, gloves and hats with us in the unlikely event of going in the ditch.  And considering that yesterday was the coldest day of the week (a high of 10, whee!!), it was nice to not have to face the elements.  Score!!

We were seated immediately with our friend joining us from the bar.  I noticed that our table was on the edge of two rooms so I wondered how that was going to work.  Luckily, my happy-go-lucky hubby had the “right” seat.  He was the one that everyone kept bumping into and he didn’t mind a bit.  One thing that I liked about this restaurant was that they had more than their Thanksgiving meal on the menu.  So, if my vegetarian daughter didn’t want their Thanksgiving meal, she could choose something else.  Instead, three of us had their Thanksgiving meal and hubby had their prime rib.  Miss M just ate everything but the turkey, which we brought home with us. Here is the write-up from their website of their holiday menu:

Join us for Thanksgiving and what has been a tradition for many over the last decade at FireLake Grill House and Cocktail Bar in downtown Minneapolis.  Our Executive Chef Jim Kyndberg and his team will provide the perfect meal to celebrate.  Enjoy our cider cured, applewood smoked, Wild Acres Turkey prepared over the wood-burning rotisserie.  The trimmings include wild rice stuffing, cheddar herb mashed potatoes, cider gravy, maple glazed yam and apples, green beans with crimini mushrooms and crispy shallots and cranberry-orange relish.

There were plenty of other choices on their menu but I’m glad that I chose the traditional meal.  The turkey was delicious and moist, the potatoes, yams and green beans were equally yummy.  It seemed that the stuffing was not a big hit as all three of us had some leftover at the end.  There was also pumpkin pie for dessert but I was too stuffed to finish mine and I didn’t like that it was cold. I guess they had to refrigerate the pie but we’ve always had room temperature pie.

Some photos of the meal and environs:

 

They also sent everyone home with “leftovers”: a bag with a turkey sandwich inside!  I thought that was a nice touch.  Here is Miss M with her bag:

Here’s hubby in his holiday garb.  He matches so well with the decor doesn’t he?

All in all a good experience.  And we really enjoyed the restaurant.  We will probably go back again!

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Homi – Restaurante Mexicano, St. Paul, MN

If you’re in St. Paul you must try Homi.  Real. Mexican. Food.  And, let me tell you, it’s fabulous!!  We’ve been going by this place for a while and finally decided to try it tonight.  We’re so glad we did, we are definitely going back.

It’s a tiny place and parking is problematic so Homi put a nice, big sign in his window: “parking in back”. And there was!  I forgot to take a photo of the front.  If you’re taking the green line you’ll go in the front door (not pictured).

Homi's back entrance

We sat down and started with their homemade guacamole.  Oh my goodness. Delish!!  He leaves the pit in the dish and I thought that was a nice touch.  It is made fresh, as is everything at Homi.  They have a sign explaining that there is a bit of a wait because everything is made from scratch.  It’s definitely worth the wait.

fresh guacamole

I had the chiles rellenos.  These might be the best chiles rellenos that I’ve ever had.  The sauce was to die for.  It came with rice and beans. We also got fresh and warm corn tortillas (rice, beans and tortillas not pictured).

Hubby had the tamales, equally delicious. I tasted it, yum!

tamales

They’re right on the green line and easy for downtown worker bees to have lunch.  They are also on this list of some other great places to eat in St. Paul, Lunch along the Green Line.

Their portions are large, so bring your appetite. Or bring home the rest and have it for lunch the next day.  Do try this great Mexican restaurant when you’re in St. Paul.  I’m sure you will leave happy.

Homi Restaurant
864 University Avenue
St. Paul, MN
651-222-0655
Homi Mexican on Urbanspoon

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The Brauhaus Restaurant – Akeley, MN

My husband and I have been eating at the Brauhaus for over 20 years now.  Discovered by my in-laws, they clued us into this great place shortly after we arrived in Minnesota in the early 90s.  It’s located along the Lake Country Scenic Byway on Highway 34 and just a few miles from the family cabin. We typically have dinner here at least once a season.  Many a family meal has been eaten at this fine establishment.  We even celebrated my in-laws’ 50th anniversary several years ago.  There is a long standing joke about whether my father-in-law’s check for his meal would clear the bank.  Every time we went there with my in-laws he and Gary, one of the proprietors, would chuckle about this.  Good times :)  Since we were just there I thought I would share it with you all along with some photos that I took.

We typically try to arrive before the dinner crowd and let me tell you, it is a crowd!!  I’ve always been in awe that a restaurant along the highway in seemingly the middle of nowhere attracts so many diners.  I am quite sure that word of mouth in the area has been one of the keys to their success.  Other reasons of course are the excellent food and service.  On this particular visit we arrived after the dinner crowd was gone.  We were greeted by the friendly bar tender and seated immediately.  Our waitress recognized us and said “Welcome to the Brauhaus or welcome back.”  And I commented to her that I recognized her as well.

Restaurant scene and menu:

I’ve always had a great meal here and typically choose either the roast pork (described thusly on their menu: Schweinebraten – Roast Pork – used also in our sampler platter. Our roast pork is very tender and full of flavor) or the duck (Plum Glazed Duck – 1/2 of a Peking duck filled with wild rice, seasoned and oven roasted, topped with our very own Brandy/ Plum glaze. A MUST TRY!!!) I decided on the duck this time and it was just as delicious as the last time I had it.  And I almost forgot to take a picture!

Hubby opted for the  Wiener Schnitzel (Pork loin steaks, tenderized, seasoned and lightly breaded, then cooked on the grill getting that nice golden brown):

Every entree is accompanied by two sides.  You have your choice of Mashed Potatoes, German Potato Salad, Wild Rice, Spätzle (german egg noodles) or Bread Dumplings – Veggie choices: Red Cabbage, Sauerkraut or carrots.  I am not sure but I thought the duck did not come with sides, alas, this time I had two sides.  While they were good (I love the red cabbage!!), it was just a bit too much food for me.  My sides:

If you’re in northern Minnesota do make a point to have a meal at this authentic German restaurant.  I am quite sure you won’t be disappointed!

The Brauhaus-German Restaurant
28234 Minnesota 34
Akeley, MN 56433-8024
(218) 652-2478

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