Archive | June, 2009

Smalley’s Caribbean Barbecue and Pirate Bar

27 Jun

Ryan

On Saturday around noon, Lauren and I stopped in at Smalley’s Caribbean Barbecue in Stillwater, a restaurant we’d never heard of before.  Something about this place intrigued me—I thought the food would be extra spicy.

Our first impression of the restaurant wasn’t great as we walked up to the podium where a pair of hostesses were exchanging some heated words, but we were promptly seated and our beverages were out within minutes.

A pretty healthy portion of food from Smalley's.

A pretty healthy portion of food from Smalley's.

The menu item that interested me the most was one of the combo platters, not unlike those of Famous Dave’s.  We both ordered the Chicken/Brisket combo but with different sides.  I opted for the curried vegetables and rice.  While we waited for our order, we sampled the various sauces.  They were all unique and certainly did have that Caribbean vibe.

The food was out relatively quickly and I dug right in.  My beef brisket was awesome as I doused it in the jerk sauce, but Lauren’s helping seemed to include lots of fatty pieces.  Maybe I just snarfed mine down too fast to notice, but I was impressed with the brisket.  The chicken seemed like maybe it was a little pink, and wasn’t the easiest thing to eat, but I found it adequate and finished it off.  The side dishes were both delicious.  The rice had a hint of coconut flavor while the vegetables were sauteed just right.

I was nervous to try the atomic pepper, but it was a big dud.

I was nervous to try the atomic pepper, but it was a big dud.

One thing that I found troubling was this atomic pepper that you can order for free.  Apparently it’s supposed to be super hot, but I found it to be more salty than anything.  The heat level was about 2/10.

The atmosphere was pleasant, the waitress was attentive, and the food was good for the most part.  The prices were reasonable as well.  Nothing really stood out as being overly good though, just a whole lot of adequacy and a little disappointment in the heat department.

Lauren:

Ugh. Nothing disgusts me more than a fatty piece of meat. I think it was the years of being a vegetarian, but anything that resembles tendons or ligaments or squishy, icky fat turns my stomach. The chicken, however, was smoky and delicious. I think I would have enjoyed the whole thing more if my brisket had been leaner. As a side, however, I got the mac & cheese with chiles AND bacon – delicious, and of course, low-cal!

I tried a bite of the supposedly “atomic pepper” and couldn’t believe how not spicy it was. Although I I love spicy foods, I was afraid and was expecting my mouth to be on fire – what a joke! It tasted salty and pickled, if anything. Definitely not spicy.

The atmosphere in Smalley’s is fun; after all, how often do you find a pirate-themed bar in the upper Midwest? But our Saturday afternoon lunch clearly wasn’t the time to be there as the restaurant was mostly empty and the staff milled about, bored.

Ratings

Ryan: 3/5 Noms

Lauren: 2/5 Noms. I want to like Smalley’s. But fatty brisket is inexcusable.

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Good Earth

21 Jun

Ryan

On the morning of Father’s Day, June 21, Lauren and I went looking for a new place to try breakfast.  We originally stopped at the Original Pancake House, but it was backed up for 55 minutes, so we went across the street to the ritzy Galleria and tried Good Earth, a restaurant known for its natural and organic ingredients.  Our wait was about 20 minutes, but that was to be expected at 11am on Father’s Day.  Our waitress kept saying things like “I hope you don’t think I’m ditzy” and “I’m not normally so uncoordinated!”  I thought she did a good job, but she kept apologizing to us for various things!

To be different, I started out with one of their specialty juices, the Watermelon Wahoo, which includes watermelon, pineapple, and apple juices.  This drink was small and expensive, but very tasty, healthy, and frothy.  Lauren opted for a latte.  Since I was wildly hungry, I opted for a caramel roll before the main course.  Good Earth’s hyper waitress informed me they had none left, but they made me something sorta like it and gave it to me for free!

Father's Day breakfast at Good Earth

My breakfast at Good Earth

For my main course, I ordered the Turkey Sausage Scramble, which was a moderate-sized serving that included turkey sausage, roasted potatoes, tomatoes, scrambled eggs, purple onions, diced peppers, and green onions.  (I asked for no cheese and minimal sour cream.)  My initial thought was this was not enough food for $9.50, and it was a little bland.  But like always, a healthy dose of Tabasco sauce really brought this dish to life!  I also found something hard and black in my food, but later discovered it was a huge piece of unground peppercorn.

Lauren ordered some 10-grain hotcakes and turkey sausage.

Lauren ordered some 10-grain hotcakes and turkey sausage.

Lauren

I love Good Earth. As one of three children with food allergies, my family was extremely limited in our selections for a night out at a restaurant when I was young. Thankfully, the majority of my allergies dissipated as I came into adulthood, so I am not so limited now — but I do try to eat as naturally as possible.

As Ryan said, we attempted to go to OPH but were driven off by the incredibly long wait, so dashed across the street to the Galleria and put our names on the Good Earth list. I was actually a bit surprised by the crowds as I tend to think of Mother’s Day as a brunch holiday, whereas Father’s Day is more of a holiday to throw a couple hunks of meat on the grill.

I went for an unusual breakfast choice… that is, unusual for me! I never order pancakes. I just don’t really enjoy them at that much, truth be told. They are always much too sweet, much too filling, and the texture is never satisfying like a good piece of toast is. However, the Good Earth boasts 10-Grain Hotcakes, which sounded heartier and more satisfying than your typical Aunt Jemima variety. And they were! I ordered a side of turkey sausage for some protein.

As Ryan noted, I ordered a small latte. Our waitress was slightly flustered, and took nearly ten minutes to bring me a packet of raw sugar, but to my surprise I discovered that I needed no sweetener. I almost never drink coffee without something to sweeten it just a bit, but perhaps due to the natural milk the latte was naturally sweeter than I expected.

Ratings

Ryan: For me, my Good Earth experience was just okay.  Though the ingreidents were fresh and healthy, I thought it was slightly overpriced and slightly bland.  2/5 Noms.

Lauren: I knew Ryan wasn’t going to be wild for the Good Earth. I think we would have had a slightly better experience if we had been seated on the patio – the atmosphere in the dining room is only slightly better than a Perkins. The Good Earth has been an Edina landmark for most of my life so I would say it’s time for the Parasole group to give it a face-lift, non? It’s on the spendier side, but not at all unreasonable for a natural restaurant for breakfast. 4/5 Noms!

Town Hall

20 Jun

Ryan

After attending the Twins/Astros game on the evening of Saturday, June 20, Lauren and I met up with friends Christian and Jaime at one of our favorite local restaurants/breweries, Town Hall.  Located at Seven Corners in Minneapolis on Washington Ave, Town Hall has long been Lauren’s standby for excellent food and drink.

A couple of Town Hall's craft brews went down smooth on a muggy summer night.

A couple of Town Hall's craft brews went down smooth on a muggy summer night.

In my experiences there, I’ve found their home brews exceptional.  On this night, I tried the Oatmeal Stout and was once again very satisfied!  This isn’t the kind of place you should go to get drunk.  I think Town Hall is better for occasions when you’re going to just sip on a beer or two and savor the flavor.

I didn't think to get a picture until I was halfway done.  But, better late than never.

I didn't think to get a picture until I was halfway done. But, better late than never.

I had no choice but to order the Seven Corners Burger, the best burger I’ve tried so far in the Twin Cities.  Of course I’m biased because I don’t like cheese, so I can’t consider most people’s favorites like the Juicy Lucy.  The Seven Corners burger is a 1/2 lb. burger topped with smoked bacon and Oatmeal Stout BBQ sauce, served with a lettuce, tomato, and pickle.  I’m not sure what it is that makes it so good.  Maybe it’s the BBQ sauce or even the bun, but whatever it is, it blows me away!

Lauren

It’s true, reviewing Town Hall Brewery, for me, is like interviewing someone I’ve known for years. I took many a date there for dinner before Ryan convinced me to settle down. I particularly love the sidewalk patio.

Like Ryan, my typical go-to choice of entree at Town Hall is the Seven Corners Burger.  But this night in particular, I decided to deviate from the beaten path for something just a bit lighter.

Lauren raved about her Raspberry Chicken Salad.

Lauren raved about her Raspberry Chicken Salad

Don’t let the salad fool you — I stole at least a few fries off of Ryan’s plate. I loved this salad, though! The bright pink dressing was a bit heavy for my taste, as I usually prefer to order my dressings on the side and drizzle them on lightly. But the red onions had a little bit of bite, the blue cheese was tangy and the chicken tasty.

I think the Seven Corners burger will always be my favorite menu item at Town Hall, but for a lighter option I was very pleased with this salad.

Ratings:
Ryan: 5/5 Noms!  The food and drink were delicious, the atmosphere was great, and the prices were very reasonable.

Lauren: I agree with Ryan! I love this place. Reasonable food prices, delicious beer and a friendly, casual atmosphere.

Ryan’s Quasi-Edible Beef Stir Fry

20 Jun

Saturday night, I decided to cook up a little dinner for the two of us.  We enjoy spicy food a lot.  So much so, in fact, that we routinely bury our food in Sriracha sauce.  A little burn is to be expected with just about any meal that we make.  But on this occasion, I went too far.

beefstirfry

Looked pretty, didn't it?

The ingredients in my beef stir-fry included the following.

  • Beef
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1/2 onion
  • Handful of bean sprouts
  • 4 Habanero peppers
  • Handful of chile de arbol peppers
  • About a cup of broccoli
  • Asia-Asia Spicy Teriyaki Sauce
  • Spoonful of Sriracha sauce
  • Spoonful of Srirachi chili garlic sauce

I stir-fried these ingredients together until it was sizzling hot, then served it up in equal-sized bowls to the two of us.  I am all about the heat, but as Clay Davis would say, “sheeeeeeeeeeeeit!”  It was damn-near too hot to enjoy.  Lauren ate most of hers, and I ate all of mine then finished what she couldn’t, but it wasn’t without a battle.

In the process of eating this stir-fry, I guzzled two cans of Coke Zero and two 20 oz. glasses of water.  I then ran to the bathroom and ate a few Gaviscon tablets.  After much perspiration, I finally recovered.

Overall, the flavor was good and all the ingredients were very tasty and fresh.  But the Sriracha additions and the overload of Habanero peppers was too much to overcome.

Ratings

Ryan: I give it 2/5 “Noms”.  Had I toned down on the heat, it would have been very tasty.  And it needed some rice, which I didn’t have time to prepare.

Lauren: 2/5 “Noms.”  Too spicy, and sauce got too watery.