Archive | October, 2009

Laredo’s

23 Oct

Tonight after work, Lauren and I stopped off at Laredo’s in St. Louis Park in the Excelsior & Grand neighborhood.  This Tex-Mex bar & grill is new as of last year, and I’d always been tempted to try it.  When the Twins had a deal on their website selling $50 gift cards to Laredo’s for $25, I snatched one up.

My first impression of Laredo’s was very favorable with a country atmosphere.  Our very attentive waiter made sure we were good to go on free chips & salsa and drinks.  Their drink menu featured a few signature cocktails, including the Excelsior & Grand, which I tried.  I believe it was a type of margarita with cactus juice served in a martini glass.  I would have to look up the ingredients again, but I rather enjoyed it.

The menu wasn’t very expansive, but we both found entrees we wanted to try and ended up sharing each other’s meals.  I ordered the Seafood Combo Platter, which consisted of two San Diego fish tacos and two seafood enchiladas served with refried beans and desert rice.  Lauren opted for the Drunken Tequila Shrimp—five jumbo grilled shrimp served with a tequila-lime tomato broth, fried plantains, pineapple & desert rice.

Laredo's Seafood Combo Platter

I made a bold choice with the Seafood Combo Platter.

Laredo's Drunken Tequila Shrimp

Lauren also opted for seafood, trying the Drunken Tequila Shrimp.

My meal was excellent!  It took me until I was 25 to try tacos, enchiladas, or burritos, but as long as they’re light on the cheese (which I specifically requested) then they’re good.  The fish tacos were my favorite.  The only downside was they went a little overboard on the refried beans.  Lauren’s shrimp was also tasty.  I’ve never been one to fill up on a handful of jumbo shrimp, but for someone with Lauren’s appetite they’d do just fine.

I would recommend ordering the extra spicy salsa, both with the free chips and with your main course.  It truly was a sweat-inducer.  Lauren offered me a dollar to eat the little container of spicy salsa, but I turned her down.

This place filled us up.  We were nowhere near finishing the two meals when we threw the towel in.  True, we went a little overboard on the free chips, but these portions are bigger than expected.  It was also a little on the spendy side.  Expect to drop $16 per plate.  Those fancy drinks were also spendy at about $7 each.  Thankfully I had that gift card, but even then I owed another $20 on top of that.

Overall, I’d recommend this place.  Excellent atmosphere, excellent service, great freebies, and huge portions.  Just beware of the prices and don’t overeat!

Lauren:

When Ryan decided to buy one of those 1/2 off gift cards, I was skeptical. So many Tex-Mex places really are total garbage, loaded down with sour cream and boring fare that you could make, easily and cheaply and much more healthful, at home.

Laredo’s surprised me in that sense. In the first place, the salsa that comes with the free chips actually has a bit of spice to it, better than the marinara-sauce-in-masquerade that you’ll find at most joints. Secondly, sangria! I love a good, authentic margarita made from triple sec, tequila and lime juice (and ONLY those three ingredients) as much as the next gal, but I adore sangria and don’t get to have it often enough. I ordered a small carafe and quenched my thirst with the fruity, boozy concoction.

I also liked that Laredo’s had some options that weren’t loaded down with sour cream. Nothing puts me off Tex-Mex food like a giant glop of sour cream covering up some kind of spicy dish. So the shrimp in a smoky, spicy, tomato-y broth was just up my alley. I did try a few bites of Ryan’s seafood platter, and that was pretty good. But if he had let me have my shrimp to myself, I would have been just fine with that 🙂

Ryan: 4/5 Noms

Lauren: 3.5/5 Noms.

The Gunflint Tavern

15 Oct

On our final night of the honeymoon, Lauren and I took a day trip even further north of the Lutsen Resort and went all the way to the Grand Portage national monument and then made our way back to Lutsen, stopping in Grand Marais for dinner at The Gunflint Lodge.

I said I was going to order something adventurous.

I said I was going to order something adventurous.

Of everything on the menu, I decided on the Nova Scotian Fisherman’s Stew, the most obscure thing that I thought I might like.  Now this is a dish I never would have seen myself ordering in the past, but we were on vacation and I wanted to be different.

Turns out, it was pretty decent!  The meal was served with tapenade, an olive-based spread on bread.  I hate olives, but I found that dipping the bread in the tomato-based sauce was rather enjoyable.

The stew itself consisted of a full salmon fillet at the bottom of the plate, covered in the sauce filled with tomatoes, onions, and herbs.  Also included in the stew were a number of mussels, something else I’d never tried before.  It was a bold adventure digging into this meal, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t lick the platter clean, save for the mussel shells.

This meal was odd but good, and for someone like me who’s not very often an adventurous eater, it took some courage to not only eat but order this meal.  I found it was best served with a glass of Lake Superior Red.

Lauren:

I had no idea what to expect from dinner in Grand Marais, MN. But I loved the Gunflint Tavern. They had an eclectic beer selection and a gourmet menu fit for South Minneapolis.

Initially, Ryan and I were both thinking about ordering the walleye – when in Northern Minnesota! But I threw a little fit about ordering the same thing, so he switched to the seafood stew and he ended up loving it, which, as I told him, proves that he should always do as his wife says.

My walleye came with a chilled wild rice salad, which seemed appropriate, but I didn’t much care for it. It also had sourdough toast points with an outstandingly delicious smoked paprika butter. I could have eaten an entire loaf of that stuff.

We debated ordering dessert, but nothing on the menu really jumped out at us. So we agreed that on the way back to Lutsen, we would keep our eyes peeled for a Betty’s Pies location. We did find one, and ducked in right before the proprietors closed shop for the evening and stole away with a truly divine slice of sour cherry-blackberry pie. We ate it sitting on the flour of our hotel room, drinking champagne and reveling in newlywed happiness.

Ryan: 3/5 Noms.

Lauren: 4.5/5 Noms! If you’re in the Grand Marais area, I highly recommend the Gunflint Tavern.

Lutsen Resort

13 Oct

For our honeymoon, Mrs. Glanzer and I went up north to the Lutsen Resort on the shore of Lake Superior.  While there, we had the chance to dine at the fancy lodge, which had surprisingly excellent fine dining!

Course 3 of 4 at Lutsen Resort, the Mahi Mahi

Course 3 of 4 at Lutsen Resort, the Mahi Mahi

I ordered the Prix Fixe, which I guess means the chef’s special hand-picked four-course meal.  Each portion of the meal was quite delicious.

Appetizer – For an appetizer, I received an artichoke dip with bread.  This is one of those things I never really find very appealing, but it was as good as I’ve had.  Lauren also got an appetizer with her meal—a set of beef kabobs, which I thought were outstanding.

Salad – My next portion was the house salad, a tossed salad with walnuts and a blueberry dressing.  Our waitress assured us most patrons say this is the best salad they’ve ever eaten.  While I wouldn’t make that claim, it was pretty good.  Salads with fruit-based dressings always set well with me.

Entree – The main course for the night was the mahi mahi, served with steamed greens and pureed Jerusalem artichoke… though I thought it was mashed potatoes until Lauren told me otherwise.  The mahi mahi was very tasty—a lighter option but bursting with savory goodness.  The artichoke and greens were nice complements.

Dessert – For dessert, I had little choice but to order the loganberry cheesecake after seeing someone else order it earlier.  It was everything I hoped for!  With a little help from Lauren, I polished it off rather quickly and left my four-course meal comfortably full.

Overall, the Lutsen Resort provided us with some outstanding service and great first-class dining.  I’m not sure about the price, as we cashed in an $80 meal voucher and paid the balance, but it seemed reasonable enough!

Lauren:

I decided against the Prix Fixe, as I knew that Ryan would let me steal nibbles from his dessert. Instead, I ordered a la carte, with some delicious beef kabobs, and an even more delicious ribeye steak. Beef with a steak chaser? I’m in! As pictured above, it came with sautéed squash and one prawn on top. Complemented by a rich, warm zinfandel, it was a delicious dinner in a perfect honeymoon.

Ryan: I’d give Lutsen 4/5 Noms.

Lauren: I agree! 4/5 Noms.