Welcome to July! It’s been awhile since I posted and that’s because I took a much needed break during the past Independence Day holiday weekend. I hope your celebrations were a delicious one and a memorable time as well. Since I took some time off the blog, I definitely kept busy on the culinary front. My husband and I went on a little getaway up north to Minneapolis, MN. I’ve never been to the Twin Cities, so Patrick played the tour guide for part of the trip and I incorporated some food stops along the way. So if you’ve ever been curious about what Minneapolis has to offer within their culinary scene, here’s some tasty stops to check out!…
Our first stop after a 5 1/2 hour drive was lunch! One of the first food stops on my list was to Matt’s Bar for the area’s best ‘Juicy Lucy’ burger. This is a burger where cheese is stuffed inside a patty and when eaten, that hot, molten cheese just makes you wanting more. My sources say that Matt’s Bar is THE place for the no frills, simply done version of the Juicy Lucy. Whether they are actually the first place to create this amazing burger has yet to be proven… but regardless, this had to be the best introduction to Minneapolis food! We happened to get there right at the perfect time when a table was cleared as we walked in with no line. Shortly after being seated, our server took our order and let us know that Juicy Lucy burgers would be roughly a 35-40 minute wait… and before long, a line of hungry customers were waiting out the door. So plan accordingly and trust me, these burgers are worth the wait!
Matt’s Bar 3500 Cedar Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407Tip – Cash only, with ATM available
After such a satisfying lunch, we still had some time to kill before checking into our hotel. Not too far from Matt’s Bar was a recommended ice cream parlor known for their unique flavors. It was along the way to our hotel so we made a stop to satisfy our sweet tooth! The place? Milkjam Creamery. The flavors were nothing like I’ve seen before and some of the ingredient combinations were so random, they worked together so well. (Example – curry peanut butter banana?!) Since I’m on vacation, I decided to go out and try something crazy. That’s when my eyes fell on the ‘Jam Bun’ on their menu board. This is their version of an ice cream sandwich… only better. I opted for the Saigon Nights flavor (Vietnamese coffee ice cream with a touch of Hennessy), sandwiched inside a warm glazed yeast donut from Glam Doll Donuts. Talk about a whole new meaning for coffee & donuts! Blown.Away.Good.
We were able to check in early at the hotel, even after our ice cream stop, so we had plenty of time to stretch our legs from the long drive. For dinner, we had reservations at Butcher & The Boar. We were warned that the portions were huge here so our strategy was to order an appetizer as our main entree, along with a salad and two sides – all to share. It was clear the appetizer to try was their Sausage Sampler, which included a wild boar hot link, Texas beef link and a Berkshire Pork & Cheddar link which came with some coleslaw and pickled vegetables. Along with the sausage, we also a wedge salad, German potato salad and some fried green tomatoes. The portions were certainly huge that we didn’t even finish it all! However, we both loved everything, with our favorite being the Berkshire Pork & Cheddar link.
The next day, I got up early to check out the Minneapolis Farmers Market. I wish I took pictures of the market, but I was happily enjoying my surroundings to bother with my phone. While there, I picked up some edible treats specific to Minnesota including Bare Honey (Vanilla & Cinnamon Cream); ManCave Craft Meats (Buffalo Chicken with Blue Cheese bratwurst & Bacon Beer Cheddar pork bratwurst); and native Ojibwe wild rice.
After returning back to the hotel from my farmer’s market jaunt, we had reservations for brunch at Haute Dish. We originally wanted to try this place for dinner, but given the holiday hours, it wasn’t feasible with our schedule. So, we took advantage of visiting during brunch to see what they had to offer. Here, we started it off with a pineapple mimosa (for me!), and a caramel pecan roll. My husband ordered the HD Classic (two eggs, country potatoes, toast, jam and bacon). I ordered their chicken & waffle. Again, the portions were huge. We shared the caramel pecan roll and honestly, I was pretty full after splitting it. Patrick’s order of toast was more like a 1/4 loaf of bread! My chicken and waffle came with 3 large pieces of chicken – which I was able to eat 1 small piece – and a large waffle of which I ate a quarter of. We weren’t prepared for the large portions but enjoyed the meal nonetheless.
After brunch, we hopped on the tram to check out the Mall of America. It wasn’t as big as I thought but it certainly is a place I’d love to take Joel sometime. The Nickolodeon Universe amusement park and aquarium are places he’d enjoy. We also learned that Waterpark of America is close by too, making it a family destination with lots of activities for everyone!
After getting several thousand steps racked up on our Fitbit, it was time to head back to the hotel and decompress before dinner. We had such a big brunch that we merely snacked for lunch at the mall and we were looking forward to dinner. Reservations at Bar La Grassa were waiting for us and we enjoyed it more than we thought! To kick off dinner, I got the white sangria which was perfectly refreshing. We each had our own appetizer – I had the soft egg & lobster bruschetta (amazing!) and Patrick had scallops (hands down, his favorite dish of the weekend). For our main dish, we each opted for the small portion of pasta – I had the spaghetti carbonara and Patrick had the bucatini bolognese. The pastas were delicious, however next time, I’m planning on getting the bucatini bolognese. The carbonara I ordered was delicious, just a bit too rich for me. And since we got the smaller portions of pasta, we had room for dessert! I had the 4 scoops of local Izzy ice cream (milk chocolate, salted caramel, vanilla bean and Irish moxie) while Patrick had the dark chocolate pot de creme.
The third day of our trip fell on July 4th. We weren’t sure what restaurants would be open and we were thrilled that Hell’s Kitchen, a popular place in Minneapolis, was open for business. We arrived for breakfast with a reservation in place and at 10am, the place was filling up fast. Patrick was curious to try their cornmeal waffle, which he enjoyed. The restaurant is known for the ‘Sausage Bread’ which has bits of sausage, currants and walnuts baked in. I opted to try an appetizer portion, but after 1 slice slathered with their housemade peanut butter, I just couldn’t do another bite. I really wanted to like it… but it just didn’t appeal to me. Although, their peanut butter and blackberry ginger jam were delicious! For my breakfast, I ordered the Bison Benedict, which included a few slices of medium rare bison on a single English muffin half. This was topped with a tangerine jalapeno Hollandaise sauce and served with hashbrowns. I also ordered a side of bison sausage patty. Again, this was mediocre for me. I don’t know what it was – I wanted to like this place because of all the hype. I guess it just wasn’t living up to the hype surrounding it for me. BUT, despite the meal, I did purchase some items to take home. I bought their gift pack of housemade peanut butter – banana, creamy and crunchy. I also bought their Blackberry Ginger Jam and Mahnomen Wild Rice Porridge kit. I’m looking forward to enjoying these here at home!
After breakfast, we decided to check out Minnehaha Park. It’s a short tram ride from downtown and once there, you’d be surprise how this beautiful park and waterfall is tucked in an urban city! We enjoyed hiking around the park and the soothing sounds of the falls. It was perfect for a July 4th day…
We worked up an appetite by late lunch and given the line at our lunch spot, the timing was perfect. At Minnehaha Park, there is a great restaurant called Sea Salt Eatery. Specializing in seafood, this place does it well and quickly too! The long lines do move fairly quickly and it helps that there is a separate line for drinks. We picked up a couple glasses of their tap cider which had a lemony finish. After enjoying the views and people watching with our ciders in hand, I fell in line to order lunch. We had crab salad served on top of a halved avocado with fresh tortilla chips. Patrick enjoyed his Shrimp Po Boy and I had their Crawfish Roll (similar to a classic lobster roll, only with crawfish). Everything was amazing and it certainly made up for my breakfast.
By this time, we have already pushed our limit eating out. Both of us couldn’t eat out for another full meal… even on July 4th. So instead, we made our own little charcuterie plate with some cheeses, crackers, fresh fruit and sausage we picked up from the mall the other day, the farmers market and some snacks we packed for our long drive. That dinner was perfect! Even for the 4th of July in our hotel room lol. We did muster up some energy to get out of our room for a little bit and we made our way downstairs to the restaurant inside the hotel – Firelake, inside Radisson Blu. There, we ordered light and easy with a bowl of wild rice soup and dessert. Patrick had their ice cream sandwiches (vanilla ice cream sandwiched in between 2 oatmeal raisin cookies and served with caramel dipping sauce) and I had the strawberry rhubarb tart a la mode. Service was slow, despite it being an empty restaurant, but our server did comp our desserts since she took longer than usual to take our order. Everything we ordered was ok… nothing spectacular or memorable. It was definitely convenient though since we didn’t have to go far from our hotel room!
Our late day in Minneapolis came quickly and so we headed out early for our long drive home. Rather than eating another meal in Minneapolis, we decided to venture out and find a place along the way. We came across Norske Nook just about 2 hours from Minneapolis. Tucked away off the expressway in Osseo, WI, is this Scandanavian gem. We ordered breakfast – Hashbrown Supreme for Patrick which included hashbrowns, pepper, diced sausage, onion, cheddar with 2 eggs, baking powder biscuit & a side of country gravy and a simple ham & spinach omelette for me with hashbrowns, whole wheat toast and a side of Hollandaise sauce. The breakfast definitely hit the spot since we had such a light dinner the night before. But the best part of our meal was pie. Oh yes, pie for dessert! They are apparently known for their pie and I took advantage by taking 4 different slices to go – strawberry cream cheese, banana cream, Dutch apple and ‘Death by Chocolate; pies.We enjoyed three of the slices at home and I dug my fork into the strawberry cream cheese while Patrick drove. Wow – the pie was amazing. The looked amazing in the pie case and they taste even better than they look! I’m glad I picked up their pie cookbook because I’m inspired to make some pies very soon lol.
So there you have it! That was our little Taste of Minneapolis and we’re already looking forward to coming back and making it a family getaway soon! If you have tried any of these places, feel free to share your thoughts…. and if you plan on going to Minneapolis soon, hopefully this post helps you with options for meals!