Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

Enter the Subway Breakfast

Ever since I received a circular touting the new Subway breakfast menu I’ve been curious.  For starters, I have no bones about saying that I liked making fun of the fact that it opens at 9am.  (Which made me wonder who gets up that early for a sandwich fix.  I was sure Jared never rolled off of his piles of Scrooge McDuck-ian money to obtain a Spicy BLT past 11:30.)

However as it was also being touted as “healthy” and that it “used egg whites” I felt that it was my duty to test what was surely attempting to become the Jack LaLanne competitor of fast food breakfast.  Take THAT, Sausage McMuffin with Egg!  (Don’t we still crave those after an evening of Sapphire Martini’s though?  Just me?  Okay.  Carry on)  As my work schedule prohibited me from obtaining one during the week day, and weekends are usually resolved for Hippolyta and I to make one of our patented “big breakfasts” * I waited until she was out of town before I was able to strike an unsuspecting Subway as an undercover reviewer.  (My previous attempt was thwarted, as I learned that even if I sneak out at 8am on a Saturday they don’t even open until 9am on the weekends)

I made it my morning goal yesterday (yes, my purpose for actually becoming ambulatory was the acquisition of this sammy.  As opposed to trudging downstairs for a mimosa, trudging back to bed, and thinking about what was wrong with my life) and I walked into the corner NE Mpls Subway for my boon at approximately 9:15am.  Important because I waited until after they opened for a few minutes so that I didn’t wait outside like a puppy hoping that it’d get picked, and because it was close.

Being #1 doesn’t always have perks.  I learned this when I used to work retail at a tuxedo rental shop.  In fact, unless you are made of stronger stuff than I am (Which means adamantium) you are immediately ingrained with a hostility and resentment for the following two type of customers- Those who get there as SOON as you open and the ones who seem to slink in just as you’re ready to lock the door and turn on the alarm system…usually 10-15 minutes before you actually close b/c it’s been dead the previous 5 hours.   How they know how to time it like this, I’ll never know.

The employee had an immediate disdain for me, evidenced by the way they set there soda down by the register and slowly made their way back to wash their hands, taking there time to make a deal out of washing, drying, then coming up to me with a look that reads “What?”

“May I please have a Southwest breakfast sandwich?” (I reigned in my usual chipperness.  I understand that type of energy to those who haven’t quite shook off the sleepies can be jarring.)  My question was responded to with blinks.

“Meatball sub?”

“Nope.  Southwest breakfast sandwich with egg whites, please”.  (At this point, I was wondering if I was slurring my words too.  There was country music playing overhead, and in my hurry to get down here I hadn’t brushed my teeth or had any coffee.  I may have sounded like a recent stroke patient for all I know.  Judging by the way I was being stared at…hair all akimbo under a hastily donned ballcap, D.A.R.E t-shirt…probably smelling of the previous evenings Pinot Grigio, I must have struck them as a hobo)

They then rolled their eyes.  At this point, I knew I was in for a treat.

The following sandwich artistry can only be called a comedy of errors.   They pulled out the wheat muffin and hastily slapped some cheese and ham on it.  I was curious as to why they didn’t toast the muffin first and judging by the confused expression on their face as they repeatedly followed the crib sheet posted over the ingredients (Hey.  It’s a new sandwich.  If it was me and they announced “SUBWAY PRESENTS- A SLICE OF CHEESE!” I’d still need a cheat sheet.  It isn’t easy being a tortured sandwich artist) they didn’t either.

My dual curiousity was how they’d handle the issue of the eggs?  I know that McD’s has a frozen, circular egg-shaped egg-patty that they simply need to heat up, but I didn’t see any hot plate or small skillet which would indicate it was prepared “on the spot” or that I was the lucky customer who was 1st in line for the sandwich, therefore getting the freshest one of the day.  No.  It was in one of the black covered containers looking a like white folded styrofoam picnic plate next to the ones that were looking like yellow folded styrofoam picnic plates…next to the sweet onion chicken teryaki.  Pre-made in muffin size.

It was all hastily stacked with the question “Pepper and onion?” (which is advertised as part of the sandwich.  And while I appreciate they asking, I thought it was kind of part of the deal from the get go.  If I order the sweet onion chicken teryaki, sans sauce, I might as well be getting the grilled chicken sub and they should re-name the breakfast sandwich the “Egg and Cheese on an English muffin w/fixin’s!” sandwich)

“Yes, please”  I responded.

All told, the damage was $2.16.  I scampered out to sample my purchase to the tune of “Your cheatin’ heart.”  What I was cheating on, I don’t know.

What you see above is what I unwrapped.  It went down in about 5 minutes with pieces of onion and pepper falling haphazardly into my lap.   The judges ruling- Meh.   This is a sandwich that I feel is a safe and healthy alternative for foodies/ova-lacto vegetarians trying to get something on the road that is (A) cheap and (B) Not laden with sodium/fat/calories.  It won’t be enough to keep you satisfied for a day, but at least you won’t feel like you have a slowly digesting gut-bomb in your belly.  Save that for the day-after an all-nighter.

Grade:  C+ for presentation/taste

Grade:  A- for cost/health

*If it hasn’t been posted before, here is a healthy alternative to all your McMuffin needs.  Please note, it isn’t pure veg/vegan, but it is tasty.  Also note, we make ours with Morningstar veggie sausage patties but there isn’t anything to say you can’t use the same type of veggie sausage in the tube or another brand.

Breakfast Buddy Sandwiches

Needed- Whole wheat English Muffins, Egg Beaters (or all egg-white Egg Beaters), Morningstar veggie sausage patties, a slice of Soy Cheese or Rice Cheese, butter or margarine.

Start the patties first as they’re frozen and will take the longest.  (Cook longer on lower heat for best results.  Start to heat the pan for the eggs at the same time. )  When the patties are sizzling and softening to the touch (careful!) and the egg pan is good and hot add the Egg Beaters.   If making two and using a larger pan, when the egg sets slice it down the middle with your spatula.  (Keep turning those patties!) Once the egg is set enough to fold in on itself to approximately English Muffin size, drop your muffin’s in the toaster.  Once they’ re done, butter each side.   Add one slice of cheese, then egg, then the sausage.   Top with the other half and enjoy.  (Be warned.  These suckers are hot)


The Bullet List

You didn’t ask for it, but here it is anyway.   (List of restaurants we’d like to try)  Comment the system if you’ve been, or have any additional recommendations.  We’ll take all comers!  (Sadly, I had to self edit the list when I re-read it to remove the Birchwood Cafe’.  Insensitive me)

  • 112 Eatery
  • Om
  • La Grassa
  • Bewiched
  • Picosa
  • Oceannaire
  • Seward Café’
  • Ichiban
  • Kikugawa
  • Taste Of India (St. Louis Park)
  • Crave
  • Bar Lurcat
  • Burger Jones (me)
  • The Lyndale
  • Mt. Fuji Sushi
  • Namaste Café
  • Meritage
  • Broders Pasta Bar
  • Duplex
  • Chino Latino
  • Azia
  • Alma
  • Muffeletta
  • Szechuan (In Roseville)
  • Café Twenty-Eight

Welcome back, Food-Friends!

Whew!  Sorry about the sabbatical!  Around the time the last post popped up, both we admins gotta incredibly busy!   We were not too busy to enjoy some great new places, and create some killer dishes.  A few things are going to be taking place in the interim we’d like to share with you, loyal readers:

We finally got around to taking a joke and making it a reality.  A while back, whenever there was a restaurant we were jonesing to try we’d always refer to it as “A Bullet Point”.  I finally got around to making the bullet list and not only will we be trying our best to traipse our way through it, we’ll be posting reviews for your benefit.  (I’ll link to where some of the reviews have already been posted)

SEEDS!  We ordered some seed plants to get a head start on herbal goodness.  The plan is, she will be planting them and raising them in direct sunlight (My house is ridiculously dim) Once they take hold, they’ll be transferred to “the big pots” on my outdoor patio.  This will mark our first attempt at seed growth as opposed to our picking up various herbs etc. at the local Farmers Market.

FITNESS!  We’re training for a 1/2 marathon!  This is a first for both of us, and so we’ll be occasionally sharing recipes that we come across in our training manuals (“What’s that?  You advise eating MORE carbs while long-distance training?  Very well…I accept, sir.” ) and occasionally keeping you in the loop as to our progress.  (ICYC- We’ve been at it for about 3-4 weeks of slowly increasing progress.  She, has gotten past the 8 mile mark and has been cross-training to supplement it.   For my part, I’ve happily topped out at 5 with weekly increases…and weights.  I’m still closer to 200 lbs than I care to be, but hoping to get “leaned” up in time for the June race.)

Oh, don’t worry.  We won’t be turning this into a fitness blog.  But if you are reading here and have any tips or have ran a ‘thon, please comment away!  We welcome the advice/feedback.

That’s all for now.  I’ll be posting the restaurants later this week from our dream “bullet” list, in addition to a new review on a fancy little NE bistro that just opened down the street from us. 

Welcome back, friends!

(ps:  These are links to the Minneapolis Finder Forum.  If you poke around there and find a spot to add your own two cents in any of their forums, please do so!)

(pps: I’m only going to post the last few months worth of reviews.   A “*” will indicate one that we really liked)

Taj Grille-

* Pizza Luce’ Brunch-

Il Gatto-

Shish Brunch-

Pop! Brunch-

* Bar Lagrassa-


*Amici Bistro-

New NE Restaurants

Despite the sickly economy, a batch of new restaurants has sprouted up in Minneapolis recently, several of them in the Nordeast area.  I’ve tried three of them in the past couple weeks: ChinDian, El Taco Riendo, and The Northeast Social Club.

ChinDian is, as you may have guessed from its name, a restaurant dedicated to the fusion of Chinese and Indian cuisines.  It’s small, cute, unassuming, but tastefully decorated with some Asian flavored touches here and there.  We went on a cool evening in late May and the air conditioning was inexplicably blasting.  We actually had to move tables between eating our appetizer and having our entrees delivered, because we right in the icy line of fire.  It’s been a couple of weeks since our visit and they don’t have their menu online, so I can’t remember the exact names of the dishes we got.  We started with a potsticker appetizer (I remember it having chives) with a soy dipping sauce that was pretty tasty.  For our entrees, Mike got a dish with chicken and vegetables sauteed with Indian spices, served with white rice, and I got a noodle dish.  Both were satisfying and unexceptional.  They don’t have a liquor license yet (though they’re working on it), so we couldn’t get any beer or wine with dinner.  My overall impression was that ChinDian might be a good take-out option, but the ambiance of the restaurant itself wouldn’t draw me back.  They did also have a booth set up outside the Casket Arts Building during Art-a-Whirl, and I stopped there for a delicious crepe handmade by Ashley Siegel.  I believe she’s going to start offering them at the restaurant itself sometime soon.  I hope so!  That would definitely bring me back.

El Taco Riendo (“The Laughing Taco”) just opened in the space formerly occupied by Chiapas at Lowry and Central.  It’s right across the street from Adelita’s, our favorite Mexican restaurant in town.  Since going part-time at my day job, I’ve got Fridays off of work.  This past Friday I biked up to the gym for an invigorating yoga class, and on my way back home the hunger bug struck just as I was approaching Lowry and Central on my jaunty bicycle.  It was the perfect time to try El Taco Riendo, as I had heard that they were more like Chipotle than Adelita’s, in the sense that you stand at the counter, order, and watch them make it for you right there.  Perfect for lunch on the go.  I ordered three tacos–two Pollo de Tinga (which were HOT HOT HOT), and one Pollo con Salsa de Tomate (my favorite).  It was just $6.75 for 3 tacos, and I stayed full for hours.  They gave me a punch card–buy five tacos, get one free–and punched out the first three holes.  Next time I go back, I’ll get 3 for the price of 2!  Can’t beat that.  The quality of the food was much closer to Adelita’s than to Chipotle–authentic Mexican ingredients and flavors–it didn’t taste at all like Tex Mexy fast food.  For sit-down dinners, we’ll probably stick with Adelita’s, but when I need something quick but tasty, I’ve got another great option in the neighborhood.

Then there’s the Northeast Social Club.  I’m so excited about this place.  First of all, it’s half a block from my house.  Second of all, they have “social hour” Mon-Sat from 4:00-5:30 with half price bottles of wine, many of which are already reasonably priced.  So that $16 bottle is now $8.  That $20 bottle is now $10.  Yeah.  Awesome.  And they have a charming sidewalk patio on which to enjoy said wine, along with some of their scrumptious food.  When we stopped in the other night, we got the fried okra app (yum), a delicious beet and goat cheese salad, an entree of a baked chicken breast with a side of a white bean-garlic melange, and the rosemary honey pana cotta for dessert.  Everything was exquisitely done, but the dessert sent me into full on rapture mode.  I think I alarmed the older couple at the table next to us with my moans.  It was definitely a “When Harry Met Sally” kind of restaurant moment.  Is it dangerous that this place is a 15 second walk from my front door?  Yes.  But it is also awesome.

So that’s that.  3 new restaurants to add to our rotation of takeout and dining out options in the neighborhood.  Gotta love it.  I wish them all success and longevity!