Saturday, December 30, 2006

Casper & Runyon's Nook - Saint Paul, MN

If you are looking for a burger experience Casper & Runyon's Nook in Saint Paul, Minnesota is the place. In my opinion, The Nook has the best burger in the Twin Cities. My personal favorite is the Lodge Burger which is a super thick burger between a couple slices of bacon, a thick slab of smoked cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and some chipotle mayo. I also recommend trying the dry-spicy Wild Wings. This is a combo I would trade for dinner at Manny's or Ruth's Chris any day. This small tavern is located at 429 Hamline Avenue near the corner Hamline and Randolph right across the street from Cretin Derham Hall. As the Nook is pretty small be prepared to grab a beer at the bar and wait for a table. While you're waiting, take a minute to check out all the photos and memorabilia of Cretin stars Joe Mauer, Paul Molitor, Matt Birk and many others. There's a small game room in back that comes in handy if you bring the kids. If you're looking for great food and laid-back casual atmosphere The Nook in St Paul is the place.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Xcel Energy Center Club Level Pizza

I went to the Minnesota Wild hockey game on December 23rd. versus the Detroit Red Wings. Other than being treated to a superb hockey game, I got to enjoy one of the best pieces of pizza that I have ever had. I bought a couple of club level seats from Ticket King a few days prior to the game. The tickets were delivered to me via Fed Ex the next day. The representative at Ticket King explained to me that one of the best benefits of sitting in the club level at the Xcel Energy Center is the added amenities, such as the food options, that exist in that level. I was initially skeptical. How much nicer could the amenities be? How much better could the food be? Is it possible to spruce of your average large arena menu? By the end of the first period, I was a believer! The food highlight of the night was the piece of pizza. It was as good of a piece of pizza as you can find. I ordered a Piece of cheese pizza and was surprised to see that it was cooked in a wood oven and was topped with tons of fresh ingredients. Normally at an arena, when you order a piece of pizza, it’s either reheated or simply stale with virtually no flavor. I left the game thinking that I would buy a Minnesota Wild ticket just to get in to buy a piece of pizza. It proved to me that sporting events and good food are not mutually exclusive!
I found a cool blog if you want the latest on the ticket scene in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Kozy's Steaks and Seafood

Kozy's Steaks and Seafood in the Galleria Mall in Edina, MN. We took a break from our holiday shopping to finally check out Kozy's. Kozy's is owned and operated by Bill and Dana Kozlak. Their grandparents founded the Minnesota Landmark Jax Cafe in Northeast Minneapolis. The atmosphere is very upscale and inviting. We decided to sit at the bar and start our meal with a couple of splits of Pommery Pop Champagne. This would be a good spot to watch a game if you're looking for something a step up from your average sports hangout. We each began with a cup of the creamy and satisfying Boston Clam Chowder. We split a very generous Caesar Salad. Loads of garlic and fresh Parmesan cheese. Next came a pair of the largest crab cakes I've ever had. Loads of meat and seasoned with dill. Served on a bed of creamed spinach. Definitely worth coming back for. For the main course I went with a Bacon Cheeseburger and fries. It really hit the spot. I'm looking forward to coming back for dinner sometime to check out the rest of the menu.

Monday, December 4, 2006


We recently checked out Masa on Nicollet Mall, downtown Minneapolis. Masa is a Mexican restaurant opened by well know Italian restaurateurs D'Amico & Partners. Masa's goal is to present authentic Mexican food in a contemporary style. The atmosphere of the restaurant is casual, hip and trendy. Jay Sparks is the Executive Chef and Saul Chavez is the Head Chef. The menu was simple and straight forward. Before we ordered we were brought chips and salsa. The chips were served with a green and red salsa. We ordered a couple excellent 'Masa Margaritas' to wash down our chips and salsa. The margaritas were served on the rocks and will definitely make us come back. The delicious green salsa was some sort of green chili with cilantro and lime. We started with the Sopes Surtidos appetizer which was a trio of corn masa boats topped with shredded chicken and chipotle crema; a spicy Mexican sausage; roasted pablano, onion and oregano. Our favorite was the shredded chicken followed by the roasted pablono. I thought the Mexican sausage could have used something to cut the heat a little. This was a large appetizer. When we come back we will surely have this again, but probably split an entree. For dinner I had the Enchilada con Pollo which was two enchiladas filled with chicken and served with Guajillo salsa, white onion, queso fresca and crema. I thought it was very good but maybe just a little bland and could have used something to spice it up a bit. My wife had the Sea Bass which we both thought was great. The fish was served over rice with dark olives and green peppers and was extremely flavorful. On the side we ordered Frijoles Borrachos which were brothy pinto beans finished with bacon, chorizo, tomatoes and jalapenos. The beans were great. With the beans we also ordered some white rice seasoned with cilantro and lime which complimented the beans perfectly. Masa does offer desert buy unfortunately, we did not leave room to try any. The service was great and the prices seemed very reasonable for the quality of the food. Masa is located on on the corner of Nicollet and 11th Street. Valet parking is available after 6:00 pm.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

2003 Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay

Tonight we stayed home and watched the Big Ticket and the Minnesota Timberwolves take on the Houston Rockets. I decided to open a bottle of 2003 Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay to go along with some Thai left-overs. Medium straw in color, the Shafer Chardonnay has a beautiful nose of citrus and floral elements. This wine has a great mouth feel with the crisp, abundant fruit balanced nicely with the oak. The mineral finish goes on forever. Overall, a great bottle of wine and a nice treat for a Tuesday night. 92 points. Now if only the Timberwolves can come back and beat the Rockets.

Monday, November 27, 2006

After the Vikings game Sunday we picked up some Thai food from Pad Thai Restaurant on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul. It is my five year old daughter's favorite restaurant and my favorite for Thai food in Saint Paul. I went with the Gang Masamanh Curry with chicken and fried tofu. It is a red coconut curry with potatoes. We also had cream cheese puffs, which are some of the best anywhere, and deep fried egg rolls. Usually we dine in. The restaurant has a comfortable atmosphere and it's a great spot to bring the kids. I think it's pretty affordable, dishes ranging from $11 - $14. They have a good list of wines that nicely compliment the spicy food.