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Chomp, Chomp, Chomp.

A hybrid or maybe just a wannabe jack of all trades. I enjoy writing, reading, blogging, cooking and most of all – EATING! I think my general love for all things food makes me a perfect subject for Menuism. Let the great experiment begin!

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Portland Lobster Co

 180 Commercial St
Portland, ME
 

Patio love, could go without the cost

This was the first official Maine lobster roll I got my mitts on once I hit the east coast. Didn’t know much about the place, but decided to drop in on our way through. Turns out the prices are just as spendy, if not more so than back home in the Midwest. However, the roll was pretty solid and the patio would have been great had the weather been better.

It was a fun little stop off and I would definitely return for the patio for a beer and fried clam strips during the summer. I’m sure had we been there during peak tourist season the place would have been packed. Go, unless you’re looking for street food prices. Keep reading and I’ll tell you where to go!

Lobster Roll at Portland Lobster Co

Lobster Roll

Good, but nothing outstanding about this roll and the price made it a little less appealing. Fair amount of lobster, simple, no mayo, but brushed with butter. Served with a small side of coleslaw and fries.

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Island Creek Oyster Bar

 500 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA
 

Oyster selection - ICOB delivers

Decor is stunning, drink menu is specialize – you’re not getting out of this one alive! At least your pocketbook isn’t. To be fair, $3-$4 per oyster when you can choose from about 20 types from all over is nothing to scoff at. This was our first seafood destination on our Boston/Maine vacay and it’s safe to say it delivered.

After sipping a few drinks with clever names such as “death in the afternoon” (a champagne cocktail laced with absinthe) we were ready to dive in. Although we came with the thought of oysters and dinner the raw menu sucked us in. They had me a cocktail shrimp.

What we (the two of us) ended up ordering was a raw selection meant to share between four people. The quantity of food and the presentation were definitely large! A couple next to us even leaned over and asked what “that” was. It’s amazing incarnate, obviously. This sampler of sorts was not offered in a smaller size, but even if it was we’d probably opt for the biggie anyways. It included two half lobsters, a half dozen of the house oysters, a half dozen little neck clams, 4 jumbo shrimp cocktail, and halibut ceviche plus all the fixins. I’m a gold medalist when it comes to eating seafood, but at the end of this meal I was satisfied.

Super bonus – for my boyfriend’s birthday they brought us the most amazing confetti cake layered with fresh raspberries and butter cream frosting, and raspberry laced ice cream. Staff were super accommodating and went out of their way to make our night!

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Salty Tart Patisserie

 920 E. Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN
 

Michelle Gayer-Nicholson, You Are My Hero

Have you been? Go! Why aren’t you there yet?! If the Midtown Global Market wasn’t already an amazing establishment, Salty Tart only further elevates the variety, love, and quality of the food shrines you can experience there. Whether it be savory or sweet, Salty Tart does it right.

Head pasty chef, Michelle Gayer-Nicholson is a genius whose passion is translated and easily read in everything she produces. She was named “Best Pastry Chef” by the editors of Bon Appetit magazine, and was a finalist for the James Beard Award for Best Pastry Chef in 2010. Bravo, Chef.

Salty Tart’s motto is “Cooking with Integrity”. They use seasonal, local and organic ingredients and make everything in their 400 square-foot bakery from scratch daily. You wouldn’t expect it from their unassuming booth, but Salty Tart is nothing short of spectacular. There are several bakeries closer to my home, but I have, on several occasions, made the drive specifically to Salty Tart.

Cupcakes? Don’t even get me started. The cake is moist and flavorful, but the frosting is in my top 3 best frosting of all time if it’s not number 1. I’ve done the red velvet, mocha, stout, apple, etc. Never been disappointed. And now that I’ve started writing I will probably have to make a visit tomorrow.

My best friend and I will go whenever he is in town and get a cupcake or two and whatever else is there that day. Last time we had a savory mushroom and cheese filled pasty. I’m not usually a fan of savory pastries, but this one has made me a believer! I haven’t found a favorite yet because everything I’ve had is the best in its own way. I’m never afraid of just closing my eyes and pointing, I’m sure to go home happy.

If you visit Midtown Global save a little room and a couple bucks for a cupcake dessert at Salty Tart. They also do custom cakes and catering. I’m just waiting for an excuse to hire them! Check this out and tell me you aren’t drooling! http://www.saltytart.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/ST_CAKEMENU_FINAL3.pdf

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Gigi's Cafe

 822 W 36th St
Minneapolis, MN
 

Unexpected Pot Pie

Stopped in Gigi’s as a second option to another favorite that was too full, but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Gigi’s claims to be ‘coffee house by day, dinner joint by night’. I have yet to go for dinner, but given my last experience I might give it a try once the weather improves.

I really like the atmosphere at Gigi’s. It’s a trendy coffee house feel. The one thing that turned me off a bit when I walked in was the half empty glass case in front. This could mean things sold out for the day, but it feels bleak. I want to be greeted by warm smiling pastries and quiche and salads and deli sandwiches. Maybe this is a lot to ask.

My friend and I both ordered the pot pie which seemed like a good cure for the winter blues. I was expecting the basics, but what I got was far above and beyond both in presentation and taste. They looked as if they were each carefully made to order, bubbly, and crusty brown. Loved cracking into the top and watching the steam lazily float out. The tart glass had a layer of pastry on the bottom and on the top. Originally I had been worried about this because it looked as if only the top had pastry. I was concerned I’d miss out on the doughy goodness that the bottom of a pot pie generally provides.

The filling consisted of tender all white chicken meat, carrots, peas, potatoes, gravy and a simple seasoning. I loved how the carrots and peas still had a bit of a fresh snap and were not just a veggie mush. Creamy and not too salty. Overall, a very rounded meal. Served with a mixed green salad with vinaigrette dressing. Hot and cool, smooth and crunchy, homey but elevated.

This pot pie could make me a repeat customer. I would definitely go back for another.

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Our Kitchen

 813 W 36th St
Minneapolis, MN
 

Looking for white linens and leg room? Too bad....

Looking for white linens and leg room? Too bad. You want some delicious, greasy, affordable breakfast and lunch diner style? Our Kitchen has you covered!

I can’t believe I missed out on this spot for almost 25 year! I guess it wasn’t until recently that I fell in love with ‘the diner’, and Our Kitchen is the epitome of everything diner. Outstanding, most amazing food ever? Maybe not. Outstanding local diner? Absolutely.

When walking or driving (during the 10 months of MN winter) to Our Kitchen I’m always thinking I’ll try something new. It’s happened on a couple visited, but I always come back to the Breakfast Special. A pile of Hashbrowns, 2 eggs anyways you like them (sunny for me), and a fist full of ground sausage or a thick slice of ham all done up in front of you on the flattop. This is served with 2 slices of wheat or white toast OR a pancake the size of your head. It’s literally the size of your head. Oh yeah, and never ending coffee, and I mean never ending. I never leave without a good coffee buzz. If it couldn’t get better you can have all of this love for less than 9 dollars. SOLD!

This place packs up during peak morning weekend hours, so be prepared to wait. Otherwise go during an early weekday afternoon, they’ll still cook you breakfast.

If I haven’t convinced you already, the service is great and friendly. I feel like I’m visiting a friend or family member. After only a few visits I became more or less of a regular. They always get my order right and make sure I have plenty of coffee. There is only one cook and one server during a shift (I prefer Kathy and Dan), but be sure they will get you taken care of. Our Kitchen loves their regulars, and we love you Our Kitchen.

I know I say this a lot, but I will see you there. If you visit Our Kitchen it’s highly likely that I will actually be there.

PS, did this used to be a Chinese restaurant? The dishes section is a little screwy. Just go try it!

Breakfast Special

 

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Butter

 3544 Grand Ave S
Minneapolis, MN
 

When I Hear Butter, I Want Butter!

I’ll start out by saying I love and must support the local joints. I have on several occasions visited Butter for coffee dates, some pastries, and even once for breakfast. Nothing has ever overly excited me, but I don’t mind stopping in once in awhile if for nothing more than to support a local business.

The most memorable visit was my last one for breakfast with a friend who is an out of towner. My friend and I are big big BIG biscuit and gravy fans so of course that’s what we both went for. Nothing fancy, we just wanted some good food coma food. We each got a cup of the house coffee and searched for a place to sit. Ended up sitting at the bar which turned out to be unseasonably warm because of it’s close proximity to the kitchen.

I watched as the cooks in back turned out eggs, oatmeal and other things. My friend and I kept guessing if the next plate would be ours. Needless to say we waited quite a long time before we received two orders of biscuits and gravy with a sunny side egg on top (my favorite combo, I ask for it everywhere).

By the time we got our food we were pretty hungry, but still could tell it was a bit bland and a bit on the colder side of warm. The gravy was lacking the sausage spice and saltiness I look for. The egg yolk helped with the creamy texture of the gravy, but it was still mediocre. I think that the food might have been more enjoyable if the place wasn’t so crowded and uncomfortably warm.

Lastly, not that it was a big deal, but even though we were sitting right next to the barista station we were still forced to get up and walk around the corner of the counter to ask for refills. Not memorable service and not truly memorable food.

Overall, I will stop by Butter for a coffee and maybe a cookie. However, I can think of much better places in the area to get my breakfast coma on. Pastries are still up for debate, but what I have tried so far has not left me begging for more. Butter, I support your ideals, but you need a little work.

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Jeff's Pizza Shop

 2402 Lincoln Way
Ames, IA
 

Two Words: Bosco Sticks!

Jeff’s Pizza supplies affordable eats to Ames late night crowd. Open til 1am Sun-Tue, 2:30am Wed & Thurs, and 3:30am Fri & Sat, Jeff is available when you need him most. You can also dine in during more reasonable eating times.

The large menu consists of specialty pizzas, calzones, strombolis, sandwiches, lasagna, and salad! Sure to satisfy any dorm dweller’s appetite. Everything I’ve had here is good, might even call it great, but what will bring me back are the Bosco Sticks. I had no idea what these things were, I was just told they were cheese filled. Turns out they are garlic breadsticks stuffed with mozzarella cheese! SOLD! I order that damn stuffed crust Pizza Hut pizza and suffer through the rest of the pizza just to get to the cheese! Thanks to Jeff for solving my dilemma and I’m sure Jeff’s pizza is better than the Hut.

Jeff’s Pizza is a happy addition to Ames and the college scene. In a town full of cheap eats and fast food, Jeff’s Pizza stands apart and offers something new as well as some solid za. Support a local business and try some Bosco Sticks!

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Egg & I--Lyndale Avenue

 2828 S Lyndale Ave
Minneapolis, MN
 

Ernest Lehman Would Dine Here

Also known as the “Little Egg” (compared to the “Big Egg” in St. Paul), the Egg & I in Minneapolis is one of the two locations where you can get your breakfast fix. They offer a wide variety of breakfast and diner items including omelets, pancakes, skillets, hot sammies, burgers, and soups. Of course I indulge in the breakfast. Have yet to try their lunch, but I stick with what I know and love.

The Egg & I caters to a variety of diners. The large dining room and outdoor patio usually guarantees a spot to chow pretty easily. There is also a small parking lot which is a precious commodity in the Uptown area.

Although I have tried the skillets (delicious) my new and true favorite has become the eggs and corned beef hash. Two eggs served up however you like them (sunny side up for me, of course), a pile of hash browns, and a nice helping of corned beef hash. Corned beef hash is basically a mixture of potatoes, chopped or ground corned beef, and onions. Simple, but awesome. It will fill you up and definitely put you in a food coma for an hour or two. Add a cup or two of coffee to counteract the pound of potatoes and meat and you got yourself a meal.

Good food and a fun and interesting place to dine. The Egg & I deserves a try!

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Uptown Diner

 2548 Hennepin Ave S
Minneapolis, MN
 

Late Night Diner Spot

Diner food and coffee after a long night of drinking is good thing. The Uptown Diner can provide such things. I have only visited the Uptown Diner once, but it was a more or less memorable experience food wise. It was full of Uptownians, noisy, and busy. Some might call this lively and fun, guess you’d have to be the judge. On a late weeknight this place will be buzzin.

You want to complete a Saturday evening out? Fry it and smoother some gravy on it! I had the chicken fried steak and it was intense, but satisfying. I especially enjoyed the large bottle of Sriracha on the table. It’s like they knew I was coming!

Not sure it there was anything that overly stuck out at the Uptown Diner. Then again, I was drunk. Oops! The menu was big, the service was friendly, and if you’re looking for some greasy diner goods then look no further. I kinda have a little soft spot for a local dive diner near my house, but I would certainly go back to the Uptown Diner if the opportunity arose.

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Burger Jones

 3200 W. Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN
 

Burger Jones? Burger moans...

From day one I was skeptical. Stopped in one day to find there was an hour wait. Decided on Punch Pizza instead and found out later that if you’re going to spend 10+ on a meal in that area choose Punch.

I shouldn’t say it was all bad (that one day we finally got in), but if I had to choose a place for a burger, Burger Jones wouldn’t be on the top of my list. I’ve been there now a total of three times and after my last visit I probably will not return.

The allure of this place is apparent. It’s cool, trendy, uptown-y. All things that I am not, thus it makes sense why we aren’t best friends. The burgers aren’t horrible, they are just too expensive for what you get. The real deal breaker for me was the poutine. For those of you who don’t know what poutine is, it’s a pile of fries, greasy, sometimes cheese and other things, but most importantly GRAVY! I was more than ecstatic to see this on the Jones’ menu, but after a few bite I was sent on a harsh trip back to reality. Maybe that’s why MN doesn’t do poutine. The middle was cold, the fries were tough and crunchy (not in a good way), and the gravy left little to be desired.

I might go back to have a beer and sit on the patio, but even then all you get is a view of the BP across the street. I will most likely not make an effort to get back to Burger Jones anytime soon. However, Tom of Outrageous Foods, made the Burger Jones challenge look pretty cool. Who am I kidding? I’m not competitive food eater, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

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