Sunday, March 30, 2008

Red's Savoy Inn

Visited on Wednesday, March 26th with Dad K. and Liz

Savoy Inn

Ben's Review
We made a quick impulse decision to go to Red's Savoy Inn last Wednesday. Erin and I came home from work and saw the roofers who were putting a new roof on our house still hard at work, and the yard was a disaster. I looked at Erin as we pulled up and said "I don't want to go in there or deal with this in any way, lets go out to dinner." We sat in the car, thinking of a place on our list, and came up with Red's Savoy Inn.

We arrived around 6pm, I was amazed that the parking lot out back was completely full. I dropped Erin off at the door so we could get a table, while I drove a couple blocks away to find a parking spot on the street.

Walking into Red's on a sunny day is a little disorienting. There are zero windows in the entire restaurant, and the lighting is low. It took me a good thirty seconds before I could actually see anything. Like the parking lot, the restaurant itself was full, but Erin had gotten a table for us, her sister, and her dad. Again, it was weird to see a full restaurant on a Wednesday night, but apparently Red's is a popular place to go after work, there are lots of offices nearby.


The waitstaff at Red's reminds me of Nye's; all the servers appear to be lifers and nobody looked younger than 55. I get the impression they've been there awhile. If you look at the ceiling you can see the artifacts from when smoking was allowed in restaurants - there's a nasty yellow color over everything.

We had a couple pitchers of beer while we waited for our pizzas, the only relatively interesting beer they have is Amber Bock, other than that its the standard dive bar lineup: Bud, Bud Light,MGD , etc. (but no Miller Lite??). We ordered a regular pepperoni pizza and a large special pizza (pepperoni, sausage, onions, green peppers, we took off the mushrooms and olives). I think the pizza took about 30 minutes to arrive, no big deal when you've got beer.

The pizza is incredible. The crust isn't thin, but has just the right amount of crispiness. It's loaded with cheese. The sausage pieces are practically golf ball sized. My mouth is watering now just thinking about it. My co-worker Scott doesn't even like pizza, but he likes Red's. When we go next time, I'm going to try the pizza with pickles, I'm a huge fan of the pickle pizza at Dulonos, so I bet this one is good as well.

The special
(Large special pizza)

We had about half a pizza left over when we were done, which I had for dinner on Friday. It's good the second time around, but nothing like the first. I will most definitely be going back to Red's.

Red's Ratings:

  • Service: The service was satisfactory, the elder waitress seemed to warm up to us after Erin's dad arrived, it must have been his gray hair.
  • Food: I wish I could think of a better adjective to describe how good the pizza is, but I can't. It's just really f-ing good pizza.
  • Drinks: Standard taps, no Summit though which was disappointing. They do have a full bar though, if that's your thing.
  • Ambiance: It was pretty active on a Wednesday night, I bet its even more so on the weekends. It feels like a VFW inside, a real casual atmosphere.
  • Price: The total was $44 I think. The "special" was $19, the pepperoni was $11, which means the pitchers of beer were $7. NOT BAD :)
  • Convenience: They have a parking lot, but the damn thing was full on a Wednesday. I had to find a spot a couple blocks away.
Savoy Inn

Erin's Review
For some reason, I thought Savoy was a fancy place. I have no idea why, Savoy to me has a fancy connotation. Boy, was I wrong! This place is definitely NOT fancy, for those who had the same idea I did. It wasn't really dirty or anything, except for the previously mentioned yellow ceilings. The booths were all in one piece, and there were some cool murals on the wall too.

Mural on the wall

The service was a little snide - for example, we asked how many people a large pizza fed, and the server rolled her eyes and seemed annoyed at the question. I'm sure that is a pretty common question, I mean, come on. All it says on the menu is "large" and "regular" - I didn't see any mention of how many inches the sizes represented on the menu. For everyone else out there - a regular is plenty for 2, a large would probably serve 3-4. Now you won't have to ask anyone if you go, heaven forbid.

Again, disappointment at the lack of Miller Lite - but my Dad prefers Bud anyway, so it was probably best that we had that since he paid :) And let's be honest - I can't tell the difference anyway.

Bud Light (no Miller here, sad)

The pizza was amazing. Just amazing. I actually didn't really like the huge hunks of sausage, I preferred the pepperoni pizza to the special - but I'm a simpleton when it comes to pizza (and apparently, most everything) I like just pepperoni and nothing else.

(regular pepperoni pizza)

I'd definitely go back to Red's Savoy Inn - it's really cheap and has a fun atmosphere.

Red's Savoy Inn (no website that I could find)
421 Seventh St E
St Paul, MN

Highly Recommended

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Holy Land

Visited on Monday, March 24 (picked up alone - ate at Becca and Joe's new place with them plus Amanda and Steve)

Holy Land

Erin's Review
We got the Sheik's Dinner for 4+ at Holy Land on Central to feed 6 - initially I was a little nervous that it wouldn't be enough, but it turned out to be plenty! The only things I would have liked more of were 2 more pitas and maybe a little bit more rice. Everything stayed very hot even though we did not eat right when we got to the house, which was great.

Ben took care of the ordering, so he gets into that below. All I did was eat - the food was GREAT! I will present it pictorially.

Sheik's Dinner
(Here is the falafel, grape leaves, chicken gyro, gyro, kufta-shish-chicken kebobs, greek chicken, and rice, according to what is listed on the menu)


Pita bread
(Pita bread - did not come cut up, I did that so that 6 people would not fight over the 4 pieces we got)

(Delicious greek style salad with feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, romaine, and some wonderful dressing)

(A variety of desserts - there were more under there, all I had was the baklava, which was great!)

Ben's Review
Our time at Holy Land was short lived. I called in our order of the Sheiks Dinner around 2:30 in the afternoon in preparation for going over to Becca and Joe's place for dinner, with my brother Steve and other sister Amanda. Ordering was fantastically easy:

"Hello, Holy Land."

"Hi, I'd like to place an order for pickup at 5:30"

"What would you like?"

"The Shieks Dinner for 4+"

"Ok, we'll see you at 5:30."

That was the gist of it :) It's nice when there's a single item to order for 6 people.

Holy Land

The restaurant itself is also a small grocery store. When you walk in the door they're cooking the orders to your right behind the counter, to the left is the cafeteria style seating area for those that want to eat their food ASAP. We had to wait ~10 minutes to get our food, during which I got a nasty papercut right under my fingernail, it hurt real bad! (or maybe I'm just a big baby)

Holy Land

We took our food and headed to Columbia Heights, the food was tempting us the whole way as it smelled delicious.

The food didn't disappoint. After getting a tour of the new house, we sat down to eat. There was a lot of meat, which was good, however I wasn't really sure what the meat was. There was some chicken, beef, and some gyro (I think). In any case, the food was excellent and it was a pretty good value, it was less than $50 for 6 of us.

The ratings:

  • Service: Service was great, what little of it we had. They don't wait on you, they just cook, and they do it well.
  • Food: The food was great, and you get several sauces for the meat.
  • Drinks: Nothing for us, but free tea if you eat there.
  • Ambiance: It's fun to be able to see them make your food, if you're into that kind of thing. It has the atmosphere of a cafeteria, with people waiting for their food on a tray.
  • Price: The price for us was great, I thought, less than $9 a person.
  • Convenience: Holy Land is located right on Central, not a whole lot of parking so you might have to walk a block or so if you get screwed.

Holy Land
2513 Central Avenue NE

Highly Recommended for the food

Holy Land
(No, Thank YOU Holy Land! We'll be back!)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Parkview Cafe

Visited on Saturday, March 22nd

Update on 4/15 - PARKVIEW HAS CLOSED - see our updated post here.

Parkview Cafe

Ben's Review

Erin and I wanted to go out for breakfast on Saturday and we had loosely settled on the Bad Waitress in Minneapolis, but decided at the last minute to go with a recent recommendation and try the Parkview Cafe on Raymond & Hampden in St. Paul. We got there a little after 10am and got a booth in the back. Parkview Cafe is a pretty small place with about seven or eight tables and probably less than 1000 square feet of dining area. It's also decorated simply with not a whole lot on the walls.

Parkview Cafe

Erin had told me they have two kinds of coffee here - Dunn Bros. and Folgers, so you can take your pick, and they actually print this right on the menu, which I thought was kind of funny. When our server came over and asked for our drink order, we both asked for coffee. As she turned to walk away I said "I'd like the Dunn Bros coffee, please" and she kind of gave me a weird look and said "Ok." I felt like an idiot, but what the hell? The menu has TWO choices for coffee and she didn't even ASK me what I wanted. I'd rather look like an idiot to the server than get Folgers instead of Dunn Bros, so whatever.

Parkview Cafe

She came back with the coffee and it was delicious, I can never seem to make our coffee at home taste as good, but I'm working on that. I wasn't quite ready to order yet, I wasn't sure if I wanted a big breakfast or something small. I decided on a small breakfast of two pancakes, knowing I could get a couple bites of Erin's eggs benedict.

When the server came back again Erin was taking some pictures at the table and the server gave her a look and Erin said that she likes to take pictures when we go out to eat, but the server just looked at us blankly, waiting for us to place our order. I was annoyed at her coldness to us, we hadn't done anything to piss her off, but she sure didn't seem interested in making us comfortable.

Our food came out 10 - 15 minutes later and I didn't touch anything so Erin could photograph my food (I waited this time, so I didn't get yelled at again :). I threw some butter and syrup on the pancakes and dug in, and it was fantastic. Erin and I both agreed that these were probably the best pancakes we'd ever had. The flavor was great and they weren't dry, like pancakes can get sometimes. I had some of Erin's eggs benedict and they were also fantastic. They used poached eggs (not over easy), homemade hollandaise sauce, and real cuts of ham (not pre-cut circle slices). In typical fashion Erin couldn't finish all her eggs benedict, so I ended up eating nearly a whole egg in addition to almost all my pancakes (she helped me with my food too).

Parkview Cafe

We let our food settle for a little while after we were done eating and Erin got another cup of coffee. I couldn't have any more otherwise I wouldn't have been able to drive, I would be too damn jittery, not to mention having to piss like a racehorse. I went up to the counter to pay our bill, where the server watched me write in her tip (I hate that) on the credit card slip, and we were outta there.

One thing I heard that I loved was this interaction with our server and another patron:

Patron: "I'll have white toast with margarine."
Server: "All we have is butter."

All they have is butter. I love it. Parkview is saving people from having a tasteless breakfast, one margarine pad at a time.

The ratings:

  • Service: The server wasn't mean, but she definitely wasn't nice. We got served quickly and she brought coffee refills though.
  • Food: Awesome.
  • Drinks: The coffee is fantastic and I saw malts and root beer floats on the menu.
  • Ambiance: The atmosphere was friendly here, not from the waitress but the other patrons were having lively conversations and were enjoying themselves. This is really just a quiet, neighborhood cafe.
  • Price: The eggs benedict was $10 and two pancakes were $5.50. Not cheap in my book, but it WAS delicious.
  • Convenience: Parkview is tucked away about a half mile north of University on Raymond. It's near 280 & 94, so it's not terribly inconvenient and there's plenty of parking on the street.

Erin's Review
Well, Ben's review is pretty comprehensive... so I guess I'm not really sure what else to say other than a huge THANK YOU to Kate and Kyle for recommending this place. I wasn't super excited to go to the Bad Waitress first of all because of driving there in the damn snow, and they don't have eggs benedict (at least I didn't see it on their menu on the website).

I do believe that I have to give Parkview Cafe a tie for #1 at the top of my list of "best eggs benedict in the Twin Cities" with the Egg and I - I'll have to go back to the Egg & I to compare because I haven't been there in awhile. Ben summed it up pretty well in his review - but holy cow were these awesome. Some people may not like the sheer amount of hollandaise sauce they give you (it is bordering on excessive) but I figure if I'm going to get the most fattening thing on the menu, might as well go all out and drench my hash browns in the deliciousness too.

Parkview Cafe

Parkview Cafe

The pancakes Ben had were so good I kept eating even though I was stuffed. I literally couldn't help myself, they were that good. I don't even know what it was - they were perfectly sweet and just amazing.

Aside from the oddly cold waitress, this place is great - and maybe she just didn't like us. She certainly did her job fine - got us our food and refilled our coffee, etc, but she made both of us feel very uncomfortable. Oh well - the food more than made up for it! I think it was probably because she was totally weirded out that I was taking photos of everything - I'm sure that doesn't happen very often there.

We will DEFINITELY be back - this place is only about 5 minutes from our house, which makes it that much better for us.


Parkview Cafe
930 Raymond Ave
St Paul, MN

Highly Recommended!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Buster's on 28th

Visited on Saturday, March 15th with Laura, Kevin, Becky, Rett, Mindy, and Josh

Outside of Buster's

Erin's Review
It was Laura's birthday last week, and she was nice enough to pick a restaurant on our list to go to for her birthday dinner - Buster's on 28th. This seemed to be a great crowd pleasing restaurant that wasn't too expensive (although if we had known Kevin was paying before going, we might have made a different choice ;). Everyone seemed to really enjoy this bar! None of us live in the area, so it was kind of a long haul to go to a neighborhood bar, but I thought it was worth it to try someplace new. Buster's no longer takes reservations, so if you have a large party, try to get there a little early to get a table - they do not have many large tables either so you might just be out of luck.

Inside of Buster's

The decor of Buster's is very nice - booths on one side, tables in the middle, and a bar on the other side. It is a very small place, and since it was Saturday night, it was pretty crowded. One thing we all noticed was the HEAT - it was HOT in there! We were in the front, sort of close to the grill so that could have been why. We all had to peel off our layers because it was probably about 80 degrees in there.

The grill

The menu is a little different than most bar/grills - there seemed to be more pasta dishes and fancier pizzas. A few in the group got the Butternut Squash Risotto and didn't really like it - they both thought it was too bland. I heard positive remarks about the Pesto ShrimpFettuccini Alfredo and the Red Funghi Pizza.

Red Fungi pizzaPesto Shrimp fettucini alfredoButternut Squash Risotto

I ordered the Bison Burger and it was MMMMMMM MMMMMM GOOD. Props to Buster's for not overcooking the burger - I asked for it to be done medium, and it was perfect. The Chipotle Cream Cheese that came on the burger was the perfect topping. I love me some cream cheese, and it had a good amount of spice to add a kick to the burger. I really liked the fries - they were clearly made there and the chef had made extra so we got an extra basket for the table for no cost - that was an awesome touch. Ben didn't like them, but he is very particular about his french fries, and not in a good way.

My bison burger

I had heard that they got their desserts from A Baker's Wife's Pastry Shop, which is next door. They did have 2 pies on the menu from there, but the bread pudding and Chocolate Layer cake are made in house. We had the chocolate cake to split (it was a birthday after all!) and it was great - perfectly moist and topped with some Heath bar tasting crumbles, and all in a caramel sauce.

Chocolate layer cake

Oh, yeah, I guess this place is known for their beer list. Blah, blah, whatever. As those who are involved with Brew 52 know, I would always prefer a light beer, usually Miller Lite, to any of the "good" beers. However, I also like beer on tap. Since they don't have any type of typical light beer (Bud, Miller, Mich Golden, etc) on tap, I had a Murphy's Red, and it was fine. To read more about the new wave of beer-snobbery, check out this recent Star Tribune article about Buster's.

beer list

As for the service, I thought it was pretty good considering how busy it was. There were a few times it took our server awhile to get back to us, but nothing awful. One thing Buster's could work on is having their menu ON their website, not as some stupid pdf that you have to open separately and download. Clearly they are pretty web-savvy because their website is all flashy, so I don't think it would be too much to ask for them to create separate pages within the site for each menu.

Ben's Review

We got to Buster's around 7 on Saturday. Our friends Laura, Kevin, Becky, and Rett were already there, which was a good thing because we wouldn't have gotten a table if they hadn't gotten there a little early.

I was excited to go to Buster's because of the variety of beers they have on tap (they have a pdf of the beer menu online). I had a Rush River Bubble Jack pale ale first, while we waited for Mindy and Josh to become un-lost on their way to meet the rest of us.


Buster's doesn't have a huge menu, but they have something for everyone. I opted for a cheeseburger with cheddar cheese with french fries. I was considering the buffalo burger, but Erin got that so I knew I could try a bite.

Ben's cheeseburger

The burger was great, and they actually cooked it medium, like I ordered. Most places ask you how you want it done, and you get a hockey puck regardless. It was medium and thick, and wonderful. The fries were not so great. I think they were homemade fries or something, the kind that still have the potato skin on the ends of the fries, and they were a little soggy from the oil.

My second beer was a Tyranena Dirty Old Man, which I would have ordered based on its name alone, but it was also a great beer. Some of our friends got a beer called Kwak that came in a tall glass, but was served with a wooden handle that the glass sat in. Erin has a picture, hopefully she includes one in our review :)

(And here it is, as modeled by Kevin)

One thing I didn't try that I wish I had was the root beer, it sounds almost as good as some of the beers on tap:

"Made in small batches from the proven formula of a percolation of various barks, herbs, and berries as well as premium vanilla, caramel color and sweeteners."


My beerRett supports the MN beersBen's beer

The ratings for Buster's on 28th:

  • Service: Our server seemed a little pissy when we got there, but I got food and beer in a timely manner so I can't complain.
  • Food: Excellent cheeseburger and buffalo burger. Fries were not good, I don't know if they had a coleslaw option, but I would take that next time.
  • Drinks: Great beer selection, although a little heavy on the Belgians. I'm not much of a Belgian fan, especially when it's $8 for a tulip glass of beer. More of an IPA fan myself.
  • Ambiance: Buster's is a friendly, neighborhood bar and grill, I bet it raises the value of the homes in the area. I would pay more to live near them :)
  • Price: I think our tab would have been about $40 - $50. Laura's fiancee Kevin picked up the tab for everyone for her birthday, thanks Kevin!
  • Convenience: Buster's is off of Hiawatha and 42nd st. It's not really easy to get to because it's not off of a highway.

Buster's on 28th
4204 28th Ave

Highly recommended
for the food, great beer list, and atmosphere

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Midori's Floating World Cafe

Visited on Friday, March 14th with Jake, Allison, Jeff, and Lori

Outside Midori's

Ben's Review

We had 7pm reservations at the Floating World Cafe with our friends Jake, Allison, Jeff & Lori. We got there a little late because we went a completely stupid way from downtown (we went down LaSalle to Lake and then east on Lake, we should have taken Hiawatha); I also realized it's right across the street from my Dad's offices.

Jake and Allison were already there when we came in and we joined them at the table and ordered Sapporo's. We had heard that the service wasn't the best here but I thought the service was great, we didn't wait long to get our food or drinks, and I was never looking for our server.


We ordered some soup, edamame, and I got a side of white rice before the sushi came out. I don't really know why, but I love plain white rice with some soy sauce, and the best part is that no matter where you go, the white rice is always good - there's just no way to screw it up!

Ben's rice

Erin, Jeff, and Lori all got soup - egg drop for Jeff and Lori and miso soup for Erin, they all smelled great (the soup I mean).

Our rolls came out and we quickly dug into them, after letting Erin get a couple pictures, I got in trouble because I stabbed some wasabi off the plate before she could take a photo :)


The rolls were excellent, I really love that unagi sauce that they put on the caterpillar rolls, it's fantastic! We tried to order the 'Roll from Hell' which was supposed to be a really spicy roll, but they didn't have it?? This has happened to us a couple times now when we've gone out, when a place is out of a specialty item, grrr!!

In any case, the food was really good, the beer was as expected, as were the prices - no complaints here.

The ratings:

  • Service: The service was good, our server wasn't overbearing, she left us alone unless we needed something.
  • Food: The rolls were great, as was the soup, rice, and edamame.
  • Drinks: They had a couple Japanese beers in bottles, pretty standard for a sushi place. They also had several options for wine. Nothing special here, but it was what I expected.
  • Ambiance: This is a small place, and it seems friendly. At one point I went to the restroom and I saw a little girl with a blanket laying on the floor reading a book, so it might be a family business :)
  • Price: It was $142 for all six of us, we split the bill evenly so it was ~$47 plus tip, which is reasonable for sushi I think.
  • Convenience: There isn't a parking lot, but the restaurant borders a neighborhood, so there's plenty of street parking. It's also not too far off of the light rail I believe, its just east of Hiawatha on Lake St.
(Go get 'em, Jake!)

Erin's Review

The first I had heard about Midori's was when it was picked for Best Japanese last year by the City Pages, and I've been wanting to visit ever since. I usually read a few reviews and search the Chowhound midwest board before going to a new place, so I know what to expect. Our previous sushi experiences have been at Fuji Ya (both locations), Sakura, Origami, Martini Blu, and Wasabi and I knew this would be pretty different from those because of the decor and size. Midori's is kind of a hole in the wall neighborhood place, and I think it would be great to go to often if you live nearby.

Midori's Floating World Cafe

I read reports of poor service here - also, my coworker Kelley had just been there last weekend and didn't have the greatest service. I think being prepared for that lowered my expectations, but the service seemed okay. I did have to catch the server's eye a few times to get something, but since the place is tiny, that wasn't difficult. The reason Ben was never looking for the waitress was because I am always one step ahead of him and I had already called her over. It's kind of like magic. One woman (I read that it is Midori herself?) makes all of the sushi, so it can take awhile depending on if everyone is ordering it at the same time. It didn't take long for us at all - and we got 6 rolls first, then 2 more, then the final 2 as they were prepared which was a great way to do it I thought.

Possibly Midori herself?

My miso soup was great - nice and hot. I liked that I had the choice of ordering small or large - I got the small and felt the portion size was perfect. The edamame was also fine.

Miso soupedamame

None of us are really huge fans of nigiri pieces (yes, we are "that kind" of sushi eaters, I guess - mock us if you will) so we chose a bunch of rolls to split. It is always hard to decide how many rolls to order when in a group, so I use a formula (it is complex, so brace yourselves...) that Becca told me about - take the number of people in the group, multiply by 2, and then subtract 1. So for us, that was 6 x 2 = 12 - 1 = 11. Whew, I'm sorry about all that math. Eleven seemed kind of excessive to me, so we ordered 10. In hindsight (which is 20/20), we probably should have just ordered 11 because none of us were really full when we left.

our sushi order
(The way you order the sushi - this seems like a good sign to me - easy for them to change the menu according to what's fresh and what is available, except this had the "Roll from Hell" which was unavailable that night...)

We ordered the caterpillar, dynamite, Number 9, 2 spicy tunas, spicy salmon, 2 Philadelphia, shrimp tempura and California rolls. All of them were very good, the fish tasted fresh and it was beautifully presented. I did notice that the caterpillar and dynamite had 6 pieces - normally I think I have gotten 8 pieces each with those rolls at other places, but the pieces of those rolls did seem a little bigger - they might have just done this because there were 6 of us, I'm not sure. I would say more about the sushi, but I don't know what I'm talking about. So I will just leave it at that.


I didn't really think the food at this place was any better or worse than other places we've been. Well, better than Wasabi, definitely, but about the same quality I've gotten at the other places. I still think Origami is best, but that is also a little bit more expensive. Not much though - and the ambiance of Origami is much nicer. I certainly wouldn't refuse to go back here, but I probably won't return just because it isn't convenient to where we live.

As an aside, after we left Midori's we went to The Loop in the warehouse district because I had heard that it was a pretty cool place. I really enjoyed it - I thought the crowd was friendly and fun. Ben enjoyed it too, until they turned the music up and people started dancing. I believe his exact words when we left were "That was the WORST BAR IN AMERICA" - a title that I personally reserve for the Mario Keller Bar in Gasthofs (as mentioned in a previous post), especially after midnight on weekends. At any rate, if you are looking for a fun place to go downtown, I liked the Loop - just prepare yourself that it MIGHT be a little loud. A few friends got food there too and I heard no complaints - it is also open for lunch.

(Update from Ben: Upon further reflection, The Loop is not the worst bar in America. I said that in the heat of the moment, and I was wrong. The drinks are reasonably priced, our server was cool, they have those U-shaped booths that I really like, and the bar was lit up with a cool neon red glow. I just hate music that makes it impossible to talk to the people around you.)


Midori's Floating World Cafe
3011 27th Ave S.


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Moscow on the Hill

Visited on Friday, March 7th with Leigh, George, Jamie, and Daniel


Erin's Review
I had heard great things about the food at Moscow on the Hill, so I was excited to try it out. I wasn't quite sure what to expect in terms of decor, but I would compare the place to a random strip mall Chinese restaurant, but with some scarves on the lights. Maybe this is Russian decor - I have no idea. It was kind of blah, especially when we got there since the place was empty, but once it filled up it seemed more fun.

Inside of Moscow on the Hill

I had a martini at the bar while waiting, it was gross. It was mostly gross because I wasn't expecting it to actually taste like straight liquor. I'm too used to the downtown/uptown Minneapolis martinis that taste like grape juice. Once we got to the table, I followed my co-worker Kelley's recommendation and got the champagne with cherry vodka. I'll be honest and say I didn't taste even one bit of cherry vodka in there, but since I like champagne, I enjoyed it!

Marusya Gold

We all decided to split the appetizer sampler and a flight of vodka. I enjoyed the appetizer sampler a lot - it consisted of: scallops, beet salad, liver pate, artichoke heart, salmon, lamb stuffed grape leaves, and blini with chicken. My favorite was the liver pate and the lamb stuffed grape leaves. It was kind of a rip off at $20 but oh well. The flight of vodka was just straight up disgusting. I had a tiny sip of the garlic and caramel vodkas - as expected, I didn't like them at all, because I just don't like straight vodka.

Appetizer tasting platter

For my main dish, on the recommendation of my other co-worker Jenelle, I ordered the Peasant style Pelmini, which had pasta and some meat and mushrooms and cheese and creamy goodness. It was delicious, and VERY rich. I had about 3 bites and was full. I took half home, and it was just as good when I had it for dinner yesterday. I tried everyone else's food too (at Leigh's suggestion) and really liked the walleye that Ben and Leigh got, and the czar's medallions that George got. Daniel had the same thing as me, and Jamie had Russian empanadas (that isn't the technical term, but it is what they looked like) that I didn't really care for.

Peasant style Pelmeni

Overall, I had a great time at Moscow on the Hill - the menu was extensive and there were a lot of other things that looked really good. I'd definitely go back, and it was fun with a bigger group since we could all try other things.

OH! I almost forgot the bread. It was so good. I could have eaten a whole loaf, and the butter was DELISH, it had some flavoring in it maybe chives or garlic or both. At any rate, it was awesome.

Delicious bread and butter

Ben's Review

Erin and I ditched out of work a few minutes early on Friday to head over to Moscow on the Hill in the cathedral hill neighborhood, near the redundantly named Nina's Coffee Cafe. We had 6pm reservations with two of Erin's co-workers and their significant others but we got there a little after 5 to take some photos outside (Erin) and get a drink at the bar (Ben).

I ordered a dark German beer thinking that I might as well get a European beer at a European restaurant, even though they had "old faithful" on tap. Erin mistakenly ordered a martini, forgetting that it wasn't going to be a girly martini you might get at Drink, but was instead strawberry vodka and midori, so I was helping her with that in addition to my beer.

Ben's beer Strawberry fields forever martini

I noticed a beer tap that said "Moscow on the Hill - Light" and I was intrigued - did they brew their own beer here? I called over the bartender and asked him about it. He said that its a beer that is brewed locally for the restaurant, here's how the conversation went:

Me: Is that your own beer?

Bartender: Its brewed locally for us.

Me: So what kind of beer is it?

Bartender: Its local.

Me: Uhh, right. But what style is it?

Bartender: Its a light beer.

Me: it a lager?

Bartender: Its just like Bud Light or Miller Lite.

Me: Okay then, thanks.

Clearly it was silly of me to think that the bartender would know ANYTHING about the beer that is brewed specifically for the restaurant, but anyways I didn't order it.

Our friends showed up right at 6 and we went to our table. The restaurant was pretty empty when we arrived but by 6 it was nearly full. Our server came over and got our drink order: "Can I get you something to drink? A bottle of vodka?" A bottle of vodka?!? This guy must have known that the gratuity was included for parties of 6 or more, he was already giving us the hard sell! We did order some champagne things with a cherry in them that were pretty good and we also ordered a vodka sampler to share with everyone.

Vodka flight

The sampler consisted of six shots of different flavored vodkas: garlic & dill, horseradish, caramel, pepper, cherry, and tiramisu. I thought the garlic and dill and tiramisu were decent, the pepper was REALLY spicy but it would probably be good in bloody marys. We all grabbed a shot glass, took a sip, and passed the glasses around the table, it was pretty fun to try them all.

For dinner I ordered a walleye broiled in a white wine sauce with rice and vegetables on the side. It was fantastic and huge. I got full part of the way through the meal, but there wasn't enough left for a respectable second meal, so I forged ahead and just finished it there, it WAS delicious after all. Everyone's meal looked really good, although I was put off by the prevalence of mushrooms on the menu, not being a fan of mushrooms and all.

Walleye "Baikal"

We didn't stay too much longer after we ate because we were meeting some other friends at a bar that we had to get to, and our car was parked in a two hour parking zone :)

The ratings:

  • Service: In spite of the bartender who didn't know the beer, the service was great. Our server was very friendly, funny, and attentive.
  • Food: My food was delicious and I heard no complaints from anyone else, its good winter food, very hearty.
  • Drinks: Five or six beers on tap, including Summit, nothing special. They do have fantastic selection of vodka, if that's your thing.
  • Ambiance: When we first got there the atmosphere was subdued because there were hardly any customers, but by the time we sat down to our table the place was a little more lively. The decor of the restaurant is a little bland and not really Russian, like I was expecting.
  • Price: The prices are towards the high end for casual dining, my meal was $15 but I thought it was a good value for the quality and size of the meal. The six of us split the bill and for us two of us it came to $72 with tip.
  • Convenience: No parking lot, but plenty of street parking. Its also just off of 94 & Dale, very easy to get to.
Leigh loves her vodka!
(Leigh with her vodka - she recommends Moscow on the Hill too!)

Moscow on the Hill
371 Selby Ave
Saint Paul, MN

for the great service and comfort food.