Thursday, August 28, 2008

Psycho Suzi's

Visited on Thursday, August 21st with Becca and Joe

Psycho Suzi's

Ben's Review
On the same day that we had breakfast at Sunny Side Up Cafe, we had also made plans to meet my sister and brother-in-law, Becca and Joe, for happy hour at Psycho Suzi's. We had given them a gift card to Psycho Suzi's awhile ago and they wanted to have some food and use the gift card.

I checked out the happy hour specials online during the day. I was disappointed to find that the happy hour at Psycho Suzi's runs from 3-5pm. This seems like a "happy hour cop-out" if you ask me; they still get to advertise a happy hour, even though very few people are going to make it out for happy hour before 5pm. Of course, Becca and Joe got there around 4:30 and got in a couple drinks while the gettin' was good.

We sat out on the patio which was pretty full, we might not have gotten a spot if Becca and Joe hadn't arrived earlier. The patio is really nice at Psycho Suzi's because it's behind the restaurant, so you're shielded from the noise of Lowry and Marshall. It was a great night out too, not too hot and clear skies. I ordered a Summit in spite of the decent beer selection - I was tempted to go for an Oberon after tasting Erin's at Brasa, but I couldn't pull the trigger. I was also tempted by the relatively cheap price of the PBR tall boy, ($3.50).

Psycho Suzi's

We quickly decided on splitting a large pizza and an appetizer. It's cheaper to order the Suzi Supreme and take some items off (black olives, mushrooms) than it is to order a custom pizza, by several dollars actually. The large pizza was plenty to fill up all four of us, and it was delicious. It's amazing how you never get sick of greasy cheese and meat.

Psycho Suzi's

Becca convinced us to split a "Volcanic Eruption" drink, which is kind of like a fishbowl at Sgt. Preston's but in a much fancier dish than a plastic bowl. This was one of the "tiki drinks" they have that comes in a wide ceramic bowl with a volcano shape in the middle. At the middle peak there is a smaller bowl (about 1oz.) that contained flaming Bacardi 151, which Becca promptly took down. The drink itself was pretty tasty I thought, and it got Erin tipsy in no time. It says it's for 2-4 people, but I would hesitate to get this with only two, that's a lot of booze to suck down.

In the end Becca and Joe had forgotten to bring the gift card, so they will be back at some point. At least the food and drink is good so coming back isn't much of a chore.
  • Service: Our server was great, she had clearly been doing this for awhile, she knew what she was doing.
  • Food: Excellent pizza, and the artichoke dip appetizer was good as well.
  • Drinks: Full bar and decent beer selection here. There are good specials if you come to the early happy hour or the later specials at 10pm.
  • Ambiance: I love sitting outside on a nice summer day and this patio didn't disappoint. People were friendly and it wasn't loud so I could actually hear people talking.
  • Price: Prices are what you'd expect, $4-5 for a beer, and our pizza was $20. Pretty standard I think.
  • Convenience: There's a bit of parking available in the parking lot, otherwise you'll be on a side street or Marshall. When the Lowry bridge opens back up it'll be a little easier to get to.
Erin's Review
While Psycho Suzi's wasn't really on our list because we have been there once or twice before, this was the first time I have had a meal there, so it kind of counts as a new place. The other times I have been there it was winter, so I didn't get to enjoy their patio. This is one of the best parts about Psycho Suzi's, so I would recommend checking it out while it is still warm if you haven't been there. Current TV just did a special on places to go while at the Republican National Convention and they picked Psycho Suzi's as the #1 bar in the Twin Cities. Kind of an odd choice but I won't disagree.

I will share Ben's disappointment at the happy hour times. I know they do have some great late night specials, but it seems weird to me to have a happy hour from just 3-5 - kind of saying a big screw you to all of us with office jobs that have to work until 5. The normal prices aren't that expensive though, so it isn't so bad.

Anyway, we got the Volcanic Eruption to all split, which was a fun novelty drink, but I'm not sure I'd order it again... it actually was a pretty good deal for the size of the drink, and for how strong it was.

Psycho Suzi's

I chose the Backfire Dip for an appetizer, which is an artichoke and jalapeno dip. I almost forgot to take a photo because I was so hungry, so this is when it was almost all eaten. This was very good and went quick! It does have a little bit of a kick, but isn't super spicy. I thought they could have given a bit more of the dip with the amount of bread that came with, but it is quite difficult to get the dip to dippers ratio perfect.

Psycho Suzi's

I also thought the pizza was good, but honestly by the time that came out the Volcanic Eruption had clouded my judgment so I can't really remember much about it :)


Psycho Suzi's

2519 Marshall St. NE

Highly recommended for drinks, food, and fun atmosphere

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunny Side Up Cafe

Visited on Thursday, August 21st

Sunny Side Up Cafe

Erin's Review
Ben and I have occasionally talked about getting breakfast before going to work someday, but sleep usually wins out. The only reason we ended up actually going last week is because I was so excited about using my new camera lens that when my alarm went off Thursday morning I actually wanted to get up to go to Lake Harriet to take photos of the sunrise.

I chose Sunny Side Up Cafe as the place to go off our list because I think it is probably pretty packed on weekends, so it seemed like a weekday morning would be a better time to go there. When we got there at about 7, there were two other people there. By the time we left, I think there were four. So it is apparently not too much of an early morning week day hot spot.

Sunny Side Up Cafe

They have Eggs Benedict on the menu, but I've never heard this place mentioned in the list of best Eggs Benedict in the Twin Cities, so I decided to go with something a little simpler - eggs over easy with hash browns, sausage links and toast.

Sunny Side Up Cafe

I feel like I was just too tired to give this place a fair try - the food was certainly decent, I had no problems with the coffee, but there was just nothing really special about the food or the atmosphere. I much prefer The Egg & I which is just 2 blocks down Lyndale. Some of the bigger breakfast dishes looked great, so we might have to go back for brunch on a weekend when I'm usually more in the mood for a big meal.

Ben's Review
Erin got a new lens for her camera last week and decided that we should get up and watch the sunrise over Lake Harriet and take pictures. I agreed because she also included going out for breakfast in the itinerary. We decided on Sunny Side Up Cafe (SSUC), since we were going to be in the area and we don't usually make it over to south Minneapolis for breakfast.

We walked in the door a little after 7am on Thursday morning. I had no idea if breakfast places are busy on weekday morning, my breakfast restaurant experience is almost exclusively is on the weekends. I glanced around the place and saw two tables occupied, out of about twenty or so; needless to say there was no waiting for a seat.

The tables at SSUC have clear plastic tablecloths that reminded me of couches that people would wrap with plastic in some decade that I wasn't alive (fifties? sixties? I don't know). I thought these tablecloths were pretty tacky in a funny sort of way. They obviously don't affect the quality of the meal at all, it just makes you feel like you are eating in an old folks home or something.

Sunny Side Up Cafe

The menu has a lot of Mexican breakfast dishes that looked big enough to be lunch meals. Not being a big breakfast eater, I decided on the french toast with corn flake and cinnamon breading (I think it was called Santa Fe French toast or something). If I came back for lunch I would definitely go for one of the larger items though, they sounded great.

I was unimpressed with the coffee here. I like the coffee better at work, and even the stuff at work is only "serviceable". I have a hard time describing what I like or dislike about coffee, but this coffee just seemed like it was kind of old. Given that they weren't busy at all, I'm assuming the pot was made awhile before we got there, maybe if we came on a busy day it would be better. I also didn't like the coffee mugs. I like to have a big handle to hold on to, whereas these mugs only had the "one-finger" hole. Once you drink the coffee down a bit (so the mug isn't hot) you can grab the mug with your whole hand which is better.

Sunny Side Up Cafe

Sunny Side Up Cafe

My french toast was really good, with syrup drizzled all over. There was plenty of butter in the cooking process so they didn't need any extra. I just went with the two pieces and it was a perfect amount.

Sunny Side Up Cafe

By the time we finished eating it was about 7:30, right about the time I'm normally rolling out of bed :)
  • Service: Service was good, it was slow so there was no problem getting anything.
  • Food: The french toast was good and the menu has many other items I'd like to try sometime.
  • Drinks: The coffee wasn't good, but it might be too early to reserve judgment.
  • Ambiance: Pretty quiet when there's only a handful of customers. I would guess it's a little more boisterous on a weekend morning.
  • Price: The prices were on par with other breakfast places. I've mentioned that I feel like breakfast is getting more expensive.
  • Convenience: We had no problem parking on Lyndale at 7am, but I bet on the weekend it'd be a little more difficult. There's always the bus too.

Sunny Side Up Cafe
2704 Lyndale Ave S

for standard breakfast fare and other specialties

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Visited on Friday, August 8th


Ben's Review
We got to Brasa around 6 on Friday night. I didn't realize that they had outdoor seating and the patio looked really nice, but it also looked like it could start raining at any moment, so we put our names on the list for an indoor table.


As we waited I was amazed at the incredible smell of Brasa; it's a small place and they cook the food in view of the dining area so the aromas travel easily throughout the room, and the food smelled great! The whole restaurant had a warm, down-home smell to it, and it was very warm too, that made the smells that much more intense.


We waited 15 - 20 minutes for a table, all while enjoying the smells and hoping it would start raining on the people on the patio, alas it never did :(

I was intrigued by the "Mexican coca cola" on the menu, but ordered an iced tea instead, although the server brought me a lemonade when he finally came back, whatever, they both had free refills. Rett told me later that the Mexican coca cola is actually Coke from Mexico, which is sweeter than the Coke we get here (sugar vs. corn syrup he said).


The "plates for one" looked like a good deal as you picked a piece of meat and then also got to select two sides, for $11-$14 depending on the meat. I went with the braised beef, with sides of potato salad (the special that night), and yams with sausage. I don't care for yams but I thought I might like them better with spicy sausage.


Unfortunately, there wasn't a whole lot of spicy sausage to go around, so it was mostly yams :( I still ate most of it, but I was really jealous of Erin's black beans with corn bread side. She only let me have a bite or two, but it was GOOD.

The potato salad tasted very fresh, but was a little bland, I would've liked to have had some salt and pepper to season it up a bit, which wasn't on the table. The braised beef with some potato salad together was excellent. The beef itself was very tender and delicious, it just fell apart so easily. At first I was a little concerned that there wouldn't be enough food, but I was perfectly full by the end, and I didn't even eat all my yams. Thus, I was not allowed dessert :)
  • Service: Eh, our server was friendly but it took him awhile to get things for us.
  • Food: Excellent food, the meat was fantastic and the potato salad was great. I can't fault them for the yams, I just don't like them.
  • Drinks: Brasa has a couple tap beers and a couple bottled beers and some wine, I didn't look into it too much since I wasn't drinking, but definitely not a full bar.
  • Ambiance: It was pretty loud the night we were there, but there was one table in particular to blame for that. Other than that the people are friendly and I like being able to see the cooks working, so its a nice place.
  • Price: Prices were reasonable, especially considering that the food nearly all local/organic.
  • Convenience: Brasa is on Hennepin, just off of Central north of downtown. There is a small parking lot and if that's full you ought to be able to find a place on the street. It's also on the bus line.
Erin's Review
Late in the day at work last Friday, I was given some good news and decided it was worth celebrating. I quickly made the decision that Ben and I would be going out to eat that night, whether he wanted to or not. I consulted with Kate on a fun but not too expensive restaurant, and she suggested Brasa, which was perfect for the occasion.

We made our way over to Brasa from our downtown workplaces fairly quickly, and it was already packed, but the wait was manageable. Only 20 minutes on a Friday night for a very popular restaurant isn't bad at all.

I loved the atmosphere of Brasa, it was busy and bustling, and the decor was minimal but still interesting, very industrial looking with the garage doors open to the patio. It did get a little loud, and we could easily hear every word of our neighbors conversation (they were not loud at all) but this didn't bother me.


The beverage choices here will please pretty much anyone. As I'm sure every reader of this blog knows, I enjoy a good light beer, but I decided to try Bell's Oberon because it was on tap. I guess it probably technically is a light beer, but it's certainly heavier than my usual Miller Lite. I really liked this beer, surprisingly. I'd order it again, even if a lite beer was on tap. Maybe.


As for the food. I wanted to order a quarter of whatever meat (my preference would have been chicken) and 5 sides, but Ben did not think this would be enough food for the two of us. I think that it definitely would have been. As it was, I got the plate for one with chicken, black beans and cornbread, and a cheese and masa corn cake. The chicken was GREAT - it was nice and crispy and flavorful on the outside, juicy inside. Ben enjoyed the 2/3 that I did not eat as well. The black beans and cornbread were very good - I was a little jealous by all the full cornbreads that I saw passing me by, so I would have prefered that the beans and cornbread be separate, but whatever. The masa corn cake was tasty as well, and pretty spicy.


I saw some amazing desserts, and I really wanted to try the red velvet cake, but I was having the feeling that if I had even one more bite, something really bad would happen.... so I passed. Next time, I'm getting less for the main course and saving room for dessert!


600 E. Hennepin Ave

Highly recommended for a casual meal

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Gordy's Hi-Hat, Cloquet, MN

Visited on Wednesday, July 31st


Erin's Review
When Ben suggested stopping at Gordy's Hi Hat on the way back from our trip to Ely, it sounded like a great way to break up the drive. Gordy's is a fairly spacious diner in Cloquet - it all looked kind of new, so it seems they might have recently remodeled or expanded their space.


Gordy's is an excellent place to stop if you are in or near Cloquet - I wouldn't say it is worth making a special trip up there. We were there on a Wednesday at about 11:45 and it was packed with people, odd for a weekday.

We decided to get onion rings because they were mentioned specifically in the Minnesota Monthly article, and I'm very glad we did. They were MUCH better than the onion rings we had one week earlier at Snuffy's (which weren't bad by any means) - the onion slices were huge and fresh, and you could take a bite of the ring without the whole onion coming out. The fries were also great.


The burgers were nothing fancy, no-nonsense, but were awesome. Everything tasted very fresh - the meat, bun, and veggies.

My only regret is not getting a milkshake - oh well, just a reason to go back if I'm in the area!

Ben's Review

In June my co-worker Scott gave me a copy of Minnesota Monthly that had a feature article on the best burgers in Minnesota. There were a couple places on the list that were far away but we made a note of them in case we were ever in the area. Fast forward to late July, our family had a trip planned to go to Ely on Farm Lake. After looking at the route to Ely, I realized we could stop in Cloquet at Gordy's Hi Hat, so we planned to grab lunch on the way home.

We ate a small breakfast on our last day at the cabin so we would be hungry for lunch when we arrived in Cloquet about two hours later. The article in Minnesota Monthly must have really put Gordy's Hi Hat on the map, because there were several laminated copies of the article in the front area of the restaurant, they seemed very proud of their #15 ranking (as they should be).

When you walk into Gordy's you are immediately in the ordering area that has a large raised counter top where the employees stand and take people's orders. There didn't seem to be much organization to the whole ordering process; there weren't really lines to speak of, the employees would just kind of look around and if you caught their attention you would get helped. So there ends up being a lot of people standing right by the door trying to decide what to get and some people trying to actually order their food. When you order, you also don't pay until the food is ready, which I thought was a little weird. I would think they could save some time and hassle if you just paid up front, but they've been doing this for twenty years longer than I've been alive, so who am I to say?

The current menu at Gordy's has ten burgers and an assortment of fish and chicken sandwiches, salads, etc. Given that they are known for the burgers, however, I don't see why anyone wouldn't get a burger here. In spite of all the choices of burgers, we both chose the California burger with cheese. Erin had also heard that they had good onion rings so we got a side of onion rings and a side of fries, 'cause they looked good too.


While we waited for our food we sat at our table and watched the people. Gordy's is an interesting place to watch people, especially on a weekday because you have a decent mix of age groups, tourists, and locals on lunch break.

Our food was ready in about ten minutes, and I went up to the counter and got the food and paid, the total being $15. All the food looked really good and the burgers were fantastic, as promised. The burgers themselves are perfectly sized for the bun, I hate it when the burger is tiny compared to the bun and you get a bite of just bread. The onion rings were good, but I thought the fries were even better. We had obviously gotten a fresh batch of fries as they were hot, which just puts a meal over the top, in my opinion.


I don't think we finished all the food, the onion rings and fries were a little too much for two people to handle, but we left satisfied for the rest of the drive back to Saint Paul.
  • Service: The people were friendly, but there isn't much service really. You pick up your own food at the same counter where you ordered it.
  • Food: Great burgers, and our fries were fresh. The onion rings were good, but I'm partial to fries.
  • Drinks: No alcohol at Gordy's, but they do have buttermilk for $1.29 :)
  • Ambiance: Gordy's is a family diner style of place, there were lots of children and babies when we were there. I think there are a lot of people from out of town on vacation, so people are generally in a good mood.
  • Price: Prices are great, it was $15 for all of our food.
  • Convenience: I'm guessing that most people reading this are NOT near Cloquet, so it's a little out of the way. Gordy's is also only open in the summertime, so if you happen to be in the area you should definitely stop by.

Gordy's Hi Hat
415 Sunnyside Dr.
Cloquet, MN

Highly recommended

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Snuffy's Malt Shop

Visited on Wednesday, July 23rd with Rett and Becky

Outside Snuffy's

Ben's Review
We decided to go to Snuffy's Malt Shop in Highland Park with our friends Becky and Rett for what was sure to be a cheap(er) meal. We had noticed Snuffy's a couple weeks earlier while driving by and decided that it looked like a place we might enjoy. I figured you can't go wrong with a place that has a hamburger fairy.

Inside Snuffy's

We arrived a couple minutes before Becky and Rett and grabbed a booth along the wall. There is a metal pole right at the edge of the table and there isn't a lot of leg room, so if you're on the tall side, be careful. Our server brought us out some waters and menus after we all were seated. Having already checked out the menu, I knew I was going with the bacon cheeseburger, although the Plaza Burger sounded interesting (Swiss cheese, sour cream, chives, and grilled onions). Everyone else got malts to have with their food, but I held my ground and insisted that a malt is a dessert, only to be enjoyed once you've cleaned your plate. We also ordered fries and onion rings to split amongst the four of us.


The food and three malts came out quickly as it wasn't very busy that night. Our server was very friendly and down to earth, much like the service at Barbette. The fries and onion rings were excellent, as I would expect at a burger and malt place. The bacon cheeseburger was standard - just a good burger, nothing fancy. The slices of bacon were a little small, but all-in-all it was a tasty meal.

Bacon Cheeseburger

After finishing my food I ordered up my strawberry banana malt that I deserved. The malt was wonderful and perfectly sized; just enough to leave me wanting a little more. We sat around and talked for a bit after eating, it was nice to not feel any pressure to leave, our server even offered to take a picture of all of us. We got out of there after spending $22 - not bad for a meal with dessert :)

Strawberry Banana Malt
  • Service: Friendly service with no pressure.
  • Food: Good burgers, good fries and onions rings. A good clean fill.
  • Drinks: No alcohol at Snuffy's but plenty of fountain drinks and malts.
  • Ambiance: Snuffy's is a family friendly environment, it had a small-town-diner feel to it.
  • Price: Great prices, you could get dinner for under $20 if you didn't order malts.
  • Convenience: Parking on Cleveland wasn't a problem and there are plenty of side streets nearby.
Erin's Review
Snuffy's is the type of place that I wish I had discovered earlier - like, much earlier, when I was in high school. This would have been a fun place to come with friends. Most of the people I talked to that lived closer to, or in the city, growing up had been to Snuffy's frequently. Down in Apple Valley, our idea of fun was going to Perkins. Sad.

We had driven by Snuffy's a few times earlier in the summer and decided we wanted to check it out. We went on a Wednesday night, so it was pretty empty. The tables are all on the smaller side, so it can feel a little claustrophobic with 4 in a booth.

We couldn't decide between onion rings and fries, so got both. I'm usually not much of an onion ring person, but I thought these were pretty good - they stayed together very well which was nice. The fries were also pretty good - nothing spectacular, but tasty.

Onion Rings

I ordered a California Cheeseburger, which was of the quality you'd expect at a diner - just a thin patty of meat with cheese, mayo on the side, one leaf of lettuce, raw onion and a tomato slice. It tasted good but certainly didn't wow me. Becky and Rett both had Mushroom Swiss burgers which looked a little more high class. Apparently they order them every time they go there, so they must be good.

California Cheeseburger

Mushroom Swiss Burger

My chocolate banana malt was also good, and I think it is best enjoyed WITH the meal. Ben probably just has some Catholic guilt about finishing his meal before eating dessert. The malt wasn't the best I've had, and I was a little disappointed about the lack of whipped cream and cherry on top.

Chocolate Banana Malt

Overall, Snuffy's was a fun place to go on a weeknight for a cheap no-frills meal, made even cheaper with the coupon Jamie gave me that was good for buy one hamburger get one free. They just ended up taking $4 off our total because neither of us got a plain hamburger. It would be a great place to take kids.

Snuffy's Door

Snuffy's Malt Shop
224 Cleveland Ave S.
St. Paul
other locations in Roseville, Edina, and Minnetonka

for a cheap meal and fun atmosphere