Thursday, September 11, 2008

Trotters Cafe

Visited on Saturday, September 6th


Ben's Review
Erin had heard that Trotter's Cafe offered a discount for people who live within two miles and a separate discount if you got to Trotter's without driving (public transit, walking, biking). Being that we lived within two miles, we thought we'd take our bikes over there last Saturday to enjoy some discounted food.

We made it to Trotter's with no problems, except that we only had one bike lock and two bikes. I noticed out behind the restaurant there was a dumpster and some bushes, so I went inside to ask if it was OK to park our bikes back there. They were cool with putting the bikes out back, so we got them squared away and went in to eat.

hiding the bikes

The place was pretty empty with plenty of open tables, so we just sat down at one. They were in the process of getting new menus printed so we perused the whiteboard at the counter that had the night's menu on it to make a decision. We settled on a quesadilla appetizer to share and I got a bison burger, with cheese and bacon extra (what meal ISN'T better with bacon and cheese?).

Spicy Quesadilla

The food is wonderful and the portions are deceptive. The veggie quesadilla was great and it came out well before the other food, which I appreciated. My burger came with corn chips that I barely touched, but I certainly didn't go hungry. I say the portions are deceptive because the plates are small so it looks like you aren't getting much food, but you definitely get filled up.

Buffalo Burger

My burger was great and the bacon was thick and juicy - the only way bacon should be. I like my burgers medium with a little color in the middle, but they cooked theirs all the way through. Not a big deal, I think a lot of places do that for health reasons. In hindsight I think I should've gotten something outside of my normal choices; the reuben sounded tempting, but I wussed out.

While we there, it started raining. It's rained about ten days ALL SUMMER, so why wouldn't it rain on the day we ride our bikes to a restaurant. It was a solid rain too, not just a drizzle. Luckily our friends Mindy and Josh came to our rescue and picked us up in their pickup and took us to a bar, whew! Maybe we should only have gotten part of the discount because we didn't ride our bikes both ways??

Finally, one thing that I must mention is that when our friends came to pick us up, we went to put our bikes in the back of the truck and I saw that someone had covered our bike seats with a plastic bag so they wouldn't get wet. I was shocked, to say the least, at that level of thoughtfulness. I brought the bag back inside to give it back and to thank them. He acted like it wasn't a big deal, like why WOULDN'T you walk out in the rain to cover some customer's bike?
  • Service: Went the extra mile with the bike seat cover.
  • Food: The food here is very good and they use (mostly?) local ingredients, if that's your thing.
  • Drinks: Small bottled beer and wine list, about what you'd expect.
  • Ambiance: When we arrived there was a guy setting up to play guitar. He didn't sing, he just strummed some tunes which gave the perfect amount of background music.
  • Price: The prices are reasonable and they're even better if you can make use of the "local" deal and/or the biking/walking deal.
  • Convenience: Located at Marshall and Cleveland with ample off-street parking.
Erin's Review
We have been meaning to go to Trotter's pretty much all summer, since I read this blog post about it back in June. While Ben rides his bike fairly frequently, I hadn't ridden mine for almost 6 years, maybe more. This is the same bike that I received for Christmas when I was 12 years old, but it still suits me just fine, even if I might look kind of like a giant riding an adolescent sized bike. Finally, we were free on a Saturday and it seemed like a nice enough day. I'll admit, I didn't look at the radar before leaving, but I had seen the weather that said it would be clear. It was pretty much the easiest bike ride imaginable, but I was still tired after the long 1.8 mile journey to Trotter's from our house.

We had our pick of tables, as there were only a few other people there. I get the impression that not a ton of people really come to Trotter's for meals - there were a few people there sitting with their laptops and drinking coffee, but not too many diners. This is a real shame, since the food here is wonderful!

inside of Trotters

You order at the counter, and get your own water in the area with the utensils. They are happy to give you ice if you want it (which I did after the arduous ride). We ordered the Spicy Quesadilla to start, and it was VERY good. It has goat cheese in it, which I normally do not care for, but it wasn't overpowering. It was just spicy enough to be interesting, not enough to make eating difficult. The black bean filling was excellent. I also ordered a glass of pinot grigio which is from a local winery.

Pinot Grigo and Water

So many of the dinner items looked great, I had a very hard time choosing. I ended up going with the Tuscany Chicken, which is penne pasta sauteed with chicken, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, squash, and kalamata olives, topped with parmesan and basil. It was a very light but filling dish with great flavors. I loved the grilled focaccia that came with as well.

Tuscany Chicken

Whenever they can, Trotters makes an effort to use local ingredients, which is commendable and can be difficult to work around in our climate. They have several white/blackboards with menu items, and a specific blackboard showing exactly what local ingredients they are using that week.

I really enjoy places like Trotters - very affordable, friendly staff, unassuming, and laid-back. I liked that they had live music but it wasn't so loud that it overpowered coversation. I would love to go back to Trotters and see it bustling with people. If you haven't been to Trotter's, you should definitely try it out.

Trotter's Cafe
232 Cleveland Ave N.
St. Paul

Highly recommended for affordable and delicious food