Sunday, April 26, 2009

Longfellow Grill

Visited on Thursday, April 16th with Kate and Kyle


Ben's Review
Summit released their new beer, Horizon Red, to a few places on April 16th. I sent the list of places to Erin who consulted with Kate and came up with Longfellow Grill as the spot for dinner that night.

Longfellow Grill is the third Blue Plate restaurant we've been to (Highland Grill and Groveland Tap being the others). All of the Blue Plate restaurants have a similar vibe and menu style, but the menu items themselves are different, which I appreciate. We arrived a little before six that night and the place was packed. It was a beautiful spring day so the patio was full as well, in fact the wait time for the patio when we got there was nearly an hour, as opposed to fifteen minutes for inside. We put our names on the "inside" list and hung around outside while we waited.

Outside Longfellow Grill

After we were seated our server told us that the number 4 news was there that night, along with one of the Summit founders, to cover the release of the new beer. We got a pitcher of the beer right away, and Erin even tried it out (she liked her Mich Golden better). I really like Horizon Red and I will add it to my rotation of beers from the liquor store. I felt like it was hoppy, but still a beer that I could drink a couple of in a given night.

Pouring Summit

Summit Horizon Red

I was debating between a burger, which looked really good, and the slow roasted pork shoulder with creamed corn and garlic-asiago cheese mashed potatoes. As usual, Erin knew what was best for me and told me to get the slow roasted pork, and that I could try a bite of her burger. This turned out to be a GREAT decision as the pork, corn, and potatoes were unreal. Everything came together so well that I could have mixed it all up into a pork-corn-potato paste and it would have been delicious.

Slow Roasted Pork

We stayed for a little while longer and had another beer before we all retired to our house for a cigar and Jameson (me and Kyle) and wine (Erin and Kate). All in all a good night :)
  • Service: Our server was awesome and a really funny guy.
  • Food: Excellent pork shoulder, Erin's burger was just OK.
  • Drinks: Good beer and wine selection, no booze.
  • Ambiance: It was busy on a Wednesday night and the place had an upbeat mood, I liked it.
  • Price: I thought the prices were spot-on for the food you get. My pork was $14 and the burgers range from $8-$12.
  • Convenience: You'll have to park across the street in the neighborhoods, and turning left onto Lake sucks at this spot, luckily we head east onto Marshall instead.
Erin's Review
We met Kyle and Kate right after work on Thursday, and had originally intended to walk around taking photos before eating. However, I was beat from a long day at work and Kyle and Kate were starving, so we just headed inside right away. I'm not sure if this is normal or was due to the Summit release, but it was packed. We got a table inside pretty quickly but would have had to wait awhile for a table outside.

Inside Longfellow Grill

Once we got in, we ordered a pitcher of the new Summit beer, and watched the taping for the news. Kyle ordered a pork quesadilla for the table, which was good but nothing that outstanding. I think that pretty adequately sums up Longfellow Grill for me - it's good, solid service and food, but nothing great. Ben's meal was definitely the best of the bunch.

Pulled Pork Quesadilla

I ordered the "Grill" Burger (not sure why there are quotes there, but that's what it said on the menu) and again, it was fine. Not cooked medium as I specified, but oh well. I enjoyed the fries although they didn't seem to be freshly cut.

The "Grill" Burger

The service was great - our drinks came quickly and the server was knowledgeable and funny. He only seemed to get a little less chatty after Kate sent back a glass of wine that was apparently bad. I'd say stick with the beers at a place like this.

As Ben mentions, this is the 3rd Blue Plate restaurant we've been to, and I haven't been overly impressed with any of them. They do all seem like very family friendly locations.

Longfellow Grill
2900 West River Parkway (at Lake)

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Visited on Friday, April 10th with Jake and Allison

Very clear signage
(this is the only sign)

Erin's Review
I had a birthday happy hour for my friend Lisa on Friday the 10th, so decided it would be a good time to try out moto-i for dinner - killing two uptown events with one stone. We got there a few minutes late for our 7pm reservation, and were punished with a table in the very boring and ambiance starved upstairs. They don't have any music or decor up there - it really was pretty lame. They should work on that. In hindsight, I would have rather waited 20 minutes for a table downstairs or sat in the bar, but since Ben was already seated by the time I came in, I didn't want to bother.

Lame upstairs of moto-i
second floor - can you feel the energy??

I was absolutely starving, so I ordered the rangoons (shocker). They were some of the best rangoons I've ever had! Light and crispy skin, delicate cream cheese mixture inside and excellent sauce. Yum. If we had paid attention to the many reviews available, we would have known that moto-i is known for their small plates and not for their entrees and would have just gotten a number of those, but alas, we did not do enough research...


We ordered one each of all the cold sakes. I have had sake before a few times (just a sip here and there) and I knew I wasn't a fan, but figured I had to at least try it again, given that moto-i is the only sake brewery restaurant outside of Japan. I still didn't like it, but that's no fault of moto-i's. Ben spilled one of them all over the place, so that was awesome, and put me in an excellent mood.


After spill - helpful sake map that explains it all

Crazy Jake
He's just being Jake.

I ordered the Thai Fried Rice for my meal because Jake said it was pretty good. It was just that, pretty good. Not great, not bad. There was a little icon next to it on the menu indicating that it was spicy. This is not the case at all. In fact, I would even go so far as to say it was anti-spicy. From me, that's saying a lot given that I normally order my food at a zero level of spicy and that even can be too much.


Thai Fried Rice

Now that I know that the small plates are where it's at, I would go back to moto-i, sit downstairs, and order a bunch of small plates. It's certainly not somewhere I'll rush back to though.

Ben's Review
Two Fridays ago (this is late I know, Erin's been bugging me about it) we went to moto-i with Jake and Allison. Jake had been there once before, but didn't try any sake at the time and they wanted to go back.

moto-i is right at the intersection of Lake and Lyndale in Uptown. This means that parking is a little tight, but we've had good luck finding a spot on Aldrich (one block west of Lyndale). The first floor has a large bar in the middle of the room, surrounded by tables. The restaurant is narrow, but there are at least two floors of tables and the server mentioned that they will be opening a rooftop area when the weather gets a bit warmer. I would definitely go back just to try out the rooftop.

Downstairs moto-i
First floor

We were seated on the second floor which was kind of a bummer because it seemed they had JUST filled up on the first floor, so we were the only table of people upstairs, along with some people at the smaller bar. Jake and Allison hadn't arrived yet so I ordered a Surly Furious before ordering the sake. The beer list isn't huge but it has plenty of variety with an assortment of Minnesota beers from Summit, Surly, Lift Bridge, Schells, Lake Superior, and Grain Belt.

Initially I was thinking that we would order our own sake but it made more sense to just order one of each and share them all. This way everyone got to try each one (we didn't order the one hot sake) and it was cheaper than everyone ordering the individual sample ($12 each). Of course I managed to spill one of them soon after they were delivered, but they were really cool about it and replaced it without charging us for it, which was great.

Sampling Sake

I've only had sake a couple times so I don't know what "good" sake tastes like. The sake we had at moto-i tasted like I'm told sake should taste and has the added benefit of being brewed right at the restaurant. I still prefer beer to sake so I think that even if I go back at some point I probably wouldn't even order sake.

Shockingly, Erin found the closest thing to cream cheese wontons on the menu and quickly ordered them for the table. We got the rangoons with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and chili sauce. These were a great appetizer, as most fried things are :)

The entrees are noodle and rice dishes similar to what you would find at a Thai restaurant. The drunken noodles sounded good, but I had just had that same thing at True Thai a couple weeks ago, so I went with the curried noodles. I contemplated substituting chicken for the beef and in hindsight I wish I had as the beef wasn't that good. To be honest, the whole entree itself was nothing special and I think that almost every Thai meal we've had for wegotserved has been better than this one. The portions were smaller and it felt like more effort went into the presentation (which was excellent) than into the taste. One thing that I did like was the spice tray they bring out so you can make the dish as spicy as you like.

Spice Assortment

Curried Noodle

I would go back to moto-i at night to try out the rooftop, but I doubt I will go back for dinner. We have so many Thai places yet to try (even though this isn't technically a Thai place, most of their entrees seemed to be Thai inspired) that I would go to someplace new instead.

  • Service: The service was fantastic, they replaced the sake I spilled and were on the ball the whole time.
  • Food: The food was OK, but the entrees not as good as other Thai places we've been. The appetizers are great.
  • Drinks: Good selection of MN beers and they brew their own sake. They also have wines and a full bar.
  • Ambiance: The first floor had a good vibe while we were there, but unfortunately we were buy ourselves upstairs for awhile :(
  • Price: The prices for food are reasonable, the sake is a little more expensive, but with good reason. Still not an outrageous night out.
  • Convenience: Might have to walk a block or two to park, but there are plenty of buses too.
2940 Lydnale Ave S.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Mairin's Table

Visited on Friday, April 3rd

Mairin's Table

Ben's Review
Becky and Rett gave Erin a gift certificate to Mairin's Table as a graduation present, so we headed over there on Friday night for dinner. The website says they have free parking available, which is true, but there was only one spot left when we got there so it's certainly possible that you would need to find alternative parking.

Mairin's Table is a little difficult to find, the address is on 4th St. but the restaurant faces 1st Ave. Half of the parking lot is reserved for Bulldog parking, I'm not sure how strictly that is enforced.

When we walked into the restaurant it was eerily silent. There weren't many people there yet and it seemed as if nobody was talking, it was strange. The people that were there were also spaced perfectly apart so that any table we chose was right next to someone else, so we went with the window seat by the front door. More customers kept trickling in as we were there so that by the time we left it was nearly full.

Inside Mairin's Table

The menu online listed wine but did not mention any beer so I just assumed they didn't have any. I was glad to find that they have about ten different bottled beers to choose from (that's me inspecting the beer selection in the photo). They had Lake Superior Special Ale which I recalled from brew52 as being very good and it was indeed a tasty brew.


I had actually decided on what I was going to order before we got there in a moment of decisiveness, the chicken Marsala with mashed potatoes and asparagus. The entrees also come with a choice of soup or salad so I got a cup of the spinach and lentil soup. The soup had a great consistency to it - not too thin, I like a good, hearty soup - and it was hot, which is always nice.

Spinach and Lentil Soup

Our entrees came out on plates that were loaded with food. I had a large chicken breast with mushrooms and Marsala sauce, a healthy mound of garlic mashed potatoes, two pieces of French bread, and asparagus on top. I haven't had asparagus in awhile, I forgotten how good it is. The potatoes were delicious, especially when they were slathered with Marsala sauce and mixed with a piece of chicken. After finishing all my food I was completely stuffed and ready for a nap.

Chicken Marsala

I wasn't sure what to expect from Mairin's Table, but I left feeling very satisfied with the food and the experience overall.
  • Service: Our server was nice and she took care of us well.
  • Food: Excellent food and huge portions, Erin got a lunch out of her leftovers.
  • Drinks: Beer and wine only, with about ten beer choices and a decent list of wines available.
  • Ambiance: At first it was a little quiet and subdued, but by the time we left the crowd was picking up a bit.
  • Price: The entrees are in the $15-$20 range, but you get plenty of good food for the price.
  • Convenience: There is limited parking available and some meters on the street.
Erin's Review
When Becky gave me a gift certificate for Mairin's Table, she mentioned that we should try to go there soon just in case they close - she said that it was empty when she went in there (not sure when that was though) and that the person she bought it from thanked her and let her know that it's been really hard for them with the economy. So if you have been wanting to try Mairin's Table (which you should - it was quite good!) definitely head out there soon, just in case. I really hate seeing some of the places on our list close before we even get a chance to try them out.

We got to Mairin's Table at 7pm last Friday and as Ben mentioned, it was very quiet and pretty empty. By the time we left at about 8:15 or so, it was full, so that's a good sign! We sat next to the window, and I will note that if you sit on the booth side, the seats are pretty high and can get uncomfortable. I am tall (5'9'') and my feet didn't touch completely touch the ground. Just something to think about :)

Luckily for Ben, I am a keen observer and noticed the bottles of beers available at the bar. He chose Lake Superior Special Ale, which was the first beer we were able to enjoy on the porch last spring. I hope those days return to us soon. I ordered the shiraz because it was the cheapest wine on the list :) It was fine, but certainly nothing outstanding.


The menu at Mairin's Table is pretty small, but they had a number of good specials that day - I got the pasta special which had shrimp, cilantro pesto, artichokes and chunky tomatoes (this last item ensured that Ben wouldn't try to eat any of my food). I also chose a cup of spinach and lentil soup to start, which was quite good but a little bland.

The portions were fairly large - I barely ate half of my pasta, which means I also got to enjoy it for lunch today - it held up well! I liked this pasta a lot, it reminded me of the pasta I had at Trotter's Cafe. I thought Ben's meal was the winner though - the sauce and potatoes were just delicious.

Pasta Special

Probably the most entertaining part of the night for me was observing what looked like a blind date at the table right in front of us :) I hope it went well for them! They were still there when we left, so I'm guessing it was at least ok.

Mairin's Table is a very cute place - quite small, but it doesn't feel too crowded. The decor is warm and inviting. The music is at a reasonable level where you can hear it, but it doesn't interfere with conversation. I think when we walked in there was just a strange lull, because I didn't notice uncomfortable silences during the rest of the evening. It definitely is in an unfortunate location - right behind The Front and Bulldog, but very hidden in the parking lot. I'm sure more people would go there if they could just see it.

Mairin's Table
23 Northeast 4th St