at 2:24 PM
According to an article over at the City Pages Hot Dish Blog, the 5-8 Club is giving away free Juicy Lucy's from 4:30 - 6:00 PM on Monday, November 1st at all three locations. This is all part of National Juicy Lucy Month. OK, the article doesn't exactly call it "National" Juicy Lucy Month, but I think it should be.
at 10:53 PM
Sushi is one of those things that my wife and I have just recently started to love. In fact, we crave it. About twice a month, we pawn the kids off with the Grandparents and head downtown Mpls. or St. Paul for a nice evening out with some Sushi and lots of Sake. I'm not sure if we actually like the sushi itself or if we just love Sake? After frequenting Fuji Ya in St. Paul multiple times, we have seen our average bill go from $120 to upwards of $200. I don't think this is too bad, for good sushi and the amounts that we order, but the sake is what kills us at this place and all other high quality sushi restaurants in the twin-cities. You can buy, what I think is good tasting sake for around $10 a bottle. It may not be high quality, but hey, if it tastes good, it is worth saving $100 a bottle in my opinion.
One day while at the grocery store, I stopped in the isle with all things sushi (minus the raw fish). I decided that I should pick up some supplies so I had no excuses to make it at home someday very soon. Well that someday very soon came up last Friday night. After work, I headed down to the only fresh seafood market in Minnesota, Coastal Seafood on Snelling and Grand in St. Paul. They have a second location in Mpls. as well. Coastal is one bad-ass seafood shop. You name it, they have it, and they have it for a price. When I go here, I always ask questions and talk to the fishmonger about what is fresh, how long it has been out and what is sushi/sashimi grade quality. I tend to always lean twords the freshest tuna they have, but it changes by the day and hour you arrive at this place. Fish is flown in fresh several times a day. I picked up one pound of fresh Ahi (yellowfin) tuna for $24.99/lb and was on my way.
Onto the sushi rice. Apparently this is where you either make it, or break it for sushi. Being that I have only ever eaten sushi out and reputable establishments, I have never experienced bad sushi rice. So I did my research on how to prepare the rice, and quickly learned that no two instructions are the same. So I just winged it and to my surprise it turned out perfect (see recipe below). After about 2 hours it took to prepare the rice, I was on my way to slicing and dicing up my Tuna steak and rolling Maki rolls and preparing a few Nigiri for the platter. The most intimidating part about making homemade sushi for me (and for almost everyone who has never tried it) was the actual rolling part. After the first roll, I quickly learned that this was the easiest part of making sushi. The hardest part for me was actually cutting the fish so I didn't screw it up. Not only did this take the longest, I learned that I need a sharper knife next time.
I was damn proud of what I was able to place on the table for dinner this particular night and feel good in how it not only tasted, but how it looked. Cracked a bottle of $7.99 sake and my wife and I had about a $150 dinner for all of $30. I have a feeling, the going out for sushi is going to become less and less, and my monthly tab over at Coastal is going to become greater and greater.
2 Cups Sushi Rice
2 1/4 Cups water
1/4 Cup rice vinegar
2 Tsp sugar
1/4 Tsp Salt
DO NOT MAKE PER THE PACKAGE
Rinse and soak sushi rice until the water is clear (about 10-15 minutes. Let dry in strainer for one hour. Mix rice and water and bring to a boil, Boil for 10 minutes with lid and then remove from heat and let sit with lid one for another 10 minutes. While the rice is cooking, mix vinegar, sugar and salt until all is dissolved. Place rice in a large wood bowl and start to fan with whatever you can find to help cool it quicker. After 5-10 minutes of fanning the rice, start to add the vinegar mixture one tablespoon at a time. Careful not to handle the rice too much and lightly fluff and fold until all vinegar is used up. Make sure to fan the rice constantly while adding vinegar and for about 5 minutes afterwords.
at 10:09 AM
The fresh homemade guacamole and homemade tortilla chips were a wonderfull addition to this Lucy experience as well.
One of my local favorite comfort foods is heading over to the Roasted Pear in Burnsville and picking up a Roasted Pear and Gorgonzola wood fire pizza to-go. This pizza has a special meaning to me as this is what I consumed at the hospital on three separate occasions while each of my three children were born just up the road over the past 5 years. Thinking about what combination of flavors and new ingredients I could combine to create another homemade Lucy, I thought about pizza and how I could combine pizza into a Lucy. And what a better pizza than the one over at the Roasted Pear.
I started off my melting a little butter and brown sugar in a saute pan and chopping up about 1/4 of a fresh Pear into small cubes. I then added a generous portion of fresh Gorgonzola to the pan so it had time to soak up all the flavors as well.
As you can see, maybe a little too much caramelization going on and not enough body to the mixture, but I went with it. The flavors were wonderful, but not exactly what I expected. It needed something more and/or something changed. As you can see, it still had the consistency of a Juicy Lucy. But it didn't punch me in the face and say PEAR. The fresh Gorgonzola was so powerful that it took away from the small amount of pear added to this wonderful burger. It needed more Pear and less sweet.
Next time I think I should stick with why I selected these combination of flavors in the first place. Roast the Pear rather than mix it with butter and sugar. Slice the pears into large, thin slices and dust a little something, something on them. Layer the pears inside the burger and combine fresh Gorgonzola right inside the burger prior to placing on the grill. Maybe leave a few roasted pears on the side to place on top of the burger as well for a full roasted pear experience?
at 11:59 AM
Beautiful Sunday fall afternoon we packed up the family and headed down to Hastings, MN to see some fall colors and grab a bite to eat at RJ's Tavern on Main. Boy did I make the wrong decision on this one. When you walk in it seems like a nice bar, kinda dead as the place is huge. A little dirty in spots and looks like it is not taken very well care of with the exception of the immediate bar area located smack dab in the center. On this particular day, they had two staff working both behind the bar and the floor. Seems doable as they had a whopping 10 people in the entire establishment when we arrived at noon.
Obviously we were here for one thing, to try a Juicy Lucy. They have 4 to choose from on the menu, but unfortunately the web-site does not work (should have been indication #1). I went with the basic Juicy Lucy which is describes as a classic blend of American and Swiss cheeses. I'm not sure how those two are classified as a "classic blend", but apparently it is in Hastings. My wife went with the Moody Blue which is described as a burger stuffed with Shrooms and blue cheese. We ordered the kids a sausage Heggie's pizza as they do not have a kids menu. Who ever stated in another review that this place is "Kid Friendly" must not have kids?
As we waited, and waited finally our cheese curds showed up. Nothing special and at a price tag of $7 for a plain white plate of about 10 curds with some ranch dressing, you are better off passing on these. The kids' pizza showed up and it was pepperoni? Oh, they ran out of sausage and decided it would be OK to replace with peperoni as "most kids don't care", so we were informed by the server/bartender who looked like he just rolled out of bed fresh off a two day bender. After the pizza was delivered, our Lucy's arrived shortly after. As you can look at the pictures, they look good, or so we thought.
I'll keep this short and sweet, I was given my wife's burger and vice verse. My first bite was the most un-pleasurable bite of food I have ever placed in my mouth. I hate shrooms with a passion and what do I get, a huge black shroom hanging out of my mouth. So we traded and started over. I ordered my burger medium as I like pink in the center of my burgers. Well, after take two on my first bite, I bit into a completely raw burger. About 50% of the pattie was well done and the other 50% was completely raw to the point I was able to take that portion out, roll it up and form a new burger pattie on my plate. Needless to say, by this point I was done and just wanted to get the F out of Hastings. Wifes burger was exactly the same. 1/2 raw and 1/2 flavorless, frozen F grade ground something. Maybe we just had a bad experience and this place really is good? Who knows, I guess I will never know as I would never go back to this establishment again, especially at a price tag of $71.00 for the shit we received from the kitchen and the service we experienced.
at 8:00 PM
Awhile back I found myself along with my family and a few neighbors at the local watering hole, Buffalo Tap located in Savage, MN. This is probably my 10th Lucy I have ordered at this restaurant and I just had to write something about it. This one stood out much more than the previous 9 did for me. The above photo is a new sign recently added at the front entrance to the Tap. From the looks of it, they appear to have the "WORLD'S GREATEST JUICY LUCY BURGERS". Not just the Best, but the Best in the World. I'll be the judge of that, ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? Your burgers are horrible, or at least they have been in the past. Every Burger or Lucy I have ever experienced has been over seasoned and cooked to a crusty burnt crisp. Why do you even bother asking me how I would like my burger cooked? I know just as well as you do that you only serve your burgers one way, Well Done and then you cook it some more.
Just to clarify the Tap for you, this is probably my second favorite place to go on a Friday Night with my wife and Kids. The food is decent, but the beer is even better (as long as you know what to order and go at the right time). If you are smart about when your visit and do your research, you can leave here full and have your fill of beer for a very fair price. If you just go and don't do your research, you will over pay for everything. The beer specials are fantastic, but if they are not on special, be prepared to pay more than you would at a Twins Game. The environment and atmosphere at the Tap is something that most places do not offer any-longer. This is a family first place where you feel welcome and my kids cannot stop talking about after we leave. I just wish they would fix the burger problem and then this place would be untouchable by any other nearby.
Onto the reason why I chose to write about the Tap again. One of my last visits I could not decide on what I wanted to eat, so after a few $1 beers I decided I would give a Lucy another try. Remember, they have 10 to choose from. This time, I decided to go with the Buffalo Juicy Lucy, after all this place is called the Buffalo Tap. As described on the menu, This baby weighs in at a whopping 3/4 Lb. all natural Bison Juicy Lucy filled with your choice of American or pepperjack cheese. Please allow 20 minutes to prepare. I chose the American option. This thing arrived with Jo-Jo potato's and was absolutely huge. Not expecting much at all, I took my first bite and was absolutely amazed buy the flavor of the Bison. It wasn't dry like I expected it to be, kinda sweet and really tender. You could tell that the meat had been grounded multiple times and had a very fine texture that you don't get with COW. The burger, of course was cooked well done, but it was working well with the Bison. I made my wife try a bite, after much hesitation she finally agreed and was surprised at how it tasted. She did mention that she couldn't eat a whole burger as it was a little too sweet for her liking, but was good. The cheese was plentiful throughout and had a very good consistency to it. The only negative about this Lucy was it was so freaking huge, that by the time I reached my threshold, the Bison was starting to dry out.
Overall, the Bison is the way to go at the Tap until they realize that the burgers suck and they do something about them. Bison burgers at the Tap for now on.
at 11:13 AM
I made my way over to Lucky's 13 Pub this past week as I had a date with Lulu. The Juicy Lulu, Hand stuffed with molten cheese for $10.99. One of the most expensive Lucy's on the tour, so I sure hope it is worth it. Lucy's 13 Pub is located in the old Bennigan's, on the South West corner of 494 and 35W. If you ever visited the old Bennigan's before they closed, you know how dirty and outdated this place was. After a total renovation, inside and out, Lucky's is absolutely beautiful. The second you walk in, you are overwhelmed with everything that is going on. One completely open space with a huge bar located in the center as the main attraction. My one complaint as I have visited this restaurant several times now is the host stand. You walk in and have no idea where to go, they have a little desk/vanity (that belongs in a bathroom or bedroom) located up against the wall as you walk in, but you walk right past it and instantly the bar hits you in the face. The new outdoor patio that they added after the Grand Opening is fantastic, with a waterfall that has a big screen TV inside it.
Onto Lulu herself. She was a huge disappointment as I expected much more out of her. The burger was what I classify a "Juicy Ball". Along with being a Juicy Ball, the burger was simply boring. It was moist and juicy, but it was lacking any flavor at all. The cheese was as sticky as melted Velveeta and was making my lips stick together. The only positive about Lulu, and trust me, this is a big one as this one aspect is what most are missing, LOTS OF CHEESE. I had cheese in almost every bite. Even on my last bite, the over processed cheese was still present.
Overall, it sucked. I'm not sure if this is just Lulu herself, but every meal I have had at this newer location has been boring and frankly, no flavor in anything. The free popcorn they serve up has more flavor than the Lulu, Philly and the hot open faced sandwich combined.