Archive for the ‘Bright’s 2009 Restaurant Blog’ Category

A Holiday Dinner to Remember Plus

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Yesterday, the Saturday  of Kwaanza, we celebrated at the Northfield Golf Club Restaurant.  They have a pretty decorated tree in the front lobby, next to a nice gas fire place.   Once inside you can see the tree lights from the decorated trees outside dance all along the open window walls.  It’s quite magical.

The dinner was set for 5PM to 9PM and we were practically the first ones there, as I like to eat early, believing that the later you eat, the more you will retain.  Then when you get up, you are not that hungry, so you skip breakfast, and that really is the most important time of day for humans to absorb and utilize vitamins and minerals and then burn calories throughout the active cycle of the 24 hour period. Ah, but I digress.  Sorry.

Anyway, I ordered the Shrimp Tempura, Caesar salad, baked potato and mushrooms.  D had the filet mignon and mashed potatoes and asparagas plus buffet salad bar.  It was all good.  When you come in early, the chefs have time to pay attention to your food and only your food.  Super.  I must rave about the Caesar salad though because it was one of if not the best I ever had.  A bit of mustard was present and the rest was light as air.   So, too, about the mushrooms.  Ah,  just plain ol’ button mushrooms, whole and fried up in the pan.  Delicious.  I didn’t want them to end, so I had every other bit a mushroom and ended with a mushroom.

Now the shrimp was good, too.  It wasn’t covered with all the oil and batter one usually gets.  It was so underdressed, I barely noticed it in the dim but flattering lights of the restaurant.  The shrimp were firm, but not rubbery, not soft, not mushy.  They were like you dream shrimp would be,  but never are except for when one of your fav chefs makes them on Kwaanza.

I am not raving about the baked potato.  I think it was an attempt to keep it from drying out too much.but it was slightly underdone for me, but that made me not eat all of it, and that’s a good thing. My respiratory meds make me hungry and even ravenous at times,  and I really have to watch my weight even over the holidays.  I am hearing a lot of heads shaking up and down right now.  I know you are with me as sighs of failure drift by this page.  Oh, don’t feel bad, pretty soon, you’ll be up and running off all those extra calories, when you actually take back the things you don’t want and get something you do want.

Here comes the best part, while we were waiting for dinner, we ordered a Sazarac.  Some of you may know, a Sazarac is the first official cocktail of the United States, originating in New Orleans.    Now, I am not a drinker, can’t do it, won’t do it, but once or twice a year, I will imbibe with a half drink of something.  I get all warm and bubbly and then I get a cup of coffee before I pass out for the night from it.  Haha.

The Sazara reminds me of days in New Orleans with friends on a Public Chemical Advisory Panel.  We’d all go out to dinner after each meeting and swap food stories. My closest buddy, an elder named Doc usually had something to do with whiskey , maybe cuz he is from Kentucky where they make quite a bit of it well, but he told the Sazarac story and I went with it and tried it and always liked it.  Any bartender worth his salt (did I just say that?)  knows how to make a Sazarac, but if yours doesn’t…here you go;

http://whatscookingamerica.net/Beverage/SazeracCocktail.htm

Happy Holidays to YOU!

Boston Gourmet Pizza of Faribault

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

http://www.Bostons-Pizza.com

125 1st Street, Farbault, MN

(507) 331-3255

We hadn’t been here since they first opened up a couple of years ago. I didn’t care for the chemically tasting sauces, tomato or cheese, so I didn’t order that stuff this time.  But dh did, and I tried it and I still didn”t like it.  At those prices 15.00 for  a dinner with no salad or soup included, one expects real tomatoes and real cheese and milk products.  They aren’t that expensive, really.

Anyway we were enticed to go back because I mysteriously found a $10 off $25.oo or more coupon if  purchased by 12/27 and thought we’d give it another go.  I ordered the oven baked salmon and it was decent.  Though, really the same thing Perkins has at a few dollars less.  My  Boston’s version included the heap of cole slaw and heavy potatoes I ordered as my two sides.  I could have ordered the same thing almost exactly from Perkin’s sides menu and saved $3.00, plus the tax and tip on $3, which would be almost another $1.

We did like the service and the atmosphere was a nice change, but dang that sauce!  We ordered the white cheese cake and ice cream with raspberry sauce for dessert.  I thought it was good to average with a high price for what I perceived as cheap vanilla ice cream.

I asked for hot tea and they brought me five different Bigelow flavors, and three packets of honey.  No base dish for the hot tea pot, though. Don’t know what we paid for that, their website seems to leave out the prices, but it was normally priced, I think.  I drank  the lemon lift tea which was pleasantly worthy.  Dh had some nice strong tea.  They serve alcohol and have TV’s.  Unlike Perkins.

Boston is handicap accessible, but the door is not close to the handicap parking space, so plan on a 100 foot walk or so.

Ole Store

Monday, November 30th, 2009

We finally made it over to Ole Store.  Now, let me say, I have loved that space in all it’s carnations, or is that reincarnation?  Anyway, it’s a white and black car nation, and no one can do anything about that right now. :)   Oh, speaking of cars, what is the difference between your wife and your car?  Give up?  Your car doesn’t holler at you every time you get gas.  :)

So, dh ordered the Greek pizza and thought it was very good, but it was too cheesy and salty for me but did have redeeming flavor bits about it.  Here’s my secret, whenever I order pizza, I order it with light cheese and reiterate and underline it, cuz they are so used to making pizza a certain way, they forget.  If they do, I just pull if off.  It’s a terrible waste though.  Certain cheeses are very salty and I avoid those for the most part.

I ordered the tuna sandwich and I was sorry.  It was that oily, flat, kind of  smelly tuna that has sat in a can too long.  I ate some of it, but under gastrointestinal protest.  And the bread is too thick for that sandwich.  Some of the lettuce was actually too rough to chew, and only the tomatoes go without being sliced by my sharp tongue.  The chips were okay, more salt, and so I shared them with dh.  I guess I shouldn’t get the chips, either.  What ever happened to cole slaw?  Much healthier and cheaper than chips.    Also, I found there are no substitutions when I asked for tuna on pizza at first.  Oh, well.  Can’t have everything I want now, can I?  Oh, I can always stay home and make tuna on pizza.  And I think I shall!   HINT:  Northfield is aging and elders need a more healthful and caring diet.  Let’s see if we can change menu’s and cooking techniques a bit more for our elders and people with special dietary needs.  This is the type of thing that can bring more business to our town.  A town that cares about it’s people is a town that thrives!

We Final Broke Out

Monday, November 30th, 2009

This last week has been one of adventure, fun, new friends and old ones, great weather, and a lot of hope for the future.

First allow me to say how grateful I am to have so many readers that follow my crazy little blog for so long now.  Thanks.  It’s an honor, a treat and lots of fun for me.  Then, moving on quickly, I am so grateful for my health.  I have gone two years without any significant change in status.  This is all I could have hoped for after walking into Dr. Kathrine Helgen’s office at the Northfield Family Clinic, on the verge of death not too long ago.   I thought I was allergic to a new lotion.  Haha. NOT!  Anyway, I am here, and glad of it.

I am super grateful for the lovely Thanksgiving we spent with new friends at their excellent 7,000 sq. ft. mansion in Minneapolis.  The home, the company and the food were some of the best we have experienced and we want to say Thanks! to the family and others who made our day so happy.

Continuing the breaking out part, dh and I decided to try out Butler’s Steak and Ale.  We saw someone go in the door of Butler’s on a Saturday afternoon around 1 PM.  So, we went in and then were promptly shown the door.  Seems they were having a staff meeting and weren’t opened until 3PM. We were too hungry to wait two hours, so we hightailed it down to Monte’s in Faribault.  We were looking to celebrate a little that day.

Dh had the gorgonzola pizza which he loved.  Way too cheesy for me, but that’s me trying to keep my girlish figure.  Right.  I had the Pasta Carbonara which was super, but I couldn’t eat more than 1/3 of it.  It was great nuked for breakfast the next two mornings.  Monte’s always serves a lovely bread stick basket with delicously light and smooth olive oil with aged vinegar with each meal.   So good! The service was just what I like.  On time, little fuss, polite and accurate.  That’s all.  If a server does just that, we tip extra.

Anyway, last Monday around 4 PM, we tried Butler’s again.  This time a man named Gabriel served our food and was a delightful and refreshing change to service as we know it. Gabriel actually likes to do a nice job and has the personality that lets him get away with not doing a good job, too.  Haha.   I gather that a lot of Norm’s regular customers know Gabriel, who  was also tending bar while he was serving us.   Another lady joined in to actually bring the food to the table.  She had nice earrings and good overall appearance and also likable.

We had a nice time at Butlers’, however, after being opened two months, there are still some apparent growing pains.  The food was served on cold dishes, which I asked to be warmed up so I could eat slowly as I like and not meet up with frozen carrots and icy grilled chicken.  Dumb me, I thought that dishes could be warmed up in the microwave. Turns out they cannot be warmed up unless they have something in them.  So, it took awhile to bake them in the oven.  Fortunately for me, I gave half my chicken to Dh so I had no problem.  Let it be said a “not cold dish” was brought to me before too long.  Gabriel explained that the next dish would be hotter, but it came too late for me.  Also, in the growing pain category, is or was the fact that the chef was newer than the restaurant, as in recently hired, and so was still learning the ins and outs, the colds and hots.

We both enjoyed our teas, mine served hot with two tea bags and honey, and dh had the cold stuff.

About the food itself…the house salad was quite delicious, but that the choice of salad dressings was lacking severely. My grilled chicken tasted quite good and was actually surprisingly unsalty.  Our root vegetables were unevenly cooked, but good to taste, and the garlic potatoes were served in an unattractive heap.  I think the presentation was really lacking on my plate.  The English don’t seem to do much with fancy reductions, fussy little bits of color, or even a bit of colorful parsley to make a dull food look exciting and worth the extra dollars customers plunk down for a nice meal out.  As you can see, I am still resentful of the cutbacks of all the little goodies that restaurants used to give that set the restaurant dish apart from the home dish.

Dh’s BBQ ribs were very tasty and looked good, though.  But, holy cow, and I mean no offense to the pig, but the fat on those pork ribs could kill a cow.  They did taste good though, I reiterate, and a little fat never hurt anyone, but split those ribs with another couple and you might make it out of Butlers’ on your own two feets.  :) Listen, I realize that this time of year those pigs pig out and put on the pig pounds.  That doesn’t mean you can undo all the work I have done keeping my love-to-eat-all-the-things-that-are-bad-for-you-and-after-10PM-to-boot husband under 175 in one sitting!

Oh, I am cranky today, but I am having a blast!  There’s more, but I’ll put that in a separate blog.  Until then, stay tuned!

And now moving forward, we had the raspberry bread pudding for dessert, which tasted good, but I think was too mushy for me.   Bread pudding should have a little heft to it so you know you just consumed a million calories.

We liked that Norm came by and asked how the food tasted and we said it was good and would be better on warm plates.  Norm apologized for that and for kicking us out the Saturday before.   You’re forgiven, Norm.

Bright’s Top Three Restaurants Plus

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

My criteria for a great restaurant is not fair to anyone at all mainly because we don’t go everywhere.  All the restaurants in Northfield are contenders, but a few stick out for me.

Given that, here, informally, is how I decide :

1.  They are good if I can’t cook it at home myself.

2.  If the food is consistently good and interesting to me, and doesn’t al taste the same.

3.  If the ambiance is clean,comfortable and conducive to conversation and slow paced eating.

4.  If the level of friendliness and welcoming attitude is neither too low or too high.

5.  If the prices are reasonable…I must say, all Northfield restaurants do well here.

6.  It helps a lot if there is electrical outlets available for my O2 machine.

7. Waitstaff does a good job.

Not necessarily in that order of importance.  Ultimately it depends on the food.

So, my top three spots belong to

1. Northfield Golf Club and everyone there!

2. Kurry Kabob and everyone there!

3. George’s Vineyard and everyone there!

Alright, I’ll do top three fast food restaurants:

1.  Culver’s and all the staff I have seen so far!

2.  Subway and all the sandwich artists!

3.  Culver’s again.

The gee I wish I could add one more goes to Perkins.  They have done a bang up job.  They rotate one part of their menu so there is always something new,

their bakery is very good, albeit not that healthy, sorry, but once in a while I have a half of something bad that’s so good, and they stay open a lot.

Hey, Hey, Hey! Monte’s is Back!

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Monte’s of Faribault is back under new ownership and doing well.  Dh and I were out with friends when they mentioned they thought Monte’s was opened for lunch.
We called them on the spot and found that they had hours til 9PM.  We were already entrenched at Kurry Kabob’s and really enjoying our dinners or all four of us would have high tailed it down there.
So, tonight, dh and I were downtown at the guild which was closed,  and then to Faribault for a possible lawn mower purchase.  We decided to stop by and have a late night snack just to blog it.

Dh had the sirloin steak, baked potato and summer veggies with salad for $16,  We both had bread and olive oil with balsamic vinegar reduction as part of a house gift, and I had the white chicken chili and crab cake sandwich for $10.  The chili was excellent and spurred  me on to making my own version sometime soon, and the crab was very nicely done.  Fresh lemon, fried onion, bacon and a nice little mound of arugula topped the crab.  I enjoyed my time there immensely as they have a fabulous staff and they retained the comfortable decor of the old Monte’s.   This time it’s a little cheaper, a few more choices and not all the pretention of trying to be like N’awlins, dawlin!

Monte’s Steak House

www.montessteakhouse.com

31 Third Street NE
Faribault, MN 55021
(507) 333-9393

Flying Over Northfield

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Last Monday morning I was fortunate enough to enjoy a airplane ride over Northfield where I could see such remarkable attractions as the public swimming pool, Malt-O-Meal-the company, Cannon River, Northfield Golf Course, St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges and their perspective wind turbines, dozens of silent train cars, city parks and aprox. 5,000 or so dwellings. And oh, the new Peggy Prowse Bridge really stood out!

My dh had business down in Chicago and he had to come in late at night, so he could not land at Stanton Airfield, where he rents the plane, because it has no runway lights. That eventually meant a ride for me from Faribault to Stanton on a perfect morning. What’s more, it all ties in to my restaurant and food blog as he brought with him an Aurelio’s pizza from Illinois. This is a small chain of pizza houses that offer some of the best pizza I have ever eaten. We used to go to the one in Homewood, Il whenever we were out visiting. and were patient enough to wait in line.   The restaurant was in a converted mansion and was filled with booths in nooks and crannies,  stained glass,  t-shirt shop, arcade  games, lower and upper floor dining..something for everyone in the family.

The one thing aurelio’s does differently  is use a blend of cheddar and mozzarella cheese. Kind of  like real Italian cooks  do when they make pizza, using whatever they happen to have on han . You can hardly go wrong with that approach on pizza or in mac and cheese. At least that is true for me with the basic seven, cheddar, mozzarella, swiss, provolone, Gouda, Edam, or Jarlsberg.

Anyway,  I really enjoyed my flown in pizza,  saving part in the freezer so I can enjoy it again.

Just as I started writing this blog, a friend came over with some cannolis from Byerly’s in Apple Valley. For those of you who have not met this delightful dessert, it is a ricota (or marscapone cheese) piped into  a crisp pastry tube and topped with pistacio and sometimes chocolate bits on the open ends. It is very, very good and sweet and super fattening. These weren’t as good as the one’s I remember in Chicago at an old time Italian restaurant called Salerno’s on the near north side, but they were as close as I have seen in years. I guess it’s just hard to find  an Italian grandma to make cannoli for everyone in the area out of love.

We also found that people can order things like baked goods on line at Byerly’s and they will respond with a confirmation.

recipe link;

http://www.pastrysampler.com/Questions_and_Answers/cannoli.htm

Twofer

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

Even I can offer a good bargain during these soon to be over but not soon enough tough economic times.  As of late, dh and I have been again to La Eskina where I had a deliciousio Tortas, which is a Mexican sandwich on a squarish bun that has been purposely burnt, kinda of like the grill marks on the inside of bread sandwiches that people are so fond of these days.  The tortas have the grill marks on the crusted part of the bun.  It’s more for the eye than the tastebuds.  Charcoal is pretty tasteless really, once you get over the black pebbly part of it, it’s not all that.  But the chicken, avocado, tomato, lettuce and onion sandwich I requested was so good and so big, I didn’t eat for a day and a half after that.  It was about 5 dollars and worth every penny of it. The folks over there don’t skimp on any ingredient and I like that about them.  Dh had his usual already.  Once he likes something that’s all he’ll order for decades.  How could I girl like me be married to such a stick in the mud, I just don’t know.  Right now, he is flying back an airplane from the OshKosh Air Show that got left there by someone who had to leave early. So maybe he’s not that much of a stick in the mud.  Really, he and my puppy are the loves of my life and they alternate and jockey for position number one constantly. No, I’m kidding.  Anyway….

We went over to Mill Street Tavern yesterday and also visited the nearby newly built up Cannon Falls Waterfalls and wan pond that enhance the new hiking and biking path.  We noticed the Cannon Falls bike and boat rental shop and looked at their website when we got back.  Wow, you can rent a bicycle built for two there, too.  (Notice how I wove a reference to the title into this blog?) We also delighted at the sight of a lovely family of swans with a few teenager swanlets or whatever they are called these days, and two lovely adult heart halves swans behaving in particularly swannish manner. Picture perfect, except we didn’t have our camera, so we go back next week. :)

Cob = Male Swan, Pen = Female Swan, Cygent = Baby Swan, Flock = Group of Swans

I am not blogging Mill Street Tavern because I did not enjoy the leathery wild caught salmon and so on sandwich I forced down as everything else was very good including dh’s chicken and bacon wrap.

Thanks for reading my blog and allowing for my silliness.  It’s just that kind of day for me.