Saturday, July 28, 2007

Road Food Pursuits - Groveland Tap

Minneapolis is said to be the home of the ”Juicy Lucy” (also spelled “Jucy Lucy”), which is more of less a burger with the cheese stuffed in the center. Most credit Matt’s Bar with inventing it, but the 5-8 Club just south of them will dispute the claim.

(For more Juicy Lucy history, click here.)

Whatever the case, it is definitely a Minneapolis original. But that doesn’t prevent their neighbors to the east in St. Paul from serving them!

Groveland Tap
1834 St. Clair Ave
St. Paul, MN

Today I had lunch at the Groveland Tap, a classic neighborhood bar near Macalester College. It is a narrow old bar with tall, wooden booths, and plenty of character. A very charming and cozy establishment.

While their menu has plenty to offer in the way of burgers, sandwiches, appetizers, and even some weekly special entrees, I was there for their version of the Juicy Lucy.

Not brave enough to try their “Cajun Lucy,” which is stuffed with pepper jack cheese and jalapenos (yikes!), I settled for the regular Lucy. I also made it a basket for an extra $2 to get some fries and cole slaw.

The “Juicy Lucy” at the Groveland Tap

Admittedly, these burgers are not much for aesthetics. Really, it is just a burger on a toasted bun with no garnishes except for some pickles on the bottom. You can throw a little ketchup and mustard on for good measure. But the magic happens on the inside. The melted American cheese in the center of the burger keeps it moist and juicy, as the name would imply. Nicely charred on the outside, a little pink in the middle, and served on a bakery fresh flour-dusted bun. Delightfully simple, and wonderful.

As a side note, my Juicy Lucy experienced a bit of a “blowout” after the first two bites, and most of the cheese ran into the bottom of the basket. But, this served as an excellent dipping sauce of sorts. Yum! :)

After the blowout!

The fries were nothing to sneeze at, either. Real, skin-on fries are served here; crisp, light, and delicious. The cole slaw was also quite good. Lightly dressed and flavorful, with a fresh and satisfying crunch.

The Juicy Lucy basket cost all of $7.75, so with a diet pop and tax, the bill came to $10.43. Not a bad price to eat a piece of Minneapolis food history, even if you are in St. Paul!

Nice job, Groveland Tap. I shall return.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Lunch at the Coho Café

While visiting my parents over the weekend, we had lunch at the Coho Café in Tofte, MN.

Coho Café
MN Highway 61
Tofte, MN

The Coho Café is a small bakery and restaurant located right along the highway in Tofte. The cuisine is very fresh and creative. It is a bright, airy restaurant on the inside and filled with local art. There is also outdoor seating during the summer months. They feature a number of home baked breads, gourmet coffee, deli items, soups, salads, pizzas, pasta, and sandwiches.

Mom had a croissant sandwich from the deli, and Dad and I both opted for the "Onion River Reuben," which was topped with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and their own special sauce, served on a dark pumpernickel rye.

The "Onion River Reuben" at the Coho Café

What a great sandwich. The bread is absolutely delicious and fresh with a great rye flavor. Corned beef, kraut, and Swiss cheese were lightly bathed in a sauce reminiscent of the traditional thousand island dressing, but with a bit of a garlic tang to it. Very nice. Coupled with some pasta salad and fresh fruit, it made for a satisfying meal after a morning round of golf.

The Coho Café is worthy of a stop for any North Shore traveler looking for a bite to eat. Their menu is large and varied, so there should be something for everyone. While we were dining, some impressive looking pizzas came past our table. Hmmm, perhaps I already know what I am having next time?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Summer on a plate

This could be my favorite summer meal.

Tonight I made my favorite ”BBT” sandwich on German dark wheat bread for dinner, and I had my first sweet corn of the season.

I love this time of year when sweet corn becomes available in Minnesota. This is about the time when you start seeing the actually Minnesota grown corn (not stuff trucked in from parts unknown) show up at farmers’ markets and roadside stands.

I bought my corn at a little stand near my place. For this early in the season, it was not too bad. Not great, but pretty decent. It has me excited for the remainder of summer. I will be pigging out on sweet corn all of August!

There will be many a meal like this in the coming months.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Barker's revisited

On the 4th of July, I took a road trip back to Barker’s Bar & Grill in Hudson, WI.

The outrageously good "Tyson Burger" at Barker's Bar & Grill

I visited Barker's in January and had their magnificent “Tyson Burger," which is coated with blackened seasonings and topped with bleu and Monterey Jack cheeses.

To no surprise, it was as good as I remembered, and it is currently my favorite burger of any place I have gone, Juicy, beautifully cooked, creamy cheeses...yum! And I can't forget the fries, which are homemade and hand-cut. Simply amazing.

I can't wait for my next road trip to Hudson. :)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Busting some chops

Last night I made Giada De Laurentiis’ Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops for dinner. These are really good, the recipe has very few ingredients, and it is very easy to prepare.

One thing I did (and I was very glad I did) was bread the chops and let them sit in the fridge for about a half and hour. I think that really helped the breading set up and adhere to the chops. Also, I just flipped these once, and I didn’t mess with them once they were in the pan. The crust stayed perfectly intact.

A quick and delicious meal, for sure. The chops were really juicy on the inside and had a flavorful, crispy crust on the outside. Yummy!

I love Giada’s recipes, and this one could become part of my regular rotation.