On the Corner of Lake & Irving

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For the second Friday in a row, things were crazy enough at work that I didn’t eat lunch. For the second Friday in a row, when I got home, I was hangry.

My friend Jen said she’d come pick me up for dinner if I picked a place. It was the most perfect possible weather you could possibly have in Minnesota. It was 70 to 75 degrees. The sun was out, but not beating down unbearably, nor was there any need for shade. There was no wind nor humidity. And the best thing yet: There were no mosquitoes! There is a really short window for a day like that in Minnesota.

There was no reason to be indoors.

I had to find a dining spot with a patio.

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After much indecision, I finally chose…

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Lake & Irving is on the corner of – you guessed it – the corner of Lake and Irving in Uptown Minneapolis. I chose it because it not only had a patio, but also because of its proximity to Lake Calhoun. When choosing a restaurant, I was worried that the patios would be too busy because of the beautiful day. Lake Calhoun would make a nice walk afterward so that we could at least enjoy some of the weather if outdoor seats could not be had.

I really dig Lake & Irving’s menu!

That’s one of the other reasons why I chose it.

Beer

The tap beer selection includes a dozen craft beers – some local, some not. None of those taps are wasted on Mich Golden Light! The list changes frequently and includes what’s up next in the rotation.

Wine

The selection of wines is a well-rounded list that doesn’t include any of your Usual Suspects. I like that. In fact, I rarely order something I’ve already had, unless it’s something I know I absolutely love, the value is a good one or it’ll make a good pairing with my meal.

Craft Cocktails

While Lake & Irving lists their inventory of liquor, they also have a small list of selective craft cocktails. Le Sureau {Prairie Organic Vodka, St. Germain, lavender simple syrup, grapefruit juice, lemon} interested me, but if I would have ordered one that night, I probably would have fallen asleep at the table. L&I’s version of a Johnny Jump Up is called a Power Up, made with a local cider and Powers Irish Whiskey.

Food

For the record, we did get a seat on the patio. ;-)

Upon seating, we were immediately offered complimentary still or sparkling water. They serve it in a bottle so that they don’t have to keep refilling your glass.

The menu looked so good that I had a number of things that caught my eye – the Seared Ahi Salad, the Salmon Quinoa, the Caprese Panini and the Kalua Pork Sandwich.

My decision-making skills aren’t very stellar in general; but they are even worse when I’m hangry. Jen made up her mind pretty quickly.

CAPRESE PANINI  10 mozzarella, tomato, mac nut pesto, sourdough

CAPRESE PANINI – mozzarella, tomato, mac nut pesto, sourdough $10

{Side Note to Rob: The fries are nothing to write a blog post about. You can skip them.}

But you will be happy to know that I narrowed the menu down all by myself and didn’t even ask the server for any help.

SEARED AHI SALAD  16 Asian slaw, soy vin, mac nuts, cilantro,  avocado, sriracha aioli

SEARED AHI SALAD – Asian slaw, soy vin, mac nuts, cilantro, avocado, sriracha aioli – $16

This salad was just what I needed and complemented the weather perfectly! It was fresh and all of the flavors came together in just the right way. The tuna was a little chewy, despite the fact that they cooked it just how I requested – medium rare. But it was a minor detail when you put the whole salad together with those sauces and the crunch of the slaw and wonton crisps. I’d order it again.

The service was a bit slow, but we didn’t mind one bit. That was more time to sit and relax out on the patio! Once again, hangriness was cured. And just a few blocks away was Lake Calhoun, which drew a healthy-sized crowd that night. Still, the lake was calm and everything just seemed… peaceful.

What is your favorite place to relax on a patio?

What makes that place special?

Cheers~
Carrie

Prima

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I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

But today is this week’s Monday and it’s back to the grind. So let’s just jump right into another Restaurant Impression, shall we?

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It was just by chance that we found Prima.

It was a Friday night and I was hangry. Work was busy, so I hadn’t eaten a proper lunch. The night before, my friend Kim asked what we had planned for the evening. Rob and I actually had nothing going on, which is rare. So I asked her to join us because I was sure we’d be playing some Restaurant Volley before going out.

Without going into too much detail, let’s suffice to say that:

  1. I was hangry (and tired, so cooking was not even an option).
  2. We couldn’t decide where to eat. Restaurant Volley was taking more time than usual.
  3. When we finally settled on Lyn65, we found that they had no availability until 8:30pm.

So we continued to drive along Lyndale Avenue in search of somewhere else to meet Kim.

I pulled out my trusty Google Maps app. I love how the GPS can detect where you are, then displays the businesses and landmarks around you. I scrolled along Lyndale Ave and found George and the Dragon.

But traffic was bad. We were at a stand still. There was road rage… not in our car, but in the one in front of us. The battery was low on my phone and I still needed to text Kim our location.

Then I spotted another restaurant that would be coming up on our right in just a few blocks:

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Okay, I took this photo the other day, not when we were in en route. So neither the 18-minute drive time nor the 1:15pm timestamp is accurate; but I’m sure you get the picture.

I noticed that Prima had an average rating of 4.6 stars, so I clicked on it.

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Oh dear, yes! Thank you, Google Maps!

There didn’t seem to be a real bar area; but we chose to eat inside rather than on the sidewalk facing the busy traffic.

While we waited for Kim, we perused the menu and ordered a drink. I spotted something really intriguing to me! Can you pick out what it was?

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It was something I’d never had nor envisioned having. The server said it was brand new, so they weren’t even sure in what type of glass the Hard Cider with Pinot Grigio should be served!

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It was crisp, dry and refreshing. There wasn’t even a hint of sweetness that came to the party here. Hard apple cider and pinot grigio wine is quite an interesting combination; but it seemed to work.

I didn’t order it, but I was also curious about the Elderflower Lemonade!

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And here is something very important that I’d like to point out about Prima:

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You are going to laugh when I tell you what I was craving… goat cheese! I looked high and low on the menu and found nothing of the sort, so I had to choose something different. After running a couple of choices past our server, I settled on:

Linguine Alla SorrentinaLunch 12.95 & Dinner 13.95 Oven roasted tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, spinach, aged Pecorino Romano

Linguine Alla Sorrentina ($13.95) – 0ven roasted tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, spinach, aged Pecorino Romano… with chicken ($4.00)

I just had to get the chicken after reading the notes about their farm. The chicken was juicy and seasoned perfectly. The pasta was a lot more flavorful than expected. I tasted a lot of garlic in there!

Kim went all out for the salmon, which was actually very reasonable priced.

Grilled Norwegian Salmon18.95 (dinner only) Roasted garlic mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, portabello salsa, lemon butter sauce

Grilled Norwegian Salmon ($18.95) – roasted garlic mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, portabello salsa, lemon butter sauce

Rob was in heaven with his pasta, which we both found to be cooked perfectly all dente. No mushy pasta here!

Paglia e Fieno14.95 lunch & 15.95 dinner Fresh spinach & egg fettuccine, roasted fennel, sweet peas, Parmacotta ham, garlic cream

Paglia e Fieno ($15.95) – fresh spinach & egg fettuccine, roasted fennel, sweet peas, Parmacotta ham, garlic cream

And with that, hangriness was cured. Thank you, Prima!

Do you ever use Google Maps or another app to decide on where to dine or what to do?

Cheers~
Carrie

Garden Pawty

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Sophie & Shamrock Saturday

Sham and Sophie now know the word “BarkBox” and respond to it just as they would respond to “treat.” Sophie came running out of the bedroom into the living room the last time I said the word. I haven’t been able to get a good video of this yet, but here is a start…

Until I get a better video, let’s talk about May’s BarkBox. The paper inside had a little something different printed on it this month. And it just happened to be this month’s theme:

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Garden Pawty!

The insert describing the contents even looked like an invitation.

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I was half-expecting Sophie to get a fun hat to wear out in the sun. :-) But they received the following instead:

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Sham went right for the butterfly, which we have dubbed Flutterby, as this is what Rob has called butterflies every since I’ve known him. The FETCH bone was ignored, but not the Farmers Market treats! The chews will be saved for a rainy day.

In other news, this month, Sophie and Sham were granted V.I.Pup status. This means that they were able to give a month of BarkBox to three friends for free! Those boxes are long gone; but they have good news. You can get a month of BarkBox free with your pooch’s new subscription, too, by following Sophie and Sham’s link here. Full disclosure: They will get one free, too. Everybody wins!

Happy Saturday!

Cheers~
Carrie

 

HammerHeart Brewing

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Happy Thirsty Thursday!

While sipping our half-pint flight of beers at Northgate one beautiful Saturday, Rob instinctively looked up a brewery that we’ve been wanting to go to for some time. It was just Too. Far. Away… from us.

However, Rob’s iPhone indicated it was just 16 miles north of Northgate, about a 19 minute drive. We hadn’t any plans for the rest of the afternoon and didn’t want to finish the couple of half-pints in the flight that we didn’t like so much… so why not? We took the little jaunt north up to HammerHeart Brewing Company.

It was a beautiful Minnesota spring day, but one filled with mud! Such was the case getting into and finding a spot in their muddy parking lot.

But upon stepping across the threshold into HammerHeart’s taproom, the first thing I heard was the sound of bagpipes wailing! I believe that it was just for a special event that bagpipers were in the house that day; but I felt like I was being personally greeted. Ha!

HammerHeart Brewing gets its influence from Celtic and Nordic cultures as well as metal music. It’s a very interesting combination that you can read more about on their website. Rob thinks my brother would love this brewery, but we only had so much time during his visit. This just means you’ll have to come back for another round, JR!

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So what drew us to HammerHeart, you ask? Well, we’d been wanting to go for some time after reading their every-changing tap menu online over the past year or two.


But what may surprise you after yesterday’s post is that HammerHeart focuses heavily on smoke in its brews. So why on earth would their tap menu intrigue me? There is something else. Can you guess what it is?

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Yes, that’s right – the bourbon barrel aged beers! Like many tap rooms, they are not available all of the time; but we saw on the website that there were several available that day. No matter what, HammerHeart has many more different beers on tap at a given time compared to most other breweries in the Twin Cities metro; so there is bound to be something for everyone. But just be careful to order the right beer…

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Rob ordered a beer for himself and then added “and one Flanary’s Brew” for me. However, he hadn’t read the entire menu to see that there was a non-Bourbon Barrel Aged Flanary’s Brew on the bottom. {See menu above.} And of course, it was the Bourbon Barrel one that I wanted and the original that I was served.

I told him that it was just fine. But he took one for the team because he wanted to make my one beer of this brewery visit count. He went back up to order me the correct beer. He would just have to drink the mistake. ;-) It was a win-win for both of us. For the record, it was worth it! I could handle a mildly smoked oatmeal stout if you aged it in a bourbon barrel. Go figure.

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Rob also returned with a growler and a pint glass for our collection, too.

This is a great brewery for locals. If we lived anywhere near Lino Lakes, we’d be back on a regular basis. But, alas, we don’t. So we’ll just have to save HammerHeart for a special occasions. But I will tell you, it’s entirely worth the trip.

Do you like smoky foods or beverages?

If so, what’s your favorite?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

 

 

Roat Osha

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On Mother’s Day, after the crew returned home and we tidied up the house, Rob decided we should spend the beautiful afternoon on a walk… followed by dinner. He chose Roat Osha Thai in Uptown Minneapolis for two reasons: its proximity to the Lake of the Isles and because he checked my blog for half-price wine night!

It was the perfect day for a semi-leaisurely walk by the lake. There were very few people out, perhaps spending the time with their mothers instead. And although I took no photos, I enjoyed the nature to its fullest. We saw a beaver skirting across the water! I’m pretty sure that’s the first one I’ve seen in real life. I kept hearing the same birdsong over and over and inquired what bird it might be. Somehow, some way, Rob knew it was a red-winged blackbird. Sure enough, I saw many of them during the rest of our walk. And we saw at least two sets of goslings with their parents. They were still fuzzy and yellow and the smallest I’ve ever seen!

It was a perfect afternoon.

After the almost 3-mile walk around the lake, we took the couple blocks over to Roat Osha on Hennepin Avenue.

It was Happy Hour, which meant two dollars off all taps!

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Instead of original plan of ordering a half-priced bottle of wine {they only offered select bottles}, I had my first Loon Juice! {See the tap handle on the far right.} Loon Juice is a local Minnesota cider from Four Daughters Vineyard and Winery. It is a dry one, so I think it would go perfectly with some fresh Thai food!

Rob on the other hand, wanted to go with the Surly Smoke.

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I warned him not to order it. I recalled trying it once at Buffalo Tap. I didn’t like it because it is exactly what it is supposed to be – smoky. And I really am not a fan of smoky flavors, whether it be in food or beverages. I didn’t recall Rob liking it either; but he ordered it anyway. Then..

“Remind me never to order this again.” he said.

I think that’s what he told me the frist time.

For the record, Surly Brewing Company is a great local brewery that paved the way for all of the craft breweries we have in Minnesota today. To be fair, there is nothing “wrong” with the Surly Smoke at all, especially if you like smoke. It’s just that I don’t.

Since we had such a big brunch that morning and I wasn’t entirely all that hungry, we decided on a few Happy Hour apps. We started with these to share, which we ate half of before I decided to snap a photo:

4 Cream Cheese Wontons (plain, cranberry, or jalapeno)

4 Cream Cheese Wontons (choice of plain, cranberry, or jalapeno) – $3.50HH

Rob had read somewhere that Roat Osha has the best cream cheese wontons. They’re not something we order very often, but we did here for that reason. We ordered the cranberry version, something our beloved Nha Sang offers, too! We liked these just fine, except that there was a little too much wonton before you got to the cream cheese. I have no complaints for the price point! We each enjoyed two. Then…

For Him:

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3 Fried Spring Rolls (choice of pork or veggie) – $3.50HH

I think Rob liked these just fine, too. He ordered the pork ones. I always thought egg rolls were fried and spring rolls were fresh. I suppose you can fry spring rolls, too! I need to learn the difference.

For Her:

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4 Grilled Chicken Satay – $4.25HH

These were just what I wanted! I had not had chicken satay in so long! I was not familiar with the vinegary, yet syrupy cucumber dipping sauce on the right, but I thought it was tasty. However, I really enjoyed their homemade curry peanut sauce, so the sweet cucumber sauce went by the wayside.

Halfway through these skewers, I started to get full.

I was so glad I hadn’t ordered a full entree, despite the fact that everything that came out of the kitchen looked fresh and smelled absolutely delicious. At first, I had ordering remorse. But my small appetite quickly brought me back to my senses.

Now I have a reason to go back for a dinner entree! Since I get so stuck in a rut when it comes to Thai food, I think I’d go to Roat Osha, sit at the bar for an hour, watch all of the dishes come out to the other patrons and then order the one that looks and/or smells the best. Yes, that’s going to be my new method of ordering new-to-me food.

At the time of this writing, Roat Osha offers half-priced bottles of select wine on Monday, Thursday, Sunday from 4pm to close.

What is your favorite Thai dish?

Cheers~
Carrie

A New Morning Ritual + Smoothie Faves

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There’s something I’ve been doing nearly every morning for the past several months…

Drinking hot lemon water

I’ve read about so many benefits of doing this…

…But ultimately, it has become a comforting morning ritual for me!

Here is what I do:

  • Heat a mug of water for 1 minute. {When I make tea, I heat a mug of water for 2 minutes.} I have a friend that just fills her mug with warm water from the tap.
  • Juice 1/2 of a lemon and pour into mug of hot water.

I use a citrus juicer like this that catches the seeds:

juicerA couple of weeks ago, when my in-laws were in town, I had my husband pick up a bag of lemons when I knew they were going to Costco. These lemons are HUGE!

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I decided to slice one into thirds for my morning lemon water:

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That middle one got more than a little messy. Now, I cut each lemon into four wedges and just squeeze one wedge into the mug with my hand. I can handle a few lemon seeds! But for regular-sized lemons, just juice 1/2 lemon and save the other half for the next day. So simple.

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Oh, and as promised, of the 15 new smoothies I tried here, here and here, these are the ones I’d make again:

  • Green Monster Smoothie from Iowa Girl Eats – Very much like my Magic Green Smoothie, but with the added protein of Greek Yogurt
  • Dana’s Mango Smoothie from $5 Dinners – But only when I have juice in the house, which is rare. But it’s so tasty!
  • Coffee Smoothie from Snack Girl – So easy and a great use for leftover coffee!
  • Raspberry Grapefruit Smoothie from The Iron You – The prettiest smoothie ever! I love raspberries, too. But I’d probably have this as a refreshing summer snack, perhaps after a run or on a hot day on the deck, rather than at breakfast.
  • Avocado Smoothie from Chocolate Covered Katie – I’ve found that avocado in smoothies can make them so much creamier; but I also found that there needs to be the right balance or it’ll taste more like I’m drinking guacamole. This one’s a winner in my book. I’d like to rename it Avocado Milk.
  • Best 3-Ingredient Avocado Smoothie from Omnivore’s Cookbook – Another avocado one I liked and so easy!
  • Chocolate Green Smoothie from Greatist – This is a winner when I’m craving something chocolaty.
  • Tropical Green Smoothie from Simply Recipes – Yes, whisk me away to a tropical destination – stat!

And a few more links on how to make the perfect smoothie:

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What are your morning rituals?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

Miss Lyla

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Shamrock & Sophie Saturday

Shamrock and Sophie are hosting another friend this weekend!

Meet Lyla…

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Lyla is an Italian Rat. Haha! She is a mixed breed dog with some Italian Greyhound and some Rat Terrier {I hope I got that right!} with, perhaps a blend of another breed or two. Check out those ears!

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Miss Lyla is still a little playful puppy that has made both us realize that Shamrock has surpassed his puppyhood! Lyla gives him a run for his money.

Isn’t she a doll?!

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She adores toys, as every little pup should.

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She loves to play tug and fetch, too! {That’s something neither of our pooches do very well.}

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And she loves to tear toys apart and rip all of the stuffing out! It’s so fun to watch! Here’s a bit of the aftermath…

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Rob is so happy to lighten Sophie and Sham’s overflowing toy bucket! I have been hoarding those for far too long…

At night, Lyla likes to cuddle up under the covers to go to sleep. The first time she did this, Sophie watched her with utter confusion. Her eyes followed the bump that was Lyla as she made her way down to my feet.

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Our family dog while I was growing up, Jerry, loved to sleep under the covers, too. It’s their short coats that make them want to get all warm and toasty! Our furry children could never handle that…

Then during the day, there sure has been a lot playing going on in our backyard!

Lyla seems to feel right at home chez Sham & Sophie, but I know she has two loving parents who miss her dearly!

Happy Saturday!

Cheers~
Carrie