Posts Tagged ‘restaurant’

Dive Night is a semi-monthly adventure undertaken by me and Husby, along with our friends Ruthie and Ray. Each couple alternates choosing a restaurant, one which must come under the category of “dive.” Our definition of dive: a neighborhood gathering spot with a laid-back atmosphere and good food. We’ll find the interesting hang-outs in the Minneapolis/St Paul area. Casual attire required. A sip of beer or wine doesn’t hurt either.

Because of all this busy-ness of summertime we haven’t been able to schedule a Dive Night in quite a while.  But, at long last, Ruthie and Ray, Husby and I were able to find an open evening and celebrate the dive once more.

Ruthie and Ray took us down to the St. Croix River, to a little town called Marine on St. Croix.  It’s an artsy community with really cool houses and a cute little main street.  On that main street stands Brookside Bar and Grill.

The Brookside has four distinct areas to drink and dine.  The bar…

…a dining area behind the bar…

Photo bomb by our waitress and another guy behind her.

…another dining area behind the first dining area…

…and the back yard/patio…

I’m not sure why no one was out on the back patio.  The bar wasn’t even set up.  Maybe they only serve out there when they have live music, which I assumed they have because there was a stage back there too.  There was also a little barnyard scene with a not-life-sized pig and cow.

Of course the Brookside gets its name from being located beside a brook.  Actually, the brook runs right under the restauarant.

There was a cool piece of art on the wall right where we were sitting in the bar.  It’s a little miniature version of the town of Marine on St. Croix.

And there you have the ambiance; moving onto the actual dining experience.

When we first arrived around 7:00 p.m. there weren’t too many people eating or sitting at the bar, yet it took at least ten minutes for someone to acknowledge that we had sat down.  Someone, not a wait person but associated with the restaurant, came up to us when she saw we didn’t have any drinks and offered us a glass of water.  Once our waitress did show up, about three minutes after the first person, our service was wonderful.

Our appetizers were pretty good. We got the bruschetta, which kind of scared me at first because it looked like there was nothing but tomatoes on it. I don’t care for tomatoes that much. But the tasty treat was something I’d definitely get again. We also got the pizza fries, which is basically a pizza crust with some delicious seasonings and cheese cut in strips, served with marinara sauce. Yum.

Ruthie had the build-your-own burger. I don’t know if I can remember everything she had on it, but I do remember gorgonzola cheese, grilled onion, and avocado. She also ordered onion rings, which she described as “doughy.” However, Ray disagreed when he sampled one. Ruthie was happy with her meal.

Ray had the Hunters’ Extreme burger. It’s a half-pound burger stuffed with cheese, bacon, and caramelized onions. This photo doesn’t do justice to the fries – they were the skinniest fries I’ve ever seen! Ray was happy with his meal too.

Husby had the turkey avocado sandwich with hash browns. He was disappointed that “avocado” actually meant guacamole. It was good, he said, but he would have liked a slice of avocado and thought that’s what he would get when he ordered.  He ate three-quarters of his potatoes but didn’t finish because they were a little too greasy. Despite his specific complaints he enjoyed the meal and experience as a whole.

There are some more of those skinny fries. They were delicious with my Brookside Halfer. You are not going to believe this – the halfer is made with equal parts of fresh ground chuck and fresh ground…BACON. How absolutely ingenious is that?! I topped my burger with some provolone cheese.

The Brookside serves burgers, obviously, pizza, a couple of dinner items, and a nice variety of sandwiches.  They also have a kids’ menu.

Having dinner and drinks in Marine on St. Croix at the Brookside Bar & Grill turned out to be a great summertime retreat.  When it comes to their hours of operation, I think they’re kind of flexible.

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At long last I’m presenting the second part of the most recent Dive Night at Goby’s.  Let me give you a little background first.

I moved into an apartment when I was 22 years old.  It was in a very cool part of town in a fairly vintage building.  There were several colleges in the neighborhood, none of which I was attending.  Right across the street from my apartment was a classy place called Plums.  The college kids would dress up and pretend to be high-brows at Plums.  There was drinking and dancing and picking up of prospective mates at Plums.  The decor was burgundy, which was a very popular color in the ’80s, and also kind of goes with the name, Plums.  I felt like the luckiest girl in the world to live right across the street from such a happening place, and I visited often.

When we had our Dive Night meal at Goby’s we decided to have a nightcap at Plums, which is right next door to Goby’s.  How handy!  I also thought a blast from my past would be fun.  Let me just tell you it’s true when they say, you can’t go home.

Plums. Corner of Snelling and Randolph in St. Paul, MN.

Walking into Plums was like walking thirty years into the past.  The decor was still deep burgundy.  For a split second I felt like I had gone home, but then we were seated and I began to see what had really become of Plums.

This is the chair I sat on. Not only was the seat torn but the legs were wobbly. I looked for another chair for swapping, but they were all like this.

This is the floor under the table at which we were sitting. What are those black flecks?!

A couple of things were a little different from the Plums I knew.  For one thing there were tables on the dance floor, so I assume no one dances there anymore.  I wonder if they even play music.  There was none playing while we were there.  For another thing they have installed a pull tab booth, complete with old lady pull tab seller.  And you think the floor was bad under our table?  Check out the floor by the pull tab booth.

Some tabs, some poop, and a worm.

Yes, Plums does sell food.  Most of the people who were eating were out on the patio.  I’m not surprised as it was a lovely evening, and it was probably much cleaner outside than it was inside.  And don’t think Plums is a place for scumbags.  Over there at the bar we saw one of St. Paul’s finest chatting it up with another patron.

Hey there, cutie. Come here often?

When we were looking over at Officer Studly we noticed something very peculiar.  There was something hanging out of one of the vents on the ceiling.  Someone said, “it’s a rat tail!”  Well what else could it be?  So I walked over and tried to take the best picture I could without looking too conspicuous.

Ben, the two of us need look no more. We both found what we were looking for.*

Apparently I wasn’t as inconspicuous as I intended as the minute I returned to our table the waitress came up and asked what I was taking a picture of.  “The rat tail hanging from the vent,” said Husby.  She claimed there was a balloon hanging there at one time.  I didn’t believe her.  Also, Husby said that while I was taking the picture Officer Studly was looking at me with his mouth hanging open, trying to figure out what I found so interesting about a rat tail hanging out of the vent.

Suffice it to say Plums was never as filthy as it was the night we went, and no one seemed to care.  The owner walked around the place in his Dockers and polo shirt with a toothpick hanging out of his mouth.  If I were him I would have been mortified, especially knowing someone was taking pictures of the poopy floors and rat tails in the ceiling vents.

I’ll fondly remember my days at Plums thirty years ago, but I will never, ever go back again.  As disgusting as the public area was I can’t even imagine what the kitchen looked like.  Yow.

* For those of you too young to remember, Ben was the pet rat of a guy named Willard in the movie Willard.  Michael Jackson sang the theme song, Ben.  These are some of the lyrics to that song.

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Dive Night is a semi-monthly adventure undertaken by me and Husby, along with our friends Ruthie and Ray. Each couple alternates choosing a restaurant, one which must come under the category of “dive.” Our definition of dive: a neighborhood gathering spot with a laid-back atmosphere and good food. We’ll find the interesting hang-outs in the Minneapolis/St Paul area. Casual attire required. A sip of beer or wine doesn’t hurt either.

It’s been a long time since the last Dive Night.  I guess the four of us are getting busier, so we get together when we can.  The dive was the choice of Husby and me, which took me back to my old neighborhood of over twenty years ago.  I spent some time at this place during my single days as it was only a half block away from my apartment, and when Husby and I were dating we’d stop by for a bite once in a while.  We thought it would be a good place to share with Ruthie and Ray, and really fun for me to see what’s happened to the establishment since I’ve been there last.  I present to you, Goby’s.

Goby’s has a new facade since I was there last, but the interior was pretty much the same as it was oh so many years ago.  One thing I noticed right away that hadn’t changed at all ~ one of the regulars.  A little grayer, but it was the same guy.  We were there around 6:30 on a Friday evening and the crowd was more mature, like us.  I have no idea what kind of clientele they have after the dinner hour.

A view from the front door. See that wait person toward the center of the picture? The one with the short shorts? She also had a low-cut top that was very filled out. Besides being very bodacious she was also a very good server. I’m sure the boys tipped her well. I would have too ~ she was cheerful and served our meals perfectly.

Here’s a picture of the game room. It’s located at the back of the bar/restaurant. Lots of games to choose from. Lots. There’s also a juke box that holds lots of your old-time favorites.

Goby’s is a clean place to spend an evening eating, playing, and drinking.  Husby and Ray both got a Stella Artois (if I drank beer that’s what I’d drink because it’s just so classy) but Ray didn’t think the Stella was anything spectacular.  Husby still enjoys it quite a bit.  Ruthie and I got our typical glass of wine.  And now, on with the food.  Please forgive the blurry photos.  I’m still learning how to take pictures in a dark room.

For appetizers we got a basket of deep-fried pickles (Ruthie’s favorites) and deep-fried garlic mushrooms. Both were served with a ranch dipping sauce. The mushrooms were especially good with that garlic-y flavor.

Ruthie ordered a steak sandwich with mushrooms and swiss cheese. She ordered the steak rare and that’s exactly what she got. It looked delicious. She also got a side of onion rings which looked fantastic.

Ray got a hickory burger with bacon, cheese, and a hickory barbecue sauce. He also got a big pile of fries. The buns Goby’s uses for their burgers are my favorite. They’re toasted, but are lofty and kind of squishy. I love them.

Husby had the buffalo chicken sandwich. He got it with chips, which come standard with a burger/sandwich. The chicken was moist and the buffalo sauce was just the right temperature, spicy-wise.

I got the ‘shroom burger. It was a favorite of mine a long time ago and is still as good as ever. Goby’s uses fresh mushrooms and plenty of cheese. I got a side of crinkle fries and seasoned sour cream. The sour cream was a little sweeter than I expected. It tasted more like Thousand Island dressing, but was still tasty.

The burgers are eight ounces but you can also get them as twelve ouncers.  Twelve?!  I love to eat but a burger that big would put me in a food coma for a week.  But it’s available for those with extra huge appetites.

One thing that might turn some people off is the outdoor smoking.  Smokers stand close to the door, and the day we were there the door was open, so the smoke wafted in a bit.  If that bothers you, you might want to sit toward the back of the room away from the door.

All in all, Goby’s is every bit as good as I remembered it being.  It’s a bar, there’s no doubt about that, but the food they serve is well-made and served hot out of the kitchen and our service was considerate, friendly and accurate, not to mention a perfect hottie.

Whether you go to Goby’s for an after-work cocktail, a very reasonably priced and delicious meal, or to shoot a game of pool or two, you’re sure to have a good experience.  If you doubt it, just ask the twenty-five-year veteran Goby’s patron sitting at the end of the bar.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this very special Dive Night, which will be posted later this week. 

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Dive Night is a once monthly adventure undertaken by me and Husby, along with our friends Ruthie and Ray. Each couple alternates choosing a restaurant, one which must come under the category of “dive.” Our definition of dive: a neighborhood gathering spot with a laid-back atmosphere and good food. We’ll find the interesting hang-outs in the Minneapolis/St Paul area. Casual attire required. A sip of beer or wine doesn’t hurt either.

Some of you who are über old might remember this place as Al’s Place. It was established in 1949.

Others, who are not quite über old (like Husby and Ray) might remember it as Stasius. It was established in 1975.

It’s the really young people who have only known this place as Stanley’s Northeast Bar Room.

Don’t misunderstand.  It’s not only young people who frequent Stanley’s.  I was happily surprised to see people of all ages at this Northeast Minneapolis (“Nordeast” if you’re from around here) landmark.  It used to be a favorite stomping ground for Husby and he was excited to see what it had become.  Even the über old people are still coming to enjoy Stanley’s.  It was a great mix, and it was packed.  We had to wait about thirty minutes for a table.

I love to see these old buildings being renovated rather than torn down.  The inside of Stanley’s was right in line with the building’s integrity.

When ordering a drink, don’t ask what’s on tap.  The list is way too long.

The atmosphere was very friendly and it’s the kind of place I would make a habit of haunting every Friday night if I were younger and could stay up past 10:00 p.m.  Remember the days when 10:00 was when things just started to get rolling?  Ruthie’s age really came through when she needed the flashlight app on Husby’s phone to read the menu.

And on with the food…

Mini corn dog appetizer. These things were so dang good I could hardly stand it. The batter had a nice texture with the corn meal and was so crisp. Much better than any corn dog, appetizer or full-size, than I’ve ever had. Sorry Pronto Pup.

OMG. The second appetizer we got were these gigantic deep-fried mushrooms. Seriously, it took three bites to finish one off. They came with a delicious seasoned sour cream. So, so good.

Husby ordered the turkey burger topped with lettuce, tomato, and a cranberry chipotle chutney. He also got sweet potato fries with a chipotle mayo dip. Yum!

Ruthie got a grilled cheese (swiss, cheddar & gouda mix) topped with tomato and bacon on wheat bread. She also got the colossal onion rings with that.

I also got the grilled cheese topped with bacon but no tomato. Mine was on marble rye bread. I also got some really good french fries with seasoned sour cream.

I also got a cup of clam chowder because resistance of chowder is futile.

Ray had the reuben. He gets reubens a lot because he loves them so. This one was packed with a ton of meat and served on marble rye. He also got the french fries and seasoned sour cream.

We were all thrilled with our meals.  They were hot and served to us in a decent amount of time.  And speaking of service, Ruthie thought our server was flirting with Husby.  And why wouldn’t she?  Husby’s a hottie.

One negative thing about or evening at Stanley’s was the fact that we waited a really long time for our check to come.  Our server checked in on us to see how our food was, but after that we didn’t see her for a really long time.  We had to flag her down for our check.  It was a pretty busy night so we cut her a break, but it was worth noting here.

I’d definitely visit Stanley’s again.  It not only has good food, but the atmosphere had a definite effect on me.  Seems like the places we’ve been to recently were frequented by older people, where we fit right in of course.  But Stanley’s was a breath of fresh air with the energy of the younger generation mixed with really cool, more mature people.  Nordeast rocks!

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It was a cold and snowy night.  The dive was to be chosen by me and Husby so we decided to keep it local, avoiding a slippery and treacherous ride for Ruthie and Ray.  We chose the Beartown Bar & Grill, or Beartown Lounge, or whatever it’s called.  They don’t have a website but if you Google Beartown you can find some stuff on it.

Those are snowflakes you see glowing against the dark sky, not orbs from beyond the veil.

We walked in and saw on the floor a sign that said, Please wait to be seated.  So we did.  It didn’t take long for someone to come and greet us and she asked, “where do you want to sit, bar or dining room?”  We all kind of looked at each other, then let her know we would sit anywhere she decided to put us.  She hesitated.  I turned to Husby and said “if we can sit anywhere we want why did the sign on the floor say to wait to be seated?”  Well, someone spoke up and said dining room so that’s where she took us.

This is the bar, the place we didn’t sit.

This is the dining room, the place we did sit. It’s like we were put in the room of shame. Weren’t we cool enough to sit with the regulars?

We started out with some cocktails.  I must say the drink specials were hard to resist.  Buy one get one for $1.50, except for tap beer.  Ruthie and I got a couple of wines each, Husby got a couple of Greyhounds, and Ray got a tap beer.  The waitress asked if he was sure, because he wouldn’t get the deal with that.  Yes, he was sure.

Even though we were set away from the crowd in the bar the service was pretty good.  We actually had three people checking in with us throughout our visit.  So once we got our cocktails we ordered appetizers.

Ruthie and Ray got chips and salsa. The chips were pretty good. The salsa was more like picante sauce, not chunky, and not really enough was supplied for a whole basket of chips. It was all pretty good though.

Husby and I ordered the cheese quesadillas. It came with the same “salsa” as the chips, and also a couple of tubes of sour cream. Tasty and cheesy.

In case you’re new to the dive night reviews, each couple orders an appetizer and we all share.  So far you might think this is going to be a Mexican meal considering the appetizers we chose, but that’s not the case.

I ordered the fish fry special and I totally forgot to take a picture of it so you’ll have to rely on my description.  The waitress said “sometimes they give you a choice of cod or pollock but I don’t know if you get a choice tonight.  If you had a pick which one would you choose?”  I told her it really didn’t matter, and I have no idea what kind of fish I got because I’m not a fish connoisseur.  It was white and flakey.  However, the batter was pretty greasy and was pretty nondescript as far as flavor is concerned.  My dinner came with waffle fries and seasoned sour cream.  I also got a side salad which was also pretty nondescript, but salads are always pretty nondescript to me.  I ate it all up so it must have been good enough.  And now on to the other meals I remembered to photograph.

This is Husby’s French dip sandwich with onion rings. He liked the onion rings because he could bite them without having a string of onion sliding out of the batter. He didn’t have much to say about the sandwich. “It’s okay,” he said.

This is Ruthie’s chicken with waffle fries. The cup of white stuff is seasoned sour cream for the fries. She said the chicken was okay but “it could have a little more seasoning.”  The dinner allowed two pieces of chicken and she got her choice of what pieces she wanted.  She chose two thighs.   She also had a side salad with her dinner.

Ray ordered the meatball sandwich with onion rings. The sandwich looked great with its toasted bun and six meatballs with sauce and cheese. When I asked Ray (whose mother is an excellent Italian cook) how the sandwich was he responded “it’s kind of bland.”

It was very clear that none of us was overly thrilled with our meals.  We came to the conclusion that seasoning is not high on chef’s list of priorities.  The appetizers were fine, so we decided that if we had been sitting in the bar and were half in the bag with a big case of the munchies the appetizers could satisfy a need for food.  Going for dinner?  Never going to happen again.  I was extremely dissatisfied with the food at the Beartown Bar & Grill, although as I said before the service and drink specials were good.

I can’t close out this post without mentioning that this restaurant used to be called Big Ben years ago and served the best pie in town.  Like, the best.  The Beartown doesn’t even serve pie.  Although if they did they’d probably have canned filling and soggy crust.  None of us was happy with our dive experience at the Beartown, but we all agreed we’ve been pretty lucky over the past few years with the other dives we’ve tried and we deserve to come across a clinker once in a while.  Beartown is definitely that clinker.

Ruthie says, “Not.”

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