Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘restaurant’

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.

I’ve been sitting on this post for two months with severe anxiety that I wouldn’t be able to do the VFW experience justice.

Ruthie and Ray had previously visited the White Bear Lake VFW and found it so endearing they decided to invite us to experience it with them.  There was one catch ~ we had to go on a Thursday night rather than a Friday as we usually do.  We huffed out our compromise and agreed.  What made Thursday night the better pick?  You’ll find out soon.

The place was occupied with more people than I guessed it would be.  Probably because it was Thursday.  Don’t worry, I’ll get to that.  It’s also bigger than I thought it would be.

What’s a dive bar without pull tabs?

As I said before, this post has been sitting in my queue for a couple of months ~ when we went the VFW was even decorated for Christmas.

The food was surprisingly good. I’m not sure why I was expecting less, but I was very pleased with the taste and quantity of food.

We started out with some onion rings that contained just the right amount of grease, enough to leave spots on the paper liner, and artichoke dip that was scrumptious.

Onion rings, crispy and golden brown. I didn’t get a picture until they had been nearly eaten up. The basket was mounded full of fried goodness.

Really good artichoke dip and pita bread.

Husby started his meal with a “side” salad. The thing was enormous! He reported it to be cold and crispy and flavorful.

Sandwiches and burgers come with chips, but I asked to have fries substituted. I don’t know if it was a misunderstanding or what, but I got a huge basket of fries plus chips with my meal. I shared the fries with everyone because there were too many for just me. I think the waitress put me down for an entire appetizer-sized order of fries. They were pretty good though, and I’m glad I got them.

Onion ring not included with the fries.

Ray and Husby both got the bacon cheeseburger. They were juicy and hot with plenty of bacon. Ruthie and I had the half sandwich and a cup of potato bacon soup. Our sandwiches, ham and cheese melt for me and turkey bacon melt for Ruthie, were made on a very tasty pretzel roll and were very flavorful, but could have been hotter. The soup was fabulous and very hot.

The bacon cheeseburger with chips.

Half sandwich and a cup of soup, with chips of course.

We were all really pleased with our meals, with the exception of the luke-warm temperature of the sandwiches Ruthie and I had.  After being satiated with good food and a libation, we were on to the highlight of the evening…V-I-N-G-O!

VINGO is exactly like BINGO except they use a V for Veteran.  OK, I’ll let that one go.  When it comes to those who have served our country I’ll pretty much let them have their way.  Three Thursdays a month the White Bear Lake VFW offers the fun and excitement of VINGO.  The interesting thing about this VINGO game was that winners got jello shots.  Yes, you heard me right.

I’ve never had a jello shot in my life, and I recall them from the ’80s as being slurped out of a test tube-type vessel.  The VFW jello shots were served in little plastic condiment cups with covers.  The jello shot guy walked around with a crate of these things, handing them out to the winners of the game, and even to those who didn’t, because they wanted to get rid of as many jello shots as they could.

The shots were as firm as regular jello.  We loosened them from the plastic cup with a fork, then chewed/swished/swallowed the whole thing at once.  I really wanted it to taste good, but it didn’t.  As I’ve never had a jello shot before that night I had nothing to compare it to, so I don’t know if these were badly made or if jello shots in general taste like medicine.

Is this what a jello shot is supposed to look like?

Husby ended up eating his with a fork.

One of our favorite parts of the evening was when VINGO time was over the jello shot guy had a lot of shots left over, so he asked everyone who wanted a shot to raise their hand. Of course everyone wanted one, including the table full of gray-haired ladies sitting next to us. Interestingly, they took their shot cups from the guy, put them in their purses, and left. We imagined them going home and eating that spiked jello in bed for a nightcap. Can you get pulled over for open bottle if you’re driving with a jello shot in your purse?

Our evening at the White Bear Lake VFW was one for the records. We had a blast playing VINGO, drinking eating horrific jello shots, and enjoying some truly delicious food.  The people working there are really nice and friendly too.  If you’re ever in the White Bear Lake area be sure to stop by.  This dive gets four thumbs up!

Read Full Post »

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.

There’s nothing like spending a crisp, clear autumn evening on the shores of the St. Croix River in Stillwater, MN.  Our Dive Night was spent on such an evening on just that river…in Stillwater yet!  PD Pappy’s was a surprise as it’s hidden from the street.  If I had a houseboat on the river I probably would have known it’s been there for a long time.

The St. Croix River as seen from the deck of PD Pappy’s.

This restaurant has dining and drinking indoors and out and halfway in between.  We had our dinner on a semi-enclosed deck-like section.

The outdoor (sort of) deck area.

There’s also a nice little gazebo bar outside.

Ray poses as a local.

The inside of the building is filled with lovely woodwork and interesting details.

The fully stocked bar.

Of course you’re wondering about the food.  Well it was just wonderful!  The menu was extensive and the offerings were creative, especially when it came to the appetizers.

A poor picture of some very delicious crab and artichoke dip served with corn chips and pita bread.

Lemon pepper shrimp skewers. They offer different flavors of shrimp skewers. Husby loves lemon pepper so that’s what we got. So good. I’d like to try the other flavors some time too.

The entrees were fabulous too.  Husby and Ruthie both got a chimichanga, one chicken and one beef.  They reported them to be delicious.  Ray got a very nice-sized reuben with fries, and I got a fried haddock sandwich with fries.  You might remember how I like to dip my fries in tartar sauce when I get a fish sandwich.  The tartar sauce was so good I could have eaten it all by itself with a spoon.  The sandwich was huge and hot, and the fries were plentiful.

My haddock sandwich and fries.

The chimichanga, served with salsa and sour cream, enjoyed by both Husby (beef) and Ruthie (chicken).

Ray’s reuben, peeking out from behind the fries. A Fat Tire beer too!

And don’t forget, PD Pappy’s has live music.  We weren’t there late enough to hear the band playing that night, but we saw them setting up for a night of music and dancing.

PD Pappy’s is a fun riverside restaurant and bar.  Don’t be dissuaded from going if you happen to hear it’s a biker bar.  Sure, lots of “motorcycle enthusiasts” visit, but they’re there to have a good time, just like you.

Thumbs up all around the table.  The food was great, the service wonderful.  This place is probably best enjoyed in the summer and fall months when you can take advantage of the nice weather.  Sit back, sip on your favorite libation, snack on some good food, and watch the boats float by on the river.  Relax at PD Pappy’s.

Read Full Post »

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.

 It’s summertime in Minnesota and that means we’re all cramming in fun outdoor activities in the few short months we have before the snow flies again.  In the case of Husby and me, we’re busy preparing for and attending craft shows and festivals.  In the case of Ruthie and Ray, well they’ve been really busy becoming grandparents and throwing wedding celebrations.  We’ve been preoccupied with our lives and haven’t been able to tend to Dive Night like we usually do.  However, we decided to take a little break from our hectic obligations and have a mini Dive Night, which didn’t even take place at night.  We got up bright and early on a Saturday morning and met for breakfast at the Cobblestone Cafe in downtown White Bear Lake, Minnesota.

I was surprised to see how many people were out for breakfast at 8:30 on a Saturday morning.  Getting a good jump on the day, I suppose.  And what a nice place to fuel up!  The sidewalk seating is great in the morning as it’s shaded from the sun and has a lovely view of the park across the street.

As you can see, the sidewalk seating was packed by the time we arrived, so instead of waiting for a table we opted to eat inside.  The decor is nothing to speak of, but it’s a nice, clean cafe.  This is also a breakfast/lunch cafe, open from 7:00-3:00 Monday through Saturday and 7:00-2:00 on Sunday.

While the four of us told stories about what we’ve been up to our breakfasts were being dished up, and when they arrived we couldn’t believe what we saw.  The servings were enormous!

Husby’s eggs over easy and corned beef hash.

I had a ham and swiss omelette with hollandaise sauce and hash browns.

Ray chose scrambled eggs with Italian hash.

Ruthie ordered scrambled eggs and hash browns filled with bacon.

Husby and I aren’t used to having such a big breakfast in the morning and found ourselves weighed down for several hours after eating.  It sustained us the entire day.  All of our breakfasts were reported to be tasty and hot.

If you’re in the mood for a good, home-cooked breakfast I would highly recommend the Cobblestone Cafe.  Some day I’ll drop by for lunch; if it’s as good as the breakfasts were, this place is an all-around winner.

I also think Dive Morning might have something going for itself.  We might have to consider breakfast joints more often ~ if only getting up early on the weekends were more appealing to me.

Read Full Post »

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.

We were treated to a different kind of dive this month.  The Countryside is a family restaurant, which is a change from the typical bar-type place we visit.  However, it still falls under our category in that it’s not a chain, it’s neighborhoody, casual, and the food was fabulous.

The Countryside has been around since 1958 so they must be doing something right.  I know what it is too ~ the food.  They specialize in broasted chicken.  According to my mom, good broasted chicken is a rare commodity and any restaurant serving good broasted chicken should be frequented often.

Their menu isn’t huge but is filled with some good things.  Strange combos too, like chicken and spaghetti, but again, if it works for the customers then more power to them.  We started out with some appetizers, as usual.  Delish.

Gigantic onion rings ~ crispy and hot

Mini tacos with a taco sauce dip

The onion rings came in a full and half order; our waitress recommended getting the full order for four people.  HA!  A half order would have been plenty for us, especially considering the second appetizer of mini tacos.  But never fear, we cleaned them up because they were so dang good.  The tacos were pretty tasty too.  I want to know where I can buy little tiny taco shells so I can make these at home.

The Countryside serves bottled beer and Mike’s Hard Lemonade, but doesn’t have a bar.  The service was cute.  By that I mean they are young, really young, just starting out and learning how to be servers and busboys.  (Bus people?)  We were asked to save our forks when the appetizer plates were taken away, and when Ruthie asked for another iced tea the waitress took her existing glass, still half full, and just topped it off.  See?  Kind of cute.

But more about the food.  It was hot.  Like, really hot.  So hot it made a big impression on me.  It was a good hot.  And the flavor, ooh yeah.  Very good.  Very, very good.

Clam Chowder ~ not pasty with an appetizing golden color. Some of the best chowder I’ve had in a very long time.

Chicken Sandwich ~ huge! Really good, crispy, and tender. Served with fries and coleslaw. I had to ask for additional mayo, but other than that it was fabulous.

Husby’s Steak Sandwich ~ more delicious onion rings on top! Perfectly done in his opinion. Also served with fries and coleslaw.

Ray ordered the broasted chicken and spaghetti combo. The chicken deserves bragging rights, he said. This combo also included a big stack of bread and butter.

Ruthie got the spaghetti and chicken parmesan combo. She loved it!

My camera shots of the interior of the restaurant didn’t turn out very well.  I’ll say it was a well-kept, clean, and brightly-lit establishment.  We saw families as well as young couples on dates.  The Countryside is a nice restaurant, and I was really impressed with the food.  It was so hot!  (Did I mention that already?)  Not only that, it was very delicious and plentiful.

If you want to take the family out for a good meal without spending a fortune The Countryside is a good choice for eating in or take-out.  Located in beautiful Roseville, MN it’s easy to reach from either end of the Twin Cities.  We gave it four thumbs up!

Read Full Post »

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.

After skipping last month’s Dive Night outing due to pressing and exhausting personal matters Husby and I once again met up with Ruthie and Ray for an evening of culinary and atmospheric experimentation.  Tin Cup’s is the place, and if any of you are familiar with St. Paul, MN, it is located in St. Paul’s Rockin’ East Side.  *gulp*

We weren’t even sure if Tin Cup’s was still in business, so Husby called to confirm.  Not only are they open (and under new ownership) the woman on the phone called him Sweetie when telling him about the Friday Night Fish Fry.  Sweetie.  You know a place has got to be good when the staff refers to patrons as Sweetie.

This is Michelle. She served us in a most friendly and efficient manner. I don’t think she called anyone Sweetie, but there might have been a Darlin’ or a Hon.

The place was decked out for Easter, which was kind of a contradiction to the overall environment, at least in my opinion.  The chair covers were definitely surreal.  But who am I to criticize anyone expressing a festive holiday mood?

I really liked the lights hanging above each of the booths though.

Tres Cool!

There were three TVs playing: one was showing The Big Bang Theory, the second was showing Wheel of Fortune, and the third was showing a golf game.  If it were football season would they all be showing football?  Hard to know, but when we were there the variety of viewing pleasure was ample.

We weren’t there to watch TV though.  As usual we started out with a drink.  We’re not too creative when it comes to cocktails.  Ruthie and I usually get a glass of wine and the guys usually get a beer.  (Special note to Charlotte: they have Guinness!)

And what’s a bar on the East Side without pull tabs?  Tin Cup’s has ’em.  We saved our money for the food.

Paper Crack

Time for the appetizers. We went cheesy, with a cheese quesadilla and cheese curds. The quesadilla was complete with lettuce and tomatoes, sour cream and salsa. Curds came with a yummy ranch dip.

On to the entrees.  Husby, Ruthie, and Ray all ordered the fish fry.  They ordered the three-piece dinner, but for two dollars more you can get all-you-can-eat.  Now that we’re older we can’t really eat much more than three pieces, so it was great plenty.  The fish came with french fries and coleslaw.

Ruthie described the fish as hot, flaky, and plump. Ray and Husby agreed ~ all three were very happy with their meals.

For the sake of testing out the menu a little, and because I never have been one to do what everyone else does, I ordered the Minnesota Wrap.  Our server Michelle said it’s really good and really big.  I’m all for that.  What’s a Minnesota Wrap?  Walleye fingers, lettuce, tomato and sauce all rolled up in a tortilla.  I don’t do tomatoes so I asked Michelle to keep those out of my wrap.  She was right, it was pretty big.  Unfortunately there was way too much lettuce and not enough walleye.  Oh, it was good, but I guess I never realized how tiny the fingers of a walleye really are.

The Minnesota Wrap. I got a dumb picture of this as you can’t even see the inside of the wrap. There was lots of lettuce and some very tiny fish fingers inside.

My wrap also came with french fries and coleslaw.  I really liked the slaw, creamy and sweet.  The fries were good and hot.  My favorite part of getting french fries with fish is I get to dip the fries in tartar sauce.  Delish!

Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

I’d definitely go back to Tin Cup’s and try some burgers and all the other things they have to offer.  I’m pretty sure I’d see many of the same people at the bar too.  Seems to be a place of regulars.  I especially liked the curly-headed lady.  Hair was dyed jet black with a poodle-style perm.  She had to have been pushing eighty years old and most likely has been sitting at a bar her entire life.  She has a hump on her back to prove it.  Party on!

She’s a wild thing.

All in all I liked Tin Cup’s.  The service was great, the food was tasty, plentiful and hot and served in a timely manner.  The clientelle ranges from people like Poodle Lady (pictured above) to families with small children.  One drawback we encountered was the windshield washer guy outside the restaurant when we left.  You know, those guys who squeegee your windshield and then want money for it even though you didn’t want your windshield washed in the first place?  Totally obnoxious, but I suppose the guy’s got to earn a living somehow.  We managed to avert his unwelcome wash water by taking a different exit out of the parking lot.

Check out Tin Cup’s if you haven’t already.  It’s located on the corner of Rice Street and Maryland Avenue in St. Paul’s Rockin’ East Side.  Chances are pretty good someone will call you Sweetie.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts

%d bloggers like this: