Maple TavernStopped by the Maple Tavern after a day with the in-laws. Parked a large group of 14 for some burgers and beer. Parking lot was packed but plenty of room inside. I was a bit curious about the place – both because a long-lost high school friend who lives in Osseo and that this might be a place I would find him because of some irregularities involving a few kegs from New Glarus making it across the border.

The menu had a good selection of burgers and entrees with a fairly pedestrian appetizer list. Be advised that the onion rings are serious rings of onion, very tasty and very filling. The signature burger is pictured here. A basic burger, well made and tasty at just under $10. Our table ordered everything from a juicy to a pot pie and nobody had a complaint. The only criticism across the long table was that the ‘homemade’ chips and the fries were actually pretty common. Still, with that being the only one, its overall worth the food stop.

The beer list was reasonable but happy hour only covered the watery brews. Nonetheless a pint of Summit or Surly was reasonable and the selections of additional good brews was plenty long. The long service bar and entertainment area sports a variety of games and it looks like quite a crowd plays volleyball here in warmer weather.

Overall, not a bad place to stop. Perhaps we’ll get the Macuisine crowd up that way for a formal eval in the future. Until then, Dan, if you’re still hanging out in Osseo send me a note. I’ll meet you at the Maple!

Happy Hour at the Red Cow is great, unless you get there too late… I walked in around 5 pm to get a feel for the place and grab a beer to find the joint packed with over an hour on the waiting list. I turned on my heels and stopped next door at the Salt Cellar to sit at the bar (Pork Cracklins were amazing!) to send messages around to mancuisine to decide what to do. Little did I know that Doug had already put his name on the list – and they were going to call his cell phone when a table opened up! An amazing feature for a packed place. We all met first at Fabulous Ferns to grab a couple drinks, and in so doing added another onto our list of places to visit in the future – phone call was received, and we went back to Red Cow.

The staff was polite and helpful, giving great beer advice and even brought over a few samples, helping us out with explaining their extensive list. The ‘Ring of Onion’ came out quickly but tasted like they had been removed too early. The onion inside still had a bite of the acid flavor and a healthy crunch as if we were biting directly into the plant. Some found it appealingly different, others did not appreciate the style – but Red Cow’s homemade ketchup covered the difference.

Burgers are what they specialize in and that is what we all ordered. It wonderful to find a place that asks how you want your burgers to be cooked and cooks it as ordered. Its our opinion that if you ask how you would like it, cook it that way and not just keep cooking everyone’s the same. While the portions were minimal, each of ours was a dream-state delicious. Out of the burger joints we have been to, this one is at the top for flavor and consistency. I had the french onion burger, and it will be hard for me to order anything different due to fears the others could not stand up to the flavors I experienced between those buns.

Red Cow's French Onion Burger
Red Cow’s French Onion Burger

Throughout the meal the patrons were moving in and out, and the staff were attentive and sincere. It is a well run establishment, with the customers leaving happy and content – smiles of conversation and merriment abound.

Food: 5/5 Solid menu
Drinks: 4/5 Diverse, but expensive
Atmosphere: 4/5 Too packed for its space, even after happy hour
Overall: 4.5/5 Needs to be checked out.

Red Cow St. Paul’s Website

It had been way too long since we ventured across the stream to St. Paul. Fortunately one of our members was flying down Seventh Street recently and proclaimed that some building had a burger painted on the chimney and that we ought to stop. Enjoying a good proclamation from  time to time we decided to meet at Burger Moes on Seventh near downtown.

We have been on string of hits lately but had been noticing that most of the beer and burger places were starting to look the same. Nonetheless we crossed the threshold and took up seats near the back. The barkeep/ waiter was story-filled and with a great knowledge of local brews. His command of small Wisconsin breweries was surprisingly solid. Anyone who can list the hits and misses from New Glarus is god-like in our book.

The place was about half-full on a Monday night at 6:00. But then, none of the local places looked too packed as we walked by. Parking out back was nice. The small lot next to the pub was a good thought at one time. A great beer list with plenty of local representation and priced fairly. Wonderful burger list. Not as silly-long as Lucky’s was and with a better range than most.

The Denny was a remarkable pile of goodness from the tasty beef to the fried egg.  This is the kind of food you eat just before the diagnosis of clogged arteries, hypertension, cholesterol overshoot or oncoming diabetes. It is a wonder to hold and a treasure to consume. Well done Moe, well done.

The other burgers were similarly well received. The Black and Blue was true to its genetics and had a decidedly tastier grind of beef than we have been eating. We did sample the appetizers as well. Happy to report that the ring of onion was well above average. Onion rings have been so disappointing lately that we were not going to order them again. But then we remembered, we always order onion rings. Say La Vee.

So the final analysis says look for a good evening out at a place with tasty brew, intelligent staff, and good bar food on the menu. Seemed like a hit all around. We like the St. Paul stop so much that we walked over to Cossetta’s and had some desert. Mighty nice. We should also mention that the original plan had us spending some time at the remarkable Seven Corners Hardware before eating. Sadly, we ran out of time and somehow they closed for the day. We’ll check it out some other time.


Our curiosity got the better of us as we ventured up to Mendota to check out the relatively new Lucky’s 13 Pub.  On the only main corner in town this location used to house an establishment that found at least one of us playing pool in younger years and having a cool tasteless brew in a ten ounce glass not more than a few years back. The reconstruction is great and the warehouse look works well.

A long bar on one half and restaurant on the other greet you as you enter. The bar was busy at 6:00 and looked to be a mixture of suits on the way home from work and stiffs doing about the same. The staff was upbeat and seemed to like working the crowd. We opted for the restaurant and a large table. Many tables of 3-4 friends, one family, some couples and some that looked like they might have just landed at Pig’s Eye. Good music and background sounds.

But let’s get to the task. We were told that this place was somehow related to the Axel’s restaurants (nice places) and the Bonfire’s (still haven’t figured out the bar seating) in the twin cities. We think not. Might be just a rumor. Nonetheless, this place had easily the most awesome hamburger selection in the Cites. Not some silly sixty-hamburger list but a good selection of offerings that covered the ground. AND ALL were great. Not a miss on the order. The beers were varied and met all our needs from the hop-dependent Ike to the British Bitter fan that is Brad. Appetizers were creative and tasty with plenty of spice. The wait staff was upbeat and around enough that no plate nor glass stayed empty for long. Seriously- a good night of food and fun.

The downside was the cost. We usually can spend an evening eating, drinking, and talking smart – when the check arrives it is easy to dig in the pocket and toss out what is due. When this one arrived we had to swallow hard, and it wasn’t just the after-burn of the great buffalo sauce. The cost rivaled the Buffalo Tap in Savage and I still cringe when I drive by that place. I checked back on the Luckys 13 website to see if the menu had been altered to adjust things down a bit but at this time the menu is no longer on the site. Just some dead links. Looks like another version of the place may be open in Bloomington. Maybe things will change- check the site to see.

Often we have stories about the bathrooms that we use at the places we visit. There was the bathroom in Richfield where the lines of something white on the counter lead us to wonder about the giddy feeling we had after eating and the place in Minneapolis where the bathroom floor had a 10 degree angle as measured by the iPod Level app. No such issues here. the Head is upscale. An old-guy mannequin holding a towel would be a fitting addition.

The manager smiled as we walked in, perhaps knowing that a group like us would be sure to test the menu and generate a small economic recovery project for the town of Savage.  The setting was cabin lodge and the place looked to be recently remodeled. Families, couples, and small groups nearly filled the place and we had noticed in the past that the parking lot is often near full as we drive by.  Don’t let the slow new flash-enabled web site fool you, this is a down-home kinda place. Bathrooms were way beyond our expectations and experience. I believe the floor was even level! (more…)

AFTER THE GREAT NIGHT AT THE NOOK IN ST. PAUL IT SEEMED ONLY RIGHT TO TRY ANOTHER PLACE IN THE SISTER CITY.  THE BLUE DOOR HAD RECENTLY OPENED AND IT WAS GETTING SOME PRESS.  TREVOR VISITED DURING  A SCOUTING MISSION AND HAD GOOD THINGS TO SAY.

SOME COMMENTS ON THE PLACE

VERY small.  but lively.  Trevor arrived just ahead of an ambulance- look for his story soon. The booth was good sized and the blackboard was was great to write on.  We left our rating on the wall.  Very busy but not frenetic, We never felt rushed even thought people were waiting. Good mix of ages with a bit of overrepresentation from the college crowd. Private schools nearby but no plaid in attendance.  We felt great  as we left, of course the four course beer meal may have had some influence (pitchers are available).   The group had better bladder control than usual, we’ll have to wait on the bathroom report from the guys who used it, although there was often a wait. (more…)

Last year we tried to get into the Nook on randolph avenue in st. paul only to be amazed at the long line outside the door.  it was featured on an episode of diners, drive-ins, and dives and the already popular site became even busier. the narrow restaurant most likely seats about 48 with another 18 standing in the aisle waiting for seats. if you decide to go, poke your head inside the door and let the bartender add your name to the whiteboard wait list on the wall. (more…)

SOME COMMENTS ON THE PLACE

USUALLY BUSY AND OFTEN WITH A SHORT LINE THE PLACE IS BETTER LIT THAN MOST. THE BAR AND BAR SEATING IS THROUGHOUT THE RESTAURANT. CROWD IS A MIX OF AGES WITH MANY THAT LOOK TO HAVE WALKED IN FROM THE NEIGHBORHOOD. COMMON TO HAVE ENTIRE SPORTS TEAMS ARRIVE AND PACK THE PLACE.  OUTDOOR AREA HELPS WITH THE CROWDING IN THE SUMMER. AN ACTIVE EAGLE’S NEST CAN BE SEEN FROM THE PATIO. (more…)

SOME COMMENTS ON THE PLACE
You know about this place. Neighborhood joint with their own jucy lucy (note spelling), pictures of beer and paper dinnerware. Seems to us that those three items are the holy trinity of all fine eating establishments. Matt’s is the usual crowded small place with every age range and a fair number of solos just sitting around reading or writing or doing homework. Well worth the stop. (more…)