Happy National Mojito Day Everyone!

Sitting at Fair State Brewing today after picking up my CSA from Costa Farms I had a startle – I did not have the proper ingredients for a mojito on National Mojito Day! Once my pulse settled and I realized where I was (and what was available to me there) I started the crafting of this drink. After a few – ahem, test runs, this is what the wife agrees may be the best Mojito she has ever had (and that is saying a lot from her):

3 parts Fair State Brewing Company‘s Roselle
1 part Skaavlenn Rum
1 part Mirin
6 mint leaves (fresh)
Ice cubes

Muddle mint leaves and Mirin together in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the rum and a couple ice cubes and shake until chilled. Use a strainer and pour in a cold glass. Add the Roselle and stir together. Enjoy!

What other local ingredients have people used to make some wonderful mixed drinks?

It was a Thursday night lull that brought us again to Mayslacks. One of those nights when you are sitting down after a day on the job and the thought of going to the fridge and concocting a delicious dinner sounded more like a marathon than a sprint. This night, we were guided to Mayslacks – no real reason why, just a compass guiding the steering wheel after we pulled out of the driveway to delicious meats.

The place was surprisingly bare. In previous trips to this joint it was either hard to find a table or hard to hear the people across the table because of the joviality of the patrons. Tonight had neither, and it was a wonderful spring night so we headed out to the patio to find the same concentration of people.

A few Summit Maibocks were ordered ($4 a pint this month!) and we looked at the same menu we have looked at over all the years logged since our first visit. Roast beef is, and deservedly so, their best menu item in whatever vessel you choose to eat it with. This time, I went with the Hot Italian Beef  (pictured here) that comes with shoestring fries, cup of au jus  and a generous helping of what I can only define as the spiciest relish I have ever tasted (that came with the resulting 4am wake up call).IMG_6346

The bun was soft, the fries were well cooked and the roast beef was amazing. Like I said before, anything that comes with the beef is worth trying at this place.

Stan Myslajek would still be proud of this place. Put his roast beef in the ring with any competitor an his would still come out on top.

Food: 4.5/5 Roast beef. Garlic, juicy and delicious
Drink: 3/5 impressive list, all beers came mostly flat
Atmosphere: 3/5 If dark and damaged is your thing, this is your place
Overall: 3.5/5 Great food and lots of character in its history

The head brewer at Modist is a part “the dude” and part “Doc Brown”. Talking with him you see the gears turning about what the conversation is about but you also get that shimmer in the eyes that his mind is really working out what he has left to do for his brew day. The members of mancuisine had the opportunity to take a tour from this gentleman and their operation is one that should be dismantled and digested in its inner workings to appreciate its complexity.

First off, they don’t brew with broken grains through a mill the extract the sugars from. They take the grains and pulverize them into flour before introducing them to the brewing system. From this flour the generate cakes at the end of the process and not the oatmealy mash that most brewers have to decide what to do with. The flour is mixed with water and pumped into a giant horizontal press where are the sugars and grain flavor is pumped out of. This is what really marks Modist as being unique – instead of vertically pouring water over the grain to extract the sugars they press it our, making a much more efficient brew. The rest of their system is generally the same as what you would find in our new additions around the twin cities.

Thats all well and good, but how is the beer? I have to be honest, I tried their beer when it first opened and I had no love for any of them. Too dry, too acidic, tasted like tainted water, you name it – the problems were there. But now? I would recommend picking up a can in the store or trying a couple pints of what they make. This brewery is not for everyone, but then again neither was Summit or Surly, and look where they ended up! Wasteland was a great beer to try and compare with others that I thought mentally compared to it.

Just a heads up, they do not have their own growlers but do fill the vessels from any other place.

The idea is novel: pour your own local beer from a tap handle and eat some food from their kitchen that they make. The follow through with that idea in practice lost something in translation to the people who work there…

Credit: craftcouncil.org

Its a beautiful space in Grain Belt’s retired keg house in Northeast Minneapolis. The owners of the building turned the warehouse into smaller office-style spaces and Community Keg House occupies the first door upon entering from the parking lot. Traverse to the counter and you have found the pivotal point: the man with the clean glasses. Order your food their chalkboard menu and a pint with him and he hands the vessel over and directs you to the “taproom”.

Here comes the decision. All the taps are from local breweries and each one has as full description of the beer that would pour when you bring the handle towards you. The “taptender,” as they are called, will offer you a very small pour of the beers to try if you are fickle about the flavors your are looking to have. They will also direct your process on how to pour the correct way and fill the glass without the foam head so many would walk away with, uneducatedly.

The business models looked like there was one person in the tap area and the other was the cashier/food runner. One stays around the taps and makes sure that the lines are running and the people have their glasses filled (only once). The other(s) are to work the register to send the ticket to the kitchen and then bring the food out when its done. Here was our biggest disappointment – Our food sat on the window for as long as it took us to drink a pint, and when we ordered the next one we asked if that was ours and he said “maybe, check the ticket next to the plates.” That type of service has not been beleaguered to us since the bartender at the Cedar Inn was drunk enough to have us pour our pitcher since he was drinking with others. Why give out table numbers if they do not signify where the food goes?

Overall the place was a wonderful space that could have been better utilized and hired/trained more effectively. Sad, since this was a bar that we were pumped to be regulars at and try all the beers!

Food: 1/5 the food was tasty but expensive and it took too long to get out.
Drink: 3/5 selection is limited in variety of styles, but not in companies.
Atmosphere: 4/5 open and warm
Overall: 2.5/5 A bit rocky now, with hopes of their improvement.

Edit: Permanently Closed [we called it!]

After calling in sick to work two days in a row I had to get out of the house and have someone make me more than the ramen broth and chicken I concocted on my own. Going to Hazel’s was the best move since laying on the couch a few days before in recovery (and quite possibly long before that).

Walking into Hazel’s at 11 on a Thursday ushered us into businesspeople in suits, grandpas taking their granddaughters out to eat, friends hugging as they come and as they go, and a loner watching over all of the above. We came right at the change of menus and the crowd was sparse but picked up as lunch came into full swing. This was apparent by our waitress being fast when unexpected and slow when needed – really the only setback in a great establishment.

The menu is ‘standard’ with its fares at lunch – sandwiches/burgers, salads, meals and sides. We ordered the Buffalo Chicken sandwich (4/5) and the Reuben (4.5/5). There were many items that we would go back for to try, like their burgers and bbq pork sandwich.

What we were greatly appreciative of was the variety of choices with the sides that come with the meal. More than just fries and salad, there was an abundance of options like the “chorizo, bean and potato chili” that would have been an honest competitor in our chilifest competitions.

Overall, this diner has what you look for – quaint atmosphere, good menu, and a variety of regulars.

Hazels

  1. Food: 4.5/5
  2. Drinks: In absentia this trip – although they do have local beers on tap
  3. Atmosphere: 3/5 – family atmosphere with lots of art, but lacks character
  4. Overall: 4/5 – great food, good assortment of people, lousy service

Hazel’s Website

Anchor is a place that we knew we would return to – check out this review of Anchor fish & Chips that we did in November of 2010. Very little has changed since our initial visit 5 years ago.

Got there early and was seated at the windows at the front. They do have a patio but it is limited to a 6 person maximum. As a warning to first-timers, they do not seat your group until all members are present so come together, come as a small group, or expect to wait a bit.

The kitchen is smaller than you would expect, but they do sell a lot of one item and when you do it as well as Anchor, there is not a lot of prep or space that is needed. The two of us ordered the Fish and Chips and could not get ourselves to try anything else. Their beer list has expanded in the last 5 years but the Nordeast by Premium is $1.50 less than the rest so we felt obligated to have those poured. The food was a bit over-salted, but it was undecided if that added to or retracted from the flavor. What we did decide on was that it was quick and quite delicious.

A visual sampler of what we ordered:

IMG_4667
Their current menus: Drinks/Brunch – Meals/Sides

The Anchor Fish & Chips Website

  • Food: One Trick Pony (its in their name) 4/5
  • Atmosphere: A Cozy 4/5 
  • Drinks: 3.5/5
  • Overall: A Strong 4/5

This week the Mancuisine group will be assembling to have a great collection of BBQ ribs. Each member will be stopping by a favorite BBQ site on the way to Scott’s, arriving with a rack and a side. If anyone has a suggestion of a Twin Cities BBQ place worthy of a stop please let us know in the replies below.

Mancuisine members will be posting the sites they are claiming as well. First come, first taken on the locations. As you’ll notice Isaac has already claimed the mighty Ted Cook’s  from his old Neighborhood. Scott has taken an entirely different approach.

Here’s the early claims (updated post event). Check the replies as they come in for the rest:

Isaac

Scott

  • Rack- Nye’s Polonaise (Do the Poles really make ribs?)
  • Side- Sauerkraut and boiled potato

Kyle

Trev

  • Rack- Baker’s Ribs – full rack, St. Louis Cut, Texas Style with a delicious sauce on side.
  • Side- Smokey Baked Beans & Tomato Basil Salad

Brad

  • Rack- Baldy’s BBQ
  • Side- Delicious cornbread & Potato salad (white variety with bacon)

Doug

  • Meat- Pulled Pork from 
  • Side-

Jeff

  • Meat- Wings from B-Dubs (four varieties: Hot, Hot BBQ, Asian Zing, Mango Habanero)

Great turnout with almost all in attendance.  The ale selection included two varieties of Oskar Blues, Bells Two-Hearted, Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ (although the discussion was more on whether Kyle inspired the Lagunitas Sucks! brew after interactions with the head brewmaster when living in CA), and another sampling of Isaac’s fine Alt homebrew as he attempts to perfect his recipe.  All in attendance reached a state of meat coma, followed by random YouTube watching, Spam flavored Macadamia nut eating, and bourbon sampling around Scott’s fabulous bar set-up in his NE pad.

Although the entire group did not make the run to Nord’east Minneapolis a few of us stopped by Adelitas Mexican Restaurant on the way home from a wedding in Duluth. The side trip review follows.

It had been a long drive home and all of us were hungry so the decision was made to get something to eat on the north side of town. Scott suggested a place on Central Avenue and after a drive that would be hard to find again we ended up with a well executed parallel park in front of Adelitas. Looking up and down Central it seemed that there were many Mexican places to choose from, we’ll need to return to this area again soon.

The place was inviting and friendly with enough business to lift some road-weary spirits. The hostess was especially helpful, checking with us throughout the evening and bringing things forgotten or unchecked by the waitress. Although the time for the food to appear seemed long the dinners were great and far better than the average mexican plate served in the Twin Cities. The Molle de Olla soup was wonderful with a broth that easily had more flavor than any Pho soup we had eaten- but Mexican! The combination dinners were done well with just enough flavor/ heat. Meals ran $9-$12 with a few cheaper and a few more expensive. After the wedding reception we were not in the mood for beverages beyond water but there was a reasonable beer list provided. The Menu is available here.

Again, just a side trip but if you are looking for a better than average Mexican restaurant we found to be a bit of a gem, give this one a try. If traffic is good it is no more than five or six minutes from downtown and not far from HW 94 with easy access off Lowry. Well worth the drive.

Although the entire group did not make the run to Nord’east Minneapolis a few of us stopped by Adelitas Mexican Restaurant on the way home from a wedding in Duluth. The side trip review follows.

It had been a long drive home and all of us were hungry so the decision was made to get something to eat on the north side of town. Scott suggested a place on Central Avenue and after a drive that would be hard to find again we ended up with a well executed parallel park in front of Adelitas. Looking up and down Central it seemed that there were many Mexican places to choose from, we’ll need to return to this area again soon.

The place was inviting and friendly with enough business to lift some road-weary spirits. The hostess was especially helpful, checking with us throughout the evening and bringing things forgotten or unchecked by the waitress. Although the time for the food to appear seemed long the dinners were great and far better than the average mexican plate served in the Twin Cities. The Molle de Olla soup was wonderful with a broth that easily had more flavor than any Pho soup we had eaten- but Mexican! The combination dinners were done well with just enough flavor/ heat. Meals ran $9-$12 with a few cheaper and a few more expensive. After the wedding reception we were not in the mood for beverages beyond water but there was a reasonable beer list provided. The Menu is available here.

Again, just a side trip but if you are looking for a better than average Mexican restaurant we found to be a bit of a gem, give this one a try. If traffic is good it is no more than five or six minutes from downtown and not far from HW 94 with easy access off Lowry. Well worth the drive.

 

A few of us decided to try the place that’s rated as the best fish and chips in the region. Our quest took us to the Anchor Fish and Chips Shop in Minneapolis. Wonderful night out! The fish was breaded with a flavorful breading that was: not heavy, not tasteless, and not made with oil from last week! The chips were good and on the recommendation of Kyle we got the curry sauce as a dip for the chips- good call.

We had a great waitress that seemed to honestly enjoy the work, and why not. The place was really upbeat with a combination of neighbors, suits getting off work, and general population like ourselves. The place got busy by seven with a waiting line of about six. But, things seem to turn over quickly enough that everyone found a seat within ten minutes.

The menu is wonderfully sparse with a noble but brief beer list as well. The place claims that they cannot serve beer without a meal. If anyone knows of this Minneapolis code please fill us in. Bell’s, Harp, and others fill the list. The menu has all you need, no veggie options if you are looking for primary protein

Meals were around $8-$10. A good value in a place like this. No reservations about returning to this place.  The charter school across the street is somewhat famous in the cities and the steeple a block down the road is remarkable. Bring the camera if you are inclined that way.

By the way, we will return some weekend morning for the breakfast. reminders of the Scottish meals we had on the island. Eggs, black pudding and sausage, fried tomatoes with mushrooms, and of course-baked beans. We will return.

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