Thursday, September 15, 2005

Slumming in Joe's Garage

About once a year I get to thinking about how nice it would be to sit out in the sun on the rooftop, gaze over Loring Park and have a relaxing meal with a couple of glasses of wine. Then I go to Joe's Garage and spend a week kicking myself. Why did I just waste all my money on that stupid place that always sucks!?
We started out fine and were seated right away, by the railing over looking the park. Then I opened the wine list. White Zinfandel, Whoop Whoop Shriaz, and that merlot that tastes like feet (luckily, it's lable has a big bearfoot print on it. If you see this wine, ignore the little wine spectator note and find something else.) Dammit. I forgot that there's no wine there. I stupidly ordered a glass of any way. That was bad. I couldn't drink it. I stared longingly at Matt's Newcastle. I hate beer, but man that looked good, all cold and rich. We ordered chicken strips with some kind of jazzy little dipping sauce and the burger of the day, week, whatever, it was stuffed with procuitto and goat cheese. The sun was setting, actually, very slowly.. and it was so... warm. They'd just taken all of the umbrellas off of the table. Then there were the wasps, not the kind you would expect, but actual insets hovering over the jazzy sauce accompaning the chicken. And you don't want to piss the little fuckers off, but Hey! That's MY food! We flagging down one of the seven waitresses milling around and asked if we could move two tables over, out of the direct sun and away from the insects. She said no. ...?... Seven waitresses and only one other table taken by customers on the whole deck! She brought one of the umbrellas back, set it up and then stuck a bundle of silverware in the hole by the umbrella pole, supposedly to keep it steady. It didn't work. At all. Nor did it block the sun. Evenutally, we put the chicken at the empty table next to us to get reprieve from the wasps, a near swarm now. I don't know how many that takes actually, somewhere between a couple and a couple of thousands. But they had food now; I just knew they were coming back with their buddies like a bunch of bad cocktail party guests.
Mindlessly, I prodded the milk glass full of stale wine. No one even noticed I hadn't drank any. Nobody cared. The decidedly unmagnificent seven. Our burgers came. It was so bland. There's procuitto in there and I wanted to salt my burger. How wrong is that? And there was a glaring lack of goat cheese. I could tell by the look on Matt's face that he was as disappointed as I was. Probably more. Sighing heavily, I threw down the exact change on the table and left a breif note explaining the royal stiffing one of them would receive.
Now that I've committed this to the electronic page hopefully I won't be tempted to go back to that stupid patio next summer. I can save a little money and sanity.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I Have Returned!

Sorry for the month long absence. I was busy getting married. I had no idea how much the actual wedding day would take over every aspect of my life. It was a very nice day and I can't tell you how glad I am that it's over.
Because we were in Northern Minnesota there wasn't a lot of opportunities to go out to eat. In Duluth we went to the patio at Baja Billy's a new Tex Mex place that has recently replaced what used to be Bennett's Sunset Grill. It's outside of the Figter's Brewery complex and affords what is probably the best restaurant view in the entire city. Word on the street is that the food is good. The problem is that the waitress we had almost never came back. We decided to forgo food, and I sucked down a really sweet maragarita before taking refuge in my room, a bottle of Big House Red and a Sammy's Pizza.
The other restaurant we went to not once, but twice, two days in a row. I'd heard that the Whisltling Bird in Gilbert, MN was a special treasure, a rasta in the rough. The talk was true. We were greeted when we arrived by the owner Toney. He was raving about their special of the night, a champagne chicken. When my husband asked what that was, the mysterious answer was, "Very good!!" He then proceeded to place the napkin on Matt's lap for him. Which visible shook him a little bit. I guess he was wondering where this big, black guy was heading in the lap region.
We ordered the Jerk platter and it was hands down, the best Jerk I have ever had. The butterflied grilled shimp were done to opulecent perfection. The chicken breast, which I was admitedly worried about when I saw the sort of boneless skinless chicken meat that dieters buy at the grocery store was so succulent. The bacon wrapped pork loin defies explination. It was just perfect. All was served with a side of their comforting Jerk sauce. I could have taken a little more heat, but we are in the home of Poticia and Pasties. Good food, just don't get too crazy with the spices!
The next night my Mom and sister were joining us, so we convinced them that they had to try this place out. Toney again came over to the table and again placed Matt's napkin in his lap. Matt was again disturbed and I thought it was hysterical. Meanwhile, my mom was enamoured with the gesture. She and I split the special of the evening Prime Rib with a chipotle cream sauce. It was so rich and was probably about 2000 calories, but what did I care? I was on vacation and I was determined to eat my way through it. We began with the appetizer sampler, which was somewhat unremarkable, although the jerk wings on it were fantastic. Matt ordered the mango spiced wings which were ruined by a sickly sweet sauce that was entirely lacking in spice. My sister ordered a seafood pasta dish that I think was lobster, shrimp and linguini in about a cup of melted butter. All things that she adores, so she was happy. I wouldn't say that a road trip to specifically get to this place is warrented, but if every you find yourself in the Gilbert, Eveleth, Virgina area, you gotta see this place and try the Jerk chicken.