Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Andy Gets a Dog & I Get Indigestion

I'd like to tell you a little tale that I like to call, Andy & Grendel. This little tale is proof that you can find true love on the Internet. The only difference from your usual Internet love story is that Andy, is a sweet girl and Grendel is the name she's chosen for the Glen of Imaail terrier nee Rodney that she found on (This is a great site if you're considering that you might need a new friend. This is also how I found my lovable little furball Eli, but that's another tale, for another time.)
Andy & Grendel have met in person, but he's yet to go home with her because she wanted to puppy-ize her place. To do this meant a trip to Target and because she lives in Minnetonka, it meant I had to venture into the suburbs. Of course when we made this plan it was all of 2:00 in the afternoon and I was starving already. Where were we going to eat?? Despite her odd and disturbing desire to hit the Macaroni Grill (no. never. no.) I knew there had to be something better. I'd heard that Jimmy's Food and Cocktails wasn't too bad. Every other choice was either a sports bar or an overpriced restaurant that I can't go to because of the mediocre food and high tabs. They make me angry. So, I jumped on Open Table and made a quick online reservation. I'm almost up to enough points on Open Table to get a gift certificate! Woo hoo!
Did you know that Target in Minnetonka has a parking lot located in a wind tunnel? I almost blew away! Once safely inside, we were happy to find all the poochy stuff right up front. Andy respected her dogs dignity enough not to purchase any of the cute clothing items that I shoved in her face. But, seriously, if I had a medium sized dog he would so be wearing this. Loaded for bare with a bed, 5 tons of Iams and a leash we were set for the real show, dinner.
The parking lot was packed and weird. It's all one way and small and weird. If you can't find parking, you have to go across the street to a Caribou. We circled until finally someone left. We were a little early, so our table wasn't ready yet. Shortly after we walked in, two gentlemen came in who did NOT have a reservation, yet somehow they were seated before us. Oh, well, no matter. I consoled myself that our table must be really, really good. Hmmm... not so much. Not that it was bad either. The entire restaurant is tastefully decorated with Mission style everything, but the art was gaudy and awful. This atmosphere was to be indicative of the rest of our night. Wonderful until something was so way off, it was jarring. The room was loud and mostly full of tables of people that I would venture to guess work together. There were a couple of families.
Because it says cocktails right in the name of the joint, we decided to get down to business. Martinis! I had their Spicy & Dirty which is a dirty martini served with a dash of Choloula hot sauce and blue cheese stuffed olives. Oh, my God, was this thing good. If it was a blistering hot day, I'd still want one of these. It would be the perfect foil to a nasty hangover and a crisp, cozy comfort on a cold winter night. The blue cheese was really good and creamy balancing out the kick at the back of the throat from the hot sauce.
We ordered the lightly battered onion rings as an appetizer and the bread basket came. I couldn't believe how much I loved the stupid breadbasket, of all things. There was a delicious honey wheat bread, piping hot and some "everything bagel" flavored crackers that were wonderful. And they served the butter at proper spreading temperature. I hate it when you get a chunk of cold butter.
Then came the onion rings. They were piled up, lovingly garnished with a little parsley, basil and Parmesan cheese. And then I bit in. Holy soggy O Batman! YUCK! I actually sent them back. I. Sent back. Onion Rings. I refused to eat something fried. Yeah, they were that bad. The waitress kindly, swiftly, removed the offending rings and handled the whole thing very well.
For entrees Andy went with the baby back ribs and I decided that I just had to try the Booya. Until I met Matt, I'd never even heard of a Booya. Every year, this group of guys gathers and spends three days straight stirring a tub of soup (drinking a lot) that is, from what I can tell, whatever the hell the think to throw in there. Oxtails, chicken, canned green beans, corn, what have you. Somehow, the entire concoction ends up tasting really good and crowds of neighborhood folks clamor for more. It's really a weird phenomenon, but a great community thing. Apparently, it's a St. Paul thing, so of course, I require a map and explicit directions to figure it out.
Just before our entrees arrived, we ordered a bottle of wine. I selected a McManis Cabernet, based entirely on the price, $28. It was an okay wine list. Nothing on there looked to be a great discovery. All the usual mediocre wines were there. Meh.
Our food arrived and sure enough, the booya tasted surprising like what I expected it to. It looked like it was made with corned beef, corn, onions, carrots and white beans. It was really satisfying. So satisfying that after a couple of bites, I was pretty much over it. Yeah, it tasted the same, but real booya is only $1! A bowl of this stuff was $7.
Andy's ribs were wonderful. The house made sauce has Coke in it and that gave them a really Carmelly flavor. They were incredibly lean, but moist. The meat feel off the bone, they were wonderful.
On the side was a little dish of coleslaw and some vinegar fries, that were just those little skinny fries tossed somewhere in the process with vinegar, but really didn't pick up any special flavor. Good, though. At least they were cooked.
But, oh, dreaded coleslaw, how you vex me. This is the single most EVIL side dish ever created by man. It looked really yummy, a little bowl of shredded cabbage and carrots. It looked really fresh and lightly dressed, no swimming in mayo or sour cream. So, I take a bite. Yum, sweet, crisp cabbage and... GAH! WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!? Sweet God in heaven above what is that horrendous taste in my mouth?? Andy said she thought that it tasted like liquid smoke. It was something chemically and just not right. It was so not right. We even tried to doctor it up a bit with the aoili, but no, it was horrible! HORRIBLE! Sweet crunchy vegetables Shanghaied by some obtuse cook in the kitchen. I still don't know how they did it and my stomach is a little ill at ease even today. It was like I was poisoned by trying to eat a veggie. BlaecachAHKJAFHDK!! Awful! Evil! That's one mean spirited salad. Do NOT under fear of life and limb order or ingest this stuff. Seriously.
We finished off her ribs and fries, quite pleased, but maybe still a little hungry. Oh, well, I certainly wasn't going to order anything else and play that kind of Culinary Russian Roulette. Not when every entree is about $14, either.
When our bill came, I looked it over and found that the wine rang up at $32. On the wine list, still luckily on the table, it was listed at $28. This time, when I pointed out the error to our up until then sweet waitress with an oddly pitched voice changed demeanors. I could see in her eyes that she'd tired of me and my pickiness. But, geez! That's a problem! How about thank you for pointing out the problem with our system? I mean, that was clearly not her or the chef's fault. But no apology, no nothing. She just took the bill and made the change and that was the end of that.


At 10:47 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

For me, will you start blogging about the desserts? That's nearly 60% of the reason I go to a restaurant. (And no, this isn't Don Haugen.)



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