Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Summertime and the Dining is Easy

Okay, time to revisit my paltry little list from last year (Patios to Know 06/06) regarding great outdoor dining options in the cities. Some, I still whole-heartedly agree with, while others make me wonder what I was thinking (Fabulous Ferns? What? Hello Reaching!! It's call "best patios" not "has patio.")

#1) Alright, there's the venerable W.A. Frost, which is a delight to behold. It's gorgeous with phenomenal cheese plates, respectable martinis and free tasteless bread sticks on every table! Just don't order the food. Seriously, folks, do you have any idea how much time, energy and money I have wasted on place? Just don't do it. It's gorgeous, be happy you're here and if you're starving, leave.
#2) In fact, may I suggest you just toddle on down the street to La Grolla? They also have a lovely little patio. It's shaded, so best visited on warmer days. But should you be forced to go inside, I think you'll find yourself quite pleased. They make all of their pastas from scratch and the owner - Antonio is a bit notorious in the local restaurant scene (yes there is too a scene and I'm privy to it! I know people!) The fiend seems to enjoy making at least one server an evening well up and cultivates fanatical sous chefs - but in a really good way. The way that ensures your food and dining service will be outstanding. Order the appetizer of scallops wrapped in angel hair pasta, fried and served over lobster sauce. They are sweet, creamy, salty, savory, crisp and tender. What more could a diner ask for in a bite? Entrees are highlighted by the seafood cartoccio, delectable little fresh nibbles steamed in parchment paper. All of the fresh flavors of the sea are enhanced and enchanted by mists of lemon essence and nibbles of garlic. Desserts are wonderful, too. My favorite is the ricotta cheesecake of such luscious, buoyant texture and rich, fruity depths of flavor that I tried to convince my piece to marry me. Sadly, though, I ate him and asked instead for just one more.
#3) What's this, you say? Too pricey? Who am I to assume that you can live in such a manner? Well, I merely imply that you should not that it's possible. Need I remind you of the conditions that I am used to living in? Then how about the patio at the CC Club? It really is the perfect spot for cheap, good food (my favorite is the CC Club with pastrami and pepper jack cheese - they make a damn fine Cajun Chicken sandwich as well.) The geraniums, TV and mounted fans create a backyard of such comfort that I wonder why I even bother with the lawn chairs on my back deck? And the drinks don't let you down, either. Punchy and prompt the servers we've had have always been attentive and quick on the pour.
#4) El Meson hangs in there from last year. Although, I haven't made it over there this spring so far, I dream of the ceviche and half priced sangria bottles!
#5) Black Forest really is a gorgeous spot for its beauty, but I never know what to do when I get there. If the weather is perfect for lingering in a patio, the fried and bulky German food and beer ends up being a little much to ingest. But, wow, is it pretty.
#6) Craftsman's secluded and gorgeously landscaped patio is a set up that can't be beat. There's construction on Lake Street right now, but the air was still and sweet last time we were there (if a little chilly.) Order one of their specialty martinis, munch on a little grilled pizza topped with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and you'll be in for summer bliss.
#7) Day by Day Cafe. Recovery people make me twitchy when I'm hungover, but I have to remind myself that they are on a good and healthy path. Chances are that they are not judging me in their clear minds, but more likely the smell of bar floor clinging to my clothing, the red and bleary eyes - not to mention the twitching- is probably the great reminder that they need to thank their sponsor and continue to avoid the demon liquor. The back yard garden on this place is one of the most serene places to sample a little breakfast, sip some industrial strength coffee and savor the glory that this day brings to you. Keep the food order simple, and thus keeping the price down and bask in the early summer sunshine.
#8) The happy hour patio that the local press keeps telling me is the best is Solera's rooftop. Trouble is that I can't get anyone that I know to go there with me. Apparently the food is okay, but over-priced. Even when my company is sponsoring an event, no one will go here. (We are doing bocce ball at Brit's on Friday - I'll let you know how that goes.) So for the happy hour patio I end up at most is the sidewalk by Cafe Barbette. They don't have much in the way of noshing choices, but the mussels and award wining pommes frites are on special 4-6 p.m. and are delectable! Oh, how I long for the tang of the goopy saffron aioli floating over my tongue followed by the crispy, salty appearance of another handful of fries in my mouth. The largest drawback is 27A bus line. Every half an hour during rush hour a hulking, chugging, exhaust billowing bus lurches by leaving you and your food covered with the fumes of the city.
#9) It's Greek to Me as a private and large patio for Uptown framed by lattice work, strewn with pots of blooming plants and serves hearty portions of Greek favorites. The pastitsio alone could fill you up for days on end. It's lovely in the middle of everything, but still feels relatively secluded. Just remember not to go the first Thursday of every warm weather month. It's so loud, smelly and overwhelming that you'll come to resent anyone in ownership of a motorcycle for at least a couple of months to come.
#10) Things are looking a little thin here... Hmm... do I start listing nice patios of places that I never go to, or the dumpy patios that I frequent?
There's the elegance of the View patio (formerly Dixie's on Calhoun.) The last time I went there - the only time I went there, truth be told, I was served one piece of meat- a tiny slice off a chicken breast on a skewer with a side of soy sauce and charged $9 for it! That's a nickel's worth of food! If that!
There's the patio off of the Muddy Pig, that's a small little strip of real estate, but a great spot for a mug of beer from there extensive list and a little snack on some tasty bruchetta with a thick, sweet balsamic reduction. I go there often, but I'd rather you didn't. It's really small and barely a patio. It's nearly a smoking lounge that is occasionally blasted by the most heavenly warm, garlic scented air straight from the kitchen exhaust.
Or, even further down the line of expectations, there's the outside of J.R. Mack's bar on West 7th - near nothing except the neighborhood that I live in. The food is bar food, but the bad kind. The regulars are a surly lot and the view is almost of the Mississippi river, but newly obscured by the housing development going in. It ain't much to look at, but the drinks are strong and the Sunday night bartender knows us. He's never let us go dry. The minute I'm in danger of needing to order my own drink, he's there with a refresher - stiff and speedy. (Just like I like my - nah! Too easy.)
So, really, who's to know what your criteria is for a great patio? I'm just trying to give you some options for the next time you realize that you want to go out to eat, but where?

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Ever feel like getting yourself a little side of some real, down home BBQ only to suck in your breath with resignation as you pick up the ginormo menu at Famous Dave's? I've got the answer for those cravings. Being the Memorial Day weekend the TV has been a constant stream of BBQ marathon shows, contests and exhibitions. (Well, the TV in my house which is specially programed to only show food related programming.)
Tucked away in a blue collar neighborhood and just off of 35E and Randolph is Roosters. They have been garnering awards for years as the best BBQ in the Cities and it's true. Their pork is dry rubbed, slow roasted and topped with some truly kick ass sauce. They've got damn good fried chicken, too! It's perfect for the picnicker that doesn't want to deal with all that prep.
But this isn't the deep fryer weekend - this is Barbecue time. Bar BEE Q! And what better time to go than after I'd just put on my favorite white and floral cowgirl shirt? I ordered the small BBQ sandwich with the hot sauce. Now, I like my stuff spicy and this wasn't too spicy hot, but it was spicy, sinful good. Although, I did err a bit on my approach. Stupidly, I tried to pick it up and dunked my cuff right into the sauce. I got no food, the meat started to slip out and I was a greasy, hot mess. Dumb. There's a fork there - use it. The fork is your friend.
I can't even fully describe to you the goodness of this pork - it is so tender, so juicy, so sweet, smokey and deeply spiced that you really can't imagine the complexity of its beauty without taking a big, honkin' bite. I wonder now if I was remiss in not getting it Memphis style - with the coleslaw on top, but I'm too full to think too much about that.
You know how it is when the Ribfest thing is going on and you keep reading about the contenders, or smelling the sweet wood fires from downtown? You go planning on seeing some once great rock band for free and taste some real winner ribs? Then you get the stupid tickets, which are expensive and never in the right domination for your food needs, grab the greasy little suckers and head for one of the table tops where you can dig in and down a cold one? Then you eat the ribs and think, hey wait a minute.... these aren't that great. But then, all of a sudden you're full and broke and just with the stupid band would come ON already so you can get out of this sweaty, smoky crowd because that guy in the hog T-Shirt is not getting any fresher? Know what I mean? No? Then you don't go to Ribfest for a few years, because man, they burned you and you would not be fooled again only to find yourself there 3 years later, because damn some barbecue sounded good and that band is gonna be AWESOME!? No!? Sigh. Well, if you can at least sympathize know that you will never need to be burned by those half assed ribs again. The craving never needs to reach that fever pitch, because all you have got to do my friend, is take yourself a quick visit to St. Paul and dine on the best BBQ this state has to offer.


Saturday night, flush from another payday come and gone, Matt & I decided to go out to dinner. We arrived at Craftsman early, about six, to avoid any dinner rush. The place was nearly empty, but the hostess asked if we minded sitting outside. Their patio is gorgeous, but this is May in Minnesota. It was just too cold to enjoy. It's a lovely atmosphere, though. This would be a great patio to visit in the warmer months, where the shade would be a welcome reprieve from the sun. We decided to sit at the bar and ordered our drinks. I tried one of their specialty martinis, the rhubarb martini. It's made with a simple syrup with rhubarb and shaker's vodka. It was heavenly sweet with just a little bright tartness and icy, icy cold. I shivered, but sucked it down just the same.

The staff was open and friendly and sitting here at the bar we could see the open kitchen. The chefs looked like a bunch of fiends that were ridden hard and put away wet. The one I'm sure hasn't slept in about a week. The looked like the sort of chef I imagine Anthony Bourdain glorifies in his Kitchen Continental. I liked the look of 'em, but would trust them to babysit anything beyond a buerre blanc.

We'd been here a few times before and I can't get past how perfect the room is. The lighting is always soft, the chairs are comfortable and the sleek Craftsman architechture is beautiful. The problem is that if you don't order one of the burgers, your meal might be in jeopardy. While it's true that their turkey burger is the best I've ever had, the rest of the menu can't be a little unpredictable.

We started with the potato pizza, this slices of new potatoes on a crispy grilled crust topped with drizzles of neon chive oil, earthy goat cheese and gooey mozzerella. I took one bite and gasped - I want this for breakfast! It was a crusty version of potatoes Anna. It was just delicious. I carefully nibbled, trying to save some appetite for the main course, but damn this sucker was tasty. Okay, perhaps I was wrong to be so apprehensive. Just look at this room! It's the perfect restaurant! Every note is plucked together forming a lovely dining mosaic.

For dinner we had ordered the house made whole wheat fettuccine with lamb sausage and wilted arugula. While waiting I asked the bartender to suggest a wine to compliment the food (he'd just rhapsodized the "aggressively hoppy" beer Matt was sipping - steam brewed! That I figured he might know a thing or three about the beverages.) He basically said any of the wines would go great. Undaunted, I ordered a glass of the most expensive glass on the list. The bottle was low and I got the rest. It wasn't quite a full pour, but that was all my $10 was going to buy me. Okay, that'll do boy. That'll do. (The wine was really good, and now I don't remember what the heck it was. Helpful, I know.)

Our entree was a let down after the pizza. Not much could have topped that, anyway. The creamy sauce was bland for an assertive bite of nutmeg. The lamb wasn't made into sausage, but slow braised. There was barely any in there, but what there was, was delicious. The fettuccine was just a bit over cooked and sticking together. It was okay, but not outstanding.

I know that I'll certainly be headed back to Craftsman. Maybe, some sunny day I'll head back, with a reservation and a seat out on the patio. I'll happily munch away on my burger, guzzling a martini and gasp, "This place is perfect!"

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bulldog Revisited

Oh, so fuzzy.... happy hour.... it's an hour, or two right? Not five? Uhhhh, I did it wrong. Water. Coffee. Breathe...... Okay, now I can tell you at least part of my night.
I dined well. I did meet Laura (and Aisha and Shannon) last night at Bulldog in Northeast, anxious for a tasty burger and a little friendly company. I ended the night... Well, let's just say that I made it home and thank God for that. I thought I would be fine, pickling my liver at the bottom of a rum bottle, because I'd eaten so well and so much food.
This time I decided to order something different. This is always a danger at a new restaurant. You order one thing, find it fantastic and then decide to branch out. This is dangerous territory. What if you end up with food envy and spend the entirity of the meal gazing longingly at the plate next to you? Still, I soldiered on, this time ordering the truffle burger while everyone else went with the reliable Junk burger. We were starving, so we ordered a basket of the truffled tots first. These are evil. They're so delicious and so perfect with a little vino that I think I ate the whole basket myself. There in this little red cradle were dozens and dozens of golden, crispy perfect tots tossed with a wee bit of luxurious truffle oil and a salty perfection of an addition - Parmesan cheese. Oh heaven! Oh love! Thy name is tot!!! And there's aioli too!? SHUT UP! no WAY! Yeah, I ate the whole thing myself. Who knew that I had this fond longing for tater tots lingering in the back of my palate and subconscious?
For wine, we ordered the temperanillo - delicious. It was a fine, deep red wine that wasn't too heavy or thick for this lovely, sunny afternoon. Did I mention that this was at 4:00? We'd all been released from work early and decided to get a jump on happy hour. Unfortunately, their happy hour is only a buck off rail drinks and beer. This did no good for any of us. It would be nice if they had a little food discount, or something. But, sadly no.
Still, there were burgers to be had! My truffle burger was served with a slice of brie on an English muffin. I was wary of the muffin and rightly so. The juice from the burger and grease created from the healthy drizzle of truffle oil seeped into the bottom of the English muffing creating a sloppy soggen grody mess.
I stared longingly at everyone's Junk Burgers. Dammit! I must say, though, that it was cooked perfectly medium rare as requested. Meanwhile, Shannon, who requested the life be charred out of her meat, was pleased with how exactly her burger was cooked to her liking. There's something to be said for a guy in the kitchen that takes direction well.
Upon second glance, Bulldog Northeast is still a delight to add to the list of summer spots to visit. The Junk Burger is a flavor sensation to be savored over long afternoons out on their lovely patio overlooking Hennepin. Order it with the truffled tots and you'll be lapping up the last hours of sunlight like a happy little puppy in a pool. Just do not, under threat of life, limb and wretched hangover, brightly turn to your crew and ask, "So! Where should we go after this!?"

Friday, May 25, 2007

No Dice

No, I did not win anything last night! I hate bingo! But I do love beer, so I'm sure that I'll be back before too long. Matt and I have discovered the best pizza to order at Skinner's, though.
I marvel every time I have another amazing meal at how much work goes in to the cooking at this bar. There is no other divey bar in this state or Wisconsin that I have found that has food this good. Pete Skinner makes EVERYTHING from scratch! He's crazy. Really, he roasts the beef for the French dip, hand forms each patty of hamburger, mixes all of the salad dressings, really. He does it all. And while there are a couple of standards like the buffalo chicken sandwich, that aren't much that could get a decent replica anywhere, you will not top those pizzas! And the over all quality of the food can't be beat when you're ordering a pint for $2.50.
Okay, so here's the absolute perfect pizza from Skinner's Italian sausage, bacon and kraut with light cheese, well done. I know! I had you all the way to the kraut and then I lost you, right? I know it's insane, but you have to believe me. This pizza is a sooooooooo good. Soooooooo good. From what I can tell, the kraut on a pizza is a purely St. Paul goofy thing. Usually, it's ordered with sausage and sauerkraut. I tried this once very, very, very drunk. And loved it. When I was sober it went back to being one of the most abhorrent food combinations in creation.
Then Pete put a Reuben pizza on the menu and I did like that, although it's a little messy to eat. Caraway seeds are baked into a crust that's topped with Thousand Island dressing, sauerkraut and the best corned beef that city has ever seen. Matt flatly refuses to allow me to order this pizza. He can be kind of a doo-doo head in that respect.
I can't fathom what caused us to order this combo last night, but it is so good. The sauerkraut melts into the pizza - you hardly know it's there, but for this tangy background flavor that creates a symphonic pairing when put together with the salty, crunchy deliciously porky bacon. It's a match made in bar food heaven. I couldn't stop marvelling over the tastiness of this pizza.
Now, let's say you got past the kraut (doubtful) and noticed that we got less cheese, that's because the amount of cheese on these pizzas is absurd. That's right. The Wisconsin lover said too much cheese. The crust is nicely thin and crispy. Five pounds of mozzarella cheese it too much. People who order extra cheese are usually the unfortunate sort that order Domino's. That's not real pizza, kids and it's definitely not made of a substance that can be described as "cheese." It's cardboard melty goo that should be avoided at all costs and only consumed at 3 a.m. in some stranger's living room after the hooka is empty and the keg has been drained. Then and only then will that sustain you.
But I digress.
Please, if you still haven't gone over there, you have got to try eating at this little bar. Better - go on a Thursday and bring your bingo dotter! Next week's prize is already up to $100!
(Skinner's bar - corner of Milton and Randolph, two blocks down the hill on Randolph off of 35E)

Tonight is happy hour! It's a long weekend and me and J.Lo are hitting Bulldog Northeast tonight! Wooo hoo! Bring on the big pour!

Thursday, May 24, 2007


What do you get when you combine granny's old favorite Bingo with the local sauce of choice Beer? BEERGO!! Every Thursday night Skinner's has this magically auspicious combination. And there's always the pizza - fresh mozzarella cheese, handmade Italian sausage, perfectly seasoned sauce with shimmying notes of basil and oregano all on a crunchy brown crust. I could end up wining something as snazzy as the Pabst T-Shirt Matt was so kind to model in the pasta maker post OR $50! Which will it be? Who can say, although I've already got a T-Shirt. My Schell's "Herbivores Do It Better" trumps that old red, white and blue any day of the week and twice on Slursdays! Who's ready to play!?


Thursday, May 17, 2007


You know what's unnerving? Trying to casually sip your globe of wine while the entire staff of a restaurant watches you in anticipation. Anticipation of what, I'm not sure. The inevitable spill on my cream sweater? A tilt of the head indicating an order? I don't know, but it's damn spooky!
I'd been meaning to get over to Margeaux for a while to check out St. Paul's answer to the neighborhood French bistro. I hoped it might be slightly more French than Cafe Barbette - whose version of bohemian, I think was lifted from a midnight viewing of Moulin Rouge. The problem was that I couldn't find Margaux. Now, you'd think that I'd lived on this side of the river long enough to find my way around. Plus, I even worked in downtown St. Paul for a spell. It's not like it's big! But, alas, no dice. I had to ask my Ambassador to the East - Matt.
We happened to have ended our day early and went over to Margaux at about 6:30 p.m. I paused at the door wondering if it was even open. It was empty! The anxious waitress thanked us for coming in, expressing doubts that anyone was going to show up that night. Apparently, there's not much to do around town on a Wednesday evening. I placed a wine order and we were seated at the primo table. Great view of the pawn shop and flop house next door. Now, this was probably the most adorable flop house in the city, gaily painted with bright colors and murals... but still. And that's all we had to look at because the unnerving, staring staff was leaning over the bar, gaping. We put in an order for the escargot. I am not a huge fan of the snails, but a big, big fan of garlic butter. These were tasty. They came boiling in their little sauce of molten butter, sprightly parsley and the cloaked assailant - garlic. Wow, did that pack a punch. They were delicious. Matt was making his yummy face while, "hhhmmmmmm!"ing loudly. Superb.
For an entree we ordered the beef tenderloin. Thankfully, this was when someone else showed up. New diners to stare at! YAY! Whew, took some of the pressure off. I ordered another glass of the Cotes du Rhone. It was a delicious bottle, very bright, fruity and floral tasting. Also, they serve them in these glasses the size of my 7th grade Social Studies teacher's globe. HUGE! And round! They split the plate for us, which should have cost us, but they thankfully, didn't charge. The beef was cooked to medium rare perfection and dotted with thinly sliced little shitakes. The demi glace drizzled over the plate was deep, think, sweet and salty. Divine. The roasted asparagus were also perfectly cooked. I thoughtfully chewed on it while a mother/daughter team across the street were pawning their Aiwa stereo.
I had planned to order an after dinner cocktail, but it was just so... empty. After finishing off the last decadent bite of beef I was pretty much ready to go. The cocktail list did look delicious. They had an Urban Manhattan and a Jamaican Ginger Ale that both sounded tempting, but the night was early and there were more adventures to be had on the other side of town.
Au revior, Margaux! I hope you've got some more bohemians up your sleeve. A darling little spot like yours should have a bigger fan base.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Menu with Interest

B.A.N.K. is so new that their website isn't even fully functional yet! Worse, I can't show you any pictures because my camera phone wasn't working. But don't worry - I've got a memory like a steal trap, or a vault, if you will.
What they've done with the space is incredible. They've converted the lobby, that used to be a Wells Fargo bank a couple of short years ago, into a lovely hotel dining room. I loved the colors that were different shades of a bright, spring day. The room is modern without losing any of the class from the former institution. The light fixtures look like hanging Fleur De lis. The chairs were very comfortable and the service was exceptional for a place staffed by newbies. Still, it's lunch in a hotel restaurant. Nothing was extraordinary, but it was lovely.
We started with the seared scallop appetizer. They were delicious, served on a creamy puree of roasted fennel and sweet English peas. The fennel sauce was mild with a hint of the anise flavor at the back of the palate. The sweet pea was also a soothing mellow spring flavor. Both were excellent foils for the tender sweet scallops that were cooked to perfection. I don't remember the last time that I had such a velvety textured, perfectly cooked sweet scallop.
For an entree I had the "pulled Amish chicken" sandwich. Eric wanted to know how you approach an Amish pulled chicken. I said very carefully. Pull too hard and he won't make any more cabinets. I know. We're lame. Just thank me for not working in all of the bank puns I'm trying to skip over. I wouldn't want to rob your enjoyable experience of hearing about our food. It'd be a loss. A taxing experience.... One without a full appreciated return.
Okay! Okay! But it's not just me! They use cutesy bank terms for their food.
Back to the food. Eric ordered the lamb sandwich. My chicken was good, but the bread was tough and a little stale. I had to keep ripping the poor thing apart to get to any of the food. I thought I might yank a tooth out! The oven roasted tomatoes were sweet and juicy. There was a good pesto and fresh mozzarella, but neither were particularly pronounced flavors. The Italian colors were visually stunning, but by the time I was done ripping the bread apart, my plate looked like it'd been through a shredder. Served with my sandwich were some really good homemade potato chips. Many places try, but seldom are they consistently good (Firelake! Mission! Please stop!) These were still warm and dusted with Parmesan cheese. They were amazing.
Eric said his sandwich was really good. I didn't get any. He kind of inhaled it, so I'm sure he's telling the truth. His came with a side of tasty homemade, dilly potato salad. It was good, but not throw-out-your-mama's recipe good.
We had to get dessert. The people next to us did and they were greedily slurping up their shot glasses full of tasty treats. Either you can order the entire tray of little tasties, including tiramisu, strawberry shortcake, chocolate cake and more. Enough that our waiter couldn't quite remember what everything was. I ordered the lemon cake topped with freshly made whipped cream and raspberries. It was divine. The lemon cake wasn't too sweet with a great zestiness flavor. The whipped cream was smooth and dense. The raspberries were sweet as if just plucked off a wild vine before landing before me. I am not usually much of a desert person, but this stuff was incredible.
Eric got the panna cotta and we decided to share the two stuffed apricots. The panna cotta - I'm not kidding - was the absolute best that I have ever had. Eric said 9 out of 10, but he's a pessimist that way. I want to know where he got this other 10 pana cotta 'cause I ain't buyin' it pal.
The stuffed apricots were okay, dried apricots stuffed with marscapone and dotted with pistachios - a clever little take on a cannoli. There was some honey on the bottom that tied all the flavors together, but I missed it. They were just okay.
My favorite part of these classy little desserts was the size. You can order as much or as little as you like. I'm not a big one for sweets, so just those couple of tiny spoonfuls were outstanding and hit the spot. I couldn't have eaten another bite. Even now, hours later, I'm still woozy from the sugar and salt and sunshiney happiness of the experience.
It wasn't cheap, either, but I think I've earned it. I'd say that downtown Minneapolis has another good power lunch at, especially if somebody else is picking up the bill.
If you go, just enjoy the ambiance, well-trained service and don't forget to order desert.
Now, that's advice that you can take to the bank.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Bulldog in Nordeast

After a particularly horrendous couple of days at work, it does a soul good to order a glass of wine and have this presented to you. Monday pummeled me. I did everything I could think of to make me healthy and feel happier. I ate well, didn't drink at all and even went for a run. Let me tell you, that 20 minutes of pulse pounding, breathless wheezing and furious punching away at my MP3 player should have given me the healthy shot of endorphins that I'd rightly earned. It was the longest 20 minutes of this spring. Pretty (gasp) trees (wheeze) bloom (gack!)awafjfuuuckkghghhghghghhaaaaa!!
But, it didn't. Instead I inhaled a bowl of ramen and passed out fifteen minutes into Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. Refreshed, if sore, I figured Tuesday has got to better.

It was not. Tuesday was the snot crusted toddler of the week. People whining, moaning, misbehaving and throwing temper tantrums all in my direction. It's enough to questions ones love of humanity. Sure, it's not like I've ever supported the United Way or volunteered for anything more than a beer run, but I like to think I'm a good person. Not necessarily a people person, but a good friend to have around when the time bell rings. This day did not agree with me so I decided not to agree with it.

Eff it!! I'm cash poor from too much fun this weekend, but when has that ever stopped me before? I grabbed Matt & told him we were trying something new. My friend Heath had been going on and on about the amazing burgers at Bulldog's in North East. Since the healthy tact didn't work, I would go back to my old reliable mood enhancers: food and booze.

I ordered their Zinfandel and got the above glass, except fuller. I didn't think to take a picture before sucking down my first glug. It was filled to the rim! Now, that's my kinda pour. Plus, it was a delicious wine, tasting like robust black cherries. It was heaven. I smirked at the people across the street at sad little Whitey's. I've eaten there plenty of times. Their wine sucks. Heh heh.

We ordered the Junk Burger and some of their wings. I was ravenous, but that big, juicy wine was a great appetizer. Ozzie Osbourne was blaring in my ears. I threw up the horns and gnashed my teeth. GRRR!!! I am VICIOUS!! RAWR! Our food arrived from the expressionless waiter and I dove right in. The Junk burger is layered with butter lettuce, tomato, red onion, sauteed mushrooms, bacon and a super garlicky aioli on a crispy fresh bun. It was garnished with an olive that I would have eaten had Matt not crushed in and sunk in into the bottom of his Grainbelt. Jerk. St. Paul Martini my ass!

Anyway, the burger, it was amazing. The use ground, locally sourced Kobe beef and all of the ingredients were wonderful (except the tomato, that was pale and wussy, but they're not in season now.) Each bite rendered the distinct flavor of each ingredient. The beef was tender and beefy, the sauteed mushrooms were juicy and woody, the bacon was smoked so perfectly, you could taste an almost maple syrupy background, the butter lettuce was crispy and green, fresh like spring buds popping into leaves. The creamy aioli was fluffy heaven zipping with garlic tang on the back of your tongue. Oh my God in heaven!! It IS the best burger in town! Holy crap! Now I have to tell Heath that he was right.

I think part of the reason I haven't been there before is that I did have a fondness for Boom, the previous tenant. Although I don't think Boom really cared for me. Laura had taken me there for a Boom burger, a $5 good burger with french fries served with a Parmesan mayonnaise. Oh, yeah, that was fat on fat fantastic. But the sweet boy working the bar kept glaring at us, as if we were to blame for the lack of cute boys bellied up. It wasn't my fault! I was stinkin' the place up with my hetero woman vibe. Well, whatever, fine burger, but really uncomfortable gazes.

This burger shames the Boom burger boys. I'm sorry, but it's true. No other burger in town has satisfied me as much as this one. I can't wait to get another one! Next time I'll try ordering up the jazzed up truffled fries with truffle oil and aoili. The plain fries weren't all that great, or anything special.

You'll also notice that I'm not talking about the wings. It's almost unfair. Nothing could follow up that burger. It'd be like Cher opening for those Walk 10,000 miles dudes. You can't compete! (Shut up! Cher is awesome!) The wings were inedible. The skin was gooey and uncooked tasting. The sweet and sour glaze was burned and the one bite I did take wedged a sesame seed between my teeth. But who cares! Did I tell you about the burger!? I can't wait to get back and try more of their food.

I ordered up another chalice of wine and savored the moment. Softer sounds of Rod Stewart and the Faces drifted out of the speaker above and I gave the rest of that day the bird.