In the Loop in Minneapolis
You know, I don't even care that I'm still wearing buffet pants. I don't care that my throat is raw, my hair is limp and eyes are puffy. These holiday days have been so worth it. We finally had our last hurrah on Sunday with Matt's family. His mom was kind enough to wait a week for their family's Christmas. There were toddlers running rampant and the food I made turned out beautifully. (Pork Roast, a creamy potato casserole from Cook's Country magazine and salad with clementines, pomegranate seeds and crystallized ginger.) Best of all I won the Inappropriate Snowman in our white elephant exchange. It holds beverages and has a spigot placed about two thrids of the way down his body. It's sick. I developed an intense and powerful craving for Eggnog.
You would think with so much fun and revelry that I'd be ready to jump on the diet bandwagon and ask penance from the Liquor Gods for all of my sins. But you would be wrong. Oh, no - the good times don't stop rolling for this chicky.
Twice now I've gone to the Loop for happy hour and I'm happy to report that it's a nice spot for it. It's too far from the heart of downtown to walk to - for me, anyway. It's located where Mel's Beauty bar used to be. It's sort of across the street from Cuzzy's.
I met Laura there one night - right before her big trip to Europe and last Wednesday for a little holiday recap with Cands. While I was there with J.Lo the service was abysmal. I don't blame the young waitress. She was the only person working the entire bar on a Thursday before the holiday weekend. Cands and I sat at the bar and the bartender was incredibly attentive and smiley. I think he loved me. Poor soul. But I digress.
The wine list is heavy on the Barefoot wines. I had one glass once and that was plenty for me. It might have been subliminal, but I swear it tasted of feet. The tap beer selection was average and they do have a specialty drink list. Laura ordered the Apple martini and it took her about an hour to finish. This is remarkable when you consider that she's from Nordeast. I've never seen a beverage so delicately sipped through those pursed lips. I tried a taste. It occurred to me that there is a reason that cough syrups aren't entirely tasty. Anyone who's wandered around on too much 'Tussin knows why. I don't understand why anyone would intentionally flavor something ordered from a bar with that distinctive Tussin flavor. God bless her, though. She eventually muscled it down and we both switched to rum and cokes.
All of the food that I've had there was been good. It's what I think of when I think of happy hour foods - heavy on the fryer and pizzas. Thankfully, though, it wasn't the same Sysco manufactured frozen poppers and chicken fingers that so many other bars serve. Their food does appear to be made on the premises and it's a little more imaginative than fat French fries and cold ketchup.
On the two occasions I ordered the wings with bourbon sauce, beer battered chicken fingers with fries, grilled tofu skewers and the crab dip. That is correct. I have no shame. Also, on the Laura trip - Bobby and a friend of his joined us briefly. They each ordered pizzas and raved, but I felt a little Violet and turned down their gracious offers to share.
The wings were perfectly crispy and impossible to eat in any sort of lady like fashion. While the sauce I had selected promised to be bourbon, it was much more like a simple barbecue sauce. TGIFridays may have warped my impressions of a bourbon sauce anyway. They were slightly sticky, sweet and smokey. They reminded me a bit of the Kalbi wings at Fabulous Fern's. Fern's have a better sauce, but these Loop wings were much more meaty and crispy. A better wing over all. I want to go back and try another sauce on them.
The crab dip was the first thing that Laura and I had last time I'd been there. We had been waiting forever. It was pretty obvious to us that the waitress forgot to put in the order. Once it did finally arrive, we descended upon the molten cheese like turkey buzzards on a song bird. There was no talking - no time to talk! Eating! It's an achingly familiar appetizer, but they've managed to give this one a little tweak, too. It's pleasantly crabby - there was a ton of crab meat in there. And it wasn't that Swanson's fake-you-out grab stuff. This was actually once found int he body of a crustacean. There were also little bits of chopped up shrimp mixed in with the gooey sauce and covered under a crispy cheese shell.
The grilled tofu arrived next. It has the distinctive texture of French Toast. It was crispy and browned on the outside, but gave way to a creamy, fluffy texture when bitten in to. They were served on a tasty bed of coconut rice mounded into a pineapple ring. I thought the pineapple was a bit much, but Laura disagreed, declaring the rice the best thing on the plate. I loved those skewers. It was so nice to have something to much on that wasn't completely guilty. There wasn't any batter and it wasn't fried. It was just virtuous that I didn't feel guilty about the next plate that was place before me.
Big, thick, light beer batter encrusted chicken strips. They were wonderful. The batter shattered as I bit into my first piece, tender, white chicken nestled below. There were only three of them, but oh, how I delighted in our time together. The fries were good as well, as was the delicious ranch dipping sauce (because I needed more calories in this snog-fest with food.) I say, without shame, that I ate every last fry and would have licked the sauce ramekin had Bobby and friend not just arrived. Nobody wants a greeting hug from a person with ranch dressing dripping off their nose.
That was when it hit: maximum capacity in the skinny jeans! And this was before I even left for the SeaquistMcNeilGiblinFamilyFoodFest. So, yeah, spandex is my friend. And I'm not going to feel ashamed! No. Those Weight Watcher contemplating days are behind me. I've moved on to a more comfortable, squishy pasture. I will sit and my couch and spread! I will define lethargy and no man, woman or child shall be able to surpass my channel flicking abilities! Well, at least until the next happy hour is scheduled. And when that happens, here is where I'll be: