29 September 2009

Fat Lorenzo's

Supper tonight was at Fat Lorenzo's near Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis. The amazing murals inside and outside of this restaurant set the stage for the quality service and food we recieved at Fat's. See the photo gallery on the restaurant's website.

I ordered 2 slices of Pizza by the Slice: "Fat's - Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, black and green olives." I had no idea that at $3.75/slice, just one slice would be enough to fill me up. The waiter set down my two slices in front of me on two dinner plates, each slice hanging over the edges of its oversized plate. He chuckled at my wide-eyed reaction to the enormous amount of food! Fat Lorenzo's is generous with the toppings, making the slice impossible to pick up. All of the veggies were thickly cut and the top of the pizza was covered in pepperoni. There were way too many olives, in my opinion - I ate as many as I picked off, and I had a good handful-sized pile of them on my plate at the end. The crust was crisp and brown, but it was soggy in the middle. I guess ordering by-the-slice means that it may have been sitting around a little longer than ordering a whole pizza fresh. My second slice got boxed up for lunch the next day.

I had a bottle of Ace Perry Cider. In spite of the pear on the label, it turned out to be pear-flavored apple cider and was much sweeter than regular apple cider.

My dining companion ordered "Lorenzo's Lasagna - Our scrumptious combination of meats, cheeses and vegetables sandwiched between layers of pasta and a zesty red sauce." The lasagna's meat combination included ham, pepperoni, and sausage - "the whole pig," he commented - which left a pool of flavorful oil in the bottom of the plate. The dish was really rich and had a nicely sweet sauce. His dinner was served with half a loaf of crusty Italian bread, slathered in butter and garlic, and toasted. It was quite enough food for him to take leftovers for next-day lunch as well.

He tried two beers tonight.
Pere Jacques 2009 Belgian Style Ale had a strong, crisp flavor. The beer contains active yeast, which results in a bit of sediment in the bottle. The bottle itself had a simple, sophisticated label, much like a wine bottle label.
New Belgium 1554 Enlightened Black Ale had an unusual flavor with a chocolate finish, making it a good dessert beer. The menu described the 1554 as having a "bright" flavor. I tasted it and declared it to be "awful." In my dining companion's words, the beer-makers must have been messing around with recipes one day and figured that since this beer didn't kill them, they might as well bottle it and see if anyone would buy it. I guarantee you I won't buy it.

On the way out, the gelato counter caught my eye. Their dozen or so flavors are all made fresh in-house. Since this was my first gelato, it was suggested that I try a fruit flavor and a cream flavor. The raspberry was rich and sweet, with seeds indicating that it was made with lots of real raspberries. The chocolate was thick and dark, not too sweet. I would have gotten chocolate had I not just eaten a big heavy meal, so the raspberry won out. Gelato is thicker than ice cream with a wonderfully smooth texture and a very, very rich flavor.

Fat Lorenzo's: Highly Recommended
5600 Cedar Avenue S.
Minneapolis, MN 55417

28 September 2009

Claddagh Irish Pub

Claddagh Irish Pubs have a varied menu with some classic Irish dishes and other popular pub food and comfort food.

I had the Waterford Pasta:
"Grilled chicken, mushrooms, red peppers, goat cheese & rigatoni pasta in a lobster Alfredo sauce."
My pasta was delicious and comforting. I was surprised at how much the cream sauce tasted like lobster and how well it worked with the chicken and red peppers. Goat cheese was a decadent addition.

My dining companion chose the Guinness® Beef Stew:
"Slowly cooked chunks of choice beef stewed with onions, parsnips, carrots & red skin potatoes in a rich beef gravy with fresh herbs & Guinness® stout served on a large toasted bread roll."
I had the beef stew on another visit, and it was served in a bread bowl with mashed potatoes. Our server said that the change to a large roll was made because patrons kept asking for additional bread to eat with the stew. The stew was also much thicker than I remember.

Claddagh Irish Pubs: Recommended
Shoppes at Arbor Lakes
7890 Main Street North
Maple Grove, MN 55369

18 September 2009

Linkage, Volume 82

HEMA
really cool Dutch store with a really cool website
via Sycamore Stirrings

White House Farmers Market
D.C. Approves Plan for Weekly Farmers Market of About 20 Vendors by White House
via Serious Eats

My Son and His Knife
why children of a certain age should be entrusted with a pocketknife
via Babble

Marshmallow Test
Psychological Experiments in Self-Control
via Eat Me Daily

MP Change
still portrait animator
via Miss Cellania

16 September 2009

Chili's Too

Tonight's dinner adventure was chili's too in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.

I had Fire-Grilled Chicken Fajita Quesadillas, and my dining companion had the Bacon Burger with homestyle fries. The airport location had a much smaller menu than a regular Chili's, but the service was much faster the usual sit-down place.

Chili's Too: Recommended
MN/St. Paul Airport
St. Paul, MN 55111-3010

It's good to be home.

15 September 2009

Al Vento

Al Vento is a neighborhood favorite in South Minneapolis. The restaurant has a small dining room and outdoor dining patio and a delightful Italian menu that changes daily.

We started with the bruschetta sample, which allowed us to try one each of their four varieties of crostini:
Tomato and Pesto
Caponata (cooked and marinated eggplant)
Olive Tapenade and Goat Cheese
Corn and Herbs

I had Gnocchi (potato-pasta dumplings, pronounced nyoh-kee) with a thick tomato sauce, spinach, and aged pecorino cheese.
Lemoncello is a tasty after-dinner digestivo that packed a punch which made my ears warm.

My dining companion had Radiatore pasta with black tiger shrimp and artichoke hearts.
Rush River BubbleJack was "very hoppy - too hoppy."
Lake Superior Oatmeal Stout had "hints of chocolate" and was "thick like a milkshake - thick enough to chew".

Al Vento: Highly recommended. Would like to go back often to try the constantly changing menu offerings.
5001 34th Ave S.
Minneapolis, MN 55417

14 September 2009

3 Squares

3 Squares Restaurant
"Sophisticated comfort food with a flair"

I had the Fish Tacos:
"Warm flour tortillas stuffed with blackened fresh tilapia, guacamole, black bean & charred corn salsa, Napa cabbage and chili lime sour cream."

My dining companion had the Stuffed Chicken:
"Chicken breast stuffed with roasted red peppers & creamy herbed Boursin cheese, red pepper sherry cream, sauteed asparagus and Asiago mashed potatoes."

Both entrees were delicious.

3 Squares Restaurant: Recommended.
12690 Arbor Lakes Parkway
Maple Grove MN, 55369

13 September 2009

Operation Irene VII

This weekend, I participated in Operation Irene.

OP Irene is an annual Airsoft event produced by OP Lion Claws to recreate the events of the Battle of Mogadishu that inspired the book and movie Black Hawk Down and to honor the troops who served as Task Force Rangers. A big thanks to John Liu, Col. Danny McKnight, MSG Howard 'Mad Max' Mullen, MSG Matt Eversman, and SGT Kenn Miller for putting this event together and leading the way.

08 September 2009

Linkage, Volume 81

Homo sapiens
non-endangered species at the Bristol Zoo
via Neatorama

Being Bad
bad habits can be good for your health
via Daily Mail

Aquarium Fire
Rube Goldberg would be proud
via Plime