Archive for the ‘Closed’

YumMi: Minneapolis, MN

YumMi Banh Mi Food Truck taken by Dave Glad

This food truck is now permanently closed.

The newest truck to hit the street in Minneapolis, opening only yesterday, is YumMi Banh Mi. Located at the furthest reaches of ‘Food Truck Alley’ at 11th and Nicollet downtown. this truck sports a custom built trailer offering all the amenities they need to push out their take on the traditional Vietnamese banh mi.

The first thing that surprised me about YumMi is the size of their truck trailer. However when I thought about how much room they really needed to push out pulled pork, chicken and beef banh mi it dawned on me that perhaps smaller may just be better when it comes to the local food truck/trailer scene. Appearing to be slightly smaller than Dandelion Kitchen‘s trailer, YumMi was able to pack quite a bit of punch into their sandwiches. The second thing that surprised me was their late start into the 2011 season. With most trucks closing up shop for the winter in the next few weeks (usually when the first snow falls), YumMi’s insistence on getting out there in mid-October seemed almost like a lost cause. However the owners are convinced that they will be able to do catering and lunch box meals from that location all winter long and seemed genuinely positive that it will work. I noted that they definitely would have less competition in the scene for those willing to brave the bitter cold to grab a sandwich from them!

YumMi food truck’s menu offers few options, with some to be available only on certain days–if at all. However, their mainstays are their Moo Mi, Oink Mi, Peck Mi, and Bean Mi. While they’re somewhat cute I have to admit that ordering an “Oink Mi” provided me an opportunity to be a little childish and giggle at the inappropriate play on words possible.

My coworker ordered the ‘Moo Mi’ listed as, “Korean-style marinated beef, spicy cucumber carrot slaw, cilantro, Sriracha aiolo (sic),” which was priced fairly steeply at $7.50 and a $1.50 homemade lemonade. MSPD and I ordered their ‘Oink Mi’ sandwiches noted as including, “Vietnamese-style caramel braised pork belly/shoulder, pickled carrot and daikon, cucumber, cilantro, Sriracha aioli,” for $8.00. With a large bottle of Sriracha available for dousing I poured a little on top of mine and away we went with sprigs of fresh cilantro flying off into the blustery wind along Nicollet.

Sriracha! taken by Dave Glad

At first glance the sandwiches look like any other banh mi I’ve ever had. While the rolls themselves were somewhat less crusty than many I’ve tried, I definitely appreciated the way they held most everything together as I ate. The vegetables were fresh and crisp but I wish I could have tasted more of their pickled goodness. While I loved the idea of a nice Sriracha aioli it was definitely toned down to match Minnesota tastes.

I took a bite of my ‘Oink Mi’ first. The meat wasn’t as plentiful as I would prefer but the quality of both the meat, being that they braise pork belly and shoulder, and the cooking process surpasses what you’re likely to find elsewhere around town. The pork was quite tasty and when taken with the whole, it was one very tasty sandwich. The ‘Moo Mi’ on the other hand, while still decent, lacked the meat flavor of the ‘Oink Mi’ and definitely was not up to par with the rest of the downtown food truck competition in this category.

The homemade lemonade was in a class all by itself however. Not too sweet, not too sour, and what seemed to include something I just couldn’t put a finger on that made it taste like it was loaded with liquor, I really enjoyed their offering–especially at $1.50. But while I thought it was excellent my coworker drank only a small bit before passing it along while noting it wasn’t enjoyable for her. My sole complaint about the drink was that it was lukewarm. While the truck owners mentioned they forgot straws, and that was definitely not a problem, it seemed they also forgot ice too which was more of a problem even on a day which was 10 degrees cooler than the weather report promised.

Overall I liked what we tried at YumMi but I definitely believe they need to seriously rethink either the amounts they’re serving or the prices they’re charging in order to compete with the other downtown food truck offerings. If you’re heading out that way be sure to pick up some lemonade and an ‘Oink Mi’ and let us know what you think!

Have you tried YumMi’s banh mi yet? If so which one(s) have you tried? Did you like their lemonade? What other places which serve banh mi do you usually frequent? Do you agree that $7.50+ for a banh mi, even in the food truck scene (with World Street Kitchen generally charging $1.50 less–although not serving a true banh mi), is a bit much? Whatever you have to say go ahead and comment on below!

S 11th St and Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Monday – Friday 10:30AM – 2:00PM

YumMi on Urbanspoon

See all the pictures from YumMi Food Truck on Flickr here.

Burger Time: Apple Valley, MN

This location is now closed.

Based on reader reports of Burger Time in Apple Valley having its grand opening on Friday April 22nd, The Wife and I made plans to head over there and sample several burgers off the menu with both The Rooster and Josh. With an Urbanspoon review of their White Bear Lake location claiming, “Fake smoke flavor on the burgers and frozen fries. Portion size and price are good, too bad it is barely edible,” and then suggesting you should get there soon because it was clear it was going to close in short order, I went in a bit apprehensive after hearing that the White Bear Lake location did indeed close only a few days later.

We arrived just after 11 AM on Friday. Aside from one other family seated, we were the only people in the place for lunch so far. We took a look over the very simple menu (which differs slightly from the one available on their website), which The Wife remarked as being just as spartan as Raising Cane’s across the street, and placed our orders for a Famous Bigger Burger combo (with fries), a Bigger Cheeseburger combo (with onion rings), a Mushroom Swiss Burger, a Bacon Cheeseburger, and a Hawaiian BBQ Burger combo (with fries). The combos come with fries in a small beverage cup (or a bag for the onion rings) and a 32oz drink and are quite competitively priced for 1/3lb burgers. Our total (for four burger combos of a variety of types) came to just under $25.

The space is simple. Seating for 25 with several of the tables placed directly in the way of the ordering line, cheap feeling aluminum chairs (which one person I spoke with claimed were too short for the tables something I didn’t notice), and a counter with several stools lining the windows facing Chipotle and White Castle. There is a tiny window behind the counter where the food is brought from the kitchen to the front. Because of this, and it’s unfortunate, you cannot see how they make or assemble the burgers. Aside from the Coke machine and the kitsch on the wall, there isn’t much to see in this tiny space which used to house a TCBY, a Starbucks, and a Homemade Pizza Company before it.

Our orders were called, far faster than what you’d expect from a place that supposedly makes burgers to order such as Culver’s, and regardless of your dining option (takeout or dine in) are served in thin paper bags with the burgers on the bottom and the sides on the top. The onion rings and the fries are fine. Nothing spectacular here but certainly better than what you’re likely to find at many other fast food restaurants in town. While I am not much for onion rings or fries myself, I placed the fries closer to McDonald’s and way better than Burger King or Culver’s (not that it is hard to beat those two) and the onion rings as the best you can get in fast food as they were neither greasy nor overdone and had an appropriate amount of breading to get the job done.

I started with my Famous Bigger Burger and took a close look. When I ordered they asked if I wanted everything on it and I did. It came with lettuce, tomato, mayo, red onions, pickles and ketchup. The patty was large and filled out the entire bun but the meat was thin and cooked medium-well. The vegetables were fresh enough for fast food and tasted fine. When put all together my sandwich tasted just like a Whopper from Burger King. Thankfully Apple Valley has no Burger King nearby and thus if you’re in the mood for a Whopper, you’ll have to visit Burger Time to get it. Aside from that, I saw nothing special enough about the Burger Time burger to suggest you forgo your plans to visit Junior’s Cafe and Grill or King’s Place or agree with their bold statement that it’s “famous”. My wife, however, thoroughly enjoyed her burger and said it was definitely better than the burgers you can get at any other fast food restaurant. Both her and Josh noted that it reminded them of Culver’s burgers only better and bigger.

While the burger, cheeseburger, and bacon cheeseburgers came with the works, the Hawaiian BBQ and Mushroom and Swiss burgers came with nothing except what their names stated aside from some strips of bacon and a slice of cheese which were unexpected on the Hawaiian BBQ burger. The Hawaii BBQ burger’s BBQ sauce was very smoky and tasted good in contrast to the sweet (and clearly canned) pineapple rings. Overall I thought it was an interesting burger and one I’d order again if I were in the mood for that sort of thing. The Mushroom Swiss Burger came with a healthy dose of sauteed mushrooms and what appeared to be less cheese than we experienced on the rest of the burgers. Josh doesn’t like vegetables on his burgers and The Wife used them on the Mushroom and Swiss burger and said while the burger was fine she was definitely glad she had the additional toppings to round out the sandwich.

Of particular note were the 32oz soft drinks (the only size we saw available at the counter). While their website notes that their combos only come in one size, “BIG!” we just didn’t understand the draw. Of the three soft drinks purchased none of us finished even half of the cup and left the rest to go down the drain. I’m not quite sure why they didn’t offer any other sizes but I’m definitely guessing that in 2011 it’s time to go back to smaller cups being available. No one needs that much corn syrup along with their 1/3+lb burgers and honestly, it’s just a waste of money for everyone.

While I believe that Burger Time could survive in another location in Apple Valley, I am not convinced that they will be able to hold their own in a place which has housed so many other restaurants unsuccessfully. Fast food places really do need a drive-through and with stiff competition from White Castle and McDonald’s across the street as well as a pretty awful traffic pattern in that parking lot, I just don’t see Burger Time making it. In addition, I am particularly concerned by the recent closure of the White Bear Lake location and sudden opening of the Apple Valley one days later. I wouldn’t be surprised if they took the remaining assets from the WBL location and brought them to Apple Valley to sell what they had and recoup some of their losses on rent (since September) knowing they are likely to get the opening rush + Groupon customers’ dollars and then closing up shop for good in a few weeks.

Overall I thought the burgers were fine for the price and size and my wife said she’d much rather eat them than any of the other fast food joints in town. However, there are just too many unknowns with Burger Time for me to say that I believe they’ll survive but in the mean time get out there and see what you think and let us know below.

Burger Time
7594 150th St W
Apple Valley MN 55124

Burger Time on Urbanspoon

See all the pictures from Burger Time in Apple Valley on Flickr here.

Taqueria Hidalgo: Burnsville, MN

This location is now closed.

Back in February when I attended the EDAM meeting where Burnsville and the BPAC Executive Director, Jon Elbaum, misrepresented faulty data as truth, I decided to do my part to bolster local businesses prior to a BPAC-hosted event by eating at Taqueria Hidalgo located in the strip mall across the street. While not the famed Subway which did its best day of business ever due to the BPAC, I figured it was worth spending a few dollars there than eating food catered from a restaurant which exists in its current location solely due to the strong economic incentives provided at great taxpayer expense.

I walked in to a nearly empty store. It was me, two women working the counter/grill, and a friend chatting with the woman cooking. While being mostly ignored I finally shouted my order out over their chatting and eventually the cook got to work assembling my most favorite lunch item to order at Hispanic restaurants–a Cuban Torta. The menu board gave a few hints as to what was included but the open counter format allowed me to watch as the cook grilled my meat, heated up the bread, and assembled my sandwich.

When I eat a torta from a taqueria I expect a few things:

1. A good amount of tasty meat.
2. Fresh and abundant veggies such as sliced jalapenos–not from a can/jar.
3. Soft, warm bread which does not fall apart when you hold it in your hands.
4. Bright green avocado freshly scooped from the skin.

Unfortunately the torta from Taqueria Hidalgo missed each and every single one. The meat was flavorless, overcooked, and dry. The veggies were disappointing scarce and while I got my requested “extra jalapenos” they were salty and gross and carried a distinct metallic taste. The bread was dry, almost toasted instead of warm and pliable, and fell apart as I ate it leaving my hands covered in pieces of tasteless cheese and avocado. It came out of a large plastic bag on the counter and if it had been shipped in that day it certainly wasn’t fresh when it was. The avocado, which was scooped from one of the many stainless containers behind the glass of the counter, was dark and clearly had been exposed to the air for far too long.

I tried and tried and tried to enjoy the sandwich and even slowed down and took my time to see if there was some little thing I was missing but overall I was extremely disappointed in the torta I tried at Taqueria Hidalgo. While I’m certain they have some specific menu item I was clearly missing out on, being that the service was less than friendly, it is unlikely I would have found out what those special items were.

The price for my sandwich and bottled soft drink came to $7.99. Certainly nothing outrageous but definitely overpriced for the quality of the ingredients and the overall product I received. I probably would have been better off at Subway for one of their $5 footlongs. That said, I wouldn’t recommend anyone seek out Taqueria Hidaglo and in fact, if you’re in the mood for a torta, I suggest you head down Burnsville Parkway to CR-5 and try out Tacolmeca instead.

Have you ever eaten at Taqueria Hidalgo in Burnsville before? If so what did you think? What did you order and would you recommend that item as something to try instead? Compared to other local Hispanic restaurants around the area how would you rank Taqueria Hidalgo? Whatever you have to say about TH in Burnsville go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Taqueria Hidalgo
12609 Nicollet Ave
Burnsville, MN 55337


Taqueria Hidalgo on Urbanspoon

Chateau Lamothe: Burnsville, MN

This location is now closed.

Joey mentioned to me that he was interested in trying Chateau Lamothe in Burnsville. Well known for its highly rated wine list, we did the restaurant absolutely no justice by sticking to water. A cozy and family run restaurant, this location pokes its head out from behind several suburban hotels and is buffered by an entrance ramp to I-35 right across from Nicollet Ave in Burnsville. We’d heard many good things about the place including that it was a near diamond in the rough and really brought something special to an area which was generally devoid of any similar dining options prior to Porter Creek Hardwood Grill.

Chateau Lamothe really rolls out the red carpet for its guests and provides everyone with a great overview of the menu, special care to explain the history behind their most famous dishes, and even delivers water in a festive holiday pitcher apparently dug from the depths of the chef’s home one winter night. All wonderful touches which make any restaurant a nice place to escape for an evening.

I ordered what was sold to me as one of Julia Child’s most famous dishes–Boeuf Bourguignon. A classic meal which Oprah’s website proclaims, “one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man,” sounded like the absolute best entree on the eve of, “the worst snow storm since the famed Halloween Blizzard of 1991.” Seriously, what isn’t to like when a dish contains bacon, beef, and red wine? This dish had me nearly foaming at the mouth prior to its arrival at the table. Clearly I had been looking forward to this meal for weeks as I always enjoy an evening out with my lovely wife and good friends while The Rooster squawks angrily at someone else for a few hours.

After dinner we went home and flipped through the Netflix streaming queue. About a week before I blindly added Julie and Julia based on a quick recommendation from a Netflix streaming aggregator site. I knew nothing about the movie aside from the fact that it was about Julia Child. Turns out it’s about a blogger who spends a year going through Julia Child’s famous cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking recreating the recipes and writing about her experiences. At one point near the end of the movie a woman who was reading over a copy of Julia’s recipes to determine its publishing worth decided to cook Boeuf Bourguignon at home. After tasting it she was nearly brought to her knees–a feeling which I myself have experienced a few times and, like any addict, wish to repeat time and time again…always searching for a better high.

So Chateau Lamothe’s large and steaming bowl of Boeuf Bourguignon arrives at the table. Simple enough with whole mushrooms, bright and fresh green peas poking out from behind potatoes and carrots, and a hunk of crusty bread just begging to receive a hearty dunking in the stew. Their recreation of Julia Child’s famous dish did not bring me to my knees and unfortunately while all of the ingredients were there and done correctly, it just lacked something I was unable to put a finger on. The meat was extremely tender but not to the point of falling apart, the potatoes were perfectly cooked and the mushrooms had just the right texture. Unfortunately it all tasted the same–like many of the stews I make each winter and somehow fail to execute properly. While they were trying very hard and were clearly interested in closing the feedback loop as the server, one of the owners, and even the chef came out of the kitchen to ask us how everything was, I was left at a loss for words. While it was fine, it wasn’t worth the $19 I paid for it.

But even so there were some bright spots. My friends both had excellent soups. The lobster bisque was a smooth, creamy and hearty concoction which brought kudos from Joey. His wife’s French onion soup, while not served exactly how you see it everywhere else, was hearty and full of what she proclaimed were the most perfectly sized onions for the soup. My wife’s pork and Joey’s wife’s Beef Wellington were both cooked to perfection.

However the misses kept on rolling in. My wife’s carrots and wild rice were missing any distinctive flavors. Everyone complained that the potatoes were bland and without salt and pepper available on our table, or any table in our immediate area for that matter, there was little hope for improvement. A half tomato covered in cheese adorned the sides of the ladies’ plates and was just as ho-hum as the rest. Everyone seemed to agree that a simple shrug of the shoulders would suffice to explain the experience. This would have been fine if the average cost per entree hadn’t been $24.

While there were some hits and some misses, the evening ended on a great note with homemade peanut butter cookies delivered to the table with the love and affection that the rest of the food had been. The food may have not been as wonderful as we all had made it out to be in our heads but Joey noted that at least it was better than anything you would ever be served across the street at Chianti Grill.

Chateau Lamothe
14351 Nicollet Ct
Burnsville, MN 55306-4574


Chateau Lamothe on Urbanspoon

See all the pictures from Chateau Lamothe on Flickr here.