Archive for the ‘Restaurants’

Ground Round: Farmington, MN

Image courtesy of reader Greg

According to a report from reader Greg, the location which used to house Blondie’s Tavern along MN-3 in Farmington is soon going to be a Ground Round (September 2013).

Obviously Farmington’s plans to hire a $30,000 marketing consultant is even more successful than they thought because before they could even get started it is already working! Farmington is going to be getting one of the world’s most well known chains! Even Burnsville used to have a Ground Round 10 years ago before it was replaced by a restaurant serving root beer ketchup! We’re talking Burnsville 10 years ago people; this is really big news for Farmington! Seriously, Burnsville had a K-mart. A K-mart! Imagine the possibilities if K-mart came to Farmington. Yes, it’s really that big of a deal!

If you’re not quite convinced yet at how successful the Ground Round in Farmington will be, just check out the menu. I don’t even want you to look at the names or descriptions even though a sandwich named ‘Steak Bomb’ just sounds so tempting. Just look over the pictures on the menu, especially the one circulating at the top of the menu page. I mean, gorgeous golden frozen french fries, well-done meats avoiding all that juicy and runny mess, pale shrimp which would be devoid of that terrible shrimp flavor? WHAT IS THERE NOT TO LOVE ABOUT THIS COMING TO FARMINGTON?

People, when Ground Round arrives in Farmington you can bet your first born that I will be waiting in the line which will wrap all the way into their foyer from the hostess’ podium to be one of the first to be served the wonders which lie on its menu. I mean why would I ever go to another local Mexican restaurant in the area when I can get Tex Mex at the Ground Round?! THIS IS A NO-BRAINER!

What do you think about the Ground Round coming to Farmington? Are you as excited as I am? What is your favorite menu item on a restaurant which would bring Farmington to Burnsville 10 years ago? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on below as I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Ground Round
20700 Chippendale Ave
Farmington, MN, 55024

New 2013 Minnesota State Fair Food

Every year for the last 4 years I have written about the new food being released at the Minnesota State Fair. If you’re really dying to read them you can find them all here: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.

I have to admit I’ve really never been a huge fair food fan, but over the years I have become increasingly less tolerant of the garbage that these vendors put out every year for ungodly prices and call it new. This year “a record 47 new foods will debut,” according to the StarTribune and while Twitter was buzzing yesterday about these new items, the list is a record 47 awful items.

Here are some lowlights:

    1. Bacon Wrapped Shrimp on a Stick

      This is just ridiculous, done 100000000x different times in 1000000000x different ways. They should have been banned from the new food list for being boring.

    2. Cajun Pork Rinds

      Famous Dave’s does it again by using the most useless pieces of meat they can find and still charge more than $5 for a small portion of it. No thanks, I’ll pass.

    3. Craft Beer Onion Rings

      Because we want to capitalize on the high cost of craft beer, people’s stupidity at the Fair, and the fact that we can charge a TON of money by saying it’s new, we’re going to use craft beer to make onion rings and screw everyone out of their hard earned cash because they’re sheep! This is just pain wrong.

    4. Mancini’s Classic Char-Grilled Garlic Toast

      What better way to make a KILLING financially than grilling a bunch of bread with butter and garlic and sell it for $5+ while grinning that the public is actually buying it because it’s “new”.

    5. Fried Pickles and Chocolate

      Fried pickles were a new thing at the fair a new years ago and while they weren’t done well at all there, why not make them disgusting by having people dip them in chocolate?! If you can’t compete with decent food, you can’t really make it cheap and trick people into eating it (Mancini’s) then you do the next best thing–make it gross but partially edible.

You know, this is just awful. There wasn’t a single item on there that I said to myself, “that’s actually new or interesting and worth my time.” In fact, on Twitter and Facebook I wondered if we could just do away with almost all of the traditional Minnesota State Fair vendors and replace them with food truck vendors from around the country. Want to talk about new and interesting? Tasting good and really being worth your admission price + the cost of food? That would be it.

What do you think about the new Minnesota State Fair food in 2013? Are any of these at all interesting to you and why? What about the food truck idea? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Captain Jack’s: Prior Lake, MN

Yesterday we had to head over to Prior Lake to run an errand for a friend. Being that we were already in the area we decided to hit up Captain Jack’s in order to enjoy some dinner outside and right on the lake.

Captain Jack’s has some prime waterfront real estate on Prior Lake. While it’s a bit difficult to find, requiring visitors to navigate a twisty, turvy route through neighborhoods, once you arrive you’re welcomed with a VERY LARGE outdoor seating setup including a sandy area and fire pit with colorful chairs to wait for a seat, a bar lined with rope swing seating, and many tables both above and around the bar which offer stellar views of the lake.

Captain Jack’s menu is your typical bar/restaurant menu and includes a variety of burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, and appetizers. The Wife ordered their Captain Chicken (chicken tenders, provolone and cheddar cheeses, bacon and ranch dressing on sourdough for $9.99. I ordered their South of the Border Burger (bacon, pico de gallo, avocado, jalapeno, and pepper jack cheese) for $10.99. The prices are a little bit high but based on our experience and what we saw delivered to other tables, in addition to the great lakeshore location, the portions are large enough to justify the cost.

Eventually our food arrived and we dug in. The Wife’s Captain Chicken sandwich looked good; it was something like a grilled cheese with chicken and bacon. While I didn’t try any of it, engrossed as I was in my own monstrous burger, she said it was good.

They note their burgers are made with a 1/2lb of the best ground beef available, are served on a toasted bakery bun, and served with fabulous fries. Well, while the burger was huge and the bun was decent, the fries were the typical fresh from the freezer, McDonald’s style variety. While I won’t complain about them, I’m not going to let Captain Jack’s get away with calling them ‘fabulous’.

However, who cares about fries when you have a half-pound burger stacked high with pico de gallo, avocado, jalapenos, cheese and bacon sitting in front of you? I ordered this beast medium-rare and while it didn’t look very pink after I cut it in half, it had the mouth-feel of medium rare and, as you can see, the avocado, pico de gallo, etc were all there in great quantities making this one beautiful looking burger.

Maybe it was the 85 degree weather, waves lapping at the shore, or the beer that I was downing in the gorgeous sunshine but after the first bite of the South of the Border burger, I had to admit that Captain Jack’s ranks up there with some of the best South of the River burgers. It was big, juicy, and carried a ton of meat flavor even with all of the toppings. While the bacon could have been done a little more (I am totally ok with it being a little on the floppy side; most people are not, however), I couldn’t mind much to say other than I am looking forward to another night overlooking the lake with a burger and a beer. Perfect.

Overall The Wife and I really liked our time at Captain Jack’s and we’re planning on heading back again this summer (hopefully sans kids!) for an evening of sitting on the deck, enjoying some food and drinks, and maybe taking a swinging seat at the bar. We certainly recommend you try it too.

Have you ever been to Captain Jack’s in Prior Lake? If so what did you order and what did you think? What are your favorite burger joins South of the River? What lakefront places do you like best for a night out to eat? What other places in Prior Lake have you tried and enjoyed? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Captain Jack’s
3950 Green Heights Trl SW
Prior Lake, MN 55372


Captain Jack's on Urbanspoon

Downtown Diner: Alexandria, MN

On Father’s Day we headed into Alexandria, MN for breakfast at our favorite little spot, Downtown Diner. A no frills operation which is generally packed with people, this diner sports a full menu, a single cook, and a single waitress who remembers exactly what you ordered last time even if it was your first time.

While The Wife has ordered several different menu items, I have always stuck with the Hungry Man which includes a mind boggling two eggs, two bacon slices, a sausage patty, two sausage links, a piece of ham steak, and toast for just over $7. After our first visit we realized we didn’t need to order the kids two meals because their pancake breakfast, which takes up 3/4 of a dinner plate, feeds them both just fine (we’re told the adult sized pancakes take up the entire plate, plus some, and are more than one).

The food is simple but well done. The Wife loves that they make really thick bacon and I love that their sausage links are almost the size of brats. The fact that they remember your order after your first visit and never let your coffee drop below 2″ from the top are just some of the reasons I love the place. However, there is one item which we have seen on each visit but didn’t try until yesterday–their caramel rolls.

Bob’s Caramel Rolls (listed as ‘carmel rolls’ on the whiteboard) are $2.29 each and tower over the small plate on which they are presented. They come out warm and glistening with a thick coating of smooth and sweet caramel and, as if the caramel wasn’t enough, they come with a side of warm butter to add on if you so choose. Now, as many of you know, I am not into desserts or pastries all that much. In fact, I generally avoid them at all costs and let The Wife do the reviews of that side, however, I was so very glad I gave these a try.

The roll was more than enough for two of us but in the future I’m keeping one all to myself as it was that good. Nothing like the dense and dry caramel rolls which usually grace diners, this one was light, fluffy, and sweet. Cutting off pieces with a fork, I was shoveling them into my mouth as fast as I could to try and steal just one more piece before The Wife could take another from me. Coupled with the coffee, this was something which I mentioned on Twitter was well worth the $45 in gas it would take to get there.

I love Downtown Diner in Alexandria for so many reasons and highly recommend it if you happen to be driving through the area or, as I mentioned on Twitter, if you are in the mood for a nice drive and a great reward at the end.

Have you eaten at Downtown Diner in Alexandria? If so what did you have and what did you think? Where else can you find delectable caramel rolls? Where is your favorite diner anywhere? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Downtown Diner
411 1/2 Broadway St
Alexandria, MN 56308

(320) 763-1703

Downtown Diner on Urbanspoon