Archive for the ‘Reviews’

Giuseppe’s: Rosemount, MN

It’s been about exactly a year since our last visit to Giuseppe’s in Rosemount and while I remember it being better last time and certainly better when we tried their original location in Burnsville many years ago, it was still decent and cheap–oh, and the bread was still stellar.

Have you been to Giuseppe’s in Rosemount? If so what did you think? Where else in Rosemount do you like to eat? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.

15090 Chippendale Avenue
Rosemount, MN 55068

Giuseppe's on Urbanspoon

Smoke in the Pit BBQ: Minneapolis, MN

Last week the family headed up to Smoke in the Pit in the Powderhorn neighborhood in Minneapolis for dinner. The plan was to brave the overcast skies and sprinkling rain, get some ribs and chicken, and enjoy an evening at Powderhorn Park with the kiddos.

Smoke in the Pit is a tiny takeout place. They have a single ordering window, a restroom, a door to the kitchen, and a few feet of space where customers wait their turns to order or receive their food. While there are quite a few kinks in the system this early in the game, the staff was extremely friendly between bouts of yelling back and forth to quiet down so they could take orders or unlock the kitchen door so they could get back inside.

The menu, currently two pieces of paper stuck, somewhat cockeyed, to the wall above the ordering window, is full of the typical BBQ items: ribs, chicken wings, brisket, etc. They have beans, coleslaw, and mac and cheese as well as random extras for sides. Everything is made in-house even the peach cobbler they had as a special taped to a small piece of torn notebook paper taped to the inside of the ordering window on the day we were there.

We ordered almost everything off the menu including ribs, chicken wings (smoked, not the fried option which was also available), brisket, catfish (nuggets), mac and cheese, beans, coleslaw, and peach cobbler. Our bill came to $36 and we were told to wait about 15 minutes which eventually turned into 25.

We were provided several plastic grocery bags full of food and made our way the three blocks to Powderhorn park for our BBQ picnic. We chose a picnic table by the water and enjoyed watching the geese waddle around with their goslings. We opened up the styrofoam containers and dug in. I was surprised at the size of the portions, especially the ribs as well as the careful consideration of adding both plenty of BBQ sauce and a side of hot sauce.

The sides were pretty boring. The beans were nothing special and could use some work so they don’t closely resemble refried beans out of a can and the coleslaw was yellow, something I’d never encountered, but tasted good enough for me to eat it all–something I generally cannot do with other people’s coleslaw (it’s apple cider vinegar, mayo, sugar, celery salt, and pepper…why do people insist on screwing it up?!). The mac and cheese, however, gets its own lengthy description because, well, it was the strangest mac and cheese we’d ever eaten. It wasn’t cheesy, it had mushrooms in it, and it had absolutely no flavor, not even salt. After eating what amounted to be noodles and cream of mushroom soup several times over the evening we decided this was noodle soup and decided to never order it again. Hey Smoke in the Pit, you forgot the cheese and added mushrooms–gross.

The chicken wings were quite good. Fall of the bone tender, great smoke flavor, and a crispy skin. They were quite good enough on their own without the hot sauce (which was your standard cayenne pepper sauce and could have used some butter but whatever) or BBQ sauce. While I couldn’t drag myself back there to eat them again after waiting 25 minutes, they were almost worth the drive.

The brisket was disappointing. While it was tender, that was about all that could be said for it. Fatty, drained of color, and overall not very good, this is something which really should be one of the stars of the show. Really a sad thing, it didn’t even look appetizing at all.

The ribs, though, were absolutely amazing. BIG, meaty, tender, and smokey, these fell right off the bone. In fact, it was almost possible that you could pick up the bone, give it a shake or two, and have a pile of rib meat on your plate. While the BBQ sauce accompanying them was decent, like the chicken wings, these required no sauce. I have had ribs all over the place and while these aren’t the best by any stretch of the imagination, they were my favorite so far in Minnesota. I just wish there was some rub or stellar BBQ sauce on the side…

Overall I thought Smoke in the Pit was good enough to do again with a lakeside picnic. While I’d stick to the meats and bring my own sides and BBQ sauce, this would be a place I’d recommend you get the wings and ribs, they were pretty great.

Have you been to Smoke in the Pit? What did you order and what did you think? What other great BBQ places have you been to recently that you think we should try for another BBQ picnic in the future? Whatever you have to say about Smoke in the Pit BBQ in Minneapolis go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Smoke in the Pit
3733 Chicago Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55407


Smoke in the Pit on Urbanspoon

Roasted Pear: Burnsville, MN

Several years ago I gave a pretty decent review to the Roasted Pear in Burnsville. While the food we had there was in no way mind-blowing, it was decent; however, we never went back because it wasn’t really a place we ever gave much thought to. Tonight, after a nearby stop at the doctor for The Koala (no worries, just teething), we swung over to The Roasted Pear to cash in on their fairly extensive and reasonably priced happy hour specials.

We arrived at around 5:15 and found most of the restaurant empty. There were a few people at the bar drinking the boring domestics they had on tap and a few scattered tables, mostly around the outside of the restaurant, populated with people eating early. We ordered several items off the happy hour menu: the wings (buffalo comes on the side), the three sliders (pulled pork, cheeseburger, and chicken sandwich), a spicy giardiniera pizza with sausage, and an order of sweet potato fries. Their happy hour specials range between $4 and $7 and we ordered items from each level. FYI, their online menu seems a little out of date to what we were provided last evening and some of those options were either not available or were slightly modified from what you will see on their website.

The food was out in a reasonable amount of time and came to the table looking like what I would expect from a Sysco-truck-to-table restaurant. The sweet potato fries were abundant but obviously came from a bag. They were accompanied by ketchup and their ‘signature’ root beer ketchup. Now, I want you to stop for a moment and take some time to think about what just went through your mind when you heard “root beer ketchup”. Whatever shock or horror came to mind would never, ever, ever even come close to preparing you for the horrendous flavor which would erupt in your mouth when you dipped one of those previously frozen sweet potato fries in this disgusting concoction and then decided it would be safe to eat. I really have to wonder who thought that up and whether they actually ate the stuff afterward because, if they had, they would NEVER have served it to anyone. SO. UNBELIEVABLY. GROSS.

The Slider Trio were nothing special at all. I have seen previously frozen White Castle hamburgers which looked to be more appetizing than these three. While I didn’t bother to taste any of them, the overdone cheeseburger looked grey and droopy with a tiny bit of cheese; the chicken sandwich looked like a dried frozen patty; and while the pulled pork was said to be the best of the three, it looked like it came straight from a microwaved Lloyd’s bucket instead of from the corner of the wood-fired oven.

The wings were meaty but tasted off and had the texture of frozen wings defrosted and cooked in an oven instead of the crisp and flavorful wings they should have been either from the wood-fired oven or a grill. While the wings were edible, their version of Buffalo sauce was not. I don’t know how anyone could screw up Buffalo like they did but even though it looked like buffalo, it tasted like spicy tea and the weak bleu cheese dressing did absolutely nothing to save this eye-watering disappointment. It was right about this time that I realized why the restaurant and bar were empty…it’s because the place is horrendous. However, the pizza was the only decent item we had last night. While it was doughy, undercooked, and looked like a frozen Target-brand pizza, the giardiniera was not oily, the truly spicy pieces were large and could have been confused with being homemade, and the sausage was abundant. I enjoyed the pizza for $5 but they need to utilize that wood-fired oven to make the crust crisp and charred, not bring it down to its other miserable happy hour counterparts by appearing as a pale and sick previously-frozen pizza.

Overall Roasted Pear has really gone down hill in the last few years and we wouldn’t be surprised if they close their doors soon. The most surprising part of the entire evening was that not one single employee asked us what we thought of the food. While the service was fine, they spent most of their time huddled in the kitchen and service area chatting instead of trying to make the experience better. Great service when the place is empty is one thing but when the food is borderline inedible, it doesn’t make for a pleasant experience and more should be done to remedy that situation. Honestly, I’d rather have eaten at Ernie’s Pub. Yeah, it was really that bad.

Roasted Pear
14200 Nicollet Ave
Burnsville, MN 55337


Roasted Pear on Urbanspoon

Donut Star: Burnsville, MN

On Sunday I wasn’t in the mood for eggs or cereal for breakfast, so I took The Koala out with me to get some donuts. While we had previously tried Puffy Cream in Eagan, some others had reminded me of Donut Star in Burnsville so I decided to give it a try.

Walked in just after 7:30 AM and there were two people sitting down reading the paper and one guy in line. I was surprised at the selection being smaller than that of the already small selection at Puffy Cream and I was doubly surprised at the mostly boring offerings. Aside from the maple-glazed, bacon-topped long john, which I had to immediately request, there really wasn’t anything there that jumped out at me.

I ordered several standard glazed, two Bismarcks, the bacon topped long-john, and a few old fashioned as well as some others I now forget. Like Puffy Cream, they had a few drinks in the cooler and some fairly standard coffee brewing. It’s no wonder Minnesotans aren’t into donuts; the shops don’t make decent ones and the coffee there is terrible.

The donuts themselves (at $11.80 for a dozen) were terrible. The glaze was thin and generally tasteless and the donuts, only 1.5 hours after open, seemed day old. The bacon-topped long long should have been stellar. The crispy and salty bacon countering the sweet of the glaze and the soft of the donut but the bacon was flavorless and aside from the crunch did little to help the situation. I was just bored with this one and let The Wife eat the rest; she seemed similarly bored with the donut. Shame.

Overall I won’t be returning to Donut Star. While the service was great, the food just was not. Coming from the East Coast were donuts and coffee start just about everyone’s day, I have a different view of how these sorts of places should operate and while neither Puffy Cream nor Donut Star meet that standard, Donut Star isn’t even in the same universe.

Have you had Donut Star donuts? If so what did you think? Where else around town do you go for doughnuts when you feel the craving? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Donut Star
2901 Cliff Rd E
Burnsville, MN 55337


Donut Star on Urbanspoon