Category Archives: Restaurant

Lip Smackin’ Good

It may have taken longer than the Twin Cities wanted, but it would appear that diners feel it was worth the wait.  It’s already challenging to get dinner reservations at the Smack Shack, situated in the North Loop neighborhood.


We had a fun time with the VIP party, as everyone knows that restaurant openings are my favorite events! Thank you to Erica Loeks for the images!




There are few things greater in life than fresh oysters and champagne, especially if it is Veuve Cliquot.  The chefs shucked the oysters and presented it on the massive ice sculpture from Ice Occasions.



The centerpiece of the restaurant is the large blue lobster tank, ensuring that the lobster live in pristine water.



My faves:  Continental Roll (warm lobster roll), Smack Burger, Shrimp Boil.  (oh, and save some room for yummy dessert)

Smack Shack
603 Washington Avenue North
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401

Beacon at the Not So Common(s) Hotel

With all the Light Rail construction on Washington Avenue, you may have missed the rennovation that was done on the former Radisson University Hotel.  While the hotel had gone through “rennovation” before, the before and after were not drastic enough to make an impression.

So when I found out the Noble House took over, it did picque my interest (I used to stay at Edgewater Hotel, a Noble House property in Seattle, Washington).  They turned the rather forgettable hotel into the geeky chic  Commons Hotel.

Aside from the decor, the hotel’s new restaurant, Beacon Public House, is a drastic change from the previous restaurant with a fresher, gastropub menu.

Commons Hotel01       Commons Hotel10 Commons Hotel11

During a recent lunch, I started with a Caprese Salad, which was nicely dressed (with a fun presentation).

Caprese Salad at Beacon Public House at Commons Hotel

The lobster bisque was creamy and had a nice hit of spice. (** note that the lobster bisque is a meal size portion)

Commons Hotel04

My main course, Carbonara, was a little too creamy to be thought of as true Italian, but I liked the presentation of the egg (to coat the pasta and vegetables) and the crunch of the pea pods.

Commons Hotel06

But the star of the lunch was the very yummy apple tartlet.  The crust is made of croissant and the tartlet is drizzled with caramel and served with cinnamon ice cream.  Yum!

Commons Hotel07
Beacon Public House
Commons Hotel
615 Washington Avenue SE
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Pre Thanksgiving Meal

If you work downtown, you’re lucky enough to be able to enjoy Yum Yum Bowl or Bahn Mi from World Street Kitchen during the summer.  However, it is always a little sad when late fall rolls around and the food truck goes to hibernate for a long winter’s nap.

Fortunately, World Street Kitchen now has a year-round fast, casual restaurant in Uptown and I got a sneak peek and sneak taste Wednesday night.

I love the clean, industrial space, the friendly staff and, of course, the food.

I ordered the Korean Yum Yum Bowl as I’ve been craving kimchi.  Chef may have been a bit nervous about me trying it, as I’m very picky about kimchi. I have to say, it was the best locally made from scratch mild kimchi I’ve had (although it still can’t touch my stepmother’s, in all fairness, she’s made several gallons a year for over 60 years).

And follow that up with a little Salted Caramel Ice Cream (with nuts, marshmallows and chocolate…think Tin Roof Sundae).

The new restaurant opens today, Friday, at 5:00 pm.

World Street Kitchen
27th and Lyndale Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Takashi: Taste + Beauty

Watching Top Chef Masters this season, I was rooting for Chef Takashi Yagihashi.  Not just for the food he was putting out, but also his lovely manner (obviously, I wasn’t the only one who noticed since he was voted Fan Favorite).

So imagine receiving an email being invited to Takashi’s new Japanese Kaiseki Dinner!  The Kaiseki dinner is offered on Sunday evenings with Seven Courses or Eleven Courses.  Wine pairings may be added, as well.

We were presented with the eleven course dinner.

After dining for over three hours, Chef introduced himself and we were able to chat with him…that was my favorite part of the meal! (yes, I get more star struck by chefs than I do rock or movie stars)

You will have to excuse my photography, as it is greatly lacking and doesn’t do his food justice.

Beausoleil Oyster with Fresh Yuba, Jensai Soy, Yuzu Sauce paired with Kurashizuku Ginjo Sake

Crudo of Hirame with Santa Barbara Sea Urchin with Reduction of Verjus and Truffle Salt paired with Rihaku Junmai Nigori

Otukuri of Big Eye Tuna, Day Boat Maine Scallop, Alaskan Spot Prawns with Daikon, Ogo, Wasabi and Umami-Soy

Soy-Braised Pork Belly and Winter Melon with Shi-Shito Peppers, Arimansho Pepper Sauce paired with Kiara Shochu

I’ve had a lot of pork belly and this one has to rank up there in the top three.  The broth and hot mustard complemented the pork belly so beautifully.

Dobin Mushi Matsutake Mushroom, Suzuki, Tofu, Mitsuba paired with Tozai-Junmai

We were instructed to use our chopsticks to eat the mushrooms, fish and tofu. Upon completion, squeeze lime into the broth and pour into the tea cup to drink the broth.  I can’t even explain it.  The broth was amazingly comfortably familiar and yet refreshingly new.

Tempura of Madagascar Prawn and Anago Green Tea Salt, Lime and Yuzu Salt paired with Hitachino Nest White Ale

Generally, I find tempura average, but the green tea salt and yuzu salt in lieu of soy based sauce really created a unique flavor.  You will note that this course was served with beer, as Chef feels that fried food needs beer (I tend to agree).

Grilled Scottish Sea Trout with Moromiso Glaze with Pickled Tokyo Negi and Braised Hijiki paired with Domaine deTriennes “Sainte Fleur” Viognier 09

Seared Washugyu Beef, Miso-Peanuts and Yuzu-Kashio paired with Jaspinegre Montsant 08

(I could not get enough of the Miso-Peanuts)

Ken-Chin Niyumen Country Style Noodle with Dashi Broth

It did not matter how full we were at this point…neither of us could quit eating this dish.

Sheeps Milk Panna Cotta Yuzu Curd and French Macaroon paired with White Peach Sparkling Sake

All I can say is Yummy!

Red Bean Soup with Rice Dumpling Shiso Leaves

If you love sake, this is definitely the dinner for you!  Unfortunately, I could only take little sips, but wanted to show all of the pairings!

Along with dinner, we enjoyed lovely, top-notch service.

1952 North Damen Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60647