Cedar + Stone, Urban Table

I have a confession. This mnbucketlist-er was so fitting for my personal taste that I went twice, no joke. Cedar + Stone, Urban Table is the latest addition to the new, updated north side of the Mall of America. Part of the new JW Marriott Minneapolis, it adds a much needed upscale-but-approachable charm to the spaceship-looking foyer. Home to executive chef Everton Clarke and executive sous chef Laura Bartholomew, the place ties itself to Minnesota inspired cuisine and culture. Minnesota cheddar cornbread with maple butter, Jucy Lucy sliders, the pricey but so, so worth it handcrafted cocktails… My favorite? The Cedar Ave. Vikre cedar gin, rosemary, lemon juice and cherry bark vanilla bitters. Crowd favorites have been the short ribs, baked gouda mac and cheese, heirloom tomato pizza with burrata cheese and the coup de grâce charred orange semi freddo with goat cheese and brown butter crumble. I, for one, was impressed with the service and branding, but that’s just me.

 

Lucky’s 13 Pub

Photos by By Rebecca Studios 

A few weeks back, my best friends and I got together, as we do every month for bucket list dinners and crossed off Lucky’s 13 Pub from the #mnbucketlist. With locations in Bloomington, Mendota, Fargo, Plymouth and Burnsville, it’s easy to find one that is near you. With a spacious, rustic atmosphere it was the perfect spot for our big, loud group. They had all sorts of Minnesota-inspired dishes to try, all with their own take on them like the Cheese Curd Burger, the Juicy Lulu, Tater Tots and even Walleye Egg Rolls. We gorged on the free popcorn and the biggest pretzel ever. We were all really impressed with their great tap selection and how attentive and fun the service was too. Whether you prefer dining room, high top or bar seating, they are happy to accommodate. Fun fact: They have bingo on Saturday afternoons at the Bloomington location. Have you even been here?

Cantina Laredo

Photo Dec 28, 1 05 42 PM

Up next on the MNBucketList is Cantina Laredo, one of the newest restaurants in the Mall of America. With 12 locations all over the U.S., it’s about time they open one in Minnesota. Cantina Laredo, on level three, offers a modern, contemporary take on Mexican cuisine. From fresh guacamole made at the table, house made signature sauces like chipotle-wine, to their Mexican brownie that comes on a sizzling skillet of brandy butter (seriously, look at that thing!). Beautiful plating, hearty portions,  and expertly made, top shelf drinks make it a welcome break from roaming around crowds with shopping bags in tow.  They also do private events and offer a rewards card to keep you coming back. Have you checked it out yet?

Davanni’s

Davannis MNBucketlist

I love pizza so much that I drag (usually willingly) my closest friends and even my Mom, pictured above, to any place that gives me my fix. I can’t help it, I have a thing for a good Italian food. So when I found out that it was Davanni’s 40th anniversary this month, I was pretty excited. I mean, to be honest, I didn’t know it had been around that long and also I didn’t know that it started in Minnesota. And I really ought to know these things! Anyway, did you know that they were actually the first to offer hot hoagies in the Twin Cities? Originally called Pontillo’s Pizzeria, Davanni’s first location, off Cleveland and Grand in St. Paul opened October 1st, 1975, they later changed names in 1983. I decided to check out the newly remodeled Edina location, which will be having a Grand Re-Opening / 20th Anniversary celebration on this Saturday. If you want to go, you can meet the owners, get special deals, play trivia, lots of samples AND Indeed Brewing will be tapping a special cask ale from 5-8pm.

I went early so I could see their new bar (lots of craft beer and wine), the new renovations and the overall revitalization of their brand. Let me jump ahead, I was really impressed! It’s definitely not the dark walls, dim lighting and cramped quarters that I often encounter with restaurants that have been around forever (40 is forever for me). The design is bright, modern, and incredibly inviting. The staff was what really made the atmosphere for me, though. Attentive, friendly, great with suggestions and they actually like their jobs, which isn’t always the case in the industry. I’m going to attribute that to being a privately held company and constantly trying new ideas, from nutriment to innovation.

Now let me get into the food.

Davannis MNBucketlist

We devoured all different kinds of salads, sandwiches, beer and dessert. Hey! We are eaters, and also sharers, so we had to have a little of everything! And the pizza? Deep dish, flat bread, thin crust, white sauce, red sauce, you name it – we tried it. The crowd favorite was the Southwestern Chicken Salad, the Turkey Bacon Chipotle Hoagie and the Artichoke Chicken Pesto Flatbread (see, they are trying new things!). I was partial to the Veggie Hoagie and Garlic Cheese Bread. Needless to say, their Chanhassen location (their 22nd store) will get a little too much of my attention in the future. With the Twin Cities bursting with really great pizzerias, the new changes from layout to menu, to keeping the forever favorites like the New York style pizza and pasta and using their own bakery for bread and desserts, I know that Davannis will have a home here for at least another 40 years.

WANT A GREAT DEAL: When you order online, you can get a 10% discount when you use the code “ANNIVERSARY” at checkout through Saturday, October 31. Otherwise in-shop through the end of the month, a regular pop (it’s Minnesota, we say Pop) is only $1.

 A few recent articles: Star Tribune + Minneapolis/St Paul Business Journal + KARE11

Lela Restaurant

Lela Restaurant
Let me be totally upfront, when I was invited to Lela Restaurant, I half expected stuffy, noisy, special-occasion-only atmosphere with expensive food I couldn’t pronounce and while I still can’t pronounce some of it, I was so, so wrong. And because I was so taken back and on the rare occasion that a place gets both atmosphere and sustenance right, I have split this between two posts.

Oh, but first things first, let me tell you about Lela. Opened in June of this year, Lela is Bloomington’s newest urban meets suburban gem.

So, lets start with ambiance and design. Designed by Minneapolis’ ESG architects, the place is nothing but windows and open areas, a nod to contemporary, industrial chic with warm natural light. Its right next to the Sheraton Bloomington Hotel near Hwy 100 and 494, in the former Colette Bar and Bistro. While it’s still upscale, in plating, wine and craft cocktail selection, and design, its more than that. While there are business deals being made and anniversaries happening at some tables, it’s much more casual than I expected. To be clear, I wore jeans, talked way too much, and went with all of my best friends, who helped me shut down the place.

Lela Restaurant

Let me keep gushing, would you? Since Lela’s Executive Chef, John Mullen, III was formerly with 6Smith, a #mnbucketlist favorite, I had high expectations. Since my group of friends are what you’d call ‘sharers’ we wanted it all and at Lela, they didn’t mind. We tried everything from the burrata salad, seared scallops, steak with a host of different salts,  fresh in-house made pasta [silverqueen corn ravioli, truffle gnocchi], grilled asparagus (like you expected any less from me), heirloom carrots and even Brussels sprouts with pancetta. We finished it off with lemon tart with whipped mascarpone (which ended up in my cappuccino) and cheesecake with strawberries and mint. Being that the portions are smaller, you can try more as a group without overdoing it. My favorite? The sides, specifically the potato puree. And the Green Envy cocktail.

Overall, I’m glad that I was wrong. A big thank you to everyone at Lela for being so gracious and accommodating to us toting around our cameras and fielding all of our questions. I highly recommend a visit whether you are the jeans and flip flops or the business suit type.

[Photos by myself and By Rebecca Studios]

Droolin’ Moose

Droolin Moose If you are a huge chocolate fan, I can’t recommend the Droolin Moose enough. With a store that is nothing short of lovable, with its wide-open spaces and a tasting bar,… yes, that’s right, a chocolate tasting bar. It’s hard to go wrong. They have locations in Bloomington, Burnsville and St Louis Park. The chocolate is a little bit pricey but you get a lot more than you would anywhere else. They each come in cups, so rather than getting one piece, you’ll get 25. You can also buy online. For me, they a step below Godiva BUT Godiva doesn’t let me buy in bulk, so… the Droolin’ Moose it is.

Discland

DisclandIf you are the person who spent your adolescence scouring through record bins and traipsing the aisles of music stores and you long to return to those times, then you are in luck at Discland in Bloomington. It is the perfect place to get your nostalgia on, sort of reminds me of Cheapo or Amoeba meets Hot Topic or Spencers. Of course, they have vinyl, CDs, DVDs and Blu-Rays but they also stock memorabilia and clothes along with gaming systems AND it is one of the few storefronts where you can still buy tickets to First Ave. Even though they have such a massive selection, this place is easy to browse and the staff are really helpful.

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac RanchCadillac Ranch is one of those places that looks exactly how it sounds. Totally the Bar and Grill you’d expect. Think Big Texas, minus the attire. They have a six different locations and one of them is a Mall of America, which is the one that I tend to frequent. The décor is #rustic meets the 90’s, with tons of stuff on the walls. You’ll see a loop of old music videos playing, which is probably my favorite part of being there. It’s the perfect place to bring carnivores because they have a version of the Juicy Lucy and huge portions (so I can steal all their sides!) I am definitely in favor of their different salad options and full bar. Have you ever been here?

Vom Fass

Vom Fass If you are an oil and vinegars snob, like myself, then you probably already know Vom Fass. If you aren’t, a snob I mean, then consider this your invitation. Vom Fass is an artesian shop that sells oils, vinegars and specialty liquors. They just so happen to have a shop in the Twin Cities, right in the Mall of America. How lucky is that?! This is a little higher end BUT you get to sample everything, which is really nice. I especially love the grenadines they have.