Since we are on the outs with winter and coming up on spring, I thought I would take you back to the need to hibernate and keep warm. Imagine, if you will, the perfect ski lodge cabin (if you like my kind of cabins) – that’s Porter Creek Hardwood Grill, the next stop on the #mnbucketlist. I absolutely love the atmosphere and ambiance, contemporary but rustic with a giant fireplace right in the middle, and as far as I’m concerned the best place for it. They are known for their flights and the Rotisserie Chicken but I am a fan of the artichoke fondue. A few other favorites? The Apricot-Chipotle Ribs, Crispy Goat Cheese Balls & Roasted Beets and the Walleye Fingers Buffalo-Style. Alright, alright, so I had the Banana Ice Cream Cake with Caramelized Bananas with Chocolate Rum sauce, too. Can you blame me?! Well, they have locations in Burnsville and Fargo, so I suggest stopping in if you are in the mood for a date night.
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?
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.
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.
Since it is grandparents day, as you may know, I decided that #breakfast with my grandparents at Jensen’s Cafe in Burnsville would be best for an #mnbucketlist stop. Especially since Jensen’s is brought to you by Doron Jensen, whose grandfather, Alvin Johnson started the café in Nebraska almost 70 years ago. He also owns Jensen’s Supper Club (now, Jensen’s Food and Cocktails). It has been open since 2005 and has been catching breakfast-goers by storm ever since. In 2012, they were named top 10 breakfasts is a Minnesota (@CityPages), which is an easy tell, given their ridiculously long wait. If you do get caught waiting in line, don’t fret, it’s worth it, just go to Ficus and Fig, the shop next door and peruse. With fast, friendly service, a very casual, social atmosphere, a outdoor patio, Truestone coffee and one of the best caramel rolls in the metro, they are pretty high on my list.
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.
Chianti Grill is up next and I, for one love this place. Italian is always my first choice so this fit my foodie personality to a tee. I’m a huge bruschetta fan and they didn’t disappoint! Of course, if you have dinner with me, expect to be there a while – there’s always so much to talk about! Like how gorgeous this place is. Beautiful on the outside complete with a fountain, and very much like an urban, Italian ski lodge on the inside. They have locations in the St Paul / Roseville and Burnsville areas. OH! AND huge desserts, which is perfect for me since I will always gravitate towards the cheesecake, or it always gravitates towards me, I forget.
If you’re looking for a #casual, laid back Bar and Restaurant in the Burnsville or Brooklyn Park area, I’d suggest stopping at The Roasted Pear. I took a chance and tried the Burnsville location, right off Nicollet and was pleasantly surprised. I went for the baked mac and cheese, like always and waffle fries (seriously, who doesn’t love waffle fries?!) Ever been?
If you like a shady, rustic-looking city park, that is a little hidden, try Lac Lavon Park. Its near County Road 42 in Burnsville and, because it’s a stones throw from Crystal Lake – a much busier park – has a great deal less people. They have a playground, secluded trails, horseshoe pits and a volleyball court.
Burger Jones is a fun little burger joint with a chain-restaurant-feel that kind of grows on you. Locations in Burnsville and Minneapolis (Uptown). There are not a lot of options for vegetarians or vegans, I warn, but aside from burgers, they have the best hard shakes and malts. I’m partial to Nutella shake and I’m sucker for their Tomato Basil soup. Carnivore? Then you’ll love the place.