BLVD Kitchen and Bar

A few minutes from the Ridgedale Mall in the west suburbs, just off west 394, sits BLVD Kitchen and Bar off Wayzata Blvd. It shares the same parking lot as Dick’s Sporting Goods and Michael’s Minnetonka.  It’s an upscale, polished bistro that instantly feels warm and welcoming. BLVD may be in the West Metro suburbs but it is far from unprepossessing. Modern meets rustic with concrete decor; exposed-brick and reclaimed-wood. Adding to the elegant, yet casual environment, BLVD has a perfect sense of luxury hidden in a suburban strip mall. Complete with a gorgeous patio and an outdoor fire pit for the warmer months. Now, I’m not usually one to offer suggestions as to what to try but I will this time. If you come for brunch, get the apricot cream cheese French toast. Lunch more your thing? Try the ribeye sandwich, salmon sliders, crab cake BLT, Chili lime chicken or the Blvd royale with cheese burger and truffle fries. Dinner instead? Get the herb rotisserie chicken, pan-seared Chilean sea bass, lobster mac and cheese, filet mignon sliders or the kobe short rib tacos. Stopping for Happy Hour? Order the Moscow mule, mojito, or the bloody Mary. Okay, okay, so if you’re more like me, you’re really going for the dessert. Don’t fret! Get the creme brûlée, chocolate cake, lemon bread pudding or the salted caramel sundae. Don’t worry, I didn’t eat it all myself! Only most of it…

In case you need some help deciding what to do for New Year’e Eve, they still have availability. If you don’t already have plans, call and make a reservation for their 4 course dinner for two. You won’t regret it!

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

Purgatory Creek Park

Purgatory Creek Park I’ve always really liked Purgatory Creek Park in Minnetonka ever since I worked near that area. I think it’s because it’s really small and it’s just much more quiet and quaint. It is not quite as busy as the majority of the other parks in Minnesota during the summer. I’m not surprised if you haven’t heard of this one or even really seen it. Even when you drive down Excelsior Boulevard, it is still quite hidden. Once you find it though, you’ll see it’s full of wild flowers, butterflies and has a small creek. There are a few really unique things about this park I should add; there is a concrete bridge in the park that is a remnant of a bridge that carried the Minneapolis-to-Excelsior streetcar line over Purgatory Creek (the ridge that ran parallel is still visible) and there is an old red barn, formerly part of the Westburg farm. Fun fact about the Westburg family, they started a bottled water business using water from the spring located near Purgatory Creek. Later, they operated a grocery store, that later became an aquarium shop. If you’re in the area and you need to stretch your legs or if you’re looking to add a little Minnesota history to your afternoon, I highly recommend stopping here.

Gold Nugget Tavern and Grille

The Golden NuggetThe weekend before last, I brought Brittany and Chris (the most athletic, clean-eating friends I have) to drink craft beer and eat burgers at The Gold Nugget Tavern and Grille in Minnetonka. Yes, I’m that kind of friend. Winner of the 2014 Twin Cities Burger Battle, they feature a burger-of-the-week special pitting one against another. The salmon burger was a favorite at the table. They offer neighborhood craft beers, made-from-scratch food and even have their own version of the Juicy Lucy. It’s a busy place as it’s become a hangout for locals but the service is fast and friendly. Fun Fact: The long bar (pictured above) is reclaimed from the 1880’s.

Yoyo Donuts

Yoyo DonutsOh, Yoyo donuts. How I love you, for a few reasons, actually. They are family owned, located in Minnetonka, make hand made donuts, offer ice cream, have a coffee bar AND have free wifi. Ok, so that’s six reasons. Fun fact you may not know, they do offer delivery ($75 minimum), huh.

Shady Oak Lake Cemetery

Shady Oak Lake CemeteryI’m not sure how others feel about putting cemeteries and graveyards on their bucket list but I think its important to know all that a place has to offer and that includes its history, morbid or sullen as it is. Please let me know if it makes you uncomfortable or hey, if you like it. I’ll start with Shady Oak Lake Cemetery because its small, closed and in Lone Lake Park. Located in Minnetonka with a small, gated entrance you can see from the road, Shady Oak is off set and built into a hill so the lighting is beautiful, albeit secluded. Home to a lot of the early Czech settlers of the area, so expect to see a lot of the headstones are in their native language.

Lone Lake Park

Lone Lake ParkI thought I’d double up because today’s are next to each other… Next to Shady Oak Lake Cemetery in Minnetonka is Lone Lake Park. The park has athletic fields (soccer, basketball and tennis), outdoor seating, a kids play area, woodlands, wetlands and lots of parking. It also has a dock on the lake, beautifully set among the koi (yes, I saw a big orange koi), tad poles and lily pads. A photographer’s paradise on a warm lit day.

Big Willow Park

Big Willow Park Another great park on the #mnbucketlist is Big Willow Park in Minnetonka off Minnetonka Blvd. It’s filled with athletic fields but has a lot of hidden trails that lead through railroad tracks and beautiful marshes. Great spot for a run on a Saturday morning!