The Woman Behind Cafe Maude

One of the things I love about the local eateries in Minneapolis is that they often have a story, and usually they are stories I didn’t know.

Cafe Maude in southwest Minneapolis, for example, was named after Maude Armatage, a woman basically forgotten to history. Enticed to do a little Googling, I learned that Maude was considered a driving force in helping Minneapolis come of age in the 20th century. Born in 1870 to a family whose farm is now the entire Armatage neighborhood in Minneapolis, her grandparents founded Harmony, which later became the city of Richfield. When she first married, she moved to South Minneapolis – an area that was considered the wilderness at that time.

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Relaxing at Merlins Rest

I love finding a neighborhood joint to relax after a long day. Growing up watching “Cheers,” I feel compelled to find a place where everybody knows my name. That’s the kind of place Merlin’s Rest could be.

Known for their Bangers & Mash, authentic Fish & Chips and whiskey stocks, they also serve up a delicious veggie burger:
veggie burger

And from what The Husband says, an awesome Reuben sandwich:
reuben sandwich

And according to my girlfriend, they have a knitting night that I just can’t miss. Who could ask for more?

Killer Broccoli

When @cleverkate recommended this recipe, I was a little skeptical. It looked delicious, but isn’t most roasted broccoli great? Well, she was absolutely right – this recipe is killer.


The Amateur Gourmet says that this is the most popular post on his blog and how can we be surprised? The recipe comes from culinary goddess extraordinaire, The Barefoot Contessa – Ina Garten. Oh Ina, you can make me dinner any time…. But I digress. This recipe is far more than your average roasted broccoli (which don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love) but the addition of lemon zest, fresh basil and parmesan is what puts this over the top.

To make this delicious broccoli, you can either follow Ina’s orderly instructions or the Amateur Gourmet’s first hand account which includes pictures. Personally, I liked his instructions which also referenced very sage advice from Jacques Pépin on to wash or not to wash the broccoli.

Back in Business: Busters!

It’s been over a year since a favorite neighborhood restaurant closed due to fire and I’m happy to report that Busters on 28th is back in business! We couldn’t wait to see the changes and to get a taste of the new menu, it was like no time had passed at all.

We started with their hand cut tortillas, the guacamole was really fantastic:
chips and guacamole

I was happy to see they had added a veggie burger to their menu:

veggie burger

My Veggie Burger: Butternut squash, wild rice and currants with sage aioli and gouda cheese (vegetarian

Our server said that the Steak Sandwich was her favorite thing on the menu, I didn’t hear any complaints from The Husband:

steak sandwich

The Husband’s Steak Sandwich: Sautéed with caramelized onions and bacon topped with a blue cheese sauce and potato chips

We’re so glad to have this neighborhood favorite back, it was worth the wait!

Copper Hens and Farmer’s Flavors

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ll go to a restaurant just for the prospect of dessert, so my attention was peaked when I heard about The Copper Hen CAKERY & Kitchen in Minneapolis. It sounded right up my alley and after seeing the cupcake pictured on their website, I couldn’t get there fast enough.

With the Best-Good Friend at my side, we set out on our cupcake crusade. Okay, I think I was on the cupcake crusade, she was genuinely interested in the “kitchen” part of their menu. Specializing in farm-to-table food, cakes and bread, there was a lot to choose from. So why decide on one thing when you can share a few? We started with the Arugula Salad with House Vinaigrette:


arugula mix, crispy shallots, sheep’s milk ricotta, sherry vinaigrette, hemp seeds (vegetarian)

And then enjoyed the Classic Rustic Pizza:


fresh tomato sauce, pecorino, house-pulled fresh mozzarella, basil and a splash of olive oil (vegetarian)

But even the best of friends shouldn’t be expected to share a cupcake. She opted for Red Velvet and I tried the Farmer’s Flavor of the Season (Ginger and Rose Water):


To-Dye-For Red Velvet and Farmer’s Flavor of the Season

Home Street Home

It helps the work day go faster when you can have a picnic with friends. Thank you to the food truck partnership in St. Paul that has organized #lunchbytheriver on Thursdays!

food trucks

Our lunches came from Home Street Home. Started in 2011, their St. Paul-based truck provides gourmet food made from scratch using fresh local ingredients. We sat on a bench overlooking the Mississippi River while we ate.

This vegetarian Hummus Gyro was a messy delight, at least that’s what she said when she ate it:

hummus gyro

Hummus Gyro (w/chips): our own scratch made hummus, red peppers, red onions, cucumber and tzatziki sauce folded up in warm pita bread

The Best-Good Friend really liked the coleslaw on her pulled pork sandwich:

pulled pork sandwich

Pulled Pork Sandwich (w/chips): pork slow roasted in India Pale Ale , topped with our own BBQ sauce and crispy citrus coleslaw on a butter toasted bun

This sandwich made me think jam should be mandatory when serving grilled cheese:

grilled cheese

My Grilled Four Cheese Sandwich (w/chips): provolone, Colby jack, sharp cheddar and Havarti w/raspberry & jalapeno jam

With lunches like these, I might have to picnic in the park every Thursday.

Tiny Diner, Big Flavor

When I looked at the Tiny Diner menu and saw this, I knew it was the place for me:

Not only was Rocky on the menu, but their entire concept was right up my alley. The Tiny Diner is working a plot on Minnesota’s first organic farm (Garden Farme) and their very own urban Tiny Diner Farm just a short distance away. In addition to that, they are creating an urban garden in South Minneapolis right next to the restaurant. Not only will they use their crops in the restaurant, but there will be educational programs for the neighborhood. They have crafted a patio roof/solar array, its solar panels flow into gutter that feed into a rain chain, through a creek bed and then waters the vegetable garden. In addition to that, there is a cistern that will capture water from the rooftop, and systems to distribute it through their mini-orchard. To learn more about their plans and partnerships, read about The Tiny Diner and Farm: A Small Place with Big Ideas.

Every month their menu pays tribute to diner towns across the country, this month it was Philadelphia – home to my favorite Underdog, Rocky Balboa. The Husband went with the theme and tried their Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich:

Philly Cheese Steak

The Husband’s Philly Cheesesteak: Shaved steak, red onion, Shisito peppers, Real Wiz

He paired that with a side of onion rings:

Onion Rings

Double-Dipped Onion Rings with BBQ sauce

I’ve been on a quinoa kick again, so I went with the Macro Bowl and I’m glad I did, it was beyond yummy.

Macro Bowl

My Macro Bowl: Seared tofu, quinoa, veggies and seaweed (vegetarian)

We made sure there was room for dessert:

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

This restaurant is a new favorite of ours and we’re already talking about going back for breakfast. I hope we do it when the Whoopie Pie is still on the menu.

Los Angeles Flavor

I love eating in Los Angeles because there are so many vegetarian options. Here are some of the highlights from our visit.

One of our favorite stops was Mohawk Bend in Echo Park. Retrofitted into a 100-year old Vaudeville theater, they use Californian ingredients to create food for all types of appetites. They have 72 taps of craft beer, 6 stainless steel wine taps, and artisanal spirits.

You can’t visit Little Tokyo without ramen and sweet treats. We sat outside the Yamazaki bakery eating our goodies and people watching.

And then went to Shojin for their Japanese vegan cuisine. It was delicious, definitely one of the best meals we had.

If you need the comforts of home, stop at Home in Silverlake. I loved my Huevos Rancheros.

We had breakfast in Santa Monica at Jinky’s. The food at the table next to us looked so good, we ordered the same thing!

Our last meal was the best sushi The Husband could find. It was at Sugar Fish, he had the “Trust Me” selection featuring Tuna Sashimi, Albacore Sushi, Salmon Sushi, Yellowtail Sushi, Halibut Sushi, Toro Hand Roll and Crab Roll. Sugar Fish restaurants serve only traditional sushi of the highest quality based on Chef Nozawa’s style of sushi.

And I had the cucumber rolls, they were the best I’ve ever had:

A Taste of India

One of my favorite public radio shows is The Splendid Table with Lynne Rossetto Kasper, it is “The show for people who love to eat” after all. I’m always eager to give Lynne’s recipes a try and I jumped at the chance to make this one.

Roasted Indian-Spiced Vegetables and Chickpeas with Raisins is vegan, full of flavor,  and makes great leftovers. The recipe calls for soy yogurt on the side but I skipped that and went with jasmine rice instead. indian roasted vegetables

Simple and delicious, you can’t go wrong with this recipe but be forewarned, it takes about an hour. Trust me though, it’s worth the wait.

Why Decide? Go Progressive!

Why decide on one restaurant when you can go to three? For a leisurely evening out, consider making your own progressive dinner party! A good friend and I just did this in my South Minneapolis neighborhood and had a blast, here’s what we did.

First things first, we stopped at Town Hall Lanes for a stuffed pretzel and were pleasantly surprised to find this:

cider week

Minneapolis Cider Week!

After sampling some cider with our pretzels, we walked a few doors down to one of the best kept secrets in Minneapolis, 3 Tiers. Who says you have to save dessert for last?


Lemon Tart

We ended our adventures across the street at my favorite Mexican restaurant, Dominguez for some veggie taquitos:

veggie taquitos

Veggie Taquitos: Three stone ground corn tortillas filled with beans, onion, cilantro, avocado sauce and fresh slices of lime (vegetarian)

With the return of warm weather, I can’t imagine a better way to spend an evening.

Getting Corny

I don’t think recipes get much simpler than this one for Mexicorn Salad. This recipe comes from The Mother by way of her friend the Fabulous French Floridian, it was good.
mexican corn salad

It is simple and easy, you can use what you like and skip what you don’t. Here’s the basis:

1 can Mexican style corn, drained
1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
Avocado, diced or sliced
Fresh tomatoes, diced or sliced
Black olives
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish, if desired
Oil & vinegar dressing OR oil & balsamic OR Italian dressing

As you can see, The Mother arranged her ingredients sliced on a bed of corn and served her dressing on the side. If you prefer to dice your ingredients, I would toss all of them together and top with the eggs.

When I try this recipe myself, I’m going to skip the black olives (if The Husband is eating it) and might try adding black beans to the corn. This is a perfect picnic recipe that is easy to personalize, what would you do?

Raw Fish Optional

When I say the word “sushi,” people often make a face. I probably made that face too until I learned that raw fish isn’t required to eat the dish. Sushi dinners have been some of the most memorable meals The Husband and I have had, so when I heard that City Pages Best Sushi Minneapolis 2014 was in our neck of the woods, we had to try it.

Bagu Sushi is a small restaurant in South Minneapolis with a charming patio in back. Sheltered from the sounds of the city, we started our leisurely dinner with two vegetarian appetizers, Agedashi Tofu and the classic, Edamame:


Agedashi Tofu: Deep-fried tofu served with tempura sauce and green onions (we skipped the bonito flakes to keep the dish vegetarian)


Edamame: Boiled soy beans (vegetarian)

I sampled three different vegetarian sushi rolls, this type of sushi is called “maki.” Maki is toasted seaweed nori rolled around vinegar-flavored rice and various fillings, in my case vegetables:


From left to right: Avocado, Kappa (cucumber) and Korean Style Spinach

The Husband is all about raw fish, so he ordered nigiri sushi. Nigiri is made with sushi rice hand formed into a small clump with fresh fish sliced and pressed on top:


From left to right: Sake (salmon) and Hamachi (yellowtail)

We can add this dinner to the list of memorable sushi meals that we’ve had. Not only was it a lovely evening spent relaxing over award-winning food, we were able to take advantage of Happy Hour prices. Treat yourself to a night out, you can’t go wrong with Bagu Sushi.