Greeting Text

Following twenty years of farmer's markets selling locally grown vegetables, native fruits, and local honey Linda created Marianne's Kitchen in Shoreview, MN, an oasis of good food, conversation and laughter in a suburban food desert. Operating from 2011-2017 the cafe offered home made soups, fresh bread baked daily, great sandwiches and treats and a complete line of gluten-free soups, pickled products, jams, jellies, salsas and locally sourced soups, honey and grains.

The Marianne's Kitchen of sharing, conversation, and learning continues with ongoing commentary, food reviews and food finds as we grow, cook and eat our food and sample local restaurants.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

La Colonia on Central in Minneapolis YES!!

Hot day Earlier This Week:

La Colonia on Central Street in Minneapolis

La Colonia on Central in MinneapolisWe need some lunch...not too heavy, maybe mostly veggies.   Here we are on Central Avenue in Mpls and we're right in front of La Colonia.  It's late for lunch, so parking right by the door!

Lots of big menu items...big servings of various chicken dishes with lots of accompanying goodies, same with fish...too hot today for all of these.

So, an appetizer and the lighter plate seem like great options.

Chips and a smooth salsa arrived...they almost brought us was more than enough.

We selected the cheesy potato cakes as the appetizer and the veggie plate as our main course.   I needed some non-alcoholic sangria...too hot for booze today.

La Colonia on Central in MinneapolisWhile we were chowing down our chips and salsa, a little serving cup on a plate with a doilie and a cute tiny spoon arrived.  By the color, we knew.....hotter than  hot...we were NOT wrong.   Whoooooooo (I loved it).

La Colonia on Central in MinneapolisThen both of our plates arrived. 

Three beautifully browned cheesy potato cakes, topped with a poached egg and a salad of lettuce, tomato, onion with salsa of peanuts, tomatoes, onions and more.    Think of cheesy mashed potatoes patties browned, with a dollop of cheese melted in the middle.   Break the egg on top, and it's the creamy version of hash browns with cheese, topped with a perfect egg.    Fantastic.  The salad was relatively plain, so topping with the some salsa brought it all together.

La Colonia on Central in MinneapolisThe veggie plate......oh, never try to eat this all by yourself.  Waaaaayyyy too big.   Three giant pieces of yuca, a gorgeous half plantain, a perfectly boiled red potato cut in half served over fresh salad of lettuce, tomato, green pepper, and red onion.   It's all accompanied by a bowl of the  tastiest beans and a bowl-size scoop of rice.  

La Colonia on Central in Minneapolis

Let's start by saying....every single item on the plate was perfectly prepared.  The potato was just at that point of perfection....a minute less and it would not have been ready....2 or 3 minutes more and it would have suffered.  This one was spot on.   The yuca was rich and creamy tasting, but with a firm texture---nice for sliceable bites.   The tastiest beans, perfect plantain, slices of avocado, and a really fresh salad to bring that note of crispness to the whole picture.   We tried mightily to clean our plate, but we just couldn't do it.....97% completion...the spirits were willing....our tummies failed us!!!

Overall a wonderful lunch at La Colonia on a hot day.   

Light (except for that gush of warm cheese in the potato cakes), yet satisfying.   Great flavor makes the day!

...and yes, we made ample use of that little cup of very hot orange pepper sauce!

La Colonia = Great meal.  We recommend it without hesitation!

La Colonia on Central in Minneapolis

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Listo! at the Quarry in Minneapolis

Undaunted and Hungry

Ever undaunted and hungry (I returned my lunch at a Robert Street place due to really bad food code violations) we ventured out for Mexican American food.    This category is like Chipotle Mexican Grill...not really Mexican, but with a grill.

Listo! at The Quarry in Minneapolis

Listo! at The Quarry
Listo! at The Quarry
We headed out for Listo!   Over the weekend, we were going to try it, but they were closed due to some construction... they're still tweaking the facility.

Located in one of the old Baja Sol locations ... near The Quarry...they've cleaned up and brightened the place...looks like lots of new equipment...overall more appealing than the previous chain.

Listo! at The QuarryThe menu is quite simple.. tacos, burritos, a separate fish taco option.   Some sides, drinks in the cooler...order at the counter...they call your name.

Listo! Passes the Food Code Test

In the rain, the place was quiet.   Of course I had my eagle-eye scanning to make sure they passed the first test for safe food.  Whooo....yes!    Staff was wearing gloves, which were removed to run the register, then---just as it's supposed to be---hand washing and re-gloving!   They have passed the first hurdle.

Listo! at The QuarryLet's try the Listo! Food Menu

We went our separate ways on this...I chose the veggie quesadilla with green sauce.  John, strangely...since he never orders this....went for the burrito with carnitas and...he copied me...and went with green salsa.   He tried it the Listo! way (which I hoped to Heaven was better than getting a sub 'Mike's Way--an awful mess).   Jarritos all around.

I was very pleased with my choice.   I'd say about 4 stars. so much...he said about a 2 stars, maybe 2.5.    My quesadilla was well-made on the grill, with lots of fresh veggies and cheese plus the salsa, and was placed in a tidy basket with the trio of pico, quac, and sour cream.   All around, tasty, well-made, I felt 'safe' eating it because everything was clean and food procedures were being followed.

Listo! at The Quarry
Listo! Quesadilla
Listo! at The Quarry
Listo! Burrito
John was disappointed in the contents of his burrito.   It was terribly short of carnitas...maybe 4-5 small pieces of meat.   And, a few of the Listo Way ingredients were absent.   It tasted great, the tortilla was delish, it was accompanied by thin, flavorful chips...but it was mostly rice beans, sour cream, and green salsa.   He had a ; (  The guy making the food was checking the Listo Way list....but we think he was new and learning the menu.  He was clearly making a great effort.  But it fell short.

They met the standard for food safety for me, my meal was pretty good (I appreciated Jarritos mineral water as a drink option)...I'm sure they'll get feedback if they're too skimpy of the meat or leave out some of the ingredients.  

Our Listo! Conclusion and Recommendation

Our conclusion:   give 'em a couple of weeks (they've only been open a month or so), then give 'em a try.   They were working hard, but there were still a few kinks to work out.   Let's watch and see how they do.
Listo! at The Quarry
Dinner at Listo!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Uptown Griddle -- Merrifield, MN OK!!

The Uptown Griddle - Merrifield MN

The Uptown Griddle Merrifield MNOn the way to Nisswa...but can't make it another mile without breakfast.

The Uptown Griddle is right here in Merrifield.  No need to go another mile.

The Uptown Griddle Merrifield MNCute, smaller diner--about a dozen tables.   But, a big challenge the moment you enter.  Now maybe one of you is up for's way out of my league:

'The Challenger' at The Uptown Griddle -- More than we can handle LOL

The Uptown Griddle Merrifield MN
The Challenger Losers
The Uptown Griddle Merrifield MN
The Challenger
The photo to the right describes the gluttonous challenge.  The photo to the left shows those that tried...and for the most part FAILED.  The if you can eat it all in 30 minutes; otherwise, for you failures, it's $24.99

The Uptown Griddle Merrifield MN
The Uptown Griddle Merrifield MNWe, being a little more 'restrained,' decided to order from the menu.  My eye immediately went to the buckwheat pancake...a side item.   Hard to find a good buckwheat pancake, so I'm ready to give it a try, with an egg thrown in for good measure.  John opted for oatmeal---'loaded' and the 1/2 biscuit and gravy.  

Between the 2 of us, we couldn't tackle the challenger!!

Buckwheat panckake, biscuits and gravy and loaded oatmeal!!

The Uptown Griddle Merrifield MNThe buckwheat pancake was fantastic....a thin pancake with a crisp edge and great flavor.   To gild the lily, it came with blueberries and whipped cream..  Totally delish!

John's loaded oatmeal was nummy, too.   Whole grain oats---big oat flakes with a little toothiness topped with raisins and golden raisins, cinnamon, brown sugar...and a cute pot of milk.    The biscuit (a whole biscuit on the 1/2 order) was smothered in thick, creamy, slightly sweet cream gravy with sausage and sprinkled with fresh herbs.   The biscuit was homemade.

We devoured every tasty bite.   Then we asked about how many people were able to meet the challenge of the    6

The Uptown Griddle Merrifield MN Nisswa MN Marianne's KitchenThe Uptown Griddle Merrifield MN Nisswa MN Marianne's KitchenDon't feel so bad--it obviously takes a special person to meet the challenge!!!!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Spring Cafe - St. Paul - Como Park Pavilion

Spring Cafe - St. Paul - Como Park Pavilion

"The terrible horrible no good very bad dining experience"

based on the book title, of course

Spring Cafe ... not fresh or spring-like

spring cafe como pavilion mariannes kitchen st. paul
15 Minute Wait to Order
Beautiful spring evening to the Como Pavilion.   The creation of local 'chef' JD Fratzke and friends...we expected a great fresh experience at this 'chef-driven' venue. 

Well, check that off the list... another future failure at the Como Pavilion (after Dockside which failed, after Black Bear Crossing which was good but evicted by the City).

Why was this a bust?

#1 Reason not to eat at Spring Cafe

We waited in line for 20 minutes to order.  Two cashier stations...1 cashier...on a gorgeous Friday night.   The cashier didn't know the menu.  A manager had to tell her that sandwiches included chips. 

spring cafe como pavilion mariannes kitchen st. paulThe menu includes  grab & go or 'food' from the kitchen.  After 20 minutes in line, we thought grab & go might provide something quicker.

Sandwiches, salads  and 'rolls'  are pre-made.  Recently a 'premade' whole wheat wrap at SIP Coffeebar in NE Mpls was fresh and flavorful with good quality ingredients.  Today at Olive Branch a pre-made wrap was delicious and full of quality ingredients.  Spring Cafe's turkey salad 'roll' was a dry cheap hamburger bun with something smeared on the outside and then wrapped up... a mess to unwrap.  A turkey salad sandwich should be moist.  Here it was not  moist enough to counteract the stale, dry bun.   It crumbled, adding to the overall mess. 

spring cafe como pavilion mariannes kitchen st. paul
Slimy Wilted Veggie Mess
By contrast the Veggie sandwich was very soggy, had un-identifiable veggies drowned in 'sauce'  on a cheap white sub roll.  John ate a bite, opened it up and exclaimed 'inedible.'  This was far, far worse a product than the worst gas station sandwich.  There was no date on the wrapping 'best by mm/dd/yy' but it was clearly dumpster quality when served to us.

We returned the veggie 'sandwich'.  They exchanged it for a 'Cobb salad.'  

spring cafe como pavilion mariannes kitchen st. paul
It Kept Getting Worse
The Cobb salad was 1/4 of a large plastic box of 'ingredients' in small piles.  Approximately a tablespoon each of:  gristly bacon, tiny ham scraps, bagged cheese blend,  gorgonzola???, a thin slice of turkey 'julienned' to give it some 'size' in the box, two tomato slices that were ready to be composted and a handful of lettuce. The lemon vinaigrette was an oily, awful mess.  Then there was the 'egg'; a mealy little pile of bad-tasting diced mystery substance.  I tried some of each and wish I hadn't.  John refused to eat any of it. 

Now, those were the better parts of the experience.

#2 Reason not to eat at the Spring Cafe

Then, we took a look at the kitchen 'expeditor'.   The big, tatted up guy was stuffing food into his face, drinking from an open cup (these are food code violations) wiping his face with his hand, using the unwashed hand to take food from a container and put it onto people's plates and wiping his hands on his pants.  The cycle of food code violations continued:  eat, wipe, plate food, eat, wipe and so on.

That put us over the edge.  We returned everything.  Consumers are paying for  food; restaurants are required to follow the food code.  This is not a TV cooking show where everyone is touching everything barehanded; that's TV.  In real life, bare hands lead to food contamination and food-borne illness.  We've added Spring Cafe to a list of places we won't eat.

The problems were reported to the 'manager' (I think) who made a long-drawn out process out of issuing a refund (maybe) but couldn't give us a receipt.  Spring Cafe can't take orders quickly, serve edible food or run the register...and what you can't see is usually worse.

The only good part.  After we pointed out the too-numerous-to-count critical food violations, the 'expeditor' was disappeared and the 'manager' was now the expeditor.  

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Thai Street Market ... No Meat Dinner ... AWESOME!

thai street market marianne's kitchen mspeats mspfoodieThai Street Market

Who needs meat?
Fabulous summer dinner tonight at Thai Street Market on Rice St.
thai street market marianne's kitchen mspeats mspfoodie
Fresh spring rolls

Green papaya salad (refreshing, delish)
Veggie drunken noodles(medium is just hot enough)
So good!!!!
thai street market marianne's kitchen mspeats mspfoodie

SIP Coffeebar...NE Comes Thru!

Sip Coffeebar

Sip Coffeebar Marianne's Kitchen The Coffee Shop NEWeaving our way back through rush hour traffic from Medicine Lake was totally a grind.  Finally crossing the river into NE Minneapolis John whined "I need coffee."  Ignoring him I looked at my watch and counted the hours backwards to our pleasant lunch at 11 AM at The Coffee Shop NE ... six hours...yes it was COFFEE TIME!  Not wishing to hear more whining I suggested SIP Coffeebar behind the old Grain Belt Brewery in NE.

Sip Coffeebar Marianne's Kitchen The Coffee Shop NE art-a-whirlEach visit to NE is a reminder of the unbearably predictable burb-life.  This weekend is the 23rd Annual Art-A-Whirl in NE.  SUPPORT ART!!  Turn off your smart phones & burb-a-whirl for Art-A-Whirl.
Sip Coffeebar Marianne's Kitchen The Coffee Shop NE art-a-whirl
SIP Coffeebar closes at 6 PM and we've stopped several times and missed the experience by minutes.  We're still adjusting from our years at Marianne's Kitchen where our ventures followed the working day and often left us wandering about the Twin Cites at 8 PM and later.

Sip Coffeebar Marianne's Kitchen The Coffee Shop NE art-a-whirlThe interior is a very clean design with about 8 2-person tables, a soft seating area for ten or so and a couple of tables outside.  John opted for the Mocha Smoothie with whipped cream and having loaded enough caffeine today I ordered a decaf iced mocha.
Sip Coffeebar Marianne's Kitchen The Coffee Shop NE art-a-whirl
Bars and cookies and pastries, all wrapped, were enticing on the counter.  Hovering first and then staring at the backlit menu behind the counter John opted for the Pea Pesto Wrap.  I was not certain about the Mocha and wrap combo (he usually gets an Izze) but I long ago gave up attempting to understand 'John Logic.'

After a reasonable time we picked up the drinks and wrap at the counter.  The wrap was delightful on a whole wheat wrap with the slight sweatness of green pea pesto, a small but
Sip Coffeebar Marianne's Kitchen The Coffee Shop NE art-a-whirl
tasty amount of goat cheese and with nice green lettuce (not Romaine).  We split it, more fairly than usual, and concluded the food above average for most coffee-focused coffee venues (although The Coffee Shop Northeast excels at food and coffee).  The sandwiches and wraps are pre-made each day, are very reasonably priced and work just fine for a grab-and-go lunch/snack or for a grab and sit for a while.

Not far from Maeve's and Matchbox we'd put this at the top of the list for these three.

Sip Coffeebar Marianne's Kitchen The Coffee Shop NE art-a-whirl
Sip Coffeebar

We really like The Coffee Shop NE so I'm sharing images of our early lunch there today...even though this is about Sip Coffeebar...because John kept talking about his's tough to keep him on topic!!!

Sip Coffeebar Marianne's Kitchen The Coffee Shop NE art-a-whirl
Earlier Lunch At The Coffee Shop NE

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Brothers Taqueria

If you're checking out a Mexican restaurant, it's best to take Anne with you.   Today was no different.....time for a visit to Brothers Taqueria (previously Tahini) in New Brighton.

As I was passed by on my way to pick her up just before noon, the place was quiet.   By the time we returned 10 minutes later, there were several cars in the lot and a short line.   Our timing was good, though.  Shortly the lot was filling up and there was a longer line.   This is quickly becoming a busy lunch place.

Large black boards show the proteins, how you can get 'em (burrito, taco, enchilada, torta, quesadilla, bowl) plus a board for extras and for beverages.   There are also pictures along the counter of a number of choices.  But don't forget to pick up the paper menu.....that's where I found the huarache.

Anne went for the nachos with asada; I took the huarache -  al pastor, please.   We both opted for bottles of Mexican Coke (can't beat that real sugar).

The service was pretty quick.....but I messed up the system.   We concluded that all the things on the hanging
menus came out quickly---I was the oddball with my huarache--that took about five minutes more.   Still pretty quick....plenty of time to have lunch and for one of us to get back to work on time ; )

The huarache was great.    Lots of flavorful meat (the pineapple version of the al pastor style) on a wonderful masa oval with lettuce, cheese, Mexican sour cream.   Anne's nachos were big with layers of asada, tomatoes, beans, Mexican sour cream.........   It was more than she could eat....even with me giving her a lot of help.

Our conclusions:   the pastor was much more flavorful than the asada; nothing wrong with the asada--just not nearly as delish as the pastor.   Both were nice sized portions, were fresh and attractively presented.   The meals were brought to our table in green baskets with checkered red and white liners.   This was fine for the nachos.  For the huarache, 2 layers of liner might have helped---it was easy to cut through the paper because of the moist ingredients.

It's hard to find Mexican food close by.  The two items we had were good....the pastor, really good.   We'll be trying it again soon because John will be whining that he was out of town and we went with out him and blah, blah, know, guy whining.    It's a quick, reasonably priced place for some Mexican food.   Polite staff, good health code compliance (trust me, we check out these things), drink choices like horchata, and open until 9 p.m. for your Mexican food fix.   Four star rating on Yelp, 5 stars on Facebook.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Ashama Cafe & Market on University AV in St. Paul...Great breakfast!!

Looking for coffee and maybe a breakfast to share.
ashama cafe marianne's kitchen

Heading out University place under construction....wait, there's coffee on the other side of the street.  Amazingly, we didn't have the wait the usual 3-4 minutes to make a left turn over the light rail tracks.  Green arrow means GO for coffee!!!

Pass the front door, yes they're open, turn right....not one but two places to park!!!!

ashama cafe marianne's kitchenAshama Cafe and Market....the market has been there a long time, the cafe has been open about a year.   Beautiful light yellow interior and lots of items to buy behind the counter....none of which I recognized.

A big menu high on the wall, and a pile of menus on the counter......breakfast or lunch???

Breakfast.   Multiple choices of suqaar.  Eggs and bread. or banana or strawberry.  Other choices we can't remember because we focused on suqaar.  (there are lunch choices, too---Philly Steak, Gyros, and more).

We settled on the chicken suqaar, a mango smoothie, and a capuccino.

A few minutes to stroll the aisles of the market.  Some very interesting products---pine honey, an interesting tea mix that included cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods and more, varieties of corn flour and meal, rice flours, several versions of injera, giant bags of rice, lots of dates, and spices, herb mixes (several that I didn't recognize--time for some research).....a good selection for a food browser.

ashama cafe marianne's kitchenBreakfast arrived....and looked fabulous.   I had suspicions about the bread--I was afraid it might be chewy or dry---totally, totally wrong.   A light bread with a bit of sweetness.....and it paired perfectly with the suqaar.   Our dish included tons of diced chicken, green peppers, and onion with some certainly get your attention curry cinnamon spicing.  By itself, the heat just continued to build.  But, when paired with the bread, your palate is suddenly completely happy.   A combo of heat and great flavor with the cooling light sweetness of the bread.   Together--delightful!

The mango smoothie was a thick serving of blended mango....I loved it...John said it was almost too much mango for him---it was THICK!   The capuccino was served very, very hot (temp-wise) - so a few minute wait was required.  It was smooth, with good coffee flavor (I think they use Bootstrap coffee).

While waiting for our food we asked each other "What does Ashama mean?"  With smartphones and the digitized history of the world in our pockets we looked it up.  King Negus Ashama ibn Abjar ruled the Kingdom of Axum (also known as Abyssinia), now part of Ethiopia, in the 7th century.  On the other side of the Red Sea the Muslim faith was evolving from the teachings of Muhammad.  The pagan leaders in Mecca began persecution of Muhammad's followers.  A group left for Abyssinia for sanctuary.  After King Ashama heard the Muslim's speaking of Jesus and his birth by the Virgin Mary he held up a twig and said the differences in their faith was as small as the branch he held.  King Negus Ashama refused to turn over the refugees to the Meccans.  As such King Negus Ashama's actions remain a source of pride today to both Christians and Muslims in Ethiopia.

ashama cafe marianne's kitchen
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The whole experience was delightful.   Great breakfast in a sunny room (windows on the east and north) with partially frosted windows highlighted by an artsy frosted pattern.  The service was super polite (we think one of the cooks may have been 'in training' -- he checked to make sure he had done ok and that we liked the way he made our breakfast--very sweet).

Want to have a quintessential urbane experience?  .....park your car somewhere, hop the light rail and listen to the clanging and rail noise, hop off at'll think you're somewhere else in the world, Ethiopia perhaps.   Like being on vacation just a few miles from home.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Brunson's on Payne Avenue...Yes!!

I'd like to start by saying that today's meal was a completely vindicating experience.

Recently we were served 2 bad fact, very, very bad meal that made me ill...meals lost in time from an era when eating commercial processed food was the norm and such meals were considered 'great'!   That time is long past---at least for a lot of people who are thinking about what they eat, where the food is sourced, and what 'fresh' and 'food' really mean.   We like to eat food.

So, with that intro, let's talk about what made an absolutely delightful lunch at Brunson's Pub.

The old Schwietz's Saloon on Payne Avenue (that place was an institution) became Brunson's a little over a year ago.   The chef is from Mississippi, and that informs many of the choices on the menu.   But this menu is all about food.

We know we're in trouble when we want to order more choices than we could eat this week.  Luckily, there are some small plates and half-size dishes, so we could try more options.

We opted for:   1) the black eye pea hummus with veggies and crostini 2) the Hoppin' John warm salad, and 3) Watermelon Radish Salad (we'll work our way thru the menu in good time).

The black eye pea hummus plate--what a refreshing twist on a traditional hummus plate.  We love hummus.  We love great, warm pita bread.  We love
a drizzle of olive oil.   The black eye pea salad had NONE of how could it be so good? 

The flavor of the black eye pea hummus is rich and complex, and you can couple it with the fresh veggies (for those avoiding gluten, this is the way to go) or nibble it on the very thin and crispy crostini or both.   It's a good size appetizer, so we thought ahead and asked for a box to take half home for later snacking : )

On to our main dishes for lunch.   The Hoppin' John warm salad achieves a new level of 'food'.   Now, you have to remember that we sold organic, vegan, gluten free, no added salt mixes at Marianne's...and
we made sure we had hoppin' John on the shelf for every New Year...the traditional time that hoppin' John is make it easy to put this on your table.   We also served tons and collards and black-eyed peas, prepared using traditional methods, and sometimes with a current 'spin'.   The hoppin' John salad at Brunson's kicks this up another notch or two...or three!!

The collards are crisp tender.  There are gorgeous, flavorful pieces of house-specialty 'pulled bacon' plus black-eyed peas, rice (just enough), corn, grape tomatoes...all in a perfectly paired vinaigrette and served with corn bread (this was the overall weakest element of our meal--it needed either a kick or more sweetness on top).   The collards here are beyond wonderful---not tough, warm and perfectly dressed so that the true collard flavor shines through.   Everything in the salad is balanced....a fabulously updated spin on collards and black-eyed peas.

Now, let's talk about that watermelon radish salad.  Recently, we had lunch at Blackbird in Minneapolis---great food.   There, we enjoyed the butternut squash salad---a layering of wonderful ingredients--art for the eye and flavor for the palate.  The only drawback on that salad was that some of the roasted squash turned out not to be roasted--a distracting element from the overall nicely composed salad.

Brunson's watermelon radish salad achieved that final step to greatness!!!  Constructed, in much the same way that Blackbird's presentation was constructed, the fresh arugula created the main theme while each and every other element joined into a perfect harmony.  Fresh raspberries, edible-size pieces of fresh orange, the most beautifully thinly sliced quarters of watermelon radish---sliced to show off the beauty of this vegetable and to make them very approachable.  Add some goat cheese, toasted pecan pieces, red onion (these slices were just a bit too thick in comparison to their companions)...and add a citrus vinaigrette that ties the dish together in a way that you don't really taste the 'dressing'--you have a marvelous composition with each singer completely on key.

(this is where we took issue with our $50 dinner at the other place---there, wilted brown lettuce and aged cucumbers and a sprinkling of carrots were supposed to be doused with bottled dressing to make a 'salad'---sorry, but that's so 1950s; substitute iceberg and it WAS the salad at Hafner's Bowling Alley on White Bear Avenue or the long-gone rib joint near E Minnehaha and McKnight Road (in the 1950s-- I was there)--or even more recently, at Meister's in Shoreview (if you add croutons)).   These places have been left behind as 'food' becomes important and interesting.  If your favorite 'dressing' is ranch out of a bottle, you might as well not read any of our reviews--it won't turn out well.

We would rate the watermelon radish salad that we were served today at Brunson's among the best salads we've ever eaten.  We were sharing, so we each grudgingly passed that salad plate back across the table, in fair turn.  Luckily the other dish we were sharing at the time was the warm black eye pea salad--also an exceptionally good dish--so it was fairly easy to be 'fair' 😓

I am always looking for food.  It is still very scarce in many parts of the Twin Cities.   But without driving very far, excellent food is served at Brunson' Pub on Payne Avenue in St. Paul.     

p.s.   There are reports of 'slowness' in getting your meals at Brunson's.   We checked out the kitchen (there's a second prep kitchen--on another floor--so everything has to be carried up and down the steps)--they are turning out great food in yet another postage stamp sized kitchen which means you can't really fit a 'team' in there, and servers are running it long distances.   So, at busy times, expect a wait.   Today the wait was reasonable because it was Monday lunch (no rush)---we can understand how this may be a lot more challenging with a full house. Plan accordingly.