Restaurant Reviews Tagged "Star Tribune South"

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El Patio Cantina and Grill (Lakeville, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune South
  • April 11, 2007

We found the best Mexican food in the south metro.

The food isn’t like the Mexican food you’ll find on Lake Street in Minneapolis. Most of El Patio’s dishes aren’t overly spicy and generally don’t include traditional seasonings such as cilantro. But the food is well made, the flavors are complex, and a lot of it is delicious.

El Patio offers the recognizable Mexican standards: tacos, burritos, enchiladas. They’re available alone or in combination dinners, served with very good seasoned rice and pretty good refried beans. These dishes are a little ordinary. But move to the “Especialidades” and the “Seafood” portions of the menu, and you’ll see where the restaurant really shines…

Mekong River Thai Cuisine (Burnsville, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune South
  • February 14, 2007

We have no fear of spicy food; we go for the endorphin rush every time. And we each have our own remedies for the burn of too-hot food: Karen likes a beer, while Bruce will bite a lime or lemon. But that doesn’t mean that we down habanero peppers like a handful of jelly beans. Spicy for the sake of the heat alone is a macho game we don’t play; we’re there for the flavor.

Some restaurants serve food that’s just too hot to enjoy. This is a problem more often with Thai food than with any other cuisine we can think of. And so we were utterly delighted to find Mekong River, a Thai place where the kitchen is happy to cook anywhere from “Minnesota Mild” to authentically dangerous…

Renegades Bar & Grill (Burnsville, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune South
  • December 27, 2006

Sometimes, we like to be reminded of how much fun it can be to hang around in bars. Not that we favor a steady diet of bar food or bar fun. But once in a while, meeting up with friends for beers and classic rock music is a simple pleasure. It’s even better with some decent food.

Renegades fills the bill with its excellent jukebox and acceptable beer selection. It was the non-ironic playing of “Free Bird” that sold us, along with the Blue Moon beer served with an orange slice.

The entire menu isn’t stellar, but there are some good eats here.

Pablo's Mexican Restaurant (Shakopee, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune South
  • November 29, 2006

Pablo’s has been around for 20 years, ever since Pablo and his family moved to Minnesota from Southern California. The food isn’t the traditional Mexican you’ll find in the taquerias in South Minneapolis, nor is it really Tex-Mex. It’s Cal-Mex, an Americanized version of Mexican food created by early immigrants who settled in California. Think Taco Bell, only much tastier.

As served at Pablo’s, “Americanized” means “not at all spicy.”

Pablo’s menu consists of mostly Mexican standards — tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, burritos and so on — in a variety of combinations. Some of the combinations come with both refried beans and Spanish rice, while others come with beans or rice. Fillings include seasoned ground beef, spicy shredded beef, chicken, pork and beans…

Piccolo's Pizzeria (Eagan, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune South
  • August 30, 2006

During the sweltering days of summer, nothing suits us better than the pure classic simplicity of a chocolate malt. At its best, the cold ice cream is perfectly offset by the chocolate and malt, creating the reigning champion among soda fountain treats.

Unfortunately, a proper malt, tasting of malt powder, is darned hard to come by. We’ve visited some of the top names in the business locally and haven’t been impressed. Even ordering extra malt hasn’t brought us a malty-tasting chocolate malt.

And this was our frame of mind when we wandered into Piccolo’s recently. But the sublime happened. We received a nearly full can, along with our glass of chocolate malt, and, oh, it was perfectly chocolaty and malted and so good…

Tak Shing (Lakeville, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune South
  • July 26, 2006

The thing about Italian food in America is that, at its worst, it can be so very very bad. Think beans in the school lunch spaghetti and you realize how badly Italian can be misinterpreted in America. On the other hand, nearly every Chinese restaurant is run by members of a Chinese family with at least a couple of recipes they really like.

At Tak Shing in Lakeville, we had the good fortune of ordering some of those marvelous dishes.

The best thing we had was the Tak Shing wonton soup. The broth has that particularly excellent quality one finds in a great wonton soup: it’s not heavy, like a European chicken soup, but is densely flavorsome and still as light as water. The Tak Shing presentation is heartier than most, with baby corn, broccoli, pea pods, carrots, mushrooms and water chestnuts. This soup comes in one size only (large) and makes a good meal for one or a fine appetizer for a group. Either way, you’re in for a treat…

Sambol (Eagan, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune South
  • May 10, 2006

India is home to a huge variety of cultures and cuisines, and they all have their unique tastes. But in this country, most Indian restaurants tend to have similar menus. If you’ve eaten at a few, you’ve learned that kormas are creamy and not spicy, rogan josh dishes are medium and vindaloos are hot. You know that biryani is a seasoned rice dish and tikka masala is tomato-based. But far too often the tastes blend together, and it seems as if the only difference between Indian restaurants is the time it takes to get to one or another.

Sambol has a treat in store for you. Not only are most of the dishes more unique and flavorful than you’re used to, but also you’ll find delicious Sri Lankan menu items that you’ve never heard of before…

The Ole Store (Northfield, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • Star Tribune South
  • April 12, 2006

Minnesota has too much experience with tearing down buildings and neighborhoods.

For some reason, we turn our backs on our history when we look ahead to the future. So we were delighted to make the trip down to the Ole Store in Northfield.

Here, a legendary local breakfast place and former general store has been updated with a bright spotlight on the past.

The old soda counter is now a wine bar with a small, good wine list. Not limited to California, the list features a few choices from all the major wine-making regions, at reasonable prices. The $20 Rioja might be the best deal on the list…

Thailand View (Shakopee, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune South
  • February 22, 2006

Thai food, like other cuisines from southeast Asia, uses a palette of ingredients to produce complex, highly flavored dishes. You’ll want to share these dishes with your group. Note that, like most Americans, Thai don’t use chopsticks, unless they are eating Chinese food.

We love the harmonies and balances of the sweet, salt, spicy, sour and bitter ingredients. Think lemongrass, ginger, garlic, cumin, sweet basil, mint, lime, peanuts, and turmeric. We’ve eaten too much Thai food that is inedibly hot, and are glad that the Thailand View kitchen is able to make things truly mild when requested…

Viva Italia (Eagan, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune South
  • January 25, 2006

We have a love/hate relationship with Italian food. It can be so very good, and it’s so easy to do a bad job with. For the most part, Viva Italia doesn’t let its reach exceed its grasp.

By all means, start with the garlic cheese bread. It’s intensely garlicky, and with that delicious marinara sauce spooned on top, you’ll get a starter much better than the pizzas, which we didn’t like. We’re not fans of thick chewy pizza crusts. We loved the generous scatter of basil atop the Margherita pizza, however.

On one visit, the soup was a slightly spicy tomato-based soup with green peppers, pepperoni, Italian sausage, fagioli, and small pasta shells…

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.