Archive for July, 2009

Lyon’s Pub (Dinner) – Minneapolis, MN »

The Basics

IMG_6803.JPG

Cuisine: American
Ambiance: Neighborhood Pub
Address: 16 S 6th St, Minneapolis, MN 55402
Neighborhood: Downtown
Phone: 612.333.6612
Web Site: http://lyonspub.com/
Must Taste (Dinner):

  • Dinner: Plymouth Burger – burger with Swiss cheese, American cheese, and grilled onions on marbled rye with hand cut fries.
  • Drink: Choose from the pub’s nice beer list.

IMG_6801.JPG
Best For: Group Outing (with friends or co-workers)
What to Wear: casual
Fave Points: Interesting burger concoctions – they aren’t too over the top, but they’re a step ahead of the typical options (hamburger or bacon cheeseburger?) even just in the bread/bun options.
My Fave Dish: My fave dish was the Plymouth burger (or do I like the Wells Fargo better…hmm). I’m a bit traditional at times and was worried I wouldn’t like how the burger was served on marbled rye bread instead of a typical burger-bun, but I absolutely loved the marbled rye substitution.

Menu pricing and availability subject to change.

My Dish

I was in Minneapolis for work and went out with a group of co-workers to grab a relaxed dinner at self-proclaimed “neighborhood pub” Lyon’s Pub after flying into town on a Wednesday.

IMG_6804.JPG

Normally, when I’m traveling, I try to hit up restaurants featuring a city’s specialties, so while I was looking forward to hanging out with my co-workers, I wasn’t expecting more than bar food at the restaurant, but I’d be happily surprised by the pub’s burger list.

IMG_6808.JPG

The inside of the pub really did have a friendly neighborhood-like feel with lots of rustic wood and a relaxed ambiance. It was May and pretty hot, but the front windows were wide open, so the temperature was a bit warm inside the restaurant. I did kinda of like the open-air feel, which reminded me a bit of how they’ll swing the windows open at restaurants in Charleston, SC (where it gets quite hot and muggy).

IMG_6806.JPG

I was expecting to order my usual bar fare – some sort of burger. What I wasn’t expecting was the most-awesome list of creative burger concoctions, which had more than just the usual bacon cheeseburger. The burger combinations weren’t all that unusual but small changes, like rye buns instead of traditional white buns, were nice to see. I had a hard time narrowing down and selection and lucked out that the lady across from me said she’d split her burger with me if I split mine. Done and done. I love sampling as many flavors as possible, so this seemed like a win-win.

IMG_6809.JPG

I’m a pretty healthy eater on most days and find getting my veggies in while I’m traveling for work to be a bit of a challenge. To get at least a serving or two, I started my dinner with a side salad, which was HUGE. Lots of iceberg lettuce, cucumber, tomato, shredded carrot, and plenty of croutons. I had ranch dressing on the side.

IMG_6810.JPG

I also managed to get an onion ring and 1/2 cheese stick the group was sharing for appetizers. They were nice and crispy.

IMG_6813.JPG

IMG_6814.JPG

I ordered the Plymoutha burger with Swiss cheese, American cheese, and grilled onions on marbled rye with hand cut fries.

IMG_6812.JPG

I traded half of my Plymouth for half of a co-worker’s Wells Fargo burger, which had swiss cheese and bacon on a rye bun.

Both burgers were awesome! I was happily surprised at the burgers and really enjoyed both. I was so glad my co-worker wanted to trade sandwiches because I was torn between ordering the two and got to taste them both this way! I’m still not sure which one I liked better.

Final Dish

While there are many fancy options for eats in downtown Minneapolis, check out Lyon’s Pub if you’re looking for a casual dinner in a friendly bar environment. They have an open interior and nice beer selection. I imagine the place can get pretty busy and loud on the weekends, but it is a pub, afterall. We were there on a weeknight and the place was nice and laid back with what appeared to be a handful of regulars.

The waiter we had was quite personable and friendly and helped answer all our questions. Definitely try one of their interesting burger creations for a different kind of burger dinner – maybe the Plymouth? If you’re looking for a MN-themed eat, try the Beer Cheese Soup with Popcorn topping. I didn’t get it but wanted to try it. Maybe next time?

Fiamma Restaurant (Dinner) – Charlotte, NC »

The Basics

IMG_6453.JPG

Cuisine: Italian
Ambiance: Cozy Traditional
Address: 2418 Park Rd, Charlotte, NC 28263
Neighborhood: DIlworth
Phone: 704.333.3062
Web Site: no website – Fiamma Restaurant on Yelp
Must Taste (Dinner):

  • Salad: Blood Orange Salad – beautiful presentation and great flavors.
  • Pasta: Homemade ravioli – they change their flavors often, but the spinach is delish. The fresh-made pasta makes the ravioli extra tasty.
  • Dessert: Chocolate Tart – served hot – this is so yum. Great taste and lovely texture. Save room for dessert.

IMG_6464.JPG
Best For
: Romantic Date (call ahead to reserve the window-seat), Group Outing (with friends or co-workers)
What to Wear: casual-dressy (no tennis shoes) to dressy
Good to Know: Almost everything on the menu is made from scratch, which is apparent in their delicious dishes.
Fave Points: Nice selection and especially how they make almost everything from scratch, even the limoncello.
My Fave Dish: The homemade ravioli was my favorite. I absolutely love fresh pasta. The delicate pasta pockets with spinach and cheese tasted so great with the tomato sauce and cheese on top.

Menu pricing and availability subject to change.

My Dish

I had a business meeting with my friend (and event co-organizer) about an event we had just executed, in preparation of next year’s event.

IMG_6454.JPG

Wanting to stay in the Dilworth area, we decided to meet up at Fiamma Restaurant.

IMG_6452.JPG

Fiamma may easily be written off by those who don’t know better because the restaurant is located in a strip mall (same one as Ru San’s) and therefore has a simple, easy-to-pass exterior.

IMG_6457.JPG

Inside, the ambiance was quite traditional with dark wood and white linens.

IMG_6459.JPG

We were promptly greeted and served a bread basket with an herb-olive oil for dipping.

IMG_6463.JPG

IMG_6469.JPG

I started with a glass of the Vermentino, Sella & Mosca (Delicious apple and pear flavors with a fresh, crisp finish).

The restaurant had some delicious-sounding specials, but for eats, we went with the special 3-course meal I had read about from a note on the front door. The meal featured 3 courses with a couple options for each of the courses. My friend also got the 3-course meal and we ended up splitting a bit of each course to get a better taste of the restaurant’s dishes.

IMG_6475.JPG

IMG_6474.JPG

For my first course, I ordered the Blood Orange Salad. I loved the presentation and the flavors of the orange, fennel, frisee lettuce, and dressing went quite well together. The large piece of shaved cheese on top really made the salad.

IMG_6472.JPG

IMG_6476.JPG

My friend ordered the Vegetable Croquettes, which were served with a bit of salad and were also quite tasty.

IMG_6479.JPG

After our first course and just before our second, we were served a palate-cleansing sorbet. I thought the sorbet was a nice touch.

IMG_6480.JPG

IMG_6483.JPG

For his main course, my friend got the veal with spinach and mashed potatoes.

IMG_6493.JPG

IMG_6487.JPG

For my main course, I got the homemade spinach ravioli, which was served with a nice tomato sauce and topping of fresh grated cheese. It was so good, and the pasta just melted in your mouth. I’m such a huge fan of fresh pasta and this dish was simply delicious.

IMG_6495.JPG

For our last course, my friend got the chocolate tart.

IMG_6500.JPG

I ordered the tiramisu. They were both delicious, but I think I actually liked the chocolate tart better. The tart was just such a nice concoction with a great texture of chewy, crispy, and gooey all together with yummy chocolate – served hot. Yum.

IMG_6501.JPG

Coffee went perfectly with dessert.

IMG_6507.JPG

To end the meal, we were even served some complimentary samples of the restaurant’s homemade limoncello. It was so good I may just order some of it to go with my meal in lieu of wine.

Final Dish

Fiamma Restaurant is a hidden gem in the wonderful world of Charlotte eats. Hidden in a strip mall facade, this place offers up some pretty fantastic eats. But, don’t be fooled by the outside appearance. Would you rather a restaurant have a great outside appearance or great food? If you chose the latter, give Fiamma a try.

The waiters and the rest of the staff are quite knowledgeable in regards to the wine list and food, so feel free to ask them any questions about selections, etc. because you’ll get some good answers. They helped me make a nice wine selection on this particular dining adventure.

You’d have a hard time ordering the wrong thing here since the restaurant offers so many delicious dishes. The fact that they make almost everything from scratch is a big plus. Try the 3-course special menu (offered Monday-Wednesday) while it lasts to get a nice variety of Fiamma flavors, and be sure to save room for dessert.

Copa Vida (Coffee) – Durham, NC »

The Basics

IMG_6356.JPG

Cuisine: Coffee Shop
Ambiance: Simple + Airy
Address: 2816 Erwin Rd, Suite 20, Durham, NC 27705
Neighborhood: Duke
Phone: 919.383.4900
Web Site: Copa Vida on Yelp
Must Taste (Coffee):

  • Coffee: A Latte with whole milk. They use milk from a local creamery, which makes the drink divine.

Best For: Group Outing (with friends or co-workers) or a coffee shop trip solo
What to Wear: casual (but casual-dressy is acceptable)Good to Know: the shop uses milk from a local creamery and that makes all the different in the quality of their beverages.
Fave Points: Use of local creamery’s milk (I believe the coffee beans are locally roasted, as well).
My Fave Dish: I absolutely loved my Vanilla Latte with whole milk. The froth was so decadently thick and the milk really made the drink.

Menu pricing and availability subject to change.

My Dish

After our dinner, my friend and I decided to take our conversation to Copa Vida to enjoy some post-dinner coffees.

IMG_6358.JPG

I wasn’t sure exactly what to get at first. When I hit up new coffee shops, I try to look for their specialty drinks but the menu at Copa Vida had all the traditional drinks listed. I decided to order my usual – a Vanilla Soy Latte.

Lucky for me, somehow the topic of the shop’s use of a local creamery’s milk came up, so I quickly switched to a regular Vanilla Latte. I asked the barista what kind of milk she suggested and she said to get the whole milk for the full effect. She was so right.

IMG_6360.JPG

The shop had quite a few tables, but they were simple set-ups without much padding and my friend and I wanted to relax on something more comfortable. We headed towards the front of the shop and found a cozy couch to set up on.

IMG_6362.JPG

I loved my red mug. I prefer ceramic (or just not disposable) mugs when I take my coffee inside coffee shops and this one was really neat-looking.

IMG_6364.JPG

Check out that froth.

IMG_6366.JPG

It was so thick. The froth even stuck to the sides of my mug when the drink was gone. Impressive! The barista was spot on with the whole milk suggestion. The milk and froth were the best part of my drink. I think this was one of the best lattes I’ve had ever.

Final Dish

I really appreciate places, like Copa Vida, that go out of their way to support other local businesses. The shop’s use of the local creamery’s milk was my favorite highlight of this spot. The space inside was pretty large and would probably support a large group. They also have wifi if you’re looking to setup your laptop. One downside of the shop is the limited hours. I believe they close pretty early (early for a coffee shop IMO). Their hours aren’t going to put me off, though…I’m already looking forward to another whole milk latte the next time I’m in Durham. This place may become a Durham must-stop for me.

Six Plates Wine Bar (Dinner) »

The Basics

IMG_6288.JPG

Cuisine: American Tapas
Ambiance: Modern Chic
Address: 2812 Erwin Rd, Suite 104, Durham, NC 27705
Neighborhood: Duke
Phone: 919.321.0203
Web Site: http://www.sixplates.com/
Must Taste (Dinner):

  • Wine: Six Plates is a wine bar! Try the suggested pairing for the dish(es) you select.
  • Side: Flavored popcorn of the day – taste the unique flavor offering – I’ve never seen popcorn like the popcorn served at Six Plates.
  • Tapas: Lamby Joes – this is one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. Ground meats with fennel seed on ciabatta rolls make for a light tapas good for sharing between 2 people.
  • Tapas: Flatbread of the Evening – I loved the texture of the flatbread and the toppings were a big hit, too!

IMG_6290.JPG
Best For: Date, Group Outing (with friends or co-workers)
What to Wear: casual-dressy (no tennis shoes) to dressy
Good to Know: the restaurant doesn’t have traditional waiters. Sit at the bar if you want more interaction or help.
Fave Points: Unique dishes, small portions, suggested wine pairings, and especially the restaurant’s use of as many local ingredients as possible.
My Fave Dish: My fave dish came as a bit of a surprise to me. Turns out the Flatbread of the Evening (we got a flabread with a chickpea puree with local tomatoes, a cheddar cheese and a yogurt sauce) was my fave so far. The dish seemed quite simple, but the flavors went together so nicely. I thought the dish was flavorful but light and a delight for my palate.

Menu pricing and availability subject to change.

My Dish

I met up with a girlfriend for a girls’ dinner out at Six Plates Wine Bar in Durham, NC.

IMG_6301.JPG

IMG_6293.JPG

IMG_6300.JPG

I loved the modern ambiance inside and the black, white, and red color combination.

IMG_6305.JPG

IMG_6347.JPG

I enjoyed the lighting inside – especially the chandelier.

Upon entering the restaurant, we were promptly greeted with a friendly smile from the owner, Matt, who helped us during our dining adventure for the evening.

Since the restaurant doesn’t have traditional waiters, and this was a first visit for both my friend and me, we decided to grab a seat at the bar.

IMG_6307.JPG

We started with one of the restaurant’s signature dishes – The “Tenured” Lamby Joes.

IMG_6313.JPG IMG_6310.JPG

IMG_6309.JPG

Two mini sandwiches with ground meat, fennel seed, and lettuce on tiny ciabatta rolls. I thought these made a great starter for the meal and were perfect to share between the two of us.

Next up, we ordered the steak.

IMG_6311.JPG

We each had a glass of the Olivares Monastrell “Altos de la Hoya” Jumilla, Spain, which was the suggested wine pairing for the steak plate. I thought it was a great wine.

IMG_6319.JPG

IMG_6320.JPG

IMG_6321.JPG

Not too long after, our steak dish came out – braeburn farms sirloin – local asparagus hash | fig demi glace sauce. The steak was super tender and I loved the fig sauce. A nice savory-sweet combination.

IMG_6324.JPG

Matt surprised us by sending out the Tuna Tartar Tower on the house – My friend and I were on the fence about trying this one, but it was quite good (if you like raw tuna). The tuna was paired with jicama, avocado, and a lovely mango vanilla vinaigrette.

IMG_6326.JPG

We also ordered a small cup of the bacon-flavored popcorn because we were so intrigued by the idea of the uniquely-flavored popcorn. It was gooood!

IMG_6329.JPG

IMG_6332.JPG

IMG_6335.JPG

For our final (savory) dish of the night, we got the flatbread of the evening, which had a chickpea puree with local tomatoes, a cheddar cheese and a yogurt sauce. I think the flatbread was my fave dish of the night – it surprised me the most with its interesting combination of ingredients and light yet tasty flavor.

Next up…dessert!

IMG_6336.JPG

IMG_6342.JPG

My friend and I each got a glass of the dessert wine – Robertson Winery Late Harvest Gewurtzraminer South Africa. I really enjoyed the dessert wine, and I don’t usually do dessert wines.

IMG_6337.JPG

While deciding on dessert, we perused the gelato menu, which had so many interesting flavors, I wanted to try one of each.

IMG_6348.JPG

IMG_6350.JPG

IMG_6353.JPG

Instead of trying to try all the gelatos, I settled on swapping out the goat cheese gelato in the dessert we ordered for the thai basil gelato. As for dessert, we ordered the Strawberry Shortcake. I had visions of fluffy, biscuit-y shortcake floating through my head as I waited for our dessert to arrive, so I was surprised to see a modern take on the dessert with a flaky nest of batter in lieu of the cake-like base I typically see. Though it wasn’t what I was expecting, I thought the shortcake “nest” was pretty cool and made for a fun presentation. Dessert was light and delicious.

Final Dish

Check out Six Plates Wine Bar in Durham, NC for a new take on tapas-style dinner. Choose from the six, seasonal tapas dishes offered or try one of their other dishes (flatbread, lamby joes, or olive plate). The wine pairings for each plate make choosing a wine extra easy for the amateur wine drinker. Those more experienced in the wine department may make their own selection from the restaurant’s extensive wine list. Additional drink options are available for the non-winos.

Try the Flatbread of the Evening and be sure to save room for dessert. Six Plates offers several unique gelato flavors like Olive Oil, Guinness, and Yuzu (yea, those really are gelato flavors).

Choose a seat at the bar for a more interactive experience or make your way to one of the swanky arm chairs if you want to get cozy. Either way, spend an evening at Six Plates to enjoy interestingly-delicious food paired with great drinks and escape in the modern-chic ambiance.