47 thoughts on “January 19, 2020: We Knead It”

  1. Tried a new chicken wing recipe that uses baking powder and various spices for the dredge. Baked on a rack at low heat for 20 minutes then high heat for 30-40. The baking powder dries out the skin so it gets really crispy and seals in the fat so the meat stays juicy. Delicious, but it did set off the smoke detector near the end of cooking time.

      1. I should also post a wing recipe we have. We wanted a signature dry rub, and my chef came up with a smokey-sweet dry rub that is pretty darn good. My wife is addicted to it.

    1. I will have to try that baking powder thing. For sauce, I have grown quite fond of blending bbq sauce with buffalo sauce. It goes against all of my tendencies as a chef, but man is it good. Now if I can find a way to make it in an instapot. 🙂

        1. That reminds me of a meal I had in Maple Grove yesterday. It was an elk sausage, wrapped in bacon, then topped with crispy fried onions and pork belly. I thought "Wow... gotta have it", especially due to the pork belly. Well when it arrived at the table, the bun was hard, the sausage was dry and overcooked and the pork belly was diced small and left in the deep fryer about 35 minutes too long. It was a cool place that had a ton of different types of BOURBON and the motif had a fair amount of BRICK. My wife and son did enjoy their meals though.

          <not sure why your comment reminded me of the meal, but it did>

          1. Went there once on a date, didn't find it all that impressive. Loud. Pricey cocktails. Food was...fine.
            Hard to go wrong at Redstone, if you haven't been there. Biaggis is always nice, though we tend to order out more than in.

            1. Yeah, they must make "smoked" old fashions, as I saw (and smelled) a few go out to tables around us. An old fashion cocktail, under a clear dome with smoke pumped around the drink for 30 seconds. Gimmick... I am not a fan of Gimmicks. I do like Redstone as well, but haven't tried Biaggi's. I struggle with Italian restaurants. I once was the Chef at one that was 95% scratch cooking (including pasta). Eventually, the Corporate Chef started bringing in bagged sauces and soups. Most "Italian" chain restaurants are 30-40% scratch cooking at best. Which doesn't make sense, as it is not that hard to do so with Italian cuisine. Before you ask, my current joint is 95% scratch cooking. I do not make my own ketchup (yet), or mayonaisse. I buy pre made kids chicken fingers... um... thats about it.

              1. my current joint

                I've been. 10/10 would recommend.

                I'm sure Biaggis has corporate leanings, but I'd still go there for Italian if that was the preference. Truth be told, more than anything we get the Pronto Packs to go because wife likes the margherita pizza. Actually, it's been a while since I've eaten in there.

                While you're listening...if you have recommendations of other places you've been for good food in a quietish environment, I am ALL ears.

                1. Wish I had a list to recommend in that area for you, but unfortunately I don't. Probably the coolest joint I have been to (based on one visit) was Short and Tall in Rogers. However, it is not quiet unless you are on the patio in the summer. It's small and loud inside, but the food we had last summer was pretty good and it was a very unique concept. I would also be ALL ears for suggestions for good food in the corridor from Rogers to Minneapolis (U of M), as we try to take our son out to eat whenever we drop him off or visit. We are running out of options that we like.

                  1. Fast casuals...There's a Punch Pizza there. That's a good time. Cafe Zupas is quality, forgot about that one.
                    Informal French...Patrick's is recommended, though I don't think I've been there for dinner.
                    3 Squares is good and reliable.
                    There's a place called Ten Sushi in my neck of the woods that I regularly hear good things about. If that's your thing.

                    1. Forgot about Crave.
                      There's a Rock Elm up by us, too, which I really want to like, but every burger I've had there has seemed like it needed to be...seasoned? Or something?
                      Depending how far off the I-94 path you want to go...up 55 in Medina...Oak Eatery is a nice lunch place, Peg's Cafe if you need a hometown diner, and Robert's makes some nice stuff.

                    2. Is Crave a chain? Do they have one in the MoA?

                      Because if that is the place.... My brother and his wife love it. I thought it was over-priced and mediocre and too cute by half.

                    3. Yes, Crave is a chain. I have had a handful of meals at various locations. I lean more your way than your brother, but there food is pretty good. In a way, it seems to me they are the next step up on the evolution scale after Champps, Fridays, etc. I think Redstone's concept fits me better. More relaxed and less in your face. Sometimes at Crave, I am surprised my server doesn't have enough flair on his/her uniform.

                    4. I have been twice. Once was a rather large, group dinner my brother organized for a family event (and for which I paid half the bill). Decent enough sushi rolls and other appetizers. But I had a shoe-leather steak topped with a salt lick. It was awful.

                    5. A little out of the way (off of 610), but I ate at Roasted Pear recently and found it to be very good.

                    6. Thoughts:
                      1) I don't understand why more restaurants can't make incredible hand crafted food at a price I'm willing to pay...
                      a) (In all seriousness, despite MG's restaurant parking lots being perpetually full, they still turn over at a scary pace, or at least they used to. I can't imagine how tough the business must be.)
                      2) Sometimes enjoyment is inversely proportional to the amount the meal costs and the associated expectation. If you paid for half an event...I might be surly about it, too.
                      a) Maybe not inversely proportional. Probably a discount factor. Not a math guy.
                      b) Sometimes it's not. See: Manny's
                      i) That place was awesome. Ridiculous, but awesome.

                      Edit...no paragraph formatting, I guess

                    7. Re: Roasted Pear
                      Wife got me four gift cards for dates for Father's Day. Two Brick and Bourbon, Two Roasted Pear. In 8 months, we've used one of the Brick and Bourbon.
                      Driving 9 miles in a straight line to get to Roasted Pear has proved to be too much planning for us...
                      But yes, I've heard good things.
                      Next time you're up that way, maybe we could use that as an excuse to get out.

                    8. 1) I don't understand why more restaurants can't make incredible hand crafted food at a price I'm willing to pay...

                      That is a loaded question. In Minnesota the minimum wage for tipped employees is the same as for non-tipped employees. This puts Minnesota restaurants at a competitive disadvantage to many other states. If my joint was in North Dakota (and all other factors were the same) I would pay about $120,000 less in labor for my tipped employees. I serve about 100,000 guests each year. So my pricing needs to be $1.20 more per entree, drink, etc to make up that difference. I can't imagine the economic pressures on metro/suburban joints that have higher land costs. Or worse, to be operating in a border town on the Minnesota side. Not to mention the increased minimum wage in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

                      I have zero issue with minimum wage increasing yearly for non-tipped employees. I personally feel that the minimum wage for tipped employees should be somewhere in between the $10 we pay in Minnesota and the insane $4 per hour that surrounding states pay. But it is what it is, and as proprietors we need to charge accordingly. Some people tell me they can make one of my $12 burgers at home for $3 dollars. Well, the typical restaurant has about a 30% cost of sales (food and bev), 35% labor/benefits, 10-12% operational expenses and another 8-10% in other fixed expenses like rent, insurance and a hundred other line items. Now a days a good operating restaurant nets 5% of sales. So, in the cities a $4 million restaurant is lucky to net out $200 K. Most aren't good operators and are lucky to make money at all. It really is a "count every penny" business. If we aren't managing every little detail our margins can go south in a hurry.

                    9. Re: zee. 🙄😀

                      Yes, paying half of an exorbitant bill when I was not part of the decision-making probably colored my view a bit. Along with some other, more personal frustrations relating to that weekend with my family.

                      The restaurant business is stupid competitive and stupid hard. I tip my hat to the people making a go at it with quality food and experiences.

                    10. zooom, this is great insight. I'm grateful for the detail.
                      You read that comment as sarcasm, right? It was supposed to be. The small non-chain restaurants turn over a ton, in MG between Elm Creek Boulevard and 94, the gravestones for standalone restaurants include Champps, Hops [too soon on the brewery concept, torn down], Joe's Crab Shack, Don Pablo's, Krispy Kreme [torn down]...I feel like there were more... Outback Steakhouse...
                      Famous Dave's, Olive Garden and Red Lobster have persisted since what was largely the beginning (in my head) over there.

                    11. Another recommendation, if tolerant of bar and grill vibe, I think Malone's is well-received. I've been once and thought things were good.
                      Same family that does Maynard's (which, I think, I didn't as much care for. Also have only been once.)

                    12. Added to the graveyard: California Pizza Kitchen. Granite City.

                      Should be added to the Graveyard: Claddah's (horrible every time I've been there)

            2. Meanwhile I've had not much luck at Redstone and mouth watering food at B&B. Duck bacon wontons....ooooooh

              My second date with my wife was at Biaggi's. We live two minutes from there and haven't been back. No particular reason.

              Have had good luck at Pittsburgh Blue but expensive in the evening.

              1. Yes, I have also had a few solid experiences at Pittsburgh Blue, but it is definitely on the outer edge of my price range. Also, definitely not banging on Biaggi's. I think it is a decent option, it's just tough for me knowing I can cook the same meal at home for pennies on the dollar in comparison. That goes for all Italian joints.

                  1. Interesting question. Before we opened, I had never attempted anything in the Korean BBQ style of food. Beauty of the world we live in is you can go online and find some cool recipes from some talented chefs. Then, go in the kitchen and change some things around to match your market and concept. I kind of bastardized a recipe I found and the result is our best selling item: Korean BBQ Beef Tacos. So, my answer would be that I have not bumped into anything that intimidates me (other than instapot) enough that I could not figure it out. Foods we avoid are more a case of not a fit, or just way too labor intensive. Eventually, I would like to get a nice commercial smoker and do a lot more with smoked meats, vegetables, etc.

  2. Just revisiting the above thread of comments:

    Zee German - yes, I caught the sarcasm and just saw a nice window to toss out some thoughts on restaurant pricing. No worries.

    Yes, Granite City is going through bankruptcy, but they were granted a loan of sorts to remain open. I would check with your local one to see if they still take them in. If so, get on your horse!!! Granite City has changed a lot over the years. I worked at the first one in St. Cloud and was the opening GM at #2 in Sioux Falls. Grew too aggressively in my opinion. I was very fortunate in the fact that I bought a bunch of shares at $4/share during their IPO. Left the company a few years later. Randomly checked the stock price one day and it was between $7.50 and $8/share. Sold my shares. A few months later it was down drastically and eventually got bumped off Nasdaq. Could not have timed it more perfectly. (wasn't a crazy amount of shares). Biggest issue I saw with the concept, was they launched shortly before the craft beer craze. Their beer was decent, but it's hard to compete with all of the cool local breweries popping up all over. They lost their "differentiating factor" which is what gave them a leg up on the competition.

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