128 Cleveland Ave N.
St Paul, MN 55104
Apparently, Hell is not free, just cheap here.
Stewart's is a new restaurant that occupies the space where 128 Cafe used to be. It is literally my son's favorite restaurant. He even wrote a 5 star review on Facebook. (I'm so proud). However now it is the only place he wants to go.
128 Cleveland Ave N.
St Paul, MN 55104
Capesante - which is clearly Italian for "Find the diver scallops in the lightly deep fried angel hair and serve with lobster sauce and basil oil because it's so good people won't might digging for it."
Farfelle San Remo - because meat & pasta at an upscale Italian place is never wrong.
A little side issue. Just because handicapped parking exists, doesn't mean that the world is manageable for those with disabilities. Having had to push a wheelchair up steps to enter a restaurant, having to navigate around seated diners, and try to figure out what to do with the wheelchair once we seated, I was beyond delighted to see that La Grolla has a separate side entrance for the handicapped to enter easily. You don't see that often enough, unfortunately. Props to La Grolla.
452 Selby Ave
St. Paul MN 55102
My friend Helen always hits it out of the park when she picks an activity. Admittedly, I was skeptical to eat at a Russian-Style restaurant. I thought, nothing about those Slavic countries is light. Certainly not their food. An odd choice for Uptown, but Moscow Mules are a thing now, and certainly vodka never goes out of style for the hip crowd. The food wasn't light, but I think it made it even better. The above picture features Pelmeny which is a siberian meat -filled dumpling with a huge dollop of sour cream. Are you drooling yet?
Golobsti (Stuffed cabbage)
Assorti. Russian Caviar, deviled eggs, pickeled veggies and bread. So good.
Hammer & Sickle
1300 Lagoon Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Let's start with dessert first - Smoked Almond Ice Cream with Lavender and Champagne sauce. No, I didn't know such a thing existed.
I have a Tartine, which I think is the fancy French word for sandwich. This on is called the Tartine Madame - Red Table Jambon with Raclette cheese & a sunny-side up egg. Never ever again will I be able to stomach an egg mcmuffin.
Funnily enough,I thoght this place was a champagne bar. Imagine that.
I think I want to live here.
5003 Bryant Ave S.
Minneapolis, MN 55419
The Long Road Home includes Vineyards...Great River Road Series Part I - Flower Valley Vineyard & Lake Pepin Winery
I live in the Twin Cities. My parents live in Winona. To get there, most people I know head south to Rochester, then east on I90 to the town. They claim it is faster that way. I'm sure that's what their maps app tells, depending on where you live in the Metro area. I, however, WITHOUT FAIL, take Highway 61. Also known as the Great River Road. My logic is this for stubbornly driving along a road that posts speed limits or less of 45 mph through every.single.small.town: The road that hugs the Mississippi has way more eye candy. The sailboats on Lake Pepin, the bluffs that hedge you close as they can towards the river beginning in Red Wing, and yes, all of those dinky towns that serve in my book, places of hidden delights. Personally, I am grateful for them. The turtle's pace speed limits allows me to catch views of places I would otherwise miss. This past summer, I noticed that vineyards are popping up faster than craft breweries, if that is somehow possible. And while most journalists are skeptical of of cold climate wines, I'm enjoying the ride.Both of the these vineyards I would never had know existed had I not taken the drive.
Both Flower Valley Vineyard and Lake Pepin Winery are places I discovered on my drive-bys. I didn't have much time at Lake Pepin to do a tasting, but instead grabbed two bottles based on their descriptions. The Jack Ass Red came too close to a port of sherry for my liking, but I enjoyed the King of the North red table wine which is grown with 100% Minnesota grapes. Don't ask me which ones. I'll have to do an official tasting and get back to you on that.Hopefully soon. Because they have outdoor seating with comfy chairs where you can catch a pleasant breeze of the lake to while away a summer afternoon. Just not during a Minnesota winter. At least not me. Years of Arizona living has made me a winter wimp.
In between the 55-50-30 mph town of Red Wing and the 45 mph slowdown of blink-or-you'll-miss-it Frontenac Station is a sign for Flower Valley vineyard. A mile or so off of Highway 61, it boasts no river views, but on a clear dry day August day on which I visited, the green of the valley and the blue of the sky was all you needed. Less crowded than the vineyards that satellite the Twin Cities Metro, at Flower Valley we had no problem grabbing chairs and a table for our picnic.
When the sun grew too warm, we meandered over to the lounge chairs closer to the vines. With a maddeningly delish bottle of their cabernet sauvingon, we chatted and relaxed. The kids played soccer and were able to pick and taste the grapes right off the vine. I beer wanted to leave. Finally, we stumbled back to our cars with a stop at the horse barn for the kids to rub the horses noses. I highly recommend this place. Kid and pet friendly. What are you waiting for?
Flower Valley Vineyard
29212 Orchard Rd, Red Wing, MN 55066
Lake Pepin Winery
35680 U.S. 61 Lake City, MN
A wine bar with a kids menu! It's like I died and went to heaven. And, the flatbread is awesome. HUGE WINE LIST.
And Sinatra. Like an award-winning motion picture that practically writes itself.
Oliver's Wine Bar
227 Bush Street
Red Wing, MN 55066
A wine bar in Winona...no one believed me...least of all my siblings. My sister, who lives in Chicago, came to visit my parents over the summer over her birthday weekend. I am never one to want to miss family drama, so I packed the kids in the car and headed south. I figured a Birthday drink was in order for my sis, so we made plans for a "quick drink" at the The Oaks in downtown Winona, she did so skeptically. We ended up being there for a good three or four hours, much to the chagrin of my parents who where stuck babysitting four grandchildren under 10 years of age.
When we were growing up, Winona still had a sense of post-WW II glamour. In turn of the century buildings there was a fancy department store, Choates, drugstores with lunch counters, and a beautiful 1920's style hotel and and restaurant in it's downtown. Unfortunately, many of the river towns whose business centers were downtown suffered once developers built along the new main drag, the highway. No one came downtown anymore. Strangely enough, the multitude of corner bars didn't suffer , mostly because you can still get a gin & tonic for $2 and 50 cent beer on tap. No small deal in a college town. So, with my sisters and my Facebook knowledge of the place, we ended up not only enjoying a decent wine selection, but enticing my brother, my sister-in-law, and my brother-in-law to come down and enjoy the place.
75 W 3rd St, Winona, MN 55987
A Minnesota native returns after 13 years away discovering a whole new food landscape.