I loved living in St. Paul. Man, did I want I a condo at the Commodore. It had history, (F. Scott Fitzgerald lived there) charm, was within walking distance to shops and restaurants, all my prerequisites. It turned out to be a good thing I did not end up living there. Because they opened up THIS downstairs.
Do I need to explain why this would have not been a good idea? Because I would have wanted to eat downstairs every night and would have gone broke. Although from what I understand, this place is sooo busy, there can even be a waiting list for the bar at this time. Luckily, I went right when they opened, TAKE THAT HEAVY TABLE I FINALLY BEAT YOU. I can see why. Everything was amazing.
The Commodore Bar & Restaurant
79 Western Ave N, St Paul, MN 55102
It was National Dessert Day, and after a day of fun and Halloween shopping because it was no school MEA Friday, we celebrated at Trotter's. I had a veggie entrée, and of all the baked goods LO#1 could choose from, he got an ice cream sandwich and milk. Sounds about right. Another place described, as they put it, "local fresh and YUM". (Ok, maybe I did the all caps on the YUM.) I read their breakfast menu, and I'm fo sure going back. Stay tuned for the Huevos Munoz...or maybe the Roasted Red Potato Hash.
I love St. Paul. Still has a smalltown vibe. One of Nate's old school volunteers stopped by for a good long chat. Weird because I had never met her, but we still had a cerebral conversation.
232 Cleveland Ave. N St. Paul MN 55104
This place wins my "tucked away so youthat would rarely even stumble on it restaurant". It does pay not to take the freeway during rush hour and take the road less traveled. Last time Google said 3 crashes on 35W I stumbled upon this gem in the Seward neighborhood. Everything in it is good for you, I'm convinced of it. They make their own bread, for god's sake. There's a yoga studio across the street. And if you get a bit tipsy from the organic, vegan wine there is a Nice Ride in front. Just pay $6 and you burn off that hangover peddling home....
3311 East 25th Street Minneapolis MN 55406
Rose' from South Lyndale Liquors. Carrot Cake Jam from Annona Gourmet. Spooky Halloween candles and gift bag from Kowalski's. Perfect fall gift for someone having a party with about adults and children in costume.
Ugh. I did NOT want to do anything this weekend. Nothing. Nada. But I was coerced into going to Taylors Falls which I have to admit had a cool view or two. And fortunately a cool place to eat just outside of town called Eichtens. I saw a signs that said things like Bison...cheese...wine...how could I resist?
The founders, Joe & Mary Eichten.
Apparently these cheese curds even have cheese in the batter...take that Wisconsin cheese snobs. Even the wine was from Wild Mountain Winery in Taylors Falls.
The piece de la resistance...the Bison Burger with Eichtens' own Tilsit cheese. A house specialty by Mary Eichten.
Eichten's Bistro & Market
16440 Lake Blvd, Center City, MN 55012
This is the other new place I checked out. Seward Co-op has figured out how to take more of my hard-earned cash. They opened a kid-friendly restaurant with wine. I may as well just make them my primary beneficiary. My only complaint was that the portions (at least the sweetbreads pictured above were on the small side). Also, the wine could have been a big larger of a pour.
Seward Co-op Creamery
2601 East Franklin Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55406
Ha! I tricked my offspring into eating raw food! They called it macaroni and cheese.
2409 Lyndale Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55405
People ask me why I moved from the City of Perpetual Sun, aka Phoenix, back to the Land of Winter. Well, two reasons. A - My religion forbids me to spend Halloween in places that can reach 100 degree temperatures that time of year and B- Like the song goes - nobody walks in LA, the only places that Phoenicians walk is either a golf course or a treadmill. My prerequisite for living now is having my home in a walking neighborhood. If I had to move, the area of St. Anthony Park in Saint Paul is high on my list. It comes complete with homes that have character, mature foliage, and a small but live downtown. On Como Avenue, St. Anthony Park's main drag, you can even get Sweet Science Ice Cream at the convenience store, Tim & Tom's Speedy Market. The library is there. So are restaurants such as Mufuletta, Colossal café, and The Finnish Bistro. And just last Saturday, my son and I stumbled upon the St. Anthony Park Art Fair while out on errands. Of course we had to check it out. I had been planning to investigate some of the shops anyway. Besides, who can resist this European charm?
First stop, Micawber's Books. The proprietor recommended the Pulitzer-winning book "The Goldfinch" last time I there (it wasn't a particularly hard sell, I heart Donna Tartt's works. STOP LISA). He always opens the handicap accessible entrance as he sees us coming. Our version of being VIP. He doesn't have a ton of books, but what he has is gold like he's King Midas. Want to buy me a birthday present? See below. Any book in the cooking section will do. Especially "How to Cook Everything Fast".
And then there was THIS. Did they know I was going to be there?
Next to Micawber's is The Little Wine Shoppe. Yes, it is little. But hey, what store takes the time to have cards underneath EVERY bottle describing the particular wine in the store. For sure not places like the Wal-Mart of wine, Total Wine. Did I mention that their prices are better than Total Wine? Yes BETTER. IN ALL CAPS. And when I asked for the Alexis Bailly Rose Noir, they didn't have it, but were going to see if they could put it in the shelf for me. First class service. Did I mention wine tastings every Saturday from 12-4, icing on the cake.
Am I trying to sell you on these places? OF COURSE I AM. Because I hate seeing THIS.
Unless it is at Total Wine. I kid. I don't like seeing it anywhere. Either it means people are losing their jobs or someone is losing their dream. Once upon a time, the toy store Peapods, was someone's dream where they would provide kids with the tools to make a tornado, or send each other messages in morse code while pretending to be spies. Basically letting kids of today on the secret of our summers when we played with marbles because we had only 4 channels on our TV and our mom had kicked us outside until September anyway. You wouldn't have found Nintendo DS's here. You would have found kites. Toy trains. Watercolor sets.
Old school marbles.
After visiting this place, I would have been a frequent flyer here. And not just because the best song ever, New Order's "Vanishing Point" was playing. And then "Under the Milky Way" came on which led to a conversation with the cashier about how I just happened to be going to see The Church with the Psychedelic Furs in August. I had found my people, for gosh's sake. But alas, they are closing. I didn't ask, but I would assume business is down due to online ordering and the big box stores. Or natural toys just aren't a big draw. Which is too bad. Because not only did the neighborhood lose one of its characters, but there is a loss of being able to spend your money without being overwhelmed by commercialism. The loss of the place that enhanced the possibilities of imagination. I said this was a cautionary tale. Think about where you shop. Not just want you are buying.
2238 Carter Ave St Paul MN 55108
the little wine shoppe
2236 Carter Ave St Paul MN 55108
A Minnesota native returns after 13 years away discovering a whole new food landscape.