Weekend Visitor

This past weekend, Noah’s sister visited from Chicago. I’d say it was an opportunity to act like a tourist…but I sort of think we always act like tourists.

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Rachel got here Friday afternoon and we went to the Midtown Global Market (site of Kitchen in the Market) for dinner and then to a Ragamala Dance show at the Walker.

No pics from Friday, but there are plenty of photos from Saturday’s activities. It was a super active day, with a run in the morning and most of the afternoon occupied by a bike ride.

Noah and I each had our own bikes, and we rented a bike for Rachel from Nice Ride.

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Noah has a leftover Nice Ride membership from the summer, so we were able to get the bike for no charge. Also, Nice Ride has recently added a lot of new bike stations (including one very close to my apartment!) and extended the no-charge ride time for members from 30 minutes to 60 minutes. Noah and I had high ambitions for the bike ride, and we wanted to show Rachel all of the Minneapolis highlights:

  • Chain of Lakes (Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, and Lake of the Isles)
  • Hiawatha Bridge and Midtown Greenway
  • Guthrie Theater and Mill District
  • Stone Arch Bridge
  • University of Minnesota
  • Nicollet Avenue Pedestrian Mall and Downtown

Please note the magical fact that all of these wonderful locations were accessible via protected bike path.

We somehow mustered the energy to hit all of the spots, although we didn’t actually bike along the chain of lakes because we could see it some from the greenway and had also run near the lakes that morning.

Hiawatha Bridge along the Midtown Greenway:

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Hiawatha Bridge and Greenway

View from the bridge linked the east and west banks of the University of MN:

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view from UofMN bridge

View of the Guthrie and Mill City Museum from the Stone Arch Bridge:

view of the Guthrie and Mill City Museum from the Stone Arch Bridge

Slightly over two hours later, the journey was complete and it was time to return the Nice Ride…

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…and get some beer!

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A friend of mine has a coworker who knows a guy who knows a guy (yes, I meant to type that twice) who works at the Excelsior Brewing Company and said he would give us a tour, so a group of us headed out there in the late afternoon. Apparently, it was one too many degrees of separation though, because when we got there the fellow in question was out boating and unable to show us around. We somehow managed to recover and sample some of the brews. On tap was a brown ale called Bitteschlappe,  Bridge Jumper IPA, and Big Island Blond. They were out of their pale ale (called XCLR), so those who ordered flights had to double up on a different variety:

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I ordered the brown ale because it had the lowest bitter rating. I enjoyed it for approximately 3oz. and then the beer flavor was too much. They say it’s an acquired taste…but I certainly have yet to acquire.

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After a sufficient amount of time in the brewery, we decided to walk around the town of Excelsior. From the drive in, we knew there was a cute Mainstreet that led to a park and pathway along Excelsior Bay. We walked through town to get to the water:

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Notice the prom pictures happening in the background behind us. This was clearly a hotspot for photos since we also saw a wedding!

When we got back to Minneapolis, we were all hungry and ready for dinner. We tried to go to Brasa but the line was too long, so we ended up at Bryant Lake Bowl instead.

Noah ordered a bison steak salad, I ordered a beef sandwich, and Rachel ordered a black bean and beet burger:

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The food was good, but we were still hungry after (maybe because of all the biking!). We picked up a slice of pizza to go from Pizza Luce later in the evening.

It was a lot of fun to have a visitor over the weekend, and I especially enjoyed the bike tour. Especially now that I know I’m leaving Minneapolis, I’ve been eager to go back to all of my favorite places one more time and, of course, take lots of pictures for the memory books!

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Bryant Lake Bowl: an Uptown classic

If you have ever lived in or visited the Uptown Minneapolis area, you have probably heard of Bryant Lake Bowl.

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Located right in the heart of Uptown at Lake and Bryant, it’s the sort of place you go to when you can’t make up your mind. Why? Because it offers a little of everything. It’s a bar with daily happy hours during the week and a live DJ spinning on Tuesday nights. It’s also a restaurant serving three meals a day, offering a mix of creative and standard fare (all delicious). It’s also a theater showing everything from comedy to movies to stage performances to drag shows. And, last but not least, it is also a bowling alley:

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Not wanting my family to visit and miss seeing such a unique gem, I brought them to Bryant Lake Bowl on Saturday night. The restaurant and bowling alley was packed. Luckily, we only had to wait about 15-20 minutes for a table. We put our name on the bowling wait list before we were even seated. Immediately after looking at the menu, we decided to order the homemade tater tots as an appetizer to share:

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They were large and in charge and DELICIOUS. I’ve never had something quite like it (except maybe a regular tater tot…), but they were big, crunchy, soft and super hot on the inside, and seemed to have some additional spices (and maybe some sweet potato?) even though I can’t identify exactly what they were. Bottom line: get these now.

I ordered another appetizer for my meal. Mock duck spring rolls:

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These were another winner. They came with a ginger tahini sauce, and the rolls themselves were superb – full of veggies and flavor. They were pan-fried, so the exterior had that delicious crunch to it…yeah, you know what I’m referring to. 🙂

My mom ordered a roasted mushroom and squash risotto:

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My brother ordered a caesar salad which came with grilled tofu on top:

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And my dad got a burger with mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes were weirdly liquidy (see below):

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Overall, the food was really good but the service was definitely lacking. There were two mistakes to our order: I never received a small house salad I ordered and my brother’s salad came with tofu on top even though he ordered chicken. It didn’t bother us too much because I was full anyway and my brother didn’t mind, but it wasn’t the greatest reflection of customer service.

Unfortunately, when we finished our meal there were still six names ahead of us on the bowling list! Since there are only 8 lanes, we were worried it could be a really long wait so we decided not to stay. Plus, yogurt lab was calling our name again. 🙂 Nonetheless, this is a really fun location that I would recommend going to – especially with friends or a date – if you are in the area. They have a date night on Mondays for $28/couple which includes two entrees (you have to choose from a pre-selected list though), a bottle of wine, and a round of bowling. Definitely a good deal!