Musings in Calhoun Square

Calhoun Square is located in the bustling Uptown intersection of Hennepin, Lake, and Lagoon. It houses Dogwood Coffee, Kitchen Window, about a dozen other awesome stores/restaurants, and is often hosting some sort of celebration or fair. My gym, LA Fitness, is inside Calhoun Square, and on my way there yesterday morning I really noticed how much the shopping center has grown since I moved here three years ago.

I took an extra moment to notice all the glitz and glamor that has come into Calhoun Square, and this lead to a lot of wonderings.

Such as….

Were these eggs bought specifically for this shoe display?

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Was the full impact of this shirt understood during design?

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Would my life be better if I owned bejeweled capri pants?

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How many people own an angry birds phone case?

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Or proudly wear this Hello Kitty necklace?

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Are there any human beings that look better in this dress than this mannequin? 

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And, finally, would the world be a better place if we were constantly asking one another this question?

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Calhoun Square. Check it out. Learn about yourself.

 

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The Lowry and Lemon Kale Salad

This past week, I went for lunch at The Lowry. The Lowry opened in 2011 and has been a hot uptown spot ever since. It has great food for all three meals of the day, and by night it turns into an upscale bar that attracts those who want something a little more sophisticated than what’s found at the neighboring Liquor Lyle’s.

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The Lowry has a fairly extensive menu of great looking breakfasts, appetizers, soups, salads, and sandwiches, so it was a challenge to decide what I wanted.

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I settled on the grilled cheese sandwich because it is served with a shooter of tomato soup. And, really, that is just too adorable to pass up. My friend ordered a breakfast dish that came with eggs, hashbrowns, toast, and turkey sausage:

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In addition to a great meal out, I also had some good food from my own kitchen last week. I had some leftover kale that I needed to use up, so I came up with a salad using a lot of extra ingredients from around the kitchen.

First, I chopped steamed a half bunch up kale until it just wilted:

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After removing the kale from the steamer, I added three shredded carrots, 1/4 cup cooked couscous, 1/4 cup chopped pecans, and 1/4 cup dried currants:

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Finally, I squeezed the juice of one lemon into the mix and served with baked thyme chicken breast and sweet potato slivers:

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The chicken also was simple and fast to make. I topped the chicken with a little bit of olive oil and some chopped fresh thyme and cooked at 450º for 15 minutes. Cooking the chicken at a high heat for a shorter period of time makes it so much juicier (I’m so glad I learned that trick at Kitchen in the Market with Noah last summer!).

Where to get a watch battery?!

About a month ago, my watch stopped ticking. just-like-that

Since then, I have tried in vain to get it replaced. Okay, actually I only went to Target and was told they don’t replace watch batteries anymore (which presumably indicates they used to?). After Target was a no-go, I was at a loss. Where could I conveniently go? No where, it seemed, explaining why I have been watchless for nearly a month.

Then, one fateful day last week while getting my routine dental cleaning, I noticed this sign:

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Could it be?!

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Miraculously, this small sign a mere two blocks from my apartment indicated that help was near. With no indication of a store name, I followed the sign’s direction to Suite 206 and paid a visit to Marshall Ferster.

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WOW. This was one neat experience. As soon as I entered the second floor, I found an older gentleman hanging about in the most clock-filled room I have ever laid eyes on.

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The small office and workspace was filled with watches, stopwatches, clocks, and timepiece accessories. The overseer, Marshall, had a magnifying glass head set securely fixed on his head, and immediately reminded me of Maurice from Beauty and the Beast. He was extremely nice and friendly!

I told him that I saw the sign downstairs and decided to come up to investigate getting my watch battery replaced. He told me I was the first person that had mentioned the sign, also mentioning that his friends wanted him to put a larger sign up to attract business but he didn’t like the idea.

Well, I will certainly be coming back here for any future watch business! After some additional admiring around the room…

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…I got my watch battery fixed for a mere $5!

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So, to all of you with dead watches and no where to get it fixed, go see Marshall at 1406 W Lake Street in Uptown!

Out to Breakfast

A meal out for lunch or dinner with friends or a hot date (read: my fabulous and fun bf) is not so unique for me. Obviously, as evidenced by my extensive list of restaurants visited around the Twin Cities area. A breakfast out though…now that’s something special!

Over the last couple months I’ve gone out to breakfast not once, but twice! IT’S A RECORD!

My first breakfast out was at the Uptown Diner

Uptown Diner is – you guessed it – a staple of Uptown. It serves breakfast and lunch Monday-Wednesday and then stays open all night long Thursday-Sunday. Read: it gets the brunch crowd and the bar-close crowd. Because who doesn’t want a juicy burger and fries and a malt after bar-close? Really though, I wouldn’t know.

I do know, however, know that their hash browns are bomb.

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As is the veggie omelette with fruit:

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And the french toast with fruit and nuts that my friend got looked superb:

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If you want large portions and hearty food, this is a good bet for any meal of the day.

The second breakfast out I enjoyed was at Hazel’s Northeast

Another restaurant with a neighborhood association, Hazel’s is an icon of the Northeast neighborhood, and weekend waits can climb to close to two hours. Luckily we went on a weekday and avoided a rush (but the restaurant was still almost full!).

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We were seated near the open kitchen and were immediately overwhelmed by the multitude of good-looking options presented by the menu:

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The choice was made for hot cocoa, pico omelette, and drunken banana french toast (warm bananas, rum soaked raisins, caramel, and toasted pecans).

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Everything was great!

Both of these locations are top-notch breakfast eateries, and the lines out the door prove it. If you go on a weekend, go early or expect to wait.

Falafel Two Ways and PUMPKINS

I’ve tried falafel at two Minneapolis restaurants in the last few weeks.

The first was at the Uptown classic, Falafel King.

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At the corner of Lake and Lyndale, Falafel King is right in the center of Uptown buzz and makes for a convenient lunch/snack/dinner stop.

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It’s a simple restaurant with limited seating and a basic Mediterranean menu: falafel, gyro, chicken, hummus, and tzatziki mixed together in various combinations. I ordered a greek salad with falafel and my friend got the basic falafel sandwich:

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Yum! The falafel was super crispy and flavorful. I liked the salad but would probably go for a wrap next time just to get more tzatziki mixed in.

The second place I ate falafel was Vitali’s Bistro Cafe.

Vitali’s opened fairly recently, and, due to the recent closer of Little Tel Aviv in Calhoun Commons, is now the only kosher restaurant in the Minneapolis area. Fun fact: Little Tel Aviv is being replaced by another Falafel King. whomp whomp

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Vitali’s is in St. Louis Park at the former location of Bean Good Cafe. Service is at a walk up counter, but there is plenty of table space to sit.

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They offer a full espresso menu as well as some baked goods, smoothies, ice cream, and shakes. For food, it’s a broad menu with blintzes, omelets, sandwiches, sushi, salads, soup, and bagels. I got the falafel plate which came with falafel, pita, hummus, tzatziki, and Israeli salad:

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The primary difference between the falafel at Falafel King and Vitali’s is that the former is fried and the latter is baked. The flavor in Vitali’s falafel seemed a little strong in an ‘off’ way (maybe too much cumin?). If I went back, I would order something different from the menu – there were plenty of other items that looked appealing!

Enough about falafel….

Since we are squarely in the fall season now, you may have noticed a sudden spike in the ubiquity of pumpkins. We can eat it, drink it, decorate with it, and – best of all – carve it!

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My pumpkin was a big old thing that we got at Malt Tees, and Noah had a smaller pie pumpkin. We scooped out the insides and set to work on internet-inspired designs.

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The final products came out pretty great if I say so myself.

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In the daylight they are not too scary…

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…but get them in the dark and you’re in for a spook!

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If you haven’t carved a pumpkin yet this season, GET TO IT! 🙂

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Stella’s Fish Cafe

Even though I live only a few blocks from Stella’s Fish Cafe, I’ve never been there for a meal. One time I went for an event that offered appetizers (where I consumed a record-breaking amount of hummus and fish fingers), but I had yet to go for the sit-down-and-be-served experience. I like fish a lot, but for some reason fish restaurants are never on my radar when I’m thinking about places to eat out. I guess I’m too focused on burgers and pizza. Ummm, what?

Anyways…I finally went to Stella’s for dinner a few days ago. Since it is an A-plus beautiful summer, we sat on their rooftop. I liked that the rooftop tables had umbrellas, letting me enjoy the sunshine without getting sunburned.

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The table started with salads:

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And I ordered the red snapper special for my entree:

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It came with roasted potatoes and a corn/zucchini salad. Others ordered pasta with shrimp and the swordfish with asparagus:

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Everything was fresh and delicious! We decided to order dessert. WARNING: the desserts are humongous! The menu didn’t say anything about size, so we each ordered one. One probably would have been enough for the whole table though. We ordered red velvet cake, coconut cake, and creme brule:

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Needless to say, there was a lot leftover!

Stella’s was very good, and if you’re a big fish or seafood fan, then I would definitely give it a high recommendation.

Uptown Eats

I tried a couple restaurants around Uptown that have been on my ‘to-try’ list for quite some time.

The first: Fuji Ya

Fuji Ya is a sushi restaurant on Lake Street between Lyndale and Garfield. I’ve seen it recognized as a top notch sushi joint on several occasions, so I decided to give it a try.

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Their happy hour deals from 5-7pm are awesome, so I went with a couple friends during that time frame. I ordered the yakitorii (chicken skewers) and futo maki specialty roll (egg, tofu, squash, spinach, cucumber, and japanese pickles).

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Everything was good, but I always seem to have the same feeling after eating sushi: I’m not full. I feel like I would need to eat several rolls to really feel full after a sushi dinner. Still, I thought it was good and would certainly go back here. I think I still prefer Wakame in Calhoun Commons though.

The second place I tried was Caffrey’s Deli.

Caffrey’s is a sandwich shop on Lyndale between Lake and 31st.

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Caffrey’s is another place that had been highly recommended both by people I know and various Twin Cities food reviews (VitaMN just listed it as the #2 sandwich shop in the Twin Cities). That said, I was pretty excited to see what all of the fuss was about.

Caffrey’s has a pretty small interior, and you order at a walk up counter (they also deliver).

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Besides the main event of sandwiches, there was a case with some nice looking desserts, and they also appeared to sell Sebastian Joe’s ice cream.

Their menu is pretty basic – sandwiches and soups. The specifics, however, are not basic. Rather than offering one or two soups, there are 8 to choose from. The sandwiches come on white or wheat, and they have the standards along with philly-style sandwiches and a make-your-own option.

I opted for the loaded chicken philly on wheat (loaded means it comes with peppers, onions, and mushrooms) and a side of cole slaw.

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The sandwich was good, but I wouldn’t write home about it. I think all the hype got me thinking that I would take one bite and be thrown into an ecstatic frenzy yelling, “this is the greatest sandwich ever!” Needless to say, that did not happen. The sandwich was fine. I enjoyed my meal. But I don’t plan on running back to get another one any time soon. Disclaimer for all you Caffrey’s die-hards: I will admit I am not a big sandwich person to begin with. I much prefer other lunch time meals, so feel free to consider that fact when judging this post. 🙂