Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dinner at the Herkimer

This weekend actually marked my first dining experience at The Herkimer Pub & Brewery, a Minneapolis staple on the corner of Lake and Lyndale. It's best known for its hand-crafted beers and a pretty fantastic happy hour menu. Oh, and pretty city art (photo snapped above with a little Instagram TLC).

Given its prime location on the bustling intersection, it's also a great spot for people-watching if you snag a spot at one of the few tables out front. Which is where Friday night found us with 68-degree temps. It may have felt more like 48 but as far as our fellow Minnesotans were concerned, shorts season was in full swing. :) 

In a rare move for me, I selected both of the appetizers for the group to share. First up: deep-fried pickles. I absolutely love fried pickles (as you may remember from my Pat's Tap excursion). Something about the combination of salty pickles fried in batter and creamy Ranch dressing just gets me every time. The Herkimer's were very good, though budding fried pickle connoisseur that I am, I would rank a couple of other local options slightly higher. 

For our second starter, we had the sweet potato fries. One of my friends loves all things sweet potato so this seemed like another easy crowd-pleaser. Served with a tasty chipotle ketchup, these were pipin' hot, salty and addicting.

For my entree, I was impressed to see quite a few meatless/seafood menu options that all sounded quite good. I was quickly swayed by the crab melt special, which came served open-faced in a creamy artichoke sauce on ciabatta, along with tater tots (in place of fries, with an upcharge). The sandwich itself was pretty good, though I poked around from time to time to make sure it actually came with some crab. And the tots? Well, the tots were get-in-my-belly awesome.

I think I might set my sights on a return visit for the happy hour in the very near future. And, my intrigue with several of the menu items will likely bring me back for dinner/lunch again soon.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Meatless Monday: Butternut Squash and Sage Quinoa

Did you see the recent study about how all red meat is bad for you? Surely there are counter-arguments about the need for eating [insert anything] in moderation, but still, the study is pretty scary. It definitely gave me pause and made me take some time for self-reflection. I love me some bacon and pork chops (and let's not forget a perfectly prepared burger out on the town), so I started to wonder just how much red meat I consume in an average week.

I've started a red meat journal, and in the last week found that with beef and pork combined, I'm definitely consuming more than my fair share. So, I've decided to start a new tradition: Meatless Mondays. Totally meatless. I won't even allow myself fish. I'm thinking of it as a new culinary adventure and an opportunity to dig up fun new recipes.

I know lunches might not offer a whole lot of variety (my first MM lunch centered around a veggie wrap with cheese and hummus), but I'm excited to explore what dinner might have in store for me. For my very first Meatless Monday dinner, I went with this Butternut Squash and Sage Quinoa recipe from Eat, Live, Run that a friend suggested to me a while back (it was her birthday Monday, so I decided to make it in her honor). :)

Caveat: it does call for chicken broth, so the purists might call me out on my totally meatless declaration, but it's my first time out, so I think I'm okay :)

I have to tell you, this dish was shockingly quite delicious. All of the flavors combined to really bring out a hearty meal. I'm coming to find more and more delight in quinoa (of course, garlic, onion and seasonings make it hard not to) and in my opinion, squash just doesn't get enough credit for its tastiness.

To up the veggie ante, dinner was well-paired with a simple side salad of romaine hearts, cherry tomatoes, sliced bella mushrooms, shredded sharp cheddar cheese and ranch dressing.

Got any good meatless recipes that I should try? Send 'em my way :)