Redstone (Eden Prairie) – Consistent but Nothing Special

A quick customer lunch at Redstone was very good. The food is very consistent, nothing earth-shattering but you can count on the same dish every time you go. The servers at Redstone are incredibly trained to hawk the shared appetizers, they are pros at the sales pitch and in 100% of my visits, someone at the table says, “Oh yeah, let’s order a few.” It’s a great business model and my hats off to the management for the training.

On my recent visit we ordered the “CRISPY CALAMARI” and the “SEARED AHI TUNA” to share. The calamari shared the dish with a fried spicy pepper mix and a chipotle aioli. The dish included both rings and tentacles, breaded and fried to a crispy exterior while maintaining a soft interior. The flavor was very good. If you like a little kick, combine one of the fried pepper pieces with the fried calamari and cool with a little aioli. The tuna was crusted with sesame seed and black pepper, seared and served atop Asian slaw, with a wasabi and soy-lime sauce. This is almost standard fare these days and the thrill is somewhat gone from eating this recipe. Both of the appetizers are standard at Redstone and they prepare each of them consistently.

There are four burgers on the menu, two of them are beef. I wanted to order the “REDSTONE,” which includes cheddar cheese, applewood smoked bacon and barbecue sauce, but mistakenly ordered the “ORIGINAL” (medium-rare), which was served with shredded lettuce, tomato, mustard, mayonnaise and homemade pickles. As a side I ordered the French fries. The burger was cooked a little beyond medium, which was disappointing. The flavor was very good, not great but I am not a fan of mustard on a burger, preferring ketchup so I ate the patty without the top bun so I could add the ketchup. The fries were also very good, crispy on the exterior and soft on the interior. Again, there was nothing special about the burger, just a consistent product.

Overall Redstone knows what it is, it hustles the shared appetizers and delivers basic American restaurant fare…nothing special.

Redstone American Grill on Urbanspoon

Lion’s Tap (Eden Prairie) – Excellent Burgers in Relaxed Setting

The Lion’s Tap is a straight forward concept, choose a couple of menu items, do it well and people will enjoy and return. It is a perfect place to grab a burger at the spur of the moment, or bring the family for an inexpensive dinner. It is a very relaxed, family-style atmosphere mixed with a bar and maintains the history of the location, that began as vegetable stand turned bar turned hamburger and beer joint.

Since 1958 when Ma Schaefer sold the bar to her niece Irene Lyons and husband Sears Lyons the restaurant has been selling hamburgers. Originally the hamburgers were made in an electric frying pan (four at a time) and sold for $.25 each. The business was sold to Lloyd Berg in 1974 and began serving French fries. Ownership was sold to his brother, Vern Berg, shortly thereafter, the kitchen was expanded and sold again three years later to Don and June Gilbert. A few months later the restaurant was again sold to Bert and Bonnie Notermann in 1977, and the name was changed to Lions Tap.

The Notermanns added their own brought in their own “secret seasoning” to the daily made individual patties plus the buns were slightly toasted on the grill. Toppings then included fresh produce, cheese, bacon and onions. With so many owners over the years, Lion’s Tap still maintains its singular focus of great burgers, fries and beer.

The menu includes basic hamburgers, fries, sodas and a full selection of craft beers. Toppings appeal to the traditional burger lover with both American and Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, bacon, fried onions and sautéed mushrooms. Both single and double patties are available. On my visits I normally order a single bacon cheeseburger with fried onions and a side of fries. The meat has always arrived to my requested medium-rare, the strips of bacon crispy without being overcooked and the fried onions, well fried onion, and not burnt. And Lion’s Tap does deserve a special call-out for the slightly toasted bun that opens the flavor. This special seasoning adds just a tang of spice to the meat and the other ingredients are also very good. This is a simply made, delicious bacon cheeseburger. The best way to describe the crinkle cut fries is they are perfectly cooked and it is rare, if ever, that any remain on my plate.

Whether you are looking for a quick lunch with a friend or colleague or a family burger night, Lion’s Tap is my go-to burger haven in Eden Prairie.

16180 Flying Cloud Drive – Eden Prairie – MN – 952.934.5299

Open seven days per week – 11:00 am – 10:00 pm

Lions Tap on Urbanspoon

Colette’s (Bloomington) – Traditional French Cuisine in Sheraton Hotel

The former Sofitel hotel in Bloomington is now operating under the Sheraton banner and on a traffic-laden Thursday evening I decided to stay in, do some work and eat at Colette’s. Last January I spent a few nights at the Sofitel and enjoyed some of the preparations from the staff at Colette, while others fell flat, so I was a bit apprehensive when I entered the restaurant.

I was immediately seated and the staff quickly arrived, asked for my drink order and offered two varieties of bread, slices of sour dough and a multi-grain mini-roll. I asked for one of each. Both breads were cold but delicious, great flavors and texture.

I ordered the escargot for my appetizer and the Beef Bourguignon for an entrée with a side of asparagus. I was forewarned that the escargot would take 20 minutes, which was not an issue for me.

escargotThe escargot dish arrived ten minutes later, there were six escargot, each topped with parsley-garlic butter. They were scalding hot (a head’s up to others). My first bite brought déjà vu from my previous visit. The escargot were cooked perfectly, soft without being chewy, but the chef again shied away from any salt in the presentation. I added a pinch of salt to each and it elevated all of the flavors. What started as a bland dish, ended with great flavors.

BeefThe Beef Bourguignon arrived in its own cast iron pot. It contained three good sized pieces, smothered in a deep colored sauce, bacon, mushrooms and baby pearl onions. The first bite was fantastic. The meat was slowly braised for several hours, incredibly tender and absorbed a lot of the rich flavors from the wine sauce. The bacon added a high level of smokiness to the sauce and the onions were sweet, releasing all of their natural sugars. The asparagus were also prepared to create just a mild bite in texture. The Hollandaise sauce was a little mild and did not add anything to the dish. Overall it was a delicious entrée.

creme bruleeFor dessert I ordered the Crème Brulée, a large portion served in a deep bowl, versus the traditional flat ramekin, with a thin layer of torched sugar and a few berries. It was extremely smooth and not overly sweet, and when paired with the caramelized sugar created the perfect balance of sweetness.

Overall I was very pleased with this visit to Colette. As a restaurant within a hotel it delivers a delicious alternatives to guests; as a stand-alone option for Bloomington, Edina and Eden Prairie, it offers an excellent choice for a special dinner.

Colette Bar & Bistro on Urbanspoon