Sunday, January 31, 2010

Red Stag Supperclub - Minneapolis, MN

The deal:
The Red Stag Supperclub in Northeast Minneapolis, in keeping with the fine supperclub tradition, offers a Friday night fish fry. For between $11 and $13 you can get a single fried fish basket of cod, some Alaskan fish or walleye (note that the fish shown on the menu online are not what's currently on the menu). Baskets include sweet onion tartar sauce, chips and a bit of coleslaw. A basket of bread is served with the meals. The fish fry menu also includes more exotic options like calamari, smelt fries, fried oysters and seared scallops.

The food:
Although I appreciated the bread basket, I was a little sad that the rolls weren't hot and that the "butter" was some bean spread concoction that had almost no flavor. For fish, I went for the walleye and within 5 minutes (yep, it was really that fast) I had a basket of four small pieces of fish and about four large, thin chips. The fish was nearly perfectly flaky and flavorful while the batter was light and crispy without being too crunchy or dry. The chips were wonderful and for I didn't feel cheated by a lack of fries or hash browns. They had a bit of garlicky flavor, but not so much as to overwhelm the fish. As an extra little treat, each basket was served with a tiny spray bottle of malt vinegar. I didn't take advantage of it, but I appreciated the touch.

After the fish, our party split a special ginger creme brulee dessert. I loved the chocolate bottom, but when I have ginger in a dessert, I really want to taste the ginger. It should be the hero and here it wasn't.

The flavor:
The Red Stag is really more of a faux supperclub. No real supperclub would be as pretty or have charming touches like the coasters shown here. You use one side of the coaster to show the waitstaff you want regular water or flip it over for sparkling water.

While our food was served incredibly quickly, once the place got crowded things slowed down and it took awhile to order dessert and get our bill. That's not a big deal, but it's something to be aware of if the Red Stag is just your first stop of the evening.

The drink menu was extensive and included lots of wine, an excellent and thoughtfully chosen selection of beer and lots of hot toddies. There's nothing better on a cold night than a hot toddy. I ordered a hot buttered rum and it was easily the best I've ever had. I'd highly recommend the Red Stag for a contemporary take on classic superclubs, whether you go on Friday or not.

Second opinions:

City Pages
Hungry For Wine
Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minnesota Monthly
Twin Cities Eats

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Anchor Fish and Chips - Minneapolis, MN

The Deal: The Anchor Fish & Chips offers, you guessed it, fish & chips for $8.50. Although it's not a real fish fry, sometimes when you're out of state, a good fish & chips is close enough, right?

The Food: As you can see, the cod at The Anchor is huge. Huge! While the fish itself was perfectly flaky, the breading was just a little too mushy for my taste. The ends of the fish were done a little bit more and they were delicious and I was a little bitter that the rest of my fish didn't taste like that.

The chips, on the other hand, were absolutely perfect. They're cut from Minnesota potatoes and you can certainly taste the love, or at least the skin. Crisp on the outside, they were thick and almost meaty on the inside. More please.

Of course I didn't touch the tartar sauce, but my dining companion loved it and used it as a dipping sauce for both the fish & the fries.

The Flavor: The Anchor is still a hot, new local joint, so it can be a bit crowded. Luckily, it has a friendly, rather than trendy, vibe and if you have to wait for a table, at least you'll be able to take in the view of a truly lovely restaurant space. And, if you just want to get your fish fry on far from the madding crowds, The Anchor does offer a takeout option.

Second Opinions
Twin Cities Metro
City Pages
Heavy Table
TC Foodies
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minnesota Monthly
Twin Cities Metromix
Twin Cities Eats
The Onion AV Club

Babes - Madison, WI

The deal: Babes has a variety of fish fry options, including beer battered cod, lake perch and walleye. Prices are around $12 and include bread, the choice of soup or salad and a "potato" choice (baked potato, regular fries, curly fries, fruit, cottage cheese or veggies). It was so nice to be at a restaurant that realizes that a good fish fry needs to include soup or salad.

The food: Babes' delicious lemon chicken soup wasn't on the menu, so everyone in my group opted for cod & salad. Despite the season, the salad was big and fresh and served with a deliciously, crusty piece of hot bread. Mmmm. Hot bread.

The fish was less successful. The batter wasn't crispy enough and the fish itself was solid rather than flaky. The french fries were way too salty. Nothing had any real flavor, unless you count "deep fryer" as a flavor.

Babes redeemed itself, however, with dessert. A chocolate brownie sundae looked exactly as decadent as it sounds and the chocolate & peanut butter cake was light & creamy and the perfect way to end the meal on a high note.

The Flavor: We went to Babes on a frigid New Year's Day night, so it was pretty empty. That meant that we had fantastic service. I'm sure our waitress is always friendly, but she just had extra time to spend on our party and we appreciated it. Our timing also meant that we didn't really explore Babes' beer list at all as most of us were still hungover and recovering. Someone did sample a Bloody Mary though. Bloody Marys aren't my thing, but even I have to admit that this looked and smelled delicious. Apparently it was, so be sure to add Babes to your "best Bloody" list.

Second Opinions
Eating in Madison A to Z
Ultimate Madison Bar Tour
Madison Fish Fry