Monday, September 17, 2012

Restaurant: The Wild Tymes, St. Paul

Restaurant: The Wild Times
Web Site:
Address: St. Paul, Minnesota
Phone: (651) 224-8181

Not really my kind of place. A just-a-bar place trying to be a sports bar with live music. Can’t make up its mind. The night we were there the music was odd; flamenco music with a dancer. A real disconnect when you’re trying to watch college football. A handful of locals getting their drink on, and some bachelorette party a little tipsy clogging up the place.

The food came out and it was all deep fried cheesy tortilla chips and wings sloppy with spicy sauce. Beers on tap were good. Ordered the special of the day; the walleye platter. This is a local dish I try to have once when I’m in the area (the Minnesota equivalent of Maryland Rockfish). Wasn’t expecting much, but everything else on the menu seemed fried or a burger.

Well, a very nice surprise. The fish was broiled crispy, came with steamed asparagus and spring potatoes. Very well executed, well presented, tasty, great price point. Nice to see the people in the kitchen get tired of dropping the fry basket into the oil. They do a really good job with this dish.

Everyone else seemed OK with what they had.

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Restaurant: Sakura, St. Paul

Restaurant: Sakura
Address: 350 St. Peter, St. Paul, Minnesota 55102
Phone: 651-225-0185

Sushi is always a favorite when traveling, this one was across the street of the hotel I was staying in.

Tried it twice. I wasn’t blown away the first time I was there, thought it was somewhat average food. But, I went back a second time because I needed a bite to eat and was by myself and sitting at the sushi bar is always an easy way to dine when traveling by yourself.

Well, I’m glad I went back the second time. The first time I ordered a regular combination, which was some tempura and some sushi pieces. My theory is when trying new places order something you know well to create a baseline comparison. When you go out for Chinese food, get lo mien or something to get a sense of the style of the place. For Japanese food its usually miso soup and tuna rolls.

The problem with that theory is that most regular sushi is subtle stuff to eat. The spice is mostly wasabi and pickled ginger. All you have to go on is rice and raw fish which is not much to hang a decision on (unless its not good, like grocery store sushi). So, the second night I was able to look through the sushi bar and take a stab at what they think their special things are.

Their take on the dragon roll was very good. A little crunchy, a little spicy, and little cool, a little hot. I’m not a big fan of “big sushi”, its a little hard to get in a bite. But, this was worth it. Well presented, moist, fresh, good. Had some egg and cucumber rolls as desert to mellow out. Very filling and very good. I’m glad I went back a second time, it really changed by opinion of Sakura.

Service was very good, the waitress was attentive without being smothering. And, it was nice getting guidance from the sushi chef. Bartender did a great job on the martinis, too.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Restaurant: Sushi Tango, St. Paul

Restaurant: Sushi Tango
Address: 8362 Tamarack Village, Saint Paul, MN 55125
Phone: (651) 578-0064

A suburban strip mall Sushi joint, with surprisingly good food and unsurprisingly good service.

While it doesn’t look like much as you’re driving by, walking in I had high expectations in that we seemed to be the only non-Japanese people eating dinner there. Had an assortment of pieces, all good and delivered quickly and politely. The cost was also not bad, which was expected from the relatively low rent retail space and economic effort on decor. Would gladly go there again.

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Saturday, June 02, 2012

Hotel: Hilton Oceanside, Ocean City, MD

City: Ocean City, MD
Chain: Hilton
Property: Hilton Suites Ocean City Oceanfront
Address: 3200 North Baltimore Avenue, Ocean City, MD 21842
Phone Number: 410.289.6444

Check Out: May 2012 ($220)

Most Ocean City Maryland hotels are pretty beat.  They were built in the 60s and 70s and are constantly abused by the heavy family traffic this east coast beach town gets each year.  There is a lot of more upscale housing of the condo variety, and a few newer hotels.  This property is a newer Hilton property, located at the 32nd street latitude on the beach, which is a little past the end of the boardwalk.  This part of town is more waterslide and pizza joint-centric (Ocean City gets quieter as you move north), but this specific hotel was super nice (relatively) and we were there in the off season so very quiet.

Ocean City in May is low key enough that people can fish and walk their dogs on the beach, while warm enough for shorts and flip-flops, and most of the places are open.  We went down for a long weekend with no particular plans, but had a great room with a balcony on the corner (an upgrade from normal).

The hotel had some inside parking which was great as it was a little rainy when we got there.  There is a large pool area outside with two pools and outside eating and drinking (all closed pre-season when we were there), and an inside pool and exercise room.  There was bar and restaurant action, although we only used the bar and went elsewhere to eat.  Room service one day - very good as typical for full service Hiltons.

We liked the room a lot.  Suite style, with a living/dining area inside the door, pretty full service kitchen with real refrigerator and dishwasher, stocked with the basics for cooking and eating.  Bathroom was large with a multi-headed shower that was pretty nice, and a separate Jacuzzi tub.  Balcony off the bedroom overlooking the beach.

Staff was super nice and helpful.  Concierge service helped navigate dining in the area (we hadn't been to the MD beaches in quite a while).


  • Safety: 1
  • Dining: 1
  • Bar: 1
  • Internet: 1 (free for Hilton Honor)
  • Wireless in Common Areas: 1
  • Work Space, Power: 1
  • Shower: 1
  • Air Conditioning, Bed: 1
  • Common Areas: 1, plus 1 point for beach
Total: 10

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Restaurant: Mon Ami Gabi

Restaurant: Mon Ami Gabi, Bethesda, MD
Web Site:
Address: 7239 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814
Phone: (301) 654-1234

Right in downtown Bethesda in the hoity-toity Bethesda Row area, a French Bistro on the corner where the movie theater is. There is a bar area where you first walk in, and three dining areas; one that can be closed off for private parties. A chalkboard on the left has the specials of the day.

The menu has a number of steak and frites choices, with a number of other options. Salmon and scollops this time, both were very good. More cream and butter than we're used to for the side dishes, but we're probably not typical in this compared to most. Waite staff very professional, a number of good wine selections as well as a rolling cart with the by-the-glass choices.

Bar area is more crowded than it should be, because of its corner orientation in the room, and because of that completely annoying process of people sitting at the bar and covering it with entrées. If the place had a small plate policy for bar eating it might make it easier to have a pre-dinner drink there. As such, you might be better served to have a pre-dinner drink somewhere else that would be easier to get some service.

We've been here a few times now, every time enjoyable and worth the cost.

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