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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