Our dining-out adventures have been casual and close-to-home, lately.
Between the snow and polar vortez cold snap, we haven’t wanted to drive very far. Never in my life have I felt -26 (and worse). Walking the 2.5 blocks to the bus was unbearable. I thought my legs were going to give out and collapse after running one block. The house cracked, but our boiler held up. Every potty break for our dog went something like that Bird Box conversation where Sandra Bullock was yelling at her kids.
“UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ARE YOU ALLOWED TO TAKE OFF YOUR BOOTS. . . YOU HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING I SAY OR WE WILL NOT MAKE IT! DO YOU UNDERSTAND.”
We’ve gotten together with family for various occasions and visited our favorites like Stewart’s for patty melts and Himalayan on Lake Street for our typical order of garlic naan, fried okra and potatoes, chicken tikka masala and palek paneer, all spicy.
Find yourself a good bar close enough to tromp through the snow to.
Here are a couple of new things we tried in St. Paul:
My First Jucy Lucy from the Blue Door Pub
There’s so much debate about Jucy Lucys. Once I wrote about where I stand on the topic.
Out-of-towners always seem to focus on Matt’s and 5-8 Club. Locals often mention The Nook and Blue Door Pub, of which there are now four locations. The original Blue Door is located near our neighborhood. Stuffed Burgers/Jucy Lucys are called Blucy’s . It’s really tiny. I remember trying to visit a long time ago on a nice evening and the wait was impossible. With four locations, I’m sure it’s easier to dine-in somewhere.
We easily found a table on a very cold night, having left work at four p.m, though the small bar was full.
The vibe is of a cozy neighborhood bar. Jake ordered a blue cheese-stuffed burger while I chose the kitchen sink one; pulled pork, havarti, pepperjack, mango salsa, and ghost pepper garlic aioli? Sure, why not.I especially liked the freshness of the mango salsa.
Each component of my burger tasted like it was prepared with care, as were the blue cheese and ranch dressings. And the crisp-skinned wings were some of the best we can recall enjoying lately .
Hand-cut fries or tots cost an extra $3.
Do I feel bad writing a post about my favorite Jucy Lucy without trying The Blue Door Pub’s? No. I think the Nook’s still my favorite, but Blue Door is another good option.
Ichiddo Ramen, Highland Park location in St. Paul
“Is it possible that I don’t actually like ramen or have I just not had good ramen?” I found myself wondering recently.
Because I didn’t love the two bowls of ramen I’ve tried in the Twin Cities, I haven’t sought out the new ramen restaurants. One tasted of too much sesame oil. The other’s broth was viscously porky – I think this is ideal for some, but it just wasn’t my thing.
This weekend we sought dinner after an afternoon of mall walking with a million other stir-crazy Minnesotans. Jake suggested ramen. At 3:30 p.m. our options were limited. We visited the new Highland Park location of Ichiddo Ramen (a MN-based ramen chain). It’s so new that a white “Now Open” sign adorns the storefront.
There is very limited parking on this block – if you aren’t lucky enough to nab one the spots out front, park around the corner along Highland Parkway.
The music this afternoon was slightly intense. You might feel soothed or stressed while eating ramen and listening to Calum Scott’s “Dancing On My Own” cover (tbh my ideal Friday night). This was followed by another Calum Scott song followed by a soaring country song.
Jake ordered the Niku Soba Ramen (tonkatsu broth, thinly sliced pork belly, onions). I chose the Teriyaki Ton Ramen pictured above (miso broth, teriyaki pork, black fungus mushrooms, corn, hot pepper and spicy sauce).
Both bowls struck a pleasant sweet and savory balance. The sweetness in my bowl came from the teriyaki pork. In Jake’s, the sweetness came from the onions. Next time I’d request more of the spicy elements. Each type of noodle retained some chew. Like I said, I’m not a ramen expert but we really liked these bowls and would order them again. The bowls aren’t small but they’re smaller than a typical bowl of pho. Our bowls cost between $13-14.
If you can arrive between 3-5 M-F, there’s a happy hour with discounted drinks and appetizers.
I would be very curious to know your thoughts on ramen in the Twin Cities. The ramen place I want to try next is Ramen Kazama.
Ichiddo Ramen Highland Park
2073 Ford Pkwy
St Paul, MN 55116