Mid-Summer Update: Close To Home

Two words. The Bear.

Anyone who has worked in a restaurant probably feels like this show (now streaming on Hulu) hits too close to home.

I haven’t worked as a line chef, but I’ve worked front of the house in an Italian deli, staged at an upscale restaurant, and dabbled in a couple of bakery/cafes. Enough that I need to take frequent breaks as I work my way through this show.

The owner-family drama, the crappy coworkers (as well as the passionate, dedicated coworkers), hot pans, heavy lifting, spitting ticket machine, cost control concerns. . .

If you still holler “BEHIND” when you squeeze by people in the grocery store, this show is for you.

We re-joined Costo this month! 

No amazing promotions for rejoining, unless you want to open a new credit card. But we’re excited to be back. We let our membership expire before the pandemic started. Joining makes even more sense now that we have toddler and one on the way.

The first thing I grabbed was a box of frozen Tortilla Crusted Tilapia.

Trying that first post-pandemic sample felt like making a full-circle.

We never actually save money joining Costco because impulse buys are more like $10 instead of $2. I like Costco’s clothes and am excited to see they still carry the Felina legging duos (currently $14).  I still have a pair I bought years ago. While they may have faded, they still have no holes. Think about that next time someone tries to sell you Lularoe.

I’ll post some Costco food reviews as we try our purchases.

This summer we’re eating fairly close to home.

Our realtors with Pentz Homes gave us a gift card to Churchill Street in Shoreview as a house closing gift. 

Churchill Street opened last fall.

There aren’t many restaurants like this around here. The Chef and Pastry Chef used to work at Bachelor Farmer which served beautiful food – the food here is also elegant, upscale while also comforting.

I like that Churchill Street charges a  flat 15% service  charge and is a no-tipping restaurant.

Tipping sucks, but yes, I do it anyways. But also, we’ve been dishonest about the true cost of a meal for so long. Anyway, it’s refreshing when your bill is just your bill.

Other things I liked: The shaded patio, the small list of N/A cocktails  (seriously thank you for this). I enjoyed the Pomelo Kick.

The artichoke dip was really really good. It reminded me of the one I make but probably better.

Arancini, smokey chicken wings, the chocolate chip cookie (wish I got two) – all delicious.

Another restaurant nearby we visited is Namaste India also in Shoreview. It will be our go-to now.

We  ordered our usual favorites – palek paneer, chicken tikka masala, vegetable korma, okra and naan. I tried the naan stuffed with nuts and dried fruits for the first time and loved the sweet and savory flavors. I always get a side raita dip and a mango lassi to share with the toddler.

The food was really delicious – and what we also liked is their heat level that goes beyond extra hot to extra extra hot. Indeed the food was extra extra hot.

I made it to Uptown to eat a leisurely porch lunch with a friend at Namaste Cafe, an Indian and Nepalese restaurant. 

I haven’t been to Uptown for a long time. I always have flashbacks to when I was a new college grad in my 20’s driving down Hennepin. I remember visiting the old Tea Garden, dressing up like a burrito on Halloween to get our free Chipotle, renting Sex & The City DVD’s at that Blockbuster. . . sigh.

Namaste is located inside what looks like a house. We were happy to grab a table on the shaded front porch. From what I’ve read, they are using QR code ordering due to staffing shortage. Service was very friendly. It did take some time for them to prepare our food, but we were happy to sit outside and catch-up.

They serve about 15 flavors of chai. You can order it hot iced, for there, to go. I chose the coconut creme chai.

You can still find the special Lunch Curry Bowl between 11 am-3:30 pm where you can choose from a few different types of curries that come with Aloo Bodi (peas and potatoes), salad, rice and raita and add a tiny dessert for $1. I chose the mini carrot coconut creme brulee.

Recent home cooking/miscellaneous food highlights/reviews:

  • I live for my weekly Jasmine boba tea from Rainbow Chinese at the Minneapolis-Lyndale farmers market. If they are selling a special dish of the day, buy it. The other week, they had a Cantonese-style noodle dish with fresh green beans, brussels sprouts and a sweet savory soy sauce.
  • I loved cold tofu noodle bowl I ordered from Jaba Noodles.  It was savory, refreshing, flavorful, the type of meal I would eat every day. Toddler loved it too.
  • I tried the new Starbucks Paradise Drink refresher. For a while it was sold out, but seems to be back in stock at my nearest location. I heard it tasted like a pina colada, but it really doesn’t. It’s intensely pinneapply – you really have to like pineapple flavor to enjoy this. The coconut milk cuts it a bit (and curdles). I still think the original Pink Drink is better.

  • We made this Serious Eats Galbi recipe on our new gas grill. The author says she learned it from Top Chef alum Beverly Kim so obviously it’s amazing. It’s so easy and so much better than what we’ve ordered in restaurants. Plus, although beef short ribs are not inexpensive, it’s still cheaper to  make this at home. We serve with kimchi pancake, lettuce wraps, kimchi and gochujang sauce. Kimchi pancakes are so much easier to make if you buy the pancake mix, which I bought at United Noodle.

  • We also grilled chicken wings for first time – I wish I had known how easy they are to make. All we did was season the raw chicken wings with dry seasonings and herbs and grilled until the meat was cooked and skin crisped. Then, we tossed in Frank’s and butter. Serve with homemade blue cheese and you have another meal that’s way cheaper to make at home that tastes even better. I use this easy Food Network recipe as a guide, adding some garlic powder.

That’s my 1000+ words for now – between chasing around an active toddler, pregnancy anemia, and work, I don’t have much energy to write, but do post via Instagram stories more often @JeniEats

2 Comments

  1. CApfeiffy

    So glad to see a new post! With so much going on in your life, it’s a real treat! Going to check out that galbi recipe now!

  2. katie

    Tell me all the Costco things to buy. I’m ready to open a membership (Jeff thinks we need to have a 2nd fridge/freezer first) but I really just want a membership for the clothes, pesto, and maybe some frozen food. Not actual bulk buying.

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