The Pioneer Press indicated that Alex Roberts is opening another Brasa, this time on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. No one would be happier than I would be, and I think it should go into the old Italian Pie Shoppe location next to the new Punch Pizza. But of course, I heard from Alex that although he could not confirm whether or not he was in fact looking for another location, he had also not confirmed that with the PP people.
So, basically what you have is a restaurant—a hugely successful one—with a modest price point, a killer almost-quick serve concept, and a rumor that they are looking to expand. I got $100 that says it happens . . . and I am praying that the next Brasa comes to St. Paul, but price points on the Avenue are high relative to other comparable square footage in other neighborhoods. For me, I would go into Grand Avenue anyway because of the densely packed residential area combined with the collegiate proximity. Perhaps Brasa belongs higher up on Grand near Macalester? Ahhh, nothing like the hot stove league of the restaurant off-season.
I get a lot of info from readers of this blog and our magazine. This one from Steve really piques my interest because it is all about one of my top-five foods, and I don’t have to head to the Pacific Northwest to enjoy it. Steve says:
“I first learned about geoduck thanks to Dirty Jobs. I figured I would have to go to the coast to try it out. Turns out that Pagoda—the relatively new Chinese place in Dinkytown—serves a $100 2-course-for-2-people special geoduck meal. I haven't tried it out yet, but thought you might be curious to hear about it. They prepare it braised, in a soup, and sashimi-style. Sounds neat, and as far as I know it's the only place in the region you can eat geoduck.”
Well, I have to add Pagoda to the list, but guess what? There are several places to eat geoduck, including my two standout performers, Mandarin Kitchen and Jun Bo. Both serve the neck sliced thin and served raw; then they serve the belly fried with chiles and scallions. The price is always reflective of the season and is priced per pound. It’s expensive but worth it, and it’s always cheaper than $100. We always order it for four to six people as a course so we can all stuff ourselves on other treats as well.
Check out the latest edit job on Wikipedia re the Jucy Lucy. Frankly, I have to agree. I think the JL is the most over-rated food item in the Twin Cities. Every time I eat one, it’s a letdown . . . overcooked meat being my biggest complaint. Shall we share what else is wildly over rated in this town? Anything at Kincaid’s for starters. Ouch, but it’s true. It’s not their fault; the food there is decent, it just gets lauded at a level that’s inappropriate to the quality of what’s on the plate. Ditto the St. Paul Grill, which is in desperate need of a food makeover. The room is amazing, and the food is just terrible these days. Any other ideas? And remember, I want to know about a restaurant that is overrated, so a list of places that serve bad food and everyone knows it simply does not count. I want to know about places that undeservedly have a reputation for serving good chow.
Gordon Ramsay has been criticized for eating the raw heart of a dead puffin on his Channel 4 program in the UK. According to my buddy Lawrence Keogh, the chef at Roast in London, viewers of The F Word saw the chef go to Iceland for the first day of the official puffin-hunting season. On the program, which aired last week in Britain, Ramsay caught a few puffin, ate a puffin heart, and cooked some up. British media regulators received several complaints while the animal welfare group Viva! accused the chef of being ‘desperate for publicity.’
What a crock. IT’S THE TV BUSINESS! It’s all about sizzle and marketing. We all want publicity. But Ramsay is eating a food that is in plentiful supply, is fully licensed to harvest them, and is doing it in season to boot. The animal rights activists should be glad that some of us are exposing viewers to alternative proteins since the popularity of those new food sources will ease the pressure on fisheries, farms, and factories that could use the reprieve. More importantly, Ramsay almost died by falling off a 250-foot cliff and into the almost-freezing water, being submerged for almost a minute. He was finally pulled to safety by his crew.
I can relate. Hunting for puffin in the Westman Isles was the most hair-raising adventure of my TV career, and I FREAKED OUT, jumping from a teeny raft onto a bare rock face to climb up to the puffin nests. I just can’t believe I stayed on the cliff and Ramsay, a much better athlete to be sure, fell in.