Archive for the ‘Bloomington’ Category

RIP Purple Sandpiper

August 16, 2011

My son just stopped in at the Purple Sandpiper in Bloomington. There was a sign on the door that they are closed indefinitely for mechanical reasons. I think we all know what this means in “restaurant speak”. The Web site is also gone.

A year ago I had such high hopes, but as the months passed, it seemed inevitable. The restaurant had been plagued by a bad location, high chef turnover, dumbing down the menu, and reports of inconsistent food and service.

I will miss anything they made with pork belly, but I will especially miss the cheddar ice cream.


Rebooted: Wally’s Roast Beef, Bloomington

March 4, 2011

Wally’s Roast Beef
Southtown Office Park
8120 Penn Ave S.
Bloomington, MN 55431

After being in the same location since 1969, Wally’s lost their lease to the expanding hardware store next door. I wonder if the the hardware store will miss the hoards of customers coming to Wally’s at lunchtime. I have been worried that the new location would try to change, feel too new and spiffy, change the food, and feel nothing like Wally’s. Or that people would not support the new location.

Well, today was the first day of business at Wally’s new location, and it seems that the hoards have faithfully followed. Owner Jeff Sagal is almost always on the premises and runs a tight ship, while still managing to make customers feel valued and welcome.

The new location is almost an exact replica of the old. Although the space is gleaming and new it still feels comfortingly familiar. The same homey touches are there: the menu board, forest green vinyl chairs, ordering counter complete with microphones, and a lunch counter along the front window. Although I’m sure the kitchen staff is thrilled with their new spacious digs and don’t miss their former closet-sized kitchen.

In celebration of the new digs, I decided to order something I hadn’t had before. Usually I can’t pass up a rare roast beef sandwich with au jus, and crispy potatoes cakes or onions rings. To celebrate I changed it up to a red plate special, which is a hot meatloaf sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy, and corn. Everything still tasted wonderful and homemade . . . in short comforting. Nope, I shouldn’t have worried at all. Wally’s will be just fine.

Purple Sandpiper Bakehouse and Pub

October 26, 2010

Purple Sandpiper Bakehouse and Pub
8405 Lyndale Ave S
Bloomington, MN 55420
(952) 888-1429

Finally! A place in Bloomington to go for a nice breakfast . . . and lunch and dinner. I’m going to try to write about how much I loved this place without being too gushy, but I am pondering giving up cooking and moving in or at least becoming their biggest fan.

The food is modern, creative, and delicious without being pretentious. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and it was a warm and happy place to eat. They seem really proud of their restaurant and their food and they should be.

For breakfast they have fun things like Scotch eggs, a particular favorite of mine, and breakfast flatbread with toppings. Some items change seasonally. For summer they had lemon ricotta pancakes, which are now pumpkin ricotta hotcakes for fall. My son hasn’t stopped raving about the Lake Superior Breakfast Sandwich made with trout lox, since he had it a week ago. I’m also anxious to try the Chef’s Breakfast sandwich: Pork belly, egg, cheddar, and Sriracha aioli served open face on brioche with creamy hash browns.

duck and cover flatbread

Duck and Cover Flatbread

I’m a sucker for duck confit, so for lunch I ordered the Duck and Cover flatbread topped with fresh mozzarella, ricotta, carmelized onions, Au Bon Canard duck confit and a drizzle of a tangy raspberry sauce. The sauce was a great foil for the richness of the other ingredients. The only quibble I had was not enough duck.

Pork Belly Panini with Sweet Potato Fries

Also being suckers for anything with pork belly, my son ordered the pork belly panini: Crisp roasted herbed pork belly, layered with roasted red peppers, basil and maple mascarpone on grilled brioche. The brioche is addictively cakelike yet incredibly light. Also addictive are their sweet potato fries served with a sweetened cinnamon dipping sauce.

At dinner they add small plates such as Thai calamari and walleye croquettes and entrees such as sumac rack of lamb, duck leg confit, Asiago crusted walleye, and a five course tasting menu. The tasting menu changes weekly.

apple cinnamon roll bread pudding

Apple Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding with Cheddar Ice Cream


For dessert we ordered the Apple Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding with Cheddar Ice Cream. I had to try the cheddar ice cream. It was as exciting as my first taste of salted caramel ice cream. Again, the sweet/salty ice cream balanced the richness of the bread pudding and caramel sauce. And I’d like to applaud the fact that their desserts are only $4 each and yet large enough to share.

So maybe I gush a little bit. But Bloomington needs a restaurant like this and I want them to succeed.

Sunrise Donuts . . . and Spring Rolls

August 9, 2010

When I stopped in at Sunrise Donuts this morning for my pink crueller, they had up a sign advertising egg rolls, spring rolls and chicken wings every Saturday beginning at 9 am.  I believe the owners are Vietnamese although I’m not positive.

I asked the man behind the counter about it and he said it was something they had done during their grand re-opening celebration. It was such a hit that people asked them to bring back the savory goodies.  I can’t wait to try them.

So you don’t always have to be in the mood for donuts for a Saturday trip to Sunrise Donuts.

Parma 8200

August 5, 2010

Parma 8200
5600 West 83rd Street, Suite 100
Bloomington, MN 55437

Last Saturday night, my husband and I made a last minute decision to check out Parma 8200, the new D’Amico restaurant near Normandale Lake in Bloomington.  We live just down the road so I’m happy there’s something new and exciting in our neighborhood.  That doesn’t happen very often.  To have Parma 8200 and Grand Szechuan open so near to us within the last year is almost more excitment than we can stand.

Because it was Saturday night, we knew we’d have to eat in the bar.  When we arrived the hostess let us know that the full menu was available at the bar.  The place was hopping and the bar was loud, but it’s the price we paid for a rare moment of spontaneity.  Captain and Diet seems to be the drink of the moment.  Really?

As I am always the designated driver, I started with a vanilla bean Dry Soda, which was lovely. 

Complimentary cheese bread is served, although we only received one small plate.  I’ve heard from a friend that when she dined there the cheese bread just kept coming to their table.  It was tasty, but mostly gone by the time our antipasti arrived, a grievous mistake on our part as you’ll soon read.

We decided to share a couple of antipasti and then decide whether we wanted to have anything else.

I have to say that the Blue prawns baked with tomato, feta, garlic and Calabrian chile oil ($13.50) landed with a thud.  Four very small “shrimp”  were beyond overcooked in a parchment paper package.  The sauce was drinkably good, tangy with fresh cherry tomates, feta, garlic and tarragon.  I didn’t pick up any heat from the chile oil.  It was served with some crostini, but I would have prefered some hunks of Italian bread to sop up all that bright tasting sauce.  I kicked myself for not sending it back.

We liked the Asparagus, burrata, hazelnuts and brown butter ($12.50) much better, but again, I could have cried for lack of bread to sop up brown butter.

We split the Meatball sandwich with provolone and marinara ($14.00). Fresh tasting, moist meatballs on a nice chewy roll (which would have been great for sopping up antipasti sauces) with a side dish of a deliciously chunky marinara sauce.  You can tell meatballs have been made with care when they’re almost fluffy, not dense.  We loved it.

I didn’t have room but still managed to polish off the Milk Chocolate cremosa, coffee semifreddo, hazelnut croquant ($7.00).  The cremosa was silky and smooth, more like buttercream than mousse.  The semifreddo was as light as air and the hazelnut croquant struck the perfect balance of sweet and salty to cut the richness of the other components.  The only thing that was off was a paper thin slice of toasted ciabatta stuck into the cremosa.  I decided to ignore it and set it aside.

So, all-in-all, it’s a welcome addition to the neighborhood. The service was friendly.  I’m looking forward to occasionally stopping in, even if it’s just to order dessert.