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BLUE PLATE RESTAURANTS - (MSP)

s
snoboardbabe77 Dec 3, 2009 05:29 AM

Last night, CH and I went to Groveland Tap (first time). A couple of Surly's a piece, an app of periogies - a 3 pc broaster chicken meal for him (juicy on the inside, crispy coating on the outside, standard sub-par coleslaw - oh well); a buffalo chicken sandwich for me. All in all, great experience and above average food. Total bill: $38.55 before tip. I say - good value, friendly and VERY prompt service, lively ambience (minus the tvs) and Surly's on tap for $2.50 & $3 apps during HH til 6. Can't beat that.

On that note - Black Friday - my friends and I hit up Longfellow at 3:30 for lunch. Next time you're there-order the shrimp and roasted walleye cakes - EXCELLENT. (from both Hubs and MIL - I'm allergic). Philly cheesesteak was tasty - large portion of meat to cheese ratio - crisp fries (never as good as the Nook tho) and I ordered the vermont white cheddar and tillamook grilled cheese with tomato jam chutney. Outstanding service here - have eaten here before and left with happy faces.

I've done more of the brunch menu (think hot hash and holly and eggs benny) at Edina Grill and at Highland Grill.

Yeah - these places aren't where I go for romantic outings or group events-but I really like these restaurants. They do twists that work on American fare (try the turkey burger next time people), they have prompt, knowledgable and friendly service, good selections of brews on tap, and reasonable prices.

No experience at 3 Squares yet.

Any else agree or disagree?

  1. b
    Bobannon Dec 3, 2009 07:00 AM

    I agree. I eat at 3 Squares a lot and Edina Grill occasionally. Above average food and a good value. I've also always had great service. I think their fries are average but their sweet potatoe fries are exceptional. Total comfort food. I also love the turkey burger and i'm not normally a fan of turkey burgers. I've been wanting to give Groveland Tap a try.

    1. t
      turtlebella Dec 3, 2009 07:16 AM

      We go to Highland Grill with some low frequency. I'm never particularly wowed by the food, but it's usually pretty solid. I've had issues with the french fries being kinda soggy, well, at least just not as crisp as I would like. I often get the pierogies - solid comfort food. In the summer I also like their super tart lemonade.

      Highland Grill a good place to go with kids, there always seem to be many families there which is certainly a nice thing (the idea that you shouldn't dine out with children really chaps my hide and we refuse to go along with it).

      Only been to Edina Grill once and I found the experience to be almost exactly the same as being at the Highland Grill. Which is kind of disturbing- a little too chain-y for my tastes. I mean, places should be distinct from one another, even if they are in a restaurant group.

      3 Replies
      1. re: turtlebella
        bob s Dec 3, 2009 07:03 PM

        There's been a trend at the Edina Grill to move toward a standardized menu. We've gone to EG for years - we were literally there the 2nd day they opened in their original spot. They used to be able to honor minor changes or substitutions, but no longer. I suspect that they're aligning their menus so that they're standardized across the group. Plus, I think their prices have gone up fairly significantly in the last few years. We used to go almost weekly, but now we're hardly there.

        Oh well...

        -----
        Highland Grill
        771 Cleveland Ave S, Saint Paul, MN 55116

        Groveland Tap
        1834 Saint Clair Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105

        Edina Grill
        5028 France Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55410

        1. re: bob s
          The Dairy Queen Dec 3, 2009 11:58 PM

          Out story is similar, Bob.

          I used to be a frequent patron of the Blue Plate restaurants (never been to the newest place, 3 Squares), but in the past couple of years, the glow has worn off for me. I've never thought the food was amazing at any of them, but I've had some good meals at Highland/Longfellow/Edina and some truly awful meals at Highland. (I had a beet salad there once that was perhaps the worst salad I've had in my life--I don't think it's the same beet salad that's on the menu now, but I wouldn't risk it!)

          The Groveland Tap used to be one of my favorite neighborhood hangouts. We used to go several times a month, until the guy who is now at Blue Door Pub defected. I loved how family friendly it was---truly a neighborhood hangout. It used to be a good place for a bowl of chili on a winter weekend, or for a beer and a burger (cajun lucy!) on a weeknight. Their Friday fish fry was solid. Their grilled portobello sandwich with a side salad or their grilled steak salad were my "lighter" standbys. Certainly not fat free, but easier on my waistline than a cheeseburger with fries. The staff was always friendly, hardworking and competent.

          And then about a year ago, they overhauled their menu in the most absurd way (with the menu claiming something along the lines of "Just burgers and beer, it's as simple as that," implying some "getting back to basics"). They turned the reasonably lean steak salad into some weird deconstructed cheeseburger plate (no! no! what's that cheese and bacon doing here?), getting back to basics in the most pretentious way possible, and removed my beloved grilled portobello sandwich from their menu entirely. I think we gave it two tries, and then dropped it from our rotation. We've been back maybe once and it's fine, but with my "lighter" standbys gone, it can't be a regular hangout anymore.

          They are still fun places to take kids. Longfellow has a nice patio (I like having breakfast there in spring and summer) and, for the type of place it is, it's pretty nice/unusual that they have a full bar.

          As far as the sweet potato fries (at Highland/Longfellow/Edina--Groveland Tap has never had them), I used to love them and was up in arms when they changed them for the worse, then felt a little better when they changed them again in response to customer outcry (an improvement, but still not the same as the original). Now, I'm over it. One of these days, I'm going to try White Castle's. Blue Plate's move to eliminate trans fats from their regular fries was less rocky for me. Their fries were fine, not outstanding, before and they're fine, not outstanding, now.

          They still maintain some individuality, for instance, I think only Highland has the Elvis burger, but the overall feel is a more towards chainhood and standardization. (Groveland Tap's menu has always been different from the others). They are still fine places, all of them, but they've lost whatever it was that made them feel neighborhoodly for us. Now when we want to grab a burger and beer in the neighborhood, we seek out a place that feels more neighborhoodly. In fact, about a week ago, we were dying for a burger: checked out Blue Door Pub, packed; checked out the Nook, packed; headed towards Bulldog S.P. and had a sudden change of heart and ended up at Cherokee (disappointing. They had an event going on, though, so we'll have to give them a second chance). My point is, we never even considered our former haunts GrovelandTap/Longfellow/Highland Grill, all of which would have been closer than Cherokee or Bulldog S.P. (Shamrock, of course, is on my never-again, list.)

          P.S. SBB77--thanks for reporting back on the Black Friday breakfast. We were going to check it out, even though we weren't going shopping, but woke up at about 5am and decided we'd rather keep sleeping.

          ~TDQ

          1. re: The Dairy Queen
            s
            snoboardbabe77 Dec 4, 2009 04:11 AM

            TDQ - I always like to hear your input.

            We decided to try Groveland because of the broaster chicken - CH quite enjoyed it (since I don't like deep frying all that much in the house-smelly)! and to that end, he would return for the chicken. The buffalo chicken sandwich (always my fav at most venues) is not enough to get me there on my own - but the Surly taps are (when we were at Frost -a can was $7.00), there- the taps at $2.50 ($2 at Longfellow).

            I have eaten brunch 2x at Highland in the past 2 years -the parking is enough to drive me back to Bon Vie (best benny IMHO) but I've never been disappointed with the basic breakfast there (hashbrowns-another story).

            The 3 x I have been to Longfellow - while still "chainy" in some respects, this one is my fav. Last time, I had the harvest wild rice chicken "salad" and the time before that, the turkey burger. Can't speak much for the burgers but I will say this - we've stopped going to Blue Door. The last handful of times we've been there-(understandably crowded and popular), the service has not been good and to me, when I'm out, service is important. At Longfellow, we had very attentive, informative, accommodating service (waitstaff giving us the cakes at HH price even though it didn't start til 4; I'll replace X cheese with X to make less spicy if you'd like ...before we even asked...small stuff like that). I find it my "comfort food" and the patio in the summer is excellent!

            BTW, tip on the Nook - the last 4 x we've gone to the Nook -we've done Wednesdays between 5PM and 5:15..I know, I know...early.......but there is always AT LEAST 4-5 tables besides a few bar spaces available. I eat an earlier lunch at work that day so I'm hungry by then. NO LINES, NOT PACKED. But when we leave, then the crowds are a comin'.

      2. MSPD Dec 3, 2009 08:11 AM

        Yep. Pretty much right on.

        The only chink in the armor IMO was when they joined the movement to eliminate trans fats from the food. The old fries were much better and I liked the sweet potato fries before, though they're still good. But...I've heard just as many people say they like the new ones better.

        1. b
          BigE Dec 4, 2009 06:44 AM

          I don't live near any of these places, but I've been to Groveland/Highland a handful of times. Never had a bad experience at either.

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