Brook’s High Beer Battered

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http://www.brookshigh.com/
https://twitter.com/Brooks_High
Main Location: Minneapolis, Select Breweries

The second of this summer’s most locally-anticipated food trucks, Brook’s High Beer Battered gained fame through their popular Kickstarter campaign, gaining press and interest through the sharing of their particular vision, one which quite a few people seemed to agree with. Definitely one of the sight’s biggest success stories, at least for Minnesota, the team here proves that, if handled right with an idea that truly appears to our local hipster masses, crowdsourcing creates a viable supplemental income source for your startup food truck operation.

And what is this vision which so many of us here have been so anxious to get on the streets you ask? Well, if you have yet to run across articles like This and This explaining it (once again, since they’ve basically been talked about for quite some time, I’m going to be lazy in my intro today), they focus purely on, as the name suggests, Beer-battered and Beer-focused menu items. But not just any beer; the fun comes in the fact that as they park at brewery to brewery, that day’s batter recipe will specifically feature some of the different beers from our local taprooms. So one day you could get a typical fried something made from a light ale, while another brings complex bitter hops, and yet another day try out a uniquely dark and savory batter made from a stout.

So far they’ve been working with Bauhaus, Lynlake Brewing, Fair State, and Tin Whiskers, while also parking at the explosively popular distiller and cocktail room of Tattersall. Of which they’ve already been parking at for over a month; my delay in being able to visit has, as one would imagine, been painful. But with their mention of the menu still being worked on a few weeks ago, my steely resolve had to set itself to wait… that and my schedule sucks. But I always prefer to get to a truck at its set point while being as close to opening as possible; hopefully I got to the right point this time.

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Southside Donuts w/ ‘Glaze’

For the food itself, topping the menu is their Fried Walleye (at least now, perhaps they may switch the fish out depending on occasion) Sandwich, followed by classic Beer-Battered Cheese Curds. When asked about upcoming items, since with still only 4 on the board during my visit, it seems plans for a Bacon-Beer-Mac-and-Cheese are underway for when the temperatures drop, along with some Beer Chili. There IS a Salad for the gluten-free and veggie-required people out there, but we shall not deem it worthy by even looking at that. And what’s a fried truck without dessert? Of late their Donuts, current flavors taken inspiration from their friends at Tattersall, have seen much feature.

Now is the time to see if they can live up to the hype, as those that invested and those that just really love the idea of this truck hope and pray for them to survive on our local roads. Let’s see what chance they have at this.

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Food: 9.5

                To my surprise the Fried Walleye Sandwich comes in two sandwiches, each with a single batter-fried walleye filet, their Citrus-Apricot-Coleslaw, Tartar Sauce (of course), and half a white country bun/baguette for each. I think I saw a picture once that had their sandwich in a pretzel bun, so not sure if I mistook it, it was for something else, or they just switch it out every here and there, like the batter. Let’s start with the fish. Heaven. There done? Oh I need more details don’t I? You get the kind of fish cooked to a point where the flesh is almost melting in how it flakes, and then surrounded by thick, crunchy-fried beer batter, hot from the friar to steam your mouth, forcing you to pause and take your time. A faint amount of friar grease makes itself present on the palate, and that being near the end of the night, which is rather impressive compared to some other fried foods I’ve had.

The slaw is delightfully refreshing and creamy, an one does get those notes of citrus every now and then, really distinguishing it as their own and proving why it’s so classically paired to ‘contrast’ the richly-cooked fish. Didn’t get a lick of the apricot though, not sure what that was about. I like the tartar sauce, tasted on its own one can see it’s of an unctuous ‘fatty’ style, probably from the amount of sour cream and mayo, with this sort of deep tang. And the bread was good, not toasted on the inside but the outside got it at some point so the texture was there while the softer inside cradled its package.

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I’ve had a lot of Cheese Curds, and a lot of them have used good cheese from local and/or organic/sustainable farms, but this feels to be the first time where it REALLY expresses this fact on the plate… er, basket… actually, in the mouth. The curds on their own were so creamy, gooey, and just plain craveable. If I had to pick my personal ‘ideal cheese curds,’ I know everyone has their favorite at the State Fair and whatnot, these would be it. Besides that cheese, the batter formed a completely even coating, thin but still crispy and textural. It made me very confused as to whether I liked it better with or without the wonderfully creamy and spicy ‘Baeoli’… aioli with beer.

It’s a shame I ended up on one of the few nights which they only had one beer to make the batter with (Bauhaus’ Wonderstuff by the way), though I’m not quite sure how much of a difference it would have made. Despite intense testing of the batter, on its own and with the food, I wasn’t quite sure I could notice any particular flavor from the distinctive beer itself. Structure, as I’ve said, certainly; I can’t recall the last time I’ve had fried beer batter that good, at least in Minnesota.

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We finish with the Southside Donuts, their little ‘donut holes’ served with a Juniper-Lime Syrup; they call it a glaze, but really it’s this thin syrup on the bottom of the basket, which I delight in rolling the donuts around to coat before popping in my mouth. I do wish the juniper flavor came out more in it too; the acidity is there, but actual flavors are subtle, and I really wish I could EXPERIENCE it, get it upfront. The menu said #BOOM… I wanted the boom –innocent little tear-. Donut on itself was… interesting. Not in a bad way, just in that I’m not sure how to exactly describe or judge the style; I think it’s similar to the brioche-dough-doughnuts. Given the style, I do believe the structure was done well, and once again is fried well, not dry or doughy. Sadly not what I had expected them to be; but now we know what they’re coming out with so you know what to get excited about.

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Look at that cheese stretch!

Holdability: 7

               Officially basket, and in the future bowl, food; besides the hand-picked donuts and curds, or fork-required salad, the slaw and sauce on these sandwiches seem quite eager to attack my fingers. Even when I tried actively pushing them down between fish and bun(an idea I used to unjustifiably inflate my own pride), still had some veggies and tartar notably fall out, so it was a good thing the basket was there; and yes you’ll want napkins as you thoroughly gulf down these bad boys in a creamy affair.

Price: 7.5

                $12 for the Sandwiche/s, $6 each for the other fried items, and $8 on that salad; so ultimately the main item, if getting for oneself, is a bit in the higher range for truck entrees, the curds seem about right, but do think we should be getting more of those simple donuts if having to pay $6 for them.
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Speed: 7

The wait felt noticeable; for the sandwich, that may have likely just been me, but I do swear the curds and donuts were longer than I expected for basket-snacks. And by that I mean a minute or two; also, NOT me saying this is taking longer than they should, they have definitely achieved that practically perfect deep fry, comes out hot and delicious… and one should be ordering this at a brewery anyway so, unlike me who has no life, you have a glass of beer and friends to keep company in those extra minute or two.

The TOE: 10

                What can I say about the truck’s concept and intrigue that hasn’t already drummed up excessive revenue for their kickstarter and media attention? Combine that with their strategic move of, as far as I can tell, ONLY parking at taprooms (or cocktail-rooms in Tattersall’s case) and events, which always have a strong local beer focus, and we have a big behemoth of a truck that melds fully into the environment while drawing us in with their appealing personality.

Want to mention the donuts again, mainly cuz, as mentioned, I was hoping they would be something different and reach a wholly unique (and again, more flavorful) Toe Ring status symbol for the truck. Perhaps if they covered it with a juniper-sugar, maybe a proper lime-frosting-glaze drizzled on top or on the side, or perhaps lime-scented white chocolate sauce…

Tally: 41/50

Final Thoughts

Now that Motley’s has gone to rest with their new restaurant, Brook’s High Batter comes in as one of the main trucks to stick to at our breweries. One could potentially get a basket for snacking at a festival, the only other place a deep-fried and beer-placed business such as this would excel in experience, but they do seem to be best when sat down alongside a nice big, rich glass of beer; ideally the one accompanying the batter-of-the-day.

Order the Walleye Sandwich with a friend; not only is it a great sandwich one can actually share without worrying about trading spit (you know unless that’s what you’re into), you’re basically getting a single delicious and reasonably-sized sandwich for $6 apiece, turning it into a better deal again. Ideally, this should also be hit at a gig where they do indeed have at least two different beer-based batters; that way when you get your obligatory Cheese Curds (Get Them! Seriously!), or perhaps their upcoming Bacon-Mac and Cheese, you can enjoy the spirit of the different preparations. Plus then you could tell me if you can actually taste the beer notes in each…

Classic Yum

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https://www.facebook.com/classicyum
https://twitter.com/ClassicYum
Main Location: Minneapolis, St Paul, Etc

The second truck on my State Capital lunch visit in May of 2015, Classic Yum Food Truck, mostly appeared on the scene in the same year. I had actually planned to hit them earlier during Harriet Brewery’s Spring Truck Rally, but of course I get the call from work RIGHT as I’m leaving. Grrrrr… damn you daily life, ruining my mobile adventures!

Oh well, at least I could get back to visit this big yellow behemoth (and now I’m thinking about the Magic Schoolbus)! The focus of which seems to be the use of Chinese and Southern Asian flavors and cooking techniques into basic truck food. Specific menu items themselves tend to change and switch around rather often; in fact, every time they park at a brewery they focus almost purely on selling simple snack-based, easy eating pub-style offerings (I sadly don’t know what kind specifically, but you can get an idea based on style they serve).

Items themselves can range from a highly classic and simple Chicken Teriyaki Bowl, over rice and such, to a ‘Chinese’ Pulled Pork Sandwich (I assume the moniker is due to flavors cooked WITH the pork, and not just because it’s served with an ‘Asian Slaw,’ though who knows). Some rather consistent options include Turkey Eggrolls (which I so wanna get), ‘Dragon Fries’ (will explain later), Thai Red Curry Chicken Wrap, and a Vietnamese Fried Fish Sandwich. Many of which come with a bag of chips (Lays, which my boss was happy with. Don’t look at me like that, I had enough food in me that day, I did NOT need those empty calories, no matter how crispy they are).

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Food: 7

                That Fish Sandwich was calling out to me, and was singularly unique compared to most menus I’ve seen, so I just had to feature it. The basic composition was, of course, a white fish filet, given a light batter and fried. This placed between a buttered, toasted bun (nicely toasted bun, yum) with a spread of ‘Shrimp Pate,’ cooked shrimp turned into a paste which offered a refreshingly cool sweet seafood flavor in contrast to the warmth and flaky light richness of the fish. That is then topped with pickled red onions, FRIED onions, and an ‘Asian tartar sauce,’ which all in all come together like a classic fried walleye sandwich with a twist of South-Eastern Asian freshness. The particularly tart pickled onions and flavored sauce stand out nicely with the fish, which isn’t at that perfectly thick and crunchy fried batter that one can expect from, say, a proper fish and chips, but it stood up with everything else just fine, helped out in flavor and texture from the fried onions. That said, I think they had way too many pickled onions on top; I had like half of mine fall out, and it still felt on the edge of just shoving their presence in your face, and I LIKE pickled onions (they’re good too). Just, pull back on them a bit will ya?

The fried Shrimp, on the other hand, didn’t quite thrill me that much. An order of Dragon Fries gets you a basket of shoestring French fries accompanied by 2-3 (okay it’s been a week since I’ve had this, and my picture’s not so clear, so I forgot) shrimp, sliced in half and fried in batter. Fries are typical, nothing exciting or particularly craveable, and though the shrimp has the nice flavor you expect, it was also a touch greasy in flavor, and the batter came out rather thick and soft in spots, almost moist. Basically they’re fried in a typical ‘sweet and sour’ style, flavor being better than the generic restaurants but texture about the same.

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Being of that style, though, it did come with a thing of Homemade Sweet-Sour Sauce, which… was definitely better than the stuff from the packet. Similar flavor points, but smoothed out, not thick, and mellow, a very happy dipper for both my shrimp and the potato strips they came with. I should finish by saying that I overall don’t have any issue with the dish idea, fried shrimp on fried potatoes seems lazy but I can understand its place, but there are some execution points and choices that I wish were improved.

Holdability: 8.5

                 Dragon Fries are like eating a… well, a basket of fries, we can imagine how easy that is, only need to consider dipping. The Fish sandwich fillings did have a habit of sliding around (as I mentioned earlier, quite a bit of the onions fell out), but to be fair I think much of that mess was my own fault for not taking full advantage of that foil wrapping around it. If I actually used that instead of trying to go full-hand, it probably would have kept in tight and clean like wrapped sandwiches do and not been so much tartar and pickle stuff on my fingers. And I expect the other sandwiches and wraps to be as clean, the teriyaki coming with a fork, and everything being able to consume without much extra attention while roaming. Just two hands required.
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Price: 7.5

                  Main sandwiches come out at $10, the Wrap being a buck less, Teriyaki bowl one further at $8. The Dragon Fries settles down to $6, which feels fair and about right for a mound of fries with shrimp, which usually comes in pricier even for just a few, though I do wish the quality was further up to match it. Still very sad to say I didn’t try the egg rolls, so not sure how well they fit their $5 moniker, but if they’re anything like Vellee’s in quality (being turkey based they certainly sound unique enough) and of a decent size or quantity, I’d say it’s a safe bet. As for sandwiches, I agree with price for the Fish (even as-is), but the pulled pork and wrap need to be a bit fantastic to garner that, cuz I don’t think a bag of chips is enough of a side to qualify the extra dollar or two I’m unwittingly paying vs having the truck food on its own. Would rather get those fries or something else (preferably something else).

Speed: 7.5

Took about five minutes, average wait for three things that need frying (shrimp, potatoes, and fish) plus assembly.

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The TOE: 8

                  There’s something about the food and menu that doesn’t quite excite me as the personality of the truck’s name and design does when hearing and seeking it out on social media, or seeing from a distance. I think part of it has to do with the actual sorta tacky food pictures in the window along with the whiteboard menu, which is an annoying juxtaposition as (as a customer/reviewer) I do appreciate being able to see what to expect for each item ahead of time. There’s a feel to it when visiting that reminds me of some typical/generic newer Chinese/Pan-Asian food court or cart (like that Golden Tummy that was hanging around Minneapolis a couple years back), which is unfair to them because I can tell they’re offering some interesting and more unique options and packaging of their food, what with getting turkey in the eggrolls, (hopefully) flavoring a pulled pork sandwich with Chinese spices, and other things I’m sure they’ll come up with. Definitely giving them a few extra points for changing the menu to fit their locations, like when they offer more pub-style/snack-ish foods at breweries. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe a result of the food’s impression on me afterward. Hopefully I can change my mind at a future visit.

Tally: 38.5/50

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Final Thoughts

Classic Yum seeks to fill the need for Chinese and Southern Asian flavors presented in a not-so-typical way, and for the most part they have had a strong start towards success in this, needing only some tweaking and further twisting from a few too simplistic dishes (I’m looking at you Teriyaki and Dragon Fries) to fully achieve something amazing. For now they are definitely the spot to go when seeking Asian flavors packed between two buns, or wrapped in a tortilla. They also offer a decent possibility in the quick-snack option during Truck touring/meals or when visiting a brewery, mainly in the form of Turkey Eggrolls and other changing/seasonal items I have yet to experience.

From what I’ve witnessed in their regular on-the-street lineup, I think the most exciting option for the hungry traveler would be the Red Curry Chicken Wrap, from its high portability to tasty flavors (plenty of places now have proven curried stuff crammed into a burrito is delicious), and at a buck less than the other sandwiches, even more of a deal. That said the Fish Sandwich is quite the experience, especially from trucks; with a lineup that mostly looks to burgers, pulled pork (and other bbq), bacon, fried chicken, grilled/fried shrimp, tofu stuff, and other things meat or vegetarian related, it’s not often you get to actually get to try anything fish related. And they did do it well, I simply suggest taking off half of the pickled onions before digging in. Then you’ll be happy.

Food Trucks that Don’t Exist: a Dedication

So I was gonna post this guy a while ago, but apparently I wrote the draft, took a break before I looked up pictures, and completely forgot about it! So pretend it came out right after this article did!

http://blogs.citypages.com/food/2014/06/fleet_of_dreams_the_best_food_trucks_that_dont_exist_yet.php

                I am in much agree-al with this latest CityPages Hot Dish article! If you have yet to read it, click the link above to view their opinions on Food Trucks we have yet to see. The Dip-based idea seems a bit odd to me (though I can see us having a market for it), but the make-your-own Pie concept could be heavenly.

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                Either way, it got me thinking about OTHER kinds of Street Food our mobile army has yet to tap into, for one reason or another. I did do a post about a year ago about people/restaurants that I’d like to see get in the business, but hashing out the food itself is yet another fun endeavor in itself.

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All things Japanese

                I’ve mentioned it at times in the past, and I’m sure by now many of you have seen some food show or another traveling through Asian, only to learn that the large Continent is a veritable wealth of various stands shoveling out mass amounts of traditional street foods. There are so many things we still have yet to be completely brought in from China, Korea, Vietnam, etc. But the country that excites me most with their Street Food is Japan.

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                Hot Dish already covers our sore need for good mobile ramen, but I would also so love to see someone shoveling out Takoyaki, spherical little “pancakes” cooked in their own grate with different savory fillings (usually Octopus) and covered in sticky sauces and bonito, just waiting for you to toothpick it into your mouth. Similarly, Dango, little sweet rice flour balls (similar to Mochi) already skewered with a bit of sauce on top. Could have a truck that serves both, sweet and savory oriental orbs!

                Then there’s Okonamiyaki, big savory pancakes that are cooked to order and whatever you want in them (drizzled in special mayo and sauce); Bento Boxesfor those on the go and wanting something “special;” Onigiri, simple rice balls stuffed with various fillings, think of all the cool fusion things we could do with that, while still keeping super-simple and affordable options for others; and of course, who could forget Yakitori, skewers of very simply and very skillfully grilled meats from every part of an animal, covered in a perfectly balanced sauce.

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Juicy Balls

                Subs, skewers, sandwiches, soups, fry baskets, what can’t a meatball be used in? And what can’t it be made from? So versatile with such a soul-filling warmth and joy when done right, there’s huge potential for doing something along these lines. And though we do have One Stand that uses a meatball sub, it’s just the one item on the menu; we need a true Specialty, like Devil’s Advocate before they changed their menu up (such a sad thing now…).

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Desserts Galore

                I’ve said it at least once before and I’ll say it again, we need a Dessert Truck! I’m sorry but Cupcakes don’t really count that much anymore, and our one Crepe Truck is… well… either way, all the other cities have one! Why can’t we!? Moooooommmmmmm.

                -cough- Sorry ‘bout that. Anyways, it doesn’t matter what kind, whether it’s one of those trucks that shells out all variety of sweets or a specialist; Pie, Cheesecake, Sundaes, something stuffed in a Cone, I don’t care, and neither should you! Give us more sugar, MOAR! I will say though, a good, proper Ice Creamtruck that makes their own custard from Quality ingredients would be extra awesome. Or hey, if Izzy’s wants to get in the game I won’t complain.

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Tapas for Everyone

                I know I know, we have A La Plancha now which serves up various “tapas” with their food, but it still doesn’t feel like they’ve gotten so deep down into the spirit and wealth of it that they could (and I’ve seen their truck out a few times). There really are SO many different tapas out there, traditional and non, a having a truck focus PURELY on these various small Spanish things which we could pick up and take around could be so fun. And let’s not forget about Pinchos, Tapas close cousin, basically semi-sandwiches or other “small” items with a thin skewer through them to hold together (and also keep track of how many things you’ve eaten). When I go for Tapas, I really want to get into the feel and culture of Spain, so let’s get a mobile eatery that can really do that.

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All Roads Lead to Dim Sum

                So Yeah, I want Dim Sum. If you want to hear my argument why, read this Post I did a while back.

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A Bit of Our History

                You know, now that I think about it, we really don’t have any trucks yet that focus on some sort of Eastern Europeanspecialties (besides that one Strudel Truck, but we barely see it anywhere). No Germanic, Russian, Polish, Czech, or anything like that, which is a shame ‘cuz it’s all really good food. True the idea doesn’t immediately conjure up “Street Food” images, besides bratwurst covered in sauerkraut (and we already have plenty of that), but there are some foods we know of (and many that we don’t I’m sure) that could do a great job on a truck. There’s Pierogies, cuz who doesn’t love dumplings; Piroshki, which are like Pasties but with a more bready dough (there’s a market stand in Seattle that makes awesome ones, perfect street food); Borscht and the Crepes like I said; many many regional snausagesto be used in dogs, sandwiches, what have you; various stews like Goulashwhich could be shoved in something; etc. And don’t forget the many many uses of sauerkraut and potatoes. It’s basically like talking about our favorite MN foods, so why not express them on the street?

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Everything Cake

                It hits me that we, and many others, have a Crepe Truck, a Waffle Truck, but why not have a Pancake truck? Thick and fluffy, but one could still wrap it in a cone or fold in half. Could fill and top it with anything, sweet or savory, as all different versions of pancakes do. Which is another thought, instead of just doing the one basic kind, a Pancake Truck could offer different batters (either pick and choose or each with their own crafted fillings): Potato, Johnnycake (cornmeal), Buttermilk, Thin European, etc. Who wouldn’t love the joy of taking something simple and nostalgic and getting serious with it, much like the Grilled Cheese idea (thank god I no longer need to add a “grilled cheese” section to this list).

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Fried Fury

                A lot of people like Anchor, our local Fish and Chips based restaurant and truck, but it feels like the menu is more restaurant-based than fish-and-chips-based; I mean they only have the onefish. How cool would it be to have a pure, simple, and classic Fish and Chips truck that, like the shops back home, have a whole selection of different fish to go in the fryer! Or maybe they take the fish and fries and stuff it in a grinder or tortilla (or, with the nation’s Indian ties, Roti) to make it fully portable! Slather on that Tartar sauce (per request of course) and really give us a Deep Fried delight. And why stop there, why not make a whole Deep-fried themed menu, span more than one kind of food item, cover some random crap in batter and crisp it up with heart-destroying deliciousness. I know there’s a place in New York (I think it’s called The Chip Shop) that does it, and they’re quite successful.

                Or at the least, maybe get a truck that specializes in Fried Chicken. We have some that do it (very well I might add) in sandwiches, but let’s get a place that really does it justice as the MAIN item.

Temaki

Temaki

                Oh come on, you knew I was gonna say it at some point (well, if you read my blog frequently). Sushi Fix STILL has yet to offer this perfectly walkable coneof Nori stuffed with sushi rice and filling. I won’t go into it much this time, but I still believe it would be such a great, fun, delicious Toe Ring type item to sell for the sushi lover on-the-go.

                Well, that’s my list, what’s yours? Do you have any particular Foods or Cuisine you’d like to see on the Minnesota Street?

SFC: Fish Party

                A leftover Filet of Sole from a special project lay in the fridge one empty morning, crying to be turned into a sandwich. Who am I to deny it such pleasure?

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                Giving it a bath in flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs, I gently transport it back to bed… a hot pan with an even layer of butter and oil. Though, the sole wanted a slumber party, so I invited a few friends: some split king trumpet mushrooms I had leftover, letting them sear and sizzle in the pan next to the gloriously browning breadcrumbs.

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                An accompanying sauce is always desired in things to come such as this, so a rich mixture of mayo, chopped parsley, paprika, cayenne, and a heaping helping of chopped garlic seemed suitable.

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                For a properly firm yet tender blanket, I decided to employ the technique of toasting both slices of bread in the same slot, creating a crispy outside while retaining soft grains within.

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                As the fish finishes its little nap, we prepare the final playgrounds for enjoyment, layering the mayo-based-spread with seared mushrooms and fresh, crispy romaine hearts. Take the crispy filets out from the pan, slice in half, pile on and dive in. A nice, simple little way to make a tasty lunch without having to drive to McDonalds. Warm, crispy-crunchy, with a creamy garlic punch, perfect sammich material.

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SFC: Who Cares if I don’t use the Right Fish?

               I think Tuna Salad is usually a two way street; there are those few, few people who actually enjoy and look forward to eating it, and then there are the sensible rest of us which often cringe as a result of past memories. There are some grey area people of course, as there always are with ANY topic, in this case mostly composed of those particularly food-conscious people aware of what a properly balanced, quality mixed (preferably handmade) mayo sauce can create when combined with GOOD canned tuna.

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                Or other things; in this (my) case, some leftover baked Trout, which I needed to transform into something I could take to work (oh yeah, I’ve got more working hours now, so that may affect my future post rate btw). And that is a good sized slab of trout that deserves more than just reheating in a micro.

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                And overall, it’s quite the simple dish to put together, starting with simply combining the many ingredients for the mayo base. Whichever Mayonnaise you prefer (I would have made it myself, but with everything I’m adding to it its various qualities would just get covered up), some Sour Cream for fun, a good dollop of Dijon Mustard, minced Garlic, smashed and chopped Capers along with a bit of their “Juice,” a few drops of Worcestershire, seasoning of course, and plenty of Fresh Herbs (in this case, chives, which are so nice to finally have in the house).

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                We also need some form of acid, usually provided with a squirt of lemon or other citrus; but as I didn’t have any lemons, I substituted one of the fun vinegars in our fridge, a Fig Balsamic to help emphasize the worcestershire. Mix them all up, taste, and adjust balances based on personal taste.

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                Shred the Trout, Salmon, Tuna, or whatever Fish you’re using for the sandwich; I like differentiating between big and small chunks. Add to the dressing, mix thoroughly, and taste once again to make sure the balance works; I sorta found the sharp and intense flavors stay well like with the initial balance, but the subdued herbs, mayo, and other flavors that were in original balance need more adjustment.

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                We’re almost ready to sandwich this up, but we need one last element: Celery. It’s not a fish sandwich without celery; either diced into the mix or placed on top. I still sliced it in my favorite thin slivers as a garnish, along with the leaves of the celery. Which is a good thing to note if you haven’t used them, celery leaves offer a great opportunity for use in many applications, either in salads or as a replacement for parsley (I actually took the leftovers and chopped them fine to use as extra herbs in the rest of my trout salad afterwards).

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                Prepare your bread, in this case toasted, as only a proper “tuna” salad can be made with; I only used untoasted to pack it for lunch later on. Stuff it with your mix and any “garnishes” and enjoy.

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                And we have a properly created, edible version of the classic schoolyard horror. Rich and creamy dressing, some sharp flavors, thin and fresh snappy crunches from the celery, and aromatic herbs compliment a tender (but sorta dry… the person who cooked it overdid it a little… again), fatty fish. I think the only thing it could use for improvement would be a few chunks of quality pickles (which I forgot to put in! Agh!).

                Not sure if this post helps convince others to try this old cold fish application once more, but I figured I have to at least try. Besides, I already ate all of my sandwich filling so it’s your turn. I’ll see you all around once more in the coming weeks with some more recipes and recounting, enjoy your times spent until then. Good Luck and Good Eating.

Lulu’s Street Food

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https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lulus-Street-Food/107004102822952   

https://twitter.com/LulusStreetFood   

Main Location: Minneapolis, Etc

            It’s not often we see Truck’s expand their armada (though getting into restaurants is a whole different story); She Royal has branched to Brava, Potter’s added a second Pastie Truck to hit two cities… but that’s about it. But after only a few months of premiering, Lulu’s Street Food has already moved out another mobile operation, “The Red Pig & Truffle.” Supposedly rolling out later in the month, I of course look forward to giving it a full review when it does.

           This only stands as a sign to their growing reputation and success, exploding onto the scene much like how their design explodes over the eyes. Seriously, first time I saw this thing I thought it was a giant lifesaver… just wanted to lick it. Though I’m not sure if that’s the sign of a good Truck or some unresolved childhood issues…

            Well, getting back to the licking of organic matter, Lulu’s offers, well, “Street Food;” it’s really the best description. Menu items range in package, price, style, and flavors, but there are two things that connect them all. 1: they’re all based around the idea of classic and modern Street Foods, such as Tacos, Sandwiches, Rolls, Slider, etc; and 2: from what I can tell, most if not all menu items contain a Southern or Island/Caribbean base to them.

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            The Menu tends to change a LOT, and with at least 8 items (they have to use 2 blackboards!) usually on it, that says something. From what I can tell, some of the constant (or mostly seen) items include their famous Parmesan Truffle Fries, Cuban Chicken Taco or Sliders, Ahi Tuna Taco, and a Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich. Other items usually seem to contain Pulled/Roast Pork, Key West Fish Taco, and some Lobster based thing (either a Roll or, interestingly, Sliders). Whatever the situation, though, one is sure to find something suiting their particular tastes.

            Oh, and most of these items comes piled in some form of Coleslaw. Either way, let me just say I was very happy when they finally returned back to the Downtown Minneapolis streets after some weeks of outer explorations.

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Food: 9.5

            It took a while to decide, but I finally ended up with their Key West Fish Tacos and the Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich.

             Again, when it comes to Island Tacos, I find no issue with the use of Flour Tortillas, which held the package in pretty darn well; though it would have been nice to have at least ONE extra, empty tortilla below the two for any drippage, cuz there is a quite a decent amount of Slaw, Aioli, and Pineapple-Mango Salsa. Which, I might add, is one of the few successful uses of pineapple I’ve found in our Truck lineup. The fish itself, Cod I think, was grilled properly on the grill in a very tasty spiced marinade; it ended up tender, rich, and flavorful.

            Now, something of slight disappointing note, my first taco had a noticeable proportion problem. I will say this, it DEFINITELY didn’t have too much coleslaw; I mean damn, that is a REALLY good, fresh-tasting, yummy slaw.. at that point where it’s so good you don’t care how much there is (plus the flavor wasn’t strong enough to overpower others). But it really didn’t have that much fish; like, one medium chunk and some small fragments. I did find that the OTHER taco had a decent amount more (see the picture below); my guess is that they just accidentally scooped more of the portion into one taco than the other. They don’t cook the fish in long “sticks,” but in this bundle of chopped up, marinated flesh.

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             As for the Fried Chicken Sandwich… Oh, My, God. Crispy, down-home comfort fried chicken, the shell very reminiscent of the style found on chicken tenders but, you know, GOOD, made with quality, so it’s a thick, sorta-chewy but crunchy coating that just holds up firm. Drizzled this with sticky, sweet honey, piled with that awesome coleslaw, and then shoved between and awesome, toasted Pretzel Bun. They have to either make it themselves or get it from a different place than others, as it’s a different texture, size, and shape than other pretzel bun’s I’ve seen. Either way, it works well; I mean it’s not really with the Southern theme, but who cares when it all tastes so awesome. It’s hard to describe how satisfying this guy is.

            Oh, and of course I had to top it with something from the Hot Sauce lineup they have.  

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Holdability: 7.5

              HIGHLY varying depending on item. All of them need at least two hands for eating (basket-based), but whereas the Tacos and some other options are very easy for walking around, certain sandwiches and other items definitely bring the requirement to SIT DOWN and eat it. Prime example, my Fried Chicken Sandwhich, seen here:

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            Look at that PILE of awesome, delicious coleslaw; it may taste great, but try as you might I doubt one can hold that sucker with one hand while walking. Not to mention all that sticky, drizzling honey coating down and to your fingers as you hold it. I swear, even if that aluminum wrapping was all around it like a classic burger, I doubt I’d still suggest eating it while walking… though that’s not to say you still shouldn’t eat it. Mmmm, that was good…

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Price: 6

             Towards the higher end, most items range between $8-$12, the two outsandings being the Lobster Roll at $15, which I have absolutely no idea how it varies in quality and amount vs Smack, and the Truffle Parm Fries at $5. Though what ended up a small basket of fried potatoes sprinkled in Truffle Salt (which isn’t as expensive as people think it is), I’m wondering if this price is a bit high for it. Overall, though, I would have to say that the food is WORTH the higher prices, at least from what I’ve had so far.

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Speed: 8

              Average, if not a touch above.

The TOE: 9

              I’ll admit, the menu is a bit intimidating when you first come up to it, with the difficult choices and somewhat higher prices (at least they have more than one, worthy $8 items), but I very much enjoy going here. It’s vibrant, high energy, and very fun and welcoming, and I’m not just talking about the colors. If I’d posit a guess, the feeling and concepts of the chefs behind the window really come through in the menu and service; sort of like when one goes to Travail or Victory 44, with the Chef Waiter/resses.

                           Tally: 40/50

                       

Final Thoughts

            Lulu’s certainly fits the bill for a multitude of customer requirements. Whether you’re looking for a higher-priced item to take back and sit down to eat, or something to walk around the street with, you can probably find a good option here. There are many items to suggest, but here are the ones I’d probably lean to.

            The Ahi Tuna seems quite popular, and I’m guessing there’s a reason for it; with these kind of chefs behind the window, I’d definitely assume they’re making it right. Besides that, other Fish Tacos also bring a delightful experience (assuming they get the proportions right…), particularly for the walk-n-eat scenarios. Cuban items are sure to be done well, so it’s a valid focus. And I DEFINITELY suggest the Fried Chicken Sandwich if you’re able to sit down!

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            Sadly, there’s not too much here for those with a little lighter wallet. The Truffle Fries do offer a good snacking option, especially on Food Truck Days, though I still debate whether they’re truly up for a whole $5; they do seem like really quality-cooked fries though. As for the Lobster Roll, I don’t really see much reason to peddle so much out for an unsurety… if you’re curious, and have a bit of extra cash, maybe try the Lobster Sliders when they come out, get a feel of how it tastes to decide if you wanna have their Roll instead of Smack’s (also ask how the size compares).

Food Truck Wars Fridley (Wk 3)

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            3rd week of the Twin Cities’ Live Food Truck War is here, and they just happened to stop right in my hometown of Fridley! So of COURSE I had to go now (apologies for missing last week’s update; been busy as of late), with Dad accompanying so we could bring food back for Mom.

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            Sadly, it seems this particular session of “Wars” didn’t quite reach the zenith as the others: of the 5 Trucks scheduled, only 3 were able to make it (Tiki Tim’s, Hot Indian, and Simply Steve’s), with Potter’s and Melch’s having to cancel at the last minute. On the same note of “skewing my expectations,” I myself am a touch anxious at this trend of using many of the same trucks each week. With the idea of some sort of competition (where there’s a winner each week), did anyone else think that it might have been more fun to have completely different trucks each session (except maybe winners, see if they can get “de-throned”)? Though at least they still switch out a few; I heard something about some “Fish n Chips” showdown with Anchor next week.

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            Having arrived soon after 4, we thankfully hand enough time to grab Free Samples from 2 of the Trucks. First stop was the Indurrito truck, where they delivered ½ “Tacos” of their Chicken Tika alongside some of those fantastically crunchy fries. With shells made from Roti (which Amol thankfully corrected me are Indian Flatbreads and not Mango-Yogurt! Looks like I got them confused with Raita… sorry guys, and thanks!! Swear I saw it on the drink area one time though…), their Taco-versions have twisted up a fun notch in line with their original cuisine. Looks like they adjusted their Aioli as well; less garlic-focused and more “Indian spice and peppers,” another tasty pairing with their Fries.

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            With this well-made plate, it’s not surprising to see they earned the Golden Plate this week (I voted for them too! Wooh!).

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            Unlike Tiki, it seems Steve didn’t put up too much of a fight. Their menu still somewhat scattered (though not as much as my last view of it, mainly burgers and tacos this time; they might be pulling things in a bit more again, I’ll have to pay attention to their selection in the coming weeks, see if they get back to where they were before), Sample offering consisted of a somewhat squished, basic-looking quarter of a Burger (not sure, but I think it might have been the Quinoa… since they sort of “highlighted” that item in the “Live” recording earlier). And oh my god, did you SEE what their Grilled Asparagus looked like in the Live video on the event? I’m sorry, but that just… does not look great… I’m sure it tastes fine and all, but it does not conjure any images of what quality Asparagus can be.

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            Finishing the day with Tiki, who decided to split their Fish Tacos in half for a sample, which tasted great as usual (we were in the 2nd to last group of samples, whew!). Since I knew my mom enjoyed various seafood cakes (and hated Indian food), this was our official stop for Dinner. Though we were still a bit back-n-forth, so we ended up bringing back a Combo Plate and the Kahlua Pork (hey, what she didn’t eat we would).

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            First I have to say how happy I am to see where these guys have come. Compared to my first Combo Plate, which in itself was delicious, this batch of Fish and Tiki Cake was even better, clearly showing their gradual tweaking and improving towards perfection. Look at how perfectly pattied that Cake is; I’m still so disappointed that they haven’t turned it into a Slider, cuz it’s just SO good. And the ratio of (perfectly) Fried Fish to the Cabbage is exactly what it should be, as opposed to the Veggie-dominated Taco I experienced early this year (I shall DEFINITELY make an update in the review). Oh, also, I never noticed it earlier, but my mom pointed it out and it makes interesting sense. Unlike others, the tortillas here see little to no actual cooking; whether it be steamed or grilled. Despite that, not only do they hold up well, the actual texture is interestingly complimenting to the fish and rich Cream-dressing.

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            The Kahlua Pork sandwich was quite the interesting experience; I had completely forgotten about it on their menu. Upon getting it, thoughts of my highly-recent proclamation around Starlight’s Pulled Pork came to mind, and I wondered if a quick upheaval in the Pork power balance was to take place.

            Sadly, it wasn’t.

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            I give credit to the separate quality of the Pineapple-Red Cabbage Slaw and the actual Pork, which are both nice in their own ways. However, as with most pulled pork, the giant mass of meat, even with some natural juices, ends up dry (at least in sensation), and REALLY needs a nice, wet sauce of some sort. Maybe a grilled pineapple bbq or something… I know traditionally Hawaiian Kahlua pork is served dry, but truly a sandwich like this requires the moisture.

            Second requirement for improvement revolves around the actual bread. They DO seem to actually griddle it, I could feel the nice crust around the rim, but the rim is where any crispiness stays. But the real disappointment came in the bread itself, the texture really throwing the thing off a bit; it was sort of that soft, slightly chewy, almost doughy feeling one gets from those cheap baguettes at the store (before baking again in the oven). Luckily, this issue is easily fixed; hopefully, if they choose to do so, they can either grab a slightly-higher quality sandwich bread, or just bake all their Ciabattas a second time for a bit, crisp up the outside a touch while letting the inside follow through to its proper texture. It’d be nice to think just griddling it more would work, but with this bread I’m sure it wouldn’t (unless they were able to Panini it… oooooh, Kahlua Panini!!).

            Well, I guess that’s that. Despite the mysterious loss of 2 trucks, the small event turned out pretty well, and was fun for those who were able to grab a couple samples (such an interesting coincidence how empty the place got right after the 4:30 cut-off…). We’ve got one more week to go, people, let’s make it count!

            Ooooh, one last thing! I love Tiki’s new LONG Blackboard; it’s so fun!

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Anchor Fish and Chips

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http://www.theanchorfishandchips.com/food-truck1.html

https://twitter.com/AnchorFoodTruck

Main Location: Breweries, Events, Etc

              A subset of their successful British-based restaurant, Anchor Fish and Chips launched their Truck of same menu around 2011. Offering traditional British Street Foods, Anchor serves, as you’d guess it, Fish and Chips. Alongside these, one can also purchase a couple Pasties, Battered Sausage, traditional Sides, and a couple sauces.

            Somewhat flexible, all Main items can come with or without Chips, which on their own can come plain or topped with Gravy or Curry (See Potter’s Pasties for a review of Britain and Curries). Eaten with a beer at whatever Brewery they park next to; one can find that almost-traditional British experience right in the city.

            And without having to go to a restaurant.

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Food: 6

            The Fish is HUGE, you definitely get the bang for your buck on that. Batter is crispy, thick, and flavorful, covering the still-juicy meat completely, resulting in a very well done fried fish. Drip some of that Vinegar right over the top, you get that salty-tart heavenly goodness, and that’s without the Tartar Sauce. I haven’t had the Sausage or Pasties, but I imagine they’re both almost as good as the fish. Though, I would somewhat doubt their pasties’ overall flavor to be better than Potter’s.

            These are where the Highlights end.

            For a place where Chips/French Fries embodies half of their name, I find the potatoes sorely disappointing. Unevenly cut in a noticeable way, they are also unevenly cooked, any crispiness from the friar is lost after a few seconds. Bigger, “steak fry” sized cuts are the norm, resulting in that soft, potato-y flavor to them; but not the good kind. Worst of all, they have a habit of absorbing that strong, not-so-pleasant flavor of used oil. Not so bad at first, but as you’re working your way through them it starts to grow and become noticeable.

            Ultimately, mediocre chips at best, nothing to really proclaim about. Makes me wonder and doubt what their other sides are like.

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            I find the curry a bit unsuitable for the menu as well. A Yellow variety, it certainly has a nice flavor to it, though I do think the spices are used a little lighter than they should be. It should really have a much stronger, richer curry to handle the potatoes which they go with. My main issue is consistency; when I saw “Curry Chips” on the menu, I imagined it made more like a thickened sauce, Gravy-like if you would. But really it is more along the lines of a clinging chunky soup. Can’t really “dip” the chips in with that much success, and I don’t think I’d want it poured over either.

            I’ve actually had the good fortune of eating Indian Curry in Britain, and I will tell you that the sauces they use don’t look at all like Anchor’s.

Holdability: 7

            Depends on what one gets, I have actually found it not too difficult to walk around with the Fish and Chips, even with its size. Only real issue I’ve found is residual heat. The main consideration is if one wants to get a side or sauce to go with; or possibly a beer (I would actually suggest it, as the Fish and Chips really need some drink to cut the Rich Fat and Saltiness). Find a place to sit is then imperative, but no real worry; Anchor usually shows at places with tables and other sitting spots.

            A good idea if you want to get curry or gravy; just get the Curry/Gravy Chips, and then order any fish/pastie/sausage on its own to put on top. They don’t charge any differently than if it was on the side.

Price: 5

            They charge you if you want tartar sauce. I’ll say that again. They CHARGE YOU if you want TARTAR SAUCE, with your FISH AND CHIPS. It’s only 50 cents, and at least it isn’t one of those tiny little cups you can’t even use, but that doesn’t matter. There are only a few singular rules that we as of nation have developed when it comes to how we eat fried fish and potatoes. One of those rules is this: TARTAR SAUCE COMES WITH FREE. Whether you have it with or without the sauce, no extra charge is given.

            This isn’t my only problem with the menu prices. If you want a side of Gravy or Curry, which I think is a great thing for people to try on their first trip, it costs an extra $3. For a menu soup or snack item, that’s cheap. For a little SAUCE on the side, on a Food Truck? It is simply ridiculous. I couldn’t fathom how they could charge more than a dollar for it, then I finally ordered one and understood; they give you an entire soup cup’s worth, maybe even more. WAY more sauce is given then is actually needed, and because of this they deem that they can charge more (despite the fact that the actual COST of what was given is only a few cents more than if they had given you half).

            What’s most annoying is they offer no way of skirting prices through different menu options, combos, etc. Every single combination of food costs the same as if you got all the items individually. So no matter what one does, they end up paying in full whether they agree with a price or not.

            Now, as for the entrée items, they all range between $5 and $7, with an extra $2 added if getting with chips. For how much you get, that separately can come in at a pretty decent price. Just don’t get any sauce.

Speed: 8

             Average speed, mainly just have to wait for Chips and Entrees to Fry, sides and sauces being pre-made.

The TOE: 5

           Bringing a Truck like this is a great idea, offering all the main British Street and Comfort Foods outside of just the restaurant. They have some of that feeling of a Food Truck, and reading the menu almost transports you to a British Stand.

            At the end of the day though, this Truck is based off of a Restaurant, and the way they handle their foods and pricing are reflective as such. There are many factors within a Truck that, even if practically nonexistent, doesn’t affect the feeling you get when you visit; that’s just their style, or they might just need time to improve. But pricing is the one thing I will NOT budge on, as you will see, because THEY are the ones who make the conscious choice of what they put on the menu and what they charge for them.

           True Food Trucks do not practice ways to sneak you out of the extra dollar here and there in such obviously unneeded ways. A True Food Truck is about giving you what they can, having extra sauces and pickles on the ledge to dress your taco however you want, and offering that little special something that makes you want to come back. If you spend an extra $3 dollars whenever you go to a Truck, it’s because you’re buying something that you REALLY LIKE and that actually DESERVES to cost that much, if not more.

          This may be just my opinion, but it is strong, and I do not think little of it, especially when it comes to our Food Trucks. Just because you are based off of a Restaurant, does not mean your Truck should be designed in the Exact Same Way.

                       Tally: 31/50

Final Thoughts

            Really good, enjoyable Truck for the sit-down lunches. I would suggest visiting them on the days that they are next to Fulton or one of the other local Breweries, because it just makes the experience.

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            The Fish is a must-have on your first visit. Sadly, I must say to avoid the Chips, they just aren’t that worth getting; there are a lot better fries throughout the City. Though, if for some reason Anchor and Neato are nearby each other, go buy yourself some Duck Fat Fries and make your own special experience.

            Alright, you’re gonna have to buy the Tartar Sauce; I think it’s stupid myself, but at least it’s only 50 cents, and you should really have some with your first Fish. If you’re looking for a Side, Coleslaw or Heinz Beans (Mush Peas are rarely good even in England).

            After that, maybe try the Sausage or Pastie, see how they relate to Potter’s. But personally I have no real urge to go back here again, price or not.