You might know that Grand Rounds Brewpub released a new beer this week: Called Wakatu IPA, it’s similar to head brewer Steve Finnie’s Nelson IPA except it’s brewed with New Zealand Wakatu hops for a more subtle citrus finish.
However, you might not know that Chef Alex Sjoberg gave about half the menu an upgrade a few weeks back, too. I’ve tried a couple and can’t wait to sample the rest.
For appetizers, you’ll see a little nod to Grand Rounds’ former life (Sontes) with a meat and cheese board, chosen by the chef and served with accompaniments. I’m really looking forward to trying the scotch eggs (reportedly Finnie’s favorite), as well as the house-made potato chips, calamari or the whole roasted cauliflower. Yep, a whole dang head of cauliflower, roasted to perfection and served with a knife stuck in the middle for portioning and serving. Am I weird to think this is the perfect appetizer? I love it!
A few new sandwiches have appeared on the menu as well, including the open-face salmon BLT and the “Rise of the Phoenix,” which turns up the heat with tobacco-marinated chicken, sauteed habaneros and jalapenos with ghost pepper cheese. Wow.
I enjoyed the new Caveman Rib, which is an impressive cut of slow-roasted, fall-off-the-bone beef rib served with two sides (I did tater tots and roasted veggies. You know, for contrast). For a taste of true comfort food, my next pick is the chicken pot pie, which folds roasted chicken, vegetables and potatoes into a buttery pie crust.
More for your list
I know SocialICE is what’s on your mind this weekend (as it should be). I can’t wait to check out Grand Rounds’ Game of Thrones ice throne and all the amazing ice sculptures. What’ll I be drinking? Probably the Loop’s bourbon hot chocolate (because candied bacon) and the Tap House’s Peppermint Patty shot.
But after all that winter fun is over, it’s time to make those short-term plans I was talking about a couple weeks ago. You know, those little things to look forward to so we don’t lose our collective minds at the length of Minnesota winters? Those.
In one week exactly, be sure to stop by Crooked Pint for one of their “tap takeovers” — this one will be hosted by Goose Island Brewery. Tap takeover nights are a great way to sample the full range of what a particular brewery has to offer.
Then on March 6, you can fill your belly for a good cause at the Salvation Army’s Taste of the Town event. Participating restaurants include Canadian Honker, Rochester Event Center, Top Tier Delights, El Carambas, Hy-Vee Market Grille, Somerby Golf Club, The Loop, Victoria’s Ristorante and Wine Bar, and many more. In fact, a total of 30 local restaurants participate, and the event also features live and silent auctions, as well as local celebrities.
All proceeds benefit the Salvation Army’s Good Samaritan Health Clinic, which provides check-ups and medical exams to uninsured or underinsured people. Single tickets are $50, or you can check out reserving a table. For more information, call the Salvation Army at 507-288-3663.
Kim Van Brunt is a freelance writer.