Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘eating out

Out Again

with 2 comments

Feeling quite the bon vivant event-goers of late, last night we found ourselves out on the town again. We took a chance with our chickens and left their coop access door open long after dark in order to head downtown to Minneapolis for dinner and a concert with Cyndie’s brother, Ben.

Highest accolades shout-out to Mercy restaurant for superb food, great service, and fine ambiance.

Oh my gosh, the salmon and fixings were sublime. Shared bites from Cyndie’s and Ben’s plates revealed their choices were just as good.

Conveniently, the restaurant was just steps away from the State Theater where Ben had tickets for a solo acoustic concert by guitarist, Trey Anastasio. I am most familiar with Trey’s electric guitar artistry on his self-titled album, but I’m sure he is better known for his role in the rock band, Phish.

I’ve seen plenty of performances that were advertised as “acoustic” but stretched the definition to a variety of degrees. Trey’s show held reasonably close to the genre.

Our seats in the balcony placed me appropriately between two levels of interested fans. There were two guys behind me who I assume came with dates who were in love with the guitarist. These guys decided to have a full-voiced conversation about the mundane, …about one of their dads, something down in a basement, how the truck was performing… in the middle of some fascinating finger movement across frets.

Two people in front of us were being moved to the highest levels of euphoria upon hearing the opening notes of every song, unable to keep their hands from floating into the air in joyous rapture, occasionally rising to their feet to dance, as if powerless to resist the bliss unleashed by the connection their minds provided to the Phish song Trey was acoustically covering.

I couldn’t join the Phish faithful in singing along, because I didn’t know the lyrics, but I was thrilled to be witnessing the live-performance virtuosity of such an accomplished musician.

It made it easy for me to overcome the urge to turn around to tell the guys about my deck and the power tools I was learning to use in replacing all the rotting cedar boards with new green-treated two-by-sixes.

As our car barreled east on I94 through St. Paul after the show, a call came in from Ben. He just wanted to let us know he was a few blocks from home already and wondered how we were doing. Funny guy. We had about 40-minutes left to get to Beldenville.

Happily, I found the chickens all safe and sound on their roost, cooing at my arrival to close the door.

Another smashing success of a night out on the town. Thanks, Ben!



Fine Dining

with 3 comments

We went out to dinner last night with Mike and Barb who spent the night so they could give us a hand finishing the board replacement project on our deck today. Dinner was at our local favorite destination restaurant, Shady Grove. It’s about two minutes away from our house in a structure that looks like it used to be a house, though serving food as good as the fanciest downtown restaurants in Minneapolis.

The difference is in the extraordinary flavors. That is what sets each bite apart from what we typically experience eating out at most other comparable restaurants. A simple dinner salad comes alive with any one of their custom-made dressings providing a notable accent. I chose honey-mustard and was greatly rewarded.

Maybe the secret is in the sauce because our fun appetizer guilty pleasure of deep-fried Ellsworth cheese curds came with a surprise cup of sweet/hot chipotle sauce for dipping and that definitely took things to another level of goodness.

Even the fresh-baked rolls seemed to be graced with an extra flavor beyond just bread.

Maybe I was just that hungry.

The second I got home from work, I went out on the deck to make sure the last few old boards were pried up and nails removed in order to be as ready as possible to maximize progress today. I built an appetite before Mike and Barb arrived.

For my entrée, I chose the fish fry with a side of wild rice blend with dried cranberries. I like my fish mild, so the filets I enjoyed were more for the texture than flavor, and it was perfect in that regard. The rice blend, however, was irresistibly flavorful and that had me gobbling it up like I hadn’t eaten in weeks.

Regretfully, I was so taken by the nirvana of my eating experience that I forgot to take a picture of the meal. It would have complimented this post nicely. I was so busy living in the moment that I didn’t think to capture a shot in order to revisit it later.

I don’t think it would be smart to eat such good food every night, for fear it would become mundane and my senses dulled to the splendor.

Fine dining is fine because it is not just everyday food. If we ate this well too often, the experience would become ho-hum.

Last night was truly fine.

Here’s hoping today’s deck progress will be comparably fine. Looks like we are going to have weather that qualifies for that descriptor: fine. That is, as in, highest quality.



Written by johnwhays

October 18, 2019 at 6:00 am

Late Season

with 3 comments

A day away from the calendar start of autumn has us checking out the lake place in transition and it is as glorious as ever this weekend, despite some gray and rainy weather.

We went to dinner last night at the recently reopened restaurant located about a block away from our driveway. The new name is Tavern at White Stag Farm. The atmosphere hints at old European with a delicious menu to match. Fred and Marie treated us in celebration of our anniversary. It was grand!

When we aren’t feasting on luscious meals, we have been competing in mixed teams at the cribbage board game, “CrossCrib®” taking turns claiming bragging rights. This morning will likely bring the challenge for weekend supremacy.

The other excitement has been the close proximity of our resident eagles and their fledglings. They have taken to perching on the pine tree right outside our window.

We have seen the young ones fly, but it appears they may still lack some confidence. They spend a lot of energy being highly vocal on their perch, crying out for something. Research reveals a common training behavior is for the parent eagles to withhold food as an enticement to the fledglings to fly.

That scenario is easy to ascribe to what we have been witnessing.

I can report that the eagles are not bashful about screeching loudly before the sun has broken the horizon.

Maybe they are feeling some urgency to get this flying thing mastered before the fall season ushers in the freezing of the lake where they have been enjoying easy pickings of fish all summer.

Despite the unusually warm temperatures this weekend, there is no denying that the summer of 2019 is behind us now.

Here’s hoping it will soon usher in the bright colors and brisk temperatures of fall.



Written by johnwhays

September 22, 2019 at 9:22 am

Celebration Dinner

leave a comment »

It was a small gathering last night, in terms of usual for a birthday event celebrated by Cyndie’s family. Our two kids and Cyndie’s parents met downtown in Minneapolis for a royal feast at the Melting Pot restaurant for Julian’s birthday dinner.

The fact that it was also Cyndie’s and my 38th wedding anniversary helped to bolster the celebration a couple of notches.

The multiple courses of fondue made for a long meal. I didn’t get around to snapping photos until we were working on dessert because I had been so focused on cooking my own food.

Fred had the best line of the night when he said to the waiter, “My compliments to the chef!”

There were so many flavors being mixed and mingled it was dizzying. Most of the time, I didn’t know what I was eating, but it all tasted mighty good. My entree was a combination of meats that included shrimp, pork, chicken, and beef with a variety of spices. Add in six versions of dipping sauces and the two different flavored cooking oils and I had a good excuse for struggling to identify each bite.

It felt wonderfully celebratory!



Celebrations Begin

leave a comment »

I think I’ve mentioned before that birthday dinners are a staple tradition in Cyndie’s family, and we doubled up yesterday, dining out twice. Barry and Carlos were sweet to travel all the way from Boston to help celebrate my big 6-0 milestone, and Cyndie brought them directly from the airport to take me out to lunch.









Salmon salad! One of my favorites that won out over fish and chips.

For dinner, the whole crew, minus nieces and nephews, met downtown in Minneapolis on the rooftop of UNION Bar & Grill. As the sun dropped below an adjacent building, they rolled back the glass roof so we were able to dine under the evening sky.


Thank you to Barry, Cyndie, Steve, and Sara for contributing photos!



Written by johnwhays

June 27, 2019 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

Tagged with , , , ,

Florida Chill

with 2 comments

The morning was cold enough that there were wisps of evaporating moisture rising from the heated pool. I enjoyed a swim to start my day, despite temperatures in the 40s (F).

Yesterday was Fred’s actual birthday, so we updated the chalkboard sign in the kitchen.

Fred was off braving the chill to get in a round of golf, so the rest of us went on an expedition to visit Farmer Mike’s U-Pick flower and produce operation.

On the way home from the farm, we stopped for some nourishment at Dolly’s Produce Patch and Eatery. It was a little early for lunch, thus our choices ranged from Blueberry Scone, to a slice of Key Lime Pie, to my cup of freshly homemade Cream of Broccoli Soup.

The soup was divine.

The bulk of the afternoon was filled with reading and a nap in the sun, and then preparing for the grand finale of the day.

Birthday dinner for Fred would be at Real Seafood restaurant in Naples. It carried on the theme of divine food. I honestly intended to take a picture, but was so immersed in the experience, taking a picture never crossed my mind.

We were extremely well fed in every way.



Written by johnwhays

January 22, 2019 at 7:00 am

Core Four

leave a comment »

Well, I’m glad that’s finally over. We got all that crazy birthday celebrating out of the way for Cyndie yesterday with a dinner out for the core four –us and our two adult children. That takes care of that for another year.

Oh, have you met Cyndie’s family of origin? Last night was far from the end of birthday festivities for her. There still remains almost a week of planned events, including family coming in from out-of-town, more dinners out, music and dinner at the Dakota downtown, a dinner in, and who knows what else they have yet to reveal.

Yesterday, Cyndie treated herself to a spa/massage session in the morning and topped off her day with the core four dinner at the very trendy “Young Joni” restaurant in North Minneapolis. It was too popular to get an open reservation, so we settled on sitting at the bar to eat.

I would say the popularity is deserved. We had an excellent experience.

After we got home, we learned the restaurant was a product of our friend Mike Wilkus’ architectural firm. No wonder it felt so comfortable to us.

While walking Delilah when I got home, I remembered to tend to a tree that caught my attention when touring the property on Sunday with the DNR Forester.

Don’t be this guy: Five years ago we had a wicked spring snowstorm that dropped 18 inches of snow on the 2nd/3rd of May. Many trees were damaged. To save one pine, I tied a rope to secure it to another tree to keep it from tipping all the way over. Then I forgot about. For five years.

In an attempt to save the tree, I girdled it by neglecting to check and adjust the support.


Never mind.

That’s not what I meant to do.

At least the birds appear to be getting something out of the tree, but I guarantee you, they are not getting anything close to the fine cuisine the four of us enjoyed for Cyndie’s birthday dinner last night.



Written by johnwhays

June 5, 2018 at 6:00 am