Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘restaurant


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a milestone birthday
fine dining
The St. Paul Grill
impeccable evening
shared Caesar Salad
signature dressing, baked croutons
Salmon, perfectly done
topped with seven spice butter on a bed of sautéed spinach
what a sauce, a jamboree of flavors
shared sides
Hash Browns
with bacon and white onions
Asparagus Spears
perfectly, perfectly cooked
Creamed Spinach
two bites of her Bourbon Pork Chop
one of his fries
a bite of her Filet
medium, with mushrooms
three shared desserts
bittersweet chocolate, whipped cream, caramel drizzle, ice cream, more chocolate
immensely satisfying
did I mention




Written by johnwhays

August 24, 2022 at 6:00 am

Cosmic Evening

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Our experience last night was indeed cosmic in the colossal sense. Joined by our friends, Mike and Barb, we dined at the ever so fine Capital Grille before catching Neil deGrasse Tyson presenting his “Cosmic Perspective” at the State Theater.

Typically, I was rather lukewarm to the idea when Cyndie purchased tickets last fall. April seemed so forever away and why would I want to drive to downtown Minneapolis to sit and listen to an astrophysicist talk? Now I know why. Neil deGrasse Tyson is hilariously entertaining while expounding on mind-expanding perspectives from an astrophysicist perspective.

The icing on our cake of an evening was the fact that Cyndie included Barb and Mike in our plan and selected a fine dining establishment that shares a wall with the theater. We feasted like royalty and were lucky to be served by a sublime professional who guided our selections and timed our meal with impressive expertise, right down to slipping in a delectable coconut cream pie serving for dessert with just enough time to allow me to run a doggy bag of leftovers to the car in the parking ramp down the block.

Then, it was time for the show. From the moment Neil kicked off his shoes by the podium and addressed the crowd with his good-natured, approachable delivery, I felt myself becoming an instant fan, along with seemingly everyone else in the audience, if they weren’t already.

Almost every detail or relationship of the universe he highlighted was affirming in its scientific simplicity, even when it was equally mind-boggling in complexity. The molecules in the air we breathe and the water we drink have been on this planet for centuries upon centuries and passed through others for eons.

We are built out of the same elements as the stars of the universe. It isn’t our uniqueness that makes us special, it’s our ‘sameness’.

The hubris of thinking we are anything more than we actually are is laid bare by the multitude of examples presented from a cosmic perspective. For me, it resonates with my understanding that the more we come to know, the more we realize how little we actually know.

Neil’s sharp wit provided non-stop chuckles and frequent bursts of laughter throughout the delivery of interesting scientific details about our world and its place in the universe.

When the talk appeared to be going long, he put up a universal permission slip for us all to use, especially kids for whom it was a school night. He said to take out our phones and take a picture, so Cyndie did.

We just fill in our names and we have a ready made excuse for staying out too late.

I’m not sure it will hold much influence for our horses and Delilah if we don’t serve their morning meals at the expected hour, but it helps in our minds to feel justified in our exceptional evening.

It was truly cosmic.



Least Favorite

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We are on the back side of one of my least favorite winter snow weather events this morning. Basically, I dislike it for the resulting conditions that make clearing the accumulation so annoying. It doesn’t make for pleasant conditions for animals that have to endure the tribulations of dealing with the wide range of precipitation, either.

It starts like this:









The temperature climbs well above freezing and a light mist of wetness falls to get everything good and wet. The warm temperature also starts to melt the snow already on the ground.

Next, big snow moves in and falls in gorgeous flakes that make the world look like every favorite winter snowscape scene you’ve ever witnessed.

That puts you in a gleeful state of mind that becomes a set up for the other shoe that is going to drop when it comes time to shovel or plow when the precipitation is over.

The wet snow sticks to every surface and paints trees with a beautiful white accent that makes the forest look like something from a fairy tale.

This is the time when the tide turns and the temperature begins to plummet while the wind kicks up to uncomfortable speeds. The flakes that aren’t already stuck solid to surfaces are whipped up into little missiles that embed themselves into every nook and cranny available to create a stucco concrete finish that would be the envy of many a cement craftsman.

Clearing the front steps is difficult without the aid of chemical assistance and sharpened heavy metal tools.

Alas, there is an excellent antidote for crummy weather conditions that experienced winter-hardened folk who live near destination restaurants can employ to compensate for any angst-inducing hassles of unfavorable snow conditions.

Last night, Cyndie and I had an early Valentine’s Day dinner at the Shady Grove restaurant just two miles from home and dined like royalty, finishing with our highly favored dessert treat that they expertly prepare.

With only seconds to spare before there was nothing left to show for it but a sticky doily, Cyndie snapped a photo of the remains of their salted chocolate caramel tart for posterity. My sugar ratio was definitely knocked way out of balance by the end of the day yesterday.

And that, my faithful readers, is how you go from a least-favorite to a most-favorite in just a few hundred words.



Written by johnwhays

February 12, 2022 at 11:05 am

Last Week

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First off, I gotta say the Holman’s Table restaurant at St. Paul’s downtown airport is a winner in every category. Once you get past the understandable questions of whether you are in the right place as you navigate the final turns to reach the front door, everything else is sublime, from the decor to the menu. We had a great time at brunch yesterday morning.


Last week, the news story about four elite gymnasts testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee struck a nerve. We’ve been aware of the story of their abuse by now-convicted abuser Larry Nassar for years. It’s almost too harsh to contemplate, so when the news dies down, we gladly disregard the horror.

The new investigation into the handling of the accusations by the FBI and USA Gymnastics has brought the awfulness back to the forefront. It was almost a year after learning of the accusations before the FBI opened an investigation. It is estimated an additional 70 gymnasts were abused by him during that time.

While listening to a report describing the four gymnasts needing to recount their abuse one more time last week, this thought occurred to me: Their experience was like being tortured repeatedly after they summoned the courage to report the initial abuse.

Logic tells us they are not the only abuse victims who have dealt with this.

Imagine if you suffered a terrible injury in a remote wilderness, waiting days or weeks to be found by someone, wondering if you would survive long enough for help to arrive. It’s the stuff of countless book or film dramas. Eventually, you are discovered and relief is beyond measure. It becomes the pinnacle of these dramas. You are rescued!

Now, imagine if the people who found you don’t do anything after finding you.

Picture yourself laying there for almost another year before they start planning how they will rescue you.

That is the story of the victims of Larry Nassar and every other person whose story of abuse has fallen on deaf ears.



Written by johnwhays

September 20, 2021 at 6:00 am

Tour Nightmare

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During my final hour of slumber this morning, I was deeply occupied with a new version of a recurring nightmare about the bike tour. The usual scenario involves a classic concern of seeing everyone around me departing well before I am prepared. A common second version I experience has me searching for my shoes or a wheel or some item that I should have but inexplicably discover to be missing.

This morning, it was rather specifically related to my early departure from the ride. I found myself needing to ride my bike back to the original start by myself while the rest of the group was already showered and departing for their homes. I said goodbye to them and set off on my own, trying to figure out how to backtrack the route I had previously ridden at the start.

Multiple disruptions ensued and my slow progress was leading to the hours passing and daylight waning. I was so ensconced in the dream that I continued to work on the details as I awoke and wondered if I was trying to reach our home in Beldenville or the start of this year’s tour in Hastings.

Alas, I am in Hayward and slept late into the morning after a glorious day prior filled with special attention for the occasion of my birthday. The evening was topped with a fabulous outing to the Tally Ho restaurant where the service was superb, the food delicious, and the laughs plentiful.

That was no nightmare.

Now I’m watching television coverage of the second stage of the 2021 Tour de France and contemplating a return to Wintervale today. There are a few animals that I need to get reacquainted with and some chores awaiting that will mark the completion of my days of vacation.

In a lot of ways, I am looking forward to it, but that isn’t a reflection of how I feel about the past week. It’s been grand.



Written by johnwhays

June 27, 2021 at 9:54 am

Late Season

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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

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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!



Overload Warning

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Cyndie and I finally got around to accomplishing a dinner date we had talked about way back at the beginning of the month, around the time of her birthday. Now my birthday has come and gone, and last night we made it down to our nearby fine dining destination restaurant, Shady Grove, to celebrate.

Despite my usual habit of choosing fish, I found myself entranced by a choice of the bison ribeye, instead. I wasn’t disappointed.

It being a special occasion, we allowed for a little indulgence after the meal.

Warning! Warning! Sugar overload ahead!

Chocolate, caramel, sea salt —chilled. I had two bites more than I deserved, and we brought a third of it home. I think I can hear it calling out to be eaten for breakfast this morning.

Who am I to argue?

Yesterday, I enjoyed a perfect execution of a plan to finish mowing the lawn in the narrow window of time between work and our dinner reservation. That makes up for the last time I had high hopes of squeaking in the mowing, when the spring broke just before I left for a week of vacation.

Despite the consecutive days of rain that fell at home while I was away, Cyndie enlisted the help of Mary and Tim, my sister and brother-in-law, to finally knock down the crop of lawn grass in the days before I got home. Picking up where they left off, starting late Wednesday after work and finishing last night, I completed the whole property again, with the exception of the arena space.

Today, we head for the lake for the weekend, leaving Jackie to care for animals at home. With the Independence Day holiday landing in the middle of the following week, the annual Wildwood 4th-of-July games have been moved ahead to this weekend.

It’ll be Bats vs. Mice in a no-holds-barred battle of strength, cunning, stamina, and good humor in the field beside the lodge.

To heck with the sugar overload, I’m gonna have dessert for breakfast this morning. I’ll use the rush to get mentally prepared for the weekend events looming on our horizon.

Warning! Warning! Hyperactive blissed-out old man ahead.

Bring on the shoe kick!



Written by johnwhays

June 29, 2018 at 6:00 am