There's something sad about a pale French fry. That little slice of potato was brought close to reaching its potential of crispy goodness, and then denied. Lost to incorrect oil temperature, overcrowding, or some other laziness in preparation, and often over-salted in a sad attempt to compensate for its limpness, a light-colored, sub-par fry is always a disappointment. For fries that will never let you down, look to Northeast's welcoming Red Stag Supper Club. The triple cooking of these starchy pleasures ensures a crisp, golden brown crust on each fry. The light parsley and garlic flavorings enhance but don't overpower the potato, which on the inside has an almost creamy consistency. It's been said that these over-sized fries resemble French toast sticks, and that's not off the mark—the potatoes' caramelized outer layers even have a little sweetness in them. But fast-food breakfast sticks never tasted this good. During a long winter that rendered some of us paler than the saddest-looking fry, these hot, nicely browned beauties provided much-needed comfort.
Emil Schatzlein started working with saddles at age 14 as an apprentice in his native Germany. Not long after, he immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Minneapolis in 1907, where Schatzlein Saddle Shop opened on Lake Street. The store hasn't strayed from that street nor from the family; six Schatzleins still keep shop today, and their patriarch's dedication to quality continues. An enormous collection of boots lines the west wall, from fancy ostrich leather to genuine shit-kickers. The east wall holds an equally diverse selection of cowboy hats. Betwixt the twain lie Western-style shirts, jackets, and jeans galore, including that hipster standby, the embroidered-shoulder shirt. For the decoratively minded, Schatzlein's glass cabinets contain belt buckles, bolo ties, and collar tips to fit any budget. Whether you spend your days breaking broncos or just want to look like you do, Schatzlein is the place to shop.
This quiet Lowertown noodle shop shows that Japanese cuisine is far more than fun-and-flashy sushi joints. Chef-owner Koshiki Yonemura cooks a home-style menu that's as simple and sweet as her dining room, a high-ceilinged loft with a beautiful, spare rusticity. Appetizers can be as basic as blanched spinach with fresh-ground sesame seeds or as exotic as agedashi tofu, where the silken cubes are deep-fried and then served in a pool of hot broth—the rising heat causes the bonito flakes to flutter like butterfly wings. It's as mesmerizing as it is delicious. Soba or udon noodle soups can be ordered in dozens of incarnations—our favorite is the one with mushroom caps, sweet omelet, and wakame seaweed floating on top. Or you can go the teishoku route—these "set meals" are the Japanese answer to the TV dinner. A portion of, say, panko-breaded pork cutlet or broiled mackarel is served on a tray with miso soup, rice, salad, and those addictive little Japanese pickles. Best of all, the entrées hover right around $10, so it's easy to keep coming again and again—which we often do, always hoping to drop in when sesame flan is being served for dessert.
There's a good reason that the Good Day Café is always jam-packed—in fact, from the waffles and caramel rolls to the fried-egg sandwiches stacked with ham and avocado, there are a lot of reasons. Besides, did you think Golden Valley's country-club crowd was going to make breakfast for itself? The bright, sunny eatery is owned by David Webb, who knows his way around the restaurant biz (he and his brother Rick collectively own Zelo, Ciao Bella, and Bacio). At the Good Day, he's taken breakfast standards and amped up the flavor: eggs Benedict indulgently topped with crab cakes, lush espresso drinks with coconut milk and chocolate, dollar-size pancakes that taste exactly like glazed doughnuts. In case your brunch is getting close to lunch hour, the Good Day also serves rotisserie chicken, Reuben sandwiches, and several salads—but it's better to get there early, because that's when they serve the city's sweetest beignets.