While I have the luxury of a late start time with my new job, I have been taking advantage of eating out places, specifically lunch. I've always passed by Sarna's, and decided to stop by one afternoon.
Sarna's is a very spacious and inviting space. Walking in, you are met with stone fireplaces and a little chef statue. Cozy and inviting. In the dining area, there are 2 sides, elevated and separated by a long bar down the middle. The space is airy, with light wood and high ceilings. There are plenty of booths (a little disorienting, with their granny flower-patterned fabric), and some dining and pub tables. I was seated immediately (amongst many blue haired folk) and my waitress chatted me up a minute before fetching me my diet coke. She was a little bit of a busy-body, but ultimately very friendly and not fake or annoying.
Sarna's offers your standard american cuisine. Burgers, sandwiches, meatloaf, pasta and the like. In a rare gesture, I decided to try out the Juicy Lucy (A half pound burger stuffed with bacon and cheddar cheese then served on a toasted bun-$9.) Let me just clarify now that no, I do not have a "favorite" juicy lucy. I find them to be quite overrated, when I can make them successfully at home.
I had all sorts of worries about this, mainly for the cheddar. Cheddar is my least favorite hot-sandwich cheese, because it's oily, doesn't melt well, or retain it's sharp flavor when melted. So I waited the standard 5 minutes and munched on some fries. The fries are nothing outstanding. I prefer a meatier fry, but these are nice and crispy. I doused my burger with K & M, and dove in.
How wrong I was. Oh how wrong. The burger was fabulous. Not too juicy/greasy, and a thick generous portion. Very simple and uncomplicated by a laundry list of spices, or a fussy bun. And when I got to the center, I was pleasantly surprised that the cheese was ooey, gooey and tasted like....cheddar! The bacon (which I feared may be soggy/non-existent) was crunchy and chopped in little bits. This is bacon cheeseburger, ultra defined. I found myself gobbling up almost all of it, savoring the cheesey/bacon/beefy/bready sensations.
My waitress even punched my lunch card twice because she swore she had "seen me before." I left with full intent to come back.
Sarna's has a special every night of the week. Mondays are $4 martini's (!!) and bar bingo night, e.t.c. Recently, Mr. C and I have been trying to suss out some serious steak adventures, and Sarna fit the missing piece to the puzzle. They have T-Bone steaks on special every Sunday! So, during the most recent snowmaggedon (and about the 87th one so far this winter), we slipped and slid our way to Sarna's for some steeeeaaak.
We were seated in Sarna's, de-armored ourselves, and perused some menus. To my sheer delight, not only did they have T-Bone on special (14 oz, potato and salad = $17) they ALSO have half price bottles of wine. This is awesome on it's own, but it's more awesome at Sarna's for 3 reasons. A) there are no restrictions on what type of wine you can get, B) all their bottles are like $25, and C) they have a good selection. On this particular Sunday night, they also were offering a New York Strip special (with mashed tatoes and a veggie = $16.) Ordering steak doneness in MN is a gamble. I like a medium steak, and too often are they well done when I get them. So when I ordered, I put emphasis on the medium, and Mr. C made sure to order his medium well. We tasted a sample of the Makulu Cabernet, and decided on it.(http://www.organicwinetradecompany.com/brands/wines/makulu-cabernet.html)
I know to most, a ceasar salad is just an afterthought. But to me, a salad is probably the most important part. You can tell a lot about a restaurant by the salads, and they are too often done so wrong. The ceaser here was perfect. Nicely tossed, crispy, salty and fresh. Word.
After about 10-15 minutes, the steaks came.
I dug in, and almost passed out from the bliss. Slender at an inch thick, and perfectly seasoned (read: not over-seasoned). I panicked a little when starting at the edges, as they were well done, though not at all dry. But I relaxed when I reached the center, as it was a perfectly cooked pink medium. The steak was juicy, savory, salty, melted in my mouth and had the perfect amount of char flavor.
New York StripThe strip is a thicker cut of steak, around 2 inches thick. I found this cut to have a little more depth of savory, while the T-Bone is a more straightforward meat. The mashed potatoes were of the red bliss variety, which is my personal favorite. Even the broccoli was perfectly al dente and simple. Lasltly, I can not say enough about the importance of done-ness, and Sarna's hit it spot on. Mr. C's was indeed a slightly more well done steak, but with a kiss of pink to keep it tender. Perfect.
As if we needed to eat more, the waitress convinced us into dessert. We decided on a scoop of ice cream with a molten chocolate cake, drizzled with whipped cream, chocolate and caramel sauce.
I'm not a big dessert person, but this is the best dessert I have had in a restaurant. Ever. The cake was warm, the chocolate was thick and gooey, and the ice cream was cold but creamy. Mr. C and I ooohed and aahhed and basically licked the plate clean.
This was hands down one of the meals AND dining experiences I have ever had. The staff is super friendly, our waitress was really cool and not annoying or bland. They have a shots menu, and one shot is called the Lindsey Lohan. We were curious, so we asked our waitress about it, who went to a manager standing nearby and asked, who then looked at us and called out "It's a red headed slut on coke!"
I am going back to Sarna's many times.