Here's a quick run-down of White Bear, Vadnais Heights, and Maplewood establishments at which I've had the pleasure (or displeasure) of dining recently.
Wolfgang's Waterfront Bistro--www.wolfgangswb.com
Cute little place in an old house on White Bear--has a lovely little patio for spring and summer dining. Focuses on seasonal ingredients. Casual fare--great soups, nice salads. Closed for the season, but re-opens in March. +++
Cafe Cravings-- www.cravingsmn.com
Cozy cafe housed in an old Dairy Queen, I think, offering homestyle from scratch cooking, quiche, lasagne, pot pie, etc. Nice selection of bakery items. They had a fantastic cookie tray for order around Christmas time. No table service--you order at the counter and they bring it out to you. +++
A more polished restaurant, but still offering basic soups, salads and sandwiches. Good, but seems less attentive to seasonality of ingredients than I'd like. Still, a nice spot for lunch if you want to have a conversation. ++
Jake's City Grille--www.jakescitygrille.com/maplewoodloca... As far as I can tell, this place is independently owned, but with its 3 Twin Cities locations and laminated menu, it still feels like a chain. It's also located in an old Applebee's (or similar) building. Portions are huge and the menu has something for everyone, probably--taco salad, burgers, reubens, etc. A step above a chain. Has a patio that looks like it will be pretty nice come spring. +/-
Rudy's Redeye Grill --http://www.rudysredeye.com/ Basic hotel restaurant fare--steaks, pastas, fish, burgers, that sort of thing. Not great, not awful, just very middle of the road. -
Majors--I was going to write about this place until they went and changed themselves to Mad Jax Sports Cafe. So, now I have nothing to say except that I won't cry too hard and hope this place is really terrific. I have the feeling, though, it's just another blah formulaic sports bar like the few that came before it. --
(None of these places, except for Wolfgang's which I'd love to go to on a lovely day when I want to look at the lake, are places I'd drive across town for. These are just your relative options if you're in the area...).
Places I really wanted to try and couldn't for various schedule-type reasons.
Ursula's Wine Bar--open only for dinner, but the menu looked ambitious and like they were doing careful sourcing.
Cup & Cone--closed for the season, but I heard fantastic things about this little ice cream shack.