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MSP: Red Stag Supper Club

My wife and I have stopped by the Red Stag a few times since it opened a few weeks back. While we haven't had a full dinner yet, I thought I'd report on what we have had. The Red Stag is owned by the Barbette etc crew and is the first Leeds certified restaurant in town. That means the construction was done under strict reuse, recycle or green guidelines. It's tricky stuff and I am very familiar with it as my wife is a Leeds certified designer. This philosophy makes its way into the dinning room. You'll see photos of endangered species from the Midwest in the entry way and super high-powered hand driers in the restrooms.

While we've only had appetizers they were quite nice both times. We've had the Mac & Cheese with lobster and truffles which surprisingly had actual lobster (not the crawfish I've seen pawned off as lobster in several reputable restaurants) and actual truffles. Not bad for $8. We've also had the triple-cooked fries which are excellent. Not really fries, but huge slabs of potatoes cooked with garlic and parsley. We also have had the grilled oyster mushrooms which are skewered and have a nice char. Unfortunately, the mushrooms were a little cold but I think they got to the table hot and it's just the nature of mushrooms to cool quickly. They are also a little tough, but again, a huge chunk of oyster mushroom is going to be a little tough so no way around that unless you chop them up and that kind of defeats the whole grilling idea.

My wife had her favorite drink both times - a sidecar. A little on the sour side but well executed considering it is really hard to get this made well in the cities.

Anyone else visited yet?

Red Stag Supper Club
509 1st Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

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  1. We've been several times including the soft opening and for drinks and dinner.

    Stand outs include the smelt fries, which have been perfectly fried (not overcooked into fish jerky), the mac & cheese was good, though the Modern does a much better truffled mac, the grits were good if a bit over salted, the duck was terrific as was the marrow salad.

    Our issue up to this point however has been the less than stellar service. It runs hot and cold, one night having terrific service from a knowledgable server in the dining room, to a bartender who does not know the difference between brandy and bourbon and who on two occasions throws the bill on the bar rather than placing it in front of us and who gave us a bill for $0 (while I think I'm a big deal, I know no one else does and know this guy wouldn't have comp'd me).

    So I will reserve a real review until the service improves, otherwise anything I say will be clouded with my displeasure with the service thus far.

    Also, am I nuts or is Shay from MillCity Cafe hostessing @ Red Stag?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Foureyes137

      Hello Foureyes137,

      I wonder who you are? Anyways, you are not nuts. However, more like FOH manager than hostessing. Mandy and I are trying to figure out what our next step for Mill City is going to be. Shay

      1. re: shaymarie

        David, you are nuts...but it has nothing to do with this ;)

    2. We ate there on a saturday 2 weeks ago when we had that big snow storm. Got down there at about 9pm and saw that half the restaurant was empty, but they seemed to be saving these tables for reservations. Another couple that we know got there at 8pm and it was the same deal and they ended up eating at the bar. We managed to get the only 2 top after a little wait. There doesnt seem to be enough 2 tops to me.

      Anyway, onto the food. I have to say I liked everything we had. All of which was quite rich. lobster mac n cheese was good. not great, but good. marrow was good, but seemed like not a lot of bang for the buck ($12). The house mad charcuterie plate was really good. Their potted duck was incredibly rich. Also had the tempura veg, which was the lightest thing we got and it was still deep fried. That is just what we happened to order. It was all good enough that i do want to try a lot more. I liked the wine list. Good pinotage. Nice whites.

      Our server was very excited. She did a great job, but you could tell she was new to the service industry. But A for effort. Loved the space, the hand driers, the menu and drinks. Will be back.

      My only real complaint was that the place was only half full and yet people had to wait for a table. We left there around 10 and only one of the tables saved had been seated. And the location of the bathrooms. You have to walk through the servers station to get to them. Weird.

      1. Six of us had dinner there Saturday night the 13th and we won't be going back. We arrived early, asked for our table, were told it was ready, but they weren't going to seat us for 20 minutes as our server needed a little break. No stools at the bar open, and they wouldn't give us our table. It took 25 minutes for the appetizers to arrive....and our salads arrived 2 minutes after the appetizers. Two couples ordered salads to share; they brought two salads and set them in front of one of the couples, who assumed the kitchen had split the salads and started to eat. After a few minutes when the other salads had not appeared, we asked our server....who told us she brought two salds (no extra plates) and expected the couples to share. My salad, advertised as having beets, had three tiny tiny pieces of beet, and no dressing. One of the beef stroganoff entrees was cold. This was the first and last time for us.

        1 Reply
        1. re: martinimaster

          Yeah we had a lot of the same weird service issues you all had; our particular highlights..oh we'll have the "whtever" no don't get that it's not that good. This happened w/the first 3 things we ordered. Umm, ok what should we have then? umm,
          how bout the mac and cheese? Sure what else? umm, (and on and on..)Then we got one drink order taken (this was a table of 8) and finallwhen we ordered dessert got offered a second round which never came and we ended up going to a different bar to get our drink on..We had each had each had one dronk during a 3.5 hour meal. Weird. And the food was just ok (like the server said) and my friend kept saying it looked like a Panera bread place in there. This made us laugh alot. We told her to turn around and look at the bar..Which she thought made it less Panera-ish.

        2. My husband and I were there probably a month ago. Our service was S-L-O-W slow. Other than that, the meal was quite ejoyable. My husband is also a LEED accredited professional and read up on some of the specifics before we went. It was neat to look around and see some of the areas where they achieved points toward the certification. It's a cool thing that they did.

          I really loved the bone marrow appetizer. It's one of the few places in Minneapolis that I've seen this on the menu and I think it's a very LEED thing to serve. Afterwards, our server packed the bones for us to take home to our dog. I rinsed off the excess gremolata and put them in the freezer. He loves marrow bones and didn't seem to notice that there wasn't much goodness left in the middle. It kind of brought the whole thing full circle.

          I had the duck and my husband had the pork. I didn't love the pork, but my husband did. I thought you could really taste the brine which was different for me. The grits were good, but I don't know when they aren't, and I think the grits at Brasa are way better. The duck, however, was my perfect meal. It is served with butternut squash ravioli, arugula, preserved lemon, raisins, and feta cheese. With so many unique flavors, you could really get a different experience in each bite. The only downside to this dish, was that it was served in kind of a deep bowl and little bit of a pain to eat (huge compaint, I know).

          I think the concept of Red Stag is incredibly relevant (and I know, a little trendy), but if you've found yourself in sort of a personal quandary after reading Omnivore's Dilemma, it's nice to find more and more local restaurants to make you feel better.

          1. We finally made it to the Red Stag. One of our party of 3 ordered the special Restaurant Week menu, the other 2 ordered off the regular menu. All of us liked our food a lot, and we all agreed that the service was good. They have a nice beer list (v. important to me!) and seemed to also have a nice list of wines by the glass (I only glanced at it).

            I had the pork chop, which I thought was outstanding. An amazing amount of meat was on that chop, and it was all very moist and tender and delicious. Understated seasoning. It came with goat cheese grits (yum) and hominy-bacon succotash (also yum) and barbequed shrimp (I don't eat seafood so I passed on that).

            Everyone else liked their food too. Desserts were excellent as well. The decor of the place is perfect for a supper club, not that I've ever been to one before. But it just seemed right. We'll definitely be back!

            1. A group of eight of us had dinner there last month. It felt more like a super 8 hotel restaurant in Brainerd than "supperclub chic". Although the atmosphere isn't so great, I can appreciate their green efforts. The food was delicious (we had the smelt fries, a flatbread special, and I had the duck as an entree with a great pinot noir). Our server was helpful and kind, no complaints. Overall, I'm glad to support such a restaurant, although because of the ambiance, I'm not in a great rush to return.

              1. Had a pretty nice meal there last week.

                We tried only one or two dishes and they were lovely. The salads were nicely composed. The butternut squash ravioli with roast duck & bing cherries was a beautiful combination of flavors, but I have to admit to looking for something more in terms of texture. I enjoyed the poached pear though would have liked the tiniest bit less of the clove spicing.

                There are lots & lots of things I'd like to try on a second visit....

                For a room with carpets on the floor, it was louder than I expected but we could still hold a conversation. Service was just right, and I was delighted to say hello to one of the waitstaff who had moved on from my usual breakfast joint.

                1. My boyfriend and I took a friend visiting from San Francisco last night. We have mixed feelings. We love: the LEED certification, the bathrooms with their hand jets, the interesting menu ideas, the Upper Midwest theme... We're lovers of Bryant Lake Bowl and Barbette, so none of this is a surprise. The dining room is very attractive and comfortable, if slightly loud.

                  What we don't love: the slow service bordering on being entirely ignored at the bar (!!!) and the ho hum execution of some things with incredible potential. We arrived, without a reservation, 9ish, and went to the bar after being put on the list. There was no room at all to sit down and standing felt very in-the-way. Luckily, after 5 minutes of milling, a couple of people got up and we were able to sit. We then waited almost 5 whole minutes before being acknowledged and getting a drink order in. The bartender brought us a menu a few minutes later and we never. saw. him. again. Except down the bar talking to other people. We never ordered food.

                  When we moved to a table, things got better. The bus guy, I must say, was awesome and chatty in a nice rather than annoying way. The point: the food was okay and we had a nice time. I ordered the marrow appetizer. Had never had marrow before, so that was the adventure, but I just don't get it. I don't think it was worth $12 and I definitely couldn't pick up any gremolata tastes, just some greenage in the bowl. It all just tasted very rich, which is good, but also not that memorable. My bf's house salad, which I tasted, was fresh and simple -- really lovely with pickled beets and lightly dressed greens. I had the pork chop (delicious and huge) with bacon succotash (okay) and grits (good, but frankly way too rich and dairy-based) and pea shoots (pretty and fresh, if subtly flavored). My bf and his friend both had the butternut squash ravioli with duck. We all agree that the dish didn't really work, but that there is potential there. If it was risotto instead, that'd be much, much better. I tried some ravioli and it was very good, with cherries and some shallots. The duck was good, too, not too fatty or covered in sweet sauce, which seems all too common. The elements were good, but the composition was a little off. We were too full for dessert, so will have to try next time.

                  My bf doesn't want to go back. I do, to try more appetizers and dessert. I definitely will NOT go on a Friday night and will avoid the bar. This place has too much potential to write off and we DO love Barbette and BLB...

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: slowfoodgrrl

                    We went to Red Stag last Friday and had a fairly similar impression. We really wanted to like it, and all the menu descriptions sounded great, but the food just didn't deliver.

                    I, like your boyfriend, ordered the house salad and was fairly disappointed. In a large bowl of greens there were maybe 3 pieces of pickled beets. We didn't even see them at first as they had sunk to the bottom. My husband commented to the server about the lack of beets but he gave us the impression that we got the standard serving.

                    We also ordered the calamari, which was quite good. It wasn't rubbery at all and the sweet Asian dipping sauce gave it just the right amount of taste interest. I ordered the grits, which I really did love, and my husband got the special, an oyster stew which was basically 3 fried oysters over grains in a light broth. It just wasn't that interesting. It wasn't hearty as one might expect from an oyster stew, yet it wasn't flavorful enough to pull off the lighter presentation.

                    For dessert I ordered the apple pie with cinnamon ice cream. It was more like a single serving apple dumpling (dough wrapped almost all the way around a cup or so of apples). I found the dough really tough, not at all flaky like a pie dough should be. The ice cream and apples were very nice though.

                    1. re: katebauer

                      "Ho hum" is, I think, a very apt description for this place. We were there for weekend brunch. Turnaround time from the kitchen was very slow -- I believe it took between 35-40 minutes from the time we ordered until the time our food arrived. One dish was apparently forgotten and showed up about five minutes later. They were apologetic and took the missing dish off the bill.

                      The room itself is fairly drab. I can see the northwoods/supperclub vibe they are trying for, with the exposed beams and all, but the overall impression is of a place that saw its heyday thirty years ago and has faded since then. That's a pretty impressive "accomplishment" considering that this place has been in business for less than a year!

                      Service starts with an odd spiel. "Do you know about the coasters? One side is for still water, and flip it over if you want sparkling." I immediately flash back to Bubba Gump's "Stop, Bubba, Stop" license plate signs. Are they trying for a chain restaurant vibe? Because this is just weird. And, really, who cares that much about inaudibly signalling which type of water they want?

                      The coffee is very good. The cups have a modernist design which is challenging to hold. That's not the effect you want when lifting 12 ounces of hot beverage over your lap. They offer you a little platter of coffee cake to start with. The amuse-style portions are about two bites each, warm and clearly homemade.

                      The menu seems like it offers a lot of interesting options, with smoked trout, grits, cottage bacon, and lobster egg salad among the choices and ingredients. Execution was lacking, though.

                      For one thing, most dishes were served on oversized, very white platters and bowls. This effectively left a lot of negative space (empty white zones) on the plates. This is not the presentation effect you want for brunch, where people expect an atmosphere of abundance or indulgence. The portions were on the small side, and this only exaggerated the effect.

                      Several dishes came with "greens." I expected a nice, healthy side of greens instead of, say, hash browns. However, the portions were about a quarter-cup each and were gone after two or three bites. Why stint on lettuce of all things?

                      The chicken-fried steak had good breading, soggy hash browns (resting under the eggs and steak, where they could absorb all the extra grease and steam), overcooked poached eggs, and too-tough meat.

                      A special of biscuits, duck sausage, and red-eye gravy was extremely salty. However, this counterbalanced, sort of, the unusually sweet biscuits.

                      Green eggs and ham was served on those same biscuits, in lieu of an English muffin. I don't think the concept of eggs Benedict is improved by adding sugar.

                      Finally, the smoked lake trout was a messy pile of tender, smoked fish, accompanied by two very small, sweet pancakes, the requisite quarter-cup of greens, and a lump of sour cream or creme fraiche topped with a handful of huckleberries. There was nothing at all that pulled this dish together. It looked like someone had raided the fridge for leftovers and put them on a plate.

                      I've dwelled on the negative, but I should say that most things tasted OK, even if there was a tendency to have "too sweet" or "too salty" be the dominant notes where you wouldn't expect them. This was not as bad a meal as I may make it sound, but it was certainly disappointing. "Ho hum," as the previous poster wrote.

                      1. re: Jordan

                        "That's a pretty impressive "accomplishment" considering that this place has been in business for less than a year!" I would agree, though I would remove the quotes. It truly feels lived-in in there...an impressive accomplishment as well considering the lengths gone to to use as little electricity as possible to light the place.

                        "And, really, who cares that much about inaudibly signalling which type of water they want?" I think you know the answer to this. Most restaurants do this in a different manner (all D'amico properties signify your water choice with a water card on your table that you likely don't know is there). The reason this exists in restaurants is so the wait assistant knows what kind of water you are drinking when they quietly refill your glass. If you are drinking sparkling wanter, you likely do not want your half-full glass refilled with flat, creating a nasty half-flat glass of water. So I suppose the answer to your question would be "every member of the front of house staff in a restaurant."

                        1. re: Foureyes137

                          I think a place can look lived-in without being drab. However, that's a matter of taste, I suppose.

                          Perhaps the flippable coaster thing will catch on across the country. For now, it just seems weird and a tad silly.

                          1. re: Foureyes137

                            As someone who generally orders club soda or some other kind of sparkling water, and has to protect my glass every time someone with a water pitcher comes by, I did appreciate the coasters. That said, they were a little theme restaurant-ish.

                    2. We've been to a couple of the fundraiser parties that they've hosted (Fringe, Film Fest). Great space, nice folks. BUT - I don't eat red meat, so that leaves me pretty much out of almost everything on their menu. Oh, well. There's always Whitey's a block away.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Loren3

                        I ate at the red stag today. It had all of the minnesota seasonings. SALT! Both plates were bad. Fish was dry and too salty. The Chicken was rubbery and too salty. The Soup (carrot) was good. the dessert looked good from far but was far from good. The tempura broccoli was really big in portion. The broccoli head was to big to take the batter for it to properly cook. It might as well been onion rings.

                        The food was not very good. The service was just alright. The price was too high for something this average.

                        There are much better places to eat in the TC.

                      2. Summary: 2 thumbs down

                        We'd heard good things about their Friday fish fry and decided to try it out.

                        Called and were told we didn't need reservations. Got there and were told it would be a 30 minute wait. Were seated after 45-50 minutes.

                        Ambience: nice enough room, nothing special. Wish they'd had the disco ball illuminated and spinning. Very open and noisy, but fortunately we were seated at one edge so it was tolerable.

                        Service: Good.

                        Food: We ordered two types of fish. The batter seemed slightly different on each, but that might be my imagination. Both were too oily. The coleslaw has a watery sauce and they glopped too much on my plate, making the bottom filet soggy in additional to greasy. There were also two huge 'potato chips'--intriguingly large (about 4x6 inches!); too bad they were inedibly salty. They don't have hard cider, but a pear version, that one of us ordered and liked. We ordered a side of fries. Granted they were large fries, long and about 1 inch square in cross-section. Came with a nice (homemade?) tomato sauce. Six fries for $6; couldn't taste the garlic that was supposed to be there, not crisp on the outside (one of them was burnt)--like biting into baked potato.

                        Value: At $46, prices are too high, even if the food had been satisfactory.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Enso

                          Oh no! That fish fry sounded so tempting! But, I agree, at $46, it should have been mind-blowing. So sorry you had a bad experience. I guess I'll strike that from my list of places to try for fish fry.