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Jan 11, 2008 07:17 AM

MSP - The Strip Club

Has anyone heard if they are having a soft opening? Mpls-St. Paul Magazine says they have hired the chef from Muffaletta. I drove past the other day and their certificate of occupany was posted and the building looks pretty ready to go. I would love to try this place.

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  1. my little carpool drives by the strip club every day, and i admit to pressing my nose to the window and updating dh ad nauseum: sk: "well, they've got the windows up!" "there's a coke truck in back today. . . "who's that guy in whites?" i feel like an incorrigible snoop. just this morning the liquor delivery was going in. i haven't seen the tell-tale first delivery of perishable foods, but that doesn't mean the stuff didn't come in when i *wasn't* driving by! ;) i bet their soft opening is within the next week, barring any licensing snafus. they might even be having a little "insiders" dinner this weekend.

    11 Replies
    1. re: soupkitten

      Heh. You described my husband and I exactly!, always pressing our noses to the windows, catching sight of a menu-in-progress, the Coke delivery truck, guys working in the back, etc. As we live in the neighborhood and we are big, big fans of Town Talk and Muffuletta's both we are pretty excited! Opening on Tuesday, Jan. 15th, is the scoop we have heard around the neighborhood. has a review from a preview opening (last night, maybe?). I've never read that blogger before so I don't know if their reviews are reliable or if what they find 'good' is what I find to be the same. But the food and service sound pretty good, review overall positive if you ignore the typical bashing of St Paul. But maybe I'm a little sensitive since I live in Dayton's Bluff! But really, The Strip Club is pretty convenient if you are coming off of I-94- literally a block away from the exit ramp.

      I know you all don't know me from Adam (errr, Eve) - I generally lurk- but I'm willing to report back here if chowhounds are interested. My husband and I are going to try to go on Tuesday (Jan 15), I work that night but we may be able to squeeze ourselves in before they close. Otherwise it'll be Thursday before we are able to go since we both work on Wednesday nights.

      1. re: turtlebella

        Does anyone know when this will actually open up for public business? If my info is correct, this place is where Pop's used to be - and I had eaten breakfast there many times. I'll be curious to know how they change it up because that space is actually quite small. I don't believe they had seating for more than 20 in the bottom, and perhaps 20 upstairs (in this cute, but very tiny and narrow wrought iron spiral staircase) and I could be pushing it on those #'s.

        I would also be curious to know how they would do a bar set up because when it was Pop's- there was clearly only space for the diner-table sit up for about 4 people -don't know if they are completely re-doing it but I'm getting pumped to check it out.

        1. re: snoboardbabe77

          yes it is the old pop's, i agree it's quite small size-wise. there were people dining and mingling there on friday night (the insider's dinner Turtlebella links to i assume), & it has been closed w blinds drawn since, as far as i have seen. it has a "closed" sign, and no hours posted in the window as yet. on the small-size issue i have heard that they are trying out the location with an eye on taking over the storefront next door; it's currently a martial arts studio.

          Turtlebella if you check out the place on tues i would love to hear about it, dh & i will be checking it out as well at some point--probably next week. it is very close to our house on dayton's bluff too & we'd love to have something *decent* close to us (you know how it is). i know that people go to a steakhouse to eat a steak (duh!), but i really hope the place has some good non-steak items on the menu too. i'll take whatever i can get though.

          1. re: soupkitten

            What? You don't want to eat pupusas every day??? {winking} although my husband would eat them that often if he could! heh. Seriously though, we too would be happy to have a more foodie-ish type place right in the 'hood. I love Dayton's Bluff but sometimes I get sad that we are always going over to other parts of St Paul (or Mpls) for our slightly higher-end (I mean, higher end than a taqueria or pupuseria) meals out.

            As far as I can tell they are on schedule to open on Tuesday. When we made reservations they said they expected to be very busy that night. They had another family & friends night last night (Sunday) and said they hoped any kinks would be worked for Friday. Our reserved table is in the small upstairs space, unless a table downstairs opens up as we get there.

            Keeping our fingers crossed for a good dining experience! I will check back in after Wednesday.

            1. re: turtlebella

              Turtlebella -will definitely be looking forward to hearing how your dining experience goes -I used to live over in Dayton's Bluff and I miss it. Even though there are not a ton of choices-Toast to Bread and Swede Hollow at least have some decent options!

              1. re: snoboardbabe77

                Slightly off-topic here, but I also live on the east side (slightly further east than Dayton's Bluff), and the lack of places to eat a decent dinner is one of my biggest gripes. Sure there are the little taquerias in the Payne/Arcade area, but sometimes a person wants something else, you know?

                The Little Oven is the closest thing in our neighborhood to a "restaurant," but our experiences there have been dreadful. The Cherry Pit has very good "bar food," but again - sometimes you want a nice meal.

                I really hope the Strip Club makes it.

                1. re: snoboardbabe77

                  Yes, we LOVE Swede Hollow and Toast to Bread. I was just at Swede Hollow for breakfast yesterday and once again marvelling how good their food really is. And Toast to Bread is really one of the great bakeries as far as I am concerned! I have a cousin who drives from Wayzata to get her bread...that's the only reason she knew where (Dayton's Bluff) we were moving to!

                  1. re: snoboardbabe77

                    We had a great time last night at The Strip Club.

                    First up - the atmosphere. Those of you who had gone to Pop's know that it's a small place with a spiral staircase up to a small loft space but the downstairs part is not large either. So it's got a nice, warm, cozy (for the lack of a better word) vibe. There are a lot of touches of an Old England pub, starting with the lettering on the large glass windows, the "art" on the walls, more like accessories than art, really, the faux fireplace and floral arrangement on the mantle- all a little bit Victorian without being stuffy Victorian, if anyone knows what I mean. It's pretty dark in there, I would say just a touch too dark. But the view from the windows is quite something. I venture to say there's not another restaurant with the such a wonderful view of Downtown St Paul. We were sitting at the table in the window, first floor and so could see most of the twinkling skyline. I admit, I am biased because I happen to think the best view of downtown is from Dayton's Bluff...but still. The overall vibe is English pub/steakhouse with a twist of sophistication, which extends to the....

                    Okay, okay, I can hear you saying, what about the FOOD, turtlebella?! And I have to say- it was some good stuff! The three of us had three of the little plates, three different entrees, and three desserts. I don't think any among all that were misses or something we wouldn't get again.

                    The little plates, as jaysin612 mentioned, are outstanding! We had a hard time deciding among them, but ended up choosing Winter Tomato (a lightly roasted tomato stuffed with mozzarella and Norther Lights Bleu), Beans on Toast (cannelini beans with olive oil, rosemary on grilled thin slices of french bread), and the French Fries (served with roumelade and bacon tomato ketchup). Our favorite, hands down, was the Beans on Toast. Now, my husband is a big fan of the English Beans on Toast (me, not so much!). But these bear resemblance only in name and, well, in that there's beans and there's toast! The fresh rosemary leaves really contributed a wonderful, up-lifting mouth feeling. This dish tasted like what Tuscany brings to my imagination. Or the last days of summer, filled with nostalgia and drowsiness but with a bit of looking ahead to being warm in front of the fire in the midst of the bitter cold of winter. Yeah, I liked the Beans on Toast a lot, to get that poetic! Now, I love bleu cheese so the warm Winter Tomato was very good- the tomato was not overly roasted, i.e., it was not a gushy mess of a thing, just roasted enough to soften a bit and then the cheeses are the ones to gush out. I am very picky when it comes to french fries and the Strip Club's lived up to my standards. They were thin (satisfying my surface area to volume ratio requirement- that they be more surface area than volume), fried to a crispy but not too crispy so that the inside part is crunchy and the outside just the least bit crispy (nothing worse than a soggy french fry!) and the right amount of salt (which for me, means a good bit of salt that adheres to the fry, having to put extra salt on fries is never quite as good). The dipping sauces were good too. Although I would say that the tomato-bacon tasted more like roasted red pepper with a touch of bacon. Maybe we mis-remembered what was on the menu. I was at first a bit skeptical of the remoulade, because I am very sensitive to any kind of pickle at all (ick ick ick) and it looked like tartar sauce, but it was nicely piquant without hitting you over the head with it.

                    On to entrees- I had the salmon steak. Our server suggested that it be prepared with the escargot (there are a number of options you can choose for preparation style if you wish, the only other one I remember is the pistachio butter). I've never had escargot before and was a little worried (I don't know why, I love all other molluscs!) but decided to go for it. And it turned out lovely- very buttery with nice garlic and smallish chunks of the escargot that I'm sure lended some flavor but mostly I just detected slight chewiness. The butter in the mixture slowly melted over the salmon - rich and lovely! My husband had the NY Strip Steak (medium rare), just straight up, without any of the extra prep. He liked it very much, just getting that wonderful mouthfeel and taste of grass-fed beef. We are very much used to grass-fed beef as the few times we cook beef at home that's all we use. Both the salmon and the strip steak came with carrots- simply done and to a perfect state- not too cruchy, not too soggy, not to distracting from the meat/fish. Our friend had the Chef's Loaded Hamburger. She ordered it medium but it came medium rare and so she sent it back - they were very apologetic and agreed that it was indeed NOT medium. The next burger that came back was perfectly medium- hints of rosy-red pinkness. She really loved this loaded up burger- TWO slabs of thick-cut English-style bacon, three very thinly sliced tomatoes, fontina cheese, and a chopped olive spread. She spent some time just smelling the burger, savoring the wonderful aroma. Each of the toppings worked well with the others, adding richness and complexity without overwhelming the beef. The beef is definitely still the star of the burger.

                    Desserts- We had all three on offer- blueberry cobbler, chocolate filled poached peach, and the flourless chocolate torte with cherries. Here the hands-down winner was the chocolate torte. My husband couldn't get over how wonderful it was. Which was unusual, because while he loves chocolate, fruit-based desserts are almost always his favorite. The combination of the rich chocolate torte and the cherries (which are Spanish but I forget the name, sorry!)- a little bit tart with the tiniest hint of almond in the sauce- was really quite divine. The blueberry cobbler was good- especially the topping, simple oats and brown sugar, maybe some barley in there? - but the blueberries lacked the wonderful flavor of in-season blueberries. Just a bit on the tasteless side, at least as far as blueberries go. It was topped with ginger ice cream from Sonny's (yay! local ice cream! We are big fans of that idea) which of course was yummy. The pear was by far the most elegant and beautifully presented of the three. It had us coming up with names for it as a piece of art! It too was quite good, but then again I can wax rhapsodic about pears any day of the week! Nice creme anglaise sauce with it.

                    Drinks- The Strip Club has lots of wine by the glass (as well, of course as plenty by the bottle). I'm sure that someone more knowledgable than I can comment on the list. But we enjoyed what we had. I had a glass of red wine from Valpolicella, Italy which was pleasant and easy to drink. My husband had a cabernet sauvignon from Dusted Valley ("Stomp") from Walla Walla Washington which was deep and dark, spicy, reminiscent of dark, rich soil. With dessert I had a glass of port (we are big port lovers) - Ramos Pinto 10 year tawny-- yum. They have four ports on the list - all from Portugal - a ruby (Graham's 6 grapes), a late bottled vintage (Dow's, I think), the afore-mentioned Ramos Pinto 10-year tawny, and a 20-year tawny (also Ramos Pinto, although I had to giggle because I ordered it with my best Portuguese and the server had to confirm my order with the menu!). The beer list was perused and deemed acceptable (my husband and I are beer nerds- okay well he's more of a beer nerd than I am but still and so we can be harsh when it comes to beer lists). Two beers on tap - a Belgian and I think the other is Summit? Bit embarrassing that I can't remember but we stuck with wine, anyway. Plenty of choices in bottles and Surly in cans (the latter for a whopping $7.50). They also have champagne/sparkling wine - two are available by the glass! Granted the champagne by the glass is 17 bucks, but still.

                    Which brings me to price. Not to the most expensive, not the cheapest! It's possible to order a lot of small plates - which are around $4-6 and a sandwich (the loaded burger was $11) and be fairly budget-friendly. Once we ventured into the steaks it got pricier, of course. But not anywhere near break the bank, like Manny's, in terms of steakhouses, or La Belle Vie or somewhere similar. I would definitely say this is somewhere you could come for a "nice" dinner out.

                    We will certainly be returning, and not only because it's incredibly convenient for us. For one thing, there are so many other dishes to try. But I wouldn't mind getting exactly what we got all over again. And I'm looking forward to them serving brunch. I love me the brunch. All those of you who are hesitant to cross the river: it's all in your mind!!! (just kidding) Seriously, come on over to the East Side! You won't be disappointed.

                    1. re: turtlebella

                      Wow, thanks for this review, Turtlebella!!! Great detail.

                      1. re: turtlebella

                        Turtlebella thanks so much for taking the time to post this. can't wait to check it out now!

                        for people who aren't sure where this restaurant is in relationship to dt st paul, you basically exit 94 on the (left) mounds blvd exit and proceed past metro state university (on your left) straight up the hill (dayton's bluff, to locals), and look for a red brick bldg on your right. park wherever you can find a space.

                        1. re: soupkitten

                          I'm adding a places link for those who are inclined.

                          The Strip Club
                          378 Maria Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55106

          2. They had an industry night last night and a friend and I went. That place has quite the spectacular view of DT St Paul. Wow. Very nice little space. Looks like they might seat 50 or so at best. The menu looks great. And the drink list looks like aaron had fun putting together.

            We sampled quite a few things. None of which were steak, which actually seemed the most boring option. But i have to say for a kitchen only being open maybe 2 nights, they were on their game. The menu has a lot of small plates. You could easily make a great meal out of those. Most of them in the $6 range. We had the salumi plate, deviled eggs with curry and chili oil, mussels, and the duck confit (which was pretty big for $6). All were really good and on point. the only suggestion i would have for them is to include a nice big piece of crusty bread with the mussels to sop up the broth. it was really good.

            For the entrees we had the pork shank for 2 and the duck. damn, that pork was fall off the bone amazing. JD nailed that one. It came brussel sprouts that were unbelievably sweet. spent a good time trying to figure out how he was able to get them so sweet and perfect. the potatoes and sauce were also amazing. The duck was spot on. With a wild rice polenta and these mushrooms that must have cooked in red wine and demi for days. rich does not do them justice. We joked with the owners about having been to Nick and Eddies and how unseasoned the food was and had them remove the salt and pepper from our table. The food was really spot on. For dessert we had the poached pear stuffed with chocolate in a pool of homemade creme anglaise (sp). The only complaint was that i kept thinking that it was going to be warm and with each bite i couldnt believe it was cold. The taste was amazing, but would have been better warm in my opinion.

            Being a soft opening for industry type it was definately a louder atmosphere than it normally would be. I kind of doubt that most people in the room had been to that side of St. Paul ever. I even lived in St Paul for 5 years and had never been up there. It is a beautiful spot, but i do question people from this side of the river making the drive. Or maybe it's just me. We haven't been to Town Talk since the bridge went down just cause it's a pain.

            Anyway, this place is going to be a hit, I just hope that the location doesnt hurt it. If they can get people to find it they will do ok. If you get one of the balcony tables looking at downtown you are getting one of the best views in town. We will cross the river for this place.

            3 Replies
            1. re: jaysin612

              Thanks the low down --- I'm really looking forward to when this opens up permanently. Any discussion on when that might be so I know when to head over there? They had mussels? CH boyfriend will be extremely pleased.

              1. re: snoboardbabe77

                I think they are open permanently now. At least, for dinner. Lunch and weekend brunch to start sometime in February, according to our server last night (Tuesday, 1/15/08).

              2. re: jaysin612

                We were just there last night and it was marvelous. Service was great, but clearly they were working out some kinks, getting used to being there with each other but the staff is clearly happy to be there, enjoying what they do. If you like Town Talk you will LOVE the Strip Club. They do a perfect old fashioned; the beans and toast were phenomenal; the caesar salad comes with anchovies that will make you cry. We can't wait to go back.

              3. finally made it to the strip club and had a wonderful evening.

                don't do what we did: arrive at the stroke of 7 on a weekend evening w/o a reservation!!! the strip club is teeny tiny and we joined many forlorn couples hugging the walls beneath the balcony before scoring seats at the wee bar (height requirement for working behind the bar: must be under 6', no pogo-ing allowed ). we proceeded to hang out there, cocktailing and small-plating, until a table was available.

                the atmosphere of the small restaurant is very old-school steakhouse chic with black painted woodwork and carved wood and red-velvet panels on the painted brick walls. they are now holding tables on the balcony (with nice view of dt st paul) for reservation only and the main floor for walk-ins. the stated occupancy is 100, a dozen of whom are staff members, so we got great, attentive service. the entire staff appears to be hand picked service pros. they were fantastic all the way and made it very easy to spend too much money-- like *other* strip clubs, it's easy to walk into this establishment with your whole paycheck and wake up the next morning broke, though we enjoyed every minute.

                small plates were very cute, but of uneven quality. escargots were meh. fries were *exactly* like mcdonald's fries (very, very good), served with 2 sauces. since i thought their bacon ketchup was a fabulous condiment, and since i don't get to eat at mcd's at all anymore i was contented to pay $6 for them, others may not agree. the only big misstep was the duck confit small plate. dh described this as tasting "like a leftover JJ's chicken wing after you've heated it up in the oven the next day." ouch. so: tough, greasy exterior, dried out interior and inedible saltiness on the duck confit. we were bummed. all of these small plates were eaten at the bar under the friendly attention of 2 cheerful, hardworking bartenders. many people were eating full dinners, steaks and all, at the bar, but imo it's on the cramped side for really enjoying one's meal. for one thing everyone at the dimly lit bar is treated to a view into the teeny, fluorescent lit kitchen, a view which consisted mainly of the bent back of the poor dishwasher as he scrubbed saute pan after saute pan in quick succession. bummer. someone buy 'em a door!

                our waiting paid off and got a great table and a great server. ordered the grass-fed steaks because we wanted to try the signature dish of the establishment. at $28, not cheap to start, and diners are encouraged to order a sauce on their steaks that puts the plate up to $33-$43 (for fois gras). the grass-fed steaks were perfectly seasoned, perfectly seared, perfectly cooked. great grass-fed flavor and with the butter tenderness normally associated with corn-fed. they were presented, oddly, pre-cut for presentation (slightly fanned slices). dh, a steak purist, vowed to order his steak "not cut" next time but wasn't complaining after 3 bites.

                you can't get the "traditional" steakhouse sides of potatoes, mushrooms, grilled onions at the strip club, the steak arrives alone or with your selected sauce and a seasonal vegetable, which for us was buttered carrots. these carrots i will remember for the rest of my life, when i am poor and old and alone in my cardboard box. these carrots are impossibly, indescribably delicious. just lovely. if the steak wasn't so good i'd give the waiter $30 for the plate and ask him just to bring a hot bowl of the carrots. . .

                since we knew our bill was already ludicrous, we ordered coffees and dessert. espresso was top notch. dessert (shared) was a wee button of mascarpone cheesecake with blood oranges candied in syrup. delicious.

                so: not cheap but delish. great staff. a great special-occasion. worth a drive from anywhere. will be back as soon as i save enough pennies for those buttered carrots.

                1 Reply
                1. re: soupkitten

                  My husband and I ate at The Strip Club on Saturday night and had a wonderful experience.

                  The restaurant was consistently full and there was a fun, comfortable energy -- we even ran into friends we hadn't seen in years!

                  Service-wise, it was attentive until about 6:45pm when the crowd really seemed to pick up (however, it was almost too speedy early on relative to pacing between appetizer and entree courses).

                  On the food front, we didn't leave disappointed.

                  To start, my husband had the fried oysters and walleye fritters, while I had the spring market salad. The quality of the seafood was outstanding, which was no surprise when we learned they get it fresh from Coastal Seafoods. The two oysters were HUGE and the walleye chunks were tender (with a tasty tarragon aioli). My salad was fresh with the pistachios and green beans adding nice texture and a it was a good way to start given that I wanted to order something heavier -- NY strip -- for my entree.

                  We both ordered the beef for our main courses. I got the NY strip (no extras) and it came with a grilled lemon and poached carrots. While the beef was flavorful, I ordered it medium and it felt more like medium-well. I think I'll order medium-rare next time and see what happens.

                  We skipped out on dessert given how the service really slowed down (and instead went to Grand ole the Black Hills Gold!). However, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and will definitely come back again.