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Aug 18, 2008 11:03 AM

Best Irish/English Pub Food in Minneapolis?

Heading out to Minneapolis for business. Want to eat Mexican (someone from CHOW already recommended the Mercado Central) and hang out at cool pubs. Looking for REAL Irish/English Pub fare; fish and chips, warm beer, and cornish pasties. Anyone got any thoughts? I'm especially on the hunt for the famed 'Scotch Eggs', which is a hardboiled egg, wrapped in sausage, then breaded and deep fried. None here in New England where I"m from; any in Minneapolis?

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  1. You won't find warm beer in Minneapolis and probably not in England for that matter. I stopped and had a brew in over 20 pubs throughout England including some of the oldest in the country. Not a one served a warm brew. That old idea should be put to rest. Even Guinness recommends cold.

    Brits on Nicollet Mall is THE English pub in Minneapolis. That's where you will get the closest to traditional pub food. Also on Nicollet Mall is The Local, an Irish pub. There you will get the freshest Guinness in town and they claim to sell more Jameson's than any pub in the United States. Both serve Boddington's Pub Ale, the brew I learned to enjoy in Dolgellau, Wales.

    There are lots of Irish pubs in the Twin Cities and quite a few were built by Irishmen and shipped to the states. They are competitive in that way. I'm fond of Jake O'Connor's Public House in Excelsior. They serve a more upscale menu. Their basement bar is about as close to a real old British Isles pub feel as you can get. My favorite for an authentic feel, comfort and decor is McGarry's Pub in Maple Plain just off Highway 12 and County Rd. 19. Not too many know about that place since it is a good 20 miles west of downtown Minneapolis in a small town.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Davydd

      I hear you about the warm beer angle. However, a local Irish ex-pat here in the Northeast who runs a small B and B told me that with Guiness in particular, the proper pour requires the beer to sit out for a bit as the head settles, thus raising the temperature a bit compared to other brews. Might be true, but I trust your 'on the ground research' in England.

      1. re: Cebollita

        I don't think that has anything to do with a warm brew. A fresh Guinness and a properly poured Guinness has to be poured in two steps because of the head. It will hardly get warm in about 5 minutes. BTW, the ex-pat was right. That pour is what Guinness recommends. If your pub is not doing it that way then the Guinness is not fresh and is to be avoided, or the staff is either not up to speed, wasting a lot of brew by over pouring or giving you a Guinness with too much head. You will not go wrong at the Local for Guinness. They know.

        1. re: Cebollita

          The best Guinness I've ever had was in London last year...Guinness Extra Cold. We keep hoping they bring it over here, but to no avail.

          I have unfortunately seen Magners cider over here though...though I've not seen anyone drink it over ice as they do in the UK...yuck.

        2. re: Davydd

          I was thinking along the lines of Davydd and similarly, none of the places locally have the same feel of the ones I've been to around England (shamefully, I've not been to Ireland yet). Unless you don't mind fussy drives, the places west of town might not be worth the trek over the downtown places.

          Brit's has Scotch eggs, although they've been a bit dry and mealy in my experience. I enjoy Scotch eggs but know they are hard to get right. Brit's also has Cornish pasties on the menu.

          The food at the Local tends to be a bit better, but I don't like the atmosphere as much for solo outings. The little nooks are good for small groups; the bar is usually very crowded.

          I'd probably send you to Brit's, but with tempered expectations. are web sites for your perusal.

          1. re: MSPD

            No I would not expect an out of towner to drive west of Minneapolis when Minneapolis is comparatively blessed with a lot of decent pubs. However, an in towner would be cheating him/herself in not trying them.

            1. re: MSPD

              By sheer coincidence, I ended up at Brit's last night and one of the people I was with ordered Scotch eggs for the table. They were much better than previous experiences. Fish and chips were good, not great.

            2. re: Davydd

              D-- just trivia here, but the local has the (perhaps dubious) distinction of not only selling the most jameson whiskey in the u.s, but the whole world as well. a few years running, i believe. crazy! :)

            3. A couple of knowledgeable 'hounds might chime in on this topic themselves, but I heard them rave about the pasties at Merlin's Rest in Minneapolis.

              Can't speak for whether the place has a bar that was dis-assembled on one side of the Atlantic and re-assembled on the other, but it'll have the food and the music and some local characters.

              Merlin's Rest Pub
              3601 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN

              7 Replies
              1. re: KTFoley

                I learn something every day. I didn't know about Merlins Rest Pub but it sure seems interesting and promising. Their web site is unusual in that it is a blog. That's kind of cool.

                1. re: KTFoley

                  one cool thing about merlin's rest (besides the decor & ambience-- it is *much* cuter than the old popeye's bar) is its extensive scotch list-- best in msp, i understand. the bloody marys are good, and cheap in the mornings, but unfortunately the breakfast was ime total dreck. the live music is very nice. i have heard very nice things about the pub food, including the vegetarian pub food and pasties, which are not available a.m, however. another lake street transformation the op may want to check out is mcmahon's pub (formerly the poodle club). pretty good fish&chips, when i visited!

                  imo the food at both brits and the local are not so great, definitely taking a backseat to the beer and spirits selection (and the singles scene at both places). another downtown option would be kieran's-- slightly better food, definitely more "real pub" atmosphere, perhaps?

                  1. re: soupkitten

                    Sadly, I don't think that there is anyplace in the Twin Cities with outstandingly good or authentic British/Irish pub food. Of course, back in Blighty, many (but not all) pubs have terrible food, too!

                    Just one really great UK style Chippy here would be nirvana. If it happened to also be a pub, all the better.

                    I like Merlin's Rest for being an English/Welsh/Scottish/Irish friendly neighborhood pub. The best thing they have is Fuller's ESB on tap. It's Mother's Milk! That first gulp from your pint always has a wonderful, almost herbal complexity to it. The best food item was the Cornish Pasty--I was favorably impressed by one I tried a couple months ago. Really nice flaky crust, and OK filling. Some rather tasteless gravy came along with it. They sell fish & chips either "american style" or "british style." I tried british style and they were wrapped in wax-paper like fake newspaper and they were soggy. I tried breakfast there one Sunday--the food was Downright Scary.

                    Brit's also has Fuller's ESB on tap. It is an all around more impressive place, especially the bowling green up on their terrace. If you are based downtown it will be much easier to get to than Merlin's Rest. Also they have Scotch Eggs. So, I think Brit's answer's the Cebollita's stated desires better.

                    The Local is also downtown and has a very impressive interior. Love that traditional pub woodwork! I had Sunday brunch there and enjoyed a trditional Full Irish Breakfast, complete with rasher bacon, Black Pudding and White Pudding. I know a lot of people don't like a British/irish Full Breakfast but if you do then here's the place for you. They also had a little brunch buffet that looked wholly unremarkable to me.

                    SerenTori Restuarant
                    Minneapolis, MN, Minneapolis, MN

                    1. re: EarlOfSandwich

                      lol! yes i can't say it enough--

                      ***avoid breakfast at merlin's rest like the black plague!!!***

                  2. re: KTFoley

                    I spent 2 weeks in Ireland with my Irish in-laws not too long ago. The closest I've found in the cities to what we experienced in Ireland is Merlin's Rest.

                    The Guinness Stew is practically identical to those I had in Ireland.
                    The Cottage Pie is better than some that I tried in Ireland.
                    Great booze selection. They don't have the Guinness Extra Cold, which is killer.

                    I wish Merlin's Rest had toasties. I also wish they'd carry some of the crazy Irish candy, like the Yorkie bar and Wine Gums.

                    1. re: Reetsyburger

                      Also, while you're in town try and catch one of the seisĂșns. These are groups of musicians playing Irish traditional music. Anyone can join in as long as the know the tunes and some of them can get quite wild. Friday nights is session at Merlin's Rest and Sunday night it is a Keegan's.

                      I've played in them when it's half-a-dozen musicians and when there have been up to twenty flutes, whistles, fiddles, pipes, guitars, mandolins etc! Great fun and a great way to expose yourself to some traditional Irish music. Oddly enough, some of the great Irish musicians from Ireland make their homes in the Twin Cities.

                      1. re: Reetsyburger

                        This post popped into my head today while checking out the various international food offerings in the St. Louis Park Byerly's. You can find Wine Gums and Yorkie Bars on the shelf in the British section.

                    2. Brits' used to be the bomb now its overrun by conservative yuppies and boring blue button-downers, those were the days...(daydreaming of old sleepy pub)....Stick to the Local, or Kieran's, Keegan's, O'donovans.. The Irish get bars better anyway more atmosphere less attitude.