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MSP -St. Paul - "tavern culture is alive and well in St. Paul" but, where please?

In a previous thread about St. Paul, Minnesota (now getting to excessive length) a respondent said "tavern culture is alive and well in St. Paul." but did not go into any real detail about the whereabouts of notable taverns in question. These are even harder to locate via Internet research than neighborhood restaurants.

Most no doubt will do solid american food as well I am thinking but i haven't yet found a congenial place for a strong drink that neither breaks the bank nor is actually only the bar portion of a restaurant.

So far I like The Liffey.

The Hat Trick was a little harder core than I was looking for, but it was a cold night and I think it was also acting as a sort of makeshift emergency shelter.

There's a bar up in Finland MN I think fondly of; is there, i wonder, a transplanted urban version anywhere? Cozy bar, cute wiatresses, people getting significantly drunk but in a generally good-natured way, not too much possibility of too much argee-bargee. Good food a plus but not required. Heavy hand on the liquor bottle, versus the mixer button, preferred.

Taverns please contact:

apply BishopsBitter
Behind the Hot water Pipes
WC stall # 15
Amtrak depot
St Paul.

Seriously, thanks for any advice on tavern culture worth seeking out in St. Paul. Obviously by definition out in the neighborhoods not just in d/t. (Probably there aren't any much in d/t.)

Thanks again for your help.

bb

p.s. addresses if you've got 'em

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  1. I have a bad habit of responding to my own posts, but I have heard pretty good reports of The Dubliner on University Ave. Especially the quality of the Guinness. Would people concur? I may even stagger over there for a few this afternoon.

    14 Replies
    1. re: bishopsbitter

      I checked with my beer "expert" who says that the Dubliner is the best pour of Guinness in town (not for food, thought). Other options, Half Time Rec (no food) or the Liffey.

      ~TDQ

      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        Your expert is right. I just returned from a foray here and this is a superlative watering hole. Instantly gone into my top-ten places list. For starters, a bar that's longer than a cricket pitch: gotta love that, and a very interesting crowd and mixture. Guinness A-O-K and very well priced at $5.25 for 20oz pints.

        What I particularly liked was the "nice lookout" and lots of daylight. One could read the paper here in the sunlight with nary a care.

        But the best was Mike the bartender. I truly believe some bartenders are blessed with supernatural powers. Somehow Mike KNEW that I liked Guinness in a straight-sided glass. Every other Guinness he poured, it was in one of those curvey Guinness logo'd glasses, which I do not personally like for they are unpleasant to hold I think.

        Without a word my Guinness came in a straight-sided glass, everyone else's in a curvey logo.

        I was also told I am a ringer for Van Morrison (it must be the black jacket I was wearing). http://www.rtvchannel.tv/wp-content/u...

        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          Also I was recommended (by a fellow Brit) Merlin's on Lake at 36th Ave. Which I will check out in due course, but Dubliner is definitely a real tavern, and then some. I have fallen immediately in love with it.

          1. re: bishopsbitter

            Hey there, here's a good post on Merlin's. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5497...

            An old reply to one of your old posts.. :). http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1212...

            I'm glad you liked the Dubliner!

            ~TDQ

            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              "Full Irish Breakfast, complete with rasher bacon, Black Pudding and White Pudding. "

              Black ---and----White pudding! Oh my. Hey this place has possibilities it sounds like. Like (when on good form) my home-from-home in the UK's mixed grill also featuring both black & white
              .
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/450627

              1. re: bishopsbitter

                I've never had the breakfast at Merlin's, but soupkitten has and doesn't recommend it! I think her comments on their breakfasts are in one of the posts I linked above.

                On weekends, the Strip Club serves brunch, with an Irish Breakfast described thusly (I haven't tried it) Irish Breakfast thick bacon, pork sausages, white beans in tomato sauce, wild rice bread $10.00
                and two eggs any style

                ~TDQ

                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  The only food at Merlin's about which I recall ANY positive words is the pasty. And those words may have been no more than,"look, they have pasties!"

                  For an Irish breakfast, try Anchor Fish & Chips in NE Minneapolis - right down to the beans out of a can. A few notes to calibrate expectations:
                  - It's crowded and there is a long wait during usual dinner hours.
                  - Customers must order food to be served drink.
                  - If looking for a weekday breakfast, call first.
                  - The owners are native Irish. The place mirrors their expectations of an Irish fish & chip shop. Not an English chippery. Not a pub. Not anyone else's romanticized notion of pubs or chipperies.
                  - Like most, the owners and staff are not mindreaders. Customers who want something have the best success if they ask for it.

                  1. re: KTFoley

                    bb specifically mention Merlin's breakfast in his link above http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6811..., which is why I specifically warned him off of the breakfast based on soupkitten's feedback, and then provided him a link to that comment, as well as to some other comments on Merlin's by EarlofSandwich, in particular.

                    I've not eaten there and can't make (and haven't made) any claims one way or the other about any meal there. (I just want bb, and others who come in the future, to realize I'm not recommending or disrecommending Merlin's one way or the other. I've not eaten there!).

                    ~TDQ

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      ooo, yes, that was a memorably bad breakfast i posted about long ago at merlin's rest, but i haven't been back to see if it has improved. perhaps it has-- but anyway consider yourself forewarned and go carefully wrt the food there. i have heard some feedback from vegetarians that the vegetarian pub food is good, fwiw. i *do* rec the scotch list at merlin's, if BB enjoys some good or rare single malt on occasion. the place is worth a stop to check out but maybe is not a worthwhile destination imo-- unless it's for the scotch.

                      i do highly rec the irish breakfast at strip club. one of dh's fave brunch items in town. thick cut local bacon and local sausage, delicious beans (may want to order extra toast), & eggs. enough for two people to split. good breakfast cocktails (a little expensive, i usually had coffee or tea).

                      i think the op may also want to check out the bulldog location (primarily for the beer selection, but the food is quite good by bar standards) by mears park, close to downtown st. paul as a local watering hole. for other st. paul taverns of note i defer to TDQ's expertise, she's on point with these neighborhood places.

                      1. re: soupkitten

                        Does not auger well for the food there. But many of the other suggestions sound fun to try. As does the Irish breakfast at the Strip Club. Still hve nto made it there and will try to this week before it gets busy with the Carnival folks etc. I do love Scotch but it gives me such severe heartburn gyp these days I have had to largely swear off it.

                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                        DQ, we are in full agreement. I should have linked the reply to bb's post rather than to yours. EOS was in mind as source of the pasty comment, and as one who gave the breakfast no praise.

              2. re: bishopsbitter

                I did make it to Merlyn's Rest. The Guinness was not awful, but rather under-filled pints even with unique pouring method employed. The scotch egg was served traditionally and correctly COLD! (Sound of Alleluiah Chorus.) That was nice, but they did have an after-taste of cleansing fluid of some kind. I think they are kept in the bar area and it was almost like a line-sanitizer smell had snuck into the pork mixture. I went for fish and chips (because too late I was shown the lunch menu featuring Ploughman's, which I happen to love with a pint). Oh well. The fish and chips I would not rate as exceptional. Shape-O-Fish (tm) nuggets and a bit burnt.

                Their Scotch "Bible" was somewhat excellent however.

                There was a bit too much drama with people who were "tired and emotional" (in Punch parlance) making an exhibition of themselves. The blind folks playing darts were a genial & good crowd however. It has to be said though since the entrance to the Gent's is in the line of fire this required a bit of nifty footwork between highly erratic shots.

                Overall nice enough. Certainly unique and quaint. Not quite striking a chord with me personally as does the Dubliner though (Dub's Guinness is so good, and generally [though not always!!] complete pours) although there was plenty here that's pleasant enough.

                1. re: bishopsbitter

                  ewww, don't like the sound of the sanitizer-scented eggs...

                2. re: bishopsbitter

                  The Dubliner is great same owner as the Turf Club but........they amp the music too much for the space ,in my humble opinion. So the music is loud. Pub Quiz on Sundays great guiness pour, goodpopcorn, nice ie strong mixed drinks also

            2. Well, I'm a little reluctant to offer any recommendations because your tastes seem pretty different from mine, and, also, lots of these places are places I'd visit if I were in the neighborhood, but not sure I'd drive across town for them, but, here are some of my favs in St. Paul. To me, a good tavern has much to do with warmth and camaraderie and neighborhood feel as the food and beer. Most of these are almost no frills.

              ~The Liffey in downtown St. Paul is a good choice
              ~McGoverns on West 7th in downtown St. Paul (I like their roast turkey dinner)
              ~Obbs 1347 Burns Avenue across from Mounds Park (East Side)--I love their Texas toast
              ~I love the Nook on Hamline at Randolph for their cheese-stuffed burgers (the Molitor burger is my fav) and fries [expect a long'ish wait--if you can't bear the wait, some people think their sister restaurant, Shamrock's, on West 7th is as good, though, I disagree.)
              ~Muddy Pig on Dale nearish to Selby
              ~Lots of people like Happy Gnome on Selby for their selection of beer; I haven't been in awhile because I think the food is lousy
              ~On Randolph, Skinners has pretty good fried chicken, is very family friendly, and has zero atmosphere. My kind of place.
              ~On the finer end, W A Frost on Selby has a good bar and a good bar menu, although, I wouldn't call it a Tavern.
              ~Blue Door Pub on Selby is wildly popular right now, many varieties of cheese-stuffed burgers.
              EDIT: oh, Bulldog in downtown St. Paul is pretty fun. Nothing on the menu is more than 10 bucks.

              Other places that aren't bars, but have a similar warm, atmosphere:
              ~I like DeGidio's on West 7th for a hot dago sandwich, though I wouldn't call it a Tavern.
              ~You might also like Yarusso's (they have a bar). These people understand hospitality.

              ~TDQ

              2 Replies
              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                thanks DQ these all sound very interesting. All those years ago when I lived in St Paul WA Frost was our "local" (we lived jsut a step away on Dayton Ave) and I well remember their marbled halls with fond memories.

                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  I like your list., TDQ. (I realize I'm posting way after the fact, but found this to be an interesting thread.)

                  Personally I would remove Bulldog until they can get their act together and serve burgers to a table of four in under an hour. Horrific service.

                  I would add Sweeney's Saloon- Dale Street - an all-time favorite of mine, especially in the Fall on the great patio.

                  -----
                  Sweeney's Saloon & Cafe
                  96 Dale St N, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                2. I've always enjoyed my time at O'Gara's on Snelling Ave. in St. Paul. It's a friendly bar/restaurant. Food is decent, not gourmet by any means, but solid apps, sandwiches and soups.

                  http://www.ogaras.com/index.html

                  1. Without considering food, considering the actual culture and quality of drinks/beers I like these (the order does not mean anything):

                    Half Time - Once upon a time they used to have open square dancing on Monday Nights. That was some serious fun. Good people, good beer.

                    Turf Club - good beer, good music if you want fairly wide variety of current interesting music (Hmong Rap anyone?)

                    Happy Gnome - probably best beer selection in town. Food is kinda posh and inconsistent. Inconsistent can be bad, but it can also be pretty good.

                    Sweeney's - a friendly neighborhood place with good people and good beer.

                    Muddy Pig - see Sweeney's, fancier food.

                    Dubliner - great bar. Lots of celt-o-philes.

                    St. Clair Tap - like The Nook, a neighborhood place.

                    O'Garas - big operation. Friendly. Good drinks, food not so much.
                    ----

                    It looks to me like there's a really lively scene in old NE. (centered around University NE and 13th Ave NE). 331 Club, Mayslack's, etc...

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                      St. Clair Tap? Jim, do you mean the Groveland Tap on St. Clair? I used to like that place, but then they changed their menu and the food is not so great any more. Still super friendly there.

                      I like the black and bleu burger at Sweeneys. (because I love Bleu cheese on everything, not necessarily because their burgers are so great and they were one of the few to have bleu cheese on burgers until the recent "burger boom"), but the crowd skews a little young there.

                      ~TDQ

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        I think I agree about Groveland Tap which I used to get to quite often. They told me that they were getting their burger meat from Sysco I believe instead of Widmer's down the street from them. I would love to learn that I'm wrong about that. And I wasn't that keen about the menu changes either.

                        What's the name of the bar on West Seventh below the Czech hall? Kind of a Bavarian atmosphere? I'm spacing out on the name now but it might be interesting to check out. It's a neighborhood place. Occasionally has some rough edges. I think the beer selection might be worth checking. I used to like going there to read, sometimes correct papers and have a brew. Believe me, I was the only person reading there, but I liked that noone bothered me when I did that. But it was a very friendly place. I liked the bartenders. It is well lit in front and very inviting. If you want to meet people and have a conversation it's very easy to do that. I thought they had a very decent (but probably not huge) beer selection and I'm not sure if they have any English ales. (Need to get back there and see if my favorite bartenders are still there.)

                        1. re: karykat

                          Before my eyesight became light-dependent I used to love to read in bars. McSorley's in NY and The Bear in Horsham Sussex were two great places for reading and beer in tandem. The Dubliner had that very nice aspect of lots of natural light. For readers select a spot at the N end of the (immensely long!) bar and during the day and it could be most pleasant.

                          I like to sound of the bar you mention: will seek it out. If you remember the name let me know pls.

                          bb

                          1. re: bishopsbitter

                            karykat, do you mean Glockenspiel? I've never been at the bar there, only at the restaurant itself.

                            ~TDQ

                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              Yes, the Glockenspiel. If you want to go, have a nice experience in the bar, and read maybe, don't go on the weekend when its crazy busy. Occasionally they have a strolling accordian player wandering from table to table in lederhosen. I would avoid that too. The different bartenders seemed to have different followings. I'd go on a nice quiet weekday night.

                          2. re: The Dairy Queen

                            Groveland Tap - Food has gone downhill in the past few years. (except for the fried pickles) and the price has gone up.

                            Sweeneys has excellent buffalo wings for the area.

                            I only ate at the happy gnome once and the food was horrific.

                            Has anyone mentioned Shamrocks yet? I haven't been in ages - but solid burgers and beer and good service.

                            1. re: St Paul Susie

                              I mentioned Shamrocks. Inferior in my opinion to the Nook, which is owned by the same people, but easier to get into (because it's bigger).

                              ~TDQ

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                I like Shamrocks but do have to get to the Nook after all I"ve heard. (Even have a gift certificate for the Nook which I have been holding onto and anticipating our trip there.)

                                Shamrocks is nice and big. I liked the service there, and did like the burgers.

                                Some nights they have live music there later. I wouldn't go at those times if I wanted to hear myself think.

                                1. re: karykat

                                  Yet again, my dance card is full. Thanks for all these great suggestions. It might take a while to get around 'em all, but I have time at my disposal. And I assure all that I will start to "cross them off" one by one over the coming weeks. (Of course if I find too many I really like too soon this may come to a bit of a grinding halt. I have never been to keep questing once I have found the grail.)

                        2. anybody like dusty's dagos? i like it.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: zfwp

                            Isn't that in Minneapolis, though? Still, tell us more about it, please!

                            ~TDQ

                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              it is a tavern by the old brewery (1319 Marshall St NE MPLS). it is just a little tavern, he makes his own soup and sandwiches. i get a kick out of it.

                          2. My first report on a tavern tip.

                            Excellent place. High roof, pretty bar, people reading, and for a while at least no music so only conversation.

                            I had some of the dark lager whose name I never full grasped. It slid down easily enough for a 1/2 L or two but started to get a bit cloying after a while (which is what I tend to find of lagers having a lot of residual sugar).

                            I had some food and their herring was (generic or no) really nice stuff with the beer. A marriage made in heaven. The Schweinshaxe was appropriately enormous but a but hard to cut either because of the knife (mainly), or the underdoneness of the skin.

                            A bit more kraut (which seems to be rationed) was the only addition I would request.

                            Interesting clientele, with lots of beards, frock coats, mustaches and spectacles.

                            I would come here again. The bartender is clearly beloved by the (largely older male) regulars. Although I wasn't sure if I got off on the right foot with her by the end we seem to have bonded a bit.

                            I think next time I will try the "Russian Guinness" Baltiki. Or whatever. Definitely more herring here. Those of us with genetic ties to the peoples who border the North Sea, we can never get enough of the stuff.

                            Thanks for this, and I heard more references to Merlin's, a sort of quasi legendary place on Lake opposite the White Castle.

                            Enjoyed glockenspiel.

                            bb

                            -----
                            Glockenspiel
                            605 7th St W, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                            1. Take out the cute waitresses and the food, and I have several tavern suggestions that maintain the principals above... but that depends on what cozy means to you. So, I think you're looking for something cheaper/more local/heavier pouring than the Liffie, but not as raw/rough as the Hat Trick... I can think of quite a few places that fit the bill kind of around that area. Try out Gordies Bar off of 35e and Little Canada Road. Small town bar feel, heavy affordable pours. Vogels in East Saint Paul (Arcade St) is a definite winner... most of the time. Got to love the Nook off of Randolph and 35e.. always a great place, but heavy pours are not a possibility as it's beer and wine only. Half-time Rec used to be good (and affordable for regulars), but haven't been there since the new ownership. Try out Joe and Stans on west 7th St... late night crowd could get a little questionable, but the food is great and the pours are heavy. I agree with the comments on the Dubliner, however, I don't find the prices to be as reasonable as suggested. I could suggest larger places like McGoverns, trendier places like the Bulldog, or more expensive places like Fabulous Ferns/Happy Gnome or any Selby/Dale bar, but I think we are breaking the bounds of tavern culture.. You won't get a heavy pour, you'll generally pay more, the crowd isn't typically local, and often times they are packed, but that's just my opinion. Just thoughts from a newbie to this website from a seemingly different perspective of the Saint Paul area.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Jax19

                                Jax, welcome! Your recommendations seem very thoughtful to me. I recommended places I like, but I mostly like them for the neighborhood friendliness and, for the most part, solid chow. Re-reading the OP, I hadn't even really noticed the requirements for "Heavy hand on the liquor bottle"...I'm not sure any of the places I recommended fit into that!

                                ~TDQ

                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  re: heavy hand on the bottle-- a little bar on kellogg blvd and 6th ( i think) may be worth a stop-by, and is pretty close to the op's hotel. kelley's bar (not to be confused with dan kelly's bar in mpls), owned and operated by an irish-american family (**semi-important note** --may not want to hit on the waitress here-- even if you think she's cute, she's probably the bartender/bouncer's sister, or his sister-in-law). small place, easy to pass by it without seeing it-- looks very divey -dingy from the outside. on the inside it's actually quite cute and homey and well-kept. a very local, working-class, very "townie" type of place. the downtown post office employees go here for "lunch" at 9pm. guinness on tap, strong cocktails (particularly after tipping the bt well), cheap tabs. i don't really rec the food, but they do have nightly specials, and the burgers, wings and fries are inexpensive and are certainly made "right in front of you" in the wee 8' by 4' kitchen area that occupies one end of the bar. so this is definitely primarily a *bar,* not a restaurant-with-bar area. fun jukebox, good people-watching, and again, a strong cheap drink. what's not to love?

                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    Read your post above TDQ.. I love lots of those places as well. I had a negative experience at Obbs.. Frankly, my group of friends and I were treated very poorly by the bartender. We were told that "this is a family establishment". Very nice to hear at 11pm in a bar. Now, with that being said, I think we just had a rude bartender and is by no means characteristic of others.. I did a little more thinking on the subject and I have to add Tavern on the Ave and Costello's. In fact, I think Costello's might hit it on the money.

                                    1. re: Jax19

                                      last time i went to joe and stans i had fish sticks. they where exacly like fish sticks

                                  2. re: Jax19

                                    >>I think you're looking for something cheaper/more local/heavier pouring than the Liffie, but not as raw/rough as the Hat Trick...

                                    Absolutely spot on!

                                    Appreciate the perspective Jax19. You started off with Gordies which I will have to try. The area of England I come from (around Newcastle upon Tyne) is home to the Geordie culture: totally different things, but such similar names and I believe in subliminal signs of good things meant to be. There is that steakhouse (Porterhouse was it?) up in that Little Canada area I need to catch up with too so perhaps a twofer.

                                    Thanks

                                    bb

                                    (p.s. is it ABSOLUTELY necessary to remove cute waitress-bartenders from the equation?) semi serious question upon reflection: can a tavern be a true tavern without a rather time worn and perpetually sleep-deprived balding gent (e.g. Joe and/or Stan perhaps?) or a veteran grande dame behind the taps? As I think back upon venerable taverns I have known I (sadly) feel I know the answer. Youth and beauty come and go, but generous pours and soulful environs are forever.

                                  3. Had a bit of a foray. Got Joe and Stan's but a bad choice of day. Bar was full, as were almost all tables. Plus, I forgot my horned headgear. I'll try this again some time on a quieter night.

                                    But when not oversubscribed, looks just the job.

                                    Then on to the Muddy Pig. Too young a crowd (particularly with reference to the music they were playing which was of the kind I cannot empathize [being a gentleman of a certain age] with in any way whatsoever. Plus it was too loud.)

                                    Then on to Happy Gnome. Certain had an interesting collection of beer. I opted for Murphy's (the other) Stout which was quite nice. I was impressed at a beer menu clearly printed . . . today. Even if not in fact, it suggests that a daily review of where beers stand with regard to need chucking out is something that happens here, and perhaps it is. I detected the sniff of a 'mania' behind the place, such as there was at Sherlock's too. But that said, I can't warm to many other brews, even the cask offering "Surly" was tantalizingly something I wanted to like.

                                    So of tonight: a delayed result on Joe and Stan's; a definite pass on Muddy Pig because of musical incompatibility issues; and of the Happy Gnome . . . it just didn't seem that happy of a place. Again rather as if the dream concept of the rather manic owner (whome I don't know so this is all utter surmise) has not taken off quite wholeheartedly. But the Murphy's saved the day. Again, I find all the other beers far too strong. The 'nose" is all alcohol with them.

                                    I nearly forged off for Little Canada but figured game fans might be making it pretty busy up there.

                                    Thanks for the tip, and will continue the reports as I notch them off.

                                    1. Joe and Stan's really worked out well. It defines a tavern. Meat raffles. Karaoke some nights. "Mystery Shots $2". Pull tabs. Nice clientèle. The gin and tonics were nicely made, and strong. A 'joint' and more power to it as such: my kind of place. Definitely will be back and may dip into their burgers and or chili offering as well. Didn't fall into conversation with anyone except the waitress but clearly I could have done had I not just had a couple.
                                      Nice place.

                                      http://www.flickr.com/photos/monkeyri...

                                      1. No room at the Nook.

                                        Went here last night and there was no room at the inn. "Do I want on the waiting list." Bar crammed full (and not that congenial as quite congested.)

                                        Cute looking place though. Fell back on the Glockenspiel again and enjoyed their schnitzel and more glorious herring.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: bishopsbitter

                                          The Nook is always going to be a raucous (and overflowing) joint during the after work hours. If you aren't looking for that sort of atmosphere, you might be wise to steer clear. This coming from a guy who loves a good burger and beer at the Nook.

                                          1. re: BigE

                                            Yep, the Nook is best if you can go at odd hours. Peak hours are crazy, although, single spots at the bar usually open up within 20 mins, even when it's nutty in there.

                                            Also, many (not me) think the Nook's "sister" restaurant, Shamrock's, down the hill on West 7th is just as good. If you want burgers and fries with your beer, you might be just as happy at Shamrock's. The place is bigger, so, there isn't the same kind of wait.

                                            ~TDQ

                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              And busloads of people from out of town aren't dropped off in front of Shamrock's vs. The Nook.

                                              Someone upthread mentioned Costellos. I haven't been in ages - but when my dad is in town he enjoys stopping by there for a beer or more.

                                              1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                I've never seen a busload of people at the Nook. Do you mean busloads of high school kids during the school day?

                                                ~TDQ

                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  nope - after they were on the food network there were buses stopping there....I still have never eaten there!

                                          2. re: bishopsbitter

                                            "Nobody goes there anymore because it's too crowded" - Yogi Berra

                                            Jfood went twice during his Burger Tour and thinks it is too bad you did not stay.

                                          3. I am temporarily relocated in d/t Minneapolis so while there are several good St P recommendations I will mention my efforts yesterday.

                                            Merlyn's opposite the White Castle on Lake was not quite what I expected. At 2 pm or so I walked in and there were two thirsty looking men at the end of the bar with empty glasses, a single bartender waitress said to me "I'll be right with you" then proceeded to take the most intricate lunch order ever from a group of only 4 people. After about 10 minutes I went to the rest room to kills time, came back, walked around the bar, and still the order was being taken. The two men looked even more thirsty and were clearly first in line for drinkies before me. After taking the order the girl went to deliver this priority order to the kitchen, rather than starting to water the troops. At which point I uttered something like "life's too short" and left. Any bar that leave punters waiting for drinks more than 5 minutes should lose its licence imo. And this was 15.

                                            I went to Brit's Pub soon after it opened and did not like it (at the time sherlock's Home was open so it had little chance to sway me from there anyhow). Upon return I still did not like it, but it has got a "settled in" feeling it used to lack. Their Guinness was not great condition. the bartenders were close to Bubba Gump (ref Tony Bourdain) levels of psychosis.

                                            Moved on to The Local. Their Guinness in better shape (and both places were not breaking the bank at $6 200z pour). But again the bartenders appeared to be largely irritated at having to occasionally pull a pint.

                                            I was quite interested to notice "The Kissing Room" with red-light brothel lighting system which seemed like quite a novel idea. Again, this is in foreign territory of Minneapolis where such things probably happen; I can't imagine such a thing in St Paul :-)

                                            I was going to head for Kieran's but it seemed a step and will try that another time.

                                            Not taverns of course, not St Paul, but mentioned for compare-and-contrast reasons.

                                            bb

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: bishopsbitter

                                              I think one of the big draws of Brit's is the lawn bowling on the patio, which of course would not be available this time of year. You might want to give it another try when it's warm out, if that appeals to you.

                                              Since you're now in Minneapolis, you might want to check out the Anchor Fish & Chips in NE for lunch or a casual dinner. Based on your other destinations I think you might enjoy it.

                                              http://www.theanchorfishandchips.com

                                              1. re: LiaM

                                                Bowling (the lawn type) does sound intriguing. I have not seen that elsewhere in the US I don't think. It's quite a fun game to watch. Thanks for the "fishie" tip. It does nto sound bad a good cod and chips.

                                                1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                  Though I've not had a 'true' fish and chips experience in the UK, I have to give a big recommendation for the Anchor. Beware, however, that it is a smallish place (~30 seats) and they don't take reservations. A spot can be hard to find, unless to arrive early or late.

                                                  1. re: BigE

                                                    I assume it's been said upthread somewhere, but lest there be any disappointment or confusion, I just want to point out that the Anchor has some Irish-ness to it, for those of you who are particular about the vinegar you enjoy with your chips and such...

                                                    ~TDQ

                                                    1. re: BigE

                                                      As the late Keith Floyd said "fish and chips" as purveyed in the UK is the ultimate in fast food. One would hope the batter here is of the English ilk. And definitely no breadcrumbs. To really get the full effect they should have some Lancastrian (or wherever) frying range with huge oil capacity required to fry just right with no temperature fluctuations. They probably do just as Mama's have their fine Blodgett ovens.

                                                      1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                        I can assure you the batter is quite good, with no bread crumbs to be seen. The only complaints I had were soggy chips (due to the placement under the freshly fried fish) and the meager amount of salt on the fish.

                                                        Otherwise, an enjoyable experience.

                                                        1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                          Amd we need to be able to get plaice here. This cod stuff stinks.

                                                          Have you tried Gopher Bar and Grill on 7th in Saint Paul? I've not been in the evenings so it may get rowdy (some of the Vulcans hang there) but itizzs a neat place for people watching and conversation during lunchy hours. They're known for their coney dogs. Don't know about beer selection but the place has a homey, local joint feel to me. Clientele runs from suits to construction workers. Ages, during the day, seem to run from early 40s up. Crowd tends to be on the older side, though it has been years since I've been.

                                                2. Made it to the Turf Club for a couple tonight. I must say it transcends expectations. For a start art-deco light fixtures not seen since the Essoldo cinema, Blyth, circa 1966. Then a bar which is not 'screwed down' . . . the only bar in my living memory (that's a lot of bars) that will sway if you lean on it. No music (thank God) but a sort of Alton Brown wannabe is hosting a pub quiz. Now let me tell you this. This is a pub quiz, which, if passed, will enable you to be a Harvard man or woman without delay, and a Rhodes Scholar as well. I am no slouch in trivia but this was Trivia PHD! 15 questions on Wisconsin that I could only get a couple max. But as to 'tavern culture being alive' alive it is, at the Turf Club. Four tables of 'students' taking their Latin homework to heart. I also noticed, behind the bar, earplugs for sale. A warning sign that after Jeopardy PhD the decibels really start.
                                                  I quite liked it here. Apparently by the same owner as the Dubliner, whose Guinness can calm one down after Guinness outrages too many to mention elsewhere.
                                                  Peculiar, the swaying bar gives me some sort of dipsomaniacal seasickeness, But overall, it works.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                    Gallaghers Bar, West St Paul is great, go there eat ,drink, you will be happy with both.

                                                    1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                      Double-B

                                                      Did you eat or drink there or just play trivia and sway w the bar?

                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                        There's no food at Turf Club, unless you count a vending machine.

                                                        And BB is right that it gets VERY loud when there's live music. (Yay vote here!)

                                                        1. re: diesel

                                                          Duh!! Jfood should have googled it. Sorry for such a lame question.

                                                          But it reminds jfood of some places he went to in college when what song was "Sir Duke" written about was about the toughest question jfood heard . :-))

                                                      2. re: bishopsbitter

                                                        Tavern on Grand sometimes has these quizes too, which are very annoying if you want to be able to hear yourself think. They are obviously popular though, because the place seems to be jammed with young people on quiz nights.

                                                      3. Not St. Paul, but for what's it's worth: the Guinness at Keegan's Irish Pub is anything but alive and well in Minneapolis. Ghastly version of the hallowed grog. (Almost reminiscent in its watered down taste of the abysmal "Guinness 250".) Pleasant outdoor waitstaff, but otherwise (Guinness drinkers) avoid at all costs!

                                                        -----
                                                        Keegan's Irish Pub-Restaurant
                                                        16 University Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413