With the new onslaught of high end restaurants selling fancy burgers and fabricated authenticity it is always a pleasure to find a place without pretense, where the same fryer and griddle have likely been in use since before a Clinton or a Bush entered politics (maybe even a Kennedy as well). If you are looking for an establishment that is content with its current clientele and does not expense with the frivolity of trying to be “the new thing”, look not further than Schullers Tavern in Golden Valley.

The place proclaims itself the “Last Real Roadhouse”, which I take as a jab at the influx of chain based roadhouse-esque eateries that popped up in the mid to late 90’s around town (with some still remaining). Since the place first opened in 1929 I am guessing they have seen many a trendy establishment come and go and one would hope they will weather current trends as well.

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Image from http://www.schullerstavern.com

The Place: The building has clearly been built upon in a few minor expansions over the years and you may feel like you stumbled into the back alley entrance to a speakeasy (the place did open during prohibition). Upon entering you first pass a barred and locked beer cooler before actually finding your way to the bar and restaurant area. From what we gathered this is tied to off-sale liquor sales that Schullers offers. While not uncommon in the “land of cheese” or in the Northwoods, happening upon an on/off sale joint when you live in the Twin Cities metro area is like finding an hidden onion ring in your basket fries. It’s something that you didn’t know you wanted but you quickly realize is a good idea.

The Atmosphere/Service: The crowd appeared friendly overall with a hint of suspicion at the new faces we brought in. There was no problem finding a place to sit at a table (maybe at 15% of capacity on a Tuesday around 6). The bar, however, was full and you got the sense that these seats were rarely available during business hours. The random smattering of other patrons included a couple guys in suits working on some sort of business plan, a large group of people in the corner seemingly there to celebrate some sort of milestone, and a few small groups of people clearly there to enjoy good food and good company. Our server was attentive, friendly, and made sure we did not go thirsty.

The Food/Beverage: Upon arrival I put in an order for a refreshing beverage (happy hour prices are only on standard domestic beers but this includes GrainBelt/”Premo”) and a full plate of wings. Schullers puts any place charging more than $10 for 10-12 puny meatless bones covered in sauce to indisputable shame. WARNING: A full plate of wings is 3 lbs of sticky whole chicken wing deliciousness, prepare to be full. With three of us we were able to polish the plate clean but the prospect of trying to fit a meal into the outing was out of the question. As any self-respecting tavern should there was also a popcorn machine and a tap list that included a handful of local brews in addition to the standard domestic options.

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If you find yourself on highway 55 in golden valley in need of some cold refreshment, some sustenance, and a no nonsense environment, head on over Schullers. Just tell them Mancuisine.com sent you!

Recently two of us were entertaining two friends from Sweden needing a place to find dinner before heading over to the university to listen to Hans Rosling. To our surprise the Swedish women were aware of this blog and wanted to go to a place like those we review. We were in the western ‘burbs around 5:00 so traffic back into town was rough.  We decided to stop by the local Granite City Brewery.

The two of us had stopped at the Roseville location shortly after it arrived in the area. At that time it seemed pricey and not exceptional. We were excited to see how it had adapted over the years.

Happy to report that the burger/ sandwich selection was outstanding and each one sampled was very good. The Swedes felt the portions were too big which translates into just the right amount of food for us. The home-brews were good as well. The bock was surprisingly traditional, so many Bocks today are seriously flawed attempts at something Bock should never be. The Granite City Bock was the kind of thing you once could only buy at Easter time. Tasty.

I should mention that when staying with a Swedish family during the COP15 conference I started eating my first dinner only to look up and see the family children staring in horror. Seems our way of holding and using a fork is a bit barbaric over there. The setting was repeated at the Granite City as Isaac was frozen in amazement watching the women eat their hamburgers with a fork and knife. Only a tea-partier would fail to see the humor in the diversity of ways to get food into the mouth.

Even when eating peas!