joestan

With 10-14” of snow fresh on our yards, little did we know that going into this night of the third largest 24 hour snowfall in Minnesota history would have us travelling to three locations in one night. After all, it has been awhile since the men have gathered!

gophercorkThe roadways brought about a staggered and partial arrival to our only planned location for the night, the Gopher Bar in St. Paul. An irreverent place famous for its coneys.Two of the men walked up to the door to find it… locked. All the lights were off, no note on the door and no notice on the web. With a wind chill in the single digits a quick decision was made to hike a few blocks  north to Cork’s Irish Pub.

Cork’s is a hotel restaurant, to begin with. The atmosphere was welcoming and many groups of friends gathered, decided to defer the cold until warm in the stomach and imbibed the liquid courage to brave the bitterness outside. This place has an Irish bar feel – the dark wood, wall hangings and a good number of people-pleasing taps, all within the mainstream producers. Happy hour goes until 6, and as the waiter put it when asked, “pretty much everything is half off”. A round of beers, and orders of scotch eggs, chicken wings and walleye fingers were made as more members trickled in from there extended snow-delayed commute, fingers numb from the cold. The food was worth staying for, but as we had more members still traversing the roadways we decided to go to a place closer to them and with more character for us.

We moved quickly back to our vehicles and caravanned south on West 7th to Joe and Stan’s Bar. One of our members was brought to a halt on a bridge by the car ahead of him and got stuck on the ice! Before his delayed entrance we could only guess what happened to make him pause in our gastronomical journey.

Joe and Stan’s is quite the place. There are locals, stragglers and a helpful bar staff that occupy the room. It had the rural bar feel with a city bar comfort for freshman groups to the bar such as we.  We took over the area next to the pull-tabs and ordered a round, more wings, and the necessary onion rings. Everyone at the table ordered something different, an unusual occurrence for a Guys Night Out. Broasted chicken, multiple types of burgers and a rack of ribs occupied our table as we gorged ourselves on the plethoral variety. The broasted chicken was glorious, the type that when belches happen later in the evening, as they often do, the reoccurring taste does not come as a deterrent for more, but a beckoning to return to its origin. They have nightly food specials and decently cheap beer that made our wallets happy after the bill arrived.

It was a journey from start to finish and I do believe that we ended in the right place. As stated during the night, the Gopher Bar is our Sasquatch – we believe it exists but have yet to experience the Coney because of its elusiveness, and judging by their web site, they prefer it that way. -Isaac

We were ready to head out for some amazing pizza in the northwest ‘burbs when two of the group had to cancel. Rather than travel to the “Here be Dragons” part of the map without the entire sailing crew we opted to find something closer to home. St. Paul had been the site of the amazing pizza and atmosphere at Red’s Savoy so when Isaac jumped in with the suggestion to try Skinner’s Pub and Eatery on Randolph in St. Paul we were quick to sign up.

A small lot out back but plenty of on-street parking made the end of the drive easy. On entry we were greeted by the classic neighborhood bar. Long and with a handful of people that fit the seats like a 1970’s bicycle tourer fits his leather saddle at the end of a long tour. Several people smiled and nodded a welcome. Just as we crossed the threshold we got a text to “go to the patio”. We hung a right at booth six, walked through the dinning area and into the patio. It was shaded and mostly empty at the early hour of six.

We are told that the place is busy on the nights that the sponsored softball team is in action, and, we are also told by inside sources that a Princess of the South Wind from the Winter Carnival plays on that same team. Fortunately Wednesday (correction) was Wing Night instead of game night. We ordered a dozen, splitting the bill: 8 Buffalo, 8 Jerk. all were good and sized well. Beer of the evening was the Boulevard Maibock- pints for $2.00. Remarkable. It only got better.

Neil Armstrong

The menu was full but we came for the pizza and soon we had two on the way. A classic pizza called Top of the Line with sausage, green peppers and the rest but with sauerkraut under the heavy blanket of cheese. The other was an amalgam of amazing meat products dubbed the Factory. Also with lots of cheese. One sign of a good pizza is when the surface of the pizza looks like the surface of the moon. The cheese sinks between the remarkable lumps of food allowing it to brown unevenly and look like even a martian rover would have difficulty navigating the Sea of Edibility. Wonder if Neil Armstrong’s first thoughts after setting down the Lunar Lander were about where his next pizza would come from? Further note- I have been to Iceland where the Apollo Astronauts trained to walk on the moon’s uneven surface. I have yet to have a good Icelandic Pizza. Thought you should know. Suggestions are welcome.

Lunar Training Surfaces

In all seriousness, why would we EVER go for pizza to any place but St. Paul?

Red, Randy and Skinner- all were winners.

SOME COMMENTS ON THE PLACE

We had driven by this place often and Isaac suggested that it would be good for us to get back to our roots after too many places that seemed similar and safe.  Although safety was never an issue the place provided plenty of atmosphere. Our first greeting was from on one the drunks at the back table. He was selling raffle tickets for the Cedar Inn drinking club. Next was the pool hall Nascar lights hanging about the place and not a pool table in sight. There was a cook on duty and the barkeep who would come whenever we would wave him down. The back table was the hotspot as the group grew to a half-dozen regulars by the time we left. In an economical mood they where ordering pitchers, but not sharing with each other. Fortunately all were certainly in the neighborhood and wouldn’t be behind the wheel. (more…)

On a recommendation we decided to give the Lyndale Tap a try. Mighty close to uptown but the menu looked great and the beer list included a couple we had not yet seen.

SOME COMMENTS ON THE PLACE

Not very unique given the location. Low tables, high tables, and a bar.  trev noted that for a place that specializes in PIT specialties the PIT was nowhere to be seen. The crowd was mostly 20 something and well trimmed but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.  We arrived for the happy hour which had truly outstanding prices. This may be the best kept secret just off Lake Street.  Taps were half price (typically ran $5-6 before discount) and the appetizer specials were wonderful. We ate many and recommend the fries especially. Cheese is layered throughout instead of just on the top. Very nice, (more…)

SOME COMMENTS ON THE PLACE

The few bikers assembled on the back steps greeted us and asked how we were doing. After answering the other questions about name, quest, and color we were allowed to pass.  Looked like a classic neighborhood bar with some space to dance, play pool, and bang away at the pinball games. The music was loud but well selected and the bar was understaffed but more about that later. Did we mention the odd powder on the bathroom floor? The place seemed like might be a bit rough later at night but we left in good shape. (more…)