Tavern on Grand
656 Grand Avenue
St. Paul, MN
“There is nothing more worthless than one beer.”
That’s the motto over at Tavern on Grand in St. Paul, Minnesota.
You’ve got to love Midwesterners. These folks know how to drink!
On a Monday night deep in the heart of a Minnesota winter, Tavern on Grand was packed with fun-loving folks laughing, yelling, and slapping each other on the backs.
I was the most sober guy in the room by far.
And that’s pretty disconcerting.
Afterall, drinking is like anything else enjoyable in life.
If it’s fun and you don’t have anything else better to do – then why not?
But what makes folks up here in the Upper mid-West so friendly and so fun is that they don’t consider downing a couple — or ten — as a flaw. Drinking here is a way of life. These people understand that the hardships endured, including brutal winters, is a lot more fun with beer in hand.
Unlike the Pentecostals of Southwest Virginia, the Mormons of Salt Lake City, and the leftist busybodies of California (where you can’t even board an airplane without coming face-to-face with a state-issued warning that alcohol causes birth defects and other calamities), nobody here looks down their noses at drinkers.
In the frozen heartland, everyone does it. Young, old. Liberal, conservative. White collar, blue collar.
Clearly a local neighborhood hangout, I was the only one here at the crowded Tavern on Grand that didn’t know everyone else in the room.
And while a local favorite, the Tavern has a statewide reputation for good beer and walleye – the freshwater fish native to all of Minnesota’s ten thousand lakes.
The northern fishing lodge décor is dressed up with framed pictures of Soviet Commie Mikhail Gorbachev chowing down on a walleye sandwich. Apparently in June of 1990, Gorby stopped by for a pint and some walleye.
Hey, if it’s good enough for a Commie, it’s good enough for me.
Living two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean, I eat plenty of quality seafood.
But maybe that’s why I appreciate the full flavor and soft texture of perch in Cleveland, catfish in Alabama, and trout in Indiana. Eating something different is one of the few joys of modern travel.
And Minnesota walleye never disappoints.
My fried walleye sandwich came with a crispy filet on a fresh ciabatta roll dusted with flour. Topped with lettuce, tomato, and homemade tarter sauce, it was fish sandwich perfection.
On the side, I ordered their famous chicken and wild rice soup—a hearty, creamy stew loaded with big chucks of tender white chicken. Perfect on a frigid Minnesota night.
As you might expect, the Tavern on Grand boasts a pretty good beer selection too.
I started with a Summit Extra Pale Ale, a local beer brewed right down the street here in St. Paul. A fairly standard microbrew, neither the hops nor the malt dominated the other. Not a bad choice if you’re going to be drinking beer all night long.
But I wanted something more interesting for my second choice.
Surly Furious, another local brew, gave it to me. A dark, powerful IPA, this beer packs a hoppy wallop. Awesome!
I noticed one of the loudest, most fun-loving – and inebriated – bar patrons was wearing a Surly Furious t-shirt.
I was jealous. Jealous of the shirt?
No! Jealous that he was doing so much more than I was in keeping his state among the top ten in the national rankings of binge drinking.
That’s a man who takes pride in his state – and in his favorite watering hole’s proclamation.
“There’s nothing more worthless than one beer.”
Indeed there is not.
Rating: Serious Thought About Buying Shirt.