Sunday, December 5, 2010

JT's: Superior, WI

Ah, JT' I love thee. Your oh so friendly bartenders. You're the only bar in Souptown that isn't overrun by TVs playing the latest sports game. You actually have good music, a pool table AND space to dance! Wait...what are all those rainbows for? What are all those....oh. I see. Gay bar! I'm not gonna lie to took us a few trips before we even realized that we were in a gay bar. One of my husband's hunting buddies wouldn't couldn't believe what it was until all the cute little rainbows & other gay pride things were pointed out to him. Nope, nothing wrong with it. This is one of my favorite bars in Superior. We always have a great time at JT's. The guys can & have spent an hour or more playing pool. Us girls have danced with ourselves or whoever might be there. We even got gifts from someone else's birthday party. What's not to love? Ok, they don't usually open until four in the afternoon which is late for Superior (most bars open around 8am) but other than that it's a fun hang out.

The drinks are ok. Sometimes better than others. They do serve food; mostly apps & burgers. Probably pizza, too. It's pretty decent though all we've ever gotten is the appetizer sampler. Fried food heaven! They have live music. A lot. Seems like just about every weekend they have some band in there. Maybe one of these times I'll even have a chance to listen to one of them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tom and Jerry's: Chisholm, MN

Despite the rather faded sign, the interior of Tom and Jerry's is surprisingly new. Unlike a lot of bars it's actually pretty bright inside. It's a huge area filled with lots tables. It has one of the longest bars I've seen (which isn't saying too much so don't get that excited). It's also has a pretty wood top. But there are never any people in it. Granted, we're usually in there during the day but even so I expect a few more people to be hanging out at the bar. But other than the bartender there's usually only one guy sitting at the end of the bar. And for some reason they're watching Food Network. I know, right! What are guys doing watching Food Network in a bar? But it seems to be a pretty prevalent thing in this neck of the woods. While I love the change from the normal ESPN or what have you, I also find it very amusing. 

The bartender has been pretty friendly whenever we've gone in. Even if we have to raise our voices so he can here us from the other end of the bar. I don't remember if we've had the same guy but if not they're hiring the right people. At least for the day shift.
The drinks are not bad. You know you're getting some booze in there without it being obnoxious. This is one place we tend to break our 'One & Run' rule and change it to 'Two & um...leave'.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tommy's: Chisholm, MN

Tommy's is dark when you walk in. The regulars are huddled at the far end of the bar just bullshitting about whatever. One of them even showed off his new power tool. The bartender was was nice enough. She managed to split her time between talking to the regulars and giving us the scoop on the history of the place. Turns out this bar used to be on the corner. Something about a bank buying them out and they moved a few places up the block to the current location. She even pointed out a picture that was hanging on the wall from the early 1900's. The bar was on the corner and there was some sort of parade going on with some horses. It was cool to see that.

The pour was actually pretty decent. It wasn't too strong or too weak. This is something that's actually kind of rare. Most bartenders seem to go in one direction or the other.

The decor is kind of a rustic/vintage thing. There were some stuffed animals around the place and the rest of the bar is anything but modern. Which isn't a bad thing. It works quite well here. It's almost like taking a step back in time.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Amy's Bar: Gilbert, MN

Amy's is one of several bars in downtown Gilbert. However, it's the only we visited this time around because at least one of our party was being a puss.  It's another one of those places with dollar bills all over the walls.  It has a nice old wood bar.  The only food it has is pizza.  I really wanted to check out the bathroom but there was a huge wedding party that was filling most of the bar and I didn't feel like trying to navigate my way through the mess of people.  And man!  They were loud.  They were all screaming about something at one point.  But that's got nothing to do with the bar itself... The pour wasn't actually bad but they served our drinks in plastic cups.  Blech!  I'm not sure if we got plastic because we weren't regulars or if there was something else going on but I noticed that other people were getting normal glasses. & run, baby!  Amy's is a cute little bar that doesn't really have anything that makes it stand out but it's a place we seem to find ourselves at time & time again.

Sawmill: Virginia, MN

The Sawmill is sort of on the outskirts of Virginia.  We generally drive by it when we're returning from a trip to the range.  It's a huge bar outfitted to look sort of like a sawmill (go figure).  It's a pretty loud bar.  They usually have the music turned up and the high ceilings don't help any.  Being the quiet person I am I usually have to repeat my order at least two or three times before the bartender can hear me.  The pours are pretty corporate.  I don't think we've been overly impressed once.  And yet we keep going back... The bartender was pretty social with everyone except us.  She poured the wrong drink for my husband and it took quite a few minutes before we could flag her down to get it corrected.

This time we ordered food because the other two in our party were hungry.  They ordered the pulled pork sandwich and my husband & I split an order of nachos.  The guys said the sandwiches were ok but nothing to write home about.  Our nachos were pretty craptacular.  The meat was just ground beef with no seasoning. There was a pitiful amount of cheese and the rest of the toppings didn't make up for these two inadequacies. For nine bucks, we were expecting more than we got.  All of us were in agreement that the food was way overpriced.  So while we may stop back for cocktails we won't be ordering food again.

Mr. Nick's: Hibbing, MN

Mr. Nick's is where the people in Tuffy's told us to go.  It's several blocks down the street on a corner.  Walking in I was struck by how big it actually is.  We went in what I thought was a back door but it's really more of a mid- door.  To our right was some gaming tables; not sure if they were pool or what.  To our left was the actual bar. Which is pretty decent sized on it's own. It's all wood, the paneling and the ceiling has those exposed beam things.  It's all painted a very dark brown but it's surprisingly bright in there.  It was busy so it's a fairly popular place.  They don't serve food, just pizza.  But they do have free popcorn!  Good stuff...  The pours were ok to crappy.  My first drink was decent enough but the second one might as well have been just cranberry juice. There were a bunch of NASCAR photos on the walls so I guess that's the sport of choice there.  All in all it's a pretty decent bar. We talked to the owner briefly and he was pretty friendly. i think it's a safe bet that we'd go back the next time we find ourselves in Hibbing.

Tuffy's: Hibbing, MN

We walked into Tuffy's and pretty much walked back out.  One of our friends tried ordering a drink and we got told they don't serve any alcohol.  But outside it say "Burgers and beer".  Isn't beer alcohol?  So they may or may not serve beer but definitely nothing more than that.

Thirsty Moose: Hibbing, MN

I'm a sucker for anything with 'moose' in the title so when we saw this place on the way to our camping trip a few weeks back, I knew we'd be back.  The address says Hibbing but it seems like it's a long way out of the actual city.  It's a cute little bar out in the middle of nowhere, anyway.  It's another one of those places that plaster dollar bills all over the ceiling (still waiting for someone to explain that to me).  The bathroom is a one seater and in the women's bathroom is a poster of Tim McGraw trying to look sexy.  Or he's just horribly constipated and the beer company was too cheap to take another shot.  They do serve food but they don't serve alcohol.  No hard liquor, anyway. Though you can bring your own bottle of whatever you want. And since I don't drink beer I got one of those gourmet soda things. The owner makes his own pickled eggs for the bar.  The staff was ok...they did  more talking among themselves then with us.  My husband entered one of three gun raffles that they were promoting so keep your fingers crossed for him!

The Anchor Bar: Superior, WI

Anyone that knows anything about the Twin Ports has heard of The Anchor Bar.  'Best burgers ever!' is usually the tag line.  When we first started going here that was true.  Not only were they awesome, they were/are cheap.  You could get a burger and some damn good fries for under $5.  But lately the burgers have been crap and the fries suck donkey.  I'm not sure what they did to the recipes but they need to change it back.  I'd almost rather have a McDonald's burger.  And the fries are now a rubbery, tasteless mess of something that was once potato. Maybe.
Doesn't that look good?  Don't let it fool you, though.  It's pretty much $5 I could have spent on something much tastier.

The decor of The Anchor is a cluttered mess.  I'm not sure what look they're going for but cluttered trash heap is what comes across.  They have stuff hanging from the ceilings and the walls are covered with even more.  Most of it is of a nautical nature but not all. And it is all covered with a thick layer of dust.  Don't breathe too hard or you might suck something in you wish you hadn't.

The bartenders have a reputation for being bitchy.  Yup.  They are actually proud of the fact that they come across as bitches.  If they're busy and feeling overworked, they don't have a problem being snippy with you.  Something that would never fly in any other service oriented business but it's something they've managed to somehow use to their advantage.  As a result, the pours vary greatly.  If it's a good day, they're not bad. If the bartender is feeling tired, cranky, pissed off or whatever the excuse of the day is it's pretty crappy.

Having said all that let me just add this.  We don't go here anymore due to the reasons listed above.  When we went to get the pictures for the blog it looked like they maybe had new bartenders so your experience may vary.  But I stand by the shitty food comments.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Prairie River Retreat, McGregor, MN

This is the other bar in McGregor.  Everyone else seemed to prefer this one.  It was more open, more lit and more busy than The Red Rock.  This is one of those places that plasters dollar bills all over the place.  I'm still trying to figure out why bars do that.  The rest of the interior is pretty sparse.  There are a lot of tables and chairs with the bar being sort of in the middle of it all.  It, too, serves food and we all ended up getting burgers here.  They were ok but pretty forgettable.  The drinks were about the same.  Certainly no better than Red Rock's.
Ultimately, that's probably all I have to say about this place.  I was pretty underwhelmed by it.

Red Rock Bar & Grill, McGregor, MN

Walking in to this bar, it looked like part of it as undergoing construction.  I'm not sure if they were adding a dining room or remodeling it or if it always looked like that.  But it was pretty 'rustic'.  The bar part wasn't too bad.  They did have a pinball machine.  Fat Cats, I think it was called and we did amuse ourselves with it for a game or two.  But husband is what we call a Crack Whore.  No, not that kind of crack!  He likes to play pull tabs.  There were a couple of boxes behind the bar and one of them was calling his name.  The bartender, who was also the owner, hadn't yet unlocked the boxes and when he went to unlock the box, he couldn't find his keys.  He swore he just had them because it hadn't been that long since he had opened up.  But they disappeared and disappeared but good.  The couple that we were with insisted on helping him look for them.  So that was fun watching them run around looking for this guys keys.  They probably 'helped' him for a good twenty or thirty minutes before they all gave up.  

Other than that, the bartender was nice enough.  He talked to us about the area and a little about his time in the military.  It was sorta cute that he was pretty proud of the new TV he had just installed.  The drinks he poured were decent enough but nothing special.  They do serve food but we didn't try it.  It's not actually a bad bar.  I liked this one better than the next one we went to but I was in the minority.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bimbo's Octagon, Side Lake, MN

We saw the lights from Bimbo's reflecting off the lake from our campground so I knew we'd be checking out this place for sure.  And it really is an octagon.  It has the coolest interior & I wish I had taken pictures of it. One wall is covered with a huge painted on map of the area. Behind the bar is what we dubbed 'Whorehouse' wallpaper.  It's red and has velvety designs on it.  I love that stuff!  There are old photographs, of what I assume are actresses or singers, in a couple of places. And there are a couple of places they've exposed the old wood logs that make up the walls.  In the addition they have a stage and even a video game room.

However, the drinks were pretty mediocre. I might as well have been drinking cranberry juice.  And they did something I've never seen before.  They charged for the mix separately.  They have a full menu but we weren't very hungry and just ordered the nachos.  What we got was one of those little paper boats with some tortilla chips and a little cup of salsa and a little cup of salsa.  
I realize they were only $3 or $4 but somehow we expected a little more than that.  

Pete says we probably wouldn't go back if we're in the area.  Me?  I'm a little more realistic. 

Riverside Inn, Side Lake, MN

We went camping a couple of weeks ago and, of course, had to check out the local color.  This is one of two bars that were near the campground.  We decided to check it out after a grueling three mile hike.  Yes, three miles can be grueling when it's all up and down hills and the temps are in the high 80s.  Blech!  We needed some AC to cool off! When we arrived it was fairly busy being the start of the dinner rush.  We got seats at the end of the bar and waited a few minutes before we saw the bartender.  When she did finally make her appearance we did get our drinks pretty quickly but they were nothing special.
They weren't as expensive as most MN bars but they weren't really on the cheap side, either.  Sort of the limbo that made us take notice for a few seconds and then was quickly gone.

We ate breakfast here the next day (I keep forgetting to take pictures of the food!).  Pete didn't think it was anything special but I liked it. I don't remember what he got; something with eggs, most likely.  I got the Side Lake Muffin (I think).  Anyway, it's an English muffin with egg, cheese and ham.  It was served open face so it was like two half sandwiches but it was really tasty.  It came with hashbrowns which were unimpressive and left mostly uneaten.

Decor here is nothing special.  Really forgettable, actually.  You can tell from the picture that the bar is all worn and rather ugly.  The rest of it follows suit. The bathroom sort of made me walk down this hallway and the doorway to the women's bathroom is really narrow. Anyone much bigger than me might have issues getting through it.

All in all, it's not a bad place.  It just shows it's age, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

O'Neill's Pub & Liquor

O'Neill's is almost like a little bit of Ireland in Wisconsin.  They even have shuffleboard and darts.  The ceiling over the bar has been lowered, probably to give more of that Irish feel.  It's a toss up as to whether this or Off the Wagon is my favorite bar in Superior.  This is one of the few bars that has a fireplace and while we always say we should sit in front of it some cold winter night we never get around to it.  

The staff is always very friendly.  The pours sometimes are great and sometimes not so much.  And this usually determines how long we stay.  It's more pricey than most of the bars in Superior so we don't tend to stay long for drinks that taste more like water than anything else.  I think part of what determines your pour is if the bartender recognizes you.  Seems like when we're frequent visitors we get better pours than if it's been awhile.  And their specials aren't anything exciting, either.  Unless you happen to like beer and neither of us does.  

O'Neill's doesn't have food other than the obligatory appetizers.  We've tried them and they're average.  We really like their pizza fries and will sometimes do those for lunch.  Sure, not the most healthy thing but then neither is drinking so we might as well go all out.

There is one sort of odd thing I have to mention: the bathroom stalls open out instead of in!  What does that mean?  No contorting of the body because the stall is small enough without the door opening in!  Honestly, it puts a smile on my face whenever I have to use the facilities here.  No idea if the same holds true for the men's room...

The other unique aspect about this bar is it has a drive-thru liquor store.  Seriously!!  It's one of their advertising points.  I think the building used to be a Wendy's and when O'Neill's took it over (or whomever) they never took out the drive-thru window.  I guess rather than let it remain useless they decided to gimmick it up.  And why not?  I've heard of liquor stores that deliver (and there need to be more!) so why not one with a drive-thru?  

Off the Wagon

When we first started going to this bar, it was Adam's Last Call. Owned by a guy named, obviously, Adam. He was a nice guy from somewhere in Eastern Europe, I believe. He would gab with us and even gave us a shot of his special reserve vodka once. We loved hanging out there. But then for reasons that I won't go into, he had to sell the bar. So it's now Off the Wagon. The new owners are just as nice as Adam and they haven't really changed much about the place, other than the name and cleaning it up some. Even though it's in Superior it was and still is a Vikings bar. Probably it's an all MN sports bar but we don't pay attention to any other sports.

They still do an awesome pour as they kept on most of the old staff. Like the vast majority of WI bars, they don't serve food other than pizza. I think they have two kinds, one from a local place, Lil Nick's, (which I've heard is very good), and the other from one of those 'bar' pizza companies.

Like so many bars, this is an old one. It has a lot of the original woodwork, to include the bar and the behind the bar area. It also has some beautiful stained glass on either side of the mirror that sits behind the bar.

We really like this bar. It has become 'our' place to hang out. Attending Vikings games there is a lot of fun. Adam would have food and drawings and we only hope the new owners will do so as well. I'll let ya know in a few months.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Fall Inn

The Fall Inn is tucked away in a residential area and if we hadn't seen a sign that's on Howard Gnesen, we probably never would have known it existed. The Fall Inn is pretty well surrounded by trees and deer are frequently spotted in the back. They do have a small deck back there so you can sit outside, but I think it's mostly where smokers go for their fix.
This used to be one of our favorite places to go. It was close to home, they give a good pour and it was cheap. But they succumbed to one of the three Minnesota curses: it got pricey. Which rather sucks as we can no longer afford to go as often as we'd like. But the staff is friendly and Paul is almost a permanent fixture at the end of the main bar. He's always up for some bullshitting.

They have a full menu...appetizers, sandwiches, salads, burgers, wraps and whatever else. The burgers and pizza are awesome! They've also started having specials. Monday is buck burger, Wednesday is freakin' cheap pizza. Friday they have a pretty good fish fry. I'm not sure what they have Tuesdays, Thursdays or on the weekends but it's probably worth looking into.

They have live music most, if not all, Friday nights. They have Monday night cribbage a couple of times a year. They've done Fourth of July fireworks. At Christmas they do a cookie exchange and make sure that some of the widowers that come in get Christmas cookies. Seems like one year they had a pot luck picnic. And I'm sure there are other things they do that I'm not thinking of. Like I said...we don't go as often as we used to.

If you're looking for an off the beaten path place, it doesn't get much better than this.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cocktail Chronicles?

What is The Cocktail Chronicles? Nothing more than a fancy name for we like to go bar hopping and I thought it would be fun to rate/review the bars we go to. I'm not talking corporate places...we avoid those like the plague. I'm talking about those little hole in the wall type places. Some of them are real shit holes but those are sometimes the best places to go. And sometimes, it's best to run in the other direction.

Currently, we live in northern MN but we prefer crossing the bridge to WI for our drinking pleasure. It's cheaper over there, the pours are better, usually, and even the people are more friendly.

While I have a few saved up, I'm off to a bar now and that will be the first 'official' post. Why? Cuz it's my darn blog & I'll do what I want! Seriously...well, you'll just have to wait & see.