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.