The High End and The Low End
So after Chicago I took a solo trip to Minneapolis. I’m writing a play, and I arbitrarily made my protagonist from Minneapolis even though I’d never been. Since I was already going to the Midwest, I thought I might as well tack on an additional trip for research. Next play I write, I might “arbitrarily” make my protagonist from Spain but Minneapolis was pretty cool too. I was alone for two days so I went to a lot of places by myself, but here are the two highlights of my trip: one high-end restaurant and one low-end bar.
The Bachelor Farmer, 50 N 2nd Ave off N 1st St, Minneapolis MN
The Place: A trendy, elegant Scandinavian/American restaurant in the North Loop.
The Time: Saturday August 12, 7:30pm. I landed in Minneapolis, I checked into my hotel, and I said to myself, “you know what? I’m gonna take myself out to a fancy dinner, goddammit! I deserve it! And maybe I can write it off as a business expense!”
The Vibe: Freakin adorable and lovely. The hostess tells me that the wait for the dining room is two hours, but the bar is first come, first serve. I do a little bit of hovering, waiting for people to leave, then settle in at the marble bar. There are couples and groups of friends and everyone has a slight midwestern accent and I feel very happy.
The Bartender: A friendly man named John who takes great care of me. He and another guy are the servers for the bar (because everyone is also eating dinner) and the bartenders for the entire restaurant so they are BUSY but keep their cool and their smiles.
The Drank: Basque Honeymoon, a stirred cocktail of vermouth, Amer Picon and gin. It’s a great Negroni riff. But the FOOD is what people are here for. I get a crazy delicious, three-course, vegetable-forward meal and I’m now convinced I should take solo trips more often if it means I’m able to eat at the best restaurants in town because I’m a party of one.
Was I Hit On? No! It’s all about me, and Roxane Gay’s writing, and a big bowl of mushroom ragout. It’s awesome.
Should You Drink Here Alone? If you are in Minneapolis and want to Treat Yo’ Self, then absolutely. The Bachelor Farmer is so yummy, so delightful. I think it’d be a shame to come here and NOT eat something, so either make a reservation far in advance, or be prepared to snag a bar stool like a boss.
Grumpy’s, 1111 Washington Ave S and 11th Ave S, Minneapolis MN
The Place: A relaxed AF bar in Downtown Minneapolis that feels part dive bar, part retro diner.
The Time: Sunday August 13, 6pm. I am seeing a play at The Guthrie, and my friend who went to school in Minnesota told me to come here before the show so here I am.
The Vibe: So fucking chill. It’s big in here, with big pool tables, TVs, dart boards. It’s a big circle bar in the center of the space, so I walk straight up to one side of the bar and pull up a stool. There are friends playing pool, a family drinking beer and eating burgers, locals at the bar itself. It's easy to feel at home here.
The Bartender: Mark, originally from Deluth, studied acting in college but never did anything with it. When I sit down, he says I look familiar. I say I’ve never been to this city before. When he asks what I’m doing in town, I tell him I’m writing a play about a bar, and he says “Wendy Wasserstein did it already,” smirks, and walks away. Mark and I get each other.
The Drank: A local beer called, I kid you not, Fulton Lonely Blonde. I am a blonde alone. I love this ironic twist of fate. I also get a half order of tater tots as a pre-theater snack and I literally receive a MOUNTAIN of tots. Toto, we are not in Brooklyn anymore.
Was I Hit On? Again, nope! Just chatted with Mark and a woman on the other side of the bar, talking about theater and Minnesota and the service industry. After I finish my beer, I take my leftover tots to go and head to the Guthrie.
Should You Drink Here Alone? Sure! Grumpy’s is really fun and friendly, a great bar to go before the theater, or whenever probably. I would recommend bringing a friend to help you eat the tots, but I did alright chowing down on my own.
UPDATE: Grumpy’s is now closed :(