My co-worker Scott called us up to see if we wanted to get a late lunch at Porky's. It was a little chilly for Porky's so we settled on Groveland Tap instead. It was busier than I thought it would be for a Sunday afternoon. It's a small place but there were still around fifteen people eating and drinking.
I made the quick decision to get the Red Hook Black Hook (which sounds like a beer that Dr. Seuss would come up with) after learning that they were all out of the Rush River Bubblejack IPA. Erin got her usual diet coke and Scott pulled through and got a beer even though he was still under the weather from the night before. I was expecting the Black Hook to taste like a black lager, like the 1554, but it was more like Guinness. It's dry and malty, not a whole lot of hops to speak of. I doubt I'll order one of these again, but I'm glad I tried it.
In typical fashion, I couldn't decide what I wanted to eat. Erin was pushing the pepper jack juicy lucy, but I wasn't sure if I wanted a sandwich or a burger. The burger won out in the end, and I upgraded to get the fries as well ($2 extra, but I'm a high roller like that). Scott got the pork sandwich also with fries.
The burger had pepper jack cheese and jalapenos in between the meat patties, and it was pretty damn good. I had to give a couple bites to Erin, cause she got the bland American cheese on her juicy lucy :). The fries were also pretty good, albeit not a huge portion, but that's probably a good thing. I think I'll usually eat as many fries as they'll put on the plate so the less they give me the better, it's not like I went home hungry.
For dessert our server mentioned a deep fried PB & J sandwich that sounded tasty. Its kind of like a Monte Cristo sandwich but with grape jelly and peanut butter instead of meat. I thought it was a good dessert, but I don't have much of a sweet tooth to begin with so we didn't even come close to finishing it all. The one change I would make would be to use strawberry jelly instead of grape.
- Service: Service was average, Erin had to beg with her eyes to get a refill of soda :)
- Food: All the food was great, its a typical bar menu with burgers and sandwiches.
- Drinks: They have a great tap beer list with plenty of micro-brews. I don't THINK they have a full bar, but I could be wrong.
- Ambiance: Pretty quiet neighborhood bar, no loud music or anything, at least on a Sunday afternoon. All the people seemed friendly.
- Price: The price was right on - not cheap, not expensive. The burgers are $5-$6, beers are $4 or so.
- Convenience: Groveland Tap is right at the intersection of Fairview & St. Clair, so it's not really convenient to any major roads and there's no parking lot. We found a spot on the street with no trouble though.
I thought Groveland Tap was a fine place for lunch, but certainly wasn't anything special. It is kind of hard to rate a bar on ambiance when you go there in the middle of the day - I have no idea what it would be like at night, but it seems like it would be quiet. There didn't seem to be any area for live music or anything like that. It was pretty much your average neighborhood bar. I think they only have wine and beer here, but like Ben, I'm not really sure.
I had heard this place had good Juicy Lucy's, so I knew right away that I'd order that. I am always kind of annoyed when a sandwich doesn't come with SOMETHING - chips, fries, whatever. I understand the upgrade charge if you are getting something more, but really - I think a burger should always have some kind of side dish. I figured since Ben got fries and I usually only eat about 1/3 of the amount I get that I'd be fine. Scott has an unnatural hatred for fries (and pancakes) so I also got to have a few of his. I got what I wanted, but I felt slightly cheated by the lack of side.
I thought my Juicy Lucy was average. I've now had a Juicy Lucy at Matt's Bar (good), the Nook (great), and Tuggs (if you count their stuffed burgers as a form of Juicy Lucy - it was okay but way too expensive). I thought this one was better than Tuggs (in terms of value mostly), but worse than Matt's and The Nook. I'd probably order something else if I went back. The deep fried PB&J that Ben wanted was okay, but not good enough to ever want to order again. It was mostly the novelty that appealed to him, I think.
I know Groveland Tap also owns Edina, Longfellow, and Highland Grill, some of which are on our list, so it will be interesting to compare this place to their other restaurants when we go there. I don't have much else to say about our Groveland Tap experience - it was a quick lunch on a blah Sunday... nothing special really. I probably won't go out of my way to go back, but if someone else wanted to go there, I wouldn't try to convince them otherwise.
1834 St. Claire Ave
St. Paul, MN
Recommended if you're looking for a nice neighborhood bar that isn't grungy and has pretty good food.