Erin and I initially tried to hit up Skinners on Sunday night of Memorial Day weekend to get some nachos and pizza. We got to Skinners around 8:30 or so and ordered two beers. Then I asked for a menu to get some food and the bartender (Mr. Skinner?) told me the kitchen wasn't open that day. Bummer. We were starving and we just got a beer, so we downed the beers post haste to find someplace that had food.
After some quick deliberation we settled on the Nook on Hamline Ave. across from Cretin-Derham Hall. It was surprisingly (to me) busy for a Sunday night, the place was nearly packed. We got a table right away though, towards the back of the restaurant.
We each ordered another beer (Element 115 for me) and some cheese curds as an appetizer. The cheese curds were real greasy, more than cheese curds are supposed to be. I could only stomach a couple of them, they were just too much for me. Again following Erin's Dad's advice of "when you're at a burger place, get a burger" I ordered the Cusburger that was a bacon cheeseburger with sliced green pepper on top.
My burger was excellent, as expected. On the way into the restaurant I saw them making fries and I noticed that they were the "homestyle" fries that I don't like so I wasn't expecting to like the fries. I was pleasantly surprised though, because the fries were also very good. Not as greasy as the cheese curds and they had good structure.
One thing that was a little odd was that at a certain point, maybe a little after 9pm they turned the music WAY up and started playing a strange mix of music. There was a Buffalo Springfield pop remix followed by several Metallica songs. It was weird.
I did like the abundance of flat panel TVs throughout the bar, and they've got a lot of local historical stuff on the walls, newspaper articles, local sports stories, lots of Cretin-Derham hall stuff (Joe Mauer and Matt Birk both have burgers on the menu). The decor is cool, it gives you some reading material too :)
- Service: Service was OK, I recall having to wait awhile a couple times for a refill or the bill.
- Food: Great burgers and fries, cheese curds were too greasy.
- Drinks: Decent amount of taps, with a couple micro brews on tap as well (Flat Earth, Summit).
- Ambiance: The weird music aside, I like the atmosphere at the nook, its a cozy neighborhood bar with a lot of history.
- Price: Our total was around $35 before tip I believe, pretty standard.
- Convenience: Parking can be tough if you go on a weekend night, there's only street parking available.
First, I'd like to express my extreme displeasure at Skinner's for not having their kitchen open last Sunday. It was a weekend night because of the holiday, so it was really strange to me that it was closed, especially since the explanation was nonexistent. Very sad. We went there once before and I was impressed with the food there - it was a step above normal dive bar food.
By the time we finally decided on and arrived at The Nook, I was ravenous, and halfway drunk from chugging a beer on an empty stomach. We ordered the cheese curds right away so that we could get some food in our bellies. I really enjoyed them. Ben is not a good judge of cheese curds, I don't know if he's ever really had more than one or two. I'm guessing no. He hates the State Fair and tends to get a little bit of an upset tummy from greasy food so take his judgment for what it's worth. I, on the other hand, quite enjoyed the cheese curds. They were nice and hot and delicious.
We actually have been to The Nook once before, prior to starting this blog, so this wasn't really a new dining experience. I ordered the same thing I had last time, the Juicy Lucy. I just love them, so ordering anything else really isn't an option for me. This one didn't disappoint. As I mentioned in the Groveland Tap review, this is my favorite Juicy Lucy that I've had. I also liked that it came with fries! I didn't really like the fries that much - weirdly enough. I guess Ben and I have opposite fry tastes. I thought these were really dry. I like lots o grease I guess!
The Nook is a pretty small place and has kind of an odd vibe. The waitstaff at The Nook is pretty young (perhaps that is why their website is a MySpace.com page), and thus the music selection reflects that - there was a lot of loud rock and rap when we were there, which didn't seem to fit with the "neighborhood bar" feeling of the place.
They have made some improvements with the layout since the last time we were there (can't really remember when, sometime in early winter of this year). The bathrooms now have a wall in front of them, so there isn't a table right outside the door of a one person bathroom. The doors aren't exactly "solid" feeling either, so this is a great addition, especially with their abundance of greasy food. Someone who will remain nameless had a bit of a bad reaction to the Friday fish fry he had last time we were there, so he choose to run across the street to the Oasis gas station instead of using the bar's bathroom lest he ruin the dining experiences of the people sitting right outside the men's room.
This place is a fun neighborhood bar, and as Ben said, it has a lot of history - there are tons of articles on the wall, and it was featured on some TV show, so it's worth it to go at least once. If I lived near there, I'd go quite often.
492 Hamline Ave. S.
Highly recommended for the burgers!