We met my friend Justin and his girlfriend Brittney last Wednesday for dinner at the Red Stag Supper Club. Erin and I both read some reviews during the day of Red Stag to see what other people were saying. Several reviews mentioned the spotty service they received, so even though the most recent review I read was from May, it still made us a little nervous about what to expect. The pictures that I had seen made the place look pretty cool and it's interesting to note that they are the first LEED certified restaurant in Minnesota.
After a forty minute drive from 11 St. & 3rd Ave. in downtown (Google maps puts the distance at 1.8 miles - meaning you could run there AND BACK in the time it took us to drive) we finally got to Red Stag. Justin and Brittney had arrived ten minutes earlier so they had already grabbed a table. From the outside it's obvious where the Red Stag is because they actually have a statue of a red stag that hangs over the entrance to the restaurant. We walked in, spotted our friends and had a seat.
Our server was clearly not the server that we had read about in the reviews, because she was excellent. She was always prompt with getting drinks, water, and our order and she also knew the menu and the specials for the night. This is all I ask for in a server :)
We had gotten there in time to get a drink during happy hour, so I had a beer (Furious? Two-Hearted? I can't recall now, I need to write my reviews earlier apparently). We also ordered some appetizers; Justin and Brittney got a cheese plate and I ordered some smelt fries without knowing what "smelt" is/are. Turns out smelt are exactly like the minnows I was fishing with a couple weeks earlier, albeit more expensive and breaded. The smelt fries were pretty good, but I could only have a couple of them, they were a little heavy to be having a bunch of them, and I had a pork chop with cheese grits coming.
The menu at Red Stag has some unique options: roasted duck, halibut cheeks, venison stroganoff (Justin got this). Getting a pork chop seemed a little unadventurous, but I really wanted the cheese grits. In hindsight it was a great decision because they were both really good. After the smelt fries, pork chop, and beer, I was completely stuffed.
The bar at the Red Stag looked cool. It's a long wooden bar with a generous assortment of booze choices and some good beer options. I would consider coming here for happy hour if someone suggested it. I think the traffic on Wednesday was a fluke, so forty minutes was not the norm.
I can put to rest the bad reviews we had read from earlier, there was nothing about the Red Stag that I would complain about. The service was good, as was the food and the atmosphere.
- Service: Our server was great, she knew the specials and offered opinions of the menu when asked.
- Food: My pork chop and grits were excellent, and everyone seemed to enjoy their food.
- Drinks: Full bar with a decent beer selection. $3 happy hour domestic taps that actually include the "premium" domestic beers.
- Ambiance: I loved the exposed structure inside, I thought it looked really cool. The Red Stag had a cozy atmosphere the night we were there.
- Price: Our tab was around $55, which seems reasonable, given that the 'big plates' are around $20 apiece (although Erin didn't get an 'big plate').
- Convenience: There's no parking lot, but we found some free on-street parking around the corner. There are also meters on the street.
Kate has been blabbing to me about how AH-MAY-ZING Red Stag is for months. Since she likes to be hip and with it, I think she went right when it opened about a year ago. Which means I have been hearing about this place for awhile. You could say it had been built up in my mind. I was nervous that it would let me down especially after reading some so-so reviews on Chowhound, but thankfully it did not! I loved Red Stag and would gladly go there again and again.
After our harrowing drive from downtown, we were not in the best of spirits when we arrived. Luckily it was still happy hour, so that made everything better. I ordered a Pear Cider, which was also $3. This put me in a good mood immediately, because normally even though this was under "beer" and is "domestic" at other places that will not be named, it would not be included in happy hour specials. I also liked how the water was served - you choose still or sparkling, and there is no ice, but it is still cold. My glass was kept full most of the night, which is no small feat considering the amount of water I drank.
After staring at the menu for a good long time, I told the waitress I was debating between the duck terrine and the smelt fries for an appetizer and asked for her recommendation. She said "the terrine is really good" so she must have something against minnows. Since Ben still wanted to try the smelt fries without knowing what smelt was, we just got both. After we ordered, the waitress brought out the bread which came with their home made bean dip which was a nice change from butter and tasted great.
The duck terrine was delicious. I didn't have a clue was terrine was before I ordered it, but apparently it is a way of preparing meat and when cold it is similar to pate. It came with a soft boiled egg, toast points, poached pear and shoestrings. A very odd combination to me at first, but it all worked. The smelt fries were great too - kind of unnerving to eat the whole fish though, so be forewarned. They were perfectly breaded so that they weren't too greasy.
For my main dish I ordered the side of mac and cheese which right now comes with scallion, sausage, and mushrooms. I thought that there was a little too much sausage in this dish, but it was still VERY good - it reminded me a lot of the pelmini I got at Moscow on the Hill. After the 2 fairly substantial appetizers, I could barely finish half of my side of mac and cheese - it was very rich!
I loved the atmosphere at Red Stag - it is a little old school with the carpet but still contemporary looking. The bathrooms are cool too, with the hard core handdryers and the "flush/half flush" options on the toilets.
Red Stag Supper Club
509 1st Ave NE
Highly recommended for the food and atmosphere