20 September 2013

Parlour offers casual alternative to upstairs Borough, Mpls

My wife and I went to Borough (North Loop, Minneapolis) earlier this year. We loved it. The drinks were creative and expertly made. The food was delicious, and the menu offered enough variety so that we and our friends could find things that we liked.

When we had finished upstairs, we wandered downstairs to the ‘below street-level’ bar called Parlour. We really liked the ambiance. We bumped into some friends who were dining there, and they said it was great. So we filed that recommendation away for future reference.

Fast forward to September. We had a rare open Saturday. We decided that North Loop sounded fun. There was a Prince cover band playing at Bunker’s. All we needed was to find a place to eat before the first set. Borough/Parlour is right across the street. So our plan was – we’d go to Parlour. If we could get in in a reasonable amount of time, ok. We’d eat there. Otherwise, we’d head back west to St. Louis Park, eat at Figlio and catch some Irish music at the Cooper.

Well, much to our surprise, when we walked into Parlour, we practically had our choice of tables. We settled in to a high top with a sidewalk-level view of the street and started to peruse the cocktail menu. The special cocktails are very appealing. Linda had a hard time deciding, and the server was very accommodating with a spot-on recommendation. She chose an Old-Fashioned. I was tempted by several on the menu. But I asked if the bartender made a Sazerac. He did. That’s what I ordered, and it was great.

We planned to eat light. (If we’d wanted a more extensive dinner, we would have tried Borough upstairs.) Linda chose the burger. It was a delicious, meaty sandwich. I chose the fried cauliflower which was served with tempura-fried oysters and pickled jalapenos. We also split a plate of fries. It was just what we wanted.

Over the short period of time that we were there, the place gradually filled up. We asked our server where the crowds come from. We speculated maybe Twins games. She said ‘no.’ It’s a lot of locals and regulars.

On our way out, we struck up a conversation with the bartender. Linda commented that on our visit to Borough, she had a brandy-soaked cherry in her cocktail. We tried to replicate it, but it resulted in an over-whelming alcohol flavor. The bartender gave her a cherry to sample and talked a little about the technique of preparing a cherry for a cocktail. We were impressed by his accommodating personality and willingness to take time to talk to us.

Of course, part of our entertainment for going out is people watching. We were amused to note the difference in male vs. female attire. Most of the men at Parlour wore jeans and shirt, generally not tucked in, kind of sloppy. Most of their dates were wearing long sheath dresses.

Afterwards, we went across the street to Bunker’s. We really enjoyed the Prince cover band. But ‘Wow’! What a difference in personal style. We really got the impression that not many people walk across from Parlour (or Bar La Grassa) to spend the rest of the evening at Bunker’s.

Too bad. It’s a fun place for live music.

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