I never thought the day would come when suburban men in Vikings jerseys would belly up to a bar to order a sidecar and a salad with lardons, but it has. And it was brought on by Eden Prairie’s new Prairie Ale House.
In a non-descript strip mall off Highway 5, a Timber Lodge Steakhouse has had all of its culinary Timber Lodge-ness removed. If you enjoyed the crafty cocktails and the bar food with a twist from the recently closed Town Talk Diner in Minneapolis, you’re going to love this place: It was founded by one of the Town Talk originals, Aaron Johnson. If I lived in Eden Prairie, I’d be here once a week.
The blue-cheese tots should be illegal: They’re encased with buffalo-chicken cracklin’. What’s cracklin’? It’s deep-fried chicken skin: salty and spicy to complement the creamy, potato-ey, blue-cheesy tots. Oh my.
The cheese curds are from Faribault, and they’re better than the State Fair’s. Plus, they come with bacon ketchup! How can you top that?
The Kraut Muncher wasn’t just fun to order, it was fun to eat. The Ale House makes its own bratwurst patty, and the kitchen tops it with bacon, Gruyère, and a delightful, slightly spicy sauerkraut. As if that wasn’t enough, the muncher comes with fantastic house-cut French fries.
After a Bloody Mary (topped with a pickle smeared with jalapeño cream cheese and wrapped in salami) and the calorie-packed appetizers, you might be tempted to order a salad. Do health food Prairie Ale House-style, and order the Ranch Garvey. You’ll get mixed greens with a generous serving of lardons (cubes of pork fat) topped with a fried egg.
The ale part of the Ale House is impressive, too. Not the draft beer (three of the 12 taps are of the Miller Lite, Coors Light, and Michelob Golden Light variety), but you can get Furthermore and Rogue in a bottle, and (attention hipsters!) PBR in a can.
Along with the cracklin’ and lardons, be sure to try an adult malt with peanut butter, bananas, and bourbon, or a cocktail with blood-orange bitters. At Prairie Ale House, they won’t make you change your Vikings jersey, but they will change the way you drink and eat.
Prairie Ale House, 16396 Wagner Way, Eden Prairie, 952-949-9700, prairiealehouse.com
Jason DeRusha is a reporter for wcco-tv.