My mind should be on Halloween—after all I just sent a four-year-old rainbow and a two-year-old pink and purple kitty off to their respective schools. But my mind is not on Halloween!
Well, except that I have to run out later and get Halloween candy. My son loves Dots gum drops—does anyone even sell Dots? He picked up his passion for Dots at Adrian’s, the juicy-lucy bar in South Minneapolis. (There’s a claw-crane game in the back of Adrian’s that doesn’t stop working until the kid operating it snags a Tootsie Roll or a lollipop or a box of Dots. Did you know that if you lick the bottom of a series of Dots gumdrops they will adhere in a perfect line to your mother’s antique quartersawn oak chairs? True. Come to think of it, the Halloween candy around here may not be Dots.)
If you’ve never heard of Adrian’s, that’s probably my fault. They’re the perennial number four or so in the running to win Minnesota’s Juicy Lucy crown—numbers one, two, and three of course being Matt’s Bar and the 5-8 Club in south Minneapolis, and the Blue Door Pub in St. Paul. Juicy Lucys aside, I have a powerful love for Adrian’s. It’s a classic old corner take-your-whole-softball-team bar. They have good Juicy Lucys, great beers, and a nice scroungy informal vibe. And it’s a valuable ace-in-the-hole for parents. I took my kids there when my husband was out of town and my kids were inexplicably clamoring to go out to dinner, and I was amused to find that four of the five other occupied tables that night were taken up by groups of one-parent and one or two school-age kids. The kids’ meals are the standard-issue mac-and-cheese or chicken fingers and fries sort, but they come with individually wrapped Oreos. It’s a place that’s more about the vibe than the food, the kind of place that makes you feel like you’re in Wisconsin, with a nice laissez-faire nonjudgmentalness to it. So of course I as a Minnesotan must judge it, and I judge it: Good! If you’re a Juicy Lucy completist or a parent in south Minneapolis wondering where you can have a beer with your kid and teach them about pinball and vintage Ms. Pacman, I recommend Adrian’s heartily.
Speaking of Juicy Lucys: Did you know that November will be Juicy Lucy month? Neither did I till I got a press release from the 5-8. There will be free Juicy Lucys to celebrate on November 1st at all three locations from 4:30 to 6 p.m. (And good luck to you if you decide to try to get one! Should be a very pleasant sort of bedlam.) The rest of the month, the 5-8 will be rolling out new Juicy Lucy recipes, including one with wild rice and Swiss cheese (the Minnesota Yodeler) and another made with cream cheese and sliced green olives. They are also having a Juicy Lucy recipe contest—surely one of you chefs out there has a good, original idea? Pork belly and oysters in a Juicy Lucy? Moroccan ras el hanout and fava beans? This medium has yet to be fully explored!
Finally: What are you doing for New Year’s? I ask because I had a far-ranging conversation with Corner Table chef Scott Pampuch yesterday, and during it he impressed three things upon me: One, I don’t get to Corner Table nearly as much as I’d like, and the current menu looks fantastic. (Bison with a sunny-side-up egg and roasted poblano sweet potato hash seems particularly appealing.) Two, charcuterie fans would be well advised to get a copy of the new artisanal charcuterie book Primal Cuts that both Pampuch and Mike Phillips are part of, and would be even better advised to sign up for the November 10 dinner at Kieran’s Pub that will feature Phillips’ and Pampuch’s meatiest cooking. There’s no info on Kieran’s website yet, but Pampuch tells me the dinner will be going ahead in the Titanic Room, even though the price of tickets has yet to be determined; contact Kieran’s for a reservation.
Finally, Scott was telling me that I should sign up for the final Tour de Farm dinner of 2010, the one happening New Year’s Eve at Starthrower farm. Pampuch said it will sell out, and it’s likely to be the most memorable New Year’s Eve dinner possible. I think he’s right. I also think a pair of tickets would make a remarkable holiday present—especially because by the time the season rolls around, your beloved will think the tickets are all sold out. I know, I know, you’re in a Halloween frame of mind, not a Christmas one. But I’m putting it out there. Wouldn’t you be impressed with yourself if you planned for all the coming holidays so well in advance? I would be impressed with you. Till then: Happy Halloween everyone! May all your goblins be cute, your kitty cats nice and warm, and your pumpkins flicker unmolested all night long.