Happy Gnome Team Introduces Augustine's Bar and Bakery

Jason and Joy visit the former Selby Avenue laundromat transformed into a spot for both booze and housemade bread

Each month, in our “Restaurant Rumble” conversation, MnMo food critics Jason DeRusha and Joy Summers review two restaurants and pick a winner.

Dining room at Augustine’s Bar and Bakery

photos by tj turner

Joy: A former laundromat on Selby Avenue has been transformed into a bakery/restaurant and bar courtesy of the owners of beer haven the Happy Gnome just
a few miles down the street.

Jason: The name of this place is a little confusing: It isn’t just a bar/bakery combo, it’s a restaurant that bakes its own bread and has a full liquor license. Don’t think you’re expected to pair a pain au chocolate with an Old Fashioned. Augustine’s functions as a coffee shop and bakery in the morning, then transitions into a neighborhood bar/restaurant for lunch and dinner. The first time I visited, things didn’t get off to a great start. I was more impressed by the enormous size of the pulled chicken sandwich than the flavor: It was dry and dull.

Joy: My first bite was an unfortunate pork rillettes with a texture like week-old tuna salad on a giant crust of bread. The situation didn’t improve much from there. I was curious about the merguez sausage mac and cheese—surprised by both the idea that mac and cheese would have North African seasoning and a $20 price tag. Turns out,
I wouldn’t have eaten it had it been free: Gummy gemelli pasta spirals languished in a boring cheese sauce, and what little meat it included tasted of generic taco seasoning.

Lemon poppyseed muffin

Jason: I agree that $20 is ridiculous for mac and cheese, but the serving I had was enormous, with perfectly cooked pasta and plenty of sausage chunks. I liked the way the seasoning enhanced the cheesy pasta, broccolini, and leeks.

Joy: We’ll have to agree to disagree on that one. The turkey burger was my favorite dish—it’s served with a side of spicy aioli and really good fries—and a chicken sandwich with grilled peppers and onions was also serviceable.

Jason: The housemade bread is good, but the kitchen does need to work on dryness of the sandwiches. That’s why I preferred the Moroccan chickpea ragout to the curried falafel.

Moroccan chickpea ragout

Joy: At least there is a fantastic beer selection and good French fries

Jason: Yes, and I also liked the oversized potato tots, stuffed with fontina cheese. I’m not saying Augustine’s is worth a special trip, but come on Joy, is it that bad? It’s a neighborhood bar! It’s Happy Gnome–like! 

Joy: The coffee and bakery goods combined with the convivial bar atmosphere makes this a welcome addition to Merriam Park, but let’s just call it a Minnesota review. It’s not my favorite.

Augustine’s Bar and Bakery Quick Tips:

Parking: There’s a lot next to Augustine’s and plenty of free parking on Selby

Beer List: There’s local faves Surly, Fulton, and Steel Toe, but also more unusual beers including Sixpoint from New York and Bear Republic from California

Bread: Baguettes and sourdough available daily, plus rotating styles such as miche and challah

This month’s “Restaurant Rumble” pitted the hip successor to Pizzeria Lola, Young Joni, against a former laundromat turned bakery/restaurant and bar by the owners of the Happy Gnome, Augustine’s Bar and Bakery. Find out which restaurant Jason and Joy chose as the winner in the March 2017 issue of MnMo.

1668 Selby Ave. St. Paul., 651-447-3729, augustinesmn.com