Category Archives: LoTo out and about

LoTo Weeknd 3/17

Hola amigos, it’s been a while since I last hollered at you. I’m spelling “weekend” like that for now on because it’s cool. Search it if you want. On the verge of the year’s first thunderstorm here in Lowertown. The sky is lighting up as I strike these keys. Soon, the refuse of the Rossmor parking lot will be blowing through the streets (it’s windy too).

15 minutes before first T-storm of the season

Some Lowertown updates: The pawn shop on Ninth and Robert Streets, American Pawn Shop, has shuttered its doors. Just walked by it an hour ago and noticed *everything* cleared out of there. It was empty. Must have moved out Sunday after St. Patrick’s Day. Never went in there. Don’t think they advertised or even had a website. Could only find an unclaimed Yelp page.

Speaking of St. Patrick’s Day, I told myself I wouldn’t do it, but curiosity got the best of me and I walked down to Eagle Street Grill to try and get a beer. Well I couldn’t get a beer, and what did I actually expect? Too late did I figure this out, but duh, the neighborhood crowds are in the neighborhoods. Every hockey hooligan from the five-state area was going to be downtown because why venture to Snelling Avenue or even just up the hill? The mob at Eagle Street was soul-less, scowling, intimidating and brimming with drunken violence – and the staff was equally surly and unfriendly because it had to be.

More fun was Black Sheep Pizza beforehand. My college roommate and his fiancee came down on the 3 bus from their Como apartment and we got some pizza. We snatched some bar seats shortly after the parade let out, and as we went through our pizza and beers  (try the Lift Bridge Irish Coffee Stout, to me a less intense Surly Bender), we became slowly surrounded by parade-goers looking for a pint. Soon, the manager was in the weeds (restaurant industry slang for being so busy you aren’t able to distinguish what is the most pressing task at hand). About 15 minutes later, the husband-wife owner team shows up. Colleen began tending bar and her husband (didn’t catch his name, is it Jordan?) was making pizzas on the cook line. That’s some locally owned dedication I can get behind. We weren’t charged for our four beers because “they came out too slow.” I tipped to make up for it.

My happy place

OK, around 8:15 on Monday night here. I need some rain to cool things off. Early spring allergies combined with a Rossmor HVAC that hasn’t yet switched to AC made me slightly miserable over this past weekend. Sitting here in my boxers, sweating it out. And it’s March. In Minnesota.

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Gin flight night

Forget beer or wine flights. Tried my first gin flight last night at Amsterdam in St. Paul and immensely enjoyed it. I was wise to order a “control” gin I was already familiar with to measure up how the others tasted. So the control was Bombay Sapphire, a gin I thought was reasonably good considering it’s top shelf at bars.

It’s not top shelf tasting. Compared to Bols Genever, Wisconsin’s own Death’s Door gin, and the exquisite, raspberry aromas of Nolet, the Sapphire tasted like gasoline. Also funny: Whoever wrote the gin descriptions (which are wonderfully helpful in the same way Bulldog and other pubs describe beers) for Amsterdam’s gin menu clearly holds disdain for Sapphire. Rather than focusing on what it tastes or smells like, the Sapphire description says “it comes in a pretty bottle.” Sounds like criticism similar to what tequila purists dish out on Patron and it’s masterful (nefarious?) marketing techniques.

There’s 20 or so other gins at the bar I hadn’t heard of before. Each gin on a flight costs $4 no matter if its bar pour is $5 or $10. Where else can you find a bona fide gin list in St. Paul? Scotch go to St. Paul Grill. Beer go to Bulldog LoTo. Vodka? Moscow on the Hill. Now Amsterdam steps up and gives us a nice gin list. I like it.

Anyway it all couldn’t have happened without the wonderful Nancy Ngo inviting me to a music/fashion show that evening at the bar. The space served well for such a production. Cool tunes, costumes and clothes.

Amsterdam does a fashion show