Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pine River, MN Hot Spot - The Harriet Club

It's Up There. But It's Worth The Trip.


I have another great bar recomendation from my pal Ben. He seems to really love the small town bars. Hey, I can't blame him; we have had some good times at these joints.

Crack a beer and enjoy!

There is a possibility this is the bar I have consumed the most booze in my life, by volume. We all have that bar, the one that isn't the prototypical place if you were building a dream bar for yourself in your mind, but at the end of the day if you had your druthers you would prefer to end up there with all of your buddies over many other bars that on the outside look like better choices.  It's a place you feel comfortable, a place you know what you’re going to get and that is just what you want.  For me, that bar is the Harriet Club, a family owned bar located in Pine River, MN near Lake Ada.

Pulling up on Highway 84 you see this small bar sitting on the corner of 84 and county road 43.  It is easy to miss, with it's gravel parking lot, leaning Hamm's Beer sign out front (no longer lights up) and a marquee sign likely advertising either rib night or Saturday karaoke.  Once in the lot, you park likely next to 75% pick up trucks.  You are in the north woods now bud, the locals drive pick ups, the locals are here and that is a good sign to you that this is a good place to be as well.  Let's say you are there on a Saturday karaoke night, there is a good chance as you walk in you are greeted by the sounds of an old time country ditty being sung wonderfully, possibly by me.

On your right there is seating for dinner, drinks, bingo night, karaoke night, and whatever else and next to that  a small, but sufficient, dance floor.  On your left, you see the U shaped bar, likely near full.  Behind that there is a separate game room that is also connected to the bar.  In the game room you can play some pool, Buck Hunter, darts, pin ball, PhotoHunt machine (I know it's not the real name of these computer gaming systems but let's be honest it should be) or Battletoads (yes, I said Battletoads).

Tending bar will likely be either owners, Pam or Ron; if not one of them it could be one of the other members of their family.  Outside of the family, there is bartender Ms. Mitzy; a no nonsense character who keeps the bar under control with quick wit and a pants wetting intimidation that has even had Paul Rome shaking in his boots after an over zealous rendition of a Gary Allan song.  Don't step out of line, all are great people and will take great care of you, so respect the bar and they'll respect you.

On tap you have your staples, nothing fancy schmancy here gang: Bud, Mich Golden Light, Miller Lite and Amber Bock.  All the hard liquor you could want is there for you, if you want to get your "mixologist" on though, expect a look from the other patrons.  Keep it simple, because again I remind you, you are in the north woods, foo foo drinks aren't all the rage around here.  If you do want something different though, and Mitzy is bartending (possibly even if she isn't but I've only ordered it from her), you can ask for the "Mitzy Special".  A creamy, coffee drink that will sneak up on you fast.

If you are in the mood for food, you are in luck.  The Club has great (big) burgers, their steak is good and their rib night is highly recommended.  Taco night (Thursdays) is a must.  Order them fried, then load them up with all the fixings.  It's bar food, but at the same time you feel there is just something more to it, the family owned factor I think plays into this.  Late night you can get a Heggies pizza, and we all know after a few drinks just how good a Heggies pizza is.

Am I going to guarantee on a sleepy Saturday night the Harriet Club is going to be packed with people and bouncing off the walls?  No.  Am I saying that a meal here will stay in your memory for years to come?  Probably not.  What I am saying is that if you go with a group of good friends and want a good meal, cheap (CHEAP) generously poured drinks, good people and warm atmosphere, the Harriet Club will deliver. The place is only a few wide framed glasses wearing hipsters away from being a place that, if put in Uptown, the hipster freaks would love to drive their hybrids to and suck down PBR tall boys.  The Harriet Club isn't in Uptown and hipsters are kept to a minimum (thank god), it's in Pine River, and you can't remake it's true and honest atmosphere anywhere else.

For me, there are numerous stories that take place at the Harriet Club.  Lake weekends always, it seems, end with Sunday mornings recanting the ups and downs of a wild night at the Club. Whether it's a tequila shot everyone is wishing hadn't been bought.  A karaoke duet that only one half of the duet remembers.  Passing out in a bar stool and getting fed bread by total strangers.  Playing PhotoHunt (Erotic version, yes there is such a thing and it's hilarious).  Remembering a seventy year old karaoke singing grandma belting out a tune about bald...ahem...cats. Then at the end of the night on the final trip to the bathroom, etching your name into the men's bathroom wall like so many before you, to let everyone know, you were there.

It's where I'll be numerous Friday or Saturday nights this summer.  If in the area, I suggest you do the same.  Just don't sing "Folsom Prison Blues" on karaoke night...that's my song.

Bottoms Up!

Guest Contributor - Ben

Harriet Club on Urbanspoon

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