Friday, January 3, 2014

Pizza, Beer and Atmosphere: River Inn

Still Looks Like This.....People And All


Hope everyone had an awesome Christmas and even better New Year's Eve. It's been awhile since I've posted so I figured I'd better step it up.

By "Step it Up" I mean have my ol' pal from STOB do a quick write up for you guys. Hope you enjoy.

Ever been to Hanover, MN? No? You’re not alone. It’s a small town a mile or two south of St Michael/Albertville. Yep, you’ve been to the Outlet Mall. Let’s say you head out west (assuming everyone who reads this is in Minneapolis/St. Paul area…because making assumptions has never harmed anyone) to do some shopping at the Outlets, you’ve been trekking around for hours lugging bags upon bags of deals and now you’re hungry and thirsty. Well there are a few options in the area, but to me, you’d maybe be best served to take 10 minutes and drive south to Hanover. There you will find three bars.

First you’ll likely see Chops to your west as you head south on county road 19. You want to get a drink for a nice price and some food no better than you likely could have made yourself, or maybe a Heggies pizza, sure Chops is fine. But again, between you and the Outlet Malls you just came from, you could have gotten that about 10X over. I like Chops for what it is, but I live in Hanover…I can walk there, you just drove here and it’s in no way a destination.
Ok, so you go across the Crow River (oh pretty) and run into Hill Top Bar and Grill (oh not so pretty). Again, this article is written under the assumption, “You ain’t from ‘round here, is ya?” I bring this up because at Hill Top, if you’re not from “’round here”, expect the staff to treat you as if you’ve just interrupted their record breaking Jenga game by punting the tower across the room (Jenga isn’t available to be played…there are piles of pulled pull tabs on the floor though). I live in Hanover, been there many times, never punted their Jenga game across the room or even half way across the room, and I still get this “customer service”.
The plus side, you’ll get the strongest pour in the area for cheap, some pretty good burgers and the one thing that’s different, some Chinese food options on the menu. Outside of the Chinese food though, you could have found most everything here along with better service 10X over just like Chops.
Thankfully I mentioned there was a third option as you were starting to wonder why the hell I led you down to Hanover at this point.
River Inn Bar and Grill is located in the heart of Hanover, within a rocks throw of the Crow River and the famous Hanover Bridge. Its family owned and the owners are almost always very present and always are pleasant, engaged and demanding the same of their staff. With Rib and Prime Rib specials Wednesday through Saturdays (Prime Rib only Fri/Sat) the level of food is above that of any of the places you passed on the way to Hanover. Also, the normal bar fare that is also available at River Inn is all executed at a level that the others in the area can’t match.
Some food I recommend; any and all of their pizzas, the Big Ol’ Burger, the ribs and my favorite item the Black and Bleu wrap (Blackened steak tips and bleu cheese with mushrooms, fried onions and some veggies wrapped up with a side of seasoned dipping sauce. Best. Wrap. Ever.)
Behind the bar River Inn will never be confused with the tap crazed bars in Minneapolis. This isn’t a place to come and experiment with your beer selection, but unlike the two competitors in Hanover and almost all the competitors to the north in St Michael and Albertville, you actually can find a craft beer or two. The mixed drinks and seasonal infused spirits add flair to your drink selection that is unmatched unless you head down 94 to Maple Grove. The Bloody Mary’s are a real crowd favorite and the bartenders are all very friendly and only add to your experience with their personalities.
Then there is the atmosphere. The building was first used as a bar in 1894 as Strunk’s Saloon & Pool Parlor. Check out the tin ceiling, walls and bar. Yup, those are all originals from the Strunk’s days. Those very same walls are strewn with old pictures and history of the building and Hanover, great to check out with a drink while you wait for your table. (A wait in Hanover? Yup, we’ll get to that)
The building is great inside and out, there is one small outdoor patio where you can eat and drink during warm months, once it gets cold a fire pit (there are two others outdoors as well used for waiting areas) is placed in the middle and is a great place to have a drink while waiting for a table. Waiting, as previously mentioned, will happen on almost any evening during normal dinner hours. This is in no way a secret, unfound gem. River Inn is “the place” to be on a Friday or Saturday for dinner if you’ve ventured out of Hennepin County.
The wait is worth it, and again, with a well-trained and motivated staff, you will always have a full drink in your hand while partaking in your wait. Don’t expect the crowd to stay much past 9 pm however, this isn’t a late night party place, it’s a lunch, happy hour, dinner place and it’s a damn good at all three.
Now you know. Once the mercury decides to rise above 0 round these parts you should make a plan to head to the Albertville Outlets and then dinner and drinks at River Inn. You will not be disappointed, if you are, leave a comment on this post prior to leaving, I’ll respond and personally meet you there so you can tell it to me to my face cause I don’t believe it. Once we have that figured out, we’ll head over to Chop’s and drink away our differences.
Bottoms Up!

River Inn Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ken,

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