Harriet’s Inn In Minneapolis

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Harriet’s Inn, a new venture by Paul Dzubnar (CEO of Green Mill Restaurants and owner of Crooked Pint) and Jeremy Brown (franchisee of Crooked Pint), lured us in with promises of delicious pot pies and other comfort foods by a fire as fall turned to winter. We didn’t expect that the food would to blow us away, but we were hopeful that we could sate our seasonal casserole and craft beer cravings.

Billed as a “quintessential neighborhood pub,” Harriet’s Inn sports leather chairs, a popcorn machine, fireplaces, and large televisions. Servers wear shirts featuring a Yeats quote — “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t met” — and clearly strive to live up to the welcoming words. Still finding their sea legs, the wait staff is attentive and cordial, with one dubbing a member of our party “boss” (“Gonna have enough food there, boss?” “You okay here, boss?” “How’s that cheesecake working out for ya, boss?”).

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Unfortunately, while the atmosphere is cheery and comforting, much of the food was sad — particularly the much-anticipated chicken pot pie ($13). The filling was a thick mass of bland white goo, vegetables (including some undercooked carrots), and pale cubes of breast meat. An equally flavorless pastry cap tops the tasteless pie, and at least adds some fun; it’s hard to be too disappointed when you’re waving around (and miming wearing) a pastry hat. But a cup of New England clam chowder ($2 with an entree) soured our spirits once again. Our server insisted it was house-made; if so, the cooks did a marvelous job of recreating canned chowder.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Even the standard bar food fell short of our hopes, though it was somewhat redeemed in the context of the omnipresent televised sports and carefully crafted list of primarily local beers. The restaurant’s version of the Twin Cities’ fave Jucy Lucy ($9) (two patties stuffed with American cheese) was more Burger King than Blue Door.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Still, the Ellsworth cheese curds are solid (albeit pricey at $9), and we very much enjoyed the gigantic (14-ounce) warm and chewy pretzel ($9). The jumbo tater tots with serrano peppers, cheddar, and bacon ($9) are filling and full of flavor.

In the end, we’re reluctant to recommend Harriet’s Inn for a full meal, but we’re glad to see that it offers a genial, relatively warm neighborhood spot for sports, bar banter, and good beer in an often overlooked section of the city. Come ready for carbs and craft beer, and we expect you really will feel like a new friend.

Brenda Johnson contributed to this review.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Harriet’s Inn
Restaurant and sports bar in Southwest Minneapolis

4000 Lyndale Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55409
612.354.3852
OWNERS: Paul Dzubnar and Jeremy Brown
HOURS:
Mon-Thu 11 a.m.-11 p.m
Fri 11 a.m.-midnight
Sat 10 a.m.-midnight
Sun 10 a.m.-11 p.m.
BAR: Yes
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / Limited
ENTREE RANGE: $9-$17

 

Giordano’s in Uptown, Minneapolis

Mike Mommsen / Heavy Table
Mike Mommsen / Heavy Table

I remember the taste of Broadway Pizza from after little league games. When I see that cheesy, square-cut beauty, I can still feel the infield dirt trapped in the toes of my stirrups. I’d never argue that it’s objectively great pizza, but it will always be great to me.

As the most ubiquitous food in America, pizza gets weighed against personal history, and there’s just no accounting for taste. Even bad pizza, even frozen pizza, with the right point of view, can magically transcend the sum of its parts (see Rocky Rococo or Heggies, for example). The question is: Is Giordano’s your kind of bad pizza?

Mike Mommsen / Heavy Table
Mike Mommsen / Heavy Table

The first Minnesota outpost of the Chicago-based chain opened Wednesday in Uptown and has been flooded to the tune of three-hour waits at every dinner rush since. The staff predicts that things will settle down in a few weeks, and we’ve noticed that the restaurant is only sporadically populated during lunchtime. This is good, because waiting three hours for any pizza is slightly crazy. But for this pizza, it’s certifiable lunacy.

Mike Mommsen / Heavy Table
Mike Mommsen / Heavy Table

What usually dooms a deep-dish is the cheese — too much of it, or too low quality, usually both. With Giordano’s signature stuffed pizza ($22.25, small special), the cheese may in fact be the best part, sufficiently stringy and flavorful enough to pass. The problem is the crust — it’s as thick, structurally sound, and tasty as mortar. And it’s especially galling that a pizza that takes 45 minutes to cook arrives partly underdone. The crust transitions from rock solid, to pleasantly moist, to nearly raw inside.

The crust does a spectacular job as a presentation piece; the pies look wonderful as the servers hoist above you the first slice from the deep pie, like proof of cheesy concept. But with the texture of hardtack and roughly the same flavor, it has a strange, insulating effect. It renders the mushrooms and peppers on the inside slimy to the touch, not so much cooked as slightly warmed. The mushrooms have no choice but to leak into the filling, which is a one-way ticket on the L train to Glop City.

April 30 Tweet Rodeo

@FourFirkins gets a special German hefeweizen, @GreenMill001 provides a $10 off coupon, @BurgerJones hosts “free pint Friday” (until 2 pm), both locations of @MSMarketCoop sell duck eggs from Living the Dream Farm, and @NgonBistro closes early tonight.

April 12 Tweet Rodeo

Today is Twins opener day on Target Field! In honor of the occasion, @GreenMill001 offers free wings for the duration of today’s game, @Princetons, @SurdyksLiquor, and @LongfellowGrill look forward to upcoming visits from the Deschutes “Woody Wagon,” @GoldenFig quotes Alice Waters, @BullRunCoffee troubleshoots bitter coffee, and @HeidisMpls gives Black Sheep pizza high marks.

June 17 Tweet Rodeo

@commonroots has a 2-for-1 deal in June if you mention Twitter, @tcfoodies talks up a four-course cocktail and appetizer party at Azia and a June 18 5-8 pm 30-wine tasting at Haskell’s 9th & Marquette location for $5, @SmashburgerMN is stoked about its new Golden Valley restaurant opening next Tuesday, @hotdishblog promotes Green Mill’s mobile free pizza vehicle, and @TheWinePeople (Haskell’s) touts 30 wines under $10 at their Highland Store.