This week in the Tap: Our columnist deconstructs all the angst over pedal pubs and runs down local restaurant openings and closings.
The Tap is a biweekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm. “We raise 100 percent grass-fed lambs & goats traditionally, humanely, and sustainably.”
The Tap is the metro area’s comprehensive restaurant buzz roundup, so if you see a new or newly shuttered restaurant, or anything that’s “coming soon,” email Tap editor James Norton at email@example.com.
Deconstructing Pedal Pubs
Ever since an off-duty-cop-laden PEDAL PUB was not-so-viciously attacked with water paraphernalia, discussion of these mobile party zones has blown through the roof. Most people tend to fall into either a “hate pedal pubs” or “love pedal pubs” mentality, and that’s understandable. The pubs are either floating islands of loud, obnoxious, intoxicated tourists that clog up traffic or camaraderie-building, celebratory fun zones, depending upon your own baggage and experiences.
This past Sunday, I joined a pedal pub throng and checked out the experience. The specifics: our group of 16 rode the two-hour-long NordEast route of the Twin Cities PedalPub, stopping off at four bars in the process. Or maybe it was three bars? It’s all a little blurry in retrospect, and not due to alcohol consumption (see below).
Five observations from the field:
1. There may, in fact, be nothing in the world less conducive to beer drinking than operating a bike-powered vehicle in warm weather. The theory and appeal of the pedal pub is that you’re drifting smoothly without a care in the world, sipping a pint and screaming “WOOOOO!” with your friends. The reality is that you’re one of 10 people pedaling to move nearly two tons of flesh, wood, metal, and beer along city streets, and even the slightest of inclines is enough to require Roman-slave galley-style forced exertion. If you’re the type of person who likes playing a game of tennis while drinking a six-pack, this is your kind of deal. If you’re like me — the kind of person who prefers to consume alcohol after all necessary sweating has been accomplished — it’s an odd mix. I probably drank 30 percent each of five beers, most of which were of the nearly pure water Miller High Life variety. Big hitters from HammerHeart? Lift Bridge? Great under normal circumstances. Not so much during the roving equivalent of a spin class.
2. The view from a pedal pub looking out is very different from the view of a pedal pub from the street or sidewalk. Even during the toughest of inclines, we were having fun with people we liked, listening to music while doing something physically engaging, and drinking beer. We were collectively in a great mood, and whenever a car passenger or pedestrian waved at us, we waved and hollered back with real enthusiasm. In short: we were happy. And people who were angry that we were happy didn’t anger us, they just left us slightly confused. I’ll forever cherish the dramatic dagger-eyes shot at our group by the overdressed hipster sulking on the patio at Dusty’s, and the real delight of the friend-of-our-group who was able to run out his front door and wave as we cruised past his house.
3. Traffic is kind of terrifying when you’re car-sized but you top out at 12 mph. The hilarious and scary thing about things from the viewpoint of a pedal pubber is that your vehicle, such as it is, is often riding where cars go, but much more slowly, without any protection from impact and (generally speaking) minus helmets. (Who wants to be the only doofus out of 16 who signs up for the helmet? Nobody! Hooray for unconsciously enforced social norms!) The vast majority of cars actually treated us with respect (if not friendly hooting out of rolled-down windows), but the one semi cab that blew past us at full bore with a foot of breathing room made an impression. A mental impression, thankfully.
4. The interactions with the bars that you visit are fleeting, but positive. One of the raps on pedal pubs is that because bar visits are so short (15-20 minutes), no real money is spent, and all that’s accomplished is crowding the place up and irritating the regulars. Our experience was that basically, everyone ordered a beer; the more unhinged among us got the occasional shot; food was ordered at least once; and a lot of folks who didn’t already know a place got some welcome exposure and maybe even found a bar they’d like to return to (The Knight Cap is on my list).
5. A pedal pub is more expensive and far less efficient than, say, hanging out at one great bar or just renting a boat. And that’s the point. The thing about a pedal pub is that it’s structured like an adventure. There are warnings up front about not falling off or barfing on yourself; you are probably thrown together with at least some people you’ve never met before; and you’re all processing heat, and alcohol, and new surroundings. Stuff is going to happen. You’re going to remember the trip. That’s kind of the point.
In short: Riding a pedal pub didn’t resolve my mixed feelings about the things — it just deepened them. But it did help me to appreciate the legitimate joy that these things bring to their passengers (those WOOOOOOs are heartfelt), and the next time a pedal pub drifts past, I’ll shoot it a friendly wave. Even if it’s floating free in the world, out of its element, happiness is a nice thing to see.
— James Norton
- Bradstreet Neighborhood Craftshouse, 1930 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis | Summer 2015
- Valhalla Nordic Smoke and Ale House, 310 Stillwater Rd, Willernie, MN
- Big Axe Brewing Company, 25435 Main St, Nisswa, MN
- Mr. Roberts Restaurant, 28179 East Shore Dr, Pengilly, MN
- Monello, Hotel Ivy 201 S 11th St, Minneapolis
- Bep Eatery, 100 S 5th St. Skyway Level, Minneapolis
- Colossal Cafe (third location) 1340 Grand Ave, St. Paul
- Sencha Tea Bar (Tea Garden under new ownership and rebranded), 2601 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis
- Bogart’s Doughnut Company, downtown location, IDS building, Minneapolis
- Belle Vinez Winery, W10829 875th Ave, River Falls, WI
- La Ceiba Bistro, 3500 Bloomington Ave S, Minneapolis | Our visit
- Surly Brewer’s Table, 520 Malcolm Ave SE, Minneapolis
- Nighthawks, 3753 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis | Our review
- Como Dockside Lakeside Pavilion, Como Park, St. Paul
- 56 Brewing, 3134 California St NE, Minneapolis | Our review
- Workhorse Coffee Bar, 2399 University Ave, St. Paul
- Tamarack Tap Room, 8418 Tamarack Village, Woodbury | Our visit
- Sidhe Brewing Company, 990 Payne Ave, St. Paul
CLOSED / CLOSING:
- Romolo’s in St. Paul | Our review
- Rice Paper | (closing June 27)
- Four Inns skyway diner in St. Paul
- T’s Place in Minneapolis
- Pairings in Minnetonka
- El Burrito Mercado (Midtown Global Market location)
- Umbria Pizza in Eden Prairie
- Sapor (closing June 27)
- Nye’s Polonaise Room (closing 2015)
- Lawless Distilling, 2619 28th Ave S, Minneapolis | Summer 2015
- Scena Tavern, 2943 Girard Ave S, Minneapolis | Summer 2015
- Bonicelli Kitchen, 1901 NE Fillmore St, Minneapolis | July 2015
- Twin Spirits Distillery, 2931 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis | Fall 2015
- Able Seedhouse and Brewery, 1121 Quincy St NE, Minneapolis | Winter 2015
- Lakes and Legends Brewing Company, 1368 Lasalle Ave, Minneapolis | Summer 2015
- Q Fanatic, South Metro, Minneapolis | Summer 2015 (second location)
- DiNoko’s Pizzeria, 4457 42nd Ave S, Minneapolis | Summer 2015
- Eggy’s Diner, LPM Apartments, 1369 Spruce Pl, Minneapolis | Summer 2015
- Bryn Mawr Brewing, 225 Thomas Ave N, Minneapolis | Winter 2015
- Eastside at Latitude 45, 301 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis | August 2015
- Constantine, Hotel Ivy, 201 S 11th St, Minneapolis | June 2015
- 4 Bells, 1610 Harmon Place, Minneapolis | Summer 2015
- Restaurant TBA replacing the Modern in Northeast Minneapolis | Summer 2015
- Seward Co-op Creamery Neighborhood Cafe, 2601 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis | July 2015
- Parella, Calhoun Square | July 2015
- Hi-Lo Diner (working name), 4020 E Lake St, Minneapolis | Summer or Autumn of 2015
- Tattersall Distilling, 1620 Central Avenue NE, Minneapolis | Summer 2015
- St. Genevieve, 5003 Bryant Ave S, Minneapolis | Mid-2015
- Il Foro, City Center, Minneapolis | June 2015
- Seward Co-op Friendship Store, 317 38th St E | Summer 2015
- Upton43, 4312 Upton Ave, Minneapolis | September 2015
- Urban Forage Winery and Cider House, 3016 E Lake St, Minneapolis | Fall 2015
- Lost Falls Distillery, 1915 E 22nd St, Minneapolis | Summer 2015
- The Herbivorous Butcher, Minneapolis | Summer 2015
- Pizzeria Lola concept TBD, 165 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis | 2015
- The Bachelor Farmer Cafe project to be named, 200 N 1st St, Minneapolis | 2015
- Lake Monster Brewing, 550 Vandalia St, St. Paul | 2015
- Ox Cart Ale House, 255 E 6th St, St. Paul | Summer 2015
- Bad Weather Brewing, 414 7th St W, St. Paul | 2015
- Big River Pizza, Lofts at Farmers Market, St. Paul | June 2015
- Heirloom, 2186 Marshall Ave, St. Paul | June 2015
- 11 Wells Millwright Cocktail Room, Historic Hamm Building, St. Paul | Summer 2015
- Lexington (new ownership), 1096 Grand Ave, St. Paul | Summer 2015
- Saint Dinette, 280 E 5th St, St. Paul | June 2015
Greater Twin Cities Area and Beyond
- St. Croix Brewing Company, 114 Chestnut St E, Stillwater | 2015
- Angry Inch Brewing, 20841 Holyoke Ave, Lakeville | July 2015
- Ruscello, Nordstrom Ridgedale, Minnetonka | October 2015
- 10K Brewing, Bank Block on Second and Main, Anoka | July 2015
- Gogi Bros. House, Shady Oak Retail Center, Eden Prairie | Summer 2015
- Gator’s Grilled Cheese Emporium, 955 E Sheridan, Ely | Summer 2015
- The King and I Thai (reopening), 760 Highway 110, Mendota Heights | 2015
- Wicked Wort Brewing Co., 4165-4175 W Broadway, Robbinsdale | Fall 2015
The Tap is the Heavy Table’s guide to area restaurant openings, closings, and other major events. The Tap is compiled and published biweekly by the Heavy Table. If you have tips for The Tap, please email James Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org.