The Four Firkins, Joan’s in the Park, Crooked Pint Ale House, Smokehouse Brewpub, Pat’s Tap and more

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The Tap loves restaurant tips from readers, so we’re awarding a Heavy Table pint glass to the best tipster each month. 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 Jason Walker at

August’s winner: Chris Heck of Minneapolis

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The Four Firkins (new location opens Oct. 3)

5630 36th St, St. Louis Park | 952.938.2847 |

The Four Firkins is like a neighborhood hardware store: Walk in the door, and an educated, helpful employee steps up to find exactly what you need. In this case, it’s craft beer, and since opening its St. Louis Park shop in 2008, the Firkins has become a local beer hub for experts and novices alike.

Now, owner Jason Alvey is moving his shop to a much bigger location a couple of miles away, right off MN-100 on 36th St., and the new Firkins will include more parking, twice as much floor space, almost six times as much refrigerated space, a walk-in cooler, a tasting area, and a brewing history and artifact section.

These guys don’t mess around.

“We will have a one-of-a-kind Abbey-inspired checkout register,” assistant manager Michael Wagner said. “It’s hand-crafted by a local cabinet maker and will be awe-inspiring, to say the least.”

Alvey said that in addition to a wider selection, the new shop would carry a deeper inventory of beers the shop already carries to prevent running out of stock — a common problem at the current store.

“It will be a destination store unlike anything that we’ve seen so far in the beer industry,” Alvey said. “Somebody once said, ‘I think the place that beer is brewed should be beautiful.’ I think that the place beer is ultimately purchased from should also be beautiful.

“We want to change things here in Minnesota. We want to change the experience that most people have buying beer. We want to engage our customers and talk about beer with them. So, to that end we will, at all times, have educated, professionally trained staff to answer questions in a down-to-earth, relaxed manner.”

Alvey said the new store would also stock kegs and would display distributors’ keg prices so customers know how much each is marked up.

“Many people tell me they fear other retailers just pull a price out of the air when selling them kegs. We want total transparency,” he said.

Alvey is also hoping the increased visibility will help in his drive to change certain things in St. Paul. This year, he and two St. Louis Park legislators tried to amend state law to allow sale of T-shirts in his store. Currently, liquor businesses like The Four Firkins can’t even sell a Four Firkins T-shirt because the shirts are classified as “general merchandise,” and Alvey thought that was silly.

The bill passed in the House but stalled in the Senate.

“We feel that there are some very old laws here in Minnesota that prevent liquor stores in particular from becoming the amazing experiences they could be,” Alvey said. “The new store will lend us the credibility we need to be able to change some of these outdated laws here in Minnesota.”

The new Four Firkins plans to open Oct. 3.

Joan’s in the Park (opens Sept. 14)

631 Snelling Ave S, St. Paul | 651.690.3297 |

Joan’s in the Park, a new Highland Park restaurant and wine bar, opens this week as owners Joan Schmitt and Susan Dunlop complete their transition to cozy fine dining in the former Grampa Tony’s space.

Dunlop is the chef and her initial menu contains several small plates, salads, and flatbreads as well as entrees like sea bass, pumpkin ravioli, and roasted chicken. Joan’s makes its own desserts, pasta, dressings, and sauces, as well as producing house-cured salmon and homemade sausage.

“My food is Midwest and rural New York comfort food mixed with the healthy freshness and global influences of Los Angeles and Miami,” Dunlop said. “I believe in using high-quality, fresh ingredients and presenting them simply. I love to cook and feed people, and I hope this comes through in each dish I prepare.”

Joan’s will still offer the Grampa Tony’s 14-inch thin-crust pizza for takeout and delivery. Also, go for dinner this week and get a free hot chocolate cake with Izzy’s vanilla ice cream.

Crooked Pint Ale House (now open)

501 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.877.6900 |

Another urban pub — and that’s no complaint — is the latest to occupy the former Matty B’s and 501 space: the Crooked Pint Ale House, which boasts a pretty expansive menu of bar food and a bunch of taps.

Burgers seem particularly interesting, like the “Sconnie” burger topped with cheese curds and a “Hangover Lucy” stuffed with ham and American cheese and topped with a fried egg.

Beer selection is wide, with 15 taps pouring gems like Summit Great Northern Porter and Deschutes Hop in the Dark (although more locals would be nice).

Crooked Pint is also open for breakfast on weekends, so early birds can have a Grain Belt and ham and eggs with gravy starting at 7 a.m. Skol!

Smokehouse Brewpub (opens next spring)

38th St and 28th Ave S, Minneapolis |

Big beer news: Smokehouse Brewpub, with “a menu of sandwiches and entrees based on our house-smoked, locally sourced meats, with high-quality craft beer to match,” is in the early planning stages. Led by Town Hall alum Jamie Robinson, manager Amy Johnson, and chef Bryce Strickler, the Smokehouse will brew on-site and have 12 taps, including year-round house beers: IPA, porter, honey wheat ale, and an American pale ale. It hopes to open by spring 2012.

Pat’s Tap (opens this month)

3510 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.822.8216 | Find it on Facebook

The long-awaited Pat’s Tap, a corner bar serving organic, local food from restaurateur Kim Bartmann, has an opening date in sight. Bartmann said Pat’s Tap would hopefully do a soft opening next week and be fully open by the end of the month. Pat’s Tap will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner and have a full bar and patio, and will be basically the polar opposite of the cruddy dive it replaces, Casey’s.


  • Crooked Pint Ale House, 501 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.877.6900 |
  • Amsterdam, 6 W 6th St, St. Paul | Find it on Facebook
  • Adagio Cafe, 5001 Penn Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.922.2233 | Find it on Facebook
  • Hot Diggity Dog, 614 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis
  • Deg Deg Grill, 2910 Pillsbury Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.825.1466
  • Firehouse Subs, 2303 White Bear Ave, Maplewood | 651.731.7827 |
  • Sonora Grill, 920 E Lake St, Minneapolis (Midtown Global Market) | 612.871.1900 | Our take
  • Steel Toe Brewing, 4848 W 35th St, St. Louis Park |
  • Mi Sinaloa, 3801 Chicago Ave S, Minneapolis
  • Urban Bean, 2401 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.200.8051 |
  • The Lowry, 2112 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.341.2112 | Find it on Facebook
  • Claddagh Coffee, 459 W 7th, St. Paul | 651.600.3400 | Find it on Facebook
  • McCormick’s Pub, 331 Broadway Ave S, Wayzata | 952.767.2417 | Find it on Facebook
  • The Bachelor Farmer, 50 2nd Ave N, Minneapolis | 612.206.3920 | Our take
  • El Loro Mexican Restaurant, 5689 Blaine Ave, Inver Grove Heights
  • Andale Taqueria y Mercado, 7700 Nicollet Ave S, Richfield | 651.230.6498
  • Bella Pizza, 14485 S Robert Tr, Rosemount | 651.322.1818 |
  • The Public House, 700 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis  | 612.455.1213 |
  • Toppers, 702 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis; 1154 Grand Ave, St. Paul |
  • Little Szechuan, 5377 16th St, Shops at West End, St. Louis Park | 952.322.7671 |
Kate N.G. Sommers / Heavy Table
  • Blue Ox Coffee Company, 3740 Chicago Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.825.6650 |
  • Alix in Candyland, 5400 France Ave S, Edina | 952.915.1100 |
  • Ansari’s Mediterranean Grill, 1960 Rahn Cliff Ct, Eagan. Open again after fire. | 651.452.0999 |
  • Viva Brazil, 913 W Lake St, Minneapolis | 612.871.4239 |
  • Rare Steak & Sushi, 615 2nd Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.752.9595 |
  • Pizza Town, 1600 W Broadway, Minneapolis | 612.522.9999
  • Grand Szechuan, 187 Cheshire Lane N, Plymouth | 763.404.1770 |
  • Osaka, 6440 Wayzata Blvd, Golden Valley | 763.398.6808 |
  • Palumbo’s Pizzeria, 454 Snelling Ave S, St Paul | 651.698.0020 | Our take
Lars Swanson / Heavy Table
  • Kinsen, 1300 Lagoon Ave, Minneapolis | 612.367.4595 | Our take
  • :D-SPOT, 705 Century Ave N, Suite B, Maplewood | 651.730.7768 | Our take


  • Hard Rock Cafe, 7th and Hennepin, Minneapolis. Closing Sept. 30. |
  • Cold Stone Creamery, 600 Hennepin Ave (Block E), Minneapolis
  • Murphy’s Alley, 344 Wabasha St N, St. Paul
  • M&S Grill, 50 South 6th St #100, Minneapolis
  • Tinucci’s, 2190 Eagle Creek Ln, Woodbury


  • Zen Box Izakaya, 602 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.332.3936 | Find it on Facebook
  • Joan’s in the Park, 631 Snelling Ave S, St. Paul. Opens Sept. 14. | 651.690.3297 |
  • Chez Arnaud, 4735 Highway 61, White Bear Lake. Opens Sept. 16. |
  • Pat’s Tap, 3510 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis. Opens in September. | 612.822.8216 | Find it on Facebook
  • Rosa Mexicano, 6th St and Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis (in City Center next to Fogo de Chao). Opens in September. |
Laura Kennedy and Dawn Lee of the Donut Cooperative
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
  • The Donut Cooperative | 2929 E 25th St, Minneapolis. Opens late September. |
  • The Four Firkins, 5630 36th St, St. Louis Park (moving to new location). Opens Oct. 3. | 952.938.2847 |
  • Maeve’s Cafe, 300 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis | 612.379.1033 | Find it on Facebook
  • Fasika, University Ave and Dale Ave, St. Paul (new Frogtown Square) |
  • Rincon 38, 38th St and Grand Ave, Minneapolis
  • Humble Pie, 822 W 36th St, Minneapolis. Kim Bartmann’s revamp of Gigi’s. | 612.825.0818
  • Pig & Fiddle, 3808 W 50th St, Minneapolis. Opens late September / early October
  • Rye Delicatessen & Bar, 1930 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis. Opens in early October.
  • Eat Street Social, 14 W 26th St, Minneapolis. Opens this fall.
  • Icehouse, 2528 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis. Opens this fall.
  • Stout’s Pub, 1611 Larpenteur Ave, Falcon Heights. Opens this fall.
  • Cranky’s Bicycle Bar, E Lake St, Minneapolis | Find it on Facebook
  • Pittsburgh Blue, 3200 Galleria (former Kozy’s), Edina. Opens this fall. |
  • Mesa Pizza, 1440 W Lake St, Minneapolis. Opens Oct. 1. |
  • Rodizio Grill, 12197 Elm Creek Blvd N, Maple Grove. Opens this fall. |
  • Jason’s Deli, 7565 France Ave S, Edina. Opens in November. |
  • Blue Door Pub, 3448 42nd Ave S, Minneapolis |
  • El Loro, 2535 W Highway 10, Mounds View
  • Mojo Monkey Donuts, 1169 7th St W, St. Paul
  • Zest! Bar and Grill, 525 Diffley Rd, Eagan
  • Five Guys, 8360 3rd St N, Oakdale |
  • Cupcake, Grand Ave, St. Paul
  • Burger Night, Minneapolis
  • Kyoto Sushi, 13751 Grove Dr, Maple Grove | 763.488.1588 |
  • Smashburger, 2140 Ford Pkwy, St. Paul |
  • Smokehouse Brewpub, 38th St. and 28th Ave S, Minneapolis. Opens spring 2012.
  • La Crepe Nanou, Huey’s 24 / 7 Diner, The Wine Loft, Shops at West End, St. Louis Park. Opening this fall. | | |
  • YO!Sushi | Company says five metro locations coming, first in Minneapolis in 2011 |


The Tap is The Heavy Table’s guide to area restaurant openings, closings, and other major events. The Tap is compiled by Heavy Table writer Jason Walker, and will be published biweekly. If you already subscribe to our newsletter, look for an emailed version of The Tap every other week — otherwise, you can find it on the website on alternating Tuesdays.
If you’ve got tips for The Tap, please email Jason Walker at The Tap’s Twitter feed has moved to@heavytable.

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