Sometimes, mistakes happen. And sometimes, those mistakes turn out all right. That's sort of what happened on my visit to the Town Hall Tap in Minneapolis on a recent visit to the Twin Cities. Let me explain...
Actually, I was trying to go to Adrian's Tavern on the recommendation from someone who told me they have a very good Juicy Lucy burger. (Juicy Lucy's - or Jucy Lucy's, depending upon which place you favor - is a cheese stuffed burger.) Adrian's Tavern is on a short stretch of bars and restaurants on Chicago Ave. at 48th St. south of the downtown Minneapolis district (see map). I pulled up in front of Adrian's around 2 p.m. one afternoon and I walked into an open air bar/restaurant fully thinking that it was part of Adrian's. There was no signage out front, at least any significant signage, that told me any different. I walked in and took a seat at the bar and a bartender came over with a food menu. It was then that I discovered that I was not in Adrian's, but in the Town Hall Tap. Feeling a little foolish and somewhat embarrassed, I decided to just cut my losses and have lunch there.
The Town Hall Tap is an offshoot of the Town Hall Brewery, a small brewpub that I wasn't familiar with (and a place I'll have to visit at some point). The Town Hall Tap has a nice little neighborhood feeling to it and that's what they were looking for when they opened back in November of last year. With exposed ceiling beams, wooden garage doors that open up in pleasant weather, and tasteful decorations of vintage beer signs, Town Hall Tap is a somewhat charming and very inviting place to go.
The bar at the Town Hall Tap is an antique bar that was used at a bar in Chicago and found at a place in Bloomington, IL. The back bar area (above right) features refrigeration units and storage with a large mirror that gives the cozy little tavern a sense of spaciousness. I felt completely comfortable sitting at the bar looking over the menu.
One thing that completely jumped out at me while I was perusing the beer menu at Town Hall Tap was the fact that they had Alaskan Brewing Company beers on tap, along with many of their own beers brewed at their brewery. I couldn't resist to get an Alaskan Amber beer as it had been such a long time since I'd had one. It turns out that Alaskan beers are now available in Minnesota. I was overjoyed because the closest I could get Alaskan beers was on business trips to Colorado. And that was only once a year, if that. I don't know what it is about the Alaskan beers, but they're some of my all-time favorites, including their pale ale (which, coincidentally, is not available in Minnesota as of yet).
And one thing that they do not have on the menu at Town Hall Tap is a traditional Juicy (Jucy) Lucy. They DO have stuffed burgers such as the "Hot Damn" which features a burger stuffed with jalapenos, green peppers and onions and topped with bleu cheese. They also have the "Heidelberger" which is stuffed with onions, then crusted in bacon bits and topped with Tillamook cheddar cheese. (I was told after the fact that that burger is to die for.) And they also have something called the "Serrano Popper Burger" that featured a mixture of Angus beef and prosciutto ham, stuffed with cream cheese and then topped with pickled serrano peppers. All of those sounded great, as did the "Pete's Cabin Burger" - a mixture of Angus beef, mushrooms, Minnesota wild rice and crumbled bleu cheese then topped with Wisconsin double-creme cheese.
My head was spinning from all the possibilities that I finally just decided to go basic for my first visit to Town Hall Tap. I ordered up the Brewer's Cheeseburger. It comes with your choice of seven different types of cheese on a bakery bun with homemade mayo on top. I ordered it with the mayo on the side and topped with the Tillamook cheddar cheese. Fries came with the burger.
In addition to burgers at Town Hall Tap, the menu boasts a handful of chicken sandwiches, a Cuban pork sandwich, a reuben and a number of appetizers. Turtle Bread Company - a full service bakery just down the block from Town Hall Tap - provides much of the bread for sandwiches at the tavern.
My burger came out and I was ready to eat. With another Alaskan Amber poured and in front of me, the presentation on the bar was excellent. The Tillamook cheddar was oozing over the thick and juicy burger. I popped a little ketchup and mustard on the burger and took my first bite.
The burger was cooked perfectly for me - it had a little bit of pink in the middle and it was juicy and flavorful. The bun was outstanding and really helped with the taste. The Tillamook cheddar was mild and wasn't overpowering. With each bite, I was less sorry that I walked into Town Hall Tap by mistake. This was, very simply, an outstanding burger. It was one of the better ones I've had in the Twin Cities during my visits to the area.
One thing I learned from my colleagues up in Montreal is the very European way of eating mayonnaise with French fries. The homemade mayo they provided on the side was excellent. Although I couldn't eat all the fries because my 1/2 pound burger was filling enough, I made a significant cut into the pile, helped along with the homemade mayonnaise.
So, my mistake of going into Town Hall Tap was not quite a big mistake after all. I was overly surprised at how great the burger was. And to top it off, they had Alaskan Amber on tap! I got to thinking that maybe the burger gods were looking out for me on this one as I probably would have NEVER gone into Town Hall Tap had I just gone into Adrian's next door. I did make it to Adrian's a couple nights later and I'll have that entry in a short while. But here's a little hint - Town Hall Tap blew it away!