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The Happy Gnome
Taps: 76 / Bottles: 300
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
$$$ - a bit pricey
[ Bar, Eatery ]
498 Selby Ave
phone: (651) 287-2018
(Place added by: tavernjef on 12-10-2005)
Ratings & Reviews
| Reviews: 84 | Show All Ratings:
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5 | $$
I enjoy going to the Happy Gnome in order to try some beers that are only available on tap in the Twin Cities. I normally go around lunchtime so it is usually quite empty at that time, but that is fine with me.
They have a great selection of beer and the quality has been good on everything I've tried there. I've only eaten here once, the food was fine but more fancy and expensive than I need. Service is ok.
I'll keep going back as long as they keep having great beers on tap and a nice big parking lot.
04-21-2007 23:34:14 |
More by Mdog
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
Stopped by around 11:30 on saturday night. Was able to get a booth but the bar was lively and fairly full. Nice cozy atmosphere and an excellent selection of beers on tap. Owing to the lateness of the hour I was only able to have one, which was a Bell's Kalamazoo stout on cask. It was delicious. I also had an order of french fries, which aren't the menu as a side, but are worth asking for, as it was a generous portion and they were fantastic (even the ketchup seemed homemade and was great as well). All in all it was a great place to grab a beer and I look forward to returning.
02-12-2007 17:42:13 |
More by Tizzod
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$
On previous visits I've been to the Muddy Pig (down the street and around the corner), but thought I'd check out the Gnome this time. I wasn't disappointed.
This pub had 24 drafts. Only one was Miller Lite. The only other light golden colored beer on tap was Stella Artois...and, uh, I guess Delirium Tremens. Being from Chicago, it hurt to see that Bell's is very poplular up here these days. The Gnome had two Bell's beers on tap; Two Hearted and Winter White. In fact, it seems Michigan beer in general is doing well up here, as I found Arcadia to be rather prominent, too. The Gnome had two Arcadia beers (from Battle Creek) including a porter and a Scotch Ale. A couple Colorado breweries were represented, too, with two taps from Left Hand and Avery. (It seemed that pretty much the entire Avery selection was available in bottles.) Minnesota brews on tap included the requisite Surly taps Furious and Bender along with three Summit offerings. The only Wisconsin beer I noticed on draft was from Rush River. It was a Winter Scotch Ale. Low country brews included Koningshoeven Quadrupel and Delirium Tremens.
The Gnome was dark inside and fairly quiet (on a Wednesday night) except for a party upstairs. Quiet, but not in bad way, with the lighting actually the making place feel warm and cozy. The bar was playing music (satellite radio, I believe) at a fairly low volume that allowed for conversation. Although not a huge fan of the beer, I couldn't help noticing how good the drafts of Stella Artois looked, with the light shining through them just right, giving them a heavenly glow.
For dinner I had the Duck Confit Bruschetta (paired with a Scotch Ale from Rush River) which consisted of duck meat layered on top warm goat cheese and baguette slices with poached pears and wilted greens layered on top. This tasty mountain was covered in a port wine glaze/reduction, which of course, inspired me to have a glass of port after my meal...although as a Beer Advocate I suppose I should've gone for the Koningshoeven Quad....but I couldn't resist a glass of port.
If I'm back in St. Paul, I'll definitely go back to the Happy Gnome.
01-18-2007 15:27:20 |
More by marcobrau
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$
I stopped in the Gnome to meet up with a slew of my college crew and to check out Surlys cask, tea-bagged bender. I wish I could do that more often.
With plenty of parking, we walked inside and grabbed a seat at the large corner bar that wrapped around a corner in the building that was further littered with small tables and booths. Looking up on the wall, I spied the chalked in beer list sporting a great Minnesota beer selection. Being from the East, I was a bit put off by the lack of locals, but then quickly recalled that there arent any locals here. Surly and Summit were proudly offered thankfully. I grabbed me a Furious and waited for the cask to be tapped.
Over all, I thought the place was a little dark, but I think that had a lot to do with the huge, floor to ceiling windows looking out over Selby at night. That made sense. Ill have to come back during the daylight hours to get a better feel and to try out the food.
Concerning service, even though the place was packed and getting busier, the bartender was right on, attentive and quick. That was well noted and appreciated.
This place is a definite attribute to any beer lovers scene. If I were still local, I could see myself coming here pretty regularly. But, there seemed to be a blandness to the beers for some reason. Maybe that was just this rotation, but it really didnt impress me. I think the Blue Nile has a more exotic beer selection, where as the Gnome had a far bigger selection, but nothing too daring or adventurous. I suppose after I got sick of Town Hall and the Nile, this would be my number three. Enough negativity. I dug this place and although I dont make it to MN all that often, Ill be back soon.
01-13-2007 03:07:22 |
More by DarkerTheBetter
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
TavernJef was kind enough to come out and meet me at Great Waters B.C. and afterwards, we stopped off at this place before parting company. The entryway was through the parking lot and there was an angular vestibule with the bar directly through the door and a stairwell leading to the second floor off to the left. The bar was a zigzag affair with a combination of dark, stained wood and granite. All of the way forward, in the building, was a fireplace with booths along the right wall. To the left, past the bar, were tables and chairs followed by a doorway onto an outside patio with its own bar. They featured several blackboards that utilized colored chalk to advertise their current beers. This was important not only from the eye-catching aspect of the colored chalk, but also because they routinely offer a selection of twenty-four (24) taps and seventy-five (75) bottles. I also noted a couple of interesting pseudo-totem poles flanking the interior doorway. When I asked, I was escorted up to the second floor, where they had a huge separate banquet facility with its own bar, available for rent for a mere $150. Thats it?!? OMFG, I was ready to move to the Midwest on the spot and I still contemplate the idea on a daily basis. Finally, their name and logo was this a nod to Travelocity?
12-15-2006 11:06:13 |
More by woodychandler
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | $$$
After coming from the Muddy Pig this place was somewhat of a dissapointment. The crowd was much trendier and seemingly less beer conscious, the music was pop/rap/mainstream, and playd very loudly. The waitstaff seemed a little slower, as well. Those were the bad parts, the good parts were the beer selection. All sorts of American Micros for you to sift through, lots on tap, even more in bottles. The bottle list also included Belgians and some other rare Euros, there is definitely something to suit every taste on this menu. Locals, seasonals, rarities abounded. I would prefer going here for lunch instead of during peak hours on a Friday or Saturday, as I think the clientele did not fit in with the aim of this bar.
08-21-2006 02:49:51 |
More by TastyTaste
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | $
In a very cool (if maybe slightly gentrified) St.Paul neighborhood just up the street from the huge cathedral. Inside there is the tiny namesake gnome hiding above the bar, placed almost as an afterthought. I love it. The bar kind of wraps around the corner near the entrance, and divides the place into two sections. One is larger and more open, the other is an intimate space with just a row of cool window-side booths. The front doors are framed by interesting totem poles. There's also a shady outdoor seating area. The selection is outstanding, with 24 micros on tap (an excellent selection from around the country) and a crapload of bottles from around the world.
All-in-all, it's an excellent place to have a drink or two or three.
08-14-2006 01:43:21 |
More by shivtim
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
Love this place! I went there on a Sunday afternoon and sat on their deck behind the restaurant. The beer selection was exceptional. The quantity was good, but the choices were excellent.
I was told that originally the Gnome would specialize more in North American craft beers, but it seems to be tipping toward the Belgian heavy selection that the co-owned Muddy Pig has. There were 6 Belgians on tap, with another 18 from Germany and NA.
The waitress' beer knowledge was o.k., but she made up for it by being friendly and helpful on the food selection. I had the Bacon Bison burger with chipotle cheese, my buddy had a tuna tartare. Both were excellent. Just the fact that they had tuna tartare sets the Gnome apart from the pack.
I had a glass of Seriously Bad Elf and Surly Cynic Ale on tap. Both were served at the proper temperature, but the Surly seemed a bit undercarbonated.
Not as good as the Muddy Pig, but still one of the best places in the TCs. They need to build some signature dishes, work on their beer handling, and have some more events to draw people in. Some more training for the serving staff would be helpful as well.
I will definitely be back!
07-10-2006 22:41:11 |
More by CH3CH2OH
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $$$
I am a big fan of the Muddy Pig, so I was really excited when they opened this US based beer bar. The atmosphere is significantly better than it was as Chang O'haras. Hardwood and relatively low lightling creates a nice relaxed atmosphere. The service is alright. It does not seem to me that the servers are really beer people, but they do their job well otherwise. I love the selection here. The menu is based mainly on US microbreweries with a nod to Belgians and the English. Around thirty taps makes it one of the best selections in the Twin Cities. The food is mediocre. Trying to be upscale but never quite pulls it off. The cheese plates are wonderful however.
My favorite bar in St. Paul.
06-27-2006 14:06:53 |
More by hgrong
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | $$$
The Happy Gnome (whose website hasn't been updated in over a year), is kinda like a James Page beer, in that all the ingrediants are there for success and you feel like you should like it more. After all, it's local, it used to be great, and you keep trying it and expecting it to be better each time.
Their niche is beer, of course. Lots of high quality beer. The Gnome easily has the best selection of beer in town, hands down. The row of 24 taps and close to 100 bottles, with a focus on domestic microbrews, sends chills down my spine. And better yet, you can't get a Miller, a Bud or a Coors on tap. I'll gladly pay a little more to be able to try beer from a brewery that only makes a couple hundred gallons of beer a year.
But everytime I go there I keep thinking, "Gosh it was so much better when it was Chang's." The prices were a little better, they had a nice happy hour and you could buy pitchers (that's right, no pitchers and no happy hour at the Gnome). And right now, the patio--what Chang's was perhaps known best for--is closed until they get the proper license. I miss the down-to-earth feel, and the unique Asian-Irish motif. Because let's face it, gnomes are silly, and is that a gnome being hanged on the sign?
So I went to the Gnome the other night with two good friends whom I hadn't seen in a while. We were looking forward to catching up and more importantly, trying some unique beers. By far one of the best deals at the Gnome are the 22 oz. bottles of beer from Rogue Brewery from Oregon. They're only $8.50 and perfect for sharing. And they're amazing. We were torn between the Younger's Special Bitter and the Shark Tooth Ale.
Now, one would think that if you work in a bar that caters to beer snobs like me, the wait staff should be able to describe each beer or find someone who could.
Me: "What's the Shark Tooth Ale like?" Fair question. I'd had the Younger's and loved it.
Her: "Well...I didn't like it." But...what's it like?
Me: "Is it very bitter?" Another fair and easy-to-answer question.
Her: "Oh yeah. It is." Really?
Being torn and the fact that there were three of us, we got both bottles. Shark Tooth: not very bitter. A nice hoppy finish, but I wouldn't put it in the same realm, as say, a HopDevil Ale from Victory. Even on the bottle is says, "Enjoy this crisp, cool ale with a hoppy bite." It was a great beer nonetheless, but it wasn't bitter. This has happened on several visits to the Gnome, where I've been lead astray, told a bock was an ale or they don't have a beer when in fact they do.
But like every visit to the Gnome, the vast selection of great beer trumps any negative experiences. We also had a round of Furious from local brewers Surly. Now this is a hoppy bitter beer. But it's sooo smooth. And better yet, it was bought by Omar, the owner of Surly, who was sitting next to us. Thanks! (As an aside, St. Paulites can now drink Surly at Sweeney's and the Highland Grill.)
We finished off the night with a 22 ouncer of Hog Heaven from Avery Brewing. Whoa. The label says it's a "barleywine-style ale," so we were immediately skeptical, as they tend to be way too matly and strong, but this one was excellent. Clocking in at 9.2% alc, with 104 International Bittering Units (your standard American lager has like 10 IBUs), it was still smooth and a great beer before going to bed.
So I'll give the Happy Gnome 6 out of 10, it's saving grace being the beer selection. Once the patio opens and once they update their website, it might make it up to an 8. Until then, I'll keep going. After all, it's local, it used to be great, and I keep expecting it to be better each time.
04-27-2006 20:36:43 |
More by WindoraEric
The Happy Gnome in Saint Paul, MN
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