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The Happy Gnome
Taps: 75 / Bottles: 300
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
$$$ - a bit pricey
[ Bar, Eatery ]
498 Selby Ave
phone: (651) 287-2018
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vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | $$
Apparently, Minneapolis keeps a back up city just out of town, you know, just in case they have to reboot their primary. We could have driven it, I suppose, but it's been a long day so why not, not? The taxi driver was suspiciously amazingly friendly & helpful but did drop us doorside and Heather met us promptly there. A known Gnome hangout, they can be happy too, you know. Guess that this must be the place...
Long crazy hockey skate key shaped bar hooking the corner; wood, with white marble pieces inlayed and a copper foot rail. Seating for 2 dozen down and all around, a bar overhang piece tracing with sunken spots & track action where need be. 24 taps in a row on the barback on one side; glassware below & tiered booze above. 6 taps on a bar tower to the left of me, another 24 on a panel around the bend with booze above shelved and bottled selections coolered down below, another 6 on the barback to the right with tiered booze and glassware, more booze above, plus 8 taps on the bar, and a single handpump below. Too many taps to easily tally without taking off my shoes and counting on my toes, I'm glad there's a printed list 'cause it's tap sensory overload. Garden gnomes in corners and on the barback framing. Don't be fooled, there's always one ready to jack you not if but when you get unruly. A TV in the corner and another one around the other side.
Large windows up front with neons & signage in between, and shelves above with glassware random & bottles. 6 booths run the wall below offering something in the way of views of the street. There's a big old fireplace cut into the wall at the end of the bar with 3 hightop tables around it. A large framed mirror sits above, and what looks like pillars to both sides but they're really painted on the wall. And 2 bar counter tables on the other end below a massive blackboard listing tap selections. Green walls over wood panel lowers and slat floorings; green totems to both sides of the door. Potted plants dot the sills and the tables, lamp lit. It's a pleasant décor.
Back room holds a dozen and a half tables, divvied into 3 sections by high backed shared bench play. Pale green walls with good b/w landscape prints over brown panel lowers and a mounted big board listing cheese specials & desserts. Slat wood ceilings with cool wrought iron piece wrapped cone chandelier lamp lighting, tracks & spots, and spinny fans. The bathrooms there, I've noted "stand in the hole and pee", something about an absurd dip in the floor if foggy memory recalls. Through to the back, a snoot full of wafting smoke first from the fireplace. 2 dozen+ tables of different sizes and shapes sectioned amidst tree cover and strung lighting, and a small 6 seat straight marble topped bar with a big tap selection there. And there's an event space of some sort upstairs.
My notes read "Am having a late night chicken sandwich", but I'm looking at this description: Chicken Sandwich, Widmer Cellars 1 year cheddar, bacon, braised leeks, stone ground mustard dijonaise, house cut fries, and I'm thinking I would have remembered that so apparently, not. I think "Am going to mull it over a good bit while the kitchen closes and will have no chicken sandwich" is more like it.
Beerwise, fuck! There are 70 taps including the root beer (Sprecher) and hand pump (Lagunitas IPA), more than ½ of them from the midwesty central and mountain time states. A dozen from Minnesota (Summit, Surly, Schell's, Lift Bridge, St Croix, Lake Superior), and another 2 dozen+ from the surrounding states (Capital, Rush River, South Shore, Furthermore, Tyranena, Bells, New Holland, Founders, Dark Horse, Goose Island, 2 Brothers, New Belgium, Left Hand, Great Divide, Boulder, Avery, Steamworks, Boulevard). Another dozen+ from one coast or the other, and another dozen+ imports Belgians, Germs & 3 UK. Started with the Lift Bridge Chestnut Hill (big brown of badassness) and then a Dark Horse Rod (red on herb). Beer was fresh, they do good movement.
But 70 taps is not enough, no; you need an absurd bottle list, too. A dozen or two shy of 300 by my count and recount. Nearly ½ the list are US micros, with a focus on the regional goods. The other ½ of the list holds 5 dozen or so Belgians ($8 for an Orval, hooray!) another 6 dozen other imports mostly German & UK, and another 2 dozen macros, ciders, gluten frees and N/A's. The bottle list broken out by style, with rare & limited mixed in throughout. So you wouldn't be surprised then if I mention the very extensive single & blended malt list. Okay, they've got wines, too.
Good comfortable house, I could do some time here. Lots of acoustic stuff tonight, probs from cities97, really good play. Service served, gave me a bit of this, a bit of that when I asked although I did take a "no chicken sandwich for you beat down". Beer selection was, how does one say, amazing, if you're looking for the regional wares, um, yeah. Seriously.
12-26-2009 13:57:34 |
More by slander
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
TavernJef was kind enough to come out and meet me at Great Waters B.C. and afterwards, we stopped off at this place before parting company. The entryway was through the parking lot and there was an angular vestibule with the bar directly through the door and a stairwell leading to the second floor off to the left. The bar was a zigzag affair with a combination of dark, stained wood and granite. All of the way forward, in the building, was a fireplace with booths along the right wall. To the left, past the bar, were tables and chairs followed by a doorway onto an outside patio with its own bar. They featured several blackboards that utilized colored chalk to advertise their current beers. This was important not only from the eye-catching aspect of the colored chalk, but also because they routinely offer a selection of twenty-four (24) taps and seventy-five (75) bottles. I also noted a couple of interesting pseudo-totem poles flanking the interior doorway. When I asked, I was escorted up to the second floor, where they had a huge separate banquet facility with its own bar, available for rent for a mere $150. Thats it?!? OMFG, I was ready to move to the Midwest on the spot and I still contemplate the idea on a daily basis. Finally, their name and logo was this a nod to Travelocity?
12-15-2006 11:06:13 |
More by woodychandler
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$
stopped in the Happy Gnome for lunch on a Saturday - the bar was steady but not busy and there were clearly some local brewers in, though i can't remember who.
The exterior of the building is beautiful - nice ivy walls and a really cool sign. The interior is open with a large bar and an outdoor terrace.
Service was spotty at first but she warmed up - samples were given and there was decent music being played.
The selection was quite nice - lots of locals (4-5 Surly taps, Brau Bros, Lift Bridge, Flat Earth), Rush River DIPA, strong seasonals from Victory, Great Divide, Deschutes, Goose Island, Boulevard, Rogue and on. I settled on the Brau Brothers Black Rubus but there was plenty of other stuff that i would have been more than happy to quaff. There was perhaps 70 total and the bottle specials on the board were close to store-prices.
The menu was strong - the duck burger with fries was massive and the fries were salted to the max. There were lots of other attractive items on the lunch menu.
The list of past beer dinners was quite impressive - i'm sure those would be pretty great at this place.
Definitely the best drinking venue in our recent trip to MSP - ahead of town hall.
08-24-2010 17:32:35 |
More by dirtylou
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
The Happy Gnome is a really cool place with great atmosphere. The front of the building looks great, and is nearly covered in Virginia Creeper vine. The inside is large, clean, and attractive. Lots of wood, leather, a slat wood floor, various beer signage, a marble/wood bar, and great natural lighting. Current specials and beer events posted on a chalkboard. The beer garden out back looked pretty dope, but we didn't check it out. Apparently frequented by both brewers and those about to embark on the pedal pub that was parked out front.
Huge draft list with a very heavy emphasis on locals and Midwest regionals, maybe about half the selection, arranged roughly along broad style lines. Very diverse and seasonal, no filler here. Also a few nice Belgian and extra-regional choices. Taps lined up on both sides of the L shaped bar. The Brau Brothers Rubus was intense and served appropriately.
After an initial bump most likely due to a short busy surge, service was great. The waitress was really nice and just did a good job all around. No problem obtaining samples.
The menu was full of appealing items - but we were scheduled for an early dinner so it was best to take it easy. I went with a simple bowl of the wild rice soup, which was quite good. The small sliver of Mr. Lou's duck burger sampled was pretty tasty as well, and the accompanying fries didn't last long. Nice presentation, too.
08-29-2010 02:31:23 |
More by blackie
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: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5 | $$
This place is awesome. When I travel with my in-laws I always have a dilemma. They want fabulous, high class food in a classy atmosphere and I want awesome beer. This is a pairing that rarely works. It does at the Happy Gnome. My father in law said the charcuterrie plate was the best he ever had. He loved the wines and the meal. The beer choices had my head spinning. So many awesome brews that I can't get in Missouri. The staff was knowledgeable and helpful with my questions. If there is any negative, it's that it was a little loud. I didn't mind but the in-laws are getting up there in age and the background noise bothers them. Otherwise, it's one of the best beer places in the country.
04-21-2013 19:02:49 |
More by zeff80
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$
I stopped in the Gnome to meet up with a slew of my college crew and to check out Surlys cask, tea-bagged bender. I wish I could do that more often.
With plenty of parking, we walked inside and grabbed a seat at the large corner bar that wrapped around a corner in the building that was further littered with small tables and booths. Looking up on the wall, I spied the chalked in beer list sporting a great Minnesota beer selection. Being from the East, I was a bit put off by the lack of locals, but then quickly recalled that there arent any locals here. Surly and Summit were proudly offered thankfully. I grabbed me a Furious and waited for the cask to be tapped.
Over all, I thought the place was a little dark, but I think that had a lot to do with the huge, floor to ceiling windows looking out over Selby at night. That made sense. Ill have to come back during the daylight hours to get a better feel and to try out the food.
Concerning service, even though the place was packed and getting busier, the bartender was right on, attentive and quick. That was well noted and appreciated.
This place is a definite attribute to any beer lovers scene. If I were still local, I could see myself coming here pretty regularly. But, there seemed to be a blandness to the beers for some reason. Maybe that was just this rotation, but it really didnt impress me. I think the Blue Nile has a more exotic beer selection, where as the Gnome had a far bigger selection, but nothing too daring or adventurous. I suppose after I got sick of Town Hall and the Nile, this would be my number three. Enough negativity. I dug this place and although I dont make it to MN all that often, Ill be back soon.
01-13-2007 03:07:22 |
More by DarkerTheBetter
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | $$$
First visit to The Happy Gnome today. Have wanted to go for a long time. We sat out on the rather large patio. Very cool atmosphere. Large wood fence makes it private from the parking lot and any streets. Huge trees for shade and ambiance. A lot of lights strung up for night time. Huge outdoor fireplace and a fair amount of seating. Indoor looked cool too. Older and rustic. I counted 68 beers on tap and well over the same number in bottles. Endless selection and a nice variety of beers with at least a dozen MN/WI beers on tap. Didn't have any food, but everyone seemed to be ordering burgers which looked and smelled fantastic. Some beers were a bit pricey where others looked to be about average. Service was pretty good despite there being a pretty good crowd. I will be back again for sure.
09-04-2009 21:31:52 |
More by jera1350
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
The Happy Gnome is an awesome bar in St. Paul just around the corner from another fav bar of mine called The Muddy Pig, and one of the best places to get a beer in the Twin Cities. The selection of beers on tap is probably the best in the cities. I didn't eat there, but more upscale than what I usually want when I’m out drinking a couple beers. It is a bit pricey, but I think you get what you pay for in this case. If you avoid the food, it is much more reasonable. The service seems to be generally good. On the inside the place looks like many other upscale bars, but gets lots of points for the awesome deck area outside. They also hold some great events, tastings, beer dinners etc. Highly recommended. I had a KBS on tap and a bunch of good Odell beers! Score!
04-25-2011 15:49:31 |
More by CuriousMonk
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$$$
Where to start...um the atmosphere is good, about the norm for most bars, can get a bit noisy during peak dinner hours and weekends. Smoking allowed I think as I saw a few cigs and a stoogie smoking the place up. A nice place to visit though. Clean, simple, spacious, warming, inviting; rough/unfinished looking wood dominates the decor as it takes up a good portion of the boothes, bar, and ceiling tops. The wood style fits well, looking similar to a small cabin with dark green grass walls and some photos and paintings of the outdoors. Throw in a fireplace and it could be someones northern cabin. Places where gnomes may roam I guess.
Parking lot right off Selby has ample spaces. Once inside there's a large bar in front with big tinted windows looking out onto Selby Ave. A side bar has about 6 or 7 extra seatings right in front of the taps. There's two dining areas, one out by the bar/front area and one kinda in back. Also, they have an upstairs completely fitted with the same tap lines for events, banquets, and catering.
Service was iffy at first. I sat for at least 6 to 7 minutes once I sat at the back bar area, 2 different servers said "someone will be with me" and walked around in back, doing nothing to spectacular, while could've easily asked me what I needed or wanted.
Whether or not the area you're in is yours to attend to or not, the servers should be all over getting people their first drinks well within the first minute or two. I marked down for that slightly. The service, once served my first beer, was much better, and quite friendly and knowledgeable of the beers and by half glass of my winter warmer I nearly forgot that I sat for so long when first sitting down. Still errked me though.
Selection is killer - 25 different taps, lots of micros, locals, and import gooodies of the Belgain kind. 90+ bottle choices too, all different with many great selections of US micros and a handful of Belgian and England imports. No Happy hour at the Happy Gnome? What's up with that? OK, I can see having to, want to, or need to make money, but at the asking prices for some of the beers, it shouldn't be much to ask for a break in the wallet for a couple hours a day for us willing and thirsty customers. and yes, the prices are high, but sadly, actually about right for what I've been finding lately in the TC area other than happy hour pricing. $4.50 Summit taps- $5, $6, $7, and $8 are tapped and priced accordingly to the brews available with the Belgians and micros. A bit high for most. The bottle pricing is what really needs to be adjusted here. $5 for one 12oz bottle of Bell's? I can get a sixer of the same for less then the cost of 2 here. Also $12 for bombers of Great Divide Yeti and Hercules? $18 for a 750 of Avec les bons Voeux? Way too high. It's not like they're paying the liquor store prices and going from there.
Food is quite good, if again, a bit high ended on the wallet. Menu is smalll and limited and not the typical norm of a sandwich/burger place. My burger had a spicy kick and was cooked to perfection, the fries were big and hearty served with a home made ketchup. The fair is tilted towards an upscale, well-made, spiced up, trendyish, vege thing. Very good though.
Dinner and two beers was $25. Pricey place but nice to have on the block in St. Paul. Now if they could relax a bit on the beer pricing and get a location in lowertown...that could make my year!
12-29-2005 00:56:26 |
More by tavernjef
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The Happy Gnome in Saint Paul, MN