Monday, December 24, 2012
Over the last weekend Sj and I went to some of our old haunts, including Uptown. We used to spend a great deal of time around that area, heading down for lunch and a visit to various used book and CD stores. Many of the old places are gone or have moved, and there has been less to interest us around there recently. We did find one new reason to head that direction again: Republic's new location upstairs in Calhoun Square. This mall has changed a lot since last time we were there. The Kitchen Window has moved into a larger space; there is a gym upstairs; several new clothing shops. Overall the previously failing mall looks hip and vibrant with room to grow upstairs.
Republic opened its first spot a few years ago in the 7 Corners area, near the University, in the old Sergeant Preston's building. Quickly becoming popular for a great beer list and good food, they just opened this new location in Uptown. I think this is a great idea for them. Uptown has a ton of young people and hipsters who are embracing the craft beer revolution (except those hipsters who ironically drink PBR tallboys...they do not count!) So far there really aren't any good beer bars around that area of Uptown. Bryant Lake Bowl is probably the closest, but still a good hike from Calhoun in the cold MN winter.
The new spot takes up a large area on the upper floor of Calhoun Square where The Independent lounge used to be. I guess there weren't enough high society martini drinkers to support that place, or possibly they came too late to the Sex & The City scene. The space is wide open with visible dark painted duct work and ceilings. Lots of lighter woods and some strange large art pieces on the walls soften up the industrial look and make it more inviting. There is an enormous open centered square shaped bar in the center of the restaurant with seating all around it. Lots of space to belly up to the bar and order a pint of something awesome. Large chalk boards in several areas announce the specials and new beers on tap. Upon entry, the left side of the restaurant has more high-top tables for bar seating, and the right is the restaurant seating area.
We were seated by a very nice waitress in the restaurant side. There was a pleasant view of the active Saturday afternoon Uptown streets from the windows. They had a large and varied beer list, organized by style as well as about six or seven specials from the chalk board. I love the fact that they do a three beer sampler to let you test more new beers. I had the sampler with Alaskan Smoked Porter, Surly Smoke and Unibroue Tres Pistoles: an amazing selection of very special beers. And those were all from the specials list, I didn't even try any of the "regular" beers. Sj had the St. Bernardus 12, Alaskan Smoked Porter and the Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza. Yum! We had brunch there that was tasty and quick. My poached eggs over squash and potato hash with side of hanger steak was a great pairing with those smoked beers I was drinking.
I would highly recommend heading here if you are in the neighborhood. I do worry that folks won't know they are up there on the top floor, and hope that word gets out. Hence my write-up here! I want Republic to stay in business and continue to show us a wide selection of amazing beers.