Irish Fries Are Smiling

Patrick McGovern's

225 W. Seventh St., St. Paul;

224-5821

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Patrick McGovern's Pub & Restaurant

225 W. 7th St.
St. Paul, MN 55102

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: St. Paul (Downtown)

I'M ALWAYS SURPRISED when friends who claim to be well-acquainted with the pub scene say that they have never visited St. Paul's West Seventh Street, a road that covers a lot of territory in just a few blocks. On one funeral parlors flank pubs, the kind of establishments where motorcycles have been known to come barreling onto the dining floor and where, if you're worth your salt, you'll wash your burger and grilled onions down with whiskey and 7-Up. A few blocks up people mill around in fur coats, perhaps having just entertained themselves with an evening of chamber music, and pass over whiskey for single-malt scotches. Somewhere in the middle of these two extremes in location and spirit is Patrick McGovern's.

Built in 1884, the old brick building has played host to a number of establishments that ranged widely in respectability and served various town rowdies--including Dillinger and his fellows, the Legendary Pigseye Parrant, and, of course, Patrick McGovern. Supposedly, if you've got keen perception, you can sniff out the spirit of McGovern from the brass trimmings; is that him whistling over the e-z listening version of Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise"? We had a supernatural scare when a bunch of menus suddenly came crashing down on our table, although realists would probably blame the precariously balanced condiment bottles that were propping them up in the first place. At any rate, there's no doubt that this is a neighborhood place full of history, a place to taste the comforts of homemade gravy and well-aged whiskey.

The menu is less than Irish (there are the "Irish Fries," but they are actually seasoned strips of Italian bread covered in mozzarella cheese and served with marinara sauce; $5.95). If you're looking for munchables to accompany your libations, there shouldn't be much trouble in finding something suitable among the appetizers, piles of food so high as to border on the gluttonous. There are the highly salty and crunchy nachos, topped with enough cheddar cheese to clog a drain hole and served with paper cups of sour cream and salsa ($4.75); deep-fried catfish fingers served with a jalapeño tartar sauce ($5.95); potato creations covered in melted cheddar cheese and sour cream ($5.75); as well as mozzarella sticks ($4.75), and other standards.

For those who mean to skip a full meal but aren't so brazen about their arteries, a large salad menu is available. Our favorites included a tub-size portion of chicken tarragon salad, a generous toss of cheese, crumbled bacon, avocado, sprouts, tomatoes, cucumber, and your choice of several dressings, topped by a chicken filet ($6.50); the blackened chicken salad tossed with egg ($6.50); and the Chestnut Street salad, which comes heaped with mandarin oranges, water chestnuts, pea pods, crisp wonton noodles, and grilled chicken, all of which is tinged with sesame dressing ($6.95).

If you're here to dine as well as to drink, McGovern's dinners are something special. Turkeys are shoved into the oven and carved up on a daily basis, so you can't go wrong with the open-faced hot turkey sandwich buried in gravy and dressed with cranberry sauce, stuffing, and mashed potatoes ($7.25). If fowl doesn't fetch your fancy, there's plenty of meat and fish to be found on the menu, including a hot roast beef sandwich served on a plush homemade bun with mashed potatoes and gravy ($7.25); a baked walleye dinner, dripping with melted butter and lemon ($12.95); barbecued pork ribs ($12.95); and a steak and shrimp combo ($15.95).

Service is friendly and full of pep and sass. If you're the droll kind, you'll find the bartenders and waitstaff ready and able for friendly verbal sparring. Whether you're thinking of it as a head start on St. Patrick's Day or a chance to relax over a glass of cider and Goldschlager, McGovern's makes a great destination.

TABLEHOPPING

ART IN SMALL DOSES: The Women's Art Registry of MN (WARM) and Francesca's Bakery and Cafe have teamed up so that you can catch up on your caffeine and art at the same time. Twenty of WARM's best and brightest names will show their work in the cafe (located at 33 W. Seventh Place and St. Peter, in St. Paul), including Hazel Belvo, Marilyn Summers Cool, Elizabeth Erickson, and Petronella Ytsma. All proceeds from mug and art sales go to benefit the WARM artists and organization. Exhibition runs through April 1.

ALL WORK MAKES BAD EGGS: According to a survey conducted by Nabisco, 89.9 percent of working mothers eat breakfast in the car or at a fast food restaurant at least one day per week. 99.5 percent of working mothers use microwaves to cook an average of 3.5 meals a week, although only 77 percent of the respondents felt that microwaved meals were very/somewhat tasty. Nabisco hopes that these working moms will pick up one of their new Nabisco Easy Omelets, one-cup cheese omelets that you cook in the microwave, available in your choice of cheddar, cheddar with real ham bits, cheddar with bell pepper, and Monterey jack (what? no cheddar?) and onion, at a retail price of $1.49-$1.59.

HAVING JUST MADE myself a breakfast of potato chips, I can't exactly wax cynical about omelets-in-a-drum, can I? But I can wish you something a little more personalized. Scones, honeybaked egg tart, and tea should do quite nicely. Here is a recipe for just such a breakfast, provided courtesy of The HoneyBaked Ham Company.

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