Just Kidding

Bring the family or don't bring the family: that is the question.

The pizza (from $4.95 for a wee cheese pizza to $20 for the Viking, which starts with bacon, pepperoni, and sausage and keeps going) is also very salty. The crust is thin but doesn't taste like much, and the cheese mixture tastes like it contains a good deal of Parmesan, resulting in a pizza that's sort of like a single nacho chip: salty and dry. Which is one thing, but it does sort of make you want to run through all the dozen beers on tap.

Now that you've done that, consider this: Is it ever too early to start children enjoying a sports bar?

The obvious downside: the smoke, the booze-soaked atmosphere. And yet, I can't honestly say that I feel that anyone is ever truly too young to drive. Or why did God make the Geo? Or all these zany no-driving-when-you're-too-drunk-to-see laws coupled with these fascinating no-booze-for-kids laws? Clearly, an intelligent design has been wrought. And mine is not to question His plan. No, mine is just to report that the kids' menu at Bob's covers half a dozen items and ranges from $3.50 to $4.95 for offerings such as mini corn dogs and fries, spaghetti with sauce, garlic bread and cheese, or a quarter-pound hamburger with fries.

First Course chef/owner Travis Metzger keeps a good supply of wine for the grownups--and Wikki Stix for the kids
Craig Lassig
First Course chef/owner Travis Metzger keeps a good supply of wine for the grownups--and Wikki Stix for the kids

Location Info

Map

First Course

5607 Chicago Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55417

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Nokomis

Highland Grill & Cafe

771 Cleveland Ave. S.
St. Paul, MN 55116

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Highland Park

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All this thinking about kids' menus got me to wondering about what goes on nowadays at the Highland Grill, that classic in the hipster parent's repertoire. Last I checked, the place had closed for renovations. Then I forgot to go see how it turned out.

Well, it just looks great. Gone are the 1970s tile and the cramped alley of a room. The redone Highland Grill is at least twice as big as it was, bright, colorful, and filled with sparkly silver booths. The tables seem neatly sized for families: Two adults and one car seat on the table fill a booth, while long Formica tables for six perfectly seat a family of four if you balance the car seat on the last table. One Sunday night when I was there, there seemed to be a baby sleeping in a car seat on every single table in the house. Which was interesting, but not nearly as interesting as the little girl who had taken the last of her toast, shredded it into thumbnail-size blocks, and laid out the blocks as a grid while Mom and Mom's friend talked. Is this what all the hip kids are doing? I read Jane! Why wasn't I informed? I thought it was all about boho white this season, and now I discover it's toast grids!

Once my dining companion pried me off the ceiling, I was delighted to find that everything at the Highland remains exactly what I'd come to expect from the Highland Grill/Edina Grill family of upscale neighborhood grills: quick, smart, well-made diner basics with a little flair.

Main courses are pretty much all under $10 each. The grilled cheese is lovely--crisp, well-grilled sheets of bread surrounding sharp Cheddar and a sweet spoonful of chutney. Fish and chips features planks of fish as big as my arm in a slightly sweet batter that coats them like a lacquered balloon, and faultless, skin-on potato wedges. The marinated flank-steak salad showcased meat that was perfectly crisp outside, rare in the middle, and perfectly savory. The only off note was a bizarre black-bean falafel: five ice-cream-scoop-size balls of deep-fried black beans with a nice pineapple salsa that unfortunately wasn't enough to help them.

There's a no-nonsense wine list, on which everything's $5.50 a glass or $24 a bottle. (I like Cline zinfandel with my burger.) Desserts are nothing special, but for $4.95 you get a plate-size brownie sundae mounded to the sky with whipped cream, drenched with chocolate and caramel sauce. Who needs a kids' menu? If I know anything about the shorter, blankie-engaged members of the culture, this is sure to travel the wires as very big news indeed.

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