First Look: Mattie's on Main brings a modern day saloon to Riverplace

The last year has been a big one for Dean Schlaak and Tom DeGree, owners of Wilde Roast Cafe in St. Anthony Main. In August, they were married in their Lake Elmo backyard, and a week ago, the pair opened Mattie St. Clair's House of Spirits next door to Wilde Roast Cafe.

Mattie's, which Schlaak and DeGree refer to as a "modern day saloon," is named after 19th century madame and brothel owner Mattie St. Clair, whose establishment once stood near the restaurant. The restaurant doesn't have an official sign, but the plastic "Now Open" flag hanging above the front window guides patrons in the right direction.

See also: Wilde Roast Cafe revamps and moves to Riverplace

Mattie's serves gastropub fare such as burgers and pizzas with a signature twist. The Smoking Ocean pizza, for example, combines a thin crust exterior with salmon, smoked crab, lemongrass cream sauce, shredded Parmesan, and fresh dill. While it could stand to be less oily, this was overall a refreshing take on the standard red sauce pizza. In another interesting riff on the classic pie, "On the Fritz," is a personal pizza featuring sauerkraut, bratwurst, rhubarb chutney, and a mozzarella/provolone cheese blend. Mattie's also offers a gluten-free crust for an extra $3.

In the burger domain, be sure to check out the Morning After burger, made using spices from Mattie's signature Bloody Mary mix, a fried egg, pickled celery, and an olive tapenade. As an added bonus, every pickled item is made in-house.

Standard bar fare gets another inspired makeover in the lefse nachos. Instead of using cheese, sour cream, and refried beans, Mattie's tops the crispy lefse with radishes, cucumbers, guacamole, and smoked salmon.The baked lefse was like a combination of pita chips, soft bread, and tortilla chips, and the guacamole and salmon provided a needed creaminess in lieu of cheese and sour cream.

As for libations, Mattie's offers a number of adult milkshakes like the P-Nut Butter Bourbon -- a combination of Gentleman Jack Bourbon, peanut butter, and maple syrup. There are also extensive martini, signature cocktail, wine, and beer lists for those feeling less indulgent.

According to DeGree, Noah Levy (Adam Levy's brother) will be booking regular shows at Mattie's. A permanent stage is set up near the entrance of the restaurant, with seating on all sides and around the bar. Local songwriter Chastity Brown will perform at Mattie's on Friday and Erin Schwab was recently signed on as a regular, set to play every other Friday.

Half of Mattie's is on the darker side while the other half is brightly lit, thanks to the long skylight stretching down the Main Street side of the building. Splashes of red throughout the building both please the eye and bring the space together.

Check out Mattie's for a chance to step outside of your comfort food comfort zones -- we have a hunch you won't be disappointed.

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