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Herbie's on the Park is not just for hockey nuts

Go in your hockey jersey or go in your finery. Herbie's on the Park is too pretty to miss.

Go in your hockey jersey or go in your finery. Herbie's on the Park is too pretty to miss. Mecca Bos

Whenever a bar or restaurant comes out with a sports luminary's name in the title, it runs the risk of turning off a wide swath of the non-sporty population.

But even if your tastes don't run toward jerseys and pucks, don't overlook Herbie's on the Park near Rice Park in downtown St. Paul. The dining room alone is beautiful enough to merit a visit. 

The lone piece of sports memorabilia here is hockey legend Herb Brooks' gold medal ring, illuminated in a light box about a thousand times as large as the actual piece of jewelry. Even so, it's easy to overlook amid the stunning oak walls, stately stone fireplace, grand piano, and other finery. This is the once-private Minnesota Club, which was built at the turn of the last century and decidedly the sort of place where white guys with money sat around puffing stogies.  

Though it bears the hockey legend's name, Herbie's isn't necessarily a beery post-game watering hole. Think more along the lines of the old-money feel of the St. Paul Hotel and the Hamm Building and you're a lot closer to the mark.

That said, the menu trends toward "elevated tavern fare" with a predictable burger and steak menu that pays homage to Minnesota. There are deviled eggs, Pepin Heights apple crisp, and walleye cakes. We truly loved the last, a dish that can often recieve lackluster treatment, but here they're given a Midas touch the noble lake fish deserves. 

The bar menu is a familiar lineup of wings and burgers, probably a wise move given the luxe surrounds. Once an audience begins to think of a place as a special-occasion spot, it can serve as a death knell.

A grand piano in a hockey bar? Yup.

A grand piano in a hockey bar? Yup. Mecca Bos

So, on second thought, do swing by post-game, jersey and all. There might be no cozier spot to clutch a Bud in all of downtown.