Hipster hotel or no, Radisson Red sports an easygoing menu at fair prices

They might want to rethink the "British street tacos," however.

They might want to rethink the "British street tacos," however. Lucy Hawthorne

When the new downtown Minneapolis Radisson Red dropped a very heavy-handed PR campaign, it was difficult not to titter.

The lobby was suddenly no longer a place to set down your bags while you checked into your room. No! That term is for fuddy duddies. Red’s entry point is a “social hive”!

And the staff who would typically check you in, like bellhops and desk people? Here they’re “creatives,” and the general manager is a “curator.”

You get the idea.

In reality, Radisson Red could have saved themselves a lot of trouble had they cut back on the marketing meetings at corporate. Because in reality, Radisson Red is kinda different, in some fairly astute ways, and you don’t have to be an obnoxiously hip millennial walking a pierced Boston terrier to enjoy it. (Seriously, Red’s mascot, Baxter, is sporting 4 gauge ear holes. Seriously.)

Upon entering, you’ll notice there isn’t much in the way of a lobby aside from a few ottomans and a ping pong table that people were actually enthusiastically using. Where you’d expect an opulent and expensive hotel bar and restaurant, sits OUIBar+KTCHN (Googling this is a Sisyphean task). It's Red’s eating area and reads more like a particularly well outfitted, somewhat futuristic cafeteria.

As a nice touch, it offers simple grab-and-go items, which is often all you want before or after a flight, rather than heartstoppingly overpriced room service. (They do not offer room service.) We also liked the bold graphic murals by local artist Adam Turman.

So far, so good.

Then -- bam! -- again with the branding. We’re told that the menu is inspired by “street food,” that overly tired marketing pablum. It's especially egregious when most of the items, like couscous, edamame, and beets with goat cheese croquettes, have probably never been served on any street. How do you eat couscous while walking down the street?

Instead, the menu is made up of casual party foods, perfect next to a cocktail and for sharing with a group of friends: duck fat popcorn, heavily buttered edamame, ham tots (fried, pork-infused croquettes), and burgers roughly the size of a quarter. They get the job done without an overabundance of pomp and expense (menu items do not exceed $12).

More involved bites range from the easy-sell chicken and waffles ($10) to a “British Street Taco” ($8). Beer battered cod, chips, and vinegar aioli are well executed, but the taco concept probably needs to be rethought; no matter how hard you push, fish and chips don’t want to be in a taco. The cognitive dissonance on the tongue is formidable.

Rooms are priced around $140. If you’re a frequent and savvy traveler on a budget, you’ve likely grown weary of the increasingly common $200 starting point for a clean and well-appointed room. If that seems like a dear price to pay for a place you’ll mostly enjoy with your eyes shut, then Radisson Red might be worth a look.

Like the rest of the hotel, the rooms are stripped-down and streamlined. The entire space is dog-friendly, so no carpet anywhere. The rooms are also paperless, so if you want to find out anything about the hotel or the city, there’s an app for that. Even the key is accessed via your phone (though early reports on Trip Advisor warn of quirky technology, so take heed). There’s no mini bar, but you didn’t want to pay $16 for peanuts anyway.

You get a basic bed with crisp white linens, a big-screen TV, and a clean place to poop, shower, and shave. There’s no other frippery or pretend luxuries that will probably wind up costing you more than they’re worth. 

Frequent and savvy traveler: Isn’t that what you want, regardless of your age?

That said, they’d probably do well to avoid some of the overbearing amenities, like the giant selfie-screen in the lobby (er, social hive) and those inhuman iPads you must order from rather than interacting with an actual human. On the one hand, technologies like this may assist in keeping prices low, on the other hand, how Black Mirror do we want life to get?

But hey, maybe that’s just your kind of thing. In which case, pull out that smartphone. A reservation is only a tap away.

Check out more photos of the hipsterific hotel here.

Radisson Red
609 S. Third St., Minneapolis