Open, airy, sunny, sleek, and spartan, friendly as heck, with a great scratch kitchen and more TV screens than a goddamn Best Buy. When the Iron Door Pub usurped the space left behind by Cause Soundbar, the only live music venue left in Uptown, fans of the place (and of live music) bellowed. It was gonna be a repository for dude bros chugging beers and hollering at the TV and basically continuing to gentrify Uptown from its once punk rock, artsy roots to a mall-ified, unrecognizable extension of the suburbs!
But that isn't really at all what we found when we visited.
What we found was a sweet little neighborhood hang with service so friendly and accommodating and scratch bar food so good we can't wait to go back. What we could do without were the countless TV screens that close in on you like they're threatening to make you watch them, whether you want to or not, and even though there was no big local game on, every screen was persistently lit. Judging by most of the guests in attendance who were more interested in their plates, pints, and friends, Iron Door could do with hitting the "off" button, at least on a few. With food this good, this many craft brews, and service this solid, it doesn't seem like they need the crutch. It could be a standup little spot, all on its own merits, regardless of what the Giants are doing to the Braves.
Much fanfare has been made over the Reuben, the recipe they share with sister restaurant Mac's Industrial in Northeast. But thanks to the overwhelming bombardment of kraut and dressing, we couldn't tell if it was good or not. It probably could have been, the meat lightly smoky and tender, but it simply fell victim to careless proportioning, one of the leading causes of death for otherwise great sandwiches.
Despite what Uptown detractors and doomsayers might say, the Lyn/Lake intersection has remained diverse, interesting, independent, and urban, with a female-friendly sex shop, two longtime bike shops, Szechuan and handmade sausage restaurants, an izakaya, a punk rock coffee shop/bar, a BDSM store, and institutions Bills Imported, It's Greek to Me, Dulono's, and Fuji Ya still going strong. Even the beloved dive Country Bar is due to rise from the ashes soon, and one of the lone chain stores, Milios, has shuttered to make way for a steampunk bar/art and community space.
We know that Mac's Industrial has done well for itself as an indie sports bar, and who knows, maybe Iron Door is banking on being the lone thing of its kind in this otherwise still-hip 'hood. Now, if I'm on my way from my appointment at Wax Kitten and heading over to the Jungle to catch a play and then afterward to grab an IPA at Lyn Lake Brewery, I can pop in and catch the score on the big game too.
Uptown has always been a place for everyone (remember what Prince said: "Black, white, Puerto Rican, everybody just a freakin'"?). So I think it's ungentlemanly not to welcome this nice little family into the neighborhood, even if they are trying to keep up with the Joneses with too many gadgets.
But if they want to fit in, they might want to let their freak flag fly a little higher, and dare to turn off the boob tube from time to time. The view out the window continues to offer far more thrills.
Iron Door Pub
3001 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis