Graves Hospitality, the hotel management company that brought us Bradstreet Craftshouse, has a new focus: fun. Enter Rival House, located adjacent to the DoubleTree in downtown St. Paul. Though the restaurant is technically part of the hotel, it has a standalone feel and is meant to appeal to a neighborhood crowd.
Rival House is sports-focused without taking on the sports-bar feel. Games are broadcast on a number of TVs throughout the restaurant, but Rival House keeps it interactive with two pinball machines, ping-pong, skee-ball, and a selection of vintage games like Jenga.
Atmospherically, Rival House has a long way to go. The space feels sterile and empty, like it's latched onto the hotel's aesthetic and can't let go. We have faith that Rival will get there eventually. After all, it was only day two when we visited.
Rival House's culinary focus is wood-fired pizza, but they also offer sandwiches, salads, soups, and appetizers. All of Rival House's servers are certified Cicerones -- essentially beer sommeliers. The restaurant has 24 craft brews on tap, beer-focused cocktails, and a range of beverages concocted by Bradstreet Craftshouse mixologists.
From the appetizers, we chose the fried green tomatoes -- four generous tomato rounds fried in a cornmeal batter and topped with a buttermilk dressing.
We also opted for the $13 chop salad, a hearty mix of grilled chicken, goat cheese, grapes, avocado, beets, and balsamic vinaigrette served with two slices of toasted bread. The avocado was overly ripe, but it didn't keep us from consuming the dish in its entirety.
Rival House teamed up with Red Wagon Pizza Company to create their wood-fired artisanal pizzas, which are made with a heritage wheat crust and farm-fresh ingredients. We had a hard time choosing, but settled on the Yankee, a thin crust topped with pepperoni, sausage, onions, shredded mozzarella, and red sauce. Pizza is Rival's main staple for good reason -- it's delicious.
Though Rival has a long way to go, it's a casual spot worth stopping by for a pint, a wood-fired pizza, and a game of ping-pong.
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