Stanley's Northeast Bar Room: a first look

Stanley's Northeast Bar Room: a first look
Kate N.G. Sommers

I had been driving by the skeleton of Stasiu's for over a year, frequently wondering what was to become of yet another shuttered classic Northeast space. In July, I noticed a dumpster had joined the ranks of the Marina truck in the parking lot, and I perked up: Something was happening! Slowly but surely more details about the space on University and Lowry unveiled themselves, and with the news that Steven Brown would be helping to develop the menu, I was totally psyched for the new space to open. Though its grand opening is technically today, a little bird told me the place was opening its doors Thursday to select customers on their mailing list, or anyone who saw the fluorescent "Open" sign above the entryway.

Stanley's Northeast Bar Room: a first look
Kate N.G. Sommers

When I first saw the menu I was trying to read between the lines. Where was this Steven Brown influence? Aside from "liver and onions," which should really read "dumbed down for Northeast" liver pate, I could see no trace of the heralded Brown's mark on the menu. With the understanding that this was Stanley's first day of business, here's what I found:

The pate was good and reasonably priced, albeit a bit confusing portion-wise. A large ramekin of sweet onion marmalade would totally overwhelm the amount of pate provided. We almost immediately needed to order double the amount of crostini, unless we were to pile the pate on our bread in epic proportions. And mustard? I only discovered a small smear hiding on the plate after having polished off the liver it was meant to accompany.

Stanley's Northeast Bar Room: a first look
Kate N.G. Sommers

Not feeling drawn to the items on the entree menu, which included steak, meatloaf, Sentryz sausage and beans, and fish and chips, we stuck to sandwiches.

I went with the walleye, served on ciabatta and accented with a spicy mayo and a side of house-made pickles. The fish was hot, flaky, and plump, the bread brushed with butter and toasted, and the spicy mayo a welcome condiment. There was a bit too much bread for the fish filet, but it's flavor and texture were spot on, so I didn't mind a bit. I asked to upgrade to sweet potato fries (an extra dollar), which ended up being the biggest disappointment of the evening: overcooked, yet somehow flaccid, lukewarm, and just plain flavorless. An easy fix with clean oil and a mindful eye, I'll give them another shot during my next visit.

Stanley's Northeast Bar Room: a first look
Kate N.G. Sommers

The Stanley burger, stuffed with brisket and cheese adorned with caramelized onions, was tempting to one dining companion. The brisket offers a smoky component to the patty, and the caramelized onions made the burger a winner.

Another diner chose the burger option, with what turned out to be mediocre bacon ($2) and cheese ($1), but cooked a perfect medium, as requested. At $2 a shot, thick, artisanal-quality bacon would be a reasonable request for our next visit.

For dessert you're limited to three options, warm chocolate chip cookies, an ice cream sundae, or warm bread pudding. The ice cream screamed of Breyer's quality, which my husband approves of, but which could easily be upgraded to any of the amazing local ice cream producers Minnesota has to offer. The pudding was buttery and rich, though not exactly a sweet or memorable dessert.

Is the food here "completely different from what northeast is used to in terms of food," as Dara reported back in August? With menu items like jalapeno poppers, BBQ brisket sliders, meatloaf sandwiches, and green bean casserole, so far the answer is no. It is my hope that they can bring the menu up to par with other crowded NE establishments such as the Sample Room and Northeast Social, and farther away from the scary and unwelcome alternative: Sarna's.

Addendum: Steven Brown was in fact, not involved in the creation of the menu and never spoke to Dara regarding Stanley's. According to The Downtown Journal the menu was developed by local chef Andy Weber.

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Stanley's Northeast Bar Room

2500 University Ave. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418


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