Those who have drunk at Dan Kelly's since the beginning of time might not recognize it the next time they cross the threshold to downtown's serious drinker's den on Seventh Street. But before getting all up in arms about sacred cows, know that the new iteration has kept the integrity of the place intact, turning what was formerly a charming Irish dive into a charming Irish pub that feels like it's been there forever.
Matty O'Reilly and partner Rick Guntzel know a couple of things about beer and cider and all things pub. They're the guys who brought you the beloved (to beer drinkers, especially) Republics, but also the Aster Cafe before that. They were at the forefront of the good beer movement, but cider too -- keep an eye on them because if you didn't know there was a good cider movement encroaching on the Twin Cities, there is, and they're driving the boat.
The new Dan Kelly's is all cozy, dim pubbery. In fact the front windows are utterly blanketed, so no pesky sunlight can enter to disturb a day of commiserating with your cups. The only light seems to come in from the dramatic stained-glass windows behind the bar, backlit to produce an almost holy effect. And if to church we must go, this one will do nicely.
Beer here: 19 on tap, most of them local. Four ciders on tap, also local and one out of California. Also, 40 Irish whiskeys if beer isn't fast enough.
Food is by local name chef Kevin Kvalsten, who's been doing the bar food program at the Republics too. Here it's all real-deal Irish -- full Irish breakfast, boxy, coddle, colcannon, the whole bit.
The fish and chips we sampled had levity to rival chef Jack Riebel's at Paddy Shack, and a smoked chicken salad with arugula and tarragon vinaigrette was elegant enough to have been at home in any fine-dining establishment, but here it was a welcome foil to a rich cheese plate with Cashel blue, Cahill porter cheese, and fragrant rye with apple chutney.
New carpet and the addition of some beautiful oak privacy booths add further character to the room, along with the ubiquitous chalkboards with ubiquitous witty repartee. Servers do a bang-up job of welcoming newcomers and lifers alike, chatting about the changes and making all feel at home.
Dan Kelly's Pub 212 7th Street S, Minneapolis 612-333-2644
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