Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Night Out in Minneapolis: Dinner at Nye's Polonaise Room

As you know if this isn't your first time Looking at Life, me and Dolly-girl like to head out to swanky places to tie on the feedbag. Now, if you've been giving Looking at Life the once over twice or thrice recently, then you know that me and her took the Empire Builder to the Twins and then on to Big Windy as I had some people that needed talking with in the former, and pals-o-ours live in the latter. Being as how it was gonna be a holiday weekend, it made a good time to go. First stop, The Twins on Big Muddy. Turned out it was a treat to beat our feet there.

The Twin Cities, as the Twin Cities are known by the people who live there, have always been known for ingenuity. After all, people there figured out how to live in a place that's colder than a well digger's ass in winter and hotter than mock duck on a charcoal fire in the summer. Dolly-girl spotted this example of the pioneer spirit that makes Minnesota what it is today, a State of Survival. Voilà, the Pedal Pub! What could be better than pedaling your way around the city with a group of friends while drinking beer? We looked for, but didn't spot, the Pedal Potty that must be following close behind. By the looks of their web page, the programmer has been spending too much time pedaling with the customers...

Anyhoo, turns out old Jack knows a thing or three about The Twins--I took some correspondence training in order to get my license in order way back when in order to do correspondence training you had to sit in the classroom. Yep, Jack's a Golden Gopher from way back.

There happened to be another denizen at the sit-down I was at. He suggested we might just want to head on over to Nordeast Minneapolis and renew our acquaintance with Nye's, recently named one of ten bars men should drink in before they die, and its equally famous Polonaise Room. Soon as Dolly-girl got a wiff of the possibility of a cultural experience, she was gamer than an October pheasant in South Dakota. We headed out.

Nye's has been on the corner for a long time. There's a sign on the building that points the way to Our Lady of Lourdes. I'm guessing the priest had a chat with Al shortly after he changed Heffron's to Nye's in 1950. Dolly-girl took one gander at the joint, rolled her greenies, and declared, "As I live and breathe, it's a little bit of Wilkes-Barre right here in Minnesoooota!" We slid in the door and eyed up a table near the back, close to the mandatory "Wall of Mirrors."
We were greeted at the door by the hostess, Evie Radke, who's been there longer than a Twinkie in a health food store. The joint was empty--the Twins were playing the Yankees over at the ball yard--but she was on duty and ready for action. As we walked by, we heard Nye's motto uttered, "Jedzcie pijcie i popuszczajcie pas!" Rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? "Eat, drink, and loosen your belt!"

Some of my people were already there, knocking back the Nordeasters. Missy stopped by, gave us the whaddya-wants and asked, "whaddaya-want?" We joined them. I ordered a Premium ("Local legends aren’t just born, they’re brewed") and Dolly-girl had her usual, a skid-row biancho. "Ice in that?"

She was back in a flash with the drinks. We relaxed, yakked with the other Firecrackers, and nursed our drinks. Missy stopped by with the plate of rabbit food and an onion roll. "What's yours, missy?" asked Missy.

Dolly-girl was happy to be there, but Polish food was never ringing her bell--too much exposure as a "yout" back where the Bianchis set the brake on her pram. "Bring me that fish youse catch out here--what's it? Walled Eyed Pike?" Wow, I hadn't heard her say "youse" since "weese" were back in Pennsylvania. "We just call 'em walleyes, honey. Baked, mashed, or rice?" She turned to me. The D'Mestiere familia comes from a town where gnocchi and golabki rubbed elbows every day. I was going back and forth between them and the Polonaise Plate. Missy tapped her pen on her order pad...tap, tap, tap. No one else in the place to order, but my ordering was out of the ordinary and definitely out of order. "Golabki." "You won't be sorry." "Bring me a splash of the cabbage and kielbasa too." "Good choice." "And cowfeed." "A trip through the garden? You goin' all healthy here?" "Thousand Island." "Gotcha. 'Nother Premie?" "You betcha." She was off to the kitchen like Betty Crocker on new recipe day.

The soup was thick (or is that tick) and tasty--just the right mix of cabbage and sausage and thickened up with who-knows-what, but it was the right stuff. Probably had gluten in it. Salad was salad. Dolly-girl nibbled at it but said no to a spoon of the splash. She shot one through the wave that said "I wouldn't eat that if we were in a raft in the ocean..." Oh, well, more for me!

A trio of older women and a younger guy--maybe someone's son ("In fact, I'd bet ANYTHING he is SOMEONE'S son," Dolly-girl said)--were at the table next to us. They'd been there before from the looks of the talk between them and Missy. They wanted some Kodaks so they passed the Brownie over and I did the honors. I think they wanted to be in the Chopin Room--the upscale dining room--but it wasn't open. They had to sit with us and the Firecrackers, who by now were whoopin' it up on the Nordeasters and sausage.

The walled-eyed pike hit the spot for Dolly-girl and the mashed murphies were the real thing. As was the golabki. The cabbage was wrapped tight around the perfectly spiced meat. A boiled potato was the "no-choice side" (I would have been afraid to ask for a substitution). There was so much there I couldn't finish, so Missy boxed the last one up for breakfast. I could see the greenies roll through the wave.

Missy checked back in to see if anyone was saving room for an extra couple thousand calories in the form of cheesecake. Some did. I was still full of cabbage and meat, but not too full for a Nordeaster.

I happened to notice on my way to the you-know-where, a nice bowling shirt, featuring the Nye's martini glass logo. Knowing Slim and Nunzio would die of envy, I decided to bring one home! Here, a rarely pictured Jack shows off my new garb! Turn green, Slim!

Well, the night was over. We waddled out into a gigantic thunderstorm, stood under the canopy, and chatted with our waitress, who was headed home due to the slow night. The rain wasn't letting up, so we hailed a cab back to our hotel. Good thing, if those cabbage rolls had started to roll, I'd rolled all the way to The Big Windy! Dolly-girl just shook her head. We left happy; Nye's is an experience that shouldn't be missed and we didn't.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Love the shirt Jack; nice photo.