Someone once asked me how to know whether a place is a pub, a bar or just a restaurant. My answer was as follows: if you open the menu and there are twice as many pages of drinks than food, then you are certainly not at a restaurant; you are at a bar or a pub. If there is one long bar with only a few tables for seating, then chances are you are at a bar. But if you are somewhere there is a bar, tables, booths and board games, then you are almost certainly at a pub. Not scientific, I know, but a useful working definition.
The pub, or public house, is an entity that neared extinction in its native land of the UK in recent years, but saw a resurgence with the rise of the gastropub. The Midwest latched onto the gastropub, creating an American pub culture that paralleled the British reinvention. St. Paul is home to two exceptional gastropubs: the Happy Gnome and the Muddy Pig. While the Happy Gnome features a full dining menu to complement its rather extensive list of taps and bottles, the Muddy Pig brings an old world simplicity to its menu.
The dark wood interior, warm lighting and high ceilings help bring the charm of the building’s history to the forefront. Walk into the Pig and recognize the regulars settled around the bar as if they were a part of the establishment itself, while others from the neighborhood move about the pub. Muddy Pig patrons gather to imbibe, socialize, and celebrate life’s little victories and lament its defeats, the very attributes that make a pub unique to other drinking establishments.
It feels like a family heirloom, full of memory and nostalgia, but imparts a youthful energy gathered from the hearts of its servers, bartenders and young professional patrons. A neighborhood bistro worthy of being dubbed your “local,” the Muddy Pig is unassuming, unpretentious and unexpectedly extraordinary. Cheers.
In St. Paul? Stop by the Muddy Pig on the corner of Dale and Selby. Learn more at their website.