Crooked Pint Ale House: a first look

Categories: Now Open

Photo by Crooked Pint
The new space boasts cozy booths and a big bar set up
​Two weeks ago the new occupant of the former 501 Club space, Crooked Pint Ale House, opened for business. It's going for the homey urban pub feel with the addition of high-backed booths and soft lighting. The upstairs has a new pressed-tin-looking ceiling over a large bar area built in the center of the room, so patrons just dropping in for a quick pint have plenty of room to pull up a cushy stool.

The Hot Dish stopped in, to a mildly bustling crowd, for a weekday dinner.

Crooked Pint has quite a range of beers, from pilsners to ales to stouts. During happy hour, which is daily from 3 to 7 p.m., all Grain Belt and Summit taps (three kinds of Summit are available, with a fourth rotating seasonal option) are $3, with the craft taps (i.e., Bell's, Brooklyn Brewery, Flying Dog) discounted $1 and appetizers $2 off. There are also separate daily drink specials such as "Whiskey Wednesday" and "Saturday Wine Time."

The menu is fairly large and filled with the usual suspects of pub fare. Breakfast on weekends starts at 7 a.m. for the go-getters, though a small selection of breakfast items is available every day on the regular menu. The appetizers were no surprise, with items ranging from fries to wings, nachos to cheese curds.

Photo by Lisa Nguyen
​One of the options that stood out was the chorizo corn dogs ($8 for 10 bites). The chorizo was pleasantly spicy, and while they were deep fried to crunchy perfection, the batter lacked any sweetness to contrast with the salty meat.

It was exciting to find a quinoa chickpea salad ($9) on the menu, a pleasant change from the ubiquitous mixed spring greens or Caesar salads. The quinoa and chickpea mixture sat atop a bed of spinach and was sprinkled with hunks of feta. We dug in, but sad to say it did not live up to expectations. The spinach was tossed in a vinaigrette that was very tangy, but the quinoa had no seasoning whatsoever. Unless every bite of quinoa was carefully arranged to include spinach and a piece of feta, it was extremely bland. The salad was also disturbingly cold--like brain-freeze cold. Once the spinach was gone, there was no need to continue.

Photo by Lisa Nguyen

Photo by Lisa Nguyen
The New York strip sandwich ($11) was the clear winner of the night. The hoagie bun was light, fluffy, and just the right amount of buttery. The steak could have been cooked a bit more rare, but it tasted so good we didn't mind. Crooked Pint has its own "Bistro Sauce" that is found on many of the menu items. It was described as a "special Dijon mustard," but we found it to be more of a horseradish mayo with garlic and chipotle. It added a great punch to the sandwich. The only real complaint was that the fries were soggy, but that could have just been a bad batch.

Photo by Lisa Nguyen
​It seemed appropriate to try something off the "Crooked Classics" section of the menu--in this case, the Ale House walleye ($15). The two fillets were fried to a nice crisp, however the batter had zero flavor, and the fish tasted a bit too fishy. Luckily the Bistro Sauce stepped in once again, this time to really save the day. The entree came with a small pile of mixed greens and lemon-buttered red potatoes. The lemon butter was completely baffling--just sour and oddly paired with potatoes, which, aside from the lemon flavor, had no additional spices or seasoning. As the most expensive of everything we ate, it was particularly disappointing.

While the menu has yet to blow us away, the service was efficient and friendly, and we were greeted cheerfully at the front door. The new bar is beautiful, and we plan to stop back to give happy hour a shot. Hopefully, Crooked Pint Ale House will be able to break the curse of this Washington Avenue location.

Crooked Pint Ale House
501 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis
612.877.6900; Crooked Pint website

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