Torpedo Room at Eat Street Social – Minneapolis

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With its vintage vibe and old-fashioned soda fountain drinks, Eat Street Social in Minneapolis seemed like a place I would have liked even if they hadn’t installed a pop-up tiki bar last September. Our annual Minnesota visit coincided with one of the last June weekends before the Torpedo Room went on “summer vacation” (aka hiatus).

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The Torpedo Room was hidden behind a curtain off to the right of the main bar and was only open Friday and Saturday nights. The set-up reminded us of Tiki Tolteca in New Orleans, as they’re both tiki annexes operating on certain nights in the private party areas of restaurants. Each also presented its own unique take on tiki drinks (but more on that soon.)

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The narrow room had a small bar on one side with a thatched roof and a “tiki bar” sign — just in case you weren’t sure what kind of bar you’re in. 😉 Up on the top shelves above the liquor were a few tiki mugs, including Cthulhu (a smashing kickstarter success) and vessels from Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago.

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The rest of the space had clusters of wicker chairs and nautical-esque barrel tables, chairs and sofas, plus fake palm trees strung with colorful lights and wall decorations of netting, cork floats and a large marlin.

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We arrived right around 7 p.m. when they opened the Torpedo Room and had the place to ourselves for the most part. The impression I got was that most of the Minnesotan patrons wanted to savor the summer weather on the patio, which was where the tiki bar was originally intended to go.

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Twin Cities cocktail guru Nick Kosevich and fellow Bittercube Bitters founder Ira Koplowitz, along with Marco Zappia and the Eat Street Social team, designed the Torpedo Room’s cocktail menu with a “Minnesota exotic” theme. This meant there were a few nods to the Midwest (like Wisconsin’s Modest Vodka and Gamle Ode aquavit) brought to the table in addition to housemade syrups (orgeat, falernum) and interesting ingredients (Red Boat fish sauce and Thai basil). To top it all off, there were even several sno cones — available with alcohol (“makua” i.e. for adults) or without (“keiki” i.e. for kids). These featured sophisticated flavors like “Nectar” (Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac, almond-vanilla syrup, cream and orange blossom water).

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One of their most talked-about tipples was the Corn Tiki ($13), which was inspired by the Painkiller but substituted sweet corn cream for coconut cream and mulled apple cider instead of pineapple and orange juice. (So, it’s really nothing like a Painkiller at all.) I appreciated the unique concept though it was a touch viscous for my taste. I preferred the Royal Hawaiian #Pine ($13), which was accidentally created when Marco misinterpreted the recipe notes and mixed the drink with pine liqueur instead of pineapple juice. The team liked it so much that they kept it, and I can see why. (I told him he missed the opportunity to call it Marco’s Mistake.)

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Served in Atomic Tony Tiki’s Mana Mana mug from Tiki Farm, Zappia’s Zombie ($15) gave a good wallop with Plantation 3 Stars & 5 Yr. Rum, Lemon Hart 151, lime, orange, housemade falernum, cinnamon syrup, passionfruit cordial, pineapple, hibiscus grenadine and Bittercube Bolivar bitters. A few of the other drinks dabbled with more unusual spirits. Case in point was the Sri Lankan Sling ($11), a spin on the Singapore Sling made with White Lion Arrack (a Sri Lankan alcohol made from coconut flower nectar), housemade tart orange and cherry liqueurs, Benedictine, hibiscus grenadine, pineapple, lemon and Mahalo Bitters.

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Meanwhile, the kitchen offered several “Island Bar Food” dishes, including island jerk spice chicken wings ($7), “butcher’s cut” steak ($18) and, my favorite, the house-made Spam and cream cheese wontons ($5).

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I love that they went the extra mile to make their own version of Spam, which was also featured in the steamed bun sandwiches with kimchee and pineapple-cilantro-jalapeno jelly. (They’d ran out of Chinese bao so ours were served on mini brioche buns.)

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Eat Street Social’s web site promises that the Torpedo Room will return in the fall. Perhaps a little tropical escapism will be more appreciated then. As much as I adore the veritable tiki theme park that is Psycho Suzi’s, the artisanal tiki cocktails at Eat Street Social were on another level, so I’m definitely rooting for a comeback.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Eat Street Social’s tiki bar has returned for the Fall 2014 season!

Torpedo Room Tiki Bar at Eat Street Social
18 W 26th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55404
612-767-6850

Eat Street Social on Urbanspoon

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Tiki at Lake George…Minnesota

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Please pardon the recent radio (interweb) silence, but I just returned from another trip to the land of 10,000 lakes (and a few tikis). For years we used to have family reunions at Lake George in Minnesota — a four hour drive north of Minneapolis — until the owner sold the resort.

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Now we rent cabins at another nearby lake, but we still take the occasional sentimental drive along the shores of Lake George and that’s when I spotted this tiki out on the sand. Sort of funny since there’s a whole tiki resort, naturally called The Tiki Resort, at Lake George in New York. (In fact they’re hosting the annual Ohana – Luau at the Lake event this weekend.)

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In actual Minnesota tiki news, Psycho Suzi’s in Minneapolis just released a new signature mug — this one is tied to the Ports of Pleasure bar in the Shangri-La Cocktail Lounge upstairs. Designed by local artist Carolyn Kopecky and manufactured by One Hundred 80 Degrees in St. Paul, it features a mysterious mermaid on the bow of half a sunken ship (and is available in the online gift shop for $20). I was very impressed by its unique shape — it’s already front-and-center in my collection.

Related Posts:
Psycho Suzi’s Ports of Pleasure Bar
Shrunken Head Tiki Mug at Psycho Suzi’s
More Tiki Bars in Minneapolis

Brunch at Psycho Suzi’s – Minneapolis

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While I love that some tiki bars (like the Tiki-Ti in LA and Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale) are like time capsules, staying pretty much the same for decades on end, I’m also impressed by the (relative) newcomers that are continually evolving and upping their game. Psycho Suzi’s in Minneapolis definitely falls in that category.

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As I outlined in a previous post, a few years ago Psycho Suzi’s outgrew its original location and moved into this huge space with a riverfront patio for when the Midwestern winters let up. Last month they expanded their alfresco square-footage with a balcony patio. However, it’s part of the Shangri-La Cocktail Lounge upstairs, so it’s only accessible on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. on.

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Another new addition I noticed since our last trip was this photo booth decked out like a tiki hut. The opening that spits out the photos is cleverly framed by the mouth of a tiki mask with red glowing eyes.

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We paid a visit to Psycho Suzi’s this past weekend, but we chose to sit inside to soak up the atmosphere instead of the sunshine. (It’s a luxury we can afford thanks to living in Southern California.)

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We were dining during brunch hours (Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.) so there were omelets, waffles, skillets and breakfast pizzas in addition to the regular menu, plus a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar ($7.95).

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I’m a fan of Psycho Suzi’s comfort food with a twist, and brunch keeps that theme going with dishes like The Mercury Breakfast Pizza ($8.95), a thin-crust pie with a quiche-like layer of eggs, cheddar and mozzarella cheese, and hollandaise sauce, topped with Canadian bacon and caramelized onions. It’s highlighted as one of their signature menu items and I can vouch for its goodness.

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Even better was the Biscayne Biscuits ($9.95), the unholy (but amazing) offspring of eggs Benedict and biscuits and gravy. Two biscuits were topped with a sausage patty and poached egg, then covered with creamy housemade sausage gravy. My dining companion generously shared but next time I’ll be sure to get my own plate.

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My brother opted for the Chocolate Chip Waffle ($5.95) topped with shavings of Ghirardelli chocolate. He’s a big guy with an appetite to match so I initially thought this might not be enough, but he ended up leaving a few bites behind so it must have been satisfying.

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You have to admire a tiki bar where you can have your fill of rum one night, then come back the next morning for brunch to cure your hangover!

Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge
1900 Marshall St. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418
612-788-9069

Related Posts:
Psycho Suzi’s Lunch Review
Pyscho Suzi’s Patio – A Riverfront Paradise
Shangri-La Cocktail Lounge at Psycho Suzi’s