A few nights ago, some friends and I headed over to the Red Stag Supper Club in Northeast Minneapolis for dinner and a cozy little concert from a band called “Communist Daughter.”
Having never been to the Red Stag — or even realizing it was a music venue — I was pretty interested to find out what was in store for the evening.
Upon our arrival, I found Red Stag to be a true-to-form supper club on first impression — although the crowd was much more hipster chic than middle-aged sport coats.
The setting was almost like an ironic version of a supper club with a modern spin. There were beer cans lining the shelves along the walls, giving a nod to classics like Red Dog and Pabst Blue Ribbon. The entire interior was heavily focused on a Northwood’s-type feel, with dark Douglas fir providing most of the backdrop.
Everything inside seemed to have a red glow, from the vintage wall decorations to the retro-fabulous bar. And between the wait staff and the customers, the place just screamed contemporary. I almost felt too “suburban” sitting there in my black cardigan and skinny jeans.
A very cool thing about this urban restaurant is that it opened in 2007 as the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-registered project in Minnesota. The supper club is known for its local and organic menu that, albeit, was a tad daunting at first glance but highly admirable nonetheless. Beyond the natural emphasis on food, the Stag also boasts of its energy-efficient practices. Through an environmental design, the restaurant is able to cut water usage by nearly 70 percent, energy usage almost in half and thanks to LED lights, about 90 percent less in electricity. Very impressive.
None of this is really apparent to the average customer — but there’s an earthy quality that is present in the food that gives customers an almost guilt-free, higher platform dining experience.
Now, I can’t speak too much to the food — I opted for a lighter meal to counterbalance my much guiltier lunch — but from the comments collected from those dining with me, I felt that I at least got an idea.
Everyone seemed to lean toward two choices for pre-entrée salads, including the regular house salad with greens, carrots, radishes and herb vinaigrette or the hearts of palm and beet salad, featuring fennel, gorgonzola, romaine and greens. The house salad was quite good and had a surprising tang to it. The beet salad — from what I could tell — was also quite satisfying, especially to the big beet fans at the table.
I also started off with an order of the garlic confit grilled flatbread and let me just say, garlic should’ve been underlined. While I’m a natural garlic lover, there were definitely bites where it was a bit too much for me — and let’s just say, my breath was more than offensive for the remainder of the night, even after multiple breath mints.
The table ordered a mix of the Stag’s “Big Plates,” which included the pan-roasted duck, beef shortrib and a few variations of the Red Stag Steaks.
I’ve recently been told to cut out red meat from my diet so unfortunately there wasn’t a lot for me to indulge in. And yes, I’m absolutely devastated by this omission. But I can live vicariously, right? (Sigh.)
The table reviews seemed mostly positive. The pan-roasted duck, served with a sweet potato puree and roasted parsnips, was highly praised. The Red Stag steaks were well prepared but to a few weren’t exactly a standout. And it seemed there were a few issues with the beef shortrib — complaints ranging from “Where’s the beef?” to “Talk about a short rib.”
Still, most everyone was a member of the clean plate club and perfectly stuffed before the main event.
Having not heard a single note from the band “Communist Daughter,” and having only their moniker to base any judgment, I was very curious to find out what they were all about.
Their folksy rhythm and indie nature was pleasantly surprising. I have to admit, I was ready for just about anything, including an overly tattooed band screaming hate into a microphone while simultaneously sacrificing some kind of barn animal. OK, maybe not that far but with a name like “Communist Daughter,” I guess you just never know.
The band is exactly the opposite — melodic harmonies atop a humble acoustic guitar with lyrics that embody peaceful nostalgia. The performance took place on empty diner chairs, near a makeshift stage adjacent to the steel kitchen. And it was perfect. I don’t know much about the local band, but word on the street is that they’re gaining popularity by the second — even Rolling Stone Magazine put them on the radar.
The evening was full of wonderful firsts — first Stag night, first time with the Communist Daughter — oh my! — and one of the first nights of live, local music in Minneapolis — yes, I need to work on that. All in all, I’d say it was a great suggestion from a friend — one that’s got me itching for more. So, do you know of a great local band I should check out? Have a venue that’s your favorite? Let me know!
Sara Boyd is a web producer and columnist at WCCO.COM.