Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Dive Night ~ Kelly's

Dive Night is a once monthly adventure undertaken by me and Husby, along with our friends Ruthie and Ray. Each couple alternates choosing a restaurant, one which must come under the category of "dive." Our definition of dive: a neighborhood gathering spot hiding under the radar. Casual atmosphere and good food. We're out to find the best food in the Minneapolis/St Paul area without having to pay a fortune or dress up. A sip of beer or wine doesn't hurt either.  See a list and links to the previous dive night posts here.

Ruthie and Ray outdid themselves this time. It was their turn to choose the dive at which we were to dine this month. A blast from the past and some very delicious meals.

The place: Kelly’s in Centerville, MN.

Kelly’s has been around for a long time. I remember back in 1980 (or so) a couple of friends and I went to Kelly’s where I had my first shot of tequila. Then my second. Moments later I found myself dancing to The Commodores' Brick House on the pool table. That was the last time I had tequila and I never danced on a pool table again.

Fast forward (thankfully) to 2009 when we visit Kelly’s once again. Now, unlike the pool table dancing days, they serve food. Ray warned us, however, not to look toward the kitchen as we might catch a glimpse of the cook preparing our food. Apparently he was enough to lose our appetites. So with my back to the kitchen I kept my eyes on the menu.

We started out with an appetizer platter consisting of some chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, onion rings, and what seemed like deep fried hash brown potato nuggets. The platter came with various dips to accompany the different tastes provided.

The four of us all ordered differently from each other. Ruthie and I both ordered a chicken sandwich, but of different varieties. I can’t recall what hers was, but mine was a Southwest chicken sandwich that was wonderfully zesty and came with a great Southwest sauce. Ray got the fish fry, very popular at Kelly’s. The serving was gigantic. Husby ordered the French dip sandwich. He said it was fine, but a little chewy.

I’d recommend Kelly’s food. The atmosphere isn’t much to speak of as it is simply a working class bar. They still have the pool tables and now have a stage. The evening we were there crowds started gathering for a rousing night of karaoke.

Interestingly, Ruthie and I both noticed how the majority of the women coming for karaoke, as participants or spectators, looked mean and/or angry.

Also, I eventually got a look at the cook. Take Ray’s advice, don’t be curious.

As we exited I was teased by some of the guys at the bar, including the bartender. I was wearing a plaid wool logger’s jacket and they noticed I was taking pictures. They believed me to be visiting the big city (Centerville?) from up north somewhere. I chuckled along with them, and quickly put them in their place by saying I was from the cities, and I was doing a review on the place.

At my age, I’d recommend Kelly’s for a good meal. But don’t stick around too long (after 7:00 p.m.) unless you’re under thirty. The crowd is young and the older regulars are blue collar snobs. Guess I’ve come a long way from dancing on the pool table.

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