St. Paul >Food & Dining > Happy Gnome
498 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN | Directions 5510244.946408 -93.120937
Mon. - Sun. 11:30am - 1am
Neighborhoods: Summit - University
Down and out..... – So, we booked The Happy Gnome Fireside room for a special event (grooms dinner). Super pumped and excited to celebrate with our large group....but it was a far cry from a great celebration. Promises were made and agreed upon by the owners sister and nothing was delivered. Nothing. This so called 'sister' booked another party in the same room (not agreed upon OR EVEN discussed with us), so that when speeches were given, no one could hear over the 'other' party in the room....(this other party wasn't happy either). They served a measly cesear salad when we agreed to a different garden salad. They served the bread AFTER we started our meal. The said we'd have drink tickets....none were given (AND they were PAID for, by us). The dessert was probably bought from Cub Foods. Not very good. The vegetables at the meal might have been from a frozen bag, maybe from Cub too. Oh, and not to mention, the wait staff was incredibly RUDE. I've never been so disappointed in a restaurant. Don't give them your business. There are plenty of places that will treat you better....
I'm happy with the Gnome – Go to the Gnome when a new keg of Surly's is being tapped. The outside deck in the fall of the year is great - cool with leaves falling. The food is, welll, unpredictable - I've had the sausages - dry and tasteless, the elk cubes - great! Just get the plates of appetizers and forget the main dishes - you'll be happier that way. The single malt scotches are poured with a heavy hand!! The local brews and the micros are well represented. The inside is like a working man's pub in an English city - a person can stand at the bar - the beer is served at the right temperature and the servers can talk intelligently about the beers for the most part. Did I mention getting a pint of Surly's? Try the 'Furious'!
the very UNhappy Gnome Experience – The very UNHappy Gnome, Awful Experience
We booked our son's rehersal dinner at the Happy Gnome after being deceived by the event manager at our tasting that the food would be fabulous and that we'd have the party room upstairs basically to ourselves. When we showed up the "Bate and Switch" occured. In reality our party of 55 people was joined by another party of 25 with NO divider separating parties. When I booked the room, we were the only party. Also, the drink tickets they promised me turned out not to exist when we showed up so we had to share the one bar with the other party. I had to pay for 54 drinks when at least 10 of my guests didn't even get their "complimentary" drink that WE were paying for...probably went to the other party that was up there.
The cesar salad that was served was a far cry from the fresh garden salad with sunflower sprouts we tasted and selected weeks prior. In fact, the cesar salad was served on a very warm plate and I had a guest ask me if it was safe to eat!! Furthermore, the choices of entrees we selected in the tasting were to be chicken, beef, or fish with boiled potatoes. When they came to take our orders it was beef, pork, and some kind of chicken! And, when dinner was served, it was served on a small salad plate with instant mashed potatoes and Green Giant-like frozen vegetables. Lastly, the bread that I had ordered, which ended up increasing the per-person plate fee from $25.00 to $30.00 was served not only after the salads were finished, but nearly at the end of the entrees. Those who ordered chicken didn't receive their meals until the other guest had FINISHED their entrees. The first entrees were not even served until 25 minutes after salad plates had been cleared. Dessert couldn't be served until dinner plates were washed, which is why our dessert plates were piping hot. I wouldn't recommend this for any party. My biggest dissapointment is no one cared, or returned my three phone calls and emails. Poor service.
Great Food, Great Service – I stopped in The Happy Gnome for the first time in 8 months last weekend. I had forgotten how great it is! I managed to find space at the bar outside and procedeed to look over the beer lists. The bartender, though fairly busy, took a great amount of time talking about the beers with me. Turns out he was the Bar Manager as well, and really knew his stuff. He explained how they had just updated their beer bottle list to over 200 bottles, and helped me pick out a few. (the Dragon's Milk and Matilda he suggested were great!)
I ordered the "Wild Game" burger, and it may have been the tastiest burger I have had! Juicy, big and they make their own ketchup! Delicious!
Overall, I highly recommend checking out The Happy Gnome, especially if you haven't gone for a while. It appears that they are headed in the right direction, and intent on getting better....
Cold, unprepared, and disappointing! – I attended a rather mild 15 man bachelor party, scheduled months in advance, at the Happy Gnome. The groom, a manager at a great Minneapolis restaurant, had in-person and on site reserved a private area in the upstairs dining room. He had called to double check and confirm several times... but the staff was unaware of the reservation.
We were seated at a long set of tables downstairs in the back and asked to wait as they "turned" the packed room upstairs. We patiently ordered from a great selection of beers. As mentioned elsewhere, a waitress propped the back door open for fresh air, which quickly grew cold. The "45 minute" wait grew longer and longer.
We were finally moved upstairs in the back [by the small, constantly-in-use bathroom] at a set of pushed together tables and settings... way too close for 15 people. Another table was added at an awkward right angle. My side of the table was seated under a cold air producing vent in the ceiling that promised to freeze our food as soon as it arrived. We asked if the cold air could be shut off... to no avail. One fellow asked a waiter for a table cloth and draped it around himself to keep warm. This proved to be an uncomfortable four hours.
The food was over-priced and not consistently good. My $25 steak was small and full of gristle. The number of times someone ordered a beer or dinner entree from the menu, only to be told it had been pulled from the menu, was disappointing. And the service grew slower and slower. To get dessert or the final bill seem to take forever. One young man was shocked to find an extra $1.80 charge for the "rocks" on top of the charge for his whiskey. We were told, "That's pretty standard."
I felt embarrassed for the groom, who obviously was less than pleased. The whole experience was disappointing and I'd never recommend the Happy Gnome to anyone.
Bad Horse and Pony Show – It's one thing to brag about a beer list- but if you are going to attempt an overblown beer list, keep the taps and lines clean!! The food is consistently inconsistent, and at least half the staff has an attitude. Note to Larisa-we'd still tip you without your body on our booth- ICK!! Signed, headed to the Muddy Pig...
Good beer selection, sub-par food. – From the outside it seems like a lovely place but once inside the it looks as if they spent a weekend painting over the last resturaunts theme then called it finished with some stock black and white photos on the walls. The dining area seemed more like a fast food resturaunt or a coffee shop you would find on a college campus. We ordered drinks, the tap beer list is extensive and varied. We placed orders for the Spinach Crusted Baked Cod and Crab and Orecchiette Pasta. My grandma used to boil up Cod for Christmas either to punish us for not visiting as much as we should or to show how bad the Norweigians had it so long ago.
I was once again reminded about the nature of cod. Green spinach coupled with purple potatos on top of gray fish. MMmmmm, got that picture in your head? Yes, I would love another beer. It looked more like something from a sci-fi movie . The waitress never asked us how our food was she just asked if we needed more drinks. Clever gal.
I tried really hard to eat this and get my pallete around the "subtle nature" of fennel sauce. I gave up unsatisifed and frustrated. Yes, another beer please.
My parter in crime had the Crab and Orecchiette Pasta. Pasta and sauce with a butt-load of garlic. This dish wisked me back to the days being a poor college student trying to throw something together that would require a nap afterwards. It was that bad.
I think the owner/manager/guy in charge was there so everyone was shuffling around trying to look busy. It was actually kind of funny to watch. They would be doing there normal server/ bartender thing and as soon as he came into the dining / bar area they would start scurrying around moving glasses, wiping things down and fliping through the order screens on the computer.
Overall, The Happy Gnome might be a good second stop for a bar crawl. Skip the food, grab some good beers and then proceed to Grand avenue.
cuter, preppier sister of Muddy Pig – The Happy Gnome benefitted from a face-lift and has neat decor and nice fireplace, though not as many beer options as the Muddy Pig down the street. I like the Mac and Cheese and the other foods I've had, but found it to be a little expensive for what you get. It's a great place to bring out of towners, as it's not too loud and the booths are nice and deep. A little preppy.
The Beer is great...I'm told – The four of us visited the Happy Gnome last Friday evening. We assumed it would be cooler inside than out. Initially, that proved to be the case. The wait staff soon changed that by propping the door to the outside patio open, allowing all that warm, sultry air in along with a few flies After an hour the interior temperature and exterior temperature was just about the same. Why bother with A/C? Install a screen door, please! Or, doesn?t the Ramsey County's sanitarians do inspections anymore?
I ordered a Gin & Tonic from our server, served in a tall glass with lime, please. The bartender got the tall glass and lime correct. The tonic was so flat that there was no hint of carbonation in the liquid in the glass. I couldn?t taste the gin. The ice in the glass filled 2/3 of the glass. Our server didn?t apologize and commented that the tonic was flat because the bottle it came from ?had been open too long?. She replaced the drink with another that was no better. I accepted the drink figuring that the barkeeps at this place were hired for their ability to read beer taps, not mix drinks. (I am told the beer was great.)
Great Food, Fantastic Beer and Wonderful Sevrice – My wife and I were working at a conference in St. Paul. A close friend gave told us to check out the Happy Gnome. So we went and took 10 other folks with us. We had a fantastic time. The food was incredible and the presentation was awesome. The beers we had were top of the line and choosing from their draft and bottle lists was an energetic exercise. Our server was gracious and knowlegable and handled us very well. When we get back to St. Paul we will definitely return and bring others.
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