Forget everything you know about Borough and everything you think you know about Parlour. In fact, forget everything you think you know about the North Loop, and forget everything you know about cheeseburgers. Tell you what, just forget everything. Hammer the hard drives and shred what you can't fit into the furnace.

Borough & Parlour on UrbanspoonOkay, now what's your name? You don't remember? Perfect.

On Washington Avenue, down a staircase on the street side of Borough, is Parlour. It's dark in there, and quiet. You're virtually dining among shadows.

In the kitchen is a cunning culinary supervillain, a mastermind who absorbed the powers of the Twin Cities' best burgers and bound them all between one pair of buns. The creation is simply called "Burger." I rounded up five amigos for "Burger." In the end, principles were compromised and ideals were threatened.

"Burger" is clarifying and stupefying at once, but don't dwell too hard on that. The less you try to use your head about this, the better off you'll be.

The Basics: Borough has a hanging sign but Parlour doesn't. Its entrance looks like a maintenance door, but its name is on the glass. Parlour doesn't have its own website, just a tab within Borough's. According to said tab, Parlour was recognized by Playboy as one of America's best bars.

This cheeseburger was recently named the best dish in the Twin Cities by City Pages, besting Corner Table's Turd Smear with Pork Bits Plopped Atop. The next cheeseburger on the list is Matt's Lucy, at number 38.

This review is specific to Parlour. I've reviewed Borough in the past, and I wasn't particularly ... HEY! Remember what I said about forgetting everything?!

The first thing you can put behind you are the parking troubles we're accustomed to downtown. Parlour is just far enough out of the bustle that spots aren't an issue. In fact, it was the opposite Wednesday night; our driver was befuddled by the selection of lots.

You walk up into Borough, but you walk down into Parlour. It's metaphoric on accident. Borough is uppity, boppity, and bubbly; Parlour's light presence goes from dusky to erotic as the evening winds on. If you're just out to be seen, go up to Borough. Nobody's going to see you down here unless you sit on them.

Parlour is hallway-shaped. We passed a rich wooden bar, one with a deer head mount and a bowl of fruit on the counter, and found a six-person table in the back half. The accent wall was entirely padded. With a shimmery wall in front of me and the small-paned windows behind me, it looked like an upscale nuthouse. The seats were very nice, though. Six more drinks and this lighting, I would've slept exceptionally.

Our drink selection ranged from a friend's Manhattan -- an elixir so powerful it cleared up her cough on first sip -- to my Lake Superior Kayak Kolsch. It ranged from Snoopy's refreshing There's an App For That, to the Old Fashioned he drank later on. The Old Fashioned was a brutal concoction, and I swear it left a skid mark on my tongue. Snoopy enjoyed it, though. Ducky drank a paradisaical drink called Wise Beyond His Years; his girlfriend and the selfie queen ordered stouts.

The wait time for drinks was excessive. You could argue the tenders were getting worked, but it didn't end there. The bills would've reached us quicker, methinks, had somebody blown them our way. Also, it wasn't that busy Wednesday night.

It was burgers all around (some split) with two plates of fried risotto and a bowl of popcorn to share. The food's lead time was unnoticeable, as the selfie queen talked about her upcoming move to Florida while I furiously punched in restaurant notes -- which I haven't once looked at, so that was a wise expenditure of my time.

The plates began to be set down, and I was confronted by "Burger." On it is white American cheese and two patties. The patties are constructed of ribeye, sirloin, and brisket.


It isn't a Juicy Lucy, I swear. The cheese oozes and glues like that of a Lucy, but it isn't. The patties drip and grease rushes through bites like the burgers at Icehouse, but they aren't.

Those pickles on the side? Leave 'em off. They're good, but you don't want interference.

I chomped and was sent skyward (not really, though; ceilings are pretty low in here). It's infused with a salty love similar to the bricks at Lions Tap, with the same smooth grind and plush bread handles as Victory 44's Perfect Burger. The cheese looked unevenly stationed, but fell back into every bite. After I finished, there was the same "Oh God" I felt after my first Vincent. I quivered a little, and I spoke hardly at all.

Is my word not enough? Hear this: The selfie queen is a vegetarian with an irrational fondness for ketchup. Not only did she scarf her half with a Crusader's vigor, the corny red bottle didn't get lifted once. Never before had a burger gone into her un-catsuped. Two religions were besmirched on one plate. You need to try this. Today.

The fried risotto had the subtle crunch and soft interior of a fine crab cake, with a little smear of avocado beneath it - just nifty. I'm not a big popcorn guy, but the table emptied it. I had a few fries, and they checked out positively.

I understand there's a predisposition that the North Loop is only bearable to a particular set of wallets and hairstyles, and that it's a hassle, and that it's overpriced, and that it's loud. Forget all of that. Hit yourself in the head really hard if you have to. The burger clocks in at $13; and, while you might cringe at the $9 pint of stout or the $12 spittle of scotch, there are a handful of beers that fall in line with the prices of other neighborhoods. Otherwise, you can drink at Bunkers across the street.

Aside from a smidgen of service lag, there's nothing to unlike about Parlour. I managed to get out of here only $25 lighter, tip and all. "Burger" and one beer is all you need. There are hoity-toities and eye-roll-inducing decor, but you won't notice it without trying to. If you want to lose yourself in a dim, cozy abode, come to Parlour and let a supervillain serve you up dinner.

It's worth getting baffled over. Let nothing stop you from "Burger."


Lydia Haines and her family have one, and it's sharpening in a part of town where most of us go and get blurry: Northeast Minneapolis.

Haines stood in an empty warehouse space Thursday and outlined that vision with exuberance. Her eyes glowed through her lenses and her smile was infectious. She didn't lay it out like Bob Ross and his happy trees; she laid it out like Matt Parkman in Heroes, taking us right into her family's dream and watching it with us.

In about two months, the dusty space we stood in will become the taproom of Bauhaus Brew Labs.

Right now, reaching the taproom involves walking by a forklift and ducking under extension cords. Right now, the bar is a row of ice-filled containers with growlers resting inside. Some of their key components haven't cleared customs yet. Need relief? There's a port-a-potty outside. The lock's a bit fiddly, so watch yourself.

Yet, Haines can tell you where she wants the projection screen to be and where she wants the bands to set up. Where a garage and fence are decaying, she imagines a patio that'll be poppin' come Oktoberfest. Tanks, some still partially wrapped, await their stations and duties. Even the overhead cranes, which rocked precariously on their tracks when the gang first took residency, have been secured and their uses mapped out.

Everything is being treated as an asset, a unique effect meant to partition Bauhaus from anything labeled as normal. Some of their ideas are so cool, I'll let you just wait and see them yourself. I can, however, tell you the "B" spray-pointed outside the side door will be a part of the program when all's said and done.

Bauhaus will be located on Tyler Street in northeast Minneapolis -- yeah, that Tyler Street, the one with 612's ever-jammin' space paces away, with smokin' young guns like Indeed and Dangerous Man lurking nearby. Sociable Cider is close, too, if you're into that.

Haines doesn't feel threatened by the opposition. Even in her neighbors, she sees assets.

"It's not, for instance, us against 612," she said. "It's us and 612 against Budweiser."

Oh yeah, the beer.

Haines' husband and father have been brewing together for 10 years, and what came out of that and into the steel growlers are German-inspired beers focused on light weight and smooth guzzles. Part of Bauhaus' grand design is a literal lab for testing and more aggressive pushing of the proverbial envelope.

Three beers were on hand for tasting Thursday. Wonderstuff, my personal favorite, puts just enough citrus tang to beam you onto a pontoon but enough punch to make you think twice about trying to drive it. Sky-Five, a tastefully-titled "Midwest Coast IPA," might draw the hipsters' ire but it was pleasing to me. It's an IPA that's hoppy without feeling like an axe to the throat. If you like a dark beer with light qualities, Stargazer ought to roll right up your alley. It delivers on all of its promises, but I prefer a dark beer that eats like a meal.

So what are they sending them to the shelves in? Something with a hop in the logo? Maybe some nice earthen tones to evoke a closet of casks or a cabin clubhouse? Try again. Try neon colors, polka dots, and brains. Bauhaus' beer cans are louder than a rocket launch, but it only serves to reinforce a word they use several times in their web copy: Forward. Worked into their logo is an arrow, pointed forward.

For now, Bauhaus is an ass-hauling gang in a brightly-lit warehouse. They were able to reach into their own family tree for advertising and operations experience; and, as many upstarts are doing, they're keying a Kickstarter campaign to build steam up to their opening. That begins April 29, and words like "weird" and "hilarious" were used to describe donor incentives.

For now, the gang's got their vision ... but they're doing everything they can to bring you into it and make it your vision, too. Hearing Haines talk about it made me wish it could be up and running tomorrow. When I e-mailed her afterward asking for clarification, she told me to plan on being back in a couple of weeks. It would make a lot more sense then, she said.

Forward. If you're going to keep with this team, you've got to be thinking forward.

When I showed up at Republic Seven Corners for Sunday's airing of #2ndBrunch, I pictured a couple of scenes where I'm rubbing my nose in the background or bare-handedly wiping my face clean -- you know, proper yet irrelevant scenes. Instead, I had cameras on me a lot.

Whether or not that translates to actual air time, I figured I'd better give them something besides on-air panicking and a facial off-day ... so I built a Bloody Mary mushroom cloud using three other menu items. The end result was a 2ndBrunch that left the hostesses themselves hot and bothered (I'm assuming).

I know I just did this two weeks ago. I promise I'm done after this one.

Republic on UrbanspoonThe Basics: A drink isn't hard to find at Seven Corners; Town Hall Brewery is across one street, the Corner Bar across the other, and Bullwinkle's at the kitty corner. BEWARE! The parking ramp is a trap: Three hours had me $13 lighter, against $0 if you park on the street. Make an educated decision, people.

You can find Republic, and get more information about their other location, on the web here. 

Republic is plain in appearance, but small Plexiglas panels make the renowned beer bar look churchlike inside. Otherwise, unadorned brick walls and limited sun intrusion tend to keep your eyes on their formidable tap roster.

You'll see how much fun you can have here as a party when the video is released tomorrow, but Republic is a fungible hideout if you just want to loaf alone. I was at the bar drinking water for roughly an hour before the crew arrived. I got no fuss from the bartender, and his attention didn't slip in that span.

The party entered. I then proceeded to get especially twitchy while trying on a jacket eight sizes too small, and spent a few seconds getting smothered by plush dead wrestlers. Also, I ordered the brunch menu's brightest-looking highlights and piled them onto the top of a glass. Off the top of my head, I'd guess eight sticks held this together. NOTE: This is not something they will make for you.

Let's outline this monstrosity piece-by-piece:

The bacon cheeseburger: After going a month without cheeseburgers, I hope this is as close as I ever get to tasting freedom after a long prison stay. The smooth bite and greasy gushes put shades of the Perfect Burger on this cheddar-and-bacon sensation. This little sub-meal was consumed with vigor, never making its way to the mixture.

The B.E.L.T.: I'm not sure there was bacon on it, but bacon was coming at me from every direction so it's hard to say for sure. The egg yolk oozed onto everything and gave my structure a pleasing shine, but it was a well-buffed Le Car in the presence of that bacon cheese. Bad? Absolutely not. It paired well with the Mary, but nothing was topping that cheeseburger.

The side of bacon: There was nothing fancy about it: No candy coating, no chicken-fried breading, no blanket of pepper, just bacon and it rocked my world thoroughly. It was almost as if the cooks looked at the bacon and said, "I bet this would taste good if we just cooked it as is." Well played, Republic. You don't understand how many restaurants have abandoned that concept.

The Bloody Mary itself: I had the bacon mix both times, and it was imbibable bacon done right. Bacon bits hid in the zippy concoction, and would occasionally clot up the straw. A triumphant suck would send the offending meat bit up and into your throat with an eager burst of Mary behind it. I hope that sounded uncouth and racy, because it tasted uncouth and racy -- and I mean that in the best way.

I ate it all. Go ahead, act like you're not impressed.

The bloody bar at Republic is tame in presentation, with little cubes of meat and cheese with the usual greens, but the quality of the mixture makes it a must-do at $5. The girls were correct in using Republic to feature a Bloody Mary bar. It turned me from someone who's "meh" about Bloody Marys to someone who will beeline to a good Bloody Mary.

If you want a good place to start liking bloodies, make it Republic. You can stay under the top, or go over the top, and enjoy a Sunday afternoon here either way.

Seriously, though, why would you ever stay under the top? Do it LIVE. Bring $30 and make some artwork.