An Irish chick and a Finlander walk into a bar. The chick says, “Make me a bratwurst out of elk meat,” and the guy says, “Make me a bratwurst out of rattlesnake and pheasant meat.” Then the bartender offers them beers for 10 cents.
This was our Tuesday night at New Bohemia Wurst and BierHaus. It might sound like something you’d hear on The Twilight Zone, but it’s business as usual in Northeast Minneapolis.
The Basics: New Bohemia lies on Hennepin Avenue in that somewhat painful-to-reach district of Minneapolis, north of Nicollet Island. Their website is right here and blah blah blah blah you just want to know about the 10-cent beers, don’t you?
Tuesdays from 5-5:30.
Smooth and I showed up around 4:15 and took seats at the bar. If you’re coming here for cheaps, that’s the winning strategy. You won’t have to sit at Bohemia’s mead hall-style picnic tables next to bed heads and beards. I’m not a fan of this seating style ever, but you’ll be especially happy at the bar when the hour hand hits 5.
A badass wall painting met us on first entry but the rest of the place was humbly-schemed. Stein decals between every window leave no guessing what kind of place this is. Rather than the usual costume-jewelry chandeliers and boring studio lights, New Bohemia’s illuminated by a well-placed court of windows and perfectly-arranged bulb strings.
As the minutes counted down, Smooth ordered an orchard sangria and almost dumped me to run off with it. I got one taste of it in before she eliminated the rest from its glass. With about 30 minutes remaining, we made our order – one rattlesnake/pheasant brat, one elk brat, large side of cheesy fries. With about 15 minutes remaining, our food arrived.
We addressed the fries first. Those were phenomenal. The cheese sauce found its way to the bottom of the pile, and the seasoning singed my buds a little. The mango ketchup was a fusion of incompatibles and tasted as such, but the bacon dressing! It reinforced our crush on bacon, but you’ll want to have water handy. Science isn’t my forte, but I know just enough to tell you that you can’t cool down your tongue after spicy fries by using spicy bacon dressing.
We moved through the tray like a brutal storm, reducing that structure to busted planks and crumbs and moved onto the next stop.
We requested our brat garnishes on the side, and that might have been a mistake. There’s something pitiful about the look of a dry bratwurst – stare at it long enough and you start to get tired. We did this, though, to purely experience these unusual flavors. I began with the snake, she took the elk.
Imagine preparing to pick up a Sheetrock bucket and lifting it up with all your might because you think it’s full … and almost throwing yourself back on your cushion because it was unexpectedly empty. That sums up the experience of these bratwursts.
They appeared overcooked on first sight, and my hope of being wrong fizzled out like a shaken pop. The rattlesnake/pheasant bratwurst tasted like chicken (no joke), and the elk tasted and felt like venison. They were good, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not in a lovestruck haze over them. But, I suppose, how different is a pheasant from a chicken? How different is an elk from a deer? And I didn’t taste anything in that brat so alien I would have tabbed it as rattlesnake meat.
Yet, we didn’t pat our stomachs in disappointment. The fries and bacon sauce were phenoms. That seductive sangria, and others like it, are sold for pennies on the dollar at happy hour. And of course you’ll want to tell your friends you ate a rattlesnake brat. Why wouldn’t you? But just know the brats were the least remarkable chapter of our night here.
Speaking of pennies on the dollar, it wasn’t until the wash of human noise wiped out the television voices that Smooth and I noticed the rumble under our bar chairs.
“THREEEEEE MINUTES!” yelled the bartender …