Constantine’s Chef-Tender Series Takes Fund-Raising Underground

A chef mixes a cocktail during a charity event at a bar in Minneapolis, Minnesota

This photo was brought to you by the world’s most obnoxious phone camera flash.

Kids are hungry, so what is Constantine doing? Sending the chef out front to make cocktails.

Underneath Monello, the not-so-secret and sorta-spooky drink hideout has teamed up with No Kid Hungry for a bi-weekly fund-raising effort. Every other Tuesday (including this coming Aug. 16), local drink wizard Jesse Held is joined behind the bar by … a chef? Yep. A chef. It runs from 8 p.m. until midnight.

I came when Constantine’s own Mike DeCamp was clocked in. I found more than benevolence, though. I found prices that didn’t intimidate, a good line of snacks, and a welcoming crew.

If it’s a comfy shadow you’re after, come creep into Constantine.

The Basics: Monello is latched onto Hotel Ivy, on 2nd Ave. S and 11th St. in Minneapolis. Constantine (named after Constantine) is located just below. They are similar only in their front entrance.

Ready to lose a minute or two? Here, go to the Constantine website and watch drinks get made on the front page. As for the Chef-Tender series, there’s no cover charge. Gratuity for the chef-tenders gets redirected to NKH.

Visitors mingle during a charity event at a bar in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Pictured (in no order): Ben Quam, Lizzie B., and other people much cooler than I am.

Constantine plays perfectly to its subterranean setting. Most of its lighting comes via candles; the wonky layout makes it feel like a mini-maze; and the artwork lets your imagination run wild. Who are these portraits of in this corner? How old is that armor? What’s a whiskey chapel? What does it all mean?

To make matters worse for an over-thinker, the music oscillates between rap, metal renditions of Backstreet Boys tracks, hitting anything with a good beat on the way. Hey, it’s dark in there but they need to keep you alert because

It’s gonna get weird,” announced Held, right around 8 p.m. Rap music began bumping, and out came Mike DeCamp to sling cocktails. Don’t worry: a pre-set menu is laid out with the four cocktails you can choose from per tender.

DeCamp made a Louisiana Purchase for your humble author. It tasted like Faygo orange soda, but boozy … and make no mistake, that’s a high grade in my class. DeCamp didn’t move at the speed of Held, of course, but he kept up okay.

A cheeseburger on top of its wrapper at a bar in Minneapolis, Minnesota

The menu is highlighted by small, inexpensive snacks. The cheeseburger had the look, the gooey bite, little snap, nice patty. I’d pay $5 for this any night. Better yet, I’d pay $30 for a hexaburger version of this. Very satisfying burger.

Oh, but the wrapping paper doesn’t make sense? It’s not supposed to make sense. Just shut up and eat.

The tater barrels, at $7, are a good helping that’ll keep you and your pals busy a while. The buffalo bleu chicken wing (not plural – one wing) tasted great; but, at $3, had nowhere near the bang/buck you get from the cheeseburger.

Then there’s the pop-tart. Imagine the toaster version you enjoyed as a kid (or this morning, I won’t judge) and imagine it better. This is it. Eat it right away, though, or the filling soaks through and gets messy.

A house-made pop-tart at a bar in Minneapolis, Minnesota

You can find more information about the next Chef-Tender event on the Facebook event page.

STILL GOT TIME?: Check out the recap of this year’s Taste of the Nation Hotlist, which also helps No Kid Hungry; and I believe tickets are still available for Taste of the Nation next month.

A "Whiskey Chapel" at a bar in Minneapolis, Minnesota

This is Constantine’s Whiskey Chapel. If a doctor tells me I’ve got three hours to live, I’m breaking in here and drinking as much as I can before I die.