R.I.P., Oddfellows


My favorite restaurant in all the world was a darling little number in Northeast Minneapolis. (“was” … It hurts just saying that.) It was attached to a gay bar called Boom! under the same ownership. I just learned that the venerable gay-owned Oddfellows closed down on the 10th and Boom! will pull up stakes later this month, which makes me very, very sad. Some heteros got in on the “Nordeast” economic boom and bought them out, I guess.

Oddfellows always claimed it wasn’t a “gay restaurant,” which I found to be a.) usually inaccurate given the clientel, and b.) irrelevant and a slightly off-putting designation.

However, their chow was magnificent. The menu changed every season and was always fresh. Oddfellows described its food as “Contemporary American Cuisine with an ‘odd’ twist of flavors from around the world.” (Read the description here, before their Web site completely disappears.) Their orange-lacquered pork tenderloin was one of the finest dishes on earth. And I once had a lavender-infused custard dessert there that nearly made me mess my pants. Oddfellows taught me to appreciate excellent gourmet food in human-sized (read: non-Applebee’s) portions, and to not be so uptight about a high restaurant bill — as long as it’s worth it. And it always was.

The inimitable Dara Moskowitz of the alternative news and arts weekly CityPages predicted upon its opening that it would become a “big destination restaurant.”

The shingle soon to be removed.

The restaurant and bar occupied a historic building (c. 1891), the meeting lodge of the Independent Order of Oddfellows. Lots of exposed brick and holes in the wall where heavy timber floor joices once inserted. The high pressed-tin ceiling throughout was cool. The blonde woodwork was a little bit too “Target” for my taste, and the stainless steel bar felt a little cold to me. But it was always clean and bright.

I’ll miss that place. Lots of anniversaries, birthdays, Valentine’s Days and impromptu “fancy” dinners out.

As for Boom!, I can take it or leave it. As a bar, it was not remarkable. The burgers were fantastic, and the fries were tasty (both were from the Oddfellows kitchen), but the drinks were too pricey and it was famously impossible to get a bartender’s attention on a busy night.

The one thing that impressed me about it (besides its Nordeast location — I lived in the neighborhood) is that it was the first gay bar I had seen in the Twin Cities that had enormous windows that were not blackened out or boarded up. It left the ‘mos inside exposed to the blue collar and the sunlight. To me it represented a proud declaration that Minneapolis’ queers would not be kept underground and in the dark.

Oh, how I used to love standing in front of those wide-open windows on Showtunes Night, belting out “Nothing Dirty Goin’ On” from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, being gay and free.


0 Responses to “R.I.P., Oddfellows”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

the untallied hours

%d bloggers like this: