After modeling their first eatery, ROMA Restaurant, after the Roman Empire, Chef Brent Pilrain and his family opted to try something new, setting their sights on a colonial American theme. So when the family was greeted with the opportunity to open up a new kitchen in Liberty Village, the birth of Patriots Tavern seemed like kismet. Today, Chef Pilrain keeps up the colonial theme in both cuisine and décor, churning out a menu of New England–inspired fare and wood-oven-fired pizzas within a whitewashed mansion. Rich mahogany and stone details create a warm yet spacious interior dabbled with American flags and historical knickknacks, such as lanterns and George Washington’s original set of wooden press-on nails.
Hosted by an eclectically elegant collection of inns and museums peppered throughout the St. Croix River Valley, the 2011 Chocolate March launches guests on self-guided, cocoa-centric excursions. Guests munch on chocolate delicacies and take in architectural desserts with chocolate-dipped innkeepers at five separate stops, one of which will feature a wine pairing, on the Sunday jaunts (different destinations are featured each weekend). Depending on their chosen date, chocolate hunters can relax under the mannered, leaf-shaded porticos of Rosewood's Queen Anne mansion, take in the brick-draped Gilded Age grandeur of the Water Street Inn, or plot a sweet rustic retreat or candy-coated coup d'état by Wissahickon Farms' general store façade and peppermint-stick split-rail fence.
The mealtime mavens at Rafters Food & Spirits adorn their pub-centric menu with deep-fried appetizers, meaty sandwiches, and saucy pastas within an eatery situated alongside the scenic St. Croix River. Roust slumbering appetites with starters such as spicy-ranch battered pickles ($6.99) or bamboo shrimp skewers arriving in a piquant-garlic or spicy-Cajun incarnation ($7.99). Then stretch out your gullet further with a more sizable spread, such as the butter-crusted walleye sandwich ($10.99) or the hot roast beef and cheddar ($8.99), a hoagie-bound amalgamation of succulent slices cut thin enough to craft a perfectly folded beef airplane or meat crane. Sauteed mushrooms and onions team up with hickory-smoked bacon to top off the Rafter's Burger, whose duo of third-pound patties bridge the gap between two halves of a ciabatta bun ($11.99). A lineup of draft beers ($3.75 each) is ready to accompany hearty plates.
When the Gaffer family describes The Nova as "an eclectic little wine bar," they're not speaking figuratively. This cozy spot was refurbished from half of the historic liquor store it's attached to, a liquor store with a cave that burrows 150 feet into the nearby hillside. The Nova is the Gaffers' love letter to wines, where chef Nate crafts seasonal menus inspired by the more than 200 bottles of wine onsite. And while pan-fried walleye with a cornmeal crust would pair nicely with a bottle of white, dishes such as the Nova dirty burger with mushroom-cream sauce would probably fare better with a craft beer from the restaurant's 12 rotating taps. As a proponent of wine, beer, craft cocktails, growlers, and all things spirits, the Nova and its sister liquor store often host events and tasting parties in the aforementioned cave.
A laid-back, personable eatery, Kozy Korner sates pizza and hops cravings with indulgent meal pies and a choice of slice-complementing draft brews. Kozy Korner's pizza scramble unites breakfast favorites in pie form as it bubbles with cheddar cheese, eggs, hash browns, special sauce, canadian bacon, bacon bits, and a bacon alarm clock set to chime at the first sound of hunger pangs (a $21.75 value). Volley hearty taste buds at the scramble supreme, which mirrors the toppings of its less supreme counterpart, adding a blanket of cheddar cheese, pepperoni, italian sausage, green peppers, onions, and mushrooms (a $21.75 value).