It seems like a hundred years ago that Joe’s Garage on Loring Park closed down and we were promised something new and cool in its place. To the patient go the spoils.
Well, in the last few YEARS that it has been under construction, there have been a few ownership bubbles, some name and concept swaps, and the classic chef-shuffle that can happen these days. Bygones.
4Bells is what we get, and I’m ok with that. It’s a casual bar/eatery with some southern leanings and good vibes. The space is very cool and has a bit of a Butcher & The Boar Lite feel to me. Co-owner Tim Rooney is the design eye responsible for both, so duh, but he kept this one industrial in touches, but a bit brighter in tone. The bar is long and warmly lit, reaching almost all the way to the back of the room. The kitchen line sits opposite, banked by booths and a kitchen counter. There’s a smallish front dining area that opens up on to the street.
Upstairs has been turned into private dining, there’s a room with one huge table and chandelier, and they’ve added a new kitchen just to serve the rooftop. Minneapolis’ first rooftop patio isn’t functional again quite yet, but when it’s finished there will be an area that can be closed off and used in the colder months as well. They’re hoping it will all be ready by September at the latest. For now, there’s a little patio off the alley-way with a pick-up window where you can order snacks and drinks in the shadow of a sea-worthy Adam Turman mural (from the days when it was going to be called Triton?).
The menu is all about low-country cooking with a focus on fish and chicken, but this isn’t strictly shack food, there’s a modern craft to the dishes put up by chef Brendan "Junior" McDonald. Oysters casino was good and fun, pimento mac & cheese was hot and rich, but really let’s talk chicken. We tried the Southern fried chicken, which comes as whole or half, and it was juicy and had a nice light crisp to it. The accompanying house-made watermelon hot sauce was super addictive. I saw rounds of clams, peel-and-eat shrimp, and crab legs go out, and this guy next to me cleared a whole fried snapper by himself (well done, you).
The wine list is short, but everything comes by the glass. Cocktails keep it casual: Mr. Perkin’s Punch in a mason jar mug, a damn refreshing Bootleg, Moscow mule and gin and tonic on tap.
At first blush, the wait seems worth it.