After two “Big Dog Daddy Margaritas” at country superstar Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, the most difficult-to-define word in the English language is “irony.”
No, “irony” doesn’t (quite) describe the metallic bite of the sweet and sour mix at this gigantic New Country complex, but after a couple cocktails, my default definition is the one given by Troy Dyer, Ethan Hawke’s character in Reality Bites: “when the actual meaning is the complete opposite of the literal meaning.” If Dyer is right (not quite ironically, Dyer happens to be the complete opposite of the literal Toby Keith), then TKILTB&G is the least ironic place I’ve ever been to.
City bars with cowboy themes are supposed to be ironic; they’re funny to drink in—in an ironic, kitschy way—because you’re in on the joke. You get that the décor is making fun of itself for your amusement. But there’s nothing kitschy or ironic about TKILTB&G. No, there’s nothing ironic about the “Freedom Fries” on the menu or the daisy dukes on every blonde waitress. And there’s nothing ironic about the Johnny Cash cover band on stage at the end of the massive red, white, and blue guitar-shaped bar. The actual meaning = the literal meaning.
Although we share a definition of irony, in his own way Troy Dyer is just as insufferable as Toby Keith, but not as likeable, because he’s a class snob. I’m trying to not be a snob. The drinks at TKILTB&G are awful (too sweet), the food is pretty good (the ribs were better than Dave’s and the nachos were just the right kind of obnoxious), and the service is as friendly as Daisy Duke’s. But TKILTB&G is simply not intended for me; I get it.
The Shops at West End, 1623 Park Place Blvd., St. Louis Park, 763-450-9999, tobykeith.com/minnesota