Lowertown St. Paul

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There is a 16 block area in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, known as the Lowertown Heritage Preservation District listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. It is on the Mississippi River and was the original port for the Twin Cities. At the heart of it is a city block which formally became a park in 1888 and today is known as Mears Park. Surrounding the park are old buildings that have been restored and converted.

One building was originally completed in 1889 for the Noyes Brothers and Cutler Wholesale Druggists. It is a five story Romanesque style building designed by J. Walter Stevens. The Noyes brothers grew their company into the largest wholesale drug company in the Northwest. The storefront was on the ground floor where clerks filled orders and the upper floors were used to mix the pharmaceuticals.

In 1973 it was renovated and converted to stores, offices and restaurants. I recently ate at one of the newer restaurants in the building called the Public Kitchen and Bar. It was a nice big open space with exposed brick and large windows overlooking the park that was decorated with white lights for the holidays. It was Saturday night and the place was packed but the service was good.

The Lounge, photo courtesy of the Public Kitchen and Bar website
The Lounge, photo courtesy of the Public Kitchen and Bar website

My dinner companions ordered the Noyes and Cutler Berger which came with Bourbon glazed bacon, white cheddar, jalapeño jam, garlic aioli and french fries. They said it was the best bacon they had ever eaten. I noticed they had a brunch menu and the bacon strips were available as a side dish. I had the petit filet minion with grilled asparagus, potato gratin and béarnaise sauce and I must say it was cooked to perfection. We shared a bread pudding with salted caramel ice cream for dessert. I will leave it to your imagination. It was good.

We were sitting near the door and a staircase going downstairs and noticed the restaurant also had a Lounge. After dinner we ventured down to the lounge for one last drink. It was the basement so there were small windows up high where you could watch people’s feet. The room was full of comfy couches and chairs. Lounge was an appropriate name for it. After ordering our drinks and chatting for a bit one of my companions looked around and said, “where are the TV’s”?

There were no TV’s. It was awesome.