The Mall of America

Just outside the metropolis of Minneapolis, should one be inclined to call it that, lies the bright and shining Mall of America in all of its concrete glory.

The Mall of America has over 400 stores and one amusement park. There is a Nascar something-or-other and a wave pool. There are two stores on opposite sides of the aisle that both sell Minnesota paraphenalia. I bought a pair of monkey sox and ate at an expensive restaurant that served Walleye and Napa valley cabernet. Not the kind of place you'd expect to find in the Mall of America. This Walleye -- a local fish -- is served in every restaurant I've passed so far on my three-day Minneapolis adventure.

In the center of the mall sits its crowning glory -- Camp Snoopy. A pint-size yet imposing amusement park with two -- yes two -- roller coasters. There is a giant dog bowl full of running water. A ride called "The Axe" and a shop that sells Snoopy and Woodstock shot glasses. (The bird sidekick, not the hippie music festival.)

This evening, in stark contrast to the Mall of America's clean, commercial kitch, I dined at a down-home hipster joint called Ike's. Now, if you've clicked through to find out about Ike's, you'll see that one happy hipster went in for a drink and spent five hours there.

In fact, Ike's became more than a drink pit-stop for my colleague and I this fine Minneapolis evening. We drank like camels at a watering hole. Just kidding. But I did have a tasty chicken sandwich, sick-spicey ribs and my first Courvoisier. Lordy, that stuff is liquid fire in your mouth, but somehow so sweet and delicious. The waiter served it perched on a snifter full of warm water, meant to warm the cognac and release its flavors.

I didn't finish and felt like I was going to fall out of my chair.

What I had wanted to do in Minneapolis, my co-worker thwarted in the name of keeping down expenses (which we did not anyway...) -- head to Nye's Polonaise. A polish restaurant with a live polka bar and 60's diner atmosphere that was just calling out to my little Polish heart.

Alas, my love, it was not meant to be.


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