Until three years ago, I lived a short four-block walk away from the original Chatterbox Pub in Midtown, Minneapolis. Now I live a short four-block walk away from the Linden Hills Chatterbox. Ironic, huh?
This new Chatterbox Pub is exactly what Linden Hills needed – a very family friendly fun restaurant with a big menu and drinks. It’s perfect, and it’s timely, but it’s not the Chatterbox, nor should it be. Perhaps it should have been named, “The Nelson’s Basement” or “The Rec Room,” but not “The Chatterbox Pub.”
Allow me to explain. The original Chatterbox Pub is a grungy bar stuck in the depths of a true Minneapolis neighborhood. The only patrons are urban. They have tattoos, they smoke, they don’t mind wreaking from a building containing nearly one hundred years of grease-fried odors and cigarette smoke. The Chatterbox Pub and all the bars in that location before it were a right of passage allowed for only the urban mid-Minneapolis resident.
If you go to the new Chatterbox with a mindset of the original, you will suffer from extreme culture shock. People who go to the new are not looking for the right of passage. They are bringing their kids and families to the fun restaurant that has games to play while you wait briefly for your food. These are not Minneapolis hardcore urbanites with the urge to play Atari and drink beer with their buddies. These people don’t even know if they are in Minneapolis. The lady next to us had to ask the waiter if this was the Edina side or the Minneapolis side (of France Avenue). And if they do know where they are, they don’t play the “When in Rome” game. Although it is technically in Minneapolis, I wanted to tell her, “Lady, just look around. This is definitely Edina.” Would you see a new mom cum gear-head in the original Minneapolis Chatterbox sporting a $2,200.oo Louis Vuitton diaper bag? Not only would she look out of place, but she’d need to leave her gear at the Lake Street Savers as she’d never be able to remove the stench.
Compared to the original, the new Chatterbox food is actually pretty tasty. It’s bar food, but it’s not cooked in a nasty old kitchen, so at least it tastes fresh and edible. They have quite a few vegetarian options including some appetizers, salads, lasagna, two wraps, a grilled cheese, veggie burgers and pizza. Of course, their signature beers are worth the trip in and of themselves.
It’s a great place to bring the kids for a casual meal, but do not expect to hang out for long after dinner playing games. It’s a popular place right now, and the lines are long. The folks from Edina who are waiting for a table, don’t tend to have very good manners, either. For the last fifteen minutes of our meal, they coveted, discussed, pointed and discussed again, our table. They walked over and hovered as we put our coats on to leave! I feel sorry for the staff at the Chatterbox. Perhaps we need to bring a few of our friends over from Midtown – show them what the Chatterbox is supposed to be – show them how to play the “When in Rome” game!