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Food & Drink

5 Things to Know About Flora Room, the New North Loop Speakeasy in the Ol’ Marvel Bar Space

For one, they have food now!

Em Cassel|

That’s a damn good $17 burger.

Welcome back to "5 Things," Racket’s recurring (though, for the last year, somewhat dormant) rundown of new, new-to-us, or otherwise notable Twin Cities restaurants.

Today we're taking you inside Flora Room, the swanky Minneapolis speakeasy that opened this summer inside the ol' Marvel Bar address. Nestled beneath the Argentinian steakhouse Porzana, it's among the latest in Daniel del Prado's ongoing Twin Cities takeover.

(Still kinda weird how fast the Dayton bro-owned Bachelor Farmer and Marvel Bar closed once the pandemic hit, isn't it?)

Anyway! Here are five things you know before you hit this new North Loop hot spot.

1. No, not that Flora...

So many people, when I've mentioned Flora Room, have responded with some variation of, "Oh, the new THC restaurant?" No! You're thinking of Hi Flora!, the plant-based, alcohol-free restaurant and market on Lyndale Avenue, where Common Roots used to be. Good guess though—the two Flora-dians landed in Minneapolis within about a month of each other this summer.

Hi Flora! is so called because of its vegan menu and THC tinctures; Flora Room gets its name, and I'm using my context clues here, due to the fact that the room is literally packed with flora (no fauna, and again I'm guessing, to satisfy health codes). There are plants everywhere: lining the length of the mirrored back bar, hanging from the glass atrium space full of two-top tables in the back of the room. Combined with the rest of the vibe, which is dark (I had trouble seeing the menu with my 32-year-old eyes) and moody (lots of candles, sage-green accents, and exposed wooden beams), it gives the whole space a real forest witch ambiance.

2. There's a streamlined but satisfying food menu.

Marvel Bar's best gimmick was that it had no food—just those little bags of Cheetos you could munch on with your cocktail. We love high-low dining, don't we folks? And Flora Room didn't have food for its first few months, either, launching the snacks menu in mid-September.

Here's what they're working with: popcorn chicken, fried chicken sandwich, double cheeseburger, eggplant katsu sando, French fries. There's also *Not Fried Chicken Ice Cream* for dessert, and a selection of sushi handrolls. I'd go back for the burger ($17), which rivals the best cheeseburgers I've had anywhere in the Twin Cities: simple, greasy, wonderful. The popcorn chicken ($13) was great, too, with tender and tasty white and dark meat, and like the fries ($9), it feels like you get a good amount for your buck.

I apologize for the quality of these photos and must stress: It's so dark in here!Em Cassel

3. There's a $30 cocktail on the menu.

Speaking of what you get for your buck... meet Palo, Flora Room's $30 smoked cocktail. Now, maybe you're the kind of budget-conscious person who'd never consider such a thing—that's good! This is why millennials will never buy houses, etc. There are plenty of other classic cocktails in the $12-$16 range, plus some fancier Flora Room-specific more in the $16-$22 range.

My dining companion and I are not always so discerning. So while I asked our bartender for "the one that comes in a bird" (Miami Girl, $19, loved it), he went with Palo. And I mean, it was wonderful, surprisingly subtle and delicate. The glass is smoked, not the drink, so you don't feel like you're walking into a bonfire, and the aged rum, vermouth, and sotol are earthy and sweet. My pal said he's only had one other $30 cocktail, at the famed Death & Co in New York, and that this one was better.

4. But you really don't have to get a $30 cocktail.

If a classic drink is what you're in the mood for, Flora Room's got it, from daquiris to martinis to old fashioneds. If something more proprietary is what you're after, just flip through the menu until you're looking at delightful hand-drawn pictures of drinks and their ingredients. The citrusy Salacia ($17) was a personal favorite, and not only because it arrives in a matte black tall-stemmed glass with lime leaves poking out of it (witch vibes!). We also loved the flavorful Valentina ($15), which, thanks to rose hips, lavender buds, and a dusting of butterfly pea flower, was kind of like a more floral vodka negroni. (I know that sounds... bad. Just trust me on this one.)

5. There's a fun surprise (?) in the men's bathroom.

At one point during the evening, my critical counterpart returned from the men’s room elated, gushing that Flora Room had retained one of his favorite things about Marvel Bar. He was referring to the fact that the urinals have splash guards for your shoes.

I had a lot of follow up questions: How common is it that restaurants make you pee all the way down to a drain in the floor? (“Not really.”) Have you done it anywhere else before? (“You see it in a lot of elementary schools.”) So there you have it, folks. I had a lovely evening out, and I learned something.

Joel Swenson

Flora Room
Address: 200 N. First St., Minneapolis
Hours: Open daily, 5 p.m.-1 a.m.
Seating: First come, first served

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