Cocktails! The Little Richard ($10) provided a fabulous jazzberry phosphate slap-to-the-face capped with vanilla cream foam. It reminded me of Richard's own struggle between dark demons and evangelical salvation, which is apparent in the painfully crazed face floating in the drink. Mothership Rita ($9) -- a rhubarb margarita with a splash of electric orange Aperol -- is chock-full-of tart and fruity pizazz, but its lowball size wasn't quite generous enough for boozers like us. The Full. Grown. Man. ($10) includes bourbon, rum and bitters -- old-man-with-gold-rings style; but the inclusion of house ginger beer worked to rejuvenate its heavy oak and spice bang. Watermelon Man ($10) is sweet and almost vegetal and the citrusy "George Is Drinking Tonight!" ($10) veered a bit too sweet. Extreme sport drinkers should partake of the "Colonel Mustard" -- a squirt of whiskey delivered straight to the gullet from a plastic mustard bottle at the bar ($1).
The food reflects some of this same irreverent spirit. Bill's Electric Beans ($8.50) is a tasty cowboy cassoulet of chipotle roasted peppers, mushrooms, plump homemade pork sausage and a slice of pork belly. Crab Cake "Mac and Cheese" ($10.50) is initially visually confusing (Are those falafel balls? Is this meatball parm?) but turned out to be a rich, lush dish featuring golf-ball-sized crab spheres propped on a marinara saddle atop a nest of creamy white mac 'n' cheese. The Smoked Beef Brisket Cheesesteak ($10.50) is tender and not overbearingly smoky with a velvety blue cheese fondue.
The plump and tender dry-rubbed Buffalo hot wings ($8.50) were heartily enjoyed by my buddy Scotty even though the heat nearly killed him. Thus, I ordered him a therapeutic shot of "Satan Laughs & Spreads His Wings" ($5) -- a large, potent shot of bourbon, hazelnut orange liquor and bitters -- which he did not sip, but guzzled while we attempted to digest the bizarre Christian cartoon pamphlet that accompanies it.
Those who prefer an unorthodox conclusion to dinner should consider the bacon and brown sugar sundae ($4.50) that brazenly celebrates the cosmic compatibility of this flavor duo -- kind of like couples who insist upon passionately making out in public. Thankfully, I have no idea what that feels like ... unless you're talking about that guy with the mustache.
four out of four stars Location: 2528 Nicollet Av. S. Prices: Appetizers $4-$10, lunch $4-$10, small plates $10-$18, brunch $6-$13, dessert $4-$7. Recommended: The Little Richard, Crab Cake "Mac and Cheese," bacon and brown sugar sundae.