Merlin’s Rest Restaurant Review

I stopped into Merlin’s Rest on my way home from downtown the other day to check out the newest bar in Longfellow.

Merlin’s Rest is in what used to be Popeye’s. From what I gather, Popeye’s sold out and the new owners decided to freshen things up a bit and give the place an Irish feel.

They have some sort of connection to Molly Quinn’s. I don’t think any of the Molly Quinn’s owners are owners of Merlin’s Rest, but they’ve been involved in the layout and beer selections.

The taps include Guinness, Boddington’s, Newcastle, Finnegan’s, Summit, and Harp. My Boddington’s and Harp orders both ran $4.75 on a Thursday night, which screams steep for a non-downtown bar.

They added a lot of new glass to the exterior, which surely lightens things up during daylight hours.

They’re working on an Irish menu with shepherd’s pie and other delicacies, but it sounds like they’re still looking for a chef.

The pool tables from Popeye’s have been replaced with additional, but empty, seating. Hopefully, they’ll fill the place over time.

The decor includes many framed Guinness posters. Possibly relics from Molly Quinn’s.

My biggest complaint comes from sitting at the bar. The lighting above the bar draws from cheap florescent lights, casting an unflattering haze on bar patrons. Fixing the four lights above the bar would make a BIG difference in the bar ambiance.

Overall, I think Merlin’s Rest is better positioned than the latest rendition of Molly Quinn’s at making a successful run at a successful East Lake St business. Pulling back from $4.75 to $3.75 on beers, scratching the florescent lights, and a little local marketing should do the trick.

13 thoughts on “Merlin’s Rest Restaurant Review”

  1. Can’t wait to try it out, but how hard is it to get some good beers on tap? Wish they had some Surly or Bells, or something more interesting then the standard Irish Pub choices. Oh well.

  2. Just a few wee pointers to put the record straight. Merlins Rest is a work in progress. None of the decor is Molly Quinn’s left-overs it was all commisoned new by the current owners neither of which were involved with the old Molly’s. I was the designer of the original Molly’s, and that’s the only connection. The bar lighting is unfortunatly (at present) a little unsubltle, but designed to meet the city ordanance of foot-candles per working area. We do have a lot more than the usual Irish beers on hand – we are one of the few pubs in MN with Belhaven Scottish Ale and Strongbow hard cider on tap, soon to be joined by Merlin’s Ale (Broughton Breweries, Scotland) The pub is not an Irish pub, it was designed to reflect all of the varied culutres of the British Isles. We have had to completley gut and rebuild the kitchen to city code, which has been an huge and expensive undertaking – please bear with us. We are at present on a restricted menu. Having the food side of the business fully up to speed will eventually help regularize bar prices. The toilet facilities and the exterior will be the next big rehab project when funds become available.
    Pop by our website for updates:

  3. As requested – we now have Bell’s Two Hearted Ale on tap, also Ace Pear Cider on draught. We have a larger selection of bottled beers too.

  4. Tipping a Two-hearted right now…unfortunately, not at Merlin’s, but I can affirm it is a tasty treat, for an out-of-town brew…what do you have for local microbrews?

  5. I don’t know who the heck you think you are, but I bet you’ve never opened a restaurant; never been behind bar or have been a line cook. I’d surmise that you’re not even talented, so don’t get behind the mic…it’s not amateur hour.

    John Dingley is one of the finest people I know. I worked with him at the Irish Well & the atmosphere he created for people was amazing. That’s what an Irish Pub is all about…it’s not about American criticism for those who just come in for an f-ing beer.

    Don’t bother bad-mouthing Mathew (past owner of Molly Quinn’s). He did the best he could & a damn fine job of it, I might add. And Dingley is fighting some major health problems at present.

    Basically, I want you to sit in your shame.

  6. But seriously Annie, all that was offered above was offered as constructive criticism…we hope all these places find their niche and make a comfortable and long living for the owners and employees. There was no effort made to bad-mouth anyone. I’m sure I speak for everyone above that we hope Mathew and Dingley live long and healthy lives.

  7. Annie, I’ve been to Merline’s Rest quite a few times since I wrote this post back in May. Apparently, my money is still good there even if I happened to criticize them for a few small things 5 months ago.

    One thing I’ve noticed over time is everyone I’ve met there – from fellow customers through bar staff – is much friendlier than you.

    If I was you, I’d get down to Merlin’s Rest when it opens tonight, knock back a few beers, then tell everyone who will listen about how you tore me a new one earlier today. Maybe that will help you relax a bit?

  8. I want to take a chance on the new restaurant. Do you still have fish & chips and the “Pub Quiz” on Sunday.
    If you do what time?

  9. Hi Kathleen, yes we have two types of Fish & Chips : Yankee style (on a plate, put you own condiments on) and Britsh style (wrapped in newspaper and soused in malt vinegar).
    Quiz is each Sunday @ 8pm, come early as we are most often packed out.
    All events and menu at:
    Bill Watkins

  10. Hi Kathleen, yes we have two types of Fish & Chips : Yankee style (on a plate, put you own condiments on) and British style (wrapped in newspaper and soused in malt vinegar).
    Quiz is each Sunday @ 8pm, come early as we are most often packed out.
    All events and menu at:
    Bill Watkins

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