Bulldog Lowertown First Impressions

Bulldog Lowertown St Paul Beer Flights

I’ve had a chance to check out the Bulldog Lowertown St Paul three times so far. Here’s what I’ve learned.

1. It’s easy to get to. If you’re coming from Minneapolis, take I-94 East around downtown St Paul to the 7th Street exit. After exiting, you’ll be at 7th & Wall St. Go straight 1-block (you’ll be on Wall St) then right one block. You’re there.

2. Parking is easy and free. St Paul shuts down early. Some of the meters on 6th are free after 4:30pm.

3. It’s big. Like the other locations, it has a center bar. Unlike other locations, it has much more space and quite a few booths.

4. Need to work out some kinks. The service is a bit underwhelming right now. They don’t seem to know the beers they serve. Sure there are a lot, but if that’s your thing, act like it. Also, when the above flight of beer was delivered to our table, the waitress wasn’t sure which order they were in. She blamed that on the bartenders, who, according to the waitress, are pretty sloppy with their flight presentations. They need to show more pride in this.

5. Tots. So far, I’ve had their cajun, chipotle, and cheese tots. The cajuns are my favorite. The cheese tots had shredded cheese half-melted on top of them, which was pretty disappointing. The chipotle ones were really hot.

6. Jukebox. Having a jukebox can be cool, but the wisdom of the crowds isn’t always wise.

Bulldog Lowertown St Paul Beer Flights

Sheryl shared her experience in the comments of a previous Bulldog post:

Blew into Bulldog tonight for a Chicago dog. Tons of wait staff, to bad for us they did not wait on us. We had to beg for a cocktail, then a menu, then another cocktail…..I’d say DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME! And to top it off the hotdog was yuck.

That sounds pretty similar to my experiences (I can’t speak to the hotdog issue), leaving me to believe that this has the potential to be a great addition to Lowertown but it’s not quite there yet.

23 thoughts on “Bulldog Lowertown First Impressions”

  1. Aw that sucks Ed. From your previous post, you seemed so excited about the new place. Hope it turns around for you.

    Oh yeah, I also really dig the new site design, very nice.

  2. New restaurants often take a week or two to get their ducks in a row, hopefully it’s just a matter of time.

  3. When I lived in Lowertown I was super excited for LoTo to open (especially b/c it was in my building). Then they had the most horrible service EVER. Time and time again I would go and get horrible service. We also had problems at Great Water and Wild Tymes, and I started deciding it was just a symptom of the waiter caliber you can get in Lowertown.

    Side note: I used to buy groceries at the market where the new Bulldog is now located. That guy used to yell at his wife in front me. I’m glad they’re gone, at least.

  4. I was not impressed at all by the new Bulldog. Ditto on the service with the flights, our waitress had no idea what was what. Though I did love the flights, such a great way to sample new beers and the price was right on.

    I thought the atmosphere was very lame, just some TVs on the wall and a huge open place. The NE location is great because of the giant picture on the wall, makes it feel like a Belgian cafe, and the Uptown space because of how cozy it is. The music was just 90’s alternative so it reinforced my feeling of how behind the times downtown St. Paul is. They even played White Zombie. Ugh.

    I’m happy for St. Paul and lowertown to get a nice bar, but I can’t see myself ever making a special trip back. If I’m downtown for an event, I’d rather walk back up the hill to the Gnome.

    (I also like the new design, looks a lot cleaner)

  5. Too bad about the poor service, etc. FWIW – we went there on Halloween — hoping to go somewhere quiet and uncostumed, we’re not very fun people — and were pretty impressed. Granted, we didn’t order beer flights, but our server was friendly and seemed to know the beers pretty well. She also took a beer off the bill that simply wasn’t going down very well. Nobody had a Chicago Dog, but the burgers and fries all around were unanimously declared to be tasty.

    I haven’t been back since, but I hope to get down there again soon. Who knows, maybe our experience was the exception, maybe yours was. I hope it was yours because I too think it could be a great addition to St. Paul. 🙂

  6. Also, I have never had consistently worse service than at the Happy Gnome, time and time again. Haven’t even bothered going for a couple years. Isn’t that odd?

  7. Hey, what do you expect from St. Paul? I’ll stick to good ‘Ol Nordeast! About the chipotle tots- if they’re anything like the hot wings, they’re ridiculous. The “hot wings” at the NE location are actually baked drumsticks smothered in the hottest sauce I’ve ever tasted. Ever. Nearly inedible. (Blows the “fire” or “raging” or whatever it is at B-Dubs out of the water). Overall I appreciate the diversity and originality of their menu though.

  8. I have friends who are serious beer freaks. As much as they love the selection at Bulldog MPLS, over the years, they’ve had the exact same complaint(s): The wait staff have no clue about the amazing beers they’re serving, they give the impression that they don’t care to know more about the beer they’re serving, and, occasionally, the food is atrocious.

    The one thing that drives these guys nuts is the fact that the Bulldog has never consistently pays attention to serving the beers in the specific glassware that many of the ales require. Buster’s on 28th gets major points for consistently doing this correctly.

    All that said, the selection of beers the Bulldog, amazing and expansive, always overwhelms the negatives. Could you imagine if they got their poop together staff-wise and food-wise?

  9. Pingback: Nightlife: Bulldog to the rescue | east-lake.net
  10. I moved to lowertown a couple years ago and really like the neighborhood, but miss some of the social bars that I was used to in uptown. Since the bulldog opened, I’ve been there four times and think it’s a great addition to the neighborhood. It’s been consistently busy since it opened (I arrived 20 min after opening the first day and it was already crowded), which might account for some glitches in service or food. I didn’t order a flight, specifically because the bar was so crowded and I knew it would take a lot more for the bartenders to organize six beers and explain them all to me (they were all running around like mad), but the prices on the flights seem really reasonable. The beers that I ordered have always been served in the right glassware. The food has also been good, especially the nachos, burgers, and the tots. I hope this is the start to more great bars and restaurants coming to the neighborhood!

  11. That’s so weird about the service comments that I’ve seen–yours and others. I went to the Bulldog on Lyndale last summer and there was ONE GUY, technically a bartender, working the entire place. Including the patio. Where we sat. And waited for our food for like an hour. Luckily they comped us some stuff, but still…

  12. We live in the neighborhood and we waited impatiently for this Bulldog location to open. Suffice to say, after six visits (I did say we are local), we officially gave up on this place.

    Basically, we have never had better-than-average food on any visit and the waitstaff are indifferent, which has resulted in really poor service on every occasion. The Uptown location is much better and has a nicer “feel” to it, so we might go there if we are in that part of town. Who knows.

    With that being said, we will say – with authority – that even though Bulldog Lowertown is only a couple of blocks from my house, they have taken their last nickel from us. We can eat anywhere and we will not be going back to Bulldog Lowertown.

    And to the owners of this place: You are lucky that you are one of the only restaurant choices in the Lowertown area. You can make money in spite of your bad food and crap service, but only until there is a better alternative. Yes, it might take 10 years, but it will happen eventually. And lastly, in my opinion, your missteps with this location ultimately will seriously damage your brand, so you best get to work on fixing your problems.

  13. Stevester, I haven’t been there is a few weeks now, but it doesn’t surprise me to hear that they still need to do some work on their service.

    Picking a beer selection is a top-down thing, but building a great wait-staff likely takes a lot more time and attention. I hope they can work out the kinks.

  14. A friend of mine is a manager at the new Bulldog – next time I see her I’ll let her know that people are really annoyed with the service. Doubt it will change anything, but I’m sure she’d like to know.

  15. I live about a block away from the bulldog and waited very VERY patiently for it to open. My first attempt, the place was packed, there were 4 empty seats at the bar with almost finished drinks. The bar staff didn’t know if people were sitting there but said we couldn’t sit down in case there were. I tried to order a drink to stand with and they wouldn’t let us so we left and drove to the happy gnome, which was very happy compared to the bulldog. I’ve only been to the Bulldog a few other times and every experience was blah, nobody seems happy to be working here. Every single employee here seems like they would rather be somewhere else. There just seems to always be so much hype about this place but they do not know how to operate a business. The bartenders don’t know what beers they have, I ordered chips and salsa, which apparently was a bold move because the had to make them special for us and we got charged $6.50 for a basket of chips and a cup of salsa and they were not happy about serving them to us. The bulldog lowertown seems like your typical Acapulco or Champps bar except its disguised as an over trendy hangout. I will drink bud lights at the gopher bar any day before trying to get a decent beer at the bulldog. Not worth it.

  16. So weird that you all say the place is constantly packed, apparently some people must be enjoying it, or it wouldn’t still be busy.

  17. It’s really no wonder they have terrible service, their GM “olive” gets b****y and defensive instead of fixing the problem. Monkey see… monkey do.

  18. I stopped into this bar on a Friday night expecting it to be a relaxed environment to have a beer and hang out with friends, much like the other two Bulldogs. The service was mediocre at best and the atmosphere was lacking. As we left my fiance and I ended up getting was assaulted by the doorman and what appeared to be the manager when we questioned their treatment of a older gentleman who had drank too much but who was being completely compliant as well as quiet. It all started when the doorman attempted to throw the man over his shoulder while laughing, then dropped him on his head. Outside they taunted and kept the gentleman on the ground, repeatedly kicking his feet out from under him. I eventually questioned them about it and told them to be careful. The doorman immediately became aggressive as did the manager. My fiance ended up getting punched in the face by the doorman as I was tackled to the ground and pushed out into the street. Then the manager kicked me in my side. At that point we obviously left and called the authorities. The police basically told us that nothing would happen and they would be surprised if an investigator called us. We had done nothing violent, threatening, or inappropriate other than trying to stop then from abusing one of their customers.

  19. Dear Adiophile,
    I know both the Bulldog Uptown, and Lowertown very well, as I am a regular to both. I have also worked security in the past and know how the owners of the Bulldog run their business. I have seen some things in my time as far as gross misconduct goes, but I assure you that nothing along the lines of what you are describing happened at the Bulldog Lowertown.
    I seriously doubt that the bouncer on duty threw an elderly man over his shoulder after dropping him on his head, and proceeded to laugh about it. And even if this did happen, I am positive that this went unprovoked. Security does not wish to ever involve unaffiliated parties in the “drama” of the night. Honestly, there is no joy in kicking someone out. It is physically and emotionally tiring adiophile…so I am sure that there are huge parts of the story that you did not know.
    And to touch on the rather large accusation that your fiancee was punched in the face and thrown into the street, just before you were kicked in the side…Really? I honestly cannot read your entry without laughing out loud. Think about how asinine that sounds. Beacuse the owner/manager of a bar…any bar…and the bouncer are going to beat, and ridicule innocent patrons. That makes total and complete sense. Man, I think that I’m going to have to never go back to a Bulldog again, meanwhile, I’ll just join you and we can ride unicorns and fly….because that’s plausable.

  20. I frequent the bulldog lowertown quite frequently and enjoy it. However, I wouldn’t doubt at all what is being said about the bouncer. He has a ultra-short fuse that goes from calm to nearly full violence in a matter of milli-seconds.

    I honestly don’t know why management keeps him on. He seems like a massive liability to me…

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