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Continued: Restaurant review: Ward 6 is Payne Avenue's people magnet

  • Article by: RICK NELSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 4, 2013 - 3:26 PM

Dessert starts with pie, part of a small local renaissance for a particularly beloved corner of the baking arts. It’s easy to see why Olson embraces piemaking: She demonstrates an instinctive feel for filling out a pie tin. The formula changes weekly, if not more frequently, and she clearly has a knack for turning out sturdy yet flaky crusts.

Then there’s the snowy white soft-serve ice cream. It’s nothing fancy, just a basic factory-made mix, but it’s first-rate, with a clean vanilla bite. It’s also the featured attraction in a fun-loving series of boozy milkshakes (I instantly added another 5 percent to my server’s tip when she admitted, sotto voce, that “Those adult malts are my favorite desserts”), but like the best-of-all-possible-Dairy Queens (minus the cone), it’s also served straight up. Usually, anyway; adding a shot of espresso only underscores how great it would be if Olson conjured up a few delicious sundae toppings.

The decent beignets do double duty, serving on both the dessert menu and as a cornerstone of the just-what-the-neighborhood-ordered breakfast, which also features a fabulously eggy pancake-popover hybrid and a carb-loading savory bread pudding. Good coffee, too.

A neighborhood asset

Sure, there were blips. Pasta is not one of the kitchen’s strengths. And while Korean-style pork short ribs sounded intriguing on paper, they arrived fatty and aggressively seasoned. Those kinds of imbalances are not infrequent: A teriyaki sauce, pooled under nibble-worthy ginger-chicken meatballs, was inedibly salty.

So, does Ward 6 merit a drive from, say, Maple Grove, or Eden Prairie? Probably not.

But Parker, a devoted East-Sider for more than a decade, has done a tremendous service for his restaurant-starved neighbors. Sure, his motivation might be enlightened self-interest; with assets like Ward 6, can increased property values be far behind?

But given the ever-present smile on his face, it’s safe to say that all of his obvious hard work is really a labor of love.


Follow Rick Nelson on Twitter: @RickNelsonStrib



  • related content

  • Photo gallery: Photos: Ward 6

    Thursday April 4, 2013

    Payne Avenue's people magnet.

  • Echo Columb, 6, finished her Ward 6 lunch with a cup of soft-serve ice cream. She was joined by her dad, Josh Columb, and brothers Epsen, 10, and Oskar, 13.

  • Ward 6 makes a cheerful first impression on Payne Avenue.

  • Ward 6 ⋆⋆ 1/2 • 651-348-8181


    858 Payne Av., St. Paul

    Hours: 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri., 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Sat., 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun. Bar open 1 hour later.

    Atmosphere and service

    Casual and convivial. No reservations.

    Price ranges

    Nothing over $15; majority $11 and under.

    Recommended dishes

    Charcuterie plate, relish tray, meatballs, burger, Reuben, Cicero stew, pies, soft-serve ice cream.

    Wine list

    Brief roster of bargain-priced wines, 19 local craft beers (plus Hamm’s) on tap and a classics-loving cocktail list.

    Special menus

    Five $4-$6 kids’ items, including a $4 portion of many adult items.

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