In a refreshing twist of tradition meets modernity, Howard’s Bar on Stillwater’s Main Street delivers classic dive-bar vibes seasoned with gold-star cuisine. The genius behind this innovative fusion? The dynamic duo – Caroline Smith and Michelin-trained chef Adam To.
Having graced kitchens from Twin Cities to the Michelin-starred Trois Mec in LA, Adam To infuses every dish with a delicate balance of homey comfort and elevated innovation. Stillwater locals would remember the spot as the former Whitey’s Bar. Today, it embraces both its roots and a renewed energy, all the while reflecting Caroline’s commitment: “Don’t upset the locals”.
True to its dive-bar essence, Howard’s Bar boasts vintage signs, iconic neon lights, taxidermy, and even a dedicated pulltab corner. The age-old wooden floors, nostalgic scuffs, and remnants of the past echo throughout. The once-home to Whitey’s Bar retains some of its long-standing staff, ensuring that the essence of small-town warmth lingers.
The menu beckons with whispers of Wisconsin’s old-school supper clubs. From the hand-battered fresh walleye to Ellsworth cheese curds, every dish is a tribute to classics but with a contemporary tweak. Notably, the fresh pasta lasagna showcases Adam’s insistence on quality and innovation. Schnitzels might have faded from modern menus, but here, they assert their relevance and delectability. Howard’s also celebrates local talent, featuring desserts like Key lime tartlet from the nearby Sarah’s Tipsy Pies.
While one may not find an exhaustive cocktail list, the bar boasts a selection of top-shelf liquors. They also offer a remarkable range of wines, which are a rare find in most dive bars. From a chilled glass of prosecco to a dry rosé, Howard’s ensures every sip is memorable.
Being located in downtown Stillwater, parking might be a challenge during bustling summer weekends. However, quieter days promise spots nearby. As for the ambiance, nights come alive with jukebox beats, while mornings promise serene bird songs and quietude.
Music enthusiasts might recognize Caroline Smith, co-owner of Howard’s Bar, as the local musician performing as Your Smith. As for the bar’s unique name? It’s a heartwarming tribute to their family dog, Howard.
In essence, Howard’s Bar promises an experience where nostalgia meets novelty, where dive-bar casual pairs with Michelin-standard sophistication. It’s a celebration of the past and the present, all wrapped in the cozy embrace of Stillwater’s Main Street.