Dive Night is a once monthly adventure undertaken by me and Husby, along with our friends Ruthie and Ray. Each couple alternates choosing a restaurant, one which must come under the category of “dive.” Our definition of dive: a neighborhood gathering spot with a laid-back atmosphere and good food. We’ll find the interesting hang-outs in the Minneapolis/St Paul area. Casual attire required. A sip of beer or wine doesn’t hurt either.
I’ve been sitting on this post for two months with severe anxiety that I wouldn’t be able to do the VFW experience justice.
Ruthie and Ray had previously visited the White Bear Lake VFW and found it so endearing they decided to invite us to experience it with them. There was one catch ~ we had to go on a Thursday night rather than a Friday as we usually do. We huffed out our compromise and agreed. What made Thursday night the better pick? You’ll find out soon.
The place was occupied with more people than I guessed it would be. Probably because it was Thursday. Don’t worry, I’ll get to that. It’s also bigger than I thought it would be.
What’s a dive bar without pull tabs?
As I said before, this post has been sitting in my queue for a couple of months ~ when we went the VFW was even decorated for Christmas.
The food was surprisingly good. I’m not sure why I was expecting less, but I was very pleased with the taste and quantity of food.
We started out with some onion rings that contained just the right amount of grease, enough to leave spots on the paper liner, and artichoke dip that was scrumptious.
Onion rings, crispy and golden brown. I didn’t get a picture until they had been nearly eaten up. The basket was mounded full of fried goodness.
Really good artichoke dip and pita bread.
Husby started his meal with a “side” salad. The thing was enormous! He reported it to be cold and crispy and flavorful.
Sandwiches and burgers come with chips, but I asked to have fries substituted. I don’t know if it was a misunderstanding or what, but I got a huge basket of fries plus chips with my meal. I shared the fries with everyone because there were too many for just me. I think the waitress put me down for an entire appetizer-sized order of fries. They were pretty good though, and I’m glad I got them.
Onion ring not included with the fries.
Ray and Husby both got the bacon cheeseburger. They were juicy and hot with plenty of bacon. Ruthie and I had the half sandwich and a cup of potato bacon soup. Our sandwiches, ham and cheese melt for me and turkey bacon melt for Ruthie, were made on a very tasty pretzel roll and were very flavorful, but could have been hotter. The soup was fabulous and very hot.
The bacon cheeseburger with chips.
Half sandwich and a cup of soup, with chips of course.
We were all really pleased with our meals, with the exception of the luke-warm temperature of the sandwiches Ruthie and I had. After being satiated with good food and a libation, we were on to the highlight of the evening…V-I-N-G-O!
VINGO is exactly like BINGO except they use a V for Veteran. OK, I’ll let that one go. When it comes to those who have served our country I’ll pretty much let them have their way. Three Thursdays a month the White Bear Lake VFW offers the fun and excitement of VINGO. The interesting thing about this VINGO game was that winners got jello shots. Yes, you heard me right.
I’ve never had a jello shot in my life, and I recall them from the ’80s as being slurped out of a test tube-type vessel. The VFW jello shots were served in little plastic condiment cups with covers. The jello shot guy walked around with a crate of these things, handing them out to the winners of the game, and even to those who didn’t, because they wanted to get rid of as many jello shots as they could.
The shots were as firm as regular jello. We loosened them from the plastic cup with a fork, then chewed/swished/swallowed the whole thing at once. I really wanted it to taste good, but it didn’t. As I’ve never had a jello shot before that night I had nothing to compare it to, so I don’t know if these were badly made or if jello shots in general taste like medicine.
Is this what a jello shot is supposed to look like?
Husby ended up eating his with a fork.
One of our favorite parts of the evening was when VINGO time was over the jello shot guy had a lot of shots left over, so he asked everyone who wanted a shot to raise their hand. Of course everyone wanted one, including the table full of gray-haired ladies sitting next to us. Interestingly, they took their shot cups from the guy, put them in their purses, and left. We imagined them going home and eating that spiked jello in bed for a nightcap. Can you get pulled over for open bottle if you’re driving with a jello shot in your purse?
Our evening at the White Bear Lake VFW was one for the records. We had a blast playing VINGO,
drinking eating horrific jello shots, and enjoying some truly delicious food. The people working there are really nice and friendly too. If you’re ever in the White Bear Lake area be sure to stop by. This dive gets four thumbs up!
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