Drink & Dine in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
By Hope S. Philbrick
Historic downtown St. Cloud, Minnesota is home to a building that once belonged to D.B. Searle…who, you may be interested to know—especially if you love trivia, was at Ford’s Theater the night President Lincoln was assassinated.
That guy, the theater goer who lived to tell a whopper of a tale, was born in New York in 1840 and, after graduating from Columbia Law School, serving in the Civil War and fighting at the second battle at Bull Run, came to St. Cloud in 1871. He served as the city and county attorney as well as the U.S. district attorney.
Searle owned this three-story brick structure that was built in 1886. Since then, the building has accumulated a complex history, detailed on the restaurant website, including stints as a bank and a funeral home.
Things got tasty in 1978 when the building housed D.B. Searle’s Restaurant & Bar. New owners Dan, Mark, Andrew, and Nick Barth took over in 2012 and transformed the upstairs to Nick’s Third Floor restaurant while maintaining the history of D.B. Searle’s with the main-level bar.
A recent weeknight visit served the best fare we enjoyed during an extended stay in Minnesota. So the answer to the question, “Where should I eat in St. Cloud, Minnesota?” is simple: Nick’s Third Floor.
But before you head upstairs, belly up to the bar at D.B. Searle’s and sip a local craft brew like Third Street Brewhouse’s Lost Trout Brown Ale. It’s a lip-licking toast to the man who first owned the place where you now sit.
Executive Chef Dan Dean has fun with the menu, showcasing local, seasonal fare in dishes that reflect and even wink at the culinary traditions of Minnesota, like walleye cakes, cheese curds, turf and turf salad (pairing locally raised steak and bitter greens), gourmet tater tot hot dish (seasoned grass-fed beef, with vegetables, smoked gouda, and a house-made creamy mushroom sauce topped with a hash brown waffle), and more. Order whatever strikes your fancy, because based on our sampling of friends’ plates around the table, you can’t go wrong.
Based on name alone, we were lured to try the Grown-up Mac and Cheese, with melted cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan with penne pasta, bacon and local forest mushrooms. It was as rich as not having to pay a babysitter and as delightful as a quiet evening at home.
Desserts are billed as “Made from scratch with lots of love. Because you deserve it.” So why resist? Try the s’more tart.
History rarely tastes this good.
Odds of Encountering Children: Considerably lower than at national chain restaurants throughout the city.
D. B. Searle’s & Nick’s Third Floor
18 Fifth Avenue South
St. Cloud, MN 56301
– Photos © HSP Media LLC