Restaurant Features: Banquet, Bar, Free Wi-Fi, Games, Live Music, Waterfront
Location: Stillwater, MN
Address: 317 Main Street Stillwater, MN 651-342-1502
Mon-Thurs 11 am-8pm Fri-Sat 11am-10pm Sun 11am-8pm (Bar open later)
Atmosphere: Rafters Food & Spirits is located on the second level of 317 Main Street, near the heart of downtown Stillwater. There are entrances into the building from the back (facing St Croix waterfront) and from Main Street. This space has been occupied by several different restaurants over the years, with Rafter’s Food & Spirits being the newest as of January 2011.
The space is long and open, with large windows looking out onto the St Croix River which is just across the parking lot. There is nothing fancy about Rafter’s, it definitely feels like a bar inside and there is nothing cozy about it. They do offer live music late-nights on the weekend and they have a variety of entertaining bar games.
Menu: Appetizers at Rafter’s include Mozzarella Sticks, Potato Skins, Boneless Wings, Jalapeno Poppers, Cheddar Jack Buffalo Chips, Fried Pickles, Santa Fe Chicken Eggrolls, Bamboo Shrimp Skewers, Fried Ravioli, Chicken Wings (Jerk, Buffalo).
Salads include House, Caesar, and Southwest.
Burgers are all 1/3 lb and served with chips. Options include Black Blue, California, Mushroom Swiss, BBQ Bacon Cheddar and the Rafter’s Burger (two 1/3 patties with bacon, three cheeses, sauteed mushrooms and onions).
Chicken Sandwiches include Buffalo Chicken, Chicken Club, Cajun Southwest Chicken, Citrus Grilled Chicken, Rafter’s Spicy Chicken Hoagie Melt. Other sandwiches that Rafter’s offers are the Walleye, Reuben, Hot Beef & Cheddar, Beer Battered Fish, Meatball Marinara, Philly Beef, Burgandy Peppercorn Steak, Veggie Burger, and BLT.
Price guide: Appetizers $7-8 Burgers/Sandwiches $8-10
- Monday-Thursday 3-6pm
Monday- All You Can Eat Wings 5-8pm $4
Tuesday- All You Can Eat Taco Bar 5-8pm $5
Wednesday- All You Can Eat Pulled Pork & BBQ Chicken 5-8pm $5
Thursday- All You Can Eat Fettuccine Alfredo & Spaghetti/Meatballs 5-8 pm $5
What we ordered: We visited on a Monday night to discover that they had an all-you-can-eat wing bar for $4. Score! They had three types of wings: Buffalo, Jerk, and Plain and several types of dipping sauces. I started with the Jerk Wings. Each wing was cooked in its entirety but they were soft and tender and very easy to remove from the bones. The flavor on them was zesty and slightly spicy.
I also had a plate of the Buffalo Wings when a hot new batch was brought out. I love buffalo wings but I wasn’t the biggest fan of the sauce they used but at $4 for AYCE I wasn’t complaining! The beer was also cheap at $2 for domestic taps so we washed a few down.
I really wasn’t sure what I was in the mind for, so I asked the server/bartender was he recommended. He told me he wasn’t sure.??? That is usually a bad sign if your server can’t make a recommendation. So next I asked him what he has served other people that looked good and he immediately said the Reuben. You know I am a Reuben girl so I went with it.
I was immediately dumbfounded to be presented with a Reuben that looked like it had melted cheddar cheese. Does this not look like Cheddar cheese? I hate to be picky but I did not want a reuben with cheddar cheese, so I alerted the server who asked if I would like a new one or for this one to be removed it from my bill. I opted for the latter and told him not to bother making me a new sandwich, I would just eat a few more wings from the wing buffet instead. A short time later the cook appeared at my table to apologize about the sandwich but also to explain that it was not, in fact, cheddar cheese on the Reuben. It was thousand island dressing that had oozed over the edges when they put on the bread. Honest mistake on my part! Minutes later he brought me a new reuben without the thousand island. I thought that was nice considering he didn’t charge me and I ended up getting two sandwiches out of the deal. The sandwich was actually decent, but far from ranking with the best. It was served with potato chips.
My companion ordered the Mushroom Swiss Burger, which was satisfactory but on the small side at just 1/3lb.
Service: We visited on a Monday night when it was not very busy, so the only employee working with customers was the bartender. He was nice but didn’t have any recommendations from the menu and wasn’t in a hurry to check up on us. However, he handled the situation with my food professionally when the problem was brought to his attention.
Overall Impression: I wasn’t terribly impressed with Rafter’s Food & Spirits. The food, service and atmosphere were mediocre but $4 for all-you-can-eat wings and cheap beer make it an acceptable place to visit on a Monday night. I see potential for this location but would love to see something more upscale with really good food.