Apr 172011

Cuisine: American
Restaurant Features: Banquet, Bar, Free Wi-Fi, Games, Live Music, Waterfront
Location: Stillwater, MN
Address: 317 Main Street Stillwater, MN  651-342-1502
Kitchen Hours:
Mon-Thurs 11 am-8pm Fri-Sat 11am-10pm Sun 11am-8pm (Bar open later)

Links: Rafter’s Website * Rafters on Facebook *  Google Map

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

Happy Hour:
  • Monday-Thursday 3-6pm

Weekly Specials:
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.

Rafters Food & Spirits on Urbanspoon

  4 Responses to “Rafters Food & Spirits ~ Stillwater, MN”

  1. Took my girlfriend there for dinner, after sitting for half an hour she went up to bar and asked if they could send a waiter our way, ten minutes later they came….. gave them our order and waited close to 45 minutes for food to come and watress asked if there was anything else she could bring us. By this time all i could reply another coupld drinks about 20 minutes ago.
    The food was sub-par……….. wouldn;t recomend or go back to this place again.

  2. Extremely poor food quality cooked poorly. I am a local here and took my family in using one of their Groupon deals. This was no deal at all – their coupon dictates how you spend the money after you purchase it. The picture of their burger in no way looks like the burgers they serve you – they must have borrowed a picture from the internet. We tried a good variety of their menu between my large family and none of it was even half decent. The cheeseburger has a bad taste, and it’s hard and dry. The beef and cheddar with dipping broth had two slices on poor quality leathery overcooked beef on a dry old bun. My shrimp-loving daughter actually spit the shrimp out. It tasted like they just sprinkled garlic salt over it and called it good. The fries were thin and dry like they had been sitting out all day and the lb of onion rings we paid for were more like 1/4 pound of onion rings – also cooked poorly. I wouldn’t eat here again if you paid me. The server was nice, however. She probably knew not to ask how the food was because she didn’t bother.

  3. This place is the the biggest pile of trash in Stillwater! We visited on Friday night at 10pm and there were 8 people besides us in the bar! The place looked like it was under construction, with a huge opening into the kitchen, which I assume was supposed to be, or is eventually going to be, a window. Problem is, with a kitchen as dirty and disgusting as theirs is, you really shouldn’t be putting it on display! We used to go all the time a couple of years ago when it was St Croix Live and on any given Friday or Saturday night the place was packed. It looked great, everything made sense, and it was rocking! Uber cool and very fun! It’s really too bad that it is such a pile of junk now because it is a great spot and we used to love it.
    Hopefully somebody who knows what they are doing will buy it and fix it up.

    • I’m excited to see the name change. Old name was Cherry Bowl. What a stupid name. And the Crab Shack? Gross name to sounds like a strip joint. Anyway I’m pretty sure this space is haunted by my great grampas ghost cause they change names like he changed his shorts (once every couple yrs)
      Anyhow It’s a great location so we will give it a chance or two. First thing we look at in a resturaunt is the restrooms…if the restrooms are dirty you can bet the kitchen is to.

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