A college bar grows up, gets crafty

Sometimes excessive adornments can ruin something's natural beauty, like a pretty girl putting on too much make up, or clothes. Definitely clothes. For a new spot stripping things away to reveal its space's original splendor: Republic

A well-stocked beer bar helmed by the subtle hand behind The Aster & 318 cafes and housed in the Seven Corners digs formerly occupied by Preston's, Republic has peeled back its former occupant's layers of neon signs, booze banners, and general grime to expose handsome tin-paneled ceilings, a 30ft oak bar, and original stained-glass windows -- though given it's a bar, you're more likely to be preying. Despite six Belgians (from Duvel to Tripel Karmeliet) and four Germans (including Hacker-Pschorr Munich Dark), the beer menu skews awesomely American crafty, with 12 of the 32 draughts being Minnesota & Badgerland icons (like Surly, Lift Bridge, Fulton, Rush River and Furthermore); and besides a couple cheapo cans, it's all draft, though at around $4/pint, these are ones you actually won't want to dodge. The eats are all gastro-pub quality (though everything's under $20), and run from bites like ricotta fritters and honey, to a grass-fed beef burger with garlic confit, tomato, and aioli, to a plate of mussels/ bacon slathered with garlic and white wine, though how they simmer a guy named Tripp complaining about tee times is unclear

Recognizing that even peeps with a more refined palate enjoy tipping a few back under that oh-so-rare Minnesota sun, the one thing from the space's former life that Republic's basically left untouched is a 200-seat patio with downtown views so epic, you'll have a tough time not staring, or drooling. Definitely drooling.