Number 4, We’ve Got A Problem


We want to like you, Number 4 American Bar and Kitchen. But do you want us to like you?

By “us,” I’m referring to the enthusiastic gastrocrowd it halfheartedly courts. Number 4 was launched as Mankato’s first stab at high-end American fare–done so marvelously by Borough, Haute Dish, and other dually-hipster-and-family-friendly establishments in the Cities–but so far, its only successes have been financial.

Allow me to explain why that’s a bad thing.

For every good idea the restaurant throws forth, they do something completely asinine to negate the radness. Yet they get away with this ham-fisted halfassery for two reasons:

  1. It’s the most beautifully decorated establishment in town, and it’s not even close
  2. It’s grossly overpriced, and their core clientele–aging McMansionites that drive colossal SUVs and wear jewelry–will pay these ridiculous prices simply for the sake of paying them

Bizarrely, going to Number 4 is a status thing. Patrons don’t care that the service is mediocre and the menu is WAY too big for the chef to actually achieve something resembling consistent quality. They don’t care that tableside guacamole can’t make up for an inability to pull off a Cobb salad. They don’t care that a lengthy menu of $9 boutique cocktails is unable to obstruct an abysmal tap selection and a whiskey shelf with freaking GLENLIVET perched at the peak. They don’t care that the most exquisite bar-top in town is marred by an enormous plastic placard touting their BURGERFICATION Monday twofer deal.

But they certainly do care if any semi-washed, tattooed types–really, anyone aged roughly 25 to 35 that might look like they’re enthusiastic about something other than sports–invade their precious status bubble. The tension is palpable; I’ve been on the receiving end of open sneers, confused double-takes, and blatant mockery from other customers.

But really, the joke’s on them.

They think they’re experiencing high culture in Mankato, jangling their wristwatches and running up $200 tabs, when they’re really just buying in to a heartless, exploitative retread of Twin Cities cornerstones, set to a baffling soundtrack of “My Humps” and “Hollaback Girl.” In 2014.

But they embrace it unwittingly, ’cause that’s just Mankato’s style. Commerce kills culture, and enthusiasm is greeted with contempt.

(Number 4 does do a mean-ass, reasonably priced breakfast though, and you won’t have to brave the overly-douchey crowd. They don’t like to flaunt their wine hangovers in public.)

Get Red With…

Mahtowa Death March – “Pipe Bombs, Loose Morals, and High Fashion”

It’s not every day that you get tipped to a new Minnesotan band by a New Yorker (thanks for picking up my state’s slack, Kim), and it’s definitely rarer for that band to knife you right in the soulspot. This decade’s new-ish wave of black metal / crust hybrids has been crucial, and Mahtowa Death March enter the fray with a wicked-raw take bolstered by turbocharged sleaze. (Those solos!)

Think Midnight, Nekrofilth, and The Yellowgoat Sessions pushed through a superclogged Crepusculo Negro gutterfilter.

Tapes are five bucks and limited to 50, but spend three and do some filthy Northland Bandcamping.