Tucked into a touristy block on Cascade Street just a paddle’s shake away from downtown Osceola, Wis., sits Tippy Canoes Sports Pub and Grub. The cozy wooden tables in the dining room are a welcome sight to canoers who have pushed through the St. Croix River to reach this inviting respite. Ditto sunburned bikers stopping in for a burger break and a bit of shade before the final leg of their journey. These are but a few of several characters that bar manager Kaity Haugerud counts as daily visitors to Tippy Canoes’ restaurant and patio. Daytrippers from the Twin Cities, local Osceolans, and travelers on the Osceola and St. Croix Valley Railway family train round out the rest of Tippy Canoes faithful. Not on the guest list? Allow me to introduce and welcome you.
Slide up to the bar next to Tippy’s river-rock fire column and taste for yourself the nectar of the north, a famed Moscow mule ($6.50). “I’ve discovered that Absolut Lime is amazing in a Moscow mule,” Haugerud says of Tippy Canoes’ drink of the moment. Crisp ginger beer is swirled with ice, Absolut and extra lime juice served in a copper mug shinier than the colorful domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral. Craving something lighter? Tippy’s has eight taps that rotate ales, lagers and stouts throughout the year, with the exception of one regular: New Glarus’s Spotted Cow ($5). After enlivening your palate with a cool drink, start your meal with Tippy’s much-loved creamy chicken wild-rice soup. This Midwest staple holds the gold medal upon the podium of soups and stews, and Tippy Canoes’ thick inspiration, with large chunks of warm chicken, rises to the bar set by generational family recipes ($3.95 cup/$4.95 bowl). Add a bread loaf for 95 cents and ensure that none of that creamy goodness goes to waste.
If you’re looking for something heartier from your appetizer experience, the wonton tacos have asserted themselves as a local favorite. “They’re by far our best-seller,” says Haugerud of the dish that started as an experiment, only to settle permanently on the menu and find a second life as a salad to boot. Marinated and sautéed chicken is stuffed into a crispy wonton shell, and is topped with Asian slaw, cilantro and lime ($9.95).
Hopefully you’ve saved room for the main course. Haugerud strongly recommends the walleye fish sandwich to those who are looking for the ultimate aquatic experience. If you’ve pulled nothing but pike and bass from the lakes this season and missed that elusive walleye, never fear: Tippy Canoes caught a keeper just for you. This 10-oz. beer-battered treat is served with red onion, lettuce and tangy tomato on a warm ciabatta hoagie with tartar sauce on the side ($12.95). Did we mention that this sandwich is large? Hold up both hands, and if you can comfortably corral this entire sandwich, you should retire the rod and try hand fishing.
For diners looking for an “experience,” Tippy Canoes has a different special for each day of the week. There’s Buck Burger Tuesdays, during which a burger will only cost you $1 (4–9 p.m., additional charges apply for extra ingredients). Bingo Wednesday, Pasta Thursday and Fish Fry Friday round out the week, with additional drink specials saved for the weekend. Breakfast is served from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays, with the bonus of a build-your-own bloody bar for $5. The patio will remain open as long as the weather holds. But once the weather drops, the warm river-lodge dining room of Tippy Canoes is a great place to spend the off-season.
Hard Mocha: An autumnal bevvie to warm you inside and out.
The Drink: Fireside Mocha
The Bar: Tippy Canoes
The Tender: Kaity Haugerud
Welsh poet David Burton Richardson was hardly imagining St. Croix autumn nights when he wrote the lines, “We shout and strike with all our might, and try to defeat the long, long night.” However, I see this as an appropriate assessment of Minnesotans and Wisconsinites preparing to face the bitter chill of winter. We gather our family and our friends around a warm fire with something sweet to drink, and savor each remaining flavor of fall before the snow is upon us.
Tippy Canoes bartender Kaity Haugerud says that the Fireside Mocha is the most requested drink of the season, and we are excited to share it with you to beat the chill:
1 cup hot, brewed coffee
1 oz. Disaronno Amaretto
1 oz. brandy
½ cup milk
2 oz. Hershey’s chocolate syrup
4 Tbsp. cocoa powder or chocolate shavings (optional garnish)
Brew a strong cup of coffee in the largest mug in your cabinet. This would be a prime opportunity for “World’s Best Dad” or that Albert Einstein mug you save for Sunday mornings. Once your coffee is piping hot, stir in your favorite type of chocolate and half-cup of milk to complete your mocha. Mix in your brandy and amaretto, and don’t forget a big hat of whipped cream on top. Drizzle your creation with Hershey’s chocolate syrup, and sip your September heart out.