Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Pizza & beer on a Saturday night in Kilkenny January 26, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:52 PM
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I SUGGESTED WE STOP for directions at the corner gas station.

“How hard can it be to find this place in Kilkenny?” my husband responded.

He was right. Kilkenny, population around 150, in Le Sueur County, runs only a few blocks in all directions. Surely we could find “the bar on top of the hill with the really good pizza,” per our friend LeAnn’s recommendation.

Atop the hill in Kilkenny by the water tower, we found the Liquor Hole.

Atop the hill in Kilkenny by the water tower, we found the Liquor Hole.

Just up the road from Bud’s Service, we found the Liquor Hole.

I expect in warm weather, the front patio is a popular dining and drinking spot at the Hole.

I expect in warm weather, the front patio is a popular dining and drinking spot at the Hole.

We arrived Saturday evening as the last wisps of daylight faded, enough time for me to snap a few outdoor shots before entering the Hole.

Inside we found your typical small town restaurant/bar—pool table in the corner, stools ringing a horseshoe bar, neon beer lights blazing, televisions blaring, opened pull tabs littering the bar top, smokers stepping out to light up a smoke…

A section of the dining area.

A section of the Liquor Hole.

No pool players yet early on a Saturday evening.

No pool players yet early on a Saturday evening.

Be sure to follow the bar's pool rules.

Be sure to follow the bar’s pool rules.

Lots of neon beer signs.

Lots of neon beer signs.

But there were a few surprises, like the homemade wood sign announcing Kilkenny’s inability to afford a town drunk and a fat-bottomed girl print I refused to photograph.

Kilkenny bar humor posted below the Bud Light sign.

Kilkenny bar humor posted below the Bud Light sign.

And when Randy asked for a Schell’s FireBrick beer, the bartender/owner looked at him and said, “Come on, this is Kilkenny.”

Alright then. We both ordered a Nordeast to go with our $11 House pizza topped with sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, onion, mushrooms, green pepper and green olives. And just for the record, the pizza is not entirely homemade. The crust is pre-made. I asked.

The Liquor Hole's House pizza.

The Liquor Hole’s House pizza.

None-the-less, the pizza was thick and tasty, loaded with cheese and was delivered on a cardboard round with several small paper plates, plastic forks and a half-inch thick stack of napkins, most of which we used.

“Cuts down on the dishes,” Randy joked as he observed the disposable tableware.

But we didn’t mind. After all, in the bartender’s words, “This is Kilkenny.”

A last shot of the Liquor Hole before we got into the car and drove 15 miles back east to Faribault.

A last shot of the Liquor Hole before we got into the car and drove 15 miles back east to Faribault.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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12 Responses to “Pizza & beer on a Saturday night in Kilkenny”

  1. Jackie Says:

    So, would you go back? it looked kind of quiet in the photo’s were you the only ones there? Pizza looks amazing 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Oh, there were others in the bar/restaurant. I just did not photograph the area where they were sitting. Gotta be careful photographing people in a bar. I don’t know if I would return. The pizza was good, but too greasy for my taste. Yet, it’s always fun to check out small town eateries/watering holes like this.

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    The pizza does look awesome!! Those little hide-aways are always so interesting. Usually filled with the “locals” so that when you walk in….time stands still as everyone ‘checks out the …..foreigners’!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      It’s interesting that you would comment on being an outsider, because I honestly did not feel like that at the Liquor Hole. But I did see a few heads swivel when they noticed me outside taking pictures before I walked inside. And no one asked what I was doing. One woman did chat a bit with us. Turns out she’s from Faribault, not Kilkenny. And a good friend of the bartender discussed the merits of quitting smoking at quite some length as we ate. We tried to convince him to stop.

  3. Clyde of Mankato Says:

    I love driving around that whole area, the nested, twisting loops of roads that keep changing numbers because you keep crossing county lines. I go out of my way, as if you cannot, to drive through Kilkenny. My wife loves greasy hamburgers from cheap bars, which is odd as the child of an alcoholic who would make her wait in the car for a long time outside bars. My brother-in-law likes to find small town bars in which to sit and talk to people and hear their life stories, as does my son. The north woods corner bars and small town bars are the best. In the Dakotas an excuse for a town is a grain elevator, in Southern Minnesota a church, in northern Minnesota a bar.
    My brother-in-law once walked into a bar in a small Finnish community just off the Iron Range. He sat town next to a man who looked at him with bleary eyes and said, “My name is Toivo.” My brother-in-law answered “Call me Ishmael.” For as long as he was there everyone called him Ishmael.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      That last story about your brother-in-law is a hoot. As for your wife, I do find it interesting that she would even want to go near a small town bar. But better that she go there for the greasy burgers than to drink.

      As for the winding roads around Kilkenny, ah, yes, we got a bit lost last night finding our way home.

      • Clyde of Mankato Says:

        She grew up in N. Mpls. But it has to be a bar with food. We met my sister and B-i-L (and daughter and family) for a meal in a bar and grill and Wanda, which they were told was good by our Lamberton relatives. They gave us menus and came back. They could make nothing we ordered. I think they could make three items. We ordered them. Not good.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        That’s not good. Was this recently? My brother, who lives near Lamberton, has had good things to say about a place in Wanda. We like the Roadhouse Bar and Grill in Wabasso. Whenever we’ve dined there, which has been only a few times, the place has been packed and food good.

      • Clyde of Mankato Says:

        Oops, Wabasso. I mix those two up and should not since my son-in-law is a pastor Wabasso. Roadhouse–that was it.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Hmmmm. My experiences there have been positive. Maybe something to do with the staff on your particular visit?

      • Clyde of Mankato Says:

        Everyone has a bad moment. I only brought it up because it was on your home ground. We treasure our amusingly bad eat-outs. We had one by the U 45 years ago that would take a few hundred words to tell. BTW my son-in-law says the drive from Wabasso home just now was very scary. He does not scare easily. Now they are getting heavy wet snow over there. I-90 is closed.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        I spoke with my mom this afternoon and when she went into church this a.m. the weather was fine. An hour later parishioners walked out to a mess and ice everywhere. She’s about 15 miles from Wabasso. I hadn’t heard about I-90 closing, just that driving Interstate 35 from the Northfield exit to the Iowa border was not recommended.


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