Chicago fare sans flavor

Wild Onion Bar and Restaurant Address: 788 Grand Ave. St. Paul Price: $10 – $20 Wild Onion Bar and Restaurant is a grill on St. PaulâÄôs Grand Avenue that nabs its name from a translation of the American Indian word âÄúChicagau,âÄù meaning land of wild onion or garlic. This bar banks on its ability to recreate neighborhood-style Chicago dining but falls short in every attempt. Wild OnionâÄôs strongest asset is its sophisticated interior. With two parts Cheers and one part Old Chicago , Wild Onion feels like a classy trip down nostalgia lane to the sports bars of generations past. Overstuffed black booths line the rust-colored walls and exposed brick, and men that resemble a younger version of your grandfather, looking dapper, line the dark wooden bar. The St. Paul eatery offers everything from exotic Thai lettuce wraps that leave us wondering where exactly the âÄúexoticâÄù part enters, to sirloin and mashed potatoes that could use a little of your grandmaâÄôs grilling skills. Add in prices a step above the average sports bar menu and Wild Onion already sets itself up to disappoint. The Windy City fettuccine with chicken, bacon and shrimp in a thick red pepper sauce, tastes as though it has been reheated several times and nothing in the dish points toward flavor. The Walleye finger appetizer is excessively greasy and bland, produced lukewarm from the kitchen after a wait that seemed inordinate for a pre-entree snack. With $1.75 domestic taps and $2.50 domestic bottles, the happy hour specials are exceptional. They pride themselves on their outstanding birthday and bachelorette specials (on your birthday, youâÄôll get a free pitcher of your favorite drink, a pound of wings and a souvenir T-shirt). However, if youâÄôre not hitting the bar between 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., it might be best to save your cash. These drinks are priced out of their league, with rails almost twice what youâÄôd expect. Wild OnionâÄôs major misstep is its customer service, with servers usually unavailable or apathetic to the needs of customers (be ready to wait 20 minutes or so for a full glass of water). Their lack of knowledge about the menu was surprising in a place that seems like a friendly, neighborhood hotspot. When the waiters cannot remember the dayâÄôs specials, itâÄôs hard to believe theyâÄôre serious about their position. If youâÄôre in search of sub-par dining to entertain a guest or to get an awkward rendezvous out of the way, it would most certainly be better to settle for a version closer to home, like ApplebeeâÄôs or SallyâÄôs .