TheQuick: Can Can Wonderland

If you’re anything like me the first impression of the name Can Can Wonderland instantly whisks your mind away to one of two places; a cabaret or a memorable bathroom. Oddly enough it’s neither, but it’s all the excitement and energy that the dance called the cancan wasn’t. This venue which is nestled in an old factory in St. Paul, Minnesota’s midway, follows in the trend of putting shit in old buildings and calling it cool, or eclectic. Step aside food truck re-resurgence, here comes distilleries, breweries, co-working spaces, and this Wonderland place looking to re-purpose forgotten buildings. Admittedly, it’s good to see something filling the gap that jobs, progress, and raves left behind. Having been raised on the left coast it was easy to see this wasn’t anything to lift my skirt up over. Additionally having been in the midwest for a bit I also knew that since this place was new, everyone was gonna be there. Not to be typecast as some curmudgeon or cynic, I ventured into this wonderland with an open mind, a can can attitude, and curiosity as my drive.

In essence they took a putt putt course, a bar, and it’s associated accouterments and shoved it an empty building. If for a mere moment of reason you consider that there’s a giant mall in the state that once did that very same thing, you quickly see this isn’t innovative or an act of genius. However folks will profess that this is different because it’s an art immersive experience. It’s got a mini-golf course which comes with a three hour wait to test your patience, and a restaurant/bar with minimal waiting. To my very untrained eye, the place looked like it was someone’s garage who had gone on a drunken antiquing tour the night before, and filled the space from top to bottom with junk and just the right splash of Christmas lights. To further this point I may have seen an old couch my grandparents had in the 70’s, and definitely saw TV rabbit ears in this wonderland. So as you await for your turn at the Minnesota themed golf course you can people watch, take in the wall to wall art and contemplate the impression the artist is leaving.

For those with short attention spans you can play a few pinball machines they have strewn about, and relish in the pleasure and nostalgia of playing classic games that have nothing to do with the CanCan or a wonderland. You can also entertain yourself by flagging down some of the staff that at times look perplexed or stunned by the amount of flashing lights and noise, in this land that rave’s forgot. As I endeavored to go down this rabbit hole, I did enjoy an overpriced spam sammich, a cold hotdog they threw mac n cheese on, (Ronin did it better back in 2011) and a batch of mini-donuts dryer than French Stewart’s wit. Now I won’t say I’m a food connoisseur, but I think I’ve been around when it comes to hotdogs and other processed good eats. I’ve eaten every comfort food from swedish meatloaf to mayonnaise sandwiches, and have still had room to take a few wieners in the mouth whether hot or cold, Nathan’s or Hebrew.

Let me now offer the compulsory warning; the mixed drinks at the Can Can are at your own risk! I endured all of two sips of a couple of the drinks manifested by the staff mixologists. After which I wasn’t exactly sure if I was intoxicated or if my body was actively rejecting the flavor explosion, of what seemed to be a mix of kerosene, a cherry jolly rancher, and a rusty tire iron. I don’t mean to go all Andy Rooney on this one, but with ingredients like blue cheese infused gin and CO2 in some of their cocktails, I couldn’t help but weep for the days when you could just get a beer or a drink with no more than two basic ingredients in it. This place was not a science lab and nobody looked as if they knew who Oppenheimer was, so why push such monstrous science experiments on people.

All in all it sells itself as an amusement park, but it is far from one. It’s basically a new style of art gallery that showcases some of the area art and sadly found a quick way to attract people to it since nowadays everything requires incentive. Aside from that I’m sure it has a place for art aficionados and that business hungry for something to do as an outing. In my humble opinion don’t come for the food, drinks, or golf, but don’t take my word for it. Go check it out and make up your own damn mind.

The Good

  • It’s conveniently located in the midway between the twin cities.
  • They are an all inclusive establishment that offers a spam dish.
  • It’s a good third option if your first two plans for a Friday night fall through.
  • If you enjoy area art and/or seeing how everyday things are used in ways they were never intended here’s your spot.

The Bad

  • Every ‘boozy’ option tastes like you’re licking the hind end of Cheshire cat.
  • They can take any cereal and turn it into a malt. I overhead someone asking for a gluten free option for this.
  • It feels like a mess from the staff buzzing around, to the random menu item names much more like a merry go round run amok not a wonderland.
  • It left me missing the City Museum in St. Louis.

The WTF

  • The ingredients of this ten dollar drink: Crooked Water L’Eau Grand Vodka, Fizzy Lifting Drink
    Energy Granules, CO2.
  • It’s probably the only place you’ll hear the term, art-infused.
  • The only thing that stands out food or drink wise is not the flavor, it’s the fact they put a fig newton in a drink and called it Getting Figgy With It.

 

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