Mac-Groveland has a new bar/bakery joint, brought to you by the team behind The Happy Gnome. Inconspicuously located at Selby Ave. and Pierce St., Augustine’s exterior may appear unassuming, but its interior leaves nothing to be desired. Expansive glass windows reveal hip décor inside. Creative light fixtures and vintage-inspired jungle wallpaper decorate the space, while aptly placed bronze hippo figurines are interspersed throughout the restaurant. While seemingly random, the hippos actually refer to St. Augustine of Hippo, the establishment’s namesake. When facing the restaurant, the left side of the space is reserved for the food offerings, while the right side serves as a full bar.

When I went around dinnertime on Halloween, the customers were mostly young professionals and older twenty-somethings on dates. These customers fit the vibe and prices, since Augustine’s is definitely on the pricier side, with prices likely comparable to the re-opened Grand Central. While it’s generally not affordable enough to be a weekly fixture for most college students, like the Groveland Tap, it offers a wonderful opportunity for a date night foray, a birthday celebration or somewhere to bring your family. Basically, Augustine’s is a classy and accessible joint with a wide selection of food and drink options for a special occasion, or if you’re searching for a break from the monotony of Café Mac or your own haphazardly-prepared home cooking.

The menu offers a selection of coffee, craft cocktails, appetizers, breads, sandwiches and entrées. My friends and I split french fries ($5/full order) and tater tots ($9). The tater tots weren’t the traditional tater tots you would expect from the Blue Door Pub or The Groveland Tap. They were more reminiscent of potato croquettes, with a delightful bit of heat from a spice medley and some diced peppers. It also featured a flavorful dipping sauce. The fries were similarly scrumptious, with a tasty ketchup and garlic aioli pairing. I didn’t get a drink, but my friends enjoyed the craft beers that they ordered.

The service was pleasant, but nothing too memorable. It was clear that they were still trying to work out a few kinks, as is generally to be expected at a newly-opened establishment. It will be interesting to see the identity that Augustine’s will attempt to craft for itself in the coming months. Are they hoping to cater to young professionals or the college crowd? At this point, I would peg Augustine’s as catering to a young professional crowd, but time will tell. Mac students are always looking for new coffee shops to frequent, so perhaps Augustine’s will contribute a new spot to the established coffee shop culture in the Mac-Groveland area. We’ll see, but so far so good.

Augustine’s is located at 1668 Selby Ave., St Paul.

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