Meals can be inconsistent, but the elegant historic decor, top-notch wild rice burgers and hidden bar in the subbasement make this a worthy stop.
Tycoons Alehouse is the latest addition to the Fitger’s family of restaurants, which includes the Fitger’s Brewhouse and the Burrito Union. It’s located inside Duluth’s opulent old City Hall, built in 1887 of locally quarried brownstone. The inside is luxurious, with glitzy chandeliers, gold drapes and the impressive original staircases.
A bar of reclaimed wood dominates the center of the dining area, which is appropriate because the restaurant emphasizes its beer. You'll find a rotating selection of beers made fresh at the Fitger’s brewery, including a sweet and fruity apricot wheat and a creamy porter. A bar accessible only by taking an elevator to the subbasement offers a slate of imported beers and a secret-society atmosphere. It’s quite dark, with flickering candlelight against original exposed stone walls and arches.
The food at Tycoons can be a mixed bag. The warm, gently nutty wild rice burgers ($10) are flawless, especially with perfectly crisp onion rings. The mussels ($13), tender and meaty with a tart sherry-basil-tomato broth, are also delicious. But the specials ($18-$30) aren’t particularly special. Bourbon-barbecued ribs were spot-on, chewy and rich with a great sauce. But the accompanying coleslaw apparently came straight out of a can, and the fries were mealy and boring. The chocolate ganache dessert cake ($7) was rather dry, on both our visits. So by all means, come for the beautiful decor and top-notch microbrews ($4.75 for 16 ounces), but consider going elsewhere if you want a truly great meal.