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British in Minneapolis/St. Paul - British Food, Tea, Beer, Music and Culture


There's a small but growing British ex-pat population in Minneapolis/St. Paul, almost all drawn here by work, or marriage to a Minnesota native. Most Britons know of SPAM, Prince, and the movie Fargo but know nothing else about Minnesota and don't seek it out when looking for employment or other ways to emigrate to America.

Minnesota was settled by northern Europeans in the eighteenth century - Scandinavian, German, Irish, British and Polish immigrants accounted for most of the early settlers, although soon Scandinavian immigrants dominated the population before other nationalities began to arrive in the nineteenth century through the present day. So, there's very little in the way of British cultural heritage in Minneapolis/St. Paul. But, there's a lot of interest in British culture, art, fashion, music and food and there's plenty of ways for British ex-pats (and Minnesotan anglophiles too) to get a taste of home, some that piggyback on business catering to the larger Irish population, some purely British.

British Food and Beer

Fish and Chips at the Anchor. The Anchor is actually an Irish fish and chip shop, but by gum, they are the best and the closest to the original thing you'll find in the Twin Cities, and even give you curry sauce on the side.

Brit's Pub It's gloomy inside, the food is stodgy, the imported beer has traveled across the Atlantic and beer doesn't particularly like traveling, but if you want a pint of Old Specked Hen or London Pride you'll have to come here. The British do enjoy their stodgy, gloomy pubs and plenty of ex-pats visit Brit's Pub often. If there was less cheesy British memorabilia on the walls, Brit's Pub would be very authentic. And when Brit's Pub really shines is in the summer months, with their giant rooftop patio and lawn bowling where you can sit outside on just about every summer evening when it's not raining. How many nights can you do that in the UK without a coat? Everything else is forgiven.

Merlin's Rest Pub An Englishman, an Irishman and a Welshman started a pub... Opened in 2007 by a trio of ex-pats, this pub on Minneapolis' Lake Street is currently operated by a Brit and serves several British and Irish beers, runs a pub quiz, sells scotch eggs and various other pub food, and has a vast whiskey stock.

British Tea and British Sweets

Several Cub stores have a British food section in their ethnic food aisle, selling treats such as bounty bars, chocolate digestive biscuits, PG Tips tea and Bird's custard.

Indian supermarkets such as Patel's Groceries and Bombay Indian Market, both on the 1800 block of Central Avenue NE in Minneapolis, sell British sweets, as does Middle Eastern market Holy Land, also in Northeast Minneapolis, who sell Cadbury's flakes, crunchie bars, and other sweets.

Irish on Grand in St. Paul sells mostly Irish items but they also have marmite, hobnobs, malteasers and plenty of other British groceries, sweets and tea.

Trader Joe's, with several metro locations, sell a few British and Irish items. Their Irish Breakfast tea produces a passable imitation of a real cuppa, they sell Weetabix, Kerrygold butter, various types of UK-style biscuits and a few other items.

Tea Source, a local business with with locations in St. Paul and St. Anthony, sells teas from around the world and several black teas and British blends, including an Albert Square blend, for fans of popular British soap opera Eastenders.

British Culture and British Music

Minnesota Public Radio station The Current has British artists on heavy rotation and long-time DJ, British-born Mark Wheat who plays plenty of records from back home including the latest from the British Isles.

Minneapolis is a great place to see live music from British bands. UK bands touring America often stop in Minneapolis and a show from a band big in the UK will probably cost half the ticket price at First Avenue than it would at a venue in the UK. When British pop star Lily Allen played at First Avenue in 2009 tickets cost $25, at her London shows later that year tickets sold for the equivalent of $50.

Lesser known artists from Britain play shows at the Varsity Theater, the Triple Rock, The Fine Line as well as First Avenue with ticket prices starting around $12.

British culture comes to the Walker Art Center once a year. At the end of the year, the Walker screens the British Advertising Industry Awards, and while American eyes tend to glaze over during commercials, in Britain the adverts are often funnier and more entertaining than the program they are sandwiched in between.

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