It’s birthday dinner night for my amazing wife, Jenni. So, I gave her a list of restaurants we haven’t been to yet and she chose one.

That choice was Ward 6 on Payne Avenue on the east side of St. Paul.

I’ve read reviews that have spoken highly of the place. And what’s so great about places like this in this town is the fact that neighborhood restaurants can put forth truly great food. In a lot of cities, a restaurant like this would just fall through the cracks. But luckily, the foodies in this town will go all the way across town to support something great.

Ward 6 is great. And that’s kind of funny: if you’re driving by and just pass the place, I don’t know that you’d necessarily stop in at the bar for a burger. There’s nothing distinguishing about it except that the building has obviously been recently renovated and only stands out in its neighborhood because it’s a newer looking building in a part of the city that is making its way back from years of ruin. But because I’ve heard of it in the reviews, we went specifically to go eat there. Either way, you absolutely could not be disappointed.

The food is basic pub food, but done so well in its tiny kitchen that it stands out. There are only a couple of burgers on the menu, but Jenni and Patrick said they were about the best tasting burgers they’ve ever had. Zoe had a sourdough grilled cheese sandwich what she actually finished, which says a lot when she normally actually doesn’t finish the whole thing because it’s either too big or just okay.

Hannah gets the fish and chips if it’s on the menu at any restaurant, and this, she said, was the best she’s ever had. Now we haven’t been to Anchor Fish & Chips yet, but I figure this must be some huge endorsement.

I had the reuben, which unlike most restaurant reuben sandwiches, actually looked and tasted like someone cared about making it instead of throwing ingredients together on bread and toasting it. The thousand island dressing was clearly homemade. The sauerkraut and corned beef was in perfect ratio, and the swiss was actually tasty and not rubbery. So high marks.

We also shared the poutine and deep fried cheese curds beforehand, and both were excellent–the poutine with an excellent beef gravy with just the right amount of pepper and little bits of bacon. The curds were lightly coated in a tempura batter, which made them light and crispy and not greasy.

The service was attentive (and fun!), which in places as small as this sometimes is either overbearing or non-existant.

Let me just say it again to close this out: Ward 6 does what so many restaurants don’t do. They have worked hard to perfect their pub fare and make it the best it can be while still being a great neighborhood restaurant. They’re well worth the drive from wherever you’re coming from.