Louie’s Bucket of Bones


Last week I dropped Ernest off at the day camp in town he goes to when we’re in Northern Minnesota. I had some errands to do in the bigger town of Brainerd and so ended up driving through Ironton, not something I do much. Boy am I glad I did because I saw an addition to the town since I last drove through – whenever that might have been. As you might guess from the picture above, it rather captured the eye. I can barely describe the extent to which this flame-covered building with its bright reds and oranges and yellows stands out in a small town in Minnesota lake country. The folks here are practical, utilitarian, pragmatic people. Energy must be conserved for the long winter that always looms in the background. Colors are muted, speech is reserved, and blending in is highly valued.

Upper midwest culture firmly embraces (and enforces) a no-tall-poppy policy. Garrison Keillor has documented it extensively. Don’t stand out. Don’t draw attention to yourself. Who do you think you are? It is an aspect of the region that has not always served yours truly very well. I know what it takes to stand out here. I know the snarky comments and dry-humored back-handed compliments those flames attract.

So perhaps you can imagine how happy those flames made me as I drove (blah) through to do errands (double blah) on a gray day (triple blah).

And when I saw that this extremely tall poppy houses Louie’s Bucket of Bones, a rib joint and smokehouse (custom smoking available!), I nearly fainted with pleasure. Stenciled lettering promotes the establishment’s ribs, chicken, and catfish, as well as tacos and lasagna. A little something for everyone, I suppose.

Over the weekend I sent my brother to pick up ribs, both St. Louie style and baby back. Both were, in their unique way, fabulous. The tender, unctuous baby backs were preferred by half our group and the dryer, chewier St. Louie by the other half, so peace was maintained as we gnawed our way through our order until we had, indeed, created a bucket of bones.