She’s known as the soup sorceress.
Aura Fist, the creatively tattooed chef at Clubhouse Jäger, has a magical way with soups. She makes them from scratch in a tiny kitchen in the basement of the North Loop bar.
Many people know Jäger for its Transmission dance parties on Wednesday night, but it’s a hidden gem for dining, too. Beyond the soups, the menu features homemade tacos, appetizers, pizzas and many specialty sandwiches, including the ‘Nam (a banh mi) and the Castro (a twist on a Cuban).
Ingredients change up seasonally and the bread and crusts are made by Turtle Bread. The bar also recently expanded its hours to offer lunch service.
There’s always a tomato basil soup on the menu and another one featuring one of Aura’s unique takes on a classic. “I’m fascinated with flavors of other cultures,” she said.
As for her favorite soups, it's a toss up between the Bo Kho (a Vietnamese beef and carrot soup) and the St. Philip Street Stew (her name for an Italian sausage, black been and sweet potato stew).
“This is the only bar in the city that feels like home to me,” Aura said, who moved to Minneapolis from New Orleans in 2008. (Note: her name originated as a stage name when she was a sideshow performer.)
She said Jäger reminded her of a an 1800s-era bar she spent time in while in that city. “I love the building we work in. It’s beautiful.”
Jäger was built in 1906, making it one of the oldest continuously operated bars in Minneapolis. Julius Jaeger De Roma bought it in 2004 when it was known as Brandon’s 923 Club. Jaeger is his mother’s maiden name and also the namesake of a bar once owned by his great-great grandfather in Milwaukee.
During renovations, crews discovered stained glass windows from the bar’s early days when it was a bar owned by the Gluek Brewing Company. The bar’s original tin ceiling was also revealed during the makeover.
“When we renovated, the bar told us what to do,” De Roma said. “Because it’s been here so long and it’s laid out in a certain way.”
While the atmosphere at the bar is laid back, there’s one rule: no TVs. The outdoor patio with a fire pit that warms patrons in the winter is another major draw.
“Without TVs you have to deal with one another,” De Roma said.
The formula has inspired many romantic connections. The Jäger crew knows of 13 couples who have met at the bar and later married. One couple held their wedding at the bar last August.
The goal is to create a culture where people can feel comfortable and have great conversations, said Jäger manager Pauly Teravskis.
“Our philosophy is that we’re home base,” he said. “We’ll always be here for you.”