There's been a lot of buzz surrounding the new Chatterbox Pub location in St. Paul's Highland Park. My special ladyfriend and I went last night to check it out and compare Chatterbox II to Chatterbox I, a well-loved locale.
First things first: The new Chatterbox is nothing, nothing like the original. Some may think that's a travesty, some may call it a blessing. Personally, I don't see any problem with establishing a new ambience around the same concept. After all, the physical structure itself is not a hole-in-the-wall nestled away in a South Minneapolis neighborhood. It's in a converted Perkins (one of the best Perkins ever, mind you), and smack dab in the middle of a high-traffic commercial area. So if you're looking for, or expecting, Chatterbox I when you walk into Chatterbox II, don't bother.
As for the restaurant itself, both of us gave favorably reviews. We were a bit disoriented walking in, because there was actual natural light in the new joint. Also, there is a family-friendly aspect to the place, at least during the day. The decor is quite reminiscent of Chatterbox II's neighbor the Highland Grille, with futuristic furniture. Of course, you can still order board games at your table; there are a number of casual, comfy looking couches, and there's also original Nintendo on flat-screen TVs. I watched a nine-year-old try to figure out Mario 3 for a few minutes, then left with disgust when he didn't even know to go into one of the mushroom huts.
The food and drinks were classic Chatterbox. I had a delectable Inferno Hellcat Burger on ciabatta with deep-fried pickles and great fries. With a name like Inferno Hellcat, though, I expected some more heat, but alas, that's the problem anywhere in Minnesota. There's a huge bar with a decent selection, including it's own Chatterbox Lager (a fine brew).
All in all, you need to check it out for yourself. It's definitely worth it.