Let's prefix this review: I haven't been to Sir Ben's in many, many months. Why? Because I swore I wouldn't return because of the horrible service. But let me compare and contrast here:
Sir Ben's used to be my #1 stop in Duluth. I'd go out of my way for this joint. Their formula is simple: beer & sandwiches. A perfect combination! However, somewhere along the line in the last year something change (it's been rumored it was with the change of ownership): their service got horrible. When you want some food from Sir Ben's, you get in line at the sandwich counter. A crack team of sandwich gurus whip you up a sandwich and a bowl of soup el pronto. You pay for your food at the end of the line (or add it to your tab) and then viola!--the bar is right there for you to pick from a multitude of fantastic local taps & bottles. But here's the new way things work: you just STAND IN LINE FOR SANDWICHES FOREVER. Staffers now bicker and lollygag along instead of putting together your meal. I've been there twice now since my first bad experience (I believe in second chances), and every time I've been there, I've had to LEAVE THE LINE AND GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. It just takes that long.
Now, in the times of Olde at Sir Ben's, I'd grab my very delicious sandwich (put sprouts on everything!), get a delicious South Shore Nut Brown, and sit outside and enjoy the amazing view of Lake Superior (free tip, Wednesday evenings during the summer is the sailboat regatta; Sir Ben's is a great place to watch it from). In the evening, a local fiddle band would strike up, adding some great old-world vibes to the English-style pub. Pint after pint would go by. Then I'd get an app, and before I knew it, it was time to call it a night. I could spend the whole night at Sir Ben's...but nowadays, I can't even get through the food line.
I hope they get things ironed out at Sir Ben's, at least service-wise, before the winter. I plan on going back to give this place a third try when the snow flies. Hopefully I'll be able to restore my review to a five-star review then.