Left at the Fork

the road | the food | a new direction

Month: September 2017 (page 1 of 2)

Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen, Knife River MN

REVIEW

The North Shore may have lost a smoked fish house but they gained a candy store! Mel’s Fish, the old-time source for smoked fish in Knife River, was purchased in 2007 by sisters Pamela Matson and Patricia Canelake, who used their grandfather’s candy recipes and Mel’s old refrigerated fish case to open Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen. (Grampa Gust’s Canelake’s Candies still operates today in Virginia, MN.) Continue reading

Checking in at: Castle Danger Brewery, Two Harbors MN

There’s actually a place called Castle Danger — it’s a community about 10 miles up the shore from Two Harbors, and that’s where the brewery was founded in 2011. When they expanded, they moved to Two Harbors. Like Bent Paddle in Duluth, you see a lot of Castle Danger available in bars and restaurants around here. Continue reading

Russ Kendall’s Smokehouse, Knife River MN

REVIEW

There was once a time when Minnesota’s 160-mile North Shore of Lake Superior was dotted with fish smokehouses from Duluth to the Canadian border. Betty’s Pies actually began as a family fishhouse. Mel’s Fish of Knife River was sold in 2007 and became Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen. Lou’s, up the road in Two Harbors, closed in 2013. Continue reading

Northern Waters Restaurant, Duluth MN

REVIEW

After 15 years of earning his culinary bona fides downtown in the deli that showcases his incomparable smoked fish and meats, Eric Goerdt, with his wife Lynn, felt it was time to sit at the grownups table. The result is Northern Waters Restaurant, up in the Chester Park neighborhood close to the University of Minnesota Duluth. Continue reading

Checking in at: Hoops Brewing, Duluth MN

Hoops Brewing just opened this summer (2017). It’s on the ground floor of the Waterfront Plaza building in Canal Park, a former 19th-century warehouse that is now primarily a hotel. Hoops’ space was most recently the Timber Lodge steak house. You have to look carefully to even notice there’s a brewpub in the building, at least from South Lake Street. You enter the brewpub proper from the hallway inside the building. Continue reading

Deluxe Coney Island, Duluth MN

REVIEW

Sometimes it’s the dog, other times it’s the garnishment. Garlicky, snappy-casing New York City franks are so good they need no adornment. Midwest coneys, however, are all about the package in toto: the franks themselves are rarely anything special, nor do they need to be. Success depends on how the dog, bun, meat sauce, mustard, raw, chopped onions, and, maybe, shredded cheese work together. It’d be pointless to order a coney with, say, just mustard. Continue reading

Gordy’s Hi-Hat, Cloquet MN

REVIEW

We have a weakness for drive-in style restaurants from the ’50s and ’60s. Gotta be the real thing, though. We can totally do without modern joints that try to evoke bygone times. We’re happy to say that Gordy’s Hi-Hat is exactly what we look for in a drive-in. Gordy (who turned 90 in 2017) and Marilyn Lundquist opened the seasonal restaurant in 1960 and they can still be found here today, working alongside their son Dan, who manages the drive-in. Continue reading

Checking in at: Bent Paddle Brewing Co., Duluth MN

There are many brewpubs and breweries in and around Duluth but, if you judge based on how often you see the beers in area restaurants, Bent Paddle would have to be the most popular. It’s everywhere around here. A big part of that is because Bent Paddle is not a brewpub but an actual production brewery, which cans, ships, and markets their beers. The taproom is just that: a small room off the brewery, with a few tables and a short bar, where you can enjoy their fresh brews right at the brewery. Continue reading

Northern Waters Smokehaus, Duluth MN

REVIEW

Walk along the Lake Superior waterfront in Duluth and you’ll inevitably find yourself glancing up at the hills to the north. You can’t help but notice, at the very top of one of the hills, silhouetted against the bright sky, what looks to be some sort of stone tower. What is that? What’s the story behind it? And therein lies half the makings of a perfect Duluth afternoon. Continue reading

At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe, Duluth MN

REVIEW

Farm-to-table has been the key restaurant buzzword for the last decade or two, and it’s a development we heartily applaud. Still, we can’t help but have nagging suspicions in the backs of our minds: just how local, from what kind of farm, and how long was the interval between farm and table. We have no such concerns about At Sara’s Table…: the gorgeous, ripe tomatoes (and fresh basil) from our Caprese salad one summer evening were picked that morning by our waitress in the garden across the street. Continue reading

Checking in at: Fitger’s Brewhouse, Duluth, MN

Fitger’s is a modern microbrewery but its spiritual and physical roots go back as far as 1857. That’s when the Duluth brewery that would eventually become Fitger’s Brewing Company was opened. It moved to the current site of Fitger’s Brewhouse in 1881. Like most regional brewers of the mid-to-late 20th century, Fitger’s couldn’t compete with the brewing giants. It folded in 1972. Continue reading

Johnson’s Bakery, Duluth MN

REVIEW

Swedish limpa rye; Finnish pulla; Finnish rye; cardamom coffee cake, kringle: we don’t see Scandinavian baked goods like these back home in New Jersey. Here in Minnesota, it’s de rigueur, especially if the bakery is run by descendants of Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian immigrants, as is Johnson’s Bakery of Duluth. Continue reading

Anchor Bar and Grill, Superior WI

REVIEW

You can have drippy, juicy one-third, two-thirds, or full-pound burgers, dressed plain or fancy (or just plain weird); a mountain of French fries that were recently whole potatoes; and beer. That’s it. The entire menu. Oh, they’ll also make you a sandwich with the available burger toppings if you’d like, so there’s a grilled cheese, a ham sandwich, a BLT… but you want a burger, preferably in the double (2/3-pound) configuration or larger. Continue reading

Checking in at: Thirsty Pagan Brewing, Superior WI

Duluth, Minnesota is one half of what is known as the Twin Ports, the largest freshwater port in the world. The “other” port, across St. Louis Bay, where the St. Louis River meets Lake Superior, is Superior, Wisconsin, a more blue-collar city with a decidedly lower tourist profile. If you like brewpubs, stopping in to Thirsty Pagan Brewing is a great way to see, closeup, the difference between the two cities. Continue reading

Betty’s Pies, Two Harbors MN

REVIEW

Betty Lessard was a North Shore legend. It was a legend built upon a pallet of flour and lard. Yes, her dexterity with the rolling pin knew no equal. It was in 1956 that Ms. Lessard took control of the family smoked fish shack, over time turning the small business into a cafe, and then a cafe whose raison d’être was pie. She’d bake up to a hundred pies each morning for her loyal customers. Continue reading

Grizzly’s, Duluth MN

REVIEW

Grizzly’s is a twelve-location Minnesota restaurant chain – a few of them can be found in the neighboring states of Wisconsin and North Dakota. Even with its small size, they have the soul of a national chain, which is to say no soul at all. This location in Duluth’s Canal Park would seem to be ideal for them – Canal Park is well-dotted with restaurant chains as well as hotels filled with travelers who love to eat and drink at them. The evening we were there, however, did not bode well for them. Having walked over from packed and bustling Canal Park Brewing, we found Grizzly’s to be subdued and mostly empty.  Continue reading

Checking in at: Canal Park Brewing Company, Duluth MN

Canal Park, the entertainment district of the city of Duluth, is a little peninsula that juts out into the bay, where old waterside warehouses have been converted to restaurants, brewpubs, bars, and hotels. Canal Park Brewing is one of the most popular spots in the area, especially with those staying at the nearby, walkable hotels. Continue reading

The Little Mermaid Cafe, Askov MN

REVIEW

The Pine County Historical Society is a local museum in the Danish-American town of Askov, MN. A small piece of that museum is devoted to The Little Mermaid Cafe, which serves breakfast and lunch seven days a week. We were lucky to be there during the Askov Rutabaga Festival, when they featured a special Danish Dinner from 11A until 2P. Continue reading

Askov Rutabaga Festival & Fair, Askov MN, August 25th through 27th 2017

REVIEW

What’s America’s least-favorite vegetable? It’s hard to pick just one but certainly in the running are turnips, okra, Brussels sprouts, and rutabaga. We’d have included beets on that list until the last few years, which have seen an explosion of interest in the vegetable – beet salads with chevre and walnuts are on every other upscale menu today. Continue reading

Pizza Biga, Minneapolis MN

REVIEW

You’d figure that a place that operates as a bakery by day and a pizzeria by night would probably feature pizza with a superior crust. And you’d be right. Turtle Bread Company has three locations in Minneapolis, where, as well as turning out rosemary olive levain and sticky buns, the bakery serves as a grocery, coffee house, and breakfast and lunch spot. The Chicago Avenue location becomes Pizza Biga in the evening, where rounds of handmade pizza dough are topped and quickly baked in a wood-fired oven. Continue reading

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