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.
Danish Dinner consists of the following: Frikadeller (meatballs and gravy), Rutmus (potatoes and rutabaga), Rodkall (red cabbage), a roll and butter, and something they call Danish Dessert. Seeing as how we just enjoyed æbleskiver, rutabaga sausage, and medisterpølse at the festival we were not up to tackling full dinners, so we told our waitress we’d split one dinner.
What we meant for them to do was just bring the dinner and we’d share the plate. What they very kindly did, however, was to split the dinner between two plates. They generously gave us more than a full dinner’s worth of food, however, yet still charged us for the single dinner. People around here are like that.
Anyway, everything was just right: no culinary fireworks, but none are expected with this kind of food. It was simply well-prepared, nice food, like your Danish mother might prepare. The rutmus was a rough mash of potatoes and rutabaga, showcasing the sweetness of the roots. They were even better when a forkfull was swiped through the meatball gravy. The red cabbage was sweet and a little tart. The frikadeller come mildly spiced. The thing called Danish Dessert was a piece of homemade cake with black and white frostings, a sweet and ingenuous finish to the meal.
What does The Little Mermaid Cafe serve the other 364 days of the year? Interestingly, mostly American breakfasts and lunch, things like chicken and bacon wraps or pancakes with strawberries. But here and there, and on certain days, you’ll encounter a Scandinavian specialty or two. Tuesday mornings seem to be the time for æbleskiver with medisterpølse, while Thursday morning is the time to enjoy Swedish pancakes. If you have your heart set on something specific we recommend giving them a call first.
Desserts, while not Scandinavian, are homemade. The day we were there you could have enjoyed banana cream, blueberry, chocolate cream, or cherry pies, mint brownies, lemon bars, cookies, and sundaes, floats, and cones.
The room is a bright and casual luncheonette, at one end of which you can appreciate a replica of Copenhagen’s famed Little Mermaid statue, complete with Danish seaside backdrop. The Little Mermaid, of course, is a fairy tale by Denmark’s most famous writer, Hans Christian Andersen.6333 H C Andersen Alle Askov MN 55704 320-838-1607 The Little Mermaid Cafe’s Website The Little Mermaid Cafe on Facebook