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Jan 3, 2007 06:15 PM

Scenic Cafe in Duluth: Just great!

My man and I visited Duluth last week for Christmas festivities, and we managed to take a little time to have lunch at the Scenic Cafe. We usuall eat there at least once on every visit, and I swear it keeps getting better.

Appetizer: fried goat cheese with honey, carmelized onions and mache. The cheese was creamy and flavorful, without being too "goaty", and it was fried without any sort of coating. The sweet accompaniments set off the flavors perfectly. They offered grilled bread along side. Portion was over the top (I swear it was 6-8 ounces of cheese - easily an app for 4) and presentation was lovely - $10

I had the tuna sashimi taco app as my main. The tuna was outstanding, very fresh and tender, topped with avocado and nestled into fried wonton "taco" shells. The contrast in textures between the crunchy wonton, the creamy avocado, and the delicate fish was out of this world. The flavors were complemented by the simple yet flavorful asian slaw. Another very large portion: 4 largish tacos and about a cup of asian salad. $10 (yeah, I know!)

My man had an elk dish that was accompanied by a sort of vegetable goulash and wild rice. WOW! The elk was perfectly roasted, outrageously tender, flavorful *almost* to the point of being gamey, but finished clean and rich. Huge portion. $22

Dessert: chocolate espresso cake. Very rich and chocolately without being sticky or gloppy. A really, really nice cake - the way it ought to be. $5

Service was attentive yet unstuffy. This place could charge at least 50% more and still offer a fantastic value (same menu and prices are in effect for lunch and dinner). The food is so fresh and lovingly prepared and presented - a true gem!

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  1. This Scenic Cafe?

    I've been wanting to try that place for ages now. Will next time!

    Thanks for the review.

    1 Reply
    1. We stopped there on the way back from Grand Marais this summer...I'm not a vegetarian, but for some strange reason I ordered a cup of lentil soup and a tempeh reuben...both were excellent. The view is great, the service is friendly and the space is charming.

      1. we just went there as well on the way to bayfield for the apple festival. it was great! we had a bit of a wait, so make reservations - even when they tell you not to.

        1. We have been to the Scenic several times and just love it. The most memorable dish we had was a couple years ago. It was billed as a microgreens salad with poached pear and some kind of blue cheese. What we actually received was stunning. They poached a whole pear, stood it upright on the big end, cored it, and filled the center with microgreens that stuck out of the the top like hair, sprinkled the blue cheese over the top, and dressed the whole thing. It looked just like Bert from Sesame Street and was delicious!!

          1. Price wise you have to remember where the Scenic is located...People won't pay as much up there for food and without the high rents/wages of Mpls/St Paul the Cafe doesn't have to charge as much.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ChefD

              Oh I agree that they can afford to charge less due to regional economics (though I have to wonder how much more their supplies cost, given many offerings are not so common in the area) but when you see what a place like Blackwoods is charging for a meal and compare the quality of the food, there just is no contest.

              Bottom line for me is that at any price, the Scenic delivers fantastic food.

              1. re: ChefD

                I have to respectfuly disagree, ChefD, about what people will pay in the Duluth/North Shore area. Tourism is a big part of the economy and (it seems to me, trying to get hotel rezzies) getting bigger all the time in the summer. Just try to get a burger at peak hours at Grandma's. Winter,too, for that matter, when we have snow. The Duluth-Superior area has been sadly lacking in "chowish" destinations- I think the area can (and will - any nascent restrauteurs ready to challenge the Palucci hold on Canal Park?) support some destination food.

                I agree with lisa13 about the Blackwoods v. Scenic issue. Blackwoods is fine, and condemned with faint praise.

                Duluth deserves some more *good* restaurants. I go up every year, several times. I'd love a good place to spend my food dollars, BESIDES the Scenic, which is (in my family's opinion) the best table in Duluth.