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Eats in Duluth

I'm doing a two week assignment in Duluth, MN. My home is in Islamorada, the Keys (right, why the hell am I going to Duluth when everyone wants to come here?) and we dine frequently in Miami at China Grill, Micheles, Chef Allens, etc.. I'm struggling to find high end chow on-line in Duluth. I am not eating beer-battered walleye! Any suggestions fellow Chowhounds? We may do the drive on the lake shore on the weekend.

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    1. "Why the hell am I going to Duluth when everyone wants to come here?"

      Just for the record, not everyone wants to go there. When I go on vacation, I go to Duluth. I think Lake Superior is quite grand. My last two trip reports: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5328...
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/429382

      But since you brought up the issue of hell, perhaps you'll feel comfortable at Hell's Kitchen in Duluth for "upscale" breakfasts.

      ~TDQ

      1. Fitger's for the beer. Probably the best brew pub in the upper midwest, possibly the world (though the food is only good.)

        -----
        Fitger's Brewery Complex
        600 E Superior St, Duluth, MN 55802

        4 Replies
        1. re: churchka

          I really love the wild rice burger at Fitger's. I've been too busy to try to re-create a knock-off in my kitchen, so, until then, I'll have to keep making the drive to Duluth.

          ~TDQ

          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Thanks for that tip! I'll have to try one.

            I do like the (unrelated, for once!) Grandma's wild rice soup.

            1. re: tvdxer

              While we're on a wild rice kick, the wild rice porridge at Hell's Kitchen is really wonderful, if you can handle a super rich creamy breakfast... And, Hell's Kitchen uses the hand-harvested, hand-parched wild rice, rather than the cultivated rice, which makes HK's wild rice dishes really special, I think.

              ~TDQ

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                I had the Figters wild rice burger today (classic, except held the sprouts). It is very good, tastes almost like a hamburger. Not as chewy as one might expect for a wild rice burger. We also had sweet potato fries - - good, but not the best I have had (Taste of Chicago or Freight House in Stillwater, MN for those - the only good thing the Freight House serves, in my opinion). We also had the Stout Chocolate Cake today. I have had it many times before, but it didn't seem as good today. A little drier (and I thought I remembered 4 layers in the past, and now it is only 3...). So maybe they have changed the recipe. Still a perfectly good chocolate cake, but not quite as to-die-for as in the past.

        2. Two things.

          I'm not sure if it is in any of the threads KT linked, but the newest 'fine dining' in Duluth is Bob Bennett's 301 in the downtown Sheraton.

          Second, if you have any interest in scenery, you'll be happy. The North Shore scenery is GORGEOUS this time of year. I highly recommend going to either Enger Tower or Hawk Ridge. Hawk Ridge is world renowned for, as you might guess, bird watching. In the next two months, tens of thousands of birds will migrate through the area. On top of that, it is one of the best views of the lake you'll see, especially with the changing leaves.

          And don't knock beer battered walleye until you try it.

          3 Replies
          1. re: BigE

            Actually BigE, as delicious as it can be, beer battered walleye isn't something that I particularly associate with Duluth...am I off-base? I guess I've never ordered it in Duluth and can't even really remember a place where it seemed to be a stand-out on the menu. Hmmmm....maybe I'm justing looking in all the wrong places? No, when I think of Duluth I think of the big giant lake and the wonderful lake trout, herring and salmon. Lots of wonderful spots nearish to Duluth including the Boathouse, Kendall's, Northern Waters Smokehaus, New Scenic Cafe, Nokomis, etc. mentioned in the threads KTFoley linked that mention various places to find Lake Superior fish, little of it beer-battered.

            ~TDQ

            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              I was thinking more of walleye as a MN institution.

              For the Duluth area specifically, I would absolutely agree that Lake Trout is the choice.

              1. re: BigE

                Ah, yes, I completely agree with you. Funnily enough, now that I think about it, I'm not sure I've had beer-battered walleye. What a bad Minnesotan I am! Plenty of beer battered fish in general (Groveland Tap in St. Paul on Fridays), but walleye in particular in MN? I don't think so.

                ~TDQ

          2. High-end (by Duluth Standards):

            Nokomis On the Lake: http://www.nokomisonthelake.com/
            New Scenic Cafe: http://www.sceniccafe.com/
            The Pickwick: http://pickwickrestaurant.com/
            Bellisio's: http://www.grandmasrestaurants.com/be...

            I haven't yet been to New Scenic Cafe or Nokomis on the Lake, so I can't give you an opinion, but I do know a little about them from their websites and the like. I have the impression that they are about as upscale as you'll get in Duluth, and judging from their menus, seem to be classifiable as "New American". Pickwick I have been to. It's definitely a "traditional American" kind of place, quite formal (by local standards), expensive, again by area standards. It's a very old restaurant, kind of a local tradition, while both New Scenic Cafe and Nokomis seem to be of recent vintage. I ate at Pickwick in 2003 and did not like my meal then, but I am not a "slab of meat" kind of guy. Others have lavished it in praise.

            Bellisio's, on the other hand, I have been to countless times. I was a bit hesitant to put it in a list of "high end" restaurants, hence the caveat in parentheses. But it's definitely not the kind of place you'd want to go to in a sweat pants and a mustard-stained T-Shirt. The cuisine served, as you might guess, is Italian, probably about as close to authentic Italian as you'll get. Of the many times I've eaten there, I've been both very satisfied (the rigatoni balsamico is great; the spinach gnocchi seems to be held in esteem) and quite disappointed (the risotto was way too spicy, though I have little experience with that dish; the puttanesca was very salty). The restaurant has a very large wine selection and seems to make that a big selling point. It's in the Canal Park area along with its lesser sister, Little Angie's, and its older, but quite not as refined sibling, Grandma's.

            (I live here, so if you want recommendations for more low-brow restaurants, which I think Duluth does better, or at least more of, ask me)

            (Also, the links do not seem to be working right

            )

            -----
            Pickwick
            508 E Superior St, Duluth, MN 55802

            Nokomis
            Duluth, MN, Duluth, MN

            North Shore Cafe
            Duluth, MN, Duluth, MN

            Bellisio's
            Duluth, MN, Duluth, MN

            5 Replies
            1. re: tvdxer

              I always make it a point to have brunch at Pizza Luce when im in Duluth. Those hippies can make some killer biscuits and gravy, and good bloodys!!

              ps - will the MSP hounds ever stop praising Hell's Kitchen??? I mean, it's okay,
              but come on...

              ( e n t e r v i c i o u s r e b u t t a l s h e r e . . . )

              1. re: jsyx

                Nah, no vicious rebuttals. My recommendation for Hell's Kitchen initially in this thread was mostly an opportunity to insert "hell" in direct response to the OP's request...I've posted my fairly thorough impressions of Duluth HK in both the threads I linked above in my initial reply to the OP and it's not all positive if the OP cares to read them now that the links have been provided to him (there are lots of things to love about HK--primarily the from scratchness of it all-- but a number of things I don't love about it, too)... but I suppose that could seem like a lot of work to him.

                But, honestly, aside from HK, I've never seen wild rice porridge on any menu anywhere, I think Minnesota grown wild rice in general, and the hand-harvested variety in particular, is a pretty neat local delicacy (though a cup of HK's wild rice porridge is plenty, in my opinion, because it's so rich). Our state grain, doncha know. While there are many restaurants in Minnesota that serve wild rice, few of them serve the handharvested stuff. I'm pretty sure that the wild rice dishes at Grandma's and even my beloved wild rice burger at Fitgers call for cultivated wild rice, which just isn't the same. I'm guessing Angry Trout and Chez Jude, both in Grand Marais, use the hand-harvested stuff when it appears on their menus, but those establishments may be a bit far out of the OP's way depending on how far he's going on his weekend North Shore jaunt, and Nokomis and New Scenic and even Boathouse on Barkers Island might use it, too, though, again, it's hard to know when/if it's going to appear on their constantly rotating seaonally-focused menus; it's certainly worth asking. The beauty of HK's wild rice porridge dish is that it's always on their menu. Again a cup is plenty.

                When I travel from one end of the country to another, even when forced to do so against my will, I like to indulge in foods that I can't eat back home. In Duluth, I think wild rice and just about anything fished out of Lake Superior would definitely qualify. Get it where you can, I say.

                Oooohh, also pasties from the local grocery store (it's not glamorous, but Super 1 has them) if you're lucky enough to have a hotel room with a little kitchenette with an oven in which to heat them.

                ~TDQ

                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  TDQ...Are you talking about the meat filled dough...like hot pockets? I wasn't aware Duluth was known for these. I was recently in Madison, WI and went to place called Teddy Wedger's that is famous for there meat pies.

                  1. re: dave43

                    Yeah, it's gotta be pasties.

                    It's miner food so I'd trust a Duluth or Michigan UP version before a college town attempt.

                    Years and years ago, when I lived in Duluth (and Taran's was my local market in Chester Park) the places would sell pasty "with" or "without."

                    And the "with"?
                    Rutabagas.

                    1. re: repete

                      repete is spot on. And yes, the Iron Range towns of Minnesota are known for their pasties. I don't see them on menus as often as I'd expect, but they are always in the grocery stores! It's also pretty common to find porketta (I'm not sure about the proper spelling) in the grocery stores on the Iron Range, although, I don't remember seeing it at the Super 1 in Duluth. It may have been there and I just overlooked it.

                      ~TDQ

            2. Me, too - I'd rather go to Duluth than the Keys, 'cause I've imprinted on the northern woods as the epitome of scenic beauty. (But that's what you get when an ex-Floridian/Texan raises his daughter in Minnesota...)

              Definitely do the lake shore drive - it's beautiful! And if you'd like a picnic to take with you, stop at Northern Waters Smokehaus for a sandwich. I highly recommend the buffalo pastrami, but their smoked fish is really good, too.

              If you're really pining for "high end chow" in Duluth, drive down to Minneapolis/St.Paul (about 1-1/2 hrs each way) and go to La Belle Vie, Heartland, 112 Eatery, or one of our other top places. But I'll bet you'll do just fine in the Big D.

              Anne

              -----
              Northern Waters Smokehaus
              394 S Lake Ave, Duluth, MN 55802

              1. speaking of time and distance, i just reread the op:
                "We may do the drive on the lake shore on the weekend."

                gadzukes, i hope you don't mean you think you can do the circle tour in 2 days! my friends felt like they rushed through it on their 3 month summer vacation (teachers). did it on motorcycle, which would be awesome. a lot of folks don't have a clue at how big lake superior is until they see it (see part of it, i mean). shocked the heck out of my californian and hawaiian relatives. . . and the best part is, it's got fish! i'd encourage the op to enjoy some lake superior dayboat fare--freshwater/sockeye salmon or lake trout, or whitefish, prepared simply, though i don't have any specific recs. enjoy the views!

                (TVDX)-- have you heard anything about bennet's??

                4 Replies
                1. re: soupkitten

                  [ERROR] I'm not sure if it's still open or not. Their website appears defunct. [/ERROR] CORRECTION: I'm thinking of Bennet's on the Lake, located three blocks to the east near the Fitgers complex. I haven't yet been to Bennett's, nor did I know about it until this thread.

                  They have a website now: http://restaurant301.com/Home_Page.html . There's a newspaper review here: http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/arti... .

                  The menu looks rather small, but worthy. Maybe I'll try it for my upcoming birthday.

                  Another "semi-high-end" recommendation: Lakeview Castle. I used to eat their quite often, especially on Mother's Day. Get the Wisconsin Cheese Sampler and Lake Trout for a little bit of "local" taste. They also have walleye; apparently it can be served "fried" but I'm sure you can at least ask them to beer batter it :

                  )

                  Their website is http://www.lakeviewcastleduluth.com/ .

                  1. re: tvdxer

                    Yup, Bob Bennett closed Bennett's and opened 301 in the new Sheraton. I have a friend who has been working in Duluth since late June and they've been staying in the Sheraton. He can't say enough how good the food is at 301. He's not exactly a 'hound, but good food is good food.

                    I'm going to make a point of stopping there next time I'm in Duluth.

                    1. re: BigE

                      Big E--is that Bob Bennett any relation to the Bennett's on West 7th in St. Paul? I ask because when I was there about 6 months ago, I recall overhearing him telling another customer something along the lines about how he got his start in Duluth... http://bennettschopandrailhouse.com/i...

                      ~TDQ

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        TDQ - I don't think there is, but I'm not sure to be honest.

                2. This is not high end, but if you have 2 weeks, you have to try the Coney Islands. I grew up in Duluth, and every visit back I go there. They have 2 locations. These are not chili dogs like some places call Coney's. Give them a try. The only ones that come close in St Paul are Hot City on 7th, and the Gopher, but the Gophers are way over priced.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: otps

                    I second Coney Island. One of those places I always forget to mention to those asking about Duluth eats. The coney burgers are good, too.

                    Also, if you want more of a true neighborhood eatery type place, Randy's or Jim's Hamburgers on Superior St. in the West End (around the 20th Ave. W. and ~22nd Ave. W. intersections).

                    1. re: tvdxer

                      tv,

                      When I was a kid my Dad took me to a burger joint up on a top of a hill (Sorry I can't remember the street...My place is in Lutsen so I am more familiar with points farther north then Duluth) The place we went to was famous in the area...would it be Randy's or Jim's? Which one is better?

                      1. re: dave43

                        Might be Jim's, which has or once had a location on 4th St...not on the top of the hill, but far enough up for a good view :)

                        I don't really have enough experience at either place to make a judgment on which is better.

                    2. re: otps

                      Here is a pictorial of Deluxe Coney Island in Duluth. Delicious dogs!

                      http://burgersdogspizza.com/?p=144

                    3. Get back to Duluth fairly often. Nokomis is my favorite outside of town, but pretty, little Va Bene w/it's magnificent lakefront overlook on the outside deck & bright, cheery interior is my intown fav: http://www.vabenecaffe.com/va-bene-ca.... Also, always make it to the Chester Creek Cafe on 19th & 8th.

                      1. Some suugestions:

                        In Duluth - downtown

                        http://restaurant301.com - 301 by Bob Bennett - Had appetizers in the lounge - delicious and very relaxing - great for people watching.

                        In Duluth - close to University -

                        http://www.taransmarketplace.com - At Sara's Table/Chester Creek Cafe - Haven't been yet but have heard really good things.

                        In Duluth - along the old scenic highway to Two Harbours

                        http://newsceniccafe.com - We've eaten here several times - excellent

                        http://nokomisonthelake.com - Haven't tried yet but the menu is intriguing.

                        http://larsmontcottages.com - The Ledgerock Grille - Breakfast was great!

                        Two hours north on Historic Highway 61 in picturesque Grand Marais

                        http://chezjude.com - Eaten here several times...always fantastic

                        http://crookedspooncafe.com - Haven't tried yet...on our list.

                        http://angrytrout.com - Great for fresh fish and salads.

                        http://gunflinttavern.com - Eaten here many times. Fantastic lunch spot...good beer
                        excellent eclectic food and the location (right on the harbourfront) how can you go wrong?

                        And if you're adventurous enough to travel another 90 minutes north across the border into Canada - in Thunder Bay, Ontario
                        http://bistroone.ca - our absolute favorite.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: CdnFoodie

                          thanks for the list and links! i am hoping we can go sometime in oct and will report back if we do.

                          1. re: Ummm

                            I've been to both Islamorada and Duluth many, many times. I love them both for different reasons. A Floridian doesn't understand why someone would want to live in the frozen tundra and a Minnesotan doesn't understand why someone would want to live somewhere where they were in constant danger of being evacuated for hurricane season. To each their own. I'm interested in Tvdexer's ideas for low brow as I think the the OP will be doing himself a disservice by not checking out the local joints. The best experiences I have had in the Key's were at the dive's and let's not kid ourselves...the Key's ain't much of a gastronomical center. I'm headed up to Duluth in a couple of day's and am looking for something out of the ordinary. Are there any worthwhile ethnic eateries or dive joint's that do one or two things well? I plan on the usual...Smoked fish at Kendall's, an IPA at Fitger's, New Scenic and Nokomis (Which aren't 3 star Michelin but good enough for this mouth breathing Minnesotan :)

                            1. re: dave43

                              If you're looking for a good dive, the Anchor Bar in Superior is an absolute must. Good (cheap) burgers, fresh cut fries, surly wait staff and an ambiance unlike any other in town.

                              -----
                              Anchor Bar
                              413 Tower Ave, Superior, WI 54880

                              1. re: BigE

                                second the Anchor Bar. The olive burger is my ultimate favorite burger. Fries are definitely solid. Play some big buck hunter while you wait and I might accidentally find myself in class the next Monday, full of nostalgia.

                                1. re: babaoriley7

                                  I'd recomment the cashew burger, personally.

                                  In terms of other 'ethnic' choices, Beijing Restaurant on Superior Street is my favorite chinese around. The General Tso chicken is excellent.

                              2. re: dave43

                                Duluth definitely is not the capital of ethnic dining, but there are a few decent ethnic restaurants here. The best, in my opinion, is the India Palace downtown. It's a little bit more expensive than your typical Indian restaurant, but very good, and most reviewers seem to think so too. Get an entree from the menu rather than the buffet unless you like your Indian food bland.

                                China Station is an take out - oriented ethnic dive in West Duluth (a neighborhood, not a suburb!). The ma po tofu is the best I've found in town.

                                Going back downtown, another ethnic restaurant (perhaps better described as "cafe") has recently opened, "Takk for Matten", serving Scandinavian food (lefse wraps, open-faced sandwiches, Swedish meatballs, etc.). I believe they are on Lake Ave. just up the hill from Superior St.
                                We also have a Thai restaurant (Thai Krathong) that I'm not too enthused about, though I've only been to their buffet a few times and others like them, a few Vietnamese places (one that's almost in a rural area and serves pho for $10.95!), a Greek place that's opening next month, several Mexican restaurants (the most often recommended seems to be La Hacienda del Sol, though I've also enjoyed Mexico Lindo in Cloquet), Italian if that counts, and one sushi / Japanese joint, Zen House, interestingly enough located basically inside a gas station.

                                As for other dives, one that comes to mind not so much as a "dive" (it's nice enough) but more as a good, cheap local locale is A & Dubs right at the border of the West End (Lincoln Park) and West Duluth. They have some really good burgers and you must try the root beer. Unfortunately, they're only open during the summer months. They may now be closed. VIP has great pizza with 3 locations in West Duluth, East Duluth, and Superior, but they might be take out only. Sammy's is another good local pizza place. The new Burrito Union on 4th St. has great burritos and servers local beer alongside them.

                                -----
                                India Palace
                                319 W Superior St Ste 100, Duluth, MN 55802

                                A & Dubs
                                3131 W 3rd St, Duluth, MN 55806

                                China Station
                                4131 Grand Ave, Duluth, MN

                                Takk for Maten
                                11 E Superior St, Duluth, MN 55802

                                  1. re: tvdxer

                                    Funny that the A & Dubs is mentioned. It was owned by Jim Kent, I went to school with his son Steve. It was an A & W and Jim gave me a job there when I was a teenager. We had car hops and I worked the order window for them. He was hands on and made sure everything was done right. ( He lived behind the parking lot ) All of us in the west end would go to there to meet, and we called it the A & Dubs. I left Duluth in 1970 and don't know when he changed the name.
                                    My best memory there is in 1969, sitting in my 1964 Barracuda with my older brother, blasting Born To Be Wild on the tape player. He noticed a car hop that he hoped would wait on us because she was very attractive, she did. She gave me a kiss on the cheek, I had taken her to the Prom a month earlier, my brother was impressed. Sorry for the length, just great memories.

                                    1. re: tvdxer

                                      i came across a review on takk for maten and it sounds like a fun little place:
                                      http://www.perfectduluthday.com/2008/...

                                      1. re: Ummm

                                        We at lunch at Takk for Maten last week, and it was a really charming experience. My D's both had sandwiches. Salmon/hard boiled egg/radish on ciabatta for one of them; I tried it, and it was excellent. Only comment is that the menu said smoked salmon, and I dont think this was smoked. If so, VERY lightly. But it was still extremely tasty. Other D had ham on a pretzel roll; the roll was unusual and really good. I had swedish pancakes with strawberry preserves that were superb, although I might ask to substitute the ligonberries (available on the waffles) next time just to see how they are. They serve breakfast all day. We also had lingonberry juice, which was very refreshing. We enjoyed the chocolate bread pudding, too. We would definitely go back, as there were several other things on the menu we wanted to try.

                              3. OK. So two weeks has turned into six. Observations so far.
                                There is plenty of beer battered walleye. "Grandmas" calls itself on one billboard "Walleye's World." Every other bar and grill I've visited has its version. Not a grouper sandwich by a long shot, but not bad either.
                                Almost everything is crazy bland. Is there a ban on cumin up here? Blind fold me and I couldn't tell you if I was eating chili or not. And salt must be considered sacred since they apparently are afraid to use it.
                                New Scenic Cafe is very good. A bit rustic, but great chow. Service is OK. Wine list the same. Nokomis is a close second, again with a weak wine list. Bring your own.
                                Hell's Kitchen Sunday brunch was worth it for the theatrics.
                                Sarah's Table? Fuhgidaboutit. Awful.
                                Mount Royal Fine Foods is a great place for high end cheeses and other pinic-y stuff.
                                Vanilla Bean in Two Harbors for breakfast is a great start for the Lakeshore drive. Great French Toast.
                                Semi-chain Blackwoods B&G is not bad, but they're a little challenged to understand the difference between rare and medium. Bellisio's is good for wine by the glass and appetizers, o/w its about equal to Olive Garden. 301 in the Sheraton -- stay away -- the night we went it was horrible and the waitstaff completely inept.
                                Best surprise so far is Caribou Coffee. Blows Starbucks away. Depth Charge with four shots every morning. I'm awake now!
                                Heading to MSP this weekend with reservations at Fugaise. Really looking forward to that.
                                As far as the comments about Keys food, you're right. Pierre's and Morada Bay in Isla are great and not dives as is Lazy Days. Beyond that and you're starting to have to reach deep. Fine dining is definately an hour and a half north in Miami.
                                More from the Northwoods later.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: drjimdolan

                                  If you are in the Canal Park area I highly recommend the Smoke Shop (I think that is what it was called, definetly what it is). I got an amazing sandwich there two days ago: smoked fish, cream cheese, roasted red peppers, greek peppers on a foccacio type roll. It was outstanding. They also have everything you need for a picnic lunch. We picked up local smoked lake trout, maple syrup, and bacon for my dad. All looked wonderful.

                                  And stay away from the "Vietnamese" restaurant in the same building. Not a Vietnamese dish on the menu.

                                  1. re: churchka

                                    Churchka, do you mean Northern Waters Smokehaus? In the Dewitt-Seitz Marketplace, across the hall from the Lake Avenue Cafe? If so, I double recommend it! The buffalo pastrami is to die for, and the spicy smoked salmon is even better.

                                    http://www.nwsmokehaus.com

                                    Anne

                                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                                      Yes, that is what I meant. Super good.

                                  2. re: drjimdolan

                                    thanks for replying with your impressions. glad you got a chance to try out many options in duluth area. i think there's a good deal more regular good food than high end great food in duluth, that's just economics. i'm a little surprised that your food quest hasn't led you down to msp sooner, but hope you have a great meal at fugaise, it's been great for me and dh. caribou is a local chain (i'm guessing you know that, but it's unclear from your post, so i'm tossing it in). i agree it does blow starbucks away, though that's not hard :)

                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                      FWIW, we have Caribou Coffee is in Chicagoland too. Drjim, have you made it up the North Shore to Grand Marais or maybe Thunder Bay, Ontario? We like Birch Terrace in GM and like having lunch at Naniboujou. Lots of great scenery along the way.

                                    2. re: drjimdolan

                                      I went to Sara's Table last weekend, and I was very underwhelmed. Its a shame too, because I really wanted to like the place. The rosemary roasted chicken was just bland. It was done nicely, but just not very tasty. The highlight of the meal was the pecan pie...that was ridiculously good.

                                      1. re: drjimdolan

                                        I 've lived in Duluth for multi years.-restaurant food is spotty and certainly does vary from visit to visit. All of the restaurants in town have spotty service.

                                        My observations over the past years:
                                        New Scenic : one not-so good meal
                                        Nokomis: food & service have always been good.

                                        Hell's Kitchen is not as good as the one in the Cities- dinner there once-horrible breakfast is decent, but local foody reports that they use bacon that differs from the Cities and is nowhere as good..

                                        And yes, Mt. Royal Fine Foods has become an outpost for bettter cheese. I don't have to order from Igourmet all the time.

                                        Valentinis-pasta ok, eclairs are fab, The fish is unspeakably bad. Terrible bread served cold with industrial grade olive oil.

                                        Bellisio's- wine list exceptional. I think the food is much better than Olive Garden, but it was much better when they first opened.

                                        I wouldn't step foot in Blackwoods-.

                                        I was surprised by how you felt about Sarah's Table- for a neighborhood place, we like it most of the time-have had TDF heuvos there many times for breakfast.

                                        Boathouse-food is ok-could be better-the service is so bad. They all need wine service training -filling glasses to the rim, wrong bottles. Staff disappears and never returns.

                                        Pickwick is best for sandwiches/lunch. Dinner caters to the over 70 crowd who think it's the only place in town.

                                        Restaurant 301-made our first trip there last week. Service is fair. My seafood/pasta was great, the salads were wonderful-great dressings. The lemon-chive risotto with the salmon was inedible-no flavor, and crunchy

                                      2. i would recoemmend Chez Jude definately and a place i just tried last week was Valentini's Vicino Lago this place was wonderful! homade pastas, gnocchi and bread try the eclairs! A touch of Italy on America's Amalfi coast(the north shore) www.valentinisduluth.com

                                        1. We did do Minneapolis this weekend and stayed at the W. Wow, what a scene! Thought I was in South Beach. Manny's was as it has been, awesome. Now, I'm gonna say this cautiously, but Fugaise was "OK." I was anticipating a little higher level of gastronomy -- but Chef Don was great and the service was fine. I know I'm gonna put somebody's panties in a twist, but I bet Don has to cook to the locals taste which -- ok guys, no brickbats -- runs to the bland. Chef Don was very personable, so we're gonna try it again and this time I'm gonna tell him ahead of time to pull out the stops and wow us. I bet he would take the ball and run.

                                          1. we just got back from a trip to duluth and the north shore. i don't have time to write a full report now but will do so later. we went to:

                                            duluth:
                                            sara's table for dinner
                                            chocolate factory for a treat
                                            hell's kitchen for dinner
                                            new scenic cafe for lunch

                                            two habour:
                                            betty's pies for pies

                                            tofte:
                                            cafe coho for lunch, dinner, and pastry-to-go
                                            bluefin grille for dinner

                                            grand marais:
                                            chez jude for dinner
                                            naniboujou for sunday brunch (buffet)
                                            the pie place for pie
                                            angry trout for dinner

                                            i took pictures for almost everything we ate so can post them too when i have time for the report (may not be for another month or so unless someone wants to know before that). the places i enjoyed the most were (not in order): hell's kitchen, new scenic cafe, chez jude and naniboujou. originally i'd wanted to try amazing cafe, lake ave cafe and northern waters smokehau - but we ran out of time or the menu didn't attract us (i guess after looking at the menus, the one i'd want to try the most would be northern waters since they have some yummy sounding sandwiches, but we were just not hungry at the time and due to a previous meal at angry trout, just didn't really feel like having smoke fish - though it was herring and trout i had there.)

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Ummm

                                              I definitely plan on hitting Northern waters...I can't decide what salmon sandwich to get though...the cajun or the wasabi.

                                            2. I don't see people talk about it much, but I love the Lake Avenue Cafe. Soup, salad, pasta, simple with great ingredients and a dash of creativity and delicious!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Haricotsv2

                                                I really enjoyed Kippis. Had the 3 dish sampler for $16. The duck was cooked perfectly. The gravalax was a little salty but was excellent. The surprise was the catfish pate. Scooped up with their homemade chip bowl the pate was a perfect balance of flavors. There was a citrus element that really made it shine.

                                                Hell's Kitchen was good as always. The Porridge is incredible, the lemon ricatta cakes are so good you don't need syrup. While everyone raves about their huevos rancheros my Mom and I agree that while it is good the salsa is too sweet and I wish it was toned down a bit.

                                                Angry Trout Cafe is always a standby and I discovered a new favorite.... Herring Roe. Small in size they pop with the taste of the sea and is an affordable alternative to the caviar of the Caspian sea.

                                              2. I concur with pretty much all of my Midwest Chowhounders, I have zero interest in the Keys. But anyways...
                                                The last time I was in Duluth, I ate at the only two places that I feel are appealing high-end restaurants on the North Shore - New Scenic Café and Nokomis. Both are on the Scenic 61 drive, just down the road from each other. Lots of good ideas, not always the greatest execution, but for the most part, very good food. The view from both places is incredible, and the dining rooms and staff are relaxed and unpretentious.

                                                Bennett's is no longer open, though he is the Executive Chef at the Sheraton Hotel's restaurant, where I stayed last time. Didn't dine there, but the menu looked alright.

                                                If you want Beard-quality food, I'd suggest driving down to Mpls/St. Paul and going to La Belle VIe, Restaurant Alma, the Craftman, Heartland, Meritage, D'Amico Kitchen...etc.

                                                Duluth is not swanky tourist hell, so you're not going to find the same kind of restaurant you'd find in the keys.

                                                1. Is it true that the Lakeview Castle has closed? Most of their offerings were not great but their Lake Trout was great. If the have are there any other AYCE lake trout offerings?

                                                  1. What a coincidence..........
                                                    I just spent a week on a sailboat out of Islamorada and am leaving in the morning for Duluth. I'm a consulting chef in "the cities" and concur that for high end head south. I'm looking forward to relaxing on my friends sailboat and making sandwiches from the smokehaus goodies or grilling up what we pull out of the lake. If we go out, maybe the New Scenic.

                                                    -----
                                                    New Scenic Cafe
                                                    5461 N Shore Dr, Duluth, MN 55804

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: maryjanem

                                                      It's getting close to North shore time...What are the places to hit this fall? I hope Kippi's is still excellent as we will be staying a night in Duluth on our way up the shore. I plan on restocking some herring roe in Lutsen.