Just Back from Annual Trip to Duluth
Every year Duluth gets more beautiful! I love that City. I'm not much of a Chow while there, as I am with family and as a group we go with tradition. However, I do have some time to myself and can explore a couple of places independantly. Here's summary of this year's trip:
Friday night: Take out. Was tired from PGA , got there at 8:30 pm, SouthPierInn takes deliveries...Went with a salad and chicken wing sampler from Green Mill. Green Mill is one of my more favorite chains - nothing gourment, but wings are alway good. The Jamaican are my fav - super spicy, jerk seasoning...
Saturday night: Grandma's. My least favorite chain, although I heard many have gone under so maybe it's not even a chain anymore. Wehad been on beach all day and kids were starved, so ate eary - 5:00. Started with onion rings. Overcooked. Brother had bowl of chicken wild rice soup - very floury, probably just been made. I had walleye plate - fish was good, once I took off the generic, overcooked breading. Sister's chicken tettrazini was lukewarm. Sides on the kids orders were all mixed up. Not a good meal. We always go here because three of us went to UMD and it brings back great memories, but the food has gotten so terrible we might just have to have a drink on the deck and call it a day next year.
Sunday afternoon: Family gone. I drove up the shore, trying to decide between Scenic Cafe (was there last year - great) and Nokomis. The Cafe was packed so I kept going. Had nice - not great - but nice lunch at Nokomis. The artichoke soup with potato crisp and lox garnishes was wonderful, except for quite a few inedible strings from the artichokes. Could have been more careful with that. The smoked whitefish cake was nice, but had several large bones. Again, could have been more careful. Also, had a 45 minute wait with no water refill before the second dish arrived. Lucky I had a fabulous view and the Sunday paper... Finished with a bibb lettuce salad - loved it - huge, perfect bibb leaves, lots of bacon, great gorganzola cheese, nice light vinaigrette. Would recommend this place with reservations.
Sunday night: There's a new Thai place next to Hell's Kitchen - Thai Krathong. Expensive ($17 for curry) but really really good! Huge shrimp in the Shrimp Yellow Curry - I'd have to say 8-10 count. Tried to special seafood in a light red curry. Again, huge shrimp, nice size scallops and beautiful mussels, with a nicely spiced light red sauce - this was my favorite. Also tried the shrimp app - stuffed with ground pork and deep fried - excellent, but sauces were on the tame side. They have full bar, good beer selection, high quality food, just need to kick up the spices. My guess is that they err on the conservative side for the Minnesota Tourist. That's fine, but they should then tell diners they should ask for the heat. I'll go again and ask for more spice.
Monday morn: packed some smoked whitefish from Russ's, cheese and water and hiked the dunes at the end of the Point.
Another great sojourn to Duluth!
p.s. One bit of sad news - the Bay Front Grocery on Park Point is closed.
I'll be making a few trips up there in the next few months (fly fishing, hiking, general nonsense) and there are more and more places to try on my list. It's amazing what I haven't been to in my time at UMD and the couple years since.
BTW, I wholeheartedly agree on Grandma's. The food there is consistently bad and should be avoided.
Hiking to the end of the point is great, isn't it?
As for the Thai Krathong, they've been here since 2001 or so...though through most of those years they were on First Street downtown. I suppose they get a lot more business during the summer at their new location.
There's also Sala Thai in Woodland (owned by the previous owner of Thai Krathong), which had a unimpressive buffet (but on the other hand, seems to be cheaper and they have larb on the menu) in my one experience there, and Bangkok Royale, which seems to be very expensive in this economy (something like $16.95 for tom kha yung). I believe BR is owned by the Sala Thai owner's sister.
Thanks for the report, rp! Wasn't the weather fabulous on that Friday? What a glorious day.
It's a bummer that Grandma's food is so terrible, because they've got such a great location. Too bad you can't smuggle in sandwiches from Northern Waters Smokehaus. Me, I ate a smoked salmon sandwich on the steps of the Army Corps of Engineers, so I got the same view as those on Grandma's deck. (But no alcohol for me, alas!)
I'm glad to hear that Thai Krathong is good - I'll add it to my list of good, non-chain places in Canal Park. There's a surprisingly long list for such a touristy location: Northern Waters Smokehaus, Amazing Grace, and Hell's Kitchen. Lake Avenue Cafe kinda makes the list , too - they're coasting a bit on their initial reputation, but the food is still decent.
And it's a short walk to downtown for even more good choices, a few of which are mentioned in my own trip report (which you have inspired me to post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/646875 ).
But it doesn't get any better than smoked whitefish on the Point!
Just read your post - love the detail! Yes, Friday was darn perfect....
If you ever want to totally indulge your new hobby of lift bridge watching, try staying a night in room 602 at The south Pier Inn. You'll feel like you are in a cruise ship - panaramic view of the bay and canal. No restaurant, but a nice complimentary continental every morn (fresh bakery - huge assortment, apples, oranges, yogurt, juices, coffee, tea) and some places deliver if you can't tear yourself away from room. Of course, being right across the lift bridge, it's easy to walk over to all the places in Canal Park or up the boardwalk to the Pickwick or Fitgers.
I got back about an hour ago from a North Shore weekend. Had lunch at Scenic twice, because the first time was so fabulous. Not even counting the asparagus flan with wild mushrooms and the special appetizer today of figs lightly sauteed in butter with maple syrup and walnuts with a wedge of blue cheese, a sprinkle of fresh sage and great toasted ciabatta, the sandwiches and plain old house salad are all imaginative, great, and completely inexpensive for the quality. Worth a trip in and of itself, I think!
Haricots--my wife and I had the same flan at the Scenic ten days ago when we were up north celebrating our anniversary. We agreed that it was one of the best apps we've had in a long time. I was shocked at how many chanterelles and morels were in the cream sauce--those alone must constituted 70-80% of the $10 dish. The entire thing was an absolute delight and I can't remember the last time I (literally) licked the plate clean.