Helpful ReplyHot!Happy Birthday North Dakota!!!

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buffetbuster
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Re: Happy Birthday North Dakota!!! 2014/09/09 11:16:11 (permalink)
My flight home did not leave until 5:30 that afternoon.  One of the restaurants that I had highest on my list was Kegs Drive In in Grand Forks, ND.  Since Grand Forks is only about 80 miles north and the speed limit on I-29 is 75mph, it seemed like I could drive up there and back and still have plenty of time left in Fargo.  Unfortunately, there was pouring rain and construction on the highway, which greatly limited how fast I could go.  When I finally got off I-29, I immediately got stuck in a big traffic snarl.  In Grand Forks, ND. 
 
After sitting still for almost 20 minutes, I finally made it to Kegs

The outside, with the two giant root beer barrels looks great.  They are best known for their sloppy joes, onion rings and 1919 root beer and I have been reading about this place for years.  But, there was no sign of life, no lights on, despite the fact that their Facebook page says they are supposed to be open.  Just then a car pulled up and a woman got out and apologized for the fact that they are closed on Mondays.  I told her about what the Facebook page said and that I had just driven all the way up from Fargo.  Again she apologized, saying she needs to get that changed and told me to come back and try again soon, even though they were just about to close down for the season. 
 
Since the Widman's Candy Shop

in Fargo didn't have the peanut butter chippers or the chocolate covered wheat, I made my way to Grand Forks location.  While they did have the pb chippers, (you can see the outside of the bag says Grand Forks), the nice lady told me they haven't had the chocolate covered wheat in a long time.
 
Widman's Candy Shop
106 S. 3rd Street
Grand Forks, ND
701-775-3480
 
The University of North Dakota is located in Grand Forks and it occurred to me to visit the bookstore to buy a t-shirt, but at this point I started to get nervous about the time and headed back south towards Fargo.
 
Once back in Fargo, my first lunch destination was a place called CJ's Kitchen

on very busy University Boulevard.  The parking is a little funky and it looks like the spots on the side belong to the business next door.  From the shape of the building, it appears it used to be a chain or fast food restaurant.
 
CJ's was on my list of possible restaurants to check out, because they get great reviews for their breakfasts.  While visiting Widman's in Fargo earlier in the day, the woman who waited on me told how she is German from Russia and loves all the food that goes along with it.  When I asked her for recommendations in Fargo, she mentioned two places, TNT's Diner and CJ's.
 
Of course I started the meal off with yet another knoephla soup, only here it is spelled knepfla.  Because there would be two meals back to back, I only ordered the cup,

which I regretted immediately.  This looked thicker than the others, which made me think that was cheese, but it was actually heavy cream.  It had big chunks of chicken and instead of wide dumplings, it was full of smallish homemade spaetzle.  This was not only the best knoephla soup of the trip, this was the best soup I have had in quite a while.  My waiter was a burly gentleman who even though I didn't ask, must have been CJ himself.  When I complimented him on the soup, he told me it was from his wife's grandmother's recipe out in Goodrich, ND, in the heart of German from Russia country.
 
For an entrée, most of the choices were sandwiches, with the Tokyo Turkey catching my eye. 

This is roasted turkey (they roast their own meats in house), with roasted red pepper sauce, roasted tomato and white cheddar, all on perfectly grilled bread.  A truly outstanding sandwich.  When I asked the waiter what was the connection between Tokyo and turkey, he said he just needed someplace that began with "T" and it could have just as easily been Tulsa or Toronto.  I had to laugh at that!
 
For dessert, I noticed that they do make their own ice cream here, but decided to go with only the second slice of kuchen

of the trip.  On the menu, they call this Grandma's kuchen, which sounds promising, except earlier in the trip, I learned from the woman at the laundromat in Linton that Grandma's is a big manufacturer of kuchen throughout the state.  This was peach and it was soft and easy to eat, but I could kick myself for not getting that ice cream!
 
CJ's is certainly a place that goes above and beyond to do the little things right.  They even make their own granola, which I can't imagine many restaurants in North Dakota can say.  I would love to come back for breakfast sometime.
 
CJ's Kitchen
1601 S. University Drive
Fargo, ND
1-701-237-4656       
post edited by buffetbuster - 2014/09/09 14:15:16
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hatteras04
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Re: Happy Birthday North Dakota!!! 2014/09/09 13:24:58 (permalink)
160 mile round trip on the day of a flight in rain and traffic.....I think this is the mother of all Travelin Manned episodes I've ever seen on this site!
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buffetbuster
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Re: Happy Birthday North Dakota!!! 2014/09/10 08:15:54 (permalink)
 
 
hatteras04-
Looking back, it is something just how many things went wrong on this trip, yet it was still one of my favorite trips of the year.
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mlm
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Re: Happy Birthday North Dakota!!! 2014/09/12 22:00:29 (permalink)
Looks a really nice trip, Cliff. Great report. Sorry the food was uneven and the surly staff's attitudes at some of the restaurants is hard to understand. Maybe their feet hurt. Wonder what the reaction would be if you invited 'whoever' to sit down and rest awhile while you buy him/her a meal.  Reckon they'd either sweeten up or slap your head. Not sure I'd try it, but it's an interesting idea.
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mayor al
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Re: Happy Birthday North Dakota!!! 2014/09/12 22:50:35 (permalink)
Cliff, Can you make any observations of the impact of the "Oil Boom" on the rural communites you may have visited or passed near on this trip? We see stories of rapid expansion in some areas..just wondering how the effect is being felt.
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Re: Happy Birthday North Dakota!!! 2014/09/13 10:22:47 (permalink)
buffetbuster
 
looking forward to the conclusion of the report.
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Re: Happy Birthday North Dakota!!! 2014/09/14 02:33:40 (permalink)
kevincad
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I would try to resist Ohm's.

Sometimes I just can't help myself.

Michael,

You do have potential.

jrp

Oh, that Hertz....
 




Watch out, you guys, before you run afoul of Ohm's Law!
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EdSails
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Re: Happy Birthday North Dakota!!! 2014/09/14 03:01:21 (permalink)
I wanted to wait until I could read this all at once, BuffetBuster. Even with the hiccups, between Coteau Des Prairies and some great meals, you did well. I want some caramel rolls with a side of sour cream raisin pie. Great report!
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Re: Happy Birthday North Dakota!!! 2014/10/04 09:10:27 (permalink)
What a wonderful report, BB. I "did time" in the Dakotas for a couple of years in the early 90's whilst supposedly studying for a Masters, spending almost every weekend doing 600 mile round trips to the Twin Cities, as one is wont to do aged 21. Looking at these wonderful pictures and the recollection of some of the attitudes (both good and bad) you encountered causing wry smiles, I should have probably spent more time exploring the highways and hamlets. Your report is inspiring me to make a return visit, at least once the temperature is above 0 deg., which from my traumatized memory seemed to be between mid-June and early September. The knoephla certainly helps keep out the cold, mind.
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buffetbuster
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Re: Happy Birthday North Dakota!!! 2014/10/23 06:36:22 (permalink)
It's only been a month and a half, so maybe we should put this baby to bed.....
 
The restaurant in Fargo I was most looking forward to visiting was TNT's Diner

in West Fargo.  This place was found by wanderingjew and from his review, it sure sounded like my kind of place.  It is located in what looks to be a small industrial park and no doubt they do very well attracting customers from these nearby businesses.  The interior is deceptively large,

with a spacious main room and a cozier dining room in the back.
 
While the hostess was leading me to the table, she apologized that they were already sold out of the lasagna (here known as Tim's cheezy lasagna),

but no big deal since there was no chance of that being my order anyway.  She was still at my table when I told her that was no great loss, since I was already eyeing up the hot roast pork.  She shrugged and said they were already out of that too and walked away.  Okay, not a great start here.
 
First up was the chicken and dumplings soup,

which didn't have as many dumplings as I would have preferred, but it had plenty of small shreds of tender white meat and strong chicken flavor.  This was a fine cup of soup.  After confirming with the very cute waitress that they do roast their own turkey in house, we went with the hot turkey sandwich, despite just eating turkey a hour earlier.  And I was rewarded a terrific platter of classic Midwest comfort food. 

The dressing and mashed potatoes both tasted like the real thing and the gravy didn't overpower all it covered.
 
Despite the fact that they have a fairly large roster of available desserts,

including more kuchen (here spelled kuechen), there was no doubt sour cream raisin pie

would be the choice.  It struck that right balance between sour and sweet, the meringue was unmistakably homemade, although the crust was a bit soggy.  Still, it tasted nothing like any other SCR pie I tried on the trip, due to what I thought was a powerful dose of cinnamon.  WJ and I talked about it and he thought it was nutmeg in the pie.  He very well may be correct about that as I'm not 100% sure.  Either way, this was an excellent slice of pie.  Great find WJ!
 
TNT's Diner
405 Main Avenue W
West Fargo, ND
701-277-7062
 
Dining here took less time than expected, so I still had an extra few minutes before I had to head to the airport.  Right across the river from Fargo is an interesting tourist attraction.  Located at the Hjemkomst Center in Moorehead, MN, is a replica of Hopperstad Stave Church, a famous 12th century Norwegian church.  Now this is really cool looking!



 
On the way to the airport, I saw for North Dakota State University, so I did a quick detour to pick up a t-shirt from their bookstore.  With their sport teams being named the Bison, it was inevitable they would have a cool statue nearby. 

Go Bison!
 
Despite a few nervous minutes wondering if I was going to make the connection in MSP, I arrived home around 1:00 in the morning.  Total miles put on the car rental was 959.   
post edited by buffetbuster - 2014/10/23 08:44:08
ScreamingChicken
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Re: Happy Birthday North Dakota!!! 2014/10/23 08:40:47 (permalink)
That hot turkey sandwich looks great!  I generally don't eat much on Thanksgiving but I do look forward to those sandwiches in the following days!
buffetbuster
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Re: Happy Birthday North Dakota!!! 2014/10/23 08:45:37 (permalink)
SC-
It seems many people have a dish that they use as a benchmark to rate a restaurant or diner.  For me, that is the hot turkey sandwich.  If they can get that right, then most of the other items should be good, too.  Maybe even cheezy lasagna.
ScreamingChicken
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Re: Happy Birthday North Dakota!!! 2014/10/23 08:48:27 (permalink)
I dunno...I'm inherently suspicious of anything that uses any form of "cheez" in its description!
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Re: Happy Birthday North Dakota!!! 2014/10/23 21:16:04 (permalink)
Great report. Turkey and dressing is up there on my favorites list and it looks great. Thank You for the report.
buffetbuster
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Re: Happy Birthday North Dakota!!! 2014/10/27 08:02:48 (permalink)
mayor al
Cliff, Can you make any observations of the impact of the "Oil Boom" on the rural communites you may have visited or passed near on this trip? We see stories of rapid expansion in some areas..just wondering how the effect is being felt.

Al, thanks for asking this question, since I was planned on addressing it at the end.  I was expecting to see signs of it everywhere, but that wasn't the case.  Maybe I was in the wrong parts of the state.  Maybe they were there and a better trained eye would have noticed, but it wasn't visible to me.  Still, it's great to know that the North Dakota economy is booming.  Maybe it will even help some of the sourpusses be in a better mood.
 
    


post edited by buffetbuster - 2014/10/27 08:04:02
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