The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota

Page: 12 > Showing page 1 of 2
Author
Nancypalooza
Filet Mignon
  • Total Posts : 3778
  • Joined: 2004/06/17 14:39:00
  • Location: Columbia, SC
  • Status: offline
2010/09/06 21:34:20 (permalink)

The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota

For our August trip this year, we decided to do an even split among visiting my in-laws, visiting Grand Marais, a town we dearly love, and someplace new--we settled on Duluth.  Now you may ask 'why Duluth?' and I think a lot of people would agree with you.  You have to drive through Duluth to get to Grand Marais so we've done it many times before and have been very taken with how pretty it is.  It's not a great big town by any stretch but it's not tiny either.  They call the stretch alongside the North Shore of Lake Superior from Duluth well into Canada the Wolf's Nose, or at least according to some pamphlet I found they do.  So come with me now . . (/makes creepy waving gesture)
 
We made it to town without clear plans of where to eat, just a list from the forums here and (whispering) Yelp on the iPhone, so we settled on a place downtown for lunch called Amazing Grace.  It had been mentioned here and was described as a sort of hippie breakfast/lunch joint.  Our ballpark for sure.  It's in the basement of a lovely old office type building that's been converted into a sort of mall.  The sign in the garden dining area:
 

 
We made our way through the line and stared at the board in front of us, and couldn't help but see the wire shelves with insanely good looking breads off to the right.  There were a few entrees and the usual selections of soup salad and sandwich, so we both settled on a half sandwich and a bowl of soup.  
 

 
This is a first-rate chicken salad sandwich, no fillers  you don't really want--I think with the sandwiches they gave you a choice of four vegetable toppers and mine are lettuce, tomato, onion and cucumber, but they also had sprouts and the like.  Alongside is a bowl of equally delicious creamy chicken and wild rice soup.  Dale will be gratified at our efforts to stay regionally proper on this trip, but even if I didn't give a crap about that, I love me some wild rice soup and it's just not something that's easy to find here.  I had a very fine lunch indeed.  We were very tempted by the ample offerings in the bake case--I particularly remember some fine looking seven layer bars, another Midwest specialty I can't get enough of, but we needed to walk lunch off first.
 
The garden dining area at Amazing Grace looks out on a pedestrian-friendly shopping and dining area right at the shore of Lake Superior.  The famous elevating drawbridge is on the same road as Amazing Grace, and there's a miles-long boardwalk and concrete trail alongside the lake.  One interesting feature we stopped to admire was this thing:
 

 
One of the signs nearby explained that it at one time was a sand and gravel drop that was intended to keep ships bringing sand and gravel from coming into wherever they would normally bring such, but proved to be too unstable for the task.  Now it just looks like a small concrete building somebody dropped into the lake.  I have no idea if the kids and their dogs congregating on top of it is a normal summer thing or that there are few days you can really do this or not.  (Lake Superior is friggin' cold.)
 
We got the general lay of the land and ended up at what used to be the Duluth location of Hell's Kitchen, now just called Hell Burger, for dinner.  Now, I do not know what has cursed us about Hell's Kitchen, but on this venture and our previous venture to the original location in Minneapolis, we have had the bad fortune to be dining during a fight.  You know what that's like.  Crabbing at each other over the appetizer choices.  Sulky silences over the entrees.  If you're lucky, a rapprochement over dessert.  I told Julie I think it's the name.  I'm going back when they change it to Puppies and Kittens, or No Child Left Behind, or something like that.  What we ended up with:
 

 
This is the small size of the walleye finger appetizer, alongside a jalapeno tartar sauce.  These are really really good--so good we had to come down from our relative anger perches to agree on how good.  In fact this dish ended up setting the walleye pace for the rest of the week.  My entree was the French Dip:
 

 
And this is not a great picture but that was a really good sandwich.  It's on ciabatta so it fights back a little more than the usual soft roll you get with a French dip, and the meat is very good quality.  Super tasty.  Julie got a tossed salad that's topped with the poached pears from one of their well known sandwiches:
 

 
And there's my only quibble.  She was eating it glumly and I was eating my sandwich when I reached over and got a forkful of salad, only to find that it was absolutely coated with black pepper.  I'm a pepper fiend and this was too much black pepper for me.  I was like, what the . . . you, Hell Burger.  Don't be that hipster joint that punishes people for not getting your signature dish.  But that could have been the annoyance speaking.
 
Davydd talked about this outpost of Hell Burger in the definitive North Shore trip report, so I won't repeat much.  They took about a third of the Hell's Kitchen menu--and maybe not the best third--added a lot of burgers and shakes and spiked ice cream drinks and there you go.  It probably fits the touristy clientele there better.
 
Yeah, no dessert.   Hope tomorrow goes better.
 
 
#1

59 Replies Related Threads

    1bbqboy
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 4644
    • Joined: 2000/11/20 16:52:00
    • Location: Rogue Valley
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/06 21:45:18 (permalink)
    Cool! :)
    #2
    mar52
    Sirloin
    • Total Posts : 8333
    • Joined: 2005/04/17 18:50:00
    • Location: Marina del Rey, CA
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/07 00:57:43 (permalink)
    I love your critiques.  I find that it's difficult enjoying a meal in silence.  I think you did well.
     
    The walleye looks interesting.  I'd have to have it.  Anything special about the tarter sauce?
    #3
    mr chips
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 4727
    • Joined: 2003/02/19 00:15:00
    • Location: portland, OR
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/07 01:48:52 (permalink)
    Nice start to your report. Looking forward to more.
    #4
    Nancypalooza
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 3778
    • Joined: 2004/06/17 14:39:00
    • Location: Columbia, SC
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/07 07:18:59 (permalink)
    Marlene--it's homemade and has jalapenos in it.  The fact that it's homemade goes a long long way right there.  It's pretty good.
    #5
    Nancypalooza
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 3778
    • Joined: 2004/06/17 14:39:00
    • Location: Columbia, SC
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/07 08:01:47 (permalink)
    Let's see if I can squeeze a bit in before work.  The next morning the plan was to hit the wackily named Chester's Creek Cafe at Sara's Table at gmail.com, which is also in a building that has none of those names on it.  It's tucked into a little residential area up the hill from Superior St, the main drag through town, not far from UM-Duluth.  This is another place that I would qualify as a hippie joint, except the restaurant itself is very large and spacious, and has a gorgeous outdoor deck.  I got a piece of the French toast made with a cranberry and wild rice bread, which we would run into again elsewhere, alongside an egg.
     

     
    The bread makes a lovely French toast because it's dense but not so dense that it makes eating it a chore, and has a yummy, almost nutty taste.  They also do pancakes with your choice of two of a bunch of fillers, and Julie picked pecans and chocolate chips:
     

     
    But the real star of the meal was the syrups.  Here you see a small bottle of maple syrup on the right, but it was brightly outshone by the stuff on the left, syrup distilled from Lake Superior Oatmeal Stout:
     

     
    I have a very meh relationship on a good day with syrup--it's fine but I don't go out of my way to have it--and I was doing the sopping-with-my-finger on my plate business with the stuff at the left.  It's very rich but not overpoweringly sweet, which is my typical problem with syrup.  We snagged a bottle of this stuff to ship home for my boss, who makes beer.  And who also gives it a hearty thumbs up.  Everything else at Chester's Sara's whatever is excellent--fresh orange juice, good teas and coffees, even the hysterical patron conversation we were privy to on the deck, between two apparent retired college guys who were regaling each other with stories of how much tail they used to get back in the day.  One of the pluses of a college town.  :)
     
    By this time we were refreshed and happy campers again, so we decided to spend the day looking at plants, like we do.  We headed over to the Duluth Rose Garden, on a large patch situated on a bluff overlooking the lake.  Just a shot:
     

     
    Somewhere in the park there's a sign that tells about how volunteers actually have to dig up, store and replant the rosebushes in the Rose Garden every year.  Now that's dedication.  We did a bit more exploration.  Being college people ourselves, we like to see what the local institutions are like.  UM-Duluth is a small campus but has some absolutely stunning contemporary architecture.  The College of St. Scholastica looks like a gingerbread village, up on a hill, and has a monastic residence on campus.  I imagine that cuts down on the arrests for public nudity.  For lunch we thought we'd try the New Scenic Cafe, on the highway out of town about ten miles north of Duluth.  The front door:
     

     
    It was written up in the tourist magazine back in our hotel and I had read about it here and elsewhere.  Roadfood purists might sniff; this is a place where you're probably going to spend $20 a person and there might be microgreens or locally sourced stuff on your plate.  I wouldn't have a problem calling it Roadfood, but some might.  It was, however, delicious.  We had to take a picture of the bread because it was pretty:
     

     
    The toughest part about dining here is just making up your mind.  They have an almost perfect-sized menu, just enough to give a lot of variety, and not so much to boggle your brain.  We settled again on an entree, an appetizer and a salad, all to split.  The salad:
     

     
    (another not-ideal picture) is two medallions of goat cheese, crusted with ground pistachios and pan-fried, over a fresh mixed green salad.  WOW.  It was pretty much perfect, but then this is a plateful of things we adore.  Our other choices were another beet salad, this time with three kinds of beets:
     
    "
     
    There are also globes of fresh mozzarella, blueberries and greens on this plate, and I think a very light vinaigrette type dressing on the beets.  This was friggin delicious.  I don't know how you guys feel about beets--I know they're a love/hate type thing.  I'm squarely in the love camp, and these were fresh, toothy and sweet.  Really nice, but maybe even better was the entree we chose:
     

     
    This was described as a prosciutto-wrapped herring sandwich, but it wasn't so much wrapped as included in the sandwich.  Herring here is lake herring, which is still a small, oily fish but bad things haven't happened to it like they do before herring ends up in a can.  It can still frolic and smell the iron-laden freshwater air.  The prosciutto was cooked to the point that it was pretty much bacon by this point, and who doesn't love bacon in a sandwich?  When Julie and I split stuff it's usually a very cooperative, gracious type thing but you can tell when we've gotten ahold of something we both want greedily--there's a bit less graciousness.  We didn't come to shoving elbows over the herring sandwich, but we could have.
     
    I have to say a bit about our waiter.  We had such an incredible run of excellent waitstaff on this trip but this fellow was a standout.  He explained the food masterfully and patiently, worked with Julie through a bunch of beers she picked off the list they were out of, made good suggestions and gave feedback.  We had a lovely 90 minute lunch and never felt hurried out of the place even though they were fairly busy.  He was pretty much perfect.  Drinks--Julie had the Summit beer after a few failed tries, and I had a blackberry lemonade, wonderful.  We watched the folks around us try various desserts before we settled on:
     

     
    A gorgeous piece of raspberry rhubarb pie to split.  I think on this day they had three seasonal fruit pies alongside their usual four or five desserts.  I think one of those was a creme brulee of some sort, one was a trio of chocolatey things, and I remember profiteroles in there somewhere.  Definitely a place where you should not skip dessert.  New Scenic Cafe has a pretty little garden in front with chairs for folks waiting to be seated.  I settled up while Julie wandered outside to call her sister.
     

     
    A definite contender for best meal of the trip.  More to come.
    post edited by Nancypalooza - 2010/09/07 08:34:30
    #6
    buffetbuster
    Porterhouse
    • Total Posts : 10494
    • Joined: 2002/05/09 13:42:00
    • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/07 08:03:28 (permalink)
    Nancy, should I even ask what kind of food they serve at Puppies and Kittens?  Johnny and I walked right past Hell Burgers a few months ago, but were too full to stop in.  Wish we could have had that moment back.
     
    Great start to your report and looking forward to more.
    #7
    Nancypalooza
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 3778
    • Joined: 2004/06/17 14:39:00
    • Location: Columbia, SC
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/07 08:07:26 (permalink)
    It's a lutefisk joint, strangely enough.  ;)
    #8
    buffetbuster
    Porterhouse
    • Total Posts : 10494
    • Joined: 2002/05/09 13:42:00
    • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/07 08:08:58 (permalink)
    Oh, so Wanderingjew was just there!
    #9
    mr chips
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 4727
    • Joined: 2003/02/19 00:15:00
    • Location: portland, OR
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/07 10:24:50 (permalink)
    Duluth is looking very interesting. I would never had thought there would be such fine dining or such a variety of wild rice dishes available. And it looks as if preparation pays off in a richer experience.
    #10
    mar52
    Sirloin
    • Total Posts : 8333
    • Joined: 2005/04/17 18:50:00
    • Location: Marina del Rey, CA
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/07 13:37:47 (permalink)
    Your French Toast looks like bread that was toasted, rather than the French Toast I'm used to.  I'm glad that you enjoyed it.
     
    Now the beet salad is so amazing looking that I saved the picture.  Now I have to find a long white rectangle plate so that I can serve the identical dish.  It's beautiful.
    #11
    Nancypalooza
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 3778
    • Joined: 2004/06/17 14:39:00
    • Location: Columbia, SC
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/07 19:25:40 (permalink)
    Now for this next bit you should understand that it looks like we had a lot for both of these meals, but this is because we ate dinner and the following breakfast at the same places twice, separated by a day.  Not that the two places were all that compelling by themselves but something at each one begged another trip.  
     
    Duluth does have a vibrant and varied dining culture, but it's kind of easy to tell where you shouldn't eat.  I'm going to call out Grandma's as an example.  Grandma's is a bar/restaurant conglomerate that takes up a healthy couple blocks of that same downtown strip and is the sponsor of a popular marathon in the state.  You just get the feeling looking at their row of storefronts that it's probably a great place to drink, but you should probably not expect culinary wizardry of any sort.  The place we picked for dinner had just a smidge of that--Fitger's Brewhouse is in another multi-use building on Superior St. along with a hotel, a couple of other eating establishments, and your usual upscale hiking and apparel shops, and the level below the bar/restaurant is a gift shop that also has large glass windows where you can see their brewing equipment.  Fitger's advertises that it will sell you a growler of beer in a Boundary Waters-allowable plastic container.  So we were going at least as much for the drinks as the food.  Julie started with a flight:
     

     
    She just discovered that she likes beer this summer and has been seeking out opportunities to try as many in small quantities as she can to see what she likes.  Her personal favorite among these was an apricot ale (pause for the stout hearted men to snort) and it led to the waitress bringing over more to sample, including something called an eidel- or eiselstof which she actually liked a lot.  I had one of their own root beers, which was delicious.  But when you have beer you need beer food, so we got these:
     

     
    And simply put, the onion rings were the thing that brought us back the second time.  They were perfect; she brought ketchup, ranch dressing and a cup of a horseradish sauce they make alongside them and we were happy dipping, munching, drinking fools for a little bit.  After such a heavy snack we felt like we needed to be good girls for dinner, so Julie got the veggie chili:
     

     
    which is chock full of vegetables and some sort of TVP-faux-meat.  Which I think started to wear on her after a while.  I got a concoction called a maple salad:
     

     
    You see grilled chicken breast, sliced Granny Smith apple, craisins, candied pecans, blue cheese on top of a bed of greens with the dressing to the upper left--it was truly amazing because all at once it was savory and tasted like maple syrup.  The apple dipped in it was especially good.  A very nice combination of flavors, but I punked out of it pretty early after having scarfed down so many onion rings.
     
    Two evenings later we were back after more of those onion rings and a couple more beers.  I got them alongside a Rachel:
     

     
    which they served with a cup of cranberry sauce that I found to be a really welcome addition.  Yummy.  Julie opted for a side salad and an appetizer, their artichoke dip:
     

     
    Again, a cut above the high-end-grocery-chain stuff you would expect to find in a bar.  They clearly made this themselves and it was scrumptious.  
     
    I have to talk again about excellent waitresses.  Both nights we had women who were just the right balance of helpful, informative, and flirty.  Both knew the menu and bar offerings back and forth.  God love a good waitperson.
     
    So to sum up, I would say Fitger's Brewhouse is about a step and a half above what you would expect out of microbrewery food--they have a killer menu and someone clearly knows how to cook.  Julie vouches for the beer.
     
    The next morning for breakfast we couldn't help but try a place about four blocks down Superior St. from our hotel:
     

     
    We repeated the name to a good friend of ours with Scandihoovian foreign exchange experience and she said "thanks for food?"  So . . (drumroll) . . I would like to invite Dale along for some regionally appropriate cuisine.  
     
    Inside Takk for Maten, there is a counter and a pie case and several tables that each hold a small book.  You open the book to find a pencil and an order pad; they serve lunch and breakfast.  Then you take the order pad to the counter and pay, and I think they gave a table flag, although both times we were the only people in there.  We were keeping the first breakfast very simple so we ended up with:
     

     
    For me a lefse wrap.  Lefse is a Scandinavian flatbread and it's apparently the mainstay of their menu.  They make wraps and pizzas out of lefse.  This one contained a scrambled egg, some Jarlsberg cheese, and smoked ham, and it was delicious.  Julie went even simpler:
     

     
    With a hardboiled egg, two slices of toast made from what appeared to be that same cranberry wild rice bread, and yes, those are lingonberries in the little jam dish.  We had some hot tea and orange juice and enjoyed the slideshow on the large screen in the dining room that seemed to be playing a continuing loop of somebody's family vacation slides.  A couple of rosy-cheeked little blonde girls help prepare herring for smoking and canning in these slides, among other things.
     
    Takk for Maten has a bake case; here most everything is wrapped up because we were there in the morning:
     

     
    But it did inspire the reason for the return trip.   One of their breakfast items is something called oatmeal blueberry pie, and here's the piece we had two days later:
     

     
    The description says it all: 'a bowl of blueberry oatmeal served in a piece of pie.'  It's not overly sweet.  The consistency is very much like oatmeal, and the blueberry taste is wonderful.  Cliff, I think you've found a new breakfast food.
     
    Up next: Grand Marais.
    post edited by Nancypalooza - 2010/09/07 19:32:02
    #12
    Davydd
    Sirloin
    • Total Posts : 6411
    • Joined: 2005/04/24 12:15:00
    • Location: Tonka Bay, MN
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/07 20:58:05 (permalink)
    I'm in Grand Marais once again today until Sunday. I completed my tour of all the eateries finishing off finally with Sven & Ole's Pizza. I believe wanderingjew made it up here too and expect to get his take soon with his trip report. All in all, with all the pies, Buffetbuster will no doubt be covering the territory soon.

    I have to come back and look at your pictures later with my laptop. The iPad can't see them unless you use BBcode Img tags in brackets. I am seeing photos in other topics fine.
    #13
    Nancypalooza
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 3778
    • Joined: 2004/06/17 14:39:00
    • Location: Columbia, SC
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/07 21:54:47 (permalink)
    Aaaah, and they don't show up here the other way they let you do it on flickr.  Sorry about that!
    #14
    DirtDude
    Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 161
    • Joined: 2009/12/12 19:34:00
    • Location: Florence, SC
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/08 00:18:28 (permalink)
    This is a great trip report, but what I like the most is some of the lighting on your photos. Looks like you got some nice window seats. They always put me in the dark corners. Guess they want the other customers to still come in.
    #15
    mr chips
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 4727
    • Joined: 2003/02/19 00:15:00
    • Location: portland, OR
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/08 04:46:16 (permalink)
    Really enjoying the report. I love the name of the region, As a mystery lover, I'd be delighted to see a mystery set there."Murder in the Wolf's Nose" just seems like a natural title.
    post edited by mr chips - 2010/09/09 10:27:56
    #16
    hatteras04
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 1103
    • Joined: 2003/05/14 13:35:00
    • Location: Columbus, OH
    • Status: online
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/08 09:02:16 (permalink)
    Great report.  I spent a weekend with my wife in Duluth about 10 years ago when she was sent there for a 2 week training course.  It was still the dead of winter (April) and we've always talked about going back when it was warm.  My wife managed to eat at the Scenic Cafe 3 times when she was there once with me.  I thought it was great.  We still make avariation of the cpers, goat cheese, and grilled onion flatbread we got as an appetizer.  I also remember a decent Italian restaurant there (Bellisimo's or something like that). 
     
    I'm going to have her look at this report and maybe that will get us to commit to another trip.
    #17
    Nancypalooza
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 3778
    • Joined: 2004/06/17 14:39:00
    • Location: Columbia, SC
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/08 09:29:11 (permalink)
    So was there an old Scenic Cafe?  Because I was curious about the appearance of 'New' in the name even though 'New' is not on the sign.
     
    DirtDude, thank you very much.  I have an extremely cheap (but good quality) camera and I've just learned over time to count on the sun as much as possible--the pics above that are not ideal are really lighting issues.  I ended up taking two sets of pictures in Hell Burger, one with the flash and one without, and even then I used the with-flash one for some dishes and the without for others.  You just have to play with it.
    #18
    Nancypalooza
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 3778
    • Joined: 2004/06/17 14:39:00
    • Location: Columbia, SC
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/08 09:53:22 (permalink)
    Chipsie--I think the wolf might have a bit of a problem with that.  :)
    #19
    ScreamingChicken
    Sirloin
    • Total Posts : 5215
    • Joined: 2004/11/05 14:36:00
    • Location: Stoughton, WI
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/08 10:22:57 (permalink)
    Nancy, did you get a chance to visit the Great Lakes Aquarium while you were there?  When my kids were younger it was a favorite destination when we were in the area.
     
    Brad
    #20
    kland01s
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 2835
    • Joined: 2003/03/14 07:01:00
    • Location: Fox River Valley, IL
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/08 10:48:22 (permalink)
    Nancypalooza

    So was there an old Scenic Cafe?  Because I was curious about the appearance of 'New' in the name even though 'New' is not on the sign.

     
    Yes, I can't remember when exactly, but Rte. 61 was rerouted to an "expressway"  so there is the Express portion of 61 and Old Route 61 that runs from just outside of Duluth to Two Harbors. It was done to take out some of the curvy parts but I think it took out some of the most scenic parts that ran right along the shoreline.
    #21
    Davydd
    Sirloin
    • Total Posts : 6411
    • Joined: 2005/04/24 12:15:00
    • Location: Tonka Bay, MN
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/08 19:06:16 (permalink)
    Mr. Chips, check out the books written by William Kent Krueger, the Cork O'Connor series. They capture the essense of Northern Minnesota.

    New scenic Cafe is located on the Scenic route of US 61 from Duluth to Two Harbors as is Russ Kendall's Smoke House and the Nokomis Restaurant. The bypass route is a freeway type road parallel. I always take the scenic route. You don't save that much time on the bypass worth passing up the scenic route. It is only about 20 miles.
    #22
    wheregreggeats.com
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 4615
    • Joined: 2003/07/13 22:24:00
    • Location: Northampton, MA
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/08 19:34:38 (permalink)
    Thank you for an excellent report.
     
     
    #23
    Michael Hoffman
    Double-chop Porterhouse
    • Total Posts : 18889
    • Joined: 2000/07/01 08:52:00
    • Location: Gahanna, OH
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/08 20:03:57 (permalink)
    >Mr. Chips, check out the books written by William Kent Krueger, the Cork O'Connor series. They capture the essense of Northern Minnesota. <
     
    How about Sigurd Olson?
    #24
    tedlovesdogs
    Hamburger
    • Total Posts : 64
    • Joined: 2009/07/09 07:29:00
    • Location: Western, NY
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/08 21:32:26 (permalink)
    Fantastic report--thank you! The pictures look good enough to eat (at least the ones of food! Or drink!). The running commentary personalizes it very nicely, (though maybe (?) a bit tough on the 'regionally appropriate' food part). Anyway, thanks for taking the time and trouble to put this up for our RF-reading pleasure!
    #25
    Nancypalooza
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 3778
    • Joined: 2004/06/17 14:39:00
    • Location: Columbia, SC
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/08 22:06:59 (permalink)
    Brad, I did not unfortunately; I do love a good aquarium.
     
    kland, I actually looked up the New Scenic Cafe website and they mention that they've been open since 1999 but no mention of any other location--which is why I wondered about the 'New' in the name.  Maybe it's just 'New' in an ironic sense?  I dunno.
     
    I did forget something from Duluth but for which I have no good pictures.  The pedestrian walkway follows Superior St. for a few miles but about two flights of stairs below it, above the lake level but not all the way up to the street.  There are several places where you can go up to the street level along its length, and most of these are punctuated by a business.  We saw a couple of ice cream stops, but there is a tiny storefront window Bridgeman's, and Julie lit up at the name.  Apparently when she was younger Bridgeman's was more of a restaurant/ice cream parlor business and it was a treat for her and her sister, especially the turtle sundae.  So we got one of those and a root beer float for me one evening.  It was exactly as she remembered but not really remarkable except for the nostalgia.
     
    The morning we left for the hundred-or-so-mile trip to Grand Marais was the first morning we ate at Takk for Maten, and we kept it light specifically with lunch in mind.  I had not realized until the week we left that we were going to cross paths with Roadfood stalwart Davydd in Grand Marais, so I contacted him and asked if he'd like to meet for a meal or a snack, and he graciously agreed to stick around until we got up here.  He suggested Chez Jude for lunch, which is right in the middle of town on Route 61:
     

     
    We had a long conversation about how long it had been there; I don't remember it from the first time I visited Grand Marais, which would have been in 2002, but then my memory is not great.  We actually got there a little too early, so we waited a bit while Davydd talked to the proprietor Judi about arranging a lunch for his RV club later in the year.  We were seated on the porch and started to peruse the menu.  I remembered Davydd having a wonderful pizza here in his North Shore trip report, so I wanted some of that:
     

     
    They have a few pizzas on the menu and this one is the puttanesca.  We also ordered something that I believe was called the summer salad, which was prepared tableside:
     

     
    by another really marvelous waitress.  It really started to feel like the waitperson fairy was following us around, or maybe we were just picking places that know the value of good service.  Here's the salad plated up:
     

     
    Very fresh greens and recently picked tomatoes, shaved parmesan and homemade croutons, all in a delicious dressing.  Brilliant.  Now here's where you know I'm a Roadfooder, because I don't have a picture of Davydd, but I have a picture of his lunch:
     

     
    How is that for an insanely handsome burger?  And the noises he was making eating it confirmed that it had to taste at least as good as it looks.  It was a delight getting to meet and chat with Davydd.  He is every bit as knowledgeable and spirited as his trip reports would suggest.  At some point we were joined again by the proprietor, Chef Judi:
     

     
    who came out to clarify some points about the luncheon with Davydd, and sat for a moment while we tried to explain how we knew each other and what all this food website business was about anyway.  She gave me her card and when I'm done with this trip report I'll be sending her a link.  (Hi Judi!  Thanks for the marvelous lunch!)
     
    Desserts here also looked scrumptious but we had no room, so we bid Davydd a fond adieu after looking around his RV (yeah *Marlene*)  :)  and wandered back into town for a bit.  Grand Marais has what looks to be a small waterfront, but you can spend a surprising amount of time there.  They have one of my favorite shops in the world, an old Ben Franklin variety store that really shows how much you can pack into a tiny retail space--almost the contents of an entire department store into a space the size of a 7-11, but well organized.   We walked around until we felt like eating a World's Best Donut (of course).  I was so excited I stood behind a plywood Viking:
     

     
    I noticed that World's Best Donuts has increased their hours; the walk-up window opens at 4 in the morning now, I suppose for the benefit of folks getting out to fish or whatever early.  Still dirt cheap and still awesome.
     
    Eventually we got hungry again and settled on a place new to us and highly recommended by Davydd, the Dockside, situated pretty much exactly across Route 61 from Chez Jude:
     

     
    These places make me wish I liked smoked fish more than I do, meaning this place and Northern Waters in Duluth.  They clearly practice a very carefully honed craft, and I like the little bits I sample, but not enough to eat a whole plate of it.  Maybe it'll grow on me.  Lucky for us though, Dockside also has an extensive menu of fried fish and other lovely things done with fish, most of which is straight out of the lake that you can see out back.  We started with a salmon chowder:
     

     
    Now salmon here is not necessarily local from what I understand, and I was sadder about the quality of this picture moreso than pretty much any other, because this was freakin awesome chowder.  I wanted some more of this, and I don't normally say that about anything with salmon in it.  Our entrees were delivered soon, a basket of fried local herring and a basket of fried walleye, one with fries and one with slaw.  The walleye's slightly larger pieces:
     

     
    And the herring, here accompanied by a local Dorothy's (the Root Beer Lady) Root Beer:
     

     
    Julie was still in mourning for the walleye she left behind at Hell Burger, so she pronounced this walleye inferior and went into the herring, but I didn't agree.  I thought they were equally good, although they're not fundamentally similar fish.  The sides were excellent, the slaw in particular was very tasty, and I enjoyed Dorothy's root beer.  We sat back on the deck overlooking the good cast of fog on the lake and were very satisfied.
     
    We found something we never found before in Grand Marais.  At the end of the little peninsula is a public boat ramp and a small park, and if you venture into the park even a little you come across an area known as Artists' Point, a dramatic collection of boulders jutting into the lake.  People have taken to building cairns there, and there's quite a collection now:
     

     
    We wandered around there for quite a bit.  It was an absolutely beautiful end to the day.  Before we headed back up the road to our hotel, we did stop in at the Pie Place since it had come so highly recommended for a bit of dessert.  We actually got there after they had stopped serving dinner, but they graciously accommodated our wish for dessert.  Julie ordered a maple pecan:
     

     
    And let me tell you, I don't typically love pecan pie (I know) but the addition of the maple flavor does something magical to it.  We had, yet again, another fabulous waiter here and he told us that the maple pecan was his favorite too.  If we hadn't have gotten this scene stealer, I might have otherwise been perfectly content with my slice of blackberry peach:
     

     
    The crusts on these pies and the one from the New Scenic Cafe were delectable--to me I know I've had great pie when I don't wish there were less crust.  I can see where the Pie Place gets its vaunted reputation.
     
    The next morning we were up with the birds because we decided to take a suggestion from Davydd and hit one of the hiking trails along the Gunflint Trail.  The Gunflint is a 50-something mile road that heads west from Grand Marais to the outskirts of the Boundary Waters and culminates in the loop of a state campground.  So you can't really get anywhere else driving the Gunflint Trail--you can only go to one of the wilderness resorts or residences along the way.  I'd like to put in a word for our little motel:
     

     
    The Outpost isn't fancy by a long shot.  It's about a dozen un-air-conditioned, wood paneled rooms around a tiny courtyard with chairs that look out upon this view; you can cross Route 61 and be at the side of the lake.   I never fail to get tickled at the flyswatter hanging from a peg in each room, and the rickety old Pepsi machine in front of the office, but I love this place, and I love how beautiful it is here.  We made our way into town for donuts to snarf on the drive:
     

     
    I think that over the course of our two visits there I had a raspberry bismarck, a lemon mini-bismarck and some sort of maple frosted roll, and those were all delicious.  But I think the star of their show is the sixty-cent granulated sugar donut, which Julie's eating here.  She won't entertain any alternatives.  We saw a few very pretty things on our drive:
     

     
    But the big two, the bear and the moose, continue to elude us.  The above picture was actually taken on a small trail not too very far into the Gunflint that's supposed to provide a great place to see moose, but it was not to be.  These woods are so dense, though, that one could be smoking a cigarette right next to you and you might not know unless it sneezed.  We were rewarded with the sight of a fox trotting along the highway with a hard earned squirrel in its mouth.  About twenty miles later, we saw an odd looking creature slither across the road.  A truck in the oncoming lane had to slow to avoid hitting it, and the young couple looked at each other and high-fived after it passed.  It was small and black, about the size of a house cat, but moved in that inchwormy way that you would associate with an otter, but wasn't at all wet or leathery-looking like an otter.  The closest I could figure from looking at the taxidermied critters in the Chik-Wauk museum later on, it was a fisher.  I had never heard of a fisher.
     
    Do you not believe me about the place being gorgeous yet?
     

     
    We made it to the trail that Davydd had suggested, the Magnetic Rock trail, about most of the way to the terminus of the trail.  We hiked for a good long while--this is the trail where a wildfire has obscured the path in a few places, but hikers have responded by building more cairns.  We did find the low-lying wild blueberries Davydd spoke of:
     

     
    And they were delicious.  I know from his pictures that we never actually found Magnetic Rock.  I had asked for advice about a trail because I've been in a foot brace since mid-July and wanted some terrain that wouldn't put me to scrambling too much.  And this was just about perfect, but I tired out sooner than finding the rock.  At one point with every large blocky boulder we passed (and there are a few of them) one of us would pronounce "YOU are not Magnetic Rock" to punchy giggles.
     
    We scouted out the food possibilities on the way into the Gunflint, and after the hike we hit the Chik-Wauk museum near the trail's end:
     

     
    It's a very nice, small facility that recently opened and gives the history of the settlement of the local area by non-native Americans, with a particular emphasis on the development of the local resort industry, and some history of the native Americans who lived there too.  We ended up chatting with a very nice lady outside who had grown up there and lived nearby, and we asked her which of the lunch choices was best.  She said that the Trail Center made pretty much the best malted milks around, and we looked at each other and nodded.  That was that.
     

     
    The Trail Center lies at pretty much the midpoint of the Gunflint Trail and contains both a restaurant and a store, stocked heavily with camping and outdoor equipment.  The day we visited they were also selling (and providing free samples of) their homemade pickles, and a massive fawn Great Dane belonging to one of the owners was ambling through the storefront.  We actually had to wait just a few minutes for a table.  Once we were seated, listening to the conversations nearby, it was clear that this is often a first-meal-off-the-trail for campers and portageurs, as well as a handy lunch spot for utility folks and others working nearby.   Their menu is comprehensive and features a large variety of burgers and sandwiches.  It was again, tough to decide, but we had to have one of those malted milks:
     

     
    And at the rate I sucked that thing down you would have thought I'd come off the trail after a year myself.  I picked chocolate, although they have a large variety, and it was the best thing I've ever had in my life.  For lunch we did the splittie thing again, this time starting with a cup of ham and wild rice soup:
     

     
    Which was far superior, actually, to the chicken version we'd had earlier.  This one was not as creamy as the Amazing Grace soup but the flavor was just perfect.  We also ordered one of the burgers split, which they graciously brought us on two plates with two servings of fries:
     

     
    I think this one was called the Bear Beattie, or the Bear Baiter, or something like that.  It's just blue cheese crumbles on top of the burger, held down with a slice of melted swiss.  Kind of simple and ingenious really.  This was seriously the best burger I've had in recent memory--fresh meat, very juicy, kind of a perfect bun and wonderful toppings.  I ate like the undead.  The fries were very good but had no choice but to pale to the malt, soup and burger.  This meal was the only counterargument to our lunch at the New Scenic Cafe being the best of the trip.  We miss this lunch today.
     
    Our incredible waitperson karma pretty much culminated here too.  The sweetest girl waited on us and we enjoyed listening to her interact with her other tables too.  A large family party at the end of a camping trip included a couple of kids she paid special attention to--we giggled that one of these kids ordered a bowl of mac and cheese with a side of fried cheese curds.  Another table full of local volunteers for an outdoor service group, teen boys and girls, got chided and teased for ordering 'wrong' according to the waitress.  We were so charmed we asked if she'd mind us taking her picture and she told me to wait a second while she pulled herself together:
     

     
    I never asked her name but thanks for taking good care of us, sweetheart.
     
    To come: the trip back to the Cities and a few outlying spots.
    #26
    ayersian
    Double Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 903
    • Joined: 2003/08/16 18:49:00
    • Location: Boston, MA
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/08 22:34:09 (permalink)
    I am in awe -- utter awe (cue jaw-dropping-to-the-floor-with-a-resounding-THUNK sound).  Thank you so much!  Chris [ridiculously bowing, I'm not worthy emoticon]
    #27
    Nancypalooza
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 3778
    • Joined: 2004/06/17 14:39:00
    • Location: Columbia, SC
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/08 22:41:46 (permalink)
    Oh get up.  You're embarrassing me.  ;)  (Very high praise coming from you.)
    #28
    Nancypalooza
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 3778
    • Joined: 2004/06/17 14:39:00
    • Location: Columbia, SC
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/08 23:01:32 (permalink)
    I forgot to include this.  If any of you are interested in seeing any more pictures of rocks and trees than the ones I put up so far, feel free to look around the flickr set from this trip http://www.flickr.com/photos/nancypalooza/sets/72157624638957761/ .  You'll get spoiled for a few more plates of food but I think you're old enough to handle that.  :)
    #29
    tedlovesdogs
    Hamburger
    • Total Posts : 64
    • Joined: 2009/07/09 07:29:00
    • Location: Western, NY
    • Status: offline
    Re:The Wolf's Nose: Duluth, Grand Marais, and assorted small towns of Minnesota 2010/09/09 05:22:00 (permalink)
    Absolutely awesome (and I don't use that word often)! I don't want your trip (report) to end--love it all! Thanks again for taking the time and energy to feed and inspire us!
     
    Flickr pics are a great set--looks like a top-notch vacation all-around. You make 'family' look fun and MN look fabulous!
    post edited by tedlovesdogs - 2010/09/09 05:26:31
    #30
    Page: 12 > Showing page 1 of 2
    Jump to:
    © 2014 APG vNext Commercial Version 5.1