Posts Tagged ‘Duluth Hamburger’
The venerable Fitger’s Brewery Complex, in Duluth, Minnesota, dates from the late 1800s, and when beer production ceased a few decades ago, local businessmen saved the series of buildings and turned them into a boutique inn, shops, and restaurants. The 62 room inn offers great view of Lake Superior, and easy access to downtown, as well as Canal Park, via the waterfront Lake Walk, a 7.5 mile pathway along the shore, used by walkers, joggers, bicyclists and skaters.
Within the complex are four restaurants and two nightclubs, and the Midi Restaurant and Wine Bar has a new ‘mash-up’ menu, offering Meditteranean cuisine (including small plates), local specialties, and, as a tip of the hat to the brewery’s origin, a few German plates. Food is served from 7AM until late.
Minnesota Burger Bureau Chief Kawika, accompanied by pals including local balladeer Todd Eckhart, celebrated the big man’s birthday at Midi, imbibing on the Midi Gourmet Burger, a half found of premium grind from Minnesota’s Unger Meats, adored with caramelized onions, havarti cheese, lettuce and tomato, with a side of sweet potato fries. Midi features a dozen ala carte sides, ranging from spaetzle to cous cous, and Minnesota wild rice, of course.
Dessert was a traditionally prepared but uniquely plated crepe suzette.
The party was more than satisfied with the food and attentive service, and the birthday boy pronounced the burger as completely over the top.
Menus are online.
Midi Restaurant and Wine Bar Review
On Belknap (“bell-nap”), one of the main drags in Superior, WI, two blocks west of the other main drag, Tower Avenue, you’ll run into one of the area’s largest liquor stores, the Keyport, which has an attached bar and grill of the same name. If you’re driving around looking for it, it’s in the outlot of Super One Grocery.
They frequently have live entertainment, daily specials, karaoke, and a gaggle of big screen TVs for sporting events.
The Minnesota Burger Bureau Chief was following one of his local favorite music acts, Todd Ekhart, and stopped in the other night, sampling the “Siracha Burger” from the full menu, which includes ciabatta sandwiches, wraps, salads, Mexican favorites, and pizza. The hand-formed char crust burger patty was painted with a siracha / bbq sauce mixture, topped with bacon, cheese, and onion rings. He reported that it was a fine effort, other than he and the chef had different opinions on what levels of doneness meant. (Food photo credit Kawikamedia.com; exterior shot from Google Maps).
Keyport Lounge Review
My family rarely took summer vacations; it was my dad’s “busy time” for work. Instead, we skied. A lot. We’d travel around the Upper Midwest on weekends, throw in an occasional trip out West, but our “go to” local place was/is called “Mont du Lac”, and it was at the other end of town from our house, on Minnesota highway 23, right after you left the city limits.
We were there a lot as a family, but my most vivid memory of the place was it was the scene of the only head-on car collision I have been in, thankfully at low speed, and thankfully with my brother driving, and not me. Fast forward 5 decades, and at the entrance of the ski hill is a local tavern, which even though the highway in front of the joint is in Minnesota, due to a geographic anomaly, the tavern is on a little spit of land claimed by Wisconsin.
The Wabegon (I have no idea what that means, unless it’s a pun on “Wobegon”) is open 7 days at varying hours, and serves a variety of bar favorites, including burgers and pizza. It’s been perched there since 1932.
The Minnesota Burger posse has been following around local musician Todd Eckart, as the Posse man in chief, Kawika, is shooting a little documentary on Todd.
The Wabegon had Eckart in for a night.
Wabby Burgers start off with a ½ pound of fresh ground, and combinations of all ilks are available. Kawika went with the basic cheeseburger, and said it was very enjoyable.
If you want to take the “scenic route” to Duluth from Minneapolis, hop off I-35 at Minnesota 23, and amble up this back road, stopping for a cool brew at the Wab.
One great thing about driving around rural Minnesota and Wisconsin has always been finding “undiscovered” local taverns and roadhouses, like the Kounty Quarthouse, Billy’s, or Swamp Sisters. Some are pretty new (like 50 years or so) and some date back to prohibition. While widely known and popular with a very local crowd, patrons from away often have to stumble upon these joints by accident, and it’s usually a happy accident.
One such place, just outside of Duluth, on the Jean Duluth Road, just down from where we used to go horseback riding at Springhill Dairy, and near the source of our childhood play pen, the Lester River, is the Breeze Inn, dishing up the goods since 1962.
A smallish place, long on service, with excellent taste in food, and the knowledge of how to prepare it well, our Minnesota Burger Reporter Kawika, accompanied by friend, hit the place up the other nite because of the entertainment, Todd Ekhart, a former local boy who now tours the world doing his impersonation of half of the Rat Pack as well as other musical celebrities.
In any case, the entertainment drew our crew, but they stayed and raved about the food. A special grind beef from supplier Unger Meats makes the Breeze’s versions of the Juicy Lucy (cheese stuffed burgers) (a Minneapolis invention, tho the actual source point is argued passionately), extra fine, and Kawika went with the Roasted Pepper Lucy, stuffed with pepper-jack, and topped with jalapenos, bell pepper, onion, and seasoned sour cream. Burgers are served on a grilled Kaiser, and accompanied by house made chips, fries or sweet potato fries. Our party went with the latter and declared them some of the best they had ever consumed.
So if you’re tooling around Minnesota and want a great burger, hit the Breeze Inn; if your tooling around the world and want to enjoy a show by Todd Ekhart, his schedule is here. Either experience, you’ll thoroughly enjoy.
Once upon a time in the Zenith City, the central core of the downtown strip was a vital community of merchants catering to Scandinavian immigrants. Over the years, the immigrants moved out to the extremes of the street car lines, and the downtown became less vibrant, especially the two blocks east and west of the central dividing line, Lake Avenue.
Less than ‘reputable’ merchants took up position, adult book stores, a blood donor center, small merchants.
Those days are gone, as Duluth goes through another renaissance, and new and exciting businesses are filling historical edifices along the main drag, Superior Street.
The latest pop-up is the 7 West Taphouse, with 40 craft beers on tap (even some from the craft beer capital of the US – Oregon!), and burgers and melts on the grill menu. The proprietors are vets of other area restaurants, including Grizzly’s.
Kawikamedia and the Minnesota Burger Posse were there at opening bell. They tried a variety of burgers and fries with dipping sauces. Kawika went with the signature Taphouse Burger, featuring a double up on the beer, jalapeno beer cheese, and sauteed beer onions, with a side of the vinegar and salt fries.
Good reports all around. A new bright spot in downtown Duluth.
(Photographs copyright Kawikamedia; all rights reserved).
Nearly 100 years old, but yet a “newborn”, the Pickwick (“the Wick” to locals) has always been a Minnesota favorite, and has been operated by the same family until this week. The new owners have modernized some of the infrastructure, and will be “updating” (horrors!) the menu.
First pic of the new bar area (below) shows that they have increased seating, extended the bar itself, and added more seating at the bar (formerly, it just had 8 highly coveted stools). Looks like the have lightened up the room a bit, and possibly removed the plethora of dead animals and fish that previously hung on the walls and replaced them with flat screens (horrors, again!) (Can’t we go anywhere, anymore, w/o having to watch television?).
Minnesota Burger Reporter Kawikamedia and the Minnesota Burger Posse were there for opening night and reported nothing had changed, apparently, in his usual (and favorite) Pepper Cheeseburger and onion rings. But he added an aside, that the “true test” of the burger is how it tastes after a night in the frig (like I believe the test of a pizza is how it tastes after a night on the kitchen counter!).
The Wick has retained their charcoal broiler for steaks and fish. One can only imagine they kept the various local fish entrees, featuring Walleye. Or one can hope. Word is they will be opening the 2nd floor, previously unused space, as a wine bar.
The group started with the Pepper Poppers, before launching into the burgers. Poppers were reported as “a nice addition to the menu.”
(All photos @ Kawikamedia, and cannot be reproduced w/o permission).
“The best burger I ever had,” claims Minnesota Burger Reporter Kawikamedia. That’s a pretty lofty endorsement.
Swamp Sisters opened as a gift shop and retail outlet for the buffalo raised on the local farm, out in Sticksville, MN. OK, really the nearby town is named Saginaw, and it’s 22.2 miles from downtown Duluth, as the Ford flies.
Serving food only from 8AM – 2PM, Fridays and Saturdays (and only in the summer), Swamp Sisters is your destination for delicious, ample, home cooked breakfasts and lunches.
Kawikamedia and a downsized (for the day) Minnesota Burger Posse, had the buffaloburger, which was described as “very flavorful” and juicy.
They also sampled the Bonnie’s Skillet – an egg dish with tomatoes, hash browns, buffalo sausage, green pepper, mushrooms, onions.
Make a day of it – after your meal at Swamp Sisters, head on up to Grand Rapids, MN, birthplace of Francis Gumm!
(All fotos by and @Kawikamedia, 2010)
Once upon a time, there was a “wrong side of the tracks” in Duluth, Minnesota. East and West, usually people didn’t stray too far from their part of town. Now, the burgeoning hip hop area of “West Duluth” (not to be confused with the “Friendly West End”) is taking on a life of its own, with development, shops, housing, including the newest eatery GB Schneider & Company at 46th Avenue West and Grand Avenue. Of course they are on Grand Avenue, their catchphrase, on their website and signage, is “grand eats”, and it appears they more than accomplish this promise, with a fun, diverse, American food menu.
Minnesota Burger Reporter Kawikamedia and the Friday Burger Posse hit Schneiders on Friday with a large group, and reports no missteps for this just opened foodery. Kawika went with the Howie Burger, cheese, mushrooms, and grilled onions. All of Schneider’s burgers start out as 1/3 pound of fresh grilled angus, served at medium, unless you request otherwise, and can be doubled, tripled, or as “big as you dare” for slight additional costs. (The entire party agreed the prices are inexpensive for the city).
Other plates the Posse imbibed in with strong reviews were the clam chowder, Monte Cristo, salads, sliders, veggie burger.
The Posse universally pronounced the fresh cut fries a masterpiece.
I can imagine the Posse might have had an eye (or palate) towards critical that day, as some of them were in high school w/ Mr. Schneider, and don’t we all like to call out old friends some times?
The menu offers a number of items that appeal to my own tastes which I look forward to trying next time I am that way – including, a Cuban, pulled pork, and Duluth’s homage to St. Louis with toasted ravioli – did this guy work on the Hill? And any “Italian Sausage” hoagie will get a nod from me.
GB Schneiders is open late, and has carry out. Whereas once West Duluth’s only dining options were bar pizza, and a decades old Cantonese room, the choices these days are varied and sublime.
The Ground Round was founded by Howard Johnsons in 1969 and what one time had over 300 outlets.. Now a shadow of its former self, Ground Round currently operates about 30 restaurants in 13 states, and is owned by a cooperative of former franchisees, and is based in Freeport, Maine. Some analysts say it may be tough for a chain this small to survive long term.
G.R. may have been the innovator of eating free peanuts and tossing the shells on the floor….at least they are one of the earliest places I remember that offered that.
Duluth was pretty early in the game, and for some reason, it has survived in a market, which like most these days, is flooded with casual dining options. There are at least a half-dozen similar options within spitting distance of the Duluth outlet, including a branch of local favorite, “Grandmas,” started by the son of frozen food mogul, Jeno Paulucci (Chun King, Jeno’s Pizza, Michelina’s). (Paulucci Wikipedia bio).
Minnesota Burger Reporter Kawikamedia and his burger posse stopped in at the Ground Round today, and sampled (what else?) the Pepper Cheeseburger. He reported it was a little dry, but came with a chipotle sauce he favored. He also ordered the onion rings, which are very similar to another hometown favorite, the Pickwick.
Kawikamedia continues his quest for the best Pepper Cheeseburger in Minnesota. Maybe you have a suggestion of one he might have missed?
Kawikamedia shoots beautiful pix of food, and some of his shots are available for purchase in our online store.
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Texas Road House has grown to over 350 locations in 46 states (missing OR, WA, AK, HI), and is on a tear to open new ones in 2010. Headquartered in Louisville, a recent add to their location roster is in Duluth, MN, in the ‘restaurant cluster’ in and around the Miller Hill Mall.
The company President, on the website, says of their mission: “We wanted to provide a place that the whole family could enjoy,” says Taylor. “Texas Roadhouse is about a hearty, good meal with service that is friendly, energetic, and enthusiastic. Life should be fun – so the workplace needs to reflect that as well – and that is why we put our employees first.”
Further, their website says “The Texas Roadhouse Story is simple. Legendary Food, Legendary Service®!!!”
The Road House offers a wide variety of “American” cuisine, including steaks, chicken, ribs, and some “Southern” fare (they call it “country”) like smothered chicken, catfish, and pulled pork.
Minnesota Burger Reporter Kawikamedia wasn’t very impressed. He ordered the “All-American Cheddar Burger” ½ lb. burger topped with cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, and onions. Burgers are served on a toasted Texas-sized bun with steak fries and a pickle spear.
His first objection was to the atmosphere, he said it was the “loudest place he had ever been in sober,” and it sounded like they had two different C&W bands at full bore simultaneously.
Waitstaff would regularly show up at tables singing some celebratory song, which increased the noise level. The party stated with potato skins which were “OK.”
Problem one arose when one of the party ordered a steak which was so salty, the diner wondered if it might have MSG on it. The manager explained that the “combination of spices they used might PRODUCE msg.” Oh, yikes. The steak was replaced with a less-seasoned one, but this version was overcooked.
Kawikamedia’s burger had been requested medium, the server said beef was ground on site, so different levels of doneness were permitted. The burger arrived overcooked, and was, in our reporter’s opinion, not nearly the claimed half-pound (precooked) unless they started with a 70/30 grind and some great portion of the burger was grilled into oblivion.
Overall the party was disappointed with the food, service, and atmosphere, and won’t be returning. There are so many choices available in the casual dining segment these days, that new establishments usually only get one chance to establish loyalty with a customer base. And in a small town like Duluth, ill-will travels faster than traffic on London Road.
If you want to check out Texas Road House, find a location online here: Each store has an individualized website and you can look at the respective menus after choosing a location.