Posts Tagged ‘Kawikamedia’
Duluth’s devastating floods of a few months ago were put behind Grandma’s with their reopening at the Miller Hill Mall location.
Here’s what the restaurant looked like that fateful day in June.
But today, it’s bright and shiny once again (see pic below), and serving its full menu of old and new favorites.
Kawika and the Minnesota Burger Posse continued their search for Minnesota’s best pepper cheeseburger. For those of you not familiar with the term, the “pepper cheeseburger” (which really should be written out “pepper cheese” burger) is a seasoned meat patty, deep-fried, and topped with Pepper Jack cheese. (A derivative of Monterey Jack, tho seasoned with spices and herbs to provide “heat’).
Grandma’s version includes Italian seasonings, and it’s one of Kawika’s favorites.
More on Grandma’s, a Minnesota institution, here.
Grandma’s menu is online.
Kawikamedia and the Minnesota Burger Posse have embarked on a mission of checking out “dive” bars in the area. This week, it was the Amnicon Bar s on the Corner of Tri Lake Road and County A out by Pattison Park. About 10 miles South of Superior, Wisconsin, on Amnicon Lake.
There are a number of lakes in the immediate area, Amnicon is reputed to be a hot bed for crappie, perch and muskie fishing. According to the DNR website, the muskies range from 30-50″.
But fish wasn’t on the Posse’s menu, they enjoyed the burgers and coney island style hot dogs.
The coneys were Hormel natural casings, and were reported to be excellent.
The Amnicon burger came topped with ham and cheese and a side of curly fries.
If you’re as old as dirt, as I am, you’ll remember Duluth prior to the major fast food franchises coming in. We had a select number of local burger houses, most noticeably, The London Inn, at 17th Avenue East and London Road, a beloved high school hangout and purveyor of most excellent onion rings, and then there was a couple of (I don’t remember the name) root beer stands that featured “Richardsons” brand of root beer, and had iconic signs , and a rotating root beer barrel as a road side sign.
At some point, A&W came to down, but there aren’t any of those left, and of course, today, the city has the whole spectrum of the national chains.
In one of the former A&W locations, you’ll find a local favorite “A & Dubs”, which features a variety of fast-food sandwiches and traditional drinks.
The owners decided to abandon the A&W franchise decades ago, when the chain insisted on standardized menus, and the soft drink itself started to be sold in stores.
The cafe featured car-hop ordering, was open only seasonally, and developed a following for their own food recipes.
Our intrepid Minnesota burger reporter, Kawikamedia, and his posse, hit A & Dubs the other day, and came away more than satisfied.
They ordered the “Powerhouse” a jumbo cheeseburger with lettuce, mayo, pickle, and the combo version includes fries.
Minnesota Burger Reporter Kawikamedia checked out the Zeitgast Arts Cafe in, part of Zeitgeist Arts, a combination cafe, arts cinema and theater in the downtown neighborhood that is rapidly becoming Duluth’s “Art Sector”. He and his pals took in “The Skin I Live In” which he pronounced to be the strangest movie he had seen in a long time, and then popped into the cafe for a bite.
The cafe has a large bar, with windows overlooking Superior Street, with the splendor of the ediface of the former Hotel Duluth in view.
Kawikamedia had the grilled Angus burger, with melted cheddar, dressed with lettuce, tomato, onions, and mayo, plopped on toasted bun and accompanied by pommes frites. (I never knew there was anything “French” about Duluth, except for the founding father).
He pronounced the burger and fries as A-OK!
In Duluth, we’d say this place was out in the boonies, back in the day, but it’s not anymore. Overlooking the Grand View Golf Course, on a high hill, sitting at the Dry Dock you can see 50 miles to the South.
But why would you want to look at the view, instead of your plate? The Minnesota Burger Posse, led by Kawikamedia, headed out tot he Dry Dock the other day, and Kawika ordered his usual pepper cheeseburger, and for laughs, threw in a few green olives, as the Kawika family is known to do (it’s a genetic thing).
He opted for waffle fries with Cajun seasoning on the side, and loved both the fries and the burger, tho next time around, he’d err on the side of caution and order the burger with a little less flame time.
Here’s the Dry Dock menu.
Here are all the other reasons why you might want to visit Duluth.
It took a long time for a nationwide chain of BBQ restaurants to hit Duluth, MN, even tho the first location was a mere 50 miles away. Famous Dave’s was started in Hayward, WI, a regional year-round resort town, home of the World Lumberjack Contests, and also the winter cross country ski fest, the Birkebeiner. Al Capone had a hideout nearby during the 1920’s and 30’s.
Located in the tourist center of Duluth, Canal Park, Famous Dave’s serves up a vast menu of barbecue specialties, and burgers as well.
Minnesota Burger Reporter Kawikamedia, and his burger posse hit Famous Dave’s the other day, and Kawikamedia went with the Ultimate BBQ burger, which promises a juicy ground beef patty beneath a pile of Georgia Chopped Pork with two strips of jalapeño bacon, melted sharp American cheese and our signature Beam & Cola BBQ sauce.
Kawikamedia is not usually a fan of BBQ sauce, but reported he loved this one due to it’s complex combination of flavors.
He’ll be back, he says, after all, Famous Dave’s is within staggering distance of his house!
Minnesota Burger Reporter Kawikamedia and his Burger Posse checked out Va Bene during one of Duluth’s Eat Downtown promotions. Va Bene focuses on Italian home cooking, fresh ingredients, and delicacies imported from Italy; it recently celebrated its 5th annivesary. In addition to dine in, take-away, they also carry a select line of Italian groceries.
The special lunch promotion included a choice of Italian Sausage soup or salad, and Fettuccine Carbonara, and gelato to finish.
His review? “Out of this world!”
The fettuccine is prepared with pancetta, peas, egg, and parmesan. He also took home one of their very special burgers, a 6 oz patty with pancetta, portabellas, onions, mozzarella and gorgonzola in a balsamic reduction, which just sounds fascinating, and Kawikamedia says it was to die for.
(In BurgerDogBoy’s playbook, any burger that has pancetta and gorgonzola is going to be cause to walk over broken glass to consume; looks like a trip to Duluth is in order!).
Va Bene is open for lunch and dinner weekdays, and including breakfast on weekends. They even offer meatballs and red gravy for brekky!
My mother had an odd personality quirk – well, not to me, but certainly to those around her. She led a very standard American middle class life in the 50s and 60s, the dutiful wife and mother, who’s own personality didn’t start to emerge (at least to her children) til we were well on our way out of our teens.
We each learned something different from my mother. We each had different experiences.
The “oddity” in my mother, at least as far as I was concerned, and involved, is my mother looked to me to take her to “off the beaten path” restaurants…and an occasional dive.
I think she relished telling the stories of these outings to her peers. Made her feel more “edgy” or that she had something to one up them with. Not sure, doesn’t matter, I cherish those dates I had with my mom.
The path of our adventures often took us to Minneapolis-St. Paul, where I lived a couple of times.
One of my mom’s favorite haunts with me was a little hole-in-the-wall delicatessan in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul. Cecil’s opened on July 1, 1949, and is still operated by Cecil’s daughter and her husband, today. Unless you are “in the know” you probably wouldn’t even realize a restaurant was there, as the store front is a traditional deli and meat counter, and the restaurant is through doors in the back.
But it’s worth the trek, as my brother and niece did today, in ‘celebration’ of my late mother’s birthday. A corned beef homage, as it were.
Cecil’s are big customers of Vienna Beef, and if you are regular reader, you know what a buff I am of that company. I first fell in love with Vienna’s natural casing hot dogs, but have since begun an affair with their entire product line. (Which is both served, and sold at retail, at Cecil’s).
My brother, his daughter and grandbaby plowed through their respective menu choices, before he loaded up on Vienna products to take home: dogs, buns, relish, and a brisket or two.
Cecil’s is a ‘must stop’ if you’re on a whirlwind tour of Twin Cities dining. A must.
I love the fact that Vienna is making a big push to get their product in retail locations. They’ve been at Cecil’s a long time. Tomorrow? Hopefully the world!
Once upon a time, a young Greek made the treacherous journey from the Twin Cities to Duluth, heeding the call of pioneering Duluthians hungry for hot dogs. The year was 1921. 90 years later, the
Original Coney Island, is still selling dogs, but new owners have made a few upgrades recently.
The vintage appearance (even the original ceiling) have been left intact, but the interior has been spruced up, and the walls decorated with memorabilia.
But perhaps the biggest change, is that after 90 years, Original has joined the ‘major leagues’ of hot doggers, by adding Vienna Beef products to their menu. Vienna, from Chicago, is unquestionably the king of hot dog suppliers, the preferred dog of weenie wizards like moi.
Spoiler alert: BurgerDogBoy H-A-T-E-S sports bars. There would have to be something REALLY spectacular inside to get me in one, like the woman of my dreams, or at least the burger of my dreams.
Such was not the case at Sneakers Sports Bar & Grill, inside the “Holiday Mall” downtown Duluth, MN. The “Holiday Mall” is basically a couple floors sitting underneath a Holiday Inn, which used to be the Normandy Inn, an offshoot of the Minneapolis hotel of the same name, which has been around since back in the day, and was always known for serving fresh, hot, popovers with every meal. (Whew, that was a long sentence).
I don’t think the Holiday Inn continued this practice. The Holiday Mall was also home to a large McDonalds, who apparently scooted due to either 1) economic reasons, or 2) getting bored with being the hangout of choice for the local street denizens.
Anyway….sports bars. Ho hum. Usually loud, usually obnoxious patrons, usually the same menu coast to coast…. your burgers..your wings…. your…blah blah. Why can’t a sports bar have at least a couple of screens on CNN? Or one of those lumberjack reality shows? Then I’d give them a passing glance.
But I didn’t have to go into Sneakers, tho I did once, and as previously hinted at, for one of my two only reasons….no, not the burger, but in hot pursuit of the woman of my dreams (ok, she was for that month).
Minnesota Burger Reporter Kawikamedia and the Minnesota Burger Posse were in sneakers the day of the press conference announcing whether or not that senior citizen footballer Brett Favre was going to return to the Vikings for another season. Most of the Posse thought the food was passable, but the discerning palate of Kawikamedia could tell the patty neath the slice of pepperjack was previously frozen, as were the fries. He and I both share the notion that frozen patties have a certain “taste”, which isn’t present in fresh ground meat. Neither of us could tell you what precisely that taste is, but it lingers and doesn’t make for all that pleasant of a hamburger experience.
Add that to blaring TVs, loud and occasionally obnoxious patrons, street people wandering the “mall”, and you have reason enough to sneak right past “Sneakers.”
(P.S. If you google “Duluth Holiday Inn”, the description says “on the waterfront”. It’s not. If you want an actual “waterfront” hotel, google “canal park hotels Duluth” and you will be offered a variety of choices).
(Food photography by Kawikiamedia).