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Duluth, MN – The “New” Pickwick



Pickwick Restaurant, Duluth, MN

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!).

Pickwick Pepper Cheeseburger


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).


Pepper "Poppers" at the Pickwick

Pickwick Pepper Cheeseburger & Onion Rings

Pickwick on Urbanspoon



Two Harbors, MN – Ledge Rock Grill


Once upon a time, “fine dining” in Two Harbors meant a visit to Dairy Queen. These days, with a smattering of posh resorts for the ‘visit Lake Superior’ and ‘get away for a night Duluthian’ crowds, dining has been elevated to an entirely new level.

The Ledge Rock Grill is the house restaurant for the Larsmont Cottages, a 40 acre enclave on the shores of Lake Superior, “inspired by a Scandinavian fishing village”. The Ledge is open for lunch and dinner seven days, as well as breakfast on the weekends, and is open to the public at all times (in other words, you do not have to be a guest of the cottages to partake).

Ledge Rock Grill

Ledge Rock Grill

Serving “modern American”, chef Todd Torricer, who has Hawaiian roots, also offers monthly special menus, and the August theme features “inspired by the sea”.

Minnesota lead Burger Reporter Kawikamedia took a couple nights off from burgers, to check out a few menu items at the Ledge. Having lived in Hawaii, his intention was to check out the Huli Huli chicken, but alas, it was not offered the night of his first visit.

He started with the smoked shrimp appetizer with a dried cherry balsamic, and then went with the Kobe flatiron, served with parsnip mashed and asparagus, a bargain at $31.

His second visit was more successful, and described the seared Ahi, from the special August menu, as “out of this world”. The plate was Fresh Pacific Ahi Tuna pan seared and paired with avocado puree, sushi rice tater tots and finished off with a wasabi-soy butter sauce.

The Huli Huli chicken was very good, (if you don’t know Huli Huli, it is a traditional Hawaiian barbecued chicken, with a sauce made from soy sauce and ketchup, sweeting with brown sugar and a bit of sherry.)

He didn’t care for the side mash that night, which he described as “must have been doused in liquid smoke.”

Kawikamedia highly recommends the Ledge, despite the fact there is no burger on the dinner menu!

(All fotos in this post copyright Kawikamedia, 2010, and cannot be used w/o permission).

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Smoked Shrimp Starter

Smoked Shrimp Starter

Huli Huli Chicken

Huli Huli Chicken

Kobe Flatiron Steak w/ Parsnip Mashed

Kobe Flatiron Steak w/ Parsnip Mashed

Ledge Rock Grill on Urbanspoon


National Hot Dog Day


July is National Hot Dog Month, and the celebration continues with it being National Hot Dog Day, today, July 23, 2010.   Here are some fun facts to know and share about our favorite tubular nutrition delivery vehicle!

  • During the “hot dog season” (Memorial Day to Labor Day), Americans will consume 7 billion hot dogs, or 818 every single second during the period!
  • On the 4th of July alone, we consume 150 million dogs, enough to stretch from DC to LA five times!
  • Los Angelenos consume more hot dogs that residents of any other city in the US.  Following L.A., are New York, San Antonio, Baltimore/Washington, and Chicago.
  • For the year ending January of 2010, more than 730 million packages were sold in grocery stores in the US, and this doesn’t include WalMart, as they do not report sales figures!
  • Ballparks in the states sell about 22 million dogs per season.
  • To find your nearest hot dog joint, and join in the gustatory celebration today, check out this hot dog finder!

Burgerdogboys’s favorite hot dog in Portland? A tie:  Zweigle’s White Hots, available at both Superdog locations, and the fine Chicago Red Hot dog served by the Fried Onion!(P.S., while both of these dogs have “hot” in their name, neither are!)

(Statistics and above Photos from the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council).

Photo below by Kawikamedia, Deluxe Coney Island, Duluth, MN

Deluxe Coney Island, Duluth


Duluth, MN – Little Angie’s Cantina and Grill


Mickey Paulucci, spawn of Jeno Paulucci, self-described “peddler’ and ‘not a nice guy’,  started the Grandma’s, restaurant empire over 30 years ago, in Canal Park, Duluth, MN, across the street from his father’s office.

The original Grandma’s became known for quality food, ample servings, and fun ambiance, and grew to be a statewide mini-chain, but eventually cutting back to concentrate on opening several other eateries in the hometown Duluth area.

One of the spin-offs is Little Angie’s Cantina and Grill, a Tex-Mex outlet within avocado throwing distance of the first Grandma’s in Canal Park.   Little Angie’s puffery says “Little Angie’s Cantina is the kind of place where the food is so fresh it’s still sizzling at your table.”

Minnesota Burger Reporter Kawikamedia popped into Little Angie’s the other day and checked out the Cowboy Burger $7.99, a 1/3 pound all-beef patty topped with marinated lettuce (wtf?) tomato, mayo, add bacon and cheese for $2.09. The Cowboy is served on a toasted bun and comes w/ fries.

He said the burger looks much better than it tastes, overcooked, dry, no seasoning. The fries were “passable.”

In these days of boutique burger places, restaurants that offer burgers as just “one more item” need to try a little harder to upgrade their offerings.  One has a number of dining choices in Canal Park, and some of them aren’t part of the Grandma’s group, even!

Little Angie’s menu is online.
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Little Angie's Cantina & Grill on Urbanspoon


Duluth, MN – JJ Astor (Radisson Hotel)


John Jacob Astor was the first billionaire in the US, amassing a fortune in fur trading, real estate, and exports to China. He also created the first trust. At the time of his death, he was the wealthiest person in the US, and, using 2010 dollars as an equivalent, he ranks as the 4th richest person in American history. Local legend in Duluth has him dying on the Titanic, which would have been a cool story, had he not died decades earlier.

Curt Carlson, founder of the Radisson Hotels, was also a billionaire, founding the Gold Bond Trading Stamp company after a stint at P&G. He bought the downtown Minneapolis Radisson Hotel in 1960, and started a second phase of his career which eventually included hotels, restaurants, and hospitality companies around the world. 10 years after his first hotel acquisition, he built the Radisson Duluth, which encompasses the cylindrical hotel design, so popular at the time, replicated at so many urban Holiday Inns, and taking its place in history forever with John Portman’s 4,000 foot tall (well it seems like it) Westin Peachtree (original name) in Atlanta.

These three elements come together in the relaunch of the Radisson Duluth’s rooftop revolving restaurant, JJ Astor’s, whose opening coincides with the complete refurbishment of the hotel, a modern updating using retro decorating and furniture, from top to bottom.

Time was, the Radisson revolving restaurant (where was the first one, anyway?) was the place for several things: the big date; mother’s and father’s days; engagements, anniversaries and birthdays. Now they hope to take a place in regular dining and lounge choices for Duluthians, and even shut off the “turntable” in the afternoons for Happy Hour. (kind, folks!).

Minnesota Burger Reporter and the Minnesota Burger Posse stopped by JJ Astor’s for lunch the other day, and reported a generally very positive experience. They like the house-made pickles which had a hint of garlic. Plates came with fresh cut fries, which were excellent, but not mentioned on the menu as a feature. Two of the posse enjoyed the cheeseburgers, one had the pan-fried Walleye sandwich, a common fixture on Duluth menus. The Walleye is a local fish, full name “Walleyed Pike,” but it actually isn’t a member of the pike family. Go figure!

Astor’s hot young chef brings a new twist to local favorites, employing the ‘simple is better’ technique so popular today.

The Radisson stands at 6th Avenue West and Superior St., near the site of the base of the formerly famous Duluth funicular. (Oh, look it up!).

It’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the menu is online.

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JJ Astor Restaurant | Lounge | View on Urbanspoon


Duluth, MN – GB Schneider & Company


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.

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GB Schneider and Company on Urbanspoon


Duluth, MN – Nick’s Burger King “Revival”


OK, follow the bouncing ball, as this story can be confusing! Once upon a time, in downtown Duluth, MN, there was a venerable institution called ” Mr. Nick’s Burger King” – (Home of the famous Char-burger). Nick’s operated for years, with that name, until an upstart franchise burger joint who currently has a very scary “king” character as a mascot comes along and wants to open in Duluth. They negotiate with the Mr. Nick’s family, and eventually, a compromise was reached (the details were as secret-like as a burger joint’s secret sauce), and Mr. Nick’s dropped the “Burger King” name, and a couple or six BK restaurants opened in Duluth, and the Mr. Nick’s family was somehow involved with those. (Please don’t trouble me for the facts, I am off my meds and it’s hard enough to concentrate – LOL).

Now, once a year, the family that operated Nick’s, dusts off their burger and onion ring recipe to benefit Twelve Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox, raising money to send local kids to camp, and for other youth activities. This event occurred yesterday in Duluth.

For a mere $10, you got a taste of nostalgia via a Mr. Nick’s Burger, Rings, and a drink, and take-outs were allowed.

Minnesota Burger Reporter Kawikamedia covered the event and said a good time was had by all. Photo credits to Kawikamedia, except exterior b/w of Mr. Nick’s restaurant found online, but uncredited.  (“Little” Nick at the grill;  Charburger and Onion Rings).


Duluth, MN – Clyde Iron Works


A hundred years or so in the making, the new restaurant at Clyde Iron Works, 29th Avenue West and Michigan Street, is now open.

In the cavernous space of the old iron crane company, in a building that machines came out of that built the Empire State Building, Panama Canal, and logged the forests of the Great Plains, a local entrepreneur is making his mark with a micro-brewery, restaurant, bakery, and boutique hotel, adjacent to the new non-profit, multi-purpose athletic center, to be the home of high school and amateur hockey games.

The restaurant specializes in simple foods, made from scratch, and cooked in wood-fired ovens brought in from France.

Kawikamedia and the Minnesota Burger Posse hit the Ironworks today, and were among the first diners in Duluth to enjoy the fruits of the kitchen. The wood-fired pepperoni pizza was a huge hit, crispy charred think crust, and ample toppings.

Kawikamedia continued his quest for the Twin Ports best Pepper Cheeseburger, and gave that an A+ also, fresh ground hand-formed patty. The hand-cut fries were adequate, he said, and he bought sides of blue cheese and pico de gallo for laughs, which he also like.

The gang left full and satisfied, but Kawikamedia is already thinking of heading back to the bakery to pick up multiples of items he saw other people enjoying.

Clyde’s menu is online. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

All photos by Kawikamedia.

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Clyde Iron Works Restaurant And Bar on Urbanspoon


Superior, WI – Thirsty Pagan Brewpub


Back when I was a sprout, and just discovering alcohol, it was kind enough for Wisconsin to lower the drinking age to 18, and my pals and I merely needed to cross a bridge to imbibe. Along Tower Avenue, the former street of glory in Superior, Wisconsin, there were a number of bars, but most notably, the dive called “Tommy Byrnes”, where we got 15 cent tap beers and 45 cent mixed drinks (yep!). Really the only place around to eat was The Elbo Room, with Sammy’s Pizza, but no complaints there.

Superior hasn’t changed much, (except for drink prices), but there are a few food outlets worth checking out (in addition to the Anchor Bar’s superb burgers).

One such notable, off the beaten path (meaning not on Tower Avenue), is the Thirsty Pagan Brewpub, where Minnesota Burger Reporter Kawikamedia and his Burger Posse stopped in to try the pizza the other night.

They started with the pretzel appetizer, of which they reported it was very good, not your garden variety Sam’s Club frozen pretzels, and which came with a side of a tangy yellow mustard.

On to the pizza, they went with the TPG Special, a 16″ monster with spicy Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions and green peppers. They added green olives, in addition, to this monster topped the $25 price tag for a couple of pounds of gooey cheesey goodness.

The Pagan says their pizzas are “made to order using the finest meats, fresh cut vegetables, and topped with real Wisconsin cheese.” Kawikamedia loved the crust and the cheese that had great stretch/pull w/ every bite.

The Pagan also serves subs, a short list of appetizers, and or course, their local in-house brews, but Kawikamedia was in the mood for soda, so he went with Wisconsin’s own Sprecher Cream Soda, which is brewed in Milwaukee, just down the street from the burger mecca, Solly’s Grill, the birthplace of the “Butter Burger.”

Photos, interior and exterior from the Pagan’s own website, pizza pic by Kawikamedia.

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Thirsty Pagan Brewpub on Urbanspoon


Uncle Louis Cafe Review, Duluth, MN



Once upon a time, there was an all night joint in Superior, WI, called “Louis’ Cafe”, which was famous for ultra-delicious pancakes, Greek specialties, and huge portions. Louis’ begat Louis’ West End in Duluth, which spawned Louis London Road and as those outposts faded from memory, a new Louis (not sure if there is any relation) sprang up on the hospital hillside of Duluth, promising the “best breakfasts in town.”

Kawikamedia and the Minnesota burger posse dropped by the other day, noonish, to check out the menu of this 20 year old establishment.

The “Bishop” went with the hot roast beef sandwich, served on white bread, with mashed potatoes and gravy, cleaning his plate while admiring a nearby order of Eggs Benedict. Kawika went with the heart-stopping Buxom Burger, two 1/3 pound patties, cheese, mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, bacon, onion, and mayo, and pronounced it excellent, with “hand-formed seasoned patties” and good “overall taste.” He said the seasoned fries were spot on, as well.

When I go to town, I’m not allowed to join the Minnesota Burger Posse on their outings, because I don’t know the secret handshake. But I do believe they’ll let me attend next time, as I have learned the secret words – “I’m buying.” How ’bout it guys?

Louis menu is online at Urbanspoon. Not in the mood for American diner grub? The Huie’s, another Duluth family with a long history in local restaurants, has the Chopsticks Inn, across the street.

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Uncle Louis Cafe on Urbanspoon

Uncle Louis Cafe Review

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