New Scenic Cafe, Positively 3rd Street Bakery, Leif Erikson Park, Russ Kendall’s Smoke House – Duluth, Knife River


 New Scenic Cafe did not disappoint. Lovely location on a lakeside country road about 12 miles north of Duluth, pretty backwoods decor with lots of wood, local artwork, even stacked tree branches here and there. The food was great — a light interesting cold corn soup, tuna sashimi  tacos with avocado and interesting slaw, frites, a pulled pork sandwich with avocado and queso, a killer sundae with caramel corn, peanuts, hot fudge and locally-made ice cream. When we left at 10:20 p.m. two people were relaxing in low wooden chairs around a fire pit on the front lawn, watching the almost-full moon drop a puddle of light onto the lake.

Before dinner, we ended up by the lighthouse in Two Harbors, which turned out to be a lovely place to watch the sunset over the water as we stood on a long breakwater.

Since  I am

writing a story about smoked fish shops here, we stopped at Russ Kendall’s Smokehouse in Knife River, a famous old roadside joint with a totally different vibe than Northern Waters. Knotty  wood walls,  an old neon sign outside advertising Royal Bohemian Beer and the Smokehouse, smoked fish and that’s about it, although there is a dining area in an adjacent room with tables, an old pinball machine, pool table and bar. (When I asked the woman behind the fish counter if the bar was operational she said no. “My grandfather was killed in a knife fight at the bar so we only sell beer to go,” she explained.

This morning we walked down the hill to Positively 3rd Street Bakery, (named after a song by Bob Dylan, who was born here). A sweet guy with a ponytail sold us a gooey roll and wheat bran muffin, then gave us free coffee that we took down the hill to a lovely rose garden at Leif Erikson Park. We found a bench overlooking the water. The public spaces here are really nice. Lots of lakeside paths and gardens and parks. We got more coffee at Duluth Coffee, a hipster place downtown and set off for Grand Marais on a pretty morning.

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