The Tavern on Grand's walleye dinner: Secret investigation reveals unauthorized deliciousness
Grown men speak its name in whispers of reverence. Other fish seek its sage counsel on dating, off-shore tax strategies, and dealing with that wayward guppy who's been smoking cigs behind the SuperAmerica with bottom-feeders like the sturgeon.
The Tavern on Grand As good or better than anything you'd get at a plywood shack on White Earth.
He's the walleye. Biggest name in the freshwater aquatic world. Friend to dinner plates across the Northland.
In days of yore, there were strict rules governing the proper preparation of this grand species, if only to respect the fish:
The Tavern on Grand You know a joint is class when it has a big picture of a fish in the window. That's just obvious.
1. It shall be served in a supper club buried deep in the northern Minnesota woods. Said club shall be bedecked in beer signs, knotty pine, and decorative blood stains curated through a series of drunken symposiums on the Vikings' secondary.
2. It shall be cooked by a guy named Hank who thinks calling himself a "chef" would be tacit admission that he cried during The Notebook.
3. It shall be presented on a semi-clean plate with an honor guard of tartar sauce, canned beans, and baked potato still wrapped in aluminum foil, which makes it harder to set on fire when you mistake it for an ashtray.
4. It shall be served by a waitress named Agnes who calls you "honey" and lost an arm in a rogue muskie attack in 1974. Or a bar fight in Chisolm last April. She can't remember which.
This was the recipe for deliciousness.
So you, dearest reader, surely shared our alarm when we stumbled past the Tavern on Grand. The St. Paul bar/eatery boasts of a "famous" walleye dinner. Served in the middle of a city! By waitresses with all their appendages!
"Sacrilege!" we cried. Though in our defense it was a rather manly cry. Really more of a shout, if you want to be precise. So we immediately sent a team of investigators in to expose this heresy. Our findings:
"Our Famous Walleye Dinner"
The Tavern on Grand
656 Grand Avenue
The People's City of St. Paul
Casing the joint: Impressive subterfuge. Decorative approach best described as fine dining, Two Harbors style. Heavy on the wood, exposed brick, and neighborhood guys downing brewskies. Portrait of Mikhail Gorbachev (with mysterious Minnesota-shaped birthmark) indicative of possible communist influence.
Founder Dave Wildmo grew up in Bemidji and used to work at a snowmobile company, genetic coding that precludes him from serving the kind of dainty walleye you'd give to super models or guys from Los Angeles
The opener: Salad or coleslaw, but go with the slaw. A traditional creamy blend not ruined by unauthorized spices increasingly found at yuppie joints that try to improve upon that which has already been perfected. Comes in what could properly be described as a huge glob, a meal unto itself. Seize the day, thy virile offering of coleslaw!
The vegetables: Masculine-sized carrots and broccoli. Crunchy and lightly cooked, so you don't feel like a baby rabbit. Fabulous? Yes. But might this be a diversionary tactic to undermine all we've previously known about chowing walleye?
The potatoes: Your choice of baked, au gratin, cakes, fries or something called -- gasp! -- baby reds! Street alias: Commie potatoes! Alas, interrogation of suspected reds reveals no noticeable Soviet influence. These are totally delectable; commies think boiled gravel is tasty.
The walleye: Majestic species arrives on plate. Appropriate genuflections are made. Followed by Apostate's confession: It is mouthwateringly killer, as good or better than anything you'd get at a plywood shack on White Earth.
Price for one piece of fish: $16.95. Price for two: $22.95. But unless you just spent seven years in a Cambodian prison, stick with one. These guys think "portion control" is a Hebrew phrase meaning "we should probably make it bigger." Will likely spend the the next four days calling in sick while splayed on the couch to complete the digestive cycle.
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