Is anyone heading to Lanesboro this weekend for the rhubarb festival? http://www.rhubarbfestival.org/ If so, please do report back! I wish I could go. In the meantime, I've been meaning to post about some places I visited in Lanesboro:
In Albert Lea (en route or returning to Twin Cities from Lanesboro, depending on your route):
Plaza Morena (Mexican) in North Bridge Mall. I wouldn't say the entire menu is stellar, but it seems they have some reasonably authentic dishes on the menu. We especially liked the plump pork tamales, with the tender, moist masa. A pleasant surprise. The carnitas fajitas were fair, though, too greasy. The salsa was so-so--no heat. I liked the Mexican beans. Order the tamales!
Plaza Morena, http://www.northbridgemall.com/stores... http://www.plazamorena.com/
Das Wurst Haus: I hate to be such a sucker because I know this place exists mostly for the tourists, but I loved the chow. We tried their brat (with kraut), beer cheese soup, and reuben. Almost everything is made in house, including the meats, root beer, mustards (at least 6 different varieties, we liked the "gentle giant" variety), breads (the rye that came with the reuben was loaded with caraway seeds and was fantastic), kraut, and soups. And, you have to adore the older gentleman who sits in the back and greets you as you enter in between playing his sets of live polka music.
Old Village Hall
This place tries hard and, for the most part, succeeds. Service was extraordinarily friendly, though a little unpolished. Morel mushrooms were in season, so, they were everywhere on the menu. We tried the sauteed morel appetizer, stuffed with herbs and 3 cheeses (they said the dish was sauteed, but I thought it was finished under the broiler because it was slightly crispy on the edges); the morel and wild mushroom soup (lovely!); the herb crusted lamb chops with raspberry-port sauce (a tad two sweet, but otherwise, perfect); and beef tenderloin with ancho-mushroom butter. Overall, a lovely evening.
Riverside on the Root
Fantastic setting, if you score a table on the patio overlooking the river. Service needs work. The food is okay. We tried the bbq ribs, which were tender but not very flavorful. I had a serious objection to the blue cheese dressing that came with my side salad as it was about half mayo. The baked potato and veggies on the side were nothing special.
Branding Iron Supper Club (in nearby Preston)
If you want the classic supper club on the hill experience, Branding Iron Supper Club hits the mark. We dined early so, everything arrived at once, while we were working on our soup and salad. The onion strings appetizers were sliced fatter than I like, but they were still a fun indulgence. The "au gratin" potatoes were just cheesy mashed potatoes (boo!). The prime rib and top of sirloin were tender and cooked exactly as we ordered them. A good value, too, I thought. The salad bar was better than most (with tomato wedges, fresh peppers, eggs, three bean salad, cantaloupe) and the beef noodle soup was robust, with chunks of beef and thick egg noodles. The meal came with the mandatory garlic toasts—these were crunchy-- which I can never resist. Hoity toity wheat beer available, which surprised us for a small town joint.
Harmony House Restaurant (in nearby Harmony)
I couldn't resist stopping when I saw the "home cooking" sign out front. There's no menu, just the specials on the board. We tried the roast beef and the ham loaf (I'd never heard of it and, of course, HAD to try it) dinners. Next time, I'll pass on the "dinner" part, the canned peach (which sounded appealing when we were ordering, "Would you like the fruit?"), the dinner roll, canned corn--all forgetable. I didn't try the cole slaw. They used the same brown gravy for the ham loaf as for the roast beef. The roast beef was surprisingly good. The ham loaf, well, if you have a craving for it, this is your place. Ham loaf turns out to be made of corn meal and the eponymous ham, all glazed with brown sugar. I can't say I loved it, but I later learned from my dear friend Google that this is a classic Amish dish, and Harmony, of course, is Amish country. We also tried their sour cream and raisin pie. I can't stand raisins, it’s one of only 3 foods I won’t eat, and couldn't force myself to try more than a couple of bites, but my dining companion was ecstatic. I do love pie crust, though, and this crust was fantastic, so, I'm guessing the rest of the pie was as good as my companion said it was.
The Olde Triangle (in Wabasha, either on your way to or from Lanesboro depending on your route.) Terrific little Irish pub, which I posted about in detail:
Photos: Das Wurst Haus, Old Village Hall, Riverside on the Root, Harmony House Restaurant