The Food Network program, "Diners, Drive Inns and Dives" refers to itself as "3 D". I'm about to report on two spots in the Northern part of Minnesota and Wisconsin which qualify for this description.
"The Duluth Grill", 118 South 27th Ave. W Duluth MN 55806-218-726-1150 has actually been on the afore mentioned show, as pictures in their vestibule attest. I'm not sure when it was featured but it was interesting to us, that in all the years of visits to that area, this was the first time we or our Duluth friend where aware of this family run diner. It is a large space on a busy street and when we arrived around noon the wait was 10 to 15 minutes.
Atmosphere is minimal but the menu is fairly large and certainly contains items which cater to all tastes. Everything is made "in house". The 3 of us had the Walleye Wrap($9.99) which is served with a choice of soup, salad, slaw or chips, and comes with a couple of crispy sweet pickle chips. I had chili, a mild, tomatoey, fairly thick soup with sufficient ground beef and beans. I passed on the cheese. The two women both had the tomato basil bisque. The wrap, itself, is a large multi-grained soft tortillas filled with lettuce, tomato, bacon and grilled walleye. The sauce seems to be a thin remoulade. The combination is quite good and plenty for even the local lumbering patrons. ( There you are Cyndi.)
Have you every gone on an eating excursion expecting to be disappointed? The next day, for lunch, we set out for "The Delta Diner" 14385 County Highway H, Delta, WI. 54856 715-372-6666. The location of this old, reconditioned RR dining car, for us city folk, is really "in the middle of nowhere"; 12 miles south of Iron River WI, which on US 2 and 12 miles north of Cable WI, neither of which are meaningful population centers.
We were spending 6 days at the camp in Lake Nebagamon, WI, with which we have been associated for many year( 71 for me) and all the "eating out" talk was of the "Delta Diner" and so when out eldest Grandson insisted that the family had to go we, of course, agreed.
The 40 minute drive ended in front of this chrome plated dining car perched on the side of a not very major highway with a gravel parking lot, in front, filled with cars, vans and motor cycles. At 12:45 the wait was 45 minutes. I still was very skeptical. We sat out side until we were ushered in and seated 5 in a booth an 2 at the counter near by. The menu is over the grill and cooler and is fully repeated, with explanations by one of the two servers. I should have asked if there is a written copy as the items are all interesting, different and outstanding.
A rundown on what we had is translated as follows:
A Mexican presentation of eggs, perfectly fried, on a corn Polenta, including kernels of sweet corn, and a sprinkling of finely chopped pepper all covered with a light tomato and cream based sauce with ground Chorizo. A wonderful mixture of spicy, sweet and mild- firm and soft.
Our Grandson insisted that everyone have some of their "apple smoked bacon" and the "grilled" has browns, so of courses, he ordered several sides of those for all to share. He was correct, they were delicious.
Others had: Prime Rib sandwiches on rye toast liberally covered with melted cheese( after all this is Wisconsin) with the beef topped with sauteed mushrooms, onions and a light beef stock.
Dutch pancake, oven prepared, with fresh strawberries and whipped fresh cream ladled as directed by the consumer.
Beautiful stuffed French toast, each piece 1 to 2 inches high stiffed with a mixture of a creamy cheese and fresh blueberry's all doused with powdered sugar. Wisconsin Maple Syrup, on the side.
As anyone reading this can tell I came away a believer. I would not make the 800 mile drive from Cincinnati, just for this, but sure blessed the 40 minutes expended to find this gourmet oasis in the North Woods. Wish that "Joe's Diner" could hold even a little candle.
Just in passing, we had diner on our drive up at the "Oliver Garden" a very passable chain Italian restaurant, who incidentally was complimented in a recent WSJ for their easy to understand wine list. No surprise I had Bombay.