New Scenic Cafe
February 17, 2011
Just beyond a shallow front yard, a pair of red Adirondacks, and the old two-lane highway lies Superior, the largest of the lakes, taking up more space than my eye is able to hold. It’s so vast, its interior so mysterious, I don’t know how to begin to imagine what’s inside. I decide to stop wondering about it and simply appreciate it for what it is.
Inside the New Scenic Cafe, I sit with a menu and a good friend, contenting myself with easier calculations. It’s quiet and calm. We choose what to have for lunch and share stories as we wait for the food to arrive at our table. There’s real depth to what we say, about lost loves and family hardships, many stories too old to fully understand, or too fresh to truly explore. I think of the deep lake outside. I look at the families around us eating together and wish I had one of my own. I wonder if I should live closer to nature as I try not to think about the long interstate that will soon take us back home.
I hear a happy sigh as she takes the first sip of her black coffee. She’d been raving about the New Scenic for the past two days as we drove through Minnesota and would’ve been disappointed if we hadn’t come. She and her sisters eat many meals here when they come to the North Shore, and I know plenty of people who love this place just as much as they do. This was my first time eating at the New Scenic and I can easily see what all the excitement is about.
I had a salad and a starter — at least, I thought that’s all I was having until the dessert menu came along. Everything was so well executed, I wish I’d eaten more to experience a wider selection of what this restaurant can do.
Artichoke and apple salad: Artichoke flan, granny smith and honey crisp apples, fennel, ponzu, grapeseed oil, marcona almonds.
Butternut squash ravioli: Cream, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, pesto, pecans, romano.
Pumpkin goat cheese cake: Ginger tuile, madeira fortified white figs.
Did you get a load of this dessert? Even the language compels me. I love that there’s an incorrect space in the word “cheesecake” so no one will think the chef is offering “pumpkin goat cheesecake.” I wanted to know what tuile is (it’s the architecturally impressive cookie acting as the cheesecake crust). And I was so pleased the drunken white figs are called “fortified” — and that there’s even such a thing as white figs at all. This is the best dessert I’ve had in a long time.
The New Scenic is what your weekend cabin would be like if you had an interior designer and a great chef in your family. The menu is sophisticated, but not fussy. The menu is farm-inspired, but doesn’t draw attention to itself because of it. The local art on the walls is inspiring. Long, thin tree branches placed throughout the corners of the restaurant bring the spirit of winter inside. And, if you’re so inclined, the New Scenic is also just a wonderful place to sit, spend some time, and think about your own particular place in the world.