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Perfect Restaurant: New Scenic Café

You have to leave Duluth to get to its best restaurant. The New Scenic Café is located about three miles beyond the city’s northeastern border, in the Duluth Township — roughly a 20-minute drive from the center of the Zenith City. It’s a drive Duluthians and tourists alike have been happy to take repeatedly during the 14 years since chef Scott Graden and his aunt Rita Bergstedt opened their contemporary American restaurant.

NewScenicScottGraden
Above: New Scenic Owner Scott Graden

The location on the scenic North Shore Drive is a big part of the allure, but what’s so new about this 14-year-old café? The menu, that’s what. It’s always new, changing with the seasons. Today one might try the seared duck breast or ratatouille lasagna, while six months ago the lamb meatloaf was the temptation of the moment.

Sure, it’s the kind of place ham-and-eggers will make fun of, scoffing at the prices and snickering at the notion of an “heirloom” tomato, but it’s hard to be the best restaurant in the area without a hint of snootiness. At least it’s a North Shore brand of foodie snootiness, where your flannel shirt and/or socks with sandals will fit in just fine.

Props must go out to the runners up in this poll, because the voting was close. New Scenic edged out Zeitgeist Arts Café by two percentage points, and Zeitgeist edged out Duluth Grill by three percentage points. A bit behind the top three, but still pulling nearly 15 percent of the vote, was Lake Avenue Restaurant & Bar.

PDD Awards Index

9 Comments

StrangeDamage

about 3 years ago

I'm thankful that we have some very good restaurants here to choose from. Congratulation to the Scenic and the other top finishers. Keep up the good work.

emmadogs

about 3 years ago

One of the many, many reasons we are so lucky to live here is the quality of local restaurants. Or the option of a beautiful North Shore drive to Scenic, Chez Jude in Grand Marais, Angry Trout in Grand Marais, etc.

its like Durian

about 3 years ago

Not only is it a wonderful restaurant with great food, but they spell Entrees with an apostrophe on the menu. Makes them winners in more categories in my opinion.

piker

about 3 years ago

Congrats to the Scenic Cafe. Alas for Duluth, though that its best restaurant is solidly out of town.

duluth14

about 3 years ago

It would be nice to see a best restaurant among the "ham and eggers" since the high prices and small portions of the New Scenic aren't likely to draw people like me in.

piker

about 3 years ago

Ham and Eggers should check out the Duluth Grill. It's the best blend of Perkins and the Scenic Cafe ever. Fresh vegetables FROM THEIR PARKING LOT! Since my favorite place to grow veggies is an industrial area the docks and the paper mill and the dump by the freeway, in a parking lot behind some old electric motor factory. Anyway, the Duluth Grill is pretty good.

Jana Hollingsworth

about 3 years ago

Emmadogs, bad news about Chez Jude: it closed last fall. She does classes and catering now.

emmadogs

about 3 years ago

Hi Jana--thank you for that update. That is a shame. Was it lack of business, I wonder? I should have made a better effort to get to Grand Marais, and I should probably not post about restaurants I haven't visited in a year. I just loved her restaurant,though; it was really my favorite in the region. I also loved the French cuisine restaurant in Ely a few years back, and that didn't last very long. There's lots of posts about the lack of great Southwestern cuisine here in Duluth, but I also miss good, or any, French cuisine. I don't know how to cook it very well, and wish there was a good local or regional restaurant. Thanks for the update on Chez Jude.

Jana Hollingsworth

about 3 years ago

Not sure why it closed but I had some great meals there. Between that place, the Crooked Spoon and Gunflint Tavern, I have mostly gone to Grand Marais to gain weight. This area is definitely lacking in French cuisine. I would love a restaurant to open in Duluth like St. Paul's Meritage.

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