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THE EATBEAT: Harvest Brazilian Grill a real draw in Mandan

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accent Grand Forks, 58203

Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

MANDAN, N.D. --- What was known as "the supper clubs out on the strip" between Bismarck and Mandan are long gone.

But in the past few years, the Harvest Brazilian Grill on Mandan's long Main Street has been beckoning. It has become a real draw, especially when the state legislature is in session.

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It is a huge, bar-buffet-dining place that used to be the J.C. Penney store in Mandan. And a Brazilian immigrant has turned it into a different style and very inviting restaurant. He is Edgar Oliveira, who personally overlooked the refinishing of the original wooden floors. He turned the balcony at the rear into an area for private dining parties.

Down the center of the main floor is the largest, most inviting buffet I have seen for a long time. Some customers come only for the salad bar of $10 or with the hot buffet for $12. The appeal of the buffet plus the full Brazilian barbecue meats delivered to the tables by servers is the draw for most. The cost is $34 for adults and $20 for seniors.

When I was doing dinner with my daughter, Gail Hagerty (GH) of Bismarck, we made a full study of Harvest Brazilian Grill. And I came away with the feeling it is one of the best adventures in North Dakota dining.

The hot and cold salad bar is sufficient as a meal in itself. I was especially pleased with the hot wilted spinach in a butter sauce with bacon, tomato and parmesan cheese. There were Brazilian beans and other unique tastes not found on an everyday salad bar.

The real show, though, was ongoing. A half-dozen young servers in dark T-shirts and trousers were circling around the large restaurant slicing and serving barbecued meats hot off of the grill.

There was all-you-can eat ribeye, New York strip, top sirloin along with flank steak, short ribs, sirloin kabobs with green peppers and onions. Then, came spicy and smoked sausages along with grilled pineapple that worked well on the taste scale with the meats.

There is no need to keep saying, "Yes, please" or "No, thanks" to the servers. Diners have little cards -- red on one side and green on the other -- to let servers, or passers, know if they want more.

Things have gone so well for Oliveira on Mandan's Main Street that he has added a hamburger shop down the street. He calls it Station West. It formerly was the Roundup Bar and Grill.

Oliveira came with his family from Brazil to the United States when he was 14 and is a 1988 graduate of the University of Minnesota. His father set up his practice as a physician in Linton, N.D. And his mother, Zila, opened the Harvest Restaurant because she wanted something to do. Edgar worked with her and has now found that food with a Brazilian flavor fits in well in Mandan.

Harvest Brazilian Grill

308 W. Main Street, Mandan, N.D.

Owner: Edgar Oliveira.

General manager: Amy LaVallie.

Pastry chef: Ashley Torgerson.

Hours: 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 5 to 10 p.m. Friday; 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday.

Reservations (recommended weekends): (701) 751-4393

Wines, beer, liquor available.

Report card: A unique Brazilian restaurant draws diners to downtown Mandan, N.D. Food is excellent with barbecued meats sliced and served table-side. Prices range from moderate to rather spendy, depending on choices during the evening. Desserts are dazzling.

Reach Hagerty at mhagerty@gra.midco.net or (701) 772-1055.

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