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Eatbeat: More than lively at the Ground Round

Not many refuse free popcorn at the Ground Round Grill and Bar. And Matt Walkowiak, the owner, says they use 500 pounds every week.

Popcorn sets the tone for the Ground Round. It's a rather informal, sort of carefree place with a varied menu geared to serve a wide range of customers.

There's the brightly lighted lounge on one side with windows all around. The dining room with high back booths is a couple of steps down on the other side of the large restaurant that has seating for 240. There are tables as well as booths. And on an elevated area at the rear, some clubs or bridge players like to gather.

Varied seating areas, as well as wide choices on the menu, help make the Ground Round a place where people tend to gather.

We chose salads Saturday after a long day of football and snacking our way around Grand Forks. Our server, Katie Basche, was helpful. One of the best I have seen lately. She was calm and friendly in spite of crowded surroundings.

On another trip over to the Ground Round with my California niece, Joanne Jensen (JJ), we explored the Monday evening specials. We went the burger route, since the Ground Round features a variety. And it serves sides such as the house salad, rice pilaf and seasonal vegetables. Then there are specialty sides including fried green beans and grilled asparagus.

The half-pound burgers are good. Enormous. And they are nicely presented with a garnish of a sweet, mild cherry pepper on top. The signature burger is served with American cheese, smoked bacon, shredded lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles and a Ground Rounder sauce.

It is above average. But with all of the fanfare, it is more than either of us could or would eat. So we went the route of sharing.

Surroundings were more than lively with screens all around showing the Vikings game. Though it was a Monday, which is usually a down day, the lounge was almost full.

Ground Round Grill & Bar

2800 32ND Ave. S.

Telephone: 701-864-3305

Hours: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday

Owner-manager: Matt Walkowiak

Seating: 240

Report card: High marks for variety of food and drink. Service is PG (Pretty Good). Ambience is cheery. Menu shows calorie count and features healthful choices. Rest room clean. Parking all around building is a plus.