THE EATBEAT: Positive vibes permeate in newly refurbished Whitey’sWhen I went there for lunch Dec. 17 with my daughter, Gail (DG), from Bismarck, we agreed Whitey’s is back on track.
By: Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald
The newly remodeled version of Whitey’s in East Grand Forks is off and running. And sometime in January, there will be a grand opening, according to Tim Bjerk, the new owner.
He lists house specialties as braised beef short ribs, Italian roasted chicken and pasta dishes. And the new menus offer a series of dinner choices including salmon, walleye, shrimp, lobster tail, steaks, prime rib, pan-fried chicken, stuffed pork chop and baby back ribs.
When asked how things are going, Bjerk shook his head and said, “I’ve got a lot to learn.”
When I went there for lunch Dec. 17 with my daughter, Gail (DG), from Bismarck, we agreed Whitey’s is back on track.
We remember the days long ago when Whitey’s was a wide-open place full of people from all ranks and ages. Now, the booths with low backs still allow you to see all over the place.
The old horseshoe bar is still the center of activity. A game room sports a Schwinn bicycle hanging by the entry. A formal dining room with white cloths and desirable round tables is an important part of the new Whitey’s.
But it’s the food that matters. DG and I found our lunch visit quite good. Chef Michael Rude is turning out appetizers, including chicken liver pate, long a trademark of Whitey’s. When I found the Riverboat sandwich on the menu, I had to have it — for old time’s sake. I found this version very satisfactory, served with onions and mushrooms on crunchy grilled ciabatta bread for $11.99.
I was especially pleased with the coleslaw as a side. I had, in fact, inquired about it since I don’t believe it should be cabbage swimming in sloppy dressings. Our waitress offered to bring me a sample in a tiny cup before I made my choice.
The coleslaw is great — crisp, with a light dressing. And often I think that as the coleslaw goes, so goes the menu.
The luncheon special of beef tips, onions, mushrooms, pepper and red wine gravy on mashed potatoes ($9.99) was DG’s choice. She was pleased with the basic, good taste and commented, “The idea here is we won’t eat for the rest of the day.”
So, OK, then we had to share a dessert. We chose the chef’s own version of tiramisu. The traditional layered dessert with sponge cake soaked in espresso syrup and a whipped Mascarpone mousse was $6.99. It was heavenly to taste and beautifully presented with tiny puffs of whipped cream and a tiny mint leaf.
There is a positive feeling about the food, the kitchen, the service. There is a general hope that the restaurant — one of the oldest in this region — will succeed.
Recently added is a large, new black-and white-painting by Patty Kobetsky that is a study of the history surrounding the Wonderbar of days gone by. It stirs memories for some customers.
Bjerk spends four days a week at Whitey’s and three days in his hometown of Roseau, Minn. There, he and his wife Kristi, operate Gene’s Bar & Grill. They have four children.
Reach Hagerty at email@example.com or call (701) 772-1055.