THE EATBEAT: Creativity helps Blue Moose stay ahead of the gameThe Blue Moose fares well as an independent restaurant, one of several nonfranchise operations in East Grand Forks. While it misses out on the national advertising for chain restaurants, its owners believe they fare well because of their creativity.
By: Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald
The concept of tapas (small plates dining) which originated in Spain, is doing quite well at the Blue Moose in East Grand Forks. The current tapas menu promotes sharing and provides different tastes to a meal.
New on the tapas menu are an olive-and-cheese platter ($8) and chicken pate served with butter crackers and garnished with red onions ($5). Then, there’s a barbecue rib taster ($8) that has “Blue Moose Norwegian barbecue sauce.” And the restaurant claims sticky fingers never tasted so good. Also among the tapas choices is a Mini Mac classic ($4).
The Blue Moose keeps switching and offering changes. In March, Chef Nate Sheppard promises a new section of the menu offering beer pairing choices.
Sheppard, who has become well-known as a chef in the Greater Grand Forks area, is one of the new owners of the Moose. With Patrick Boppre, the front house manager, he is in the process of buying the restaurant from manager Dave Homstad, Lyle Gerszewski and Greg Stennes.
Homstad, who plans to stay on at the restaurant for a couple of years before he retires, said the change in ownership has been planned for a few years. He started in the food business in 1973 at Whitey’s.
Boppre is a native of East Grand Forks and has worked his way up at the Moose, starting as a busboy. Sheppard, who grew up in Grand Forks, is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Portland, Ore. He has been featured in healthful cooking classes in the area. He stresses use of fresh ingredients and a minimum of salt and fat. He employs about 30 in the kitchen at Blue Moose.
The Moose moved to its present location along the East Grand Forks “boardwalk” of restaurants after the Flood of 1997. Before, it was on DeMers Avenue.
The restaurant, which was updated four years ago, is a pleasant facility with a huge blue moose out front and a north-woods decor inside. There are booths, a central bar and a “back 40” with tables. In good weather, customers flock to the deck that overlooks the Red River.
The Blue Moose fares well as an independent restaurant, one of several nonfranchise operations in East Grand Forks. While it misses out on the national advertising for chain restaurants, its owners believe they fare well because of their creativity.
While several restaurants run buses to the UND hockey games on weekends, the Blue Moose has no bus. Owners said they wouldn’t know where to put the extra people, since 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Fridays is already a rush.
The restaurant was pleasantly busy Jan. 9 when I stopped for lunch to savor soup that is advertised for $4. I chose chicken fajita ($4), and it was almost a meal in itself. It was piping hot, very rich. It came with just the right amount of crackers.
Because its menu is so varied, people stop for quick lunches, afternoon repasts and dinner. The menu features New York Strip Steak ($22), a flat-iron steak ($14) and a bone-in rib-eye ($27). There is chicken and seafood.
The menu is folksy and fun in a newspaper format, although it’s a little hard for the occasional diner to follow.
Reach Hagerty at email@example.com or call (701) 772-1055.