THE EATBEAT: Al’s offers hearty, heavy duty fareThe people who land at Al’s for lunch seem to be interested in heavy duty food rather than nibbling on salads.
By: Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald
The two meatballs were large, dense and nicely flavored. The mashed potatoes were swimming in a glistening layer of light brown gravy. The corn was — well, corn. The food was piping hot. And a hard roll on the side was too good to ignore.
This was the special for $6.50 at Al’s Grill & Catering on Gateway Drive, and I was running on hungry when I pulled into the big parking lot at noon on a wintry day.
The place was busy. Still, I was seated fairly promptly in one of the big, high-backed and cushioned booths. I prefer that seating over a table when dining alone. There are some who feel more at ease propped on a pedestal chair in the lounge area.
The people who land at Al’s for lunch seem to be interested in heavy duty food rather than nibbling on salads. The restaurant is noted for its beef tip platters. Al sends the marinated steak tips out of the kitchen in a homemade au jus. Or he adds Asian spices for customers who want Al’s beef tips “with attitude.”
The beef tips are among eight “platters” listed on the menu that include a choice of two side dishes and a hard roll or garlic toast. Walleye, deep fried or broiled, is one of the highlights in Al’s line-up. We found it good as ever when Donna McEnroe (DM) and I stopped by Al’s after a basketball game.
I chose the small taco salad a hearty meal and would go back again for a repeat. The salad ($7.95) comes with taco meat in a delightful mix of tomatoes, onions, cheese and tortilla chips.
You really don’t need it, but DM and I wondered how a person can pass up pie when the waitress mentions it’s blueberry? She was more than willing to bring one warm, sparkling slice of pie with a gob of vanilla ice cream on the side — and two plates.
The old fashioned idea of Sunday dinner is being revived at Al’s. The restaurant offers a baked ham dinner with traditional mashed potatoes, gravy and vegetables along with a hard roll at $7.50.
The fact that Al’s serves knoephla soup also sets it aside from most other restaurants around here. This traditional potato dumpling soup is easier to find around the central part of the state — around Bismarck. That’s where the population is heavy with people whose families were Germans from Russia.
I brought a serving of knoephla soup home and found it hearty with a wonderful flavor — almost a meal in itself. And it was well-protected in careful packaging from the restaurant.
Al’s Grill & Catering
3615 Gateway Drive
Owner, head cook:Al Decker
Managers:Kelli Roche and Scott Doyea
Hours:Opens daily 11 a.m.; closes 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 11 p.m. Friday, Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday
Report card:The restaurant offers good, basic food at reasonable prices. Add $1.75 or $1.99 for beverages. The menu indicates foods free of gluten with green asterisks, which is a plus. The ambiance is pleasant with redecorating done last fall. Parking is convenient. Service is good. Servers are pleasant, and easy to identify in orange shirts.
Reach Hagerty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (701) 772-1055.