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THE EATBEAT: Boardwalk establishes itself on EGF 'restaurant row'

The Boardwalk Bar and Grill opened quietly in East Grand Forks during April flooding. It had time to get established before too many people started finding it. And as the new kid on the block, it is making a statement on restaurant row as hockey season and the holidays near.

This place is well-appointed with rich wood paneled walls, a wooden bar, wooden booths and tables with wooden chairs with upholstered seats. There are 12 screens for viewing sports on all four walls and screens in the restrooms, so patrons don't have to miss a beat. The colorful serving dishes and the high quality of the tableware help to create the upscale ambience.

The Boardwalk has a menu including starters, salads, soups and sandwiches. But the signature item is the burgers that are hand-pattied and grilled to order. They are 80 percent beef and 20 percent pork. They are served on buns that come across the Red River each day from Dakota Harvest Bakers.

With friends from Cottonwood Street, I had lunch there recently. I had a chance to try a burger, which is served with house chips or fries for $6 to $7.25, depending on which one you choose. You can add soup or salad for $2. The burger was special because it was grilled to order -- not one of those preformed ones that all too often seem only to be heated up.

I liked the way the good quality tableware arrived wrapped in a cloth napkin. The dishes are bright colors, reminiscent of Fiestaware of days past. Some ordered the soup of the day, a homemade chicken stew that was rich and thick. It comes with a slice of French bread rather than the obligatory two crackers encased in a package. And we were delighted when our checks arrived along with miniature chocolate bars.

On a second late lunch-time visit, I ordered a cup of wild rice soup and a buffalo chicken salad ($8.95) that was made up of diced chicken tossed in a hot-hot buffalo sauce. The salad contained a variety of spring greens. It was topped with tomatoes, red onion and served with the Boardwalk's bleu cheese dressing. It came with a dinner roll. I ended up taking half home for a second meal. The soup, which was excellent, was only lukewarm.

As I ate, I noticed a few tables where people were talking business over lunch. The music is unoffensive, at least at midday. It is my idea of a quality place for a quiet lunch. There are dinner specials for $8.99 coming in October, according to manager Jane Moss, including meatloaf and chicken Parmesan.

She works closely with her young chef, Derek Roach. He has worked at the school cafeteria in McVille, N.D., and helped open the former Suite 49 restaurant here. "And at 20," Moss says with a smile, "he is still teachable." The staff seems well-trained. They wear black shirts and trousers. Boardwalk employs 24 workers full and part time.

Moss came back to this area after 20 years away. In the early 1980s, she and her former husband, John Borman, ran several restaurants in Grand Forks, including Village Inn, Players and Toppers. She is delighted to be back and is enthusiastic about Boardwalk, which is in the same building that housed the Cuckoo's Nest.

In the renovation, a front porch area was built on and serves as a screened-in setting for customers.

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

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