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THE EATBEAT: NDMOA Cafe chef thrives on special events

Found: A first-class five-dollar lunch served in a pleasant, upscale atmosphere.

It’s offered on weekdays in the cafe at North Dakota Museum of Art. And I occasionally enjoy stopping this cozy cafe on the lower level of the art museum.

The place is unique and inviting with small glass-topped tables. There you find a choice of sandwich, salads and sides.

You can mix and match two items for lunch. And I was pleased with a cup of nicely flavored fish chowder and a mini club sandwich.

The chowder was thick and rich in flavor. The sandwich had as delightful combination of turkey, ham, roast beef and bacon. And just the right amount of mayo, lettuce and tomato.

When I visited with Chef Justin Welsh, I found that he goes far beyond his lunches in his work at the museum. He thrives on special events such as the concerts in the garden of the museum. They continue on July 29, Aug. 12 and Aug. 26.

Fun for him is preparing the five course dinners — such as the one coming up Friday — in the galleries of the museum. They provide a setting to showcase his dinners and a chance for the diners to enjoy art during a leisurely, upscale dinner.

His menu Friday includes a red and gold beet salad following an avocado puree appetizer and an Italian collection cheese course. The entree is Moroccan-spiced Cornish game hen over rice pilaf. And there’s a dessert trio of chocolate mousse, poached pear and lemon tart slice.

While he is all over the board as a chef, Welsh prefers French style. While he has been with the museum for seven years, he long has worked in restaurants. After spending time here at the former Village Inn and Perkins, he decided to take up radio broadcasting. So he went out to Portland, Ore. Once there, he instead ended up attending the Western Culinary Institute.

He came back to Grand Forks. He worked at Canad Inn and did an internship at Sanders before taking on the job seven years ago as chef at the Museum of Art.

North Dakota Museum of Art Cafe

University of North Dakota

Chef: Justin Welsh

Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday

Telephone: 701-777-4668

Seating: 30

Report card: A small cafe with tall glass topped tables offering a quiet, reasonable lunch. A place where elegant food is served for special events at the Museum of Art. And where arrangements can be made for high teas for groups.

Reach Hagerty at or by telephone at 701-772-1055.