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Marilyn Hagerty Eatbeat: Toasted Frog offers imaginative menu

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They opened more than 10 years ago in one of the oldest buildings in downtown Grand Forks.

Now the owners of Toasted Frog operate three restaurants in North Dakota. The restaurant on North Fourth Street in Bismarck is a popular place, with steaks selling especially well. The restaurant at 305 Broadway in Fargo soon will open for lunch as well as dinner.

Toasted Frog owners move cautiously along in the restaurant business. In Grand Forks, they have a strong following, so on many nights a table takes a wait at the door, or a stop next door.

The imaginative menu includes appetizers including fried cheesy pickles and sea scallops. There are soups and salads along with lavosh. Sandwiches include an elk burger.

There's a Frog BLT. Entrees include walleye picatta ($23) and a filet mignon ($30). And the dinner menu tops out at $37 to $40 for lobster that comes from the New Zealand area where the water is cold.

Along the way, pheasant has been dropped from the menu. There have been changes along the way, but the cheesy pickles that first drew me to the Frog are holding their own.

The restaurant location once was a Ford dealership. It also housed the first grocery store run by the late Hugo Magnuson. It once was a second-hand store.

The private dining room that accommodates 16 has just been redone. Seating is available in a lounge area as well as at high tables and booths. The open kitchen with its wood fired stove at the rear is a draw for diners.

Like several downtown restaurateurs, the owners of "the Frog" got their start with Kim Holmes, chef-owner of the former Sanders restaurant. They also worked at the Hotel Donaldson in Fargo. The name of the Frog popped up one evening during a conversation had by Holmes, co-owner Shawn Clapp and his father, Richard Clapp.

One of them facetiously asked, "Why not call it the Frog?'"

And that was that.

The Toasted Frog

124 N. Third Street, Grand Forks

Owners: Jonathan Holth, Shawn Clapp and Chef Scott Franz

Seating: 95

Hours: 4 p.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday; closed Sunday.

Average check: $25

Eatbeat Report Card: One of the most popular evening gathering places in downtown Grand Forks. Informal atmosphere. Moderate prices. Varied menu. Extra credit goes to a restaurant with the kitchen in plain view of patrons.