The salad arrived with a little packet of Kraft ranch dressing and another of croutons to sprinkle over the lettuce.

There were seven of us gathered at one of the round tables in Tom’s Lounge in Forest River. That’s a hop, skip and jump north up to Manvel. Then further north on Highway 81 and 5 miles west on County Road 19.

People who live in the area have no problem finding the little town of Forest River, which bills itself as “home of the outdoor bonspiel.”

With Susie Shaft and Donna Gillig of Grand Forks, I gathered around a table with Forest River friends Margaret Woods, Kay Nord and Lynn Kubousek along with Bunnie Peterka of Vesleyville.

There was the hum of the ceiling fan in the background.

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Regular customers of Tom’s Lounge recommend the once a month Friday evening prime rib special at $23. We were pleased with that choice. The serving was so large that we ended up taking half of it home for lunch the next day.

Our server was Dorothy Moreland who works as bartender during the day. She said Hejlik uses a couple grills out behind the lounge year round.

On Wednesdays, Tom’s brings in customers from a wide area for Mexican fare. There are tacos, tostadas, nachos and burritos. A combination plate for $10.50 includes a side of beans and rice.

On summer evenings, the drive from Grand Forks is spectacular. There’s the green of the crops and the blue of the vast sky with puffy cumulus clouds floating over the North Dakota flatlands. There are beautiful country homes.

There are customers who come regularly from nearby towns. Some are summer visitors who make up for some of the regular customers who spend time at area lakes.

Ken Huhta who was finishing up his walleye and hash brown potatoes said he drives up from Northwood regularly.


Tom’s Lounge

Forest River, N.D.

Telephone: 701-248-3216

Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily

Owner and chef: Jimmy Hejlik

Report card: The ribeye steak is excellent. The service is friendly, homey and efficient. The décor is pleasantly cluttered. Rest room facilities are adequate.