Raspberry fritter French toast seemed to be all the rage around the counter at Simonsons Roadhouse Café. So that was what we ordered on a cold Saturday morning in January.

This for $10.49 brings two slices of raspberry fritters French toast along with two eggs, hash browns or American fries. All that along with your choice of patties, links, bacon or ham. I requested they made mine bacon, fried well and over.

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The Eatbeat is leading me to places where people gather for breakfast in January. So I found myself at Simonsons. An eating companion Susie Shaft (SS) and I visited with people around the counter.

In minutes, you forget it is winter. People rave about the raspberry fritters. Art Johnson, who used to be a truck driver, recommended them. He said he first started eating them at a truck stop by Clearwater, Minn. He told us that's down past St. Cloud on the way to Minneapolis.

So both SS and I ordered and especially enjoyed the fritters along with bacon and eggs.

The coffee is good. The company is interesting at the counter where people come and go. We could see three cooks through the open window to the kitchen. We watched Diane Klamm, the head waitress, move skillfully around the area that seats 60 to 70 people.

She's been on the job 17 years. She says the customers are like a family. "If they don't show up, we call to make sure they are okay."

There is a pleasant upscale truck stop atmosphere at the restaurant. That goes along with local businessmen who make up a morning coffee klatch. And a klatch in my Webster's dictionary is described as "a gathering characterized by informal conversation."

Dennis Nelson is one of the local truck drivers who stops in at Simonsons. He came in with Mike Lawrence. And he chooses counter seating because he can get in and out quickly at noon when he is on the job.

He chose two eggs "over easy" with hash browns. And he said, "The price is good. You don't have to dress up to come here. There are certain things you can pick up quickly around here at noon. The chili is always up.''

The Roadhouse Café is a large facility adjacent to it is the Long Haul Saloon. Truck drivers say they usually get a free shower if they fuel up.

The café is upscale with large windows looking out to a huge paved parking lot. There is wood wainscoting inside the café with comfortable booths and tables.

At the checkout station there are homemade pies and baked goods. Some are impossible to pass up on the way out.

Simonson's Roadhouse Café

4720 Gateway Drive

Telephone: (701) 772-1273

Owners: John and Archie Simonson

Managers: Josh Frenzel and Rachel Welsh

Hours: Open 24 hours

Report card: First rate food with truck stop ambience. Truckers linger over coffee. Townspeople come for coffee and pastries as well as meals and Sunday breakfast buffet.