One of the largest restaurants in Grand Forks and at the northwestern edge of the city is North Side Café. These days before Christmas it is one of several restaurants where lutefisk and lefse are served.
The price is $15.99 at North Side, and people with a hankering for Norwegian fare this time of year tend to wipe their chins and go away happily.
My food guide from the Association of Food Journalists says lutefisk is a Scandinavian dish made of codfish treated with lye before drying.
Around Grand Forks, lutefisk is known as a prelude to Christmas. It seems to pair up with lefse – a popular Norwegian flatbread, usually made with potatoes.
The menu at North Side Café ranges from items such as scrambled eggs with ham and chicken fried steak. And on the lighter side, there is a two egg breakfast. It is busy with lunch time customers.
On a visit this week to the North Side Café for an early lunch, I went with the soup and sandwich routine. My bean soup was piping hot. The tiny beans and bacon bits were good.
Liver and onions is among the listing of dinners on the menu. They are described as “grilled to perfection with sautéed onions, potato, veggie, soup or salad.”
During the lunch hour, the restaurant’s 13 booths along the windows as well as tables in the middle were full of customers. Many were workmen dressed in heavy outdoor gear. Three servers were handling orders from the main floor. And another group was meeting in the banquet room, which part owner Laura Hanson said is often used. Only a few customers seem to prefer the row of four seats at the counter.
There were three waitresses on duty. All experienced in their work. The kitchen crew was busily setting out orders and seemingly having a great time.
All in all, the North Side Café with all of its windows has the feel of a cheery place. Many of the customers are regulars. Many are acquainted.
Windows on two sides bring in the light of the outdoors.
The restaurant is operated by Laura Hanson along with her brother, Rick Hanson, and sister, Becky Hanson. The Hansons formerly operated Del’s Café in South Forks Mall which is now closed. They operate and are now renovating the historic Kegs Drive In at 901 N, Fifth St.
North Side Café
3450 Gateway Drive
Owner-operators: Rick, Laura and Becky Hanson
Hours: Opens 5 a.m. daily; closes 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday
Report card: With home style cooking and total seating for 180, the restaurant features a wide choice of breakfasts, burgers, classic sandwiches and dinners.