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THE EATBEAT: Bronze Boot makes meals seem like special occasion

My thought was to order a 4-ounce beef tenderloin when I went to the Bronze Boot for dinner with a friend. But our waitress, Trudy Zespy, convinced us that we would like the special, an 8-ounce top sirloin, for $16.50. She said it has more flavor.

My thought was to order a 4-ounce beef tenderloin when I went to the Bronze Boot for dinner with a friend. But our waitress, Trudy Zespy, convinced us that we would like the special, an 8-ounce top sirloin, for $16.50. She said it has more flavor.

So, Sue Huus (SH) and I took Trudy's word for it. Why not? She is one of the most experienced waitresses in Grand Forks, and she knows how to serve a meal so that it is something special.

An evening meal at "the Boot" is always on occasion. You are seated in a large, long dining room with comfortable booths around the perimeter and tables on the main level. There is an open-pit broiler manned by a chef in white cap and jacket. The room, done in tones of teal green, has very soft lighting.

It comes as close to the old supper club ambience as you find. And the Boot is probably the oldest restaurant in Greater Grand Forks now that Whitey's is closed. It was opened in 1954 by the late Darcy Fonder and continues under family ownership.

Our dinner was about as good as it gets. We had a choice of French onion soup or tomato juice, and I chose the latter. The relish tray has gone the way of vegetables in little dishes. But there was a very nice spinach salad and a light, slightly sweet dressing with bacon bits. Also on the table was a bread basket that included garlic toast.

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Potatoes come in many forms -- baked, stuffed, french fries, hash browns and au gratin. We chose baked, and they were perfect. Some choose pasta, rice or grilled vegetables instead of spuds.

The steak was juicy, full of flavor and tender. And to make sure it was all right, Chef James Garceau came around to check.

SH and I agreed that the service makes up much of the experience. And the Boot has had the services of Trudy for 22 years. And Roxy Worden, who excels as a server, has been there even longer. "Maybe 30 years," said Linda Brothen who oversees the business office.

Trudy has a following of longtime residents who she used to serve at the former Elks Club in Grand Forks.

Some loyal Boot customers prefer to eat in the bar. The Boot serves lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. A single-entree buffet is $7.25, and a full three-meat buffet is $8.25. Banquet rooms and catering are available.

Prime rib dinners are offered Tuesday, Friday and Saturday evenings. Steaks range from sirloin, New York strip, beef tenderloin, ribeye, prime rib, T-bone and porterhouse. There are extensive seafood choices (salmon, halibut, shrimp, walleye, scallops and Alaskan king crab) as well as center-cut pork chops, pork loin ribs, teriyaki chicken and chopped veal cutlets. You also can get broiled lamb chops ($18.50). There's a special seafood platter for $35. Or you could opt for a combo dinner for two including lobster tails, sirloin and beverages for $64, or market price.

Some peopleo go to the bar and order a hamburger, which is $6.50 and comes with fries, soup or tossed salad. Sandwiches include roast beef and turkey. Cheeseburgers are $7, and the longtime Pete's special is $8.50.

There are pros and cons at every restaurant. For me, a minus has been the buckets and plastic on the ceiling for more than a year. But employees said the leaky roof should be fixed soon.

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Reach Marilyn Hagerty at mhagerty@gra.midco.net or call (701) 772-1055.

Related Topics: FOOD
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