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Eatbeat: Opdahl's Donuts makes the honor roll

Photo courtesy of Opdahl's Donuts.

On Saturday, they're open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. And there's everything from donuts to cookies, muffins, scones, breads and pies.

On Friday, it's pie day at Opdahl's Donuts in Fertile, Minn. The crust is made with lard — just as it should be.

It's no wonder people saunter in from all around this little town for pie and coffee. They sit and chat. They usually take something home.

Opdahl's is located in an old building. There are a few steps up to an area with four small tables along with the display case and the cash register. So at Opdahl's, you don't wait for a seat. You just join up with anyone sitting at a table where there is room.

JoAnne and Duane Tilleraal, who live near Gary, Minn., invited me and SS (Susie Shaft) to sit with them.

We talked first about farming and then about pie. The choice we had was coconut cream, apple, rhubarb, graham cracker and coconut cream. I found the apple pie beyond good. It was, in fact, about the best piece of pie I can remember.

And, like many of the other customers who were in and out for coffee, both SS and I had to take a pie home with us. Choices vary from lemon meringue to peanut butter and sour cream raisin. Customers also find blueberry, chocolate and coconut cream. Then there's a custard type of rhubarb pie. Also featured periodically are a dozen different cookies and even more types of muffins.

The place is busiest on Fridays. Most every day there are customers from Bemidji, Thief River Falls, Fargo or Alexandria. The business was started with just donuts seven years ago by Jane Opdahl, mother-in-law of Rebecca Opdahl. And providing donuts for the nearby Bergeson Nursery helped them keep going.

"Every day is different," said Rebecca Opdahl, the owner. "It's slower in winter. Summer is very busy. "

Now the helpers include her daughter, Madelyn, a sophomore in high school. She also has a son, Cody, and a younger daughter, Tessa. Her husband, Ryan Opdahl, works in Crookston.

She has eight part-time helpers who use the two commercial ovens in the back of the bakery. The only thing she says about her pie crust is that they make it with lard and hand roll the crust.

People around the area have discovered the basic baking that comes from Opdahl's.

"And we have been doing the farmer market at Mentor for 10 years," Opdahl said.

Opdahl's Donuts is as friendly as a shop can be. There are color crayons and books for children in boxes on the two steps up to seating inside the shop. There is yarn that knitters keep on hand.

All around, the old building has been touched up with white paint. The big restroom for women and men is clean and inviting with its painted walls and homey touches.

When you visit this quaint little shop you get the message from the clock on the wall. It says, "Take life one cup of coffee at a time."

Opdahl's Donuts

104 Washington Ave. NW

Fertile, MN 56540

Telephone: (218) 945-6400

Owner-operator: Rebecca "Becky" Opdahl

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday

Seating capacity: 25

Report card: This old fashioned bake shop where people meet to eat pastries or buy baked goods to take home makes the honor roll. Friendly ambience. Quality baking with old fashioned lard.