This week’s rather rude temperatures notwithstanding, the calendar says it’s time for all beautiful fresh things to wake up: trees are budding, grass is greening, and in my favorite harbinger of warmer weather, local seasonal restaurants are opening their doors.
Harbor View Café just across the river in Pepin, Wis., is the hardiest of the bunch. I already mentioned its doors opened on March 18. It rode out the snowstorm a couple weeks back, and its chalkboard menu game is still going strong.
Regulars rave about Harbor View’s Alaskan halibut, which is sauteed with black butter caper sauce, or try the beef short ribs braised in red wine and served with roasted tomatoes, bacon and root vegetables. Its desserts are also legendary, so save room for chocolate buttercream pie, Georgia walnut pie or sticky toffee cake.
Harbor View, for now, is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for lunch and dinner. As the weather warms, its hours and days open will increase.
You’ll have to put the others on the calendar for something to look forward to.
Also in Pepin, Wis., The Homemade Café will open in May, so you can start daydreaming about its black bottom butterscotch pie, old-fashioned café breakfasts or its reuben or guacamole burger for lunch.
When it opens, the Homemade Café will be open for breakfast and lunch only, and believe me, it’s worth getting there before 2 p.m. for a slice of pie.
Another destination dining experience that has been growing in popularity the last few years — Vino in the Valley — will open on May 5.
Vino, located on a 5-acre vineyard in the Rush River Valley, sets you out in the open air as much as possible because, besides the delicious Italian food on the menu, the spectacular scenery is the main draw here.
You’re sure to leave full, too, with selections such as the apple bacon salad, wood-fired pizzas or delicious Italian pasta dishes such as sausage pepper rustica or portabella mushroom ravioli.
After opening on May 5, Vino in the Valley is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as Sunday afternoons.
Because I know we all have our eyes on it: Last year on this day, the North Broadway Dairy Queen in Rochester opened its doors for the 2015 season, so I expect we’ll see some action at the oldest DQ in town soon.
Don’t miss these Quick Bites
If you can believe it, this month, Salem Glen Winery in Rochester is celebrating its 10th anniversary. (Cheers!) To mark the occasion, it’s releasing a new wine each weekend all month.
Last weekend, it was De Stella Nova, a bright, fruity red; this weekend, it’s Moondance, a semi-sweet white with notes of citrus and pear, and bonus: Moondance is 10 percent off this weekend only. The releases continue from there, so be sure to check out the full schedule while you’re there this weekend or on its Facebook page.
Finally, in an effort to promote walking and biking as modes of transportation in the city (and displace motor vehicles, no doubt), Forager Brewery/Kutzky Market just introduced a new set of incentives for walking or biking to their restaurant.
Every time you arrive at the restaurant by foot or bike, you’ll get a free tulip-sized glass of your favorite brew from Forager, or a free cup of refillable coffee from Kutzky. Kids who arrive the same way will get a free Forager water bottle, and look for biking swag to show up soon in the Market.
Look for more details soon on a Forager bicyclist of the year award, which will earn the winner a free pint of beer every week for a full year. There’s even more than this, so visit Forager soon (by bike, naturally) to check it out.