In need of some rest, relaxation, and good food, Mike and I took a few days off work this week and headed on a mini-vacation to Stillwater, Minnesota, a picturesque town on the St. Croix River. Browsing the many antique shops is apparently a big draw for some, but since antiques don't fit my Scandinavian minimalist aesthetic, we focused on exploring the historic downtown, hiking at Willow River State Park in Wisconsin, and food. Lots and lots of food. Here are some highlights:
Our first evening in Stillwater was lovely: sunny and comfortably warm but not too muggy. I wanted to eat outside overlooking the river so we settled on the Dock Cafe. The view from the the deck is fabulous and definitely worth the additional wait time. I ordered the grilled scallop salad, which was delicious. The scallops had a nice smoky grilled flavor, and the texture was perfect: seared on the outside and silky smooth on the inside. The sundried tomatoes and grilled asparagus complemented the scallops nicely. Mike got the New York strip steak, which came with a cream sauce of some sort (we can't remember exactly what, and the menu on the website seems to be out of date) and a chocolate martini. He reports that the steak was cooked a perfect medium and the garlic mashed potatoes were fluffy and flavorful. We were less impressed with dessert. Mike's key lime pie was artificial tasting, and my chocolate raspberry truffle torte, while decadent and delicious, wasn't anything out of the ordinary and the raspberry sauce was overly sweet. However, the service was attentive, the atmosphere was perfect, and our entrees were top-notch, so I'd recommend the Dock Cafe--just skip dessert.
Speaking of dessert, if you need an ice cream fix in Stillwater the best value by far is Nelson's Ice Cream. They have a good flavor selection (I recommend Coconut Joy) and the serving sizes are massive. We each got the "child" size, which consisted of 6+ scoops of ice cream for a grand total of $3.25. Yes, that is more ice cream than anyone in their right mind needs to eat in one sitting (I have no idea why anyone would order a single or double size), but it was absolutely delightful. Although we were still so full hours later that we ended up splitting an appetizer for dinner.
We stayed at the Cover Park Manor for non-food reasons (namely, a room with a private whirlpool for two), but the breakfast on our second morning was above and beyond the typical B&B breakfast. We were treated to individual egg, spinach, and tomato souffles (with ham for Mike, without for me); fruit and yogurt parfaits; a pastry basket including Danish pastries, mini chocolate chip scones, and homemade almond sponge cake; and a delectable rhubarb bread pudding. It was enough food for four, but it was all so delicious that we polished most of it off.
Our mini-vacation culminated with the Foodies on Foot Savor the Flavors tour. Restaurant stops included The Green Room, which has an eclectic menu featuring many Asian-inspired dishes; Revé 324, a bistro where I had a spicy beef dish that was so incredible I temporarily questioned my semi-vegetarian leanings; and QuickFire Pizza, a Neapolitan-style counter-service pizzeria where the pizza was delicious, but the real highlight of the visit was the owner's colorful account of how they got the 8,000 pound imported Italian pizza oven into the building (very carefully and with great difficulty). We also stopped for some shopping and tasting at the Spice & Tea Co. and the Stillwater Olive Oil Company. Our tour ended on the rooftop deck of the Northern Vineyards Winery, with a glass of wine and a mini Chocolate Manhattan cheesecake from Mitchell's Cheesecakes. A perfect ending to a perfect getaway.
If you go:
Dock Cafe http://www.dockcafe.com/
425 East Nelson Street, Stillwater, MN 55082 651-430-3700
Nelson's Ice Cream http://www.nelsonsicecream.biz/
920 Olive St W Stillwater, MN 55082 651-430-1103
Cover Park Manor http://www.coverpark.com/
15330 58th St N Stillwater, MN 55082 651-430-9292
Foodies on Foot http://www.foodiesonfootmn.com