Early in the spring, when the threat of snow still hovers over the state of Minnesota, the golf course at Sundance Golf Banquet Bowl is open. Later in the fall, when the threat of snow once again looms and golf carts begin to go into hibernation, the course remains open. Over the years, the 18-hole, par 72 course has become reliable place for determined golfers to battle for being the first or last of the year to sneak in a round. Recently, Sundance augmented its links with a bowling alley, inviting visitors to escape the elements and pick up some strikes in the process. Away from all the competition, the facility's bar and grill refuels tanks with popular house-made pizzas, half-pound burgers, and plenty of beer and cocktails.
Shawn Richardson and his hunting buddies were on a fishing trip, exchanging stories and admiring the natural beauty of Lake Superior when one of the fellas struck on a crazy idea. Fun as it was to traipse around the coniferous wilderness—he explained as his friends’ rapt expressions held steady through intermittent bites of newly caught walleye—it seemed a shame that lake-fresh fish and wild game had to be wrested from the cruelly indifferent hands of nature. What if a person need only reach out a fork to enjoy nature’s spoils?
Long after the trip had ended, that notion reverberated down the mental corridors of Shawn, himself a seasoned chef. Every time he joylessly cut a piece from a flavorless slab of frozen fish, or played an idle game of Oregon Trail it would return anew, like an unscratched itch. Finally, one morning—with resolve etched into his steely face—he said goodbye to his mounted yeti head, threw sand over the bonfire flickering on top of his living room coffee table, and strutted out the door to open up a neighborhood joint of his own, where he could serve fresh and local wild game.
Today, Woodsmans Gril’s kitchens sizzle with 13 types of unique game, including elk, bison, walleye, and quail. Shawn smokes his the meats himself onsite, while conducting a kitchen staff as they prepare an innovative menu that has enticed the palates of ABC Newspapers. Servers carry the weighty plates out into the dining room, where Shawn's taxidermy mounts gaze down from brick walls, and color photographs of wild deer, flapping fish, and rugged escaped bank tellers adorn the tables.
When Shannon and her daughter Kate sought out a mother-daughter activity, they dodged the typical scrapbooking and quilting and instead opened Coffee Caboose. Their creation is a charming café specializing in espresso drinks, hot dogs loaded with toppings, and housemade baked goods. Often seen manning the counter or flapping limbs to create angels in coffee-grounds piles, they ensure the quality of their product by involving themselves in all aspects of their business. Each morning, Shannon and Kate showcase this dedication by serving up fresh-baked cinnamon rolls and steaming cups of coffee to commuters en route to the Northstar Train.
It started with a single store, opened in Fridley, Minnesota in 1964. But Dick Kempe's pizza proved too tasty for one outpost, and Chanticlear Pizza eventually spread to 14 locations in the following years. And although Dick no longer owns the pizzerias, his uncompromising standards for quality pies remain in place. Fresh dough is mixed up and hand-tossed daily. Vegetables are chopped each morning. Instead of adding sugar to their sauce, the chefs rely on the tomatoes' natural, charm school-perfected sweetness. And the from-scratch foundation is always topped with house-shredded, 100% Wisconsin mozzarella cheese.
Once the dough and sauce are ready, Chanticlear Pizza's chefs continue the process by loading them with meats and veggies. The selection of toppings range from shrimp and bacon pieces to a secret-recipe pickle blend. A splash of spicy, bourbon-tinged molasses or chunky salsa can add additional pizzazz to pizzas. Beyond circular eats, polygonal dishes as pastas, calzones, and sides of buffalo wings and garlic toast populate the menu.
At Mama Valenti's Pizzeria, descendants of Italian-born Rose Valenti adhere to her century-old recipes as they hand-toss dough made fresh daily and coat it in house-made sauce, loaded with garlic and herbs. A recipe circulating throughout the Valenti clan since the 1800s dictates the in-house craftsmanship of the sausage, one of many toppings on a menu of customizable and house pizzas. The Carne Amore pie, like Snuffleupagus's T. rex trap, comes loaded with five varieties of meat, and patrons exercise artistic license over build-your-own pizzas, sculpting personalized sustenance with up to five toppings such as pickles, bacon, and jalapeños scattered across a crust canvas up to 20 inches in diameter.
At least twice a week, the aroma of freshly fired coffee beans fills the air of The Bean Coffee & Wine Cafe as Dan, the café's owner, roasts his house blends. By night, Dan turns his attention to curating the café’s spirit-raising selection of microbrews, specialty beers, and 25 imported wines. Constantly evolving around the season and available local ingredients, the menu includes wraps with deli-sliced turkey, hot sandwiches such as the "Red-Feathered Pig," a gourmet grilled chicken sandwich with homemade cranberry/cherry mayo, and club sandwiches on the house's multigrain bread. Via a drive-thru window, staffers supply nonalcoholic drinks and eats to on-the-go guests and visitors testing their homemade hovercrafts.