Truly appreciating food means understanding where it comes from and how it arrived at the restaurant. As a boy growing up in Paris, Chef Remy Kerba learned to value the origin stories behind ingredients. Chef Kerba grew accustomed to joining his father—an impassioned gourmand himself—on trips throughout the city’s open-air markets and the vibrant countryside of Normandy of Provence. These childhood memories of meeting farmers and vintners from across France stuck with Chef Kerba and he developed a culinary style that combines a deep respect for tradition with a contemporary spirit of experimentation. This signature style flavors the menu at Le Giverny Bistro, which resides in the Emory Inn and tempts diners with updated, bistro-style French cuisine. Chef Kerba values the pedigrees of his ingredients above all else, and the kitchen seeks out seasonal produce and sustainably raised meats from local farmers and producers whenever possible. The dishes can include subtle New World influences, as in the case of the baked brie with local honey alongside its fresh mint and grilled flatbread. However, entrees such as the Southern-fried chicken breast with mashed potatoes and a lemon-caper butter sauce take an inverted approach and use Old-World flavors to elevate regional American classics. Wireframe models of the Eiffel Tower and the Cliffs of Dover are the only distinctive French accents in Le Giverny Bistro's dining room, which embraces a refined, yet welcoming, aesthetic. Crisp white linens adorn the tables, which are flanked by simple, straight-backed wooden chairs. Cinched drapes allow plenty of light to stream through the wall of windows, and a separate dining area warms guests beside the glow of a stone fireplace. To help contribute to the casual-and-romantic vibe, the bistro hosts live acoustic music on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings.
San Francisco Coffee Company beans are roasted fresh every morning and brewed throughout the day at 45 South Cafe, enhancing the aromas of the lattes and mochas complementing a menu filled with light breakfasts and lunches. Sun-dried-tomato wraps envelop breakfast burritos, and handmade maple-ginger granola dapples bowls of organic yogurt and fresh fruit. As the sun reaches its zenith, panini presses melt swiss and cheddar cheeses in monte cristo sandwiches, preempting desserts and other treats served all day.
The café invites the local community to relax and socialize amid its art-laden exposed-brick walls, whether for book-club meetings, children's story time on Wednesday mornings, or monthly wine tastings, prompting Norcross Patch to dub it the Best Coffee Shop in 2012. Within those inspiring confines, local musicians let loose on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, inspiring sing-alongs and dreams of one day being a roadie. The shop further supports the local community by donating a portion of its profits to the Summerour Middle School Foundation.
Carrying the praises of OpenTable diners as the winner of Best Overall restaurant, Best Ambiance, and Best Food, Park Café's executive chef Michael Ganley is no stranger to success. He has honed his skills in the kitchen for more than 17 years, most recently as Executive Chef of The Ritz Carlton in Dearborn, Michigan. Arriving in Duluth in 2004, Ganley brought with him his years of experience perfecting European culinary techniques, crafting a menu of elegant twists on Southern favorites such as fried green tomatoes layered with slabs of warm, creamy brie.
Nestled inside the Knox House—originally erected in 1899 for the first Mayor of Duluth, John Knox—Park Café's refurbished interior remains true to the home's 19th-century character. Largely original hardwood floors and paneled walls lend a quaint charm to the romantic simplicity of the dining rooms, where tables draped in crisp linen glow beneath flickering candles and diners’ recently whitened teeth.
Carpe Diem relaxes diners in a tranquil, stylish lounge, serving upscale, elegant cuisine from Morocco to several Eurasian nations that don't yet exist. Monday through Friday, visitors can delve into tapas, such as lobster crostini, topped with caramelized onions, tomatoes, spinach, and a flavor-enhancing vodka butter sauce ($6). Those who like to dress their sandwiches up in a beret will adore the French-originating croque monsieur sandwich, which stimulates the olfactory nerves with its shaved pork loin and melty Gruyere cheese ($9). Wine-imbibers can revel in Carpe Diem's enormous collection of whites and reds, such as Washington Hills' Gewürztraminer ($6.50), while specialty drinkers can experiment with Carpe Diem's Carolina tea ($7), a sweet tea and vodka creation served on the rocks.