Fresh food and wide-open space

Samuel Ketcham, Senior Reporter

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Spring is slowly approaching after a relentless winter. With the unpredictable forecast, my trust that spring is coming has dwindled, but I’m going to remain optimistic and suggest some warm weather culinary day-excursions all within an hour or so of the Hamline campus.


Pepin, Wisconsin is a small, charming harbor town that is an ideal location to enjoy a blooming spring evening. Though it’s about an hour and 20 minutes from Hamline, the drive will not disappoint. Winding through bluffs of Southeastern Minnesota, traveling along the coast of the Mississippi river, the commute is a straight shot and is entertainingly beautiful. Along the Great River Road there are many scenic overlooks to stop at while weaving through limestone bluffs.


Upon your arrival in Pepin, make the right choice and put your name on the list at The Harbor View Cafe. This intimate, cozy cafe prepares New American fare and the food is always made from scratch. With no reservation list, you will be looking at about a 45 minute wait, but that’s part of its charm. Bring some drinks and a snack along in a cooler and take a stroll out to the harbor. Out among the sailboats the views of Lake Pepin are vast; with miles of coastline in either direction accompanied by bald eagles, boats and barges the harbor is an ideal waiting room.


If the winds are too strong or you would rather just grab a drink and relax, stay put outside of the restaurant in an Adirondack chair and listen to the live music coming from the pub next door. When it is time to sit down and take a peek at their ever changing chalkboard menu (no paper menus), it may overwhelm you. There is a lot to choose from and always new specials, but you can’t go wrong ordering the Alaskan halibut with black caper sauce. This dish has been a staple on their menu for years, and for good reason. The halibut is always fresh and the black caper sauce is good enough to eat out of a bowl with spoon (or piece of bread). If you are not a fish person, try the sauteed chicken breasts with whole garlic cloves and linguini. I’ve had it more times than I can count and I’ve never been disappointed.


Not looking to make the trek to Pepin? Drive the quick 50 minutes to Red Wing, MN. Red Wing is a historically rich town with scenic bluffs and a downtown full of character. The best restaurant in town is the Staghead Gastropub, the food and atmosphere will not let you down. The chef-driven restaurant was reopened about four years ago and is now one of Red Wing’s most popular restaurants, if not the most. Try their pot roast sammie, pesto burger or one of the many craft beers on tap. They host singer-songwriters most weeknights and their downtown is perfect for a post-meal stroll.


The city can get crowded and chaotic, sometimes we just need to take a breather. Thankfully, we live in Minnesota, where natural beauty and countrysides are easy to come by. I highly suggest taking a few hours to hop in your car, put your responsibilities aside and enjoy the wonderful food and wide-open space all within an hour of campus.


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