Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

September 18, 2010 11:53 AM

Restaurant: Vanilla Bean Cafe

Vanilla Bean Cafe

812 Seventh Avenue (Highway 61)
Two Harbors, Minnesota 55616
Fax 218-834-2219
We decided to have breakfast at the Vanilla Bean because it opened at 7:00 a.m. and was a 10 minute ride from the resort at which we were staying. When we arrived at 7:30 a.m. there were 3 other people in the dining room. By 8:00 a.m. every chair was filled, with people ranging in age from pre-teen to their 70s.

Debbie started with a cup of excellent vanilla bean coffee, while I enjoyed a perfectly done hot chocolate.

The cafe is famous for its oven-baked omelets. The omelets are round, baked in metal pans, and are about 8 inches across and about an inch high. I have never seen nor eaten anything like it except, perhaps, for a deep dish pizza. Of the hundreds (thousands?) of omelets I have eaten nothing comes close.

Debbie ordered the White Pine omelet, with a side of well-done bacon and toast. The stuffings included mushrooms, artichokes, mozzarella, provolone, Asiago and Parmesan cheeses.

I opted for the Thunder Bay omelet, with a side of well-done bacon. The stuffings included ham, cheddar-jack cheese and mushrooms.

There is a firm "crust" around the circumference.

One option that grabbed my attention before I chose the omelet was the Scandinavian Breakfast: golden grilled slices of caramel pecan bread-pudding dazzled with burnt sugar caramel sauce. It comes with ham, bacon or sausage.

If you end up going for lunch rather than breakfast, there is a wide range of sandwiches. The one that I would order first is the Cranberry Club: smoked turkey, sliced ham, bacon, cucumber, tomato, field greens, with cran-mayo on toasted cranberry bread.

Dinner is also served.

There are 37 seats in the dining room: 6 booths on two walls of the restaurant that seat 24. There are 3 tables in the middle of the room that will seat up to 12, and a table that seats only one person.

There is a private dining room that seats up to 28 people.

The restroom is pretty "plain vanilla." There is a white ceramic commode and an accompanying washbasin with a mirror over it. The walls are painted a dull yellow and the floor is covered with large grey tiles. There is a sign above the washbasin that states "Please be careful hot water is very hot." The room is clean, but there is a slight musty odor.

By the way, there is a sign on the wall of the dining room that says "Save your fork."

There are two other treats within a block of the Vanilla Bean. Literally attached to the Vanilla Bean is a Bridgeman's ice cream store. Growing up in Duluth, Bridgemans was the most popular ice cream parlor. There were two of them.

All of the ice creams are excellent, but there is a particular sundae, called the Lala Palooza, that is very good. It was so large that it was usually shared by two or more people. If you finished it on your own, you were given a certificate suitable for framing. On one occasion, I ate two Lala Palooza's in one sitting. It was a store record for a long time.

The other treat, just a block away, was a Dairy Queen. There is nothing like a large Dairy Queen in a cup covered with hot fudge.

How to Get There From D.C.

By Plane: Delta Airlines from D.C. to Minneapolis, transfer to Delta connection for trip to Duluth. Rent car and drive one hour. If you take the 6:47 a.m. plane from National Airport, you can get to the Vanilla bean in time for a 12:30 p.m. lunch.

By Automobile: Drive 1195 miles, 20 hours

Return to Home Page