Brookside Bar and Grill and ‘Nita Mae’s Scoop, Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota

It was a full day. We did our 10k state capital Volksmarch in St. Paul, had lunch at the Handsome Hog, and stopped at Milkweed. After a quick shower, Nancy and I hot-footed up to Marine on St. Croix to see DC expatriate Carol Ingersoll. We got the tour of Carol’s home and yard. It sits right on the St. Croix River, one of the upper Mississippi’s larger tributaries, a pretty river.

We then walked over to begin a tour of the town. It didn’t take long. There are only 660 residents. It’s an historic town, the site of the first timber mill in Minnesota, and today it’s loaded with charm. There’s a one block commercial district with maybe a dozen buildings, including a real a general store, a library, a coffee shop, and an ice cream store, ‘Nita Mae’s Scoop. Best of all, and Nancy may dispute this, Marine on St. Croix has the Brookside Bar and Grill.

The heart of the Brookside Bar and Grill, at least in the summer months, is its large back patio and the gently sloping lawn beyond. We didn’t even go in–Carol just led us back beside the building and it seemed like everyone in town was there. Here’s one corner.

I exaggerated. While we were there only about a third of the town stopped by. The diners covered the entire age range from small infants to … those of us marked with years of wisdom, so everyone was represented. Brookside is even busier on weekends. They have live music on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 3:00 to 7:00. The lawns are filled with chairs and Brookside opens their outside bar, of which you can see part over to the right by the orange water cooler.

We were able to get a table. I saw bluegill filets listed as an appetizer and reflexively ordered some.

Carol ordered a walleye sandwich as did I. Here’s mine, with a side of slaw.

And Nancy, averse as ever to fried foods, had a salad with grilled chicken.

The food was very good, except for the bluegill fillets, which were absolutely sensational. They arrived smoking hot and I broke them up a bit, as you saw above, to release some of the heat. The flesh was tender and succulent. Be sure to order some. And the walleye was fresh and cooked by someone who knows how to fry food. The sandwich arrived dressed on a good roll with lettuce and tomato — a very good sandwich. As you can see, the slaw was overdressed.

Nancy’s Apple Walnut Salad was a hit. Fresh lettuce, apple slices, walnuts, and dried cranberries sprinkled with goat cheese offered a blend of flavors and textures that, as you can imagine, hit the spot. That’s a good raspberry vinaigrette on these. All in all, it was as good a meal as we could wish, our server was a delight, energetic and enthusiastic (especially, as we overheard, about one of the upcoming musicians) in a very relaxed and friendly way. She really relates to people.

After dinner we continued our tour of Marine on St. Croix. We walked through the aisles of the general store, which sells everything but the general himself, walked past the coffee shop and a new upscale cafe that is to open soon, and then down to ‘Nita Mae’s Scoop.

Nancy and Carol each had a cone — here’s Carol’s — and enjoyed them.

Here are Carol and Nancy, post-cones, standing in front of Carol’s home.

It was a magical evening, one of those when everything works. Good food and quality time with an old friend in a beautiful little town. If you’re anywhere near the area, it’ll be worth your time to stop by Marine St. Croix. Take a short walk around and have some bluegill filets at the Brookside Bar and Grill and a cone at ‘Nita Mae’s. You’ll leave relaxed and with a smile on you face.


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