121 N. 4th Street
Bismarck North Dakota 58501United States
Midwest Living Recommends
Although the bulky minted lamb burger at the bar of Pirogue Grille won't win any beauty pageants, the flavor, juiciness and price more than make up it.
Pirogue (pronounced pee-ROGUE) Grille is the best restaurant in central North Dakota when it comes to overall dining experience. The dedicated waitstaff, the table linens, the warm homemade bread, the lighting and of course the food -- everything about this place balances classic elegance and Midwest casual. The restaurant is renowned for taking familiar, local ingredients and flavors and creating culinary discoveries, and the lamb burger with locally raised lamb is a perfect example. We visited on a Friday night, sat ourselves at one of the four tables in the cozy bar area, and ordered glasses of wine for around $6 apiece. For the meal, we tried the minted lamb burger ($8) off the bar menu and the breast of free-range chicken with soft polenta, mushrooms and white truffle oil ($23) off the dinner menu. Because we ordered off the dinner menu, we got a basket with delicious homemade breads -- one sourdough type another white with a touch of salt and garlic -- and a small bowl of unsalted butter. The lamb burger arrived looking a little awkward -- an ugly duckling of the burger world with a square homemade focaccia bun; a thick, hand-formed patty; a smear of hummus; and a slab of feta cheese. However, all these elements combined to make an amazing experience, with flavor, texture and juiciness balanced and harmonized. Chicken earned an A+ for presentation: It crowned brightly colored green beans and carrots with mushrooms on a puddle of polenta. The lamb burger is only on the bar menu. Waitstaff will let you order the burger in the main restaurant if you insist upon it, but it's a bit of a faux pas. Pirogue Grille opens at 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays.