2755 Burntside Lodge Road
Ely Minnesota 55731United States
Midwest Living Recommends
This white-tablecloth restaurant features high-class nouveau American food, an extensive wine list and spectacular views of the lake.
In a city like Minneapolis, the Burntside Lodge would be an unusually good restaurant. But tucked in the Minnesota wilderness, it has no equal. The white-linen-tablecloth atmosphere, efficient and professional waitstaff, and unparalleled view of sunsets over the lake are a good start; the food is even better. The Burntside offers both classic and original cocktails with Northland-inspired ingredients like lavender honey and blueberries. Appetizers might include anything from duck empanadas to ricotta gnocchi with sweet peas, but the most popular item is the tasting tray ($16.50). Here, the chef prepares a selection that typically includes specialty cheeses, olives, nuts, olive oils and meats, along with exotic and spicy Tasmanian leatherwood honey. The spicy almonds, smoky hunk of stewed and shredded lamb, and aged goat cheese on our tray were especially tasty. The main dishes are creative and change from year to year. One night might mean pan-seared duck breast with a blueberry miso glaze and sake-marinated fruit, another night grilled zucchini with fresh roasted vegetables and a roasted cauliflower sauce. The mole-rubbed duck ($33) was more expensive than exceptional, but the accompaniments -- mildly spicy black bean paste, a warm and chewy tortilla stack, and baby squash-lime creme fraiche -- were a meal unto themselves. Afterward, tuck into one of their homemade desserts, which often feature local berries. A rhubarb sorbet with white chocolate ice cream, intense strawberry sauce, sugared mint and an anise meringue ($8) was cold, intense and delicious. Their selection of fine wines is quite respectable, and the beer list alone has 23 choices. If you happen to be in the area over the weekend, they also offer a delightful breakfast menu. This is a fantastic place to eat, and it's easily the best restaurant in northern Minnesota.