Dining Dish: Russ Kendall’s Smokehouse, Butcher & the Boar, New Scenic Cafe, and More

My week started out on a downbeat when I woke up Monday morning to find the news out of Knife River: Russ Kendall’s Smokehouse has been severely damaged by fire. For those who have never made the road trip, it’s a small building that’s a combination bar and shop that sells some of the best smoked whitefish, ciscos, and other freshwater swimmers of the Northland. My favorite Russ Kendall memories involve my family, a wedge of aged gouda, a bottle of dry white and a sleeve of saltines. We’d grab a fish, find a little stretch of lake and have the best picnics. The fire ravaged the smokehouse, but the storefront remains intact. The family hopes to rebuild and a fund has been started to help them do so. Contributions can be made to Two Harbors Federal Credit Union, 626 2nd Avenue Two Harbors, MN 55616 or online.

In happier North Shore news, the New Scenic Cafe’s Scott Graden has finally released his long worked-on cookbook. It’s beautiful enough to earn a place on your coffee table, but the recipes are the sort you’ll reach for all year long. I cannot wait to get my berry bucket filled to attempt their heavenly berry pie. It’s not available everywhere, but I know spots like Cooks of Crocus Hill and Garrison Keillor’s Common Good Books have several copies stocked.

Plus, there’s good news for those who love the up north smoked fish, but can’t get it locally, Northern Waters Smokehaus (located in Duluth’s DeWitt Seitz building in Canal Park) will be making Twin Cities appearance at the Kingfield Farmer’s Market once a month. Look for them this Sunday.

Closer to home, we have two new spicy restaurants ready to heat up our summer. Hot Indian, the adorable orange food truck has found a permanent home inside the Midtown Global Market. I got a first bite and the food is every bit as good as you’ve come to expect from the truck. Chef Janene Holig also assured me that once they get rolling, there will also be specials featured exclusively inside the market.

Sober Fish is scheduled to open tomorrow. The Thai/sushi spot will replace True Thai on Franklin Avenue.

Speaking of fish, did you hear Union Fish Market is closed? Kaskaid Hospitality, the team who owns that impressive piece of real estate have decided to turn in a new direction. They’ve hired Stewart Woodman to step in as culinary director. Woodman may be best known for his beautiful fine-dining cuisine at the now-shuttered Heidi’s and the white-linen incarnation of Levain (and possibly for his strident opinion). I’m intrigued to see what he will do with the menu and concept. This could be a very tasty experience for theater goers. No word on when they’ll re-open. In the meantime, the rooftop remains open.

In your immediate future, if you’re looking for anything to do this weekend there’s a ton of great food stuff going on. Tomorrow night Butcher & the Boar is hosting Minnesota Monthly’s Pig and Pinot Patio Party to kick off Grillfest.

Prairie Dog’s , the gourmet sausagefest from chefs Craig Johnson and Tobie Nidetz is returning to First Course to serve up their singular tubed meats and you won’t believe what’s on the menu. They’ve christened it the Joy Bahn Mi dog after a conversation that I had with Johnson. I have my very own hotdog! I cannot wait to cram this puppy in my mouth. Char sui style pork is served with pate, pickled carrot, daikon radish, jalapeno, cilantro, and a shoyu mayo for $7.

Also on Sunday is my favorite reason to drink pink. Solo Vino’s annual rosé tent tasting will be bigger than ever and held in their parking lot rain or shine. I’ll most certainly need a little something crisp after that spicy Joy Dog. (My mother would be so proud). Tickets are still available for $35