Ledge Rock Grille
596 Larsmont Way
Two Harbors, MN 55616
This last weekend we spent a day up in the Duluth area scouting out wedding reception locations and dress shopping for my sister-in-law. After leaving Gooseberry Falls, we stopped at a place called Larsmont Cottages on Lake Superior because their Ledge Rock Grille was a potential reception spot. We of course had to eat there to make sure it was a good fit.
There was an expectation, maybe even an elevated one, that I placed on dining at Ledge Rock. The menu had a more limited selection of choices but it had some really impressive high quality options like Ledge Rock Risotto and Huli Huli Chicken that made my mouth water looking at the menu. They also incorporated a wood fired oven to make fresh flatbreads and local flair like walleye cakes. Was it fair of me to raise the bar for Ledge Rock Grille? It certainly was. If you expect to sell high quality, expect to produce it as well.
When it came to ordering the flatbreads caught my eye. That, and a day of foraging on too many other treats, made it a simple valid option for dinner so I chose the Spicy Chicken Flatbread. When it finally arrived on the table, it looked wonderful. What a presentation! The flatbread was irregular shaped, denoting that it had been rolled out fresh for the meal. Chunks of chicken sat evenly mixed among half sliced cherry tomatoes and were held together with a thin layer of mozzarella and cheddar cheese.
Unfortunately, looks are only the first impression of a good meal because upon tasting it things went downhill. Firstly, the grilled chicken was nowhere near spicy. In fact, I had someone else sample the chicken just to make sure my taste buds were still working but they reached the same conclusion I did. The flatbread was like eating hardtack, especially as you reached the last inch plus around the edge of the flatbread. My jaw was actually sore after finishing off the meal which is never a good sign. On the upside the cherry tomatoes brought a sweetness to the toppings. Maybe if there was some thin layer of sauce the crust would not have been so hard. It is something definitely needing immediate attention.
Luckily, I was sandwiched between my two kids and was able to partake in one thing I did like, a cheeseburger. What? A cheeseburger? That’s correct. The burger was huge, tender, juicy, and had a great grilled flavor to it. Not bad for the kids menu. If there is a next time I will pose as a child and get that.
A great server can make you overlook a relatively bad plate of food. They are the ones that have the relationship with you, the customer, so their empathy and care can smooth things out if things are not perfect. Our server smiled every once and a while for very short periods but for the most part I had the distinct feeling that she had other things on her mind that were spilling over into her work. When it is game time, you need your game face. She did not appear to be in the game that night.
Another negative to the experience was the time it took to prepare the food. For fine dining it is safe to assume that there will be a 45 minute wait for your meal. Good meals take time to prepare. We arrived after what is normally considered the rush time in dinner service and were seated right away. With about half the restaurant full of patrons at different stages of eating, I kind of expected the meal to arrive a little sooner. It took nearly an hour to get our meals. Of course, unhappiness is precipitated by sitting between a three and a five year old who already finished coloring the entire menu and were nearly two hours removed from their normal dinnertime. It would have been a better meal experience if it were served a little quicker.
Clean restaurants are important. It says a lot to a patron when you take the time and investment to make your place fresh and inviting. A warm color pallet on the walls, exposed stained wood beams, and a crackling fireplace are very nice to see. Everything looks recently remodeled or built simply because of the architectural nuances throughout the room. Wine racks line the walls open spaces and are full and ready for customers to pick from.
The only atmospheric downsides are the lack of intimacy and lack of sound dampening that the big open room design naturally suffers from. I thought that if they had some kind of flags or sheer tapestries handing from the overhead beams they might just get over the sound issues. The only problem is that it would not seem to fit the higher class cottage motif throughout the whole complex.
Overall, I was not impressed with the food or service, and no amount of dolling up the walls is going to replace the quintessential need to produce quality from the kitchen. Their menu looks stellar but the end product was flat, literally and figuratively.
Would I go there again? Not of my own choosing. There are better places to experience on the north shore of Superior.