New Scenic Cafe

Duluth, Minnesota


rating star

I had really high expectations for this place, seeing as I'd heard about it for years, but never been. When my boyfriend & I went up to Duluth for a weekend getaway, our B&B offered us a $50 gift certificate to one of four restaurants in the area. We chose the Scenic Cafe because we'd heard it was veg-friendly, and we knew it would be a pretty drive up there.

Well, it was a pretty drive, but it was not vegan-friendly in the least. Even when I called to make the reservation, I asked the hostess who answered the phone if they had any vegan dishes. (I didn't see any on the menu posted on their website.) She said that "practically anything" can be made vegan, and to just ask our server for vegan options when we arrive. She even said the chefs "enjoy the challenge" of creating vegan dishes when necessary.

After we were seated & had looked over the menu (not seeing anything vegan, and only a couple vegetarian options), I asked our waitress what could be made vegan. She gave me a blank stare for a few seconds, and then said, "Ummm, I don't really know." Then she looked over the menu in front of me, starting to point at things, then pulling her finger away. Eventually, she said we could get the Ratatouille Lasagna without any of the cheese on it (which took away half of the ingredients, since most of the vegetables & noodles were covered in cream), and the Tempeh Reuben without the dressing. She said the chefs couldn't make anything special (which I wouldn't even normally ask, but the hostess I spoke with said they would if necessary).

The vegetables in the dishes we received were flavorful, but all in all, it was really boring. Also, each dish was something like $18, and they really literally were pretty much just grilled veggies, since they took away all the expensive ingredients... The Reuben didn't even have ANY sort of dressing on the toasted bread. I knew it wouldn't have the Russian Dressing (it had sour cream or something in it), but they really didn't even have any hummus, non-dairy mayo or non-dairy butter, or other vinaigrette or SOMETHING to put on it to make it somewhat exciting & not super dry??

I dunno. I hate complaining & sounding like "the picky vegan" (I'm really not)... And I wouldn't normally fault a restaurant up north for not having a lot of veg options, but I specifically asked the hostess well in advance of our reservation (i.e. gave them warning that vegans were coming) what could be made vegan, and she assured me we would have plenty of things to choose from. We didn't.

I really don't understand the hype, and I don't think I'll be back, especially considering the prices... At least not until they get some suitable vegan options on their menu.

rating star

The prices are higher than most places in Duluth, but I think it's worth it. I had a curry chick pea soup and salad while I was there and both were excellent. I would like to see a few more vegan options on the menu, but there are already a few and they are very knowledgeable about what is/isn't vegan and willing to accommodate. The atmosphere is great and the wait staff is very friendly.

Image for Dave Rolsky

rating star

I really liked the food we had here. The tomatoes with citrus greens and herb oil was quite good, with nice ripe tomato. The baked tofu I ordered was really delicious, some of the best tofu I've had. My wife's soba noodles were also excellent.

So why a 7? One thing, the prices. These are basically New York City restaurant prices, and for that much money I expect either the best food ever or a little more of it. My wife and I were both hungry within a few hours, and we spent nearly $50 on food and ice tea.

So it's worth going, but it doesn't quite justify the very high prices.

rating star

Nice little casual dining place with fabulous gourmet food and a great view of the lake. The waitstaff, kitchen and owners are very accommodating with tailoring an entree, or with special requests. They have a good selection of fairly priced wines (by glass or by bottle), Blue Sky sodas, and other interesting beverages. Many interesting and yummy vegetarian things on the menu (and probably just as many non-veg items, I didn't look), and awesome desserts! Worth the trip!

rating star

They are very vegan-friendly here. In addition to appetizers and entrees, they usually have a vegan pie. They change their menu several times per year. We've tried their tempeh reuben (delicious), as well as their mushroom risotto and pasta purses. All the dishes we've had there have been great!

rating star

We really enjoy the vegan choices here whenever we visit Duluth from the Twin Cities. It's a great excuse to go "up north". We wish we could get there more often.

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