Story by BETH SCHATZ KAYLOR
North Dakota may be in the middle of the meat-and-potatoes heartland, but adventurous diners can still find international flair on the menus of Bismarck area restaurants. Three local restaurants offer global flavor on the prairie — no passport required.
Brazilian-born Zila Oliveira recently opened Harvest Restaurant in Linton. Soon after, her son Edgar Oliveira installed a wood charcoal-fired rotisserie grill on the dining floor to include Brazilian BBQ on the weekend menu.
If you visit Harvest Restaurant on Brazilian BBQ night, Edgar warns that you’d better come hungry. “Brazilian BBQ is a big, elaborate meal,” he explains. “We include all-you-can-eat Brazilian-style top sirloin, sausage, chicken, parmesan pork tenderloin, Brazilian rice and beans, and a salad bar. We also added baked potatoes to the BBQ menu for local tastes – something you wouldn’t typically find in Brazil.”
Edgar explains how he got the idea to serve Brazilian barbecue here. “I went to a Brazilian barbecue restaurant with a few North Dakotan friends of mine. During the whole meal, my friends kept saying, ‘My parents would love this.’” He knew right then that Brazilian barbecue had potential in the middle of the prairie.
“It’s been a big hit,” says Edgar. “Brazil and the US are similar in that they both have a culture of meat. In the south of Brazil, the local people raise cattle and hold elaborate barbecues.” Harvest is replicating that experience for lucky diners on Friday and Saturday nights.
While the Brazilian BBQ grill heats up Linton, in downtown Bismarck Mr. Delicious turns off the oven and serves up dinner raw during monthly sushi nights.
Although other Bismarck restaurants occasionally include sushi on their menus, Mr. Delicious is unique as this restaurant serves sushi as a tasting menu. One price gives the diner 10 different kinds of sushi, two drinks and a slice of their signature cheesecake for dessert.
“We change the sushi menu every month,” says Adam Steen, sushi chef at Mr. Delicious. “But we always include two of our diners’ favorites: the tuna roll and the ‘Pain and Pleasure Maki,’ which is a spicy roll.” Menu inspiration comes from many different sources. “Many rolls have been works in progress, some are inspired by better sushi restaurants that we put our own spin on, and some we just make up and see if it works,” said Ben Aull, sushi chef at Mr. Delicious.
Preparing sushi is a labor-intensive process that begins with an overnight express shipment of fresh fish. While the fish is being transported, the Mr. Delicious sushi chefs start preparing sauces, rice, vegetables, and even chopping fruit for “frushi.” When the fish lands in Bismarck, it’s time to roll.
Aull explains that rolling a sushi roll is easy to do, but hard to perfect. “Rolling (a sushi roll) is not too tough to pick up. The hardest part is getting ingredients to be uniform.” A good sushi roll entails perfectly cooked rice, the freshest ingredients possible, and even vegetables chopped in a very precise manner. “Sushi involves a bunch of small things coming together,” Aull said. “Everything needs to be exact.”
Sushi night is a monthly event at Mr. Delicious. Reservations are required; call 701-258-2598 for details on upcoming dates and to make reservations.
Around the corner from Mr. Delicious, The Blarney Stone on Main Street in Bismarck is bringing a taste of Ireland to Bismarck with full Irish breakfasts on the weekends.
“We include traditional Irish breakfasts on the menu to give guests a little more variety,” said Russ Wanner, director of operations at The Blarney Stone. “We’ve received a fantastic reaction to the breakfast, with guests being either very surprised to just appreciative, especially some folks who live downtown.”
So what is a traditional Irish breakfast? “Irish breakfast is a little more hearty, with pork sausage, eggs, cottage bacon, baked beans, grilled tomatoes and potatoes. It’s a little different than what Americans are used to.” On Saturdays, breakfast includes a free trip to the bloody mary bar.
Although the Blarney Stone is an Irish pub, the menu is adjusted to the American palate. “We’ve tweaked things a little bit,” Wanner said. However, the menu offerings will still give you a taste of The Emerald Isle.
Breakfast is available at The Blarney Stone on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am until 2 pm. Diners must be age 21 or over.
When you dine in or out, there are plenty of options available for the adventurous diner to taste the world without leaving the prairie. As they say in Brazil, bom apetite!
Prefer to dine at home? Here are simple ingredients that bring the flavors of the world into your kitchen:
Mango chutney — Available in the Asian section of local supermarkets, this sweet-spicy sauce instantly takes your plain-Jane grilled chicken or fish to another level. Also try topping a small block of cream cheese with this for a quick cracker spread.
Za’atar — Available via mail order from spice companies such as Penzey’s (www.penzeys.com), this flavorful Middle Eastern spice mix of sesame seeds, thyme, sumac and salt can be used to season meat and vegetables. For an instant appetizer, drizzle pita bread with olive oil, sprinkle on za’atar, slice pita like a pizza into sixths, and toast under the broiler for pita chips to serve with hummus or plain yogurt.
Coconut milk — Often used as the base for curries and desserts in warm climates. For a new twist on rice or tapioca pudding, substitute half or all the milk in the recipe with coconut milk for a tropical kick.