For the first time in years, we called a weekend "vacation" and headed to Detroit Lakes, about an hour east of Fargo. Fargoans refer to Detroit Lakes as "DL." During my first week at a new job, a coworker informed me that she had to go to "DL" with such a rotten scowl on her face that I assumed it was corporate lingo. About a month later, I finally understood she was referring to the city.
While Twin Cities folks can hop, skip, or jump to the nearest lake, Fargoans can not. So, they go to DL.
Jake made a reservation at The Lodge On Lake Detroit, which received positive ratings on Tripadvisor. Having only seen dingy Best Westerns, we were pleasantly surprised this well-kept lodge. It sits on the lake with balconies overlooking the water, a small sandy beach with a half-moon of chairs, and a grassy lawn. We strolled down the dock and peered through the clear water at pointy snail shells.
Early in the morning, I went for a jog where I hopped over dead fish that lay on the sidewalk. I wondered if they were left there by humans or birds. A large pelican-like bird flew over the water carrying a fish in its beak and I wondered if that answered my question.
Damn, it was good to be near water again.
In transit to Detroit Lakes, we made stopped at Castle Rock Supper Club in Hawley, ND.
Jake has to occasionally commute to DL for work and described passing by a bar that looked like a castle. If you know me, there was no way we weren't going to stop at a rural bar that looks like a castle.
Castle Rock Supper Club was more like a restaurant than the bar I had imagined, and its parking lot was filled with cars. We ventured inside the dark interior and asked if we could sit at the bar for a quick drink and snack.
The woman who assisted us gave us a strange look and immediately asked us what we wanted to drink before we could peek at a menu. We floundered around until she provided menus and continued to ask us what we wanted to drink. After Jake made his decision, I was peppered with another round of "so what do you want to drink?" I quickly whipped out my ID with hope that it would put her at ease and quell the incessant "so, what do you want to drink's." After all, I do look like I'm twelve. The woman defrosted a little bit.
Jake ordered a bowl of their Friday clam chowder special and a popover for us to share.
The soup was darn tasty and clearly homemade. In fact, it was one of the better bowls of clam chowder we have tried. The popover was was crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.
We smeared it through sweet butter flavored with berries. Not artificial berry-flavored butter, but real butter flavored with real berries.
The woman asked us where we were from. We told her and a gentleman who also assisted us, of how excited we were excited to visit their establishment and of that we enjoyed the food. We asked about their hours and mentioned we looked forward to returning for dinner. When we were finished, Jake flagged down the gentleman so we could pay our tab. He seemed put off by the request. As we left, we tried to thank him for assisting us and he ignored us (however, the other young women who assisted us were friendly).
We sat in our car and vacillated between puzzlement and laughter. We wondered if the perceived standoffishness was due to an attitude of small town suspiciousness of outsiders. Were they not used to seeing new customers besides local Hawley residents? Or were they surprised when a tiny Asian girl, who appeared to be twelve, mozied on up to the bar? Maybe, they don't catch many customers taking phone pictures of soup.
Jake described the vibe as "Eyes Wide Shut/Please move along, now." Whether or not they were truly uneasy with us patronizing their establishment, we would like to return. We have the sneaking suspicion that this strange, castle-shaped supper club serves homemade food worth a return visit. Practically no information exists on this supper club online, so my curiosity grows.
The things we'll do for a good meal.
I hope it doesn't involve any masks.
The Lodge On Lake Detroit, an obligatory visit to Zorbaz, fried seafood at Hotel Shoreham, & dinner at Fireside.