Walleye chowder: discovering it’s a thing along the Gunflint
Oct 23, 2019 09:22AM
Walleye Chowder at Poplar Haus restaurant and resort on the Gunflint Trail, Sept. 8, 2019. Photo: Nancy Ngo / Pioneer Press
By Nancy Ngo from the St. Paul Pioneer Press - October 23, 2019
Whether in a shore lunch or sandwich, we‘re enamored by all things walleye. And now, we’ve discovered a new way in which we love thee.
During what’s become an annual trip with my husband to the North Woods that includes time along the Gunflint Trail (just under three hours past Duluth), we’ve discovered walleye chowder is a thing.
It was love at first bite when we first came across walleye chowder at Poplar Haus, the trail’s newest resort and restaurant.
Talk to locals and they’ll tell you that, while you can get fish chowder almost anywhere, you have to fish around a little more for places serving it with walleye.
The next thing we knew, we found ourselves trolling for walleye and fish chowder recommended by locals. After all, when in walleye country…
We learned that not all are created equal, with variations among the ones we tried. The one at Poplar Haus was our favorite, and we’ve been lucky that the times we’ve dined here, it was the daily soup special of the day.
Poplar Haus is the Gunflint Trail’s newest resort and restaurant, where rustic meets modern and respect is paid to the traditions of the North Woods while getting some modern touches. That philosophy carries over into the food coming out of the kitchen, helmed by chef/co-owner Kippy Kuboy, whose resume includes La Belle Vie, Travail, Pig Ate My Pizza, Lafayette Club and D’Amico.
He’s putting his own version of the beloved Gunflint Trail and North Shore tradition. We especially appreciated the more than average/generous portions of walleye. The use of famous Minnesota Red Lake wild-caught walleye also meant the quality was top notch. And wild rice was a nice way to bring home an already very Minnesotan dish. Herb notes such as tarragon and curveball ingredients such as saffron amped the creamy-brothy soup up even more.
We were also urged to try the walleye chowder at Justine’s restaurant at Gunflint Lodge. The walleye chowder at this Gunflint Trail institution is on the ultra creamy side and can be found on the regular menu. We found that the walleye here is used more sparingly in this soup, which is laden with wild rice and potatoes.
On our way back to the Twin Cities, we stopped in downtown Grand Marais to check out the fish chowder at Angry Trout Café as was highly recommended by locals. While they don’t use walleye in their chowder, fish in this daily soup special — whether it’s white fish, herring, lake trout, cod or salmon — is carefully sourced and worth a try. While the recipe here uses both cream and broth, the fish chowder here comes out more on the brothy side. Dill — another signature ingredient used in Angry Trout’s fish chowder — is peppered while potatoes and carrots get a heavy dose.
After eating our way through walleye and fish chowders during our most recent visit, we can’t wait to try more. It’s now on our must do list during a jaunt up north.
And with fall foliage weather in full swing and then cross country ski, snowshoe, ice fishing, dog sled and winter cabin season just around the corner, a bowl of walleye chowder might just be the perfect thing to warm your belly when in the area, too. It’s something that will be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. And it’s in the true spirit of the north.
Poplar Haus: 7890 Gunflint Trail; 218-388-2222; poplarhaus.com; soup special, $5 cup; $8 bowl
Justine’s at Gunflint Lodge: 143 S. Gunflint Lake Rd; 1-800-328-3325; gunflint.com; regular menu, cup $5.99; bowl $7.99
Angry Trout Café: 408 W. Hwy 61, Grand Marais; 218-387-1265; angrytroutcafe.com; soup special, $6.75, cup; $8.75 bowl
To read the original article and see related reporting, follow this link to the Pioneer Press website. https://www.twincities.com/2019/10/23/walleye-fish-chowder-gunflint-trail-mn-grand-marais/