Walleye is a big deal in Minnesota, the best of it, no doubt, made at North Country campfires by walleye fishermen. For those who don’t catch and cook their own, the place to go is Tavern on Grand in St. Paul.
Billing itself as “Minnesota’s State Restaurant Serving Minnesota’s State Fish,” this friendly place will start you off with an appetizer of three sautéed walleye cakes or a walleye basket of deep-fried bites; or in the spirit of the Minnesota State Fair, you can get walleye on a stick. Or how about a Minnesota Spring Roll, stuffed with walleye and wild rice? Fillets are available grilled, fried, or blackened. Sandwiches are made on French bread; you can get a walleye plate, known as a “shore lunch,” that consists of a single fillet with steamed vegetables and potatoes; and there are big dinners that include a couple of fillets. There is even a Lakeshore Special that is a single fillet accompanied by a half-pound sirloin steak. On the side of almost anything, chicken wild rice soup is an excellent companion. To accompany your meal, there are beers galore, domestic and imported, on tap and by the bottle.
Tavern on Grand feels like the right place to enjoy a true Minnesota meal. It is designed to resemble a log cabin lodge in the woods, and no matter where you sit in the bar, you have a good view of one of the TVs positioned for everyone to watch whatever game is currently broadcast. Look for the big neon fish in the front window.