Eatbeat: 'Ely's Ivy dares to be different'
The specials included Prince Edward Island mussels and gazpacho soup when I ventured into Ely's Ivy on a Saturday in June.
Inside, a group of four very young women were drinking cola and sharing orders of mussels.
I sat at the bar and ordered a 12-ounce porterhouse pork chop for $18. It was worth a wait because it was done to perfection and served with peas still in the pods and mashed potatoes. It was a heavy mid-day meal, making it easy to go light in the evening.
Nearby, there was a couple from Thief River Falls enjoying a leisurely late lunch of mussels and frog legs.
Ely's Ivy opened after Thanksgiving in the building that was vacated when the Sanders restaurant closed. The restaurant had been operated by Kim Holmes, who retired after a long stint as a chef and restaurateur in Grand Forks.
The new owners find that operating the large restaurant is definitely an adventure. They are continuing the popular window seating, originally known as "Cloud Nine."
The restaurant requested and has been given permission by the Grand Forks City Council to serve in the adjoining park this summer. The outdoor dining adds another dimension to their service.
Salads include compressed melon ($7) described as spinach, red onion, golden raisins, feta cheese, balsamic vinaigrette and pecans. Among the main dishes there are shrimp and grits croquettes as well as Szymanski Farms burgers. And some adventurous diners keep coming back for a Camel Burger ($12). These are made with meat from a supplier in South Dakota.
While Scott and Rachel Franz are relatively new as restaurant owners, they are long in experience. They met years ago when they both were working at the former River Bend restaurant east of East Grand Forks.
They have made friends in the business along the way. And the pottery at Ely's Ivy was made by Leanne Moe McQueen, who grew up in Grand Forks and started a pottery company in Tennessee.
22 S. Third St.
Reservations: (701) 757-0243
Owners: Scott and Rachel Franz
Chefs: Scott Franz and Jack Yem
Hours: 11 a.m. with closing 11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; midnight Friday, Saturday
Seating for 150
Décor: Streamlined, uncluttered
Average ticket: $8 to $12 range for lunch; $10 to $38 for dinner with $15 to $20 average
Service: Good, not rushed
Report card: In a time when many restaurants serve same foods, Ely's Ivy dares to be different. The menu is unique. Prices medium-high. Service friendly.