Who can truly sleep well if they haven't had a satisfying dinner?
Who can truly sleep well if they haven't had a satisfying dinner? Fortunately, finding a spot in the region that offers both a scrumptious meal and a cozy bed is as easy as pie -- or walleye. Here are a few favorites within driving distance of the Twin Cities.
Used to be that visitors to the Wisconsin Dells expected little more than pizzas or hamburgers in between water-park plunges. Enter Chula Vista and its Kaminski Brothers Chop House restaurant. The resort on the Wisconsin River -- with an 18-hole golf course and spa -- definitely appeals to the water park capital's sophisticates. So does Kaminski Brothers, with filet mignon, lobster tail and classic sides such as asparagus with hollandaise sauce and creamy spinach (www.chulavista resort.com; 1-800-388-4782).
This 75-year-old resort on the Gunflint Trail may be tucked into the remote North Woods on a lake that borders the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, but that doesn't mean guests are roughing it. Especially when they step into Justine's, a dining room with a soaring pine ceiling, picture windows that look out onto Gunflint Lake and a menu that lets regional ingredients shine. A blueberry vinaigrette tops organic greens, venison comes with chanterelle mushrooms and walleye is finished with a maple-infused sauce. Cabins, from basic to those with whirlpool tubs and saunas, provide the beds (www.gunflint.com; 1-800-328-3325).
Several years ago, a century-old brick building in St. Peter, Minn., underwent a seven-figure restoration to become this chic, five-suite boutique hotel. On the main floor, Richard's in Saint Peter does its part to add panache to the picturesque college town. Chef Emily Streeter, who opened Richard's after chef stints at several Minneapolis hotspots, relies on local ingredients to turn out A-plus delicacies such as wild mushroom strata and smoked rainbow trout. Gustavus Adolphus students and their parents couldn't be happier (www.konsbruckhotel.com; 1-507-934-4988).
Hearty fare turned out by longtime chef Terry Dox keeps families satisfied at this classic lodge near Deerwood, Minn. In Ruby's dining room -- fashioned in 1922 from poplar logs -- white tablecloths offset a fieldstone fireplace and cabin-chic twig-and-upholstered chairs. An extensive wine list complements dishes such as shrimp scampi and thick steaks (www.ruttgers.com; 1-800-450-4545).
A tiny kitchen on a minuscule island in the middle of a lake turns out some hugely delicious food. The place is Stout's Island Lodge, near Birchwood, Wis., and the resort's century-old main building and collection of cabins are the sole occupants of the so-called "Island of Happy Days." Its tennis court or kayaks can help build an appetite for dinner that might include a smoked trout and beet carpaccio starter followed by pork tenderloin with savory pancakes and fennel marmalade. Don't let the stunning dining room and its overhead beams carved with birds and other wildlife distract you from your meal (www.stoutsislandlodge.net; 1-715-354-3646).
Kerri Westenberg • 612-673-4282