Zenith City Weekly
Tom Walchuk is in Denver for the Colorado Fear Fest. His wife, Annie, is filling in as a guest columnist. Tom will return October 21.
Nestled in the Lakeside neighborhood in Duluth, New London Café sits directly across from the Lakewalk at 4721 East Superior Street.
Once an advertising company, and for years a pet store in the ’70s, this building is now a convenient place for runners, cyclers, dog-walkers, and rollerbladers to grab a cup of joe and catch up with friends.
The staff is kind and courteous. Most are from the neighborhood and walk or bike to work. Groups, such as the gentlemen’s breakfast club, meet regularly for coffee, cards, and conversation. There’s a ladies’ sewing club and talk of starting a neighborhood book club.
Part of the café’s charm lies in its menu. All the items are cleverly named after Lakeside streets, establishments, and parks. For breakfast, there is the Greysolon Eggs Combo—two eggs any style, toast, bacon, ham, or sausage—or the Hawk Ridge French Toast Platter—two thick slices of cinnamon fritter toast, battered, fried, and served with two eggs and bacon, ham, or sausage. The bacon is crisp and the sausage high quality, natural in flavor and not overly salty.
Restaurants make very little profit, and making a profit on breakfast is next to impossible, so it’s understandable that an omelet will cost $8 or more.
But many restaurants serve them uncooked in the middle and burned on the outside, with canned mushrooms, so I just spent $8 on something I refuse to eat. At New London Café, an $8 omelet seems like a bargain—the eggs perfectly fluffy and the veggies fresh.
The lunch menu offers classic fare with a modern twist. The Rockridge Club has ham, turkey, bacon, and two kinds of cheese, with chipotle mayo on multi-grain ciabatta. The Stormy Weather Stacker is turkey, roasted garlic and onions, topped with melted Swiss.
The Edmund Fitzgerald, despite being named after the most tragic shipwreck of my childhood, is probably the least exciting item on the menu. A flavorless breaded-walleye sandwich is a staple in Minnesota restaurants. To their credit, New London Café offers a large fillet that can be grilled or deep-fried.
The burger selection is simple, yet diverse in its variety of cheese and toppings. There’s the Tioga Burger with cream cheese and olives; the Oneida Burger with bleu cheese and bacon; and the Avondale Burger with American and Swiss, garlic and onion, served on rye.
The house specialty is the Backpacker Wild Rice Burger, a vegetarian alternative, rich and juicy enough to satisfy carnivores, topped with cheese, onions, and chipotle sauce. At $9.50, the price seems steep for a rice burger, but compared to the prices and quality in the local market, New London Café is quite reasonable.
It is refreshing to find a place where a neighborhood can come together and enjoy good food in a charming atmosphere unique to that neighborhood, making New London Café a rare find indeed.