US Highway 169, 501 East South Street, Belle Plaine, MN 56011 | 952.873.3006 | website
After all of the wedding festivities, we drove down to hang out with Mr. K’s parents in the fine town of Fairmont, which is several hours drive south. We decided to stop along the way for lunch at Emma Krumbee’s Apple Orchard and Farm, which is a small chain with locations in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The entrance is flanked by rows of apple trees whose branches were sagging from the weight of red ripe fruit and there was a lot of bustle because they were featuring a Scarecrow Festival with hayrides and pumpkin picking.
We headed into the restaurant and bakery which had a bit of a dive aspect to it, but had its own distinctive charms. The lobby was buzzing with excited chatter of hungry people waiting for their table. There was a shiny cheeked, chubby chef mascot presiding over the dining area, which had low ceilings covered with embossed metal tiles and lots of old farm and kitchen memorabilia displayed throughout the restaurant. I particularly liked the low vinyl chairs at the counter where we sat, they appeared to fit both children and adults and really made you feel as if you were suddenly transported to a long past era.
Our waitress had a brusque drill-sargent manner as she was very busy and had to come back several times before we were ready to order. I started off with Fried Cheese Curds, which is something I’ve heard about but never tried.
They seemed overcooked and the cheese had melted so much that the centers were empty pockets of air. They were like fried cheese balloons. Squishy and rubbery on the inside and with a fried crumbly breadcrumb crust. There was very little flavor to speak of… too bad they didn’t come with a nice bowl of marinara to dunk in as they were similar to fried mozzarella.
I ordered a very interesting sandwich called an Apple Fritter Melt, which was a ham and cheese tucked inside of two slices of apple fritter bread that were buttered and griddled to a delicate crisp. I loved the combination of slightly sweet and cinnamony bread wrapped around salty ham with the gooey melted cheese and grilled onions.
This came with a dip that was sticky sweet and fragrant with spicy cinnamon and the sandwich became an intensely sweet and savory delight when dipped into it. The fries were delicate and light, just like McD’s… I asked our waitress for some mustard, and she asked if I wanted regular or Grey Poupon! So I enjoyed my sandwich slathered with with spicy dijon along with frequent dips into that delicious sweet stuff and was just in hawg heaven.
Mr K decided to try the Walleye, which is reputed to be the most flavorful of all freshwater fish and is a regional delicacy of the Great Lakes area. This tasted like it had been previously frozen and was coated in a thick crumbly breaded crust and was overall bland and unremarkable. It was served with a dry overcooked baked potato and green salad that were both very forgettable.
After lunch, we walked over to the General Store to check out the apples. Dark clouds were beginning togather overhead, I felt like running for cover.
Inside was a bustling emporium filled with country bric-a-brac, but I was looking for Honeycrisp apples, another Minnesota specialty. They are very crisp and juicy and were well worth $8.95 for the bag.
As we continued south, I asked Mr. K to stop several times because the skies out on the prairie were always changing and so dramatic looking I just had to take a picture. The light out in the midwest looks so different to me. It was very picturesque country with miles of fields with barns and tractors that always have trees planted nearby for shelter.