Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The slaw dog

My favorite dish at a restaurant in the Northland is the slaw dog from My Sister's Place in Grand Marais. A few months ago I wrote an ode to the slaw dog for the News Tribune - and here it is. 

(Disclaimer: Normally I frown upon copying entire articles. But in this case, I'm the author, and I wrote the piece entirely on my own time and at my own expense, so I see no problem in including the story in its entirety below):

The slaw dog at My Sister's Place in Grand Marais.

Ode to the slaw dog



At a rocky, sun-baked opening along Isle Royale's Greenstone Ridge Trail on a hot, muggy summer day in 2006, my hiking party was hobbled.

My sister was sick - she could barely walk, let alone carry her pack. My dad was feeling fine, but he had a bad shoulder and couldn't take more weight. That left big brother - me - to carry double packs.

We set our sights for Moskey Basin, then descended out of the opening into the deep woods. We slogged along, brushing past dewy thimbleberry leaves; I lagged back, staggering every now and then under the added, awkward weight.

As our fun hiking trip devolved, for the time being, into a forced march, my mind wandered, searching for motivation to keep my legs moving. A vision filled my thoughts - a creamy, sweet, spicy, meaty, doughy vision that, like spinach to Popeye, gave me a shot of energy that helped carry me through.

The slaw dog.


A few days earlier, en route to the ferry dock in Grand Portage, we found ourselves in Grand Marais at dinnertime and randomly chose My Sister's Place restaurant. From their extensive menu of burgers, sandwiches and hot dogs, I chose the slaw dog.

I was intrigued by the combination of three of my favorite foods - hot dogs, coleslaw and barbecue sauce. My expectations were more than matched.

The homemade coleslaw is thick and creamy - it certainly doesn't drip off your fork. The barbecue sauce is tucked away underneath - and subtly evident when you take a bite. The hot dog is substantial - I didn't weigh it, but the menu says all the hot dogs are 1/3 pound.

The one shortcoming is that the bun, while good, just isn't big enough to fully contain all that filling - and it's hard to take a bite that encompasses all the flavors. More often than not when first digging in, you get coleslaw and bun, or just coleslaw. Tackling it with a fork and knife might be the best way to go.

But that's a minor quibble. Pair the slaw dog with french fries, and you've got a whole lot of good stuff on one plate.


We made it safely to Moskey Basin and, though my sister rebounded quite well, we cut our trip short by a few days to be safe.

As anxious as I was to dig in to another slaw dog, a return trip to My Sister's Place wasn't in the cards on our way back home. My longing had to go on for months, visions of slaw dogs popping into my thoughts every so often, until I finally got back up the North Shore.

Now, if I'm on a trip to, through or anywhere near Grand Marais, I stop in for a slaw dog. Not mealtime? Not a problem. The slaw dog is as good at 3 p.m. as it would be at noon or 6.

Sometimes, I pass through while on a camping trip - and the slaw dog is the perfect last meal before heading out into the woods.

If you get caught in a rainstorm and your tent leaks, or you didn't break in your hiking boots enough, or you find your only nourishment is undercooked ramen noodles ... just think of slaw dogs. They'll pull you through every time.

Cost: $7.50 (includes fries, soup or coleslaw)
Where: My Sister's Place restaurant, 401 E. Hwy. 61, Grand Marais (if you're coming from Duluth, it's on the far side of town)
Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday; closed Sunday
Phone: (218) 387-1915