Four Points Bar and Grill, Bemidji, MN

Four Points Bar and Grill, 1813 Paul Bunyan Dr NW, Bemidji, MN 56601

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Right next to the Super 8 Hotel is a restaurant called Four Points Bar and Grill.  You get a 10% discount with your key card from the hotel.  They serve American food.

Overall their prices are pretty average for a nice restaurant.  The feel inside is very rustic.

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We tried their signature burger and fries.  Let’s just say it was very messy.  The onion marmalade basically slid off the burger.  The coleslaw was not the greatest.  The fries were pretty great.  Overall it was decent.  The patty was preformed.  They cooked it alright.  The flavor combination was very good.  It was a bit difficult to eat.  The patty was some ridiculous amount of beef.  It was super thick and just made it difficult to take a full bite of the burger and I believe lead to the loss of the toppings.  I wish these places would give me a smaller burger of better quality so that I can actually enjoy eating it.

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That being said I think most people I know would have liked the burger.  It was mostly just difficult, not bad.  The fries were really good.

If you are in the area and want a nicer meal this is the place you want to go.  It isn’t cheap, but it is at the price point of a better meal.

They also have pasta and fish and steak to choose from if you do not want a burger.  Their Scott selection was also respectable.

UPDATE:  Based on everything I can find online this restaurant has closed.  Unfortunate!

Douglas Lodge, Itasca State Park, Park Rapids, MN

Douglas Lodge, 36750 Main Park Drive, Park Rapids, MN 56470

Douglas Lodge is located inside of Itasca State Park.  It is closest to the east entrance of the park, but easily accessible from the south, or if you want a little drive from the north entrance.

While I did not stay at the lodge and cannot comment on the rooms the location is great.  You have easy access to many hiking trails, the Aiton Heights Fire Tower, the bike trails, and the Chester Charles II boat tour.  The lodge has WiFi access and it is pretty good inside the lodge.

The reason we went to the lodge was to eat lunch on two separate days.  The lodge is fairly busy, but the wait is generally not more than half an hour.

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Since Minnesota is known for their wild rice which grows right on the lake we had to try their wild rice soup and hot dish (it’s a casserole).  Needless to say both dishes are very Minnesotan in their lack of spices.  They were a bit bland.  I also tried the walleye which was really good.  One note when ordering the wild rice soup.  If you want your soup creamy you need to specifically ask for it that way.  If you do not then you will get the broth wild rice soup.  That worked out well for me, but maybe rather disappointing for most people.

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We also tried one of their desserts which was really good.  We had the sweet potato maple cheesecake.  It was delicious.

If you are a Minnesotan you will probably like the food.  It was cooked as well as can be expected.  The walleye was very good and I recommend it.  I liked the soup too, but it was very simple.  The hot dish wasn’t bad, but again not very exciting.

I would say overall this was pretty good, but not great.  I would eat here again.  I did wait half an hour twice just to eat here, but the only other place to eat is near the northern entrance.  The food is made right.  The service is decent.  If you are considering eating there I would say do it.

The Little Penguin Merlot

The Little Penguin Merlot

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The Little Penguin Merlot might be one of my new favorite wines.  It is just simply delightful to drink.

I do not know what it is about Australian wines, but they now how to make a wine right down under.  This particular wine is a South Eastern Australian wine.

The cover is adorable.  I wouldn’t normally buy a wine based on the cover, but this one needed to be tried.

Here is the craziest part, this wine is cheap.  I mean scrounge for change in your car kind of cheap.  I paid $6 for this bottle of wine.

If you are looking for an inexpensive bottle of very delicious, drinkable wine The Little Penguin Merlot is for you.

I give this wine a 5/5 for the price to taste ratio alone.

Mallee Point Merlot

Mallee Point Merlot

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Mallee Point Merlot is an Australia wine which gives me hope right off the bat.  Australians like to drink and seem to have a good sense for drink ability over whatever passes for proper wine in other areas.

You can smell the berries in this wine as you pour it.  It is very inviting.

The initial tastes include oak and cherry.  This wine clearly has a lot of tannins which I normal try to avoid like the plague.  For some reason it doesn’t seem to matter in this wine.  They probably process it differently in Australia to allow the tannins without the ill effects.

Even with the tannins this wine is surprisingly smooth.  As I drank this wine I thought it maybe a headache waiting to happen, but it will be a delicious ride.  To my surprise I did not suffer a headache the next day as I would have if this were an American wine with that many tannins.

If you really enjoy the taste of tannins, but do not like the after affect I would highly recommend this particular wine.  They just seem to do it right in Australia.

I give this one a 4/5 overall.  It verges on a 5.

Alexander Valley Vineyard Merlot

Alexander Valley Vineyard Merlot

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This wine was estate grown and bottled which generally means they tried harder to get it right.  In this case they nailed it.  This particular vintage is the 2013.

The wine has the perfect smell when you open the bottle.  It isn’t inviting and at the same time it is exactly what you would hope for when smelling a wine.

The taste is smooth and not sweet or bitter.  It is just an excellent wine.

I cannot find any downside to this wine.  I would definitely serve it at a dinner party.  It is very drinkable and not offensive in any way

I give this wine a 5/5.

Split Rock Lighthouse, Two Harbors, MN

Split Rock Lighthouse, 3713 Split Rock Lighthouse Road, Two Harbors, MN 55616

Split Rock Lighthouse is a historical site and part of the Minnesota Historical Society.  As a site that is part of the Minnesota Historical Society there is a fee to see the lighthouse even if you have a pass for all of the state parks.

You drive in, park your car and enter the visitor center.  There are plenty of things to see in the center and purchase.  One of the items you will need to purchase is a pass to go through the doors that lead out to the lighthouse itself.  It is worth taking a look.

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The lighthouse is right behind the visitor center and there isn’t any scary walks along a long and narrow path like many lighthouses.  It is a rather beautiful lighthouse.

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You can walk around the building next to the lighthouse or wonder through the other area with all of the other buildings.  There is information inside the building next to the lighthouse.  Cover your ears when the fog horns go off.

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Stand back and take in the lighthouse itself.  It is a pretty amazing sight to see.  The best part is that you can go inside and climb to the top.

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The lower part of the lighthouse is rather neat.  There is a stove and a desk for the caretaker to use.  They have people dressed up as caretakers walking around.  I believe there is also a tour that you can take.

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The mechanics of the lighthouse itself are really incredible.  It truly is a beautiful work of art.  The fact that it has a functional aspect as well is just a bonus.

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Climb the staircase to the top and take in the view.  It is rare that you get to climb a lighthouse so that fact that they let you go up into this one makes it very exciting.

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The light at the top of the lighthouse spins around so that boats can see it.

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The view is also quite spectacular from the lighthouse.  Here are a few shots of what you might see when you visit here.

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If you get a chance to visit Split Rock Lighthouse it is completely worth the fee.  The lighthouse is beautiful and  the fact that they let you go inside makes it very exciting.  It is also very accessible from the standpoint that you do not need to take a scary walk to get to it.  There are stairs to get up to it so keep that in mind.

I highly suggest putting Split Rock Lighthouse on your list of things to do if you are in the Twin Harbors, MN area.

After you view the lighthouse you can take a hiking trip into the park itself.  We were just passing through so we skipped the hike, but it looked like it would be fun.


Third Wheel

Third Wheel is a red blend from California.

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This California red is a rather simple wine.  The bottle has foil and a proper cork.  The initial smell is pleasant.  It doesn’t have any harsh tones, but also doesn’t give a falsely inviting scent either.  It is just pleasing.

The initial taste is smooth.  It isn’t smooth due to a lack of flavor like some wines.  The flavors are just subtle and none are overwhelming.  There is nothing harsh or bitter about the wine.  It is simply a good wine.

The blending of this wine is perfect for its purpose.  It is meant to be a table wine that you can drink with any meal and serve to any guest.

I enjoyed this wine with fruit.  It pairs nicely with black berries, raspberries, and strawberries.  It was best with the strawberries.

Pairing this wine with crackers and cheese was not as good.  It still worked, but I was not as thrilled.  I think perhaps it was the choice of cheese.  I was using gouda.  I think it would have gone better with a cheddar or some other more flavorful cheese.

Overall I would definitely suggest  this wine for dinner guests.  It should please any pallet and not be offensive in anyway.  In fact at $10 a bottle this is the type of wine that you can have at anytime.  It also makes a good bottle to take to a dinner party.  Keep one of these on hand for any last minute needs.

I give this wine a 5/5 on the Linda scale.

I really enjoyed this wine and had not ill effects from it.