I’ve always told people that the Toasted Frog on 3rd St. in downtown Grand Forks was the second best restaurant in town. I reserve the top spot for Sander’s, also on 3rd. As you likely know, you should be expecting to drop at least $40 per person at Sander’s. But along with that comes screamingly fresh food and articulate presentation. That price tag keeps me away most of the time, though, except for extra special occasions.
Now, the Toasted Frog has some amazing offerings as well. And you won’t necessarily break the bank, but just be prepared to drop some dough. Exported to Bismarck, the original Grand Forks location is a pretty good-sized establishment with dark wood and original art by local artist Adam Kemp.
There’s high-top tables and intimate booths, along with a chef’s table in the back where you can watch the chef and cooks.
Opened in May 2006 by Grand Forks natives Shawn Clapp and Jonathan Holth, another location opened in Bismarck in December 2010 of the same name. Executive chef Scott Franz, also a Grand Forks native, has been at the restaurant since the beginning and brings creativity and quality to everything he cooks.
I’ve had some amazing specials at the Frog in the past. Llama and ostrich have been some of the more exotic plates I’ve had. I liken the llama to a very tender filet mignon, while the ostrich was just slightly less amazing, but still good.
Other entrees I’ve enjoyed have been the vegetable lavosh, which, if you don’t know, is basically a pizza with a cracker-thin crust filled with roasted vegetables and havarti cheese. You won’t be able to eat less than half of the huge portion.
A friend I was out with a while ago got the paella, which had a lobster tail and scallops with fragrant rice. The scallops were a bit on the small side I remember, but what can you expect in land-locked North Dakota?
And what is dinner without a few drinks?
I can honestly say the Frog has THE best cocktails in town. They’re expertly prepared by the bartenders, filling the room with the shake shake shake of the different delicious concoctions like the deceptively strong Key West, or Tropical Tadpole, Forbidden Fruit and Hibernating frog.
The wine list is filled with over 75 choices from a sweet white to a rich red, you won’t be disappointed.
Now, if you’re a beer lover, you can only get four on tap, but bottles are abundant. On tap are Blue Moon, Heineken and Newcastle along with different rotations.
If you’re looking to stumble out of the Frog after only spending about $40 for three people, trust me and get an appetizer of the sweet potato fries or fried cheesy pickles and a bottle of wine.
Fried cheesy pickles you ask?
Yes. They. Are. Amazing.
A dill pickle is nestled with some havarti cheese and wrapped in a sort of egg roll wrapper and fried. You’ll love them. And the sweet potato fries come along with an amazing, downright dangerous chipotle aioli sauce that I would put on anything.
To wrap things up, you will most likely love anything you order at the downtown Grand Forks eatery. Don’t be afraid of a stuffy experience. The servers and bartenders make the atmosphere extremely casual and welcoming. It’s fine dining without the pretense.