Golfing and Dining in Red Wing
In September Jo and I spent some time in Red Wing. Earlier we had spent some time in Duluth to attend the Duluth KIA Drag Races & Car Show. On the way home we decided to spend two days in Red Wing, Minnesota – one of our favorite river towns along the Upper Mississippi River Great River Road. We found a great RV Park at the Treasure Island Resort and Casino. Very clean, well staffed, and full services for a decent price. It is a bit of hike from downtown Red Wing but the Casino has a shuttle service should you not want to drive back and forth.
I had been wanting to play the Highlands Course at Red Wing’s Mississippi National Golf Club for the last few years but never seemed to get the chance. I talked my brother-in-law Dan joined me for the golf outing. His wife Donna came along to do some shopping and exploring of Red Wing with Jo. There were also a few restaurants that we’d heard good comments about that we wanted to try. During an earlier Red Wing visit to enjoy their Holiday Stroll Celebration we sampled the fare at Liberty’s Restaurant, one of the areas popular dining spots, so this trip we wanted to try the Brickhouse Pub & Grille which is another top-rated Red Wing restaurant. And we’d heard great things about Hanisch Bakery & Coffee Shop so that was on our itinerary as well. To follow are our reviews.
Highlands Golf Course – Mississippi National. The older gentleman in the pro shop gave us a friendly welcome and helped us with some tips on playing the course. The fall senior rate was decent – $30 for green fee and cart. The carts were electric which I prefer, especially when navigating dramatic elevation changes as the Highlands Course offers. The first hole starts near the bottom of the valley and climbs up the ridge towards the top of the bluff so you are hitting uphill all the way to an elevated green. This was the first of several unique holes on the course, many of them quite scenic as the photos illustrate. Mississippi National has two 18 hole courses – Highlands, which we played and as the name suggests is high on a bluff overlooking the Hiawatha Valley, and the Tournament Course, which is predominately in the valley below the bluff. But a few of the Highlands holes are in the valley so part way through the round you come off the bluff down to the valley and then back up to the bluff again. This involved quite a long cart ride between holes and at times we wondered if we were lost! My main complaints about the course were the dry tee boxes that resisted sinking my special tees to its shoulder and the sand bunkers were quite hard packed as well. Also, once you got off the edge of the fairways, the grass was somewhat sparse. We’ve had an exceptionally warm and dry summer and I suppose this high bluff location has suffered from this kind of weather. But on the positive side, the Highlands course is quite scenic and has a number of interesting and challenging holes. It is a fun round of golf for a fair price, a decent value. Next time I’d like to try the Tournament Course to see how its character compares to the Highlands.
Brickhouse Pub & Grille. The pub has a neat outside deck overlooking a lush garden but it was a little too cool to eat outside so we found a comfortable booth indoors. One review we read liked the food but complained about the service. That was not our experience. We had excellent, very attentive service. We ordered sandwich platters, burgers and reubens. Huge portions served on homemade bread from the Hanisch Bakery. Hot, juicy, and very tasty. They come with kettle chips, waffle fries, or hash brown cakes. We had fries and hash brown cakes. Both were excellent. The dinner salad had a nice variety of greens and vegetables and an adequate sized portion. Coffee was served in large soup sized cups. Overall assessment. A decent price and a very decent meal. Three of the four of us took half our sandwich home. Two days later from the fridge my cold reuben still tasted good! After sampling the Brickhouse I can see why it was voted “Restaurant of the Year” the last two years running.
Hanisch Bakery & Coffee Shop. You walk in the shop to confront hundreds of temptations in the form of pies, cookies, donuts, muffins, specialty breads, cakes, danish rolls, etc. begging to be eaten. But we were there for breakfast so we turned right past the bakery into the coffee shop area – two cozy rooms outfitted with tables and booths. Between the two rooms is the coffee counter with about 8 – 10 styles of coffee available in carafes that have their decanting time noted on each, a detail important to me since I like my coffee “hot.” Your coffee and breakfast is ordered deli-style across a counter behind which is the grill and kitchen. A good deal of Hanisch business is carry out so the deli style works nicely for either eating inside or taking it with you. You place and pay for your order, get your coffee cup, and find a table. The staff brings you your order when it is ready. Service was prompt and the food was hot – and delicious. We all had the breakfast sandwiches (bacon, sausage, or ham & eggs) served on thick sliced homemade bread. It was delicious. The sandwiches also came with a nice portion of cut fruit. We topped off our breakfast with some tasty muffins from the bakery. Warning to breakfast goers. Don’t expect the usual café selections. There are only six items on the breakfast menu: breakfast sandwiches or wraps, a quiche, french toast, toasted bagel, or a fruit and cottage cheese plate. Naturally you can have hundreds of pastries and baked goods but forget two eggs over easy with hash browns and bacon or blueberry banana pancakes; you ain’t gonna find it here. But what they do offer is done to perfection and the price is decent. You get artisan food at small town café prices in a cozy small town friendly atmosphere. Next time I think I’ll try their Ham and Veggie Quiche, served with toast and fruit. Advertised as a “Man’s Meal” we’ll see if I am up to the challenge! By the way I note that the lunch menu is a bit more generous in terms of the number of choices – – – sandwiches, soups, salads, and hot dishes.