Food Network is home to an array of recognizable celebrity chefs and food personalities, but one of the most beloved is cookbook author Molly Yeh, who hosts the show Girl Meets Farm. Now, her fervent fanbase will be excited to learn she’s taking her fun and family-friendly recipes to a more personal level by opening up her first restaurant, named Bernie’s.
Yeh’s new restaurant, Bernie’s, which is located in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, is named for Yeh’s first daughter, Bernie. Bernie has had a large presence on Yeh’s television show and social media, so it makes sense she is the inspiration for her new restaurant, which has a menu that promises to share the flavors of the Midwest with local ingredients and some Scandinavian flavors.
There’s a sweet and local feeling to the evolution story of the restaurant, too. “This building was home to a beloved restaurant in East Grand Forks, Minnesota that was open for almost 100 years. It was a big place to go during Prohibition!” said Molly Yeh in an interview. “Shortly before it closed, my sister-in-law got married there and then when it closed another restaurant moved into the space that was only open for a few years. When we found out that restaurant was leaving the space, Nick (my husband) and I went to visit and felt moved to create a space that would honor the history of Whitey’s and celebrate the flavors of our region,” said Yeh.
The Whitey’s space was a large one, so Bernie’s is divided into two spaces. One is carryout and counter service oriented and the other has table service. “There will also be a market. All three spaces will feature local ingredients, Midwestern flavors, Scandinavian flavors, and a touch of Jewish flare since I couldn’t help myself,” said Yeh.
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Yeh’s recipes are so beloved because they often exhibit so much of her own and her husband’s heritage. The recipe will be no different. “Lots of Midwestern flavor, like hotdish, cookie salad, wild rice burgers, bars, cheese curds, and walleye. And since there is such a large population here with Scandinavian heritage, we will also be featuring dishes like Norwegian meatballs, lefse, smorrebrod, and cardamom rolls,” said Yeh.
This restaurant’s menu is based on years of Molly Yeh experiencing and cooking the recipes of her adopted Midwestern home. “When I moved here I was introduced to so many amazing regional dishes that I had never heard of before, things like hotdish, knoephla soup, lefse, cookie salad, etc., and a lot of these were things that you could only get if you looked through Church cookbooks and made them yourself or had someone make them for you,” said Yeh.
But there was a need to make these dishes easier to obtain. “They are all so delicious! We wanted to create a space that would celebrate these dishes as well as all of the amazing locally grown ingredients. We also wanted to expand what our little town has to offer for lunch and brunch since there are not many locally owned places to get a salad or sandwich for lunch, and there are very few bakeries. Additionally, I have been dreaming up menus and my dream pastry displays for as long as I can remember,” said Yeh.
This menu, which boasts “really good bread” will offer lunch options like Thick Sourdough Toasts topped with smoked local whitefish, a Baloney Sandwich, and, of course, Knoephla soup. There’ll also be tons of cookies and bars, with fun options like Potato Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies and Chocolate Walnut Halva Scones, as well as fun cocktails like a Beet Sour with amaretto, grapefruit, and beet sugar. There’s also an aptly named Bernie’s Temple that is made with whiskey, cardamom cherry syrup, and Sprite, then garnished with a luxardo cherry.
Bernie’s is now open at 121 Demers Ave, East Grand Forks, Minnesota and is open for breakfast and lunch with dinner service coming soon.