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Published March 03, 2010, 12:00 AM

Restaurant review: Doolittles offers affordable fine food

For years, fine-dining establishments have convinced us that it’s reasonable to drop two weeks’ worth of grocery money on a dinner for two.

By: Eric Daeuber, Special to The Forum, INFORUM

RESTAURANT REVIEW

Doolittles

Woodfire Grill

2112 25th St. S.

Fargo, ND 58103

Cuisine: American

Ratings:

  • Food: three and a half stars
  • Service: three and a half stars
  • Ambiance: three and a half stars

For years, fine-dining establishments have convinced us that it’s reasonable to drop two weeks’ worth of grocery money on a dinner for two.

Fortunately, Doolittles and its woodfire grill is one of those rare restaurants that combines fine dining and good value in an expansive and creative menu that doesn’t reach higher than $20 for most entrees.

Doolittles is best known for the smoky flavor of its wood-fired rotisserie ribs and chicken. But starting the meal with soup or appetizers reveals the rich diversity of this affordable menu.

For instance, less than $3 gets you a cup of roasted butternut squash soup cooked in-house with curry, nutmeg and cinnamon. Alternate spoons of that with a crisp flatbread served under roasted peaches, shrimp and Thai chili sauce ($10). They’re not just well-executed but truly creative combinations.

If you have to test the reputation of their chicken and ribs, a combo platter ($17) of the two showcases Doolittles’ extraordinary dry rubs.

There’s also steak on the menu. But we opted for a legally caught and sustainably managed Australian sea bass made with braised fennel, russet potatoes and honey vinaigrette for an astonishing $16.50.

Neither atmosphere nor service suffers in order to deliver such reasonably priced elegance.

Service was prompt and friendly, and the server was quick to answer questions on ingredients and kitchen techniques but found herself making a trip back to the kitchen more than once to explain what was on the plate.

Though there are no white tablecloths, ask for a table in the veranda-like side room with the fireplace and, but for the snow, you’d think you were sipping tea south of the Mason Dixon.

The wine list is complete, but not particularly lengthy. You can get a fun Shiraz from Woop Woop for $28. But there’s a gem or two scattered throughout the list. Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc ($40) is a Wine Spectator favorite, and you can open a bottle for half that price on Mondays, when Doolittles offers its wine collection at 50 percent off.

The restaurant’s location on the interstate and its fun, casual interior both belie its elegance and the truly creative presentations it offers in a richly diverse menu.

Dining details

  • Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday, ordering from the menu until 11 p.m.; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday
  • Alcohol: Full bar
  • Dress: As you like
  • Credit cards accepted: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express



Eric Daeuber is an instructor at Minnesota State Community and Technical College. Readers can reach him at food@daeuber.com.

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