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Review: Hotel Shoreham hangs on to resort nostalgia

In this Forum file photo customers wait to get a table at Hotel Shoreham, a lakeside hangout south of Detroit Lakes, Minn. Heidi Shaffer / The Forum 1 / 2
A vintage photo of Hotel Shoreham (circa 1911), which opened in the early 1900s. A family owned restaurant since the mid-1970s, the business recently changed hands. The new owners have pledged to keep things mostly the same at the popular lakes country destination. (Minnesota Historical Society) 2 / 2

Dining at the lakes is different from dining in town. On the “food, fun, friends” scale, food comes last and fun and friends tie for first.

Nothing can touch the Hotel Shoreham for history, tradition and status and, so, it’s a favorite in the fun and friends category. It has been around since 1910. There are not many places one can share a drink in the same room their great grandparents once did.

It’s a mix of real history and picture postcard nostalgia and registers a solid four stars on the fun meter. As a bar and a pizzeria, it’s unbeatable. The bar area has the feel of an old resort polished up for modern-day golfers.

Live music, well mixed drinks, reasonably priced beer and unparalleled pizza make it an ideal lakes country Saturday night out. It has resisted the temptation to expand to accommodate a growing lakes population and that keeps it intimate, warm and inviting, if a little loud.

The menu is full of the basics. Nachos, French dip, alfredos and meats on a bun — all of which are typical to lakes dining and all of which meet lakes muster. And if that’s what you are looking for, packaged in lakes lore, you have it here.

There are several things worth noting. Pizzas are excellent with a 10-inch special running $17.60 and easily serving two people. Crusts are crisp and flavorful, something not often thought about when one considers your basic resort pizza, while toppings are fresh, clean and measured, avoiding the heavy feel of ill-balanced, carelessly assembled combos.

Appetizers are another strong suit with a unique take on fried pickles ($10) wrapped in Havarti and served rather like an egg roll instead of breaded – a little mild and a little tang sharing the dish.

The higher end of the menu disappoints a little given the price point. The walleye platter ($26.25) comes with a good choice of sides carefully prepared and substantial, but the fish itself, nicely seasoned and lightly, and appropriately, coated turns out to be a bit too thin to survive the frying pan. The wild rice bread is a nice introduction to the meal but the salad is a basic diner salad. The overall feeling is that it could have been more with just a little thought.

The feeling of a production meal carries over to the peanut parfait dessert that is preassembled and then frozen so it arrives rock hard and flattened on the top, presumably by whatever covers it as it sits in the freezer, One wonders if it really takes that much time to put a parfait together that it couldn’t be done when ordered. Service is friendly but timing can be a bit of an issue when it’s busy.

But these things don’t discourage the pizza and beer crowd. Neither should it.

The Shoreham hotel is about tradition and maintaining an institution that looks back on a time when “resort” was its own world view. It’s a world view in danger of disappearing. If nostalgia is desperately holding on to something that we would become less without, the Hotel Shoreham is proud to do its part.

Hotel Shoreham

24110 County Highway 22

Detroit Lakes, Minnesota 56501

Hours: 4 - 11 p.m. Sunday to Thursday

4 p.m. - midnight Friday and Saturday

Phone: (218) 847- 9913

Reservations accepted: no

Alcohol: full bar

Cuisine: American

Food: 3 stars

Service: 3 stars

Ambiance: 4 stars

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

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