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August 29, 2007 / Tony

Lunch at Old Broadway


The Old Broadway is a stalwart downtown Fargo restaurant and bar.  It is probably more well-known for its nightlife (I’ve even done some uncomfortably bad dancing there once.) but it serves surprisingly capable food at lunch time.  The restaurant itself is a mix of dark woods, nostalgic vintage signs, and a beautiful black tin ceiling.  It’s just the tiniest bit disconcerting.  One the one hand, the woods and ceiling harken back to an old-school steakhouse, which offers a good deal of understated grace and dignity.  On the other hand are the faux antique signs that somehow can be found at every neighborhood Applebee’s, Famous Dave’s, and TGI Fridays.  Somehow, those signs just aren’t as comforting as the rest of the decor. 

The food, however, has no identity issues.  It is straightforward American bar food fare.  The Old Broadway offers sandwiches, pastas, salads, and burgers for lunch and in each of those categories, there are no real surprises.  That, by the way, is not necessarily a bad thing; a restaurant, in my mind, should only serve what it can do well.  There is no shame in serving “plain” or “old-fashioned” food as long as it is prepared with care with quality ingredients. 

In that spirit, I ordered the Rueben sandwich with sweet potato fries.  The Rueben was classically made-corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and thousand island dressing on grilled pumpernickel bread.  The sandwich came out piping hot with the cheese literally oozing off the sandwich.  The corned beef was moist, tender, and flavorful while the sauerkraut added its distinctive zing.  My only complaints with the sandwich, and they are minor, are that the bread could have been a hair crisper and the thousand island dressing was not much of a flavor factor.  Perhaps a little more of the dressing or a more robustly flavored dressing would serve the sandwich better. 

The sweet potato fries were just as good.  They were devilishly crispy on the outside with a tender and slightly sweet interior.  It almost seemed that some of the sugars in the sweet potato had caramelized on the outside.  Needless to say, they were delicious and almost worth going back to the Old Broadway just for them.  My only gripe with them is that they came unseasoned to the table.  I shouldn’t have to season things at the table for this reason: food is seasoned better in the kitchen. 

Despite my small misgivings about the Old Broadway, I think it is a fine lunch destination.  I just don’t know if I would trust it for their rather expensive dinner menu. 

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