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January 10, 2008 / Tony

Dinner at Doolittle’s Woodfire Grill

[Disclaimer:  I was once employed at Doolittle’s as a Saute cook.]

Doolittle’s Woodfire Grill in Fargo is really quite a nice dining destination.  The ambience of the restaurant is a little corny with it’s old school aeronautical theme.  Think of an airplane historical museum for 3rd graders.  But, you know, as a restaurant decor, it really is OK.  The colors are muted and the various airplane parts hanging from the ceiling provide a sense of “realness” that is simply lacking from the “neighborhood” type fake memorabilia found at Applebee’s and TGIF’s. 

The decor, being old-school, also matches the real star of the restaurant: a real wood-fired rotisserie.  The rotisserie spins and is fed fresh wood all day, infusing the restaurant with a lovely smokiness as well as the aromas of chicken, ribs, and beef.  Indeed, for blocks surrounding the restaurant, one can discern that lovely smell of smoky meat. 

Thus, the decor and the rotisserie give Doolittle’s a decidedly old-school feel which I think is a brilliant move because it is so darn comforting.  There’s almost a sense that there’s a connection to a greater and purer past when you sit down there. 

The food somewhat matches this theme.  Certainly, the rotisserie chicken, the mashed potatoes, and the chicken and biscuits evoke the classic comfort food mentality.  But the menu also offers some rather eclectic dishes like an Asian noodle stir-fry, Seafood-stuffed Portabella Mushrooms, Flatbread Pizzas, Fish Tacos, and Salmon with Artichokes and Kalamata Olives.  I’ve tried many of these and I think they are uniformly very good.  Almost everything is made from scratch in-house and the ingredients used are really top-notch.  And the fact that the rotisserie chicken makes an appearance in so many of dishes means that many of the dishes are simply outstanding because the rotisserie meat, in general, is really, really good. 

I did have one hiccup in the food last night, however.  I ordered a special menu item-the Rotisserie Leg of Lamb.  I thought this was a great step up for Doolittle’s-lamb is certainly a “gourmet” ingredient, at least to us upper Midwesterners.  It was served with mashed potatoes and Doolittle’s version of ratatouille.  The side dishes were good.  The mashed potatoes were flavorful if just a bit grainy from being just a bit undercooked.  The ratatouille was perfectly tender yet a bit misnamed.  I detected summer squash, zucchini, and onions in the dish but no eggplant!  I’m not really complaining about this (I am no fan of eggplant) but I do have an issue with the nomenclature.  Ratatouille is French dish of sauteed vegetables, of which the primary one is eggplant.  The lamb, however, was pretty suspect as they just could not serve it as a servicable temperature.  I like my leg of lamb medium-rare but from the menu, it is already served medium and our server asked what temperature I wanted my lamb at.  I had to respond medium as there was no way I wanted the lamb cooked anymore.  The lamb that I was served, however, was medium-well to well-done.  Of course, this meant tougher and less flavorful meat.  Doolittle’s may need to work on their lamb cooking skills a bit. 

Nevertheless, I do recommend Doolittle’s as a dining or just a drinking destination.  It offers good and sometimes great food and drinks in a grown-up atmosphere.  An added bonus is their half-price wine night every Monday night.  Even bottles from their reserve wine list are discounted. 

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2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. what / Apr 23 2008 3:34 pm

    what i dont get it

  2. The Copycat Restaurant Guy / Dec 10 2011 1:51 pm

    Great post. There is nothing better than making a great recipe, especially when you can make your favorite restaurant menu items at home. With the right copycat restaurant recipes you can get the tastes you love most from dining out right at home. Awesome!

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