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Kari's: Scandinavian cuisine in Lanesboro

Fri, Apr 9th, 2010
Posted in Business Announcements

Scott and Angie Taylor, owners of Kari’s Scandinavian Restaurant, with a “Bunad,” once worn by Kari Taylor, a traditional Norwegian outfit. This particular one is called Hardanger which is the style for the region it is from. Photo by Kristi Ruen

A desire to focus on local, seasonal, fresh foods with a varying menu, combined with a desire to expand a budding catering business, has resulted in Lanesboro's newest dining opportunity, Kari's Scandinavian Restaurant. Proprietors Scott and Angie Taylor are excited to share the Scandinavian atmosphere and fare as you dine at Kari's, which opened February 1.

Scandinavian cuisine is the centerpiece for the restaurant due to a few factors. "We want a menu that we can use fresh, local, seasonal foods, utilizing local producers and a rotating menu that changes weekly, and we can do that with many foods that are Scandinavian in origin," explained Angie. "At Pedal Pusher Café, our other restaurant, local foods have been important and we want to continue that. We also want to have a larger kitchen for a catering business."

"Scandinavian cuisine lends itself well to all cuts of meat," stated Scott. "It might be marinated, pickled, cured, etc. so that not just the prime cuts are being used. Examples might include our stews, marinated dishes, or Rosemary Garlic Leg of Lamb."

Items on the menu are likely to appeal to most because, "Midwestern fare has its roots in Scandinavian cuisine," explained Scott.

Another factor contributing to the fact that Scandinavian cuisine is the centerpiece is Scott's grandmother, Kari Taylor. She immigrated from Norway at the age of three with her mother and her one-year old sister. Kari's dad was already in the United States and they traveled via ship with all their possessions in one trunk, that trunk can be seen in the dining room.

Through the years Kari shared her Norwegian heritage with her children and grandchildren. When selecting a name for the restaurant, Kari's was easily chosen. In 2005, Kari passed away, but she would certainly be proud to see how the Norwegian traditions continue through Scott, Angie and their four children at Kari's.

The atmosphere of Kari's is warm, comfortable, and classy. Scandinavian décor adorns the dining room, including a traditional Norwegian outfit called a Bunad from the Hardanger region, that belonged to Kari. The Norwegian rosemaling by Sara Tollefson of Preston and Scott's mother, Verna Taylor, are also displayed.

The vibrant mural by artist Erik Pearson, used as a privacy wall while the Commonweal was being built, is displayed throughout the dining room and is complemented by traditional Scandinavian colors on the walls. Vibrant linens grace the tables which project the feeling of being in a Swedish restaurant.

Each week Angie and her staff work to prepare a menu which includes contemporary, large portion dishes including seafood, poultry, red meat items and always offer vegetarian options. The dessert selections also rotate and including chocolate is always a must.

Scott explained that the vegetable of the day on the menu this season has been "root" vegetables. "They lend themselves well to Scandinavian cooking -rutabagas, turnips, parsnips, etc. In the coming seasons it will be peas and tomatoes. Scandinavians love fresh vegetables."

Angie added, "We are always looking for additional local producers of fresh, local produce for our restaurants, so please contact us if you are interested." Scott and Angie look forward to planting the garden located on the lot just to the north of Kari's. "We will plant herbs, vegetables and edible flowers for use at Kari's."

Desserts at Kari's can include items such as: upside down pear gingerbread with homemade cinnamon ice cream using Kapper's Big Red Barn cream, chocolate mousse with sandbakkels, baked apples with caramels and hazelnuts, and creampuffs with wildberry fluff.

Beverages include strong beer and wine. "Minnesota brews and local wines," specifies Angie, "Spring Grove soda, Pedal Pushers Café freshly roasted coffee and Kapper's Big Red Barn Milk."

When you make your trip to Kari's you may look at the menu and need a little help on Scandinavian terminology, so here is a little guide to a few key Scandinavian foods.

Gravlox is a salt and sugar cured salmon. A Danish dish, Aebleskivers, is a delicious cross of a pancake and popover stuffed with ingredients such as fruit, meat or cheese. Gjetost Salat, is goat cheese and is known and used as "the Norwegian peanut butter." Smorrebords literally interpreted as "buttered bread," is an open-faced sandwich. Lingonberry is the flavorful Scandinavian wild berry, and according to Scott this berry is very abundant in Scandinavian countries so it is plentiful in meals.

Special events co-sponsored by Kari's includes a Gastronomical Preview of the Commonweal performance of the show Picasso at the Lapin Agile. This dinner and show event is July 8 and July 29. It will feature a themed meal; check Kari's website for more details and future dinner/show events.

Two restaurants and a catering business will keep the Taylors busy this summer, but they are up to the challenge. They are excited to provide dining and catering opportunities, "Angie will be at Kari's and I will be at Pedal Pushers," explained Scott. The larger kitchen at Kari's will allow them to continue to expand their growing catering business.

Scandinavian dining has arrived in Lanesboro! Whether a quick lunch for "Norwegian peanut butter," a multi-generational family dinner out, or date night for dinner and the theater, Kari's is an outstanding choice in Lanesboro for a dining experience.

Current hours for Kari's are Thursday through Sunday 5-8 p.m. and also open for lunch Saturday-Sunday from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Summer hours will begin in mid-April and will include Monday hours and lunch on Fridays. Please check the website for up-to-date hours. Reservations are recommended, however walk-ins are welcome. Contact Kari's at 467-3381 or

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