Get in one last View before long winter

By Kimberly Van Brunt

There’s just one more week to make the scenic drive to Pepin, Wis., before Harbor View Cafe hibernates for the winter. The popular waterfront eatery will close for the season at the end of the day Nov. 23.

Harbor View has garnered awards and recognition from Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine for several years, as well as mentions in City Pages, and the New York Times.

How does a small, seasonal restaurant in a village of less than 1,000 people get so much attention? First and foremost: the food.


"We have some really unique combinations of ingredients, and everything is so freshly made," says Ruth Stoyke, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Chuck Morrow.

Besides the pasta (which Stoyke says they don’t make by hand "anymore"), everything on your plate is prepared from scratch, including the desserts. "We don’t buy anything frozen," Stoyke said. "It’s all made with a lot of labor and love."

Another hallmark of Harbor View food is the use of local ingredients. "We try to buy as much local meat and produce as we can," Stoyke says.

Because much of what they prepare is based on what’s available, the entire menu is written on a large chalkboard twice a day to accommodate changes.

The one dish that has created the most loyal customers is the Alaskan halibut. "We get our seafood fresh, and we serve our black butter caper sauce over the fish and serve it with rice," Stoyke says. "It’s really delicious."

Other popular dishes include sauteed chicken breasts with whole roasted garlic cloves with chipotle peppers over linguine, stuffed mushrooms and pork loin served with a sauce that changes with the season (it’s an apple-onion sauce now).

The restaurant is located in a 100-year-old building on the waterfront. After dinner or while you’re waiting for a table, you can hop over the railroad tracks to the river’s edge, walk down the pier or take a stroll around the village. Or if it’s too cold to do that, stay inside and check out the restaurant’s mini bookstore, stocked with food, wine and travel books, as well as CDs and other merchandise.

Although the doors will close on the 23rd, they’ll reopen for Pepin Hometown Holidays on Dec. 6-7. But they won’t be serving a regular menu. "We’ll have hot spiced wine, coffee, hot chocolate, chili and holiday cookies," Stoyke says. Customers can enjoy the food and ambiance, browse the bookstore and purchase wine and gift certificates.


Can’t make it this year? Mark your calendars — Harbor View will open for its 2009 season March 13.

Kimberly Van Brunt is a Rochester freelance writer. Quick Bites runs every Friday in Life/After Dark. Send restaurant news and tips to her at

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