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A $20 Duluth Night Out

By Abel Gustafson

This week’s featured dining spot is a cozy neighborhood café. Located only a couple blocks from UMD, the restaurant gets a hearty flow of patrons each night. To long time Duluth residents, it is still known as Taran’s Marketplace. To the younger crowd, it is referred to by its new name, Chester Creek Cafe.

Serving as a coffee shop, lunch break hotspot, dinner destination, and study location, the restaurant offers a relaxed and friendly environment.

As you enter the front doors, you are greeted by the smell of coffee and baked goods, and the warmth of the fireplace in the waiting area. The dining room winds all around the restaurant, decorated by bookshelves filled with a large variety of new and antique selections, which are for sale. The booths are deep and secluded enough to make you feel like you’re the only customer in the restaurant. The wooden tabletops and the couches around the fireplace produce an ambiance that is more reminiscent of your mother’s living room than that of a diner.

The house has policies for you to seat-yourself and fix-your-own-coffee. As unorthodox as these customs are, they certainly do not detract from the comforts of the experience. In fact, At Sara’s Table earned a nomination in 2004 from Reader Weekly for Best Service in Duluth.

Manager Theresa Bobula says that this is because the service staff has a personal relationship with its customers.

“People feel it is a place of welcome,? she said

With many entrees in the $10 to $12 range, a party of two can experience this cheery cafe for about $25, with all proceeds supporting the Duluth community. At Sarah’s Table only uses locally grown products, so the customer can eat a tasty dinner and rest-easy in doing so.

The next option on the night’s agenda is inexpensive and rather adventurous. Sharpen your skates; it’s time to take to the ice.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a reluctant first-timer, there is no better place to practice than Bayfront Festival Park’s public skating rink. From 4-8pm, Monday through Saturday, the rink is open to all comers. Toddlers, seniors, and anyone in between maneuver around the rink.

The spacious warming shack adjacent to the rink provides a place where you can rest. Don’t have skates? No problem. A selection of all sizes of skates can be checked out free of charge, on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Total cost of a skating outing: $0.

The ladies would coast around under the stars all night, but the guys are ready to move on to the evening’s final stop. The building design and location make Sir Benedict’s Tavern On The Lake impossible to ignore.
“During the day, we have families and business people,? said employee Matt Hendrickson. The pace picks up when the music starts around 8 p.m., and “it turns more into a bar than a restaurant.?

The restaurant, known to locals as Sir Ben’s, runs off of a steady flow of patrons who come for its unique old time décor, live music, and one of the area’s largest beer selections. Or maybe it’s just the free popcorn.

For the genuine Sir Ben’s experience, check out the Celtic music on Thursday night, or come Wednesday for bluegrass. Popular folk/roots artist Teague Alexy plays every Monday night. A couple rounds at Sir Ben’s will put the night’s tally right around $20 per person.