On my annual trips to Dickinson, ND, I like to take my dealer and his guys out to dinner. In the past, the problem was that he closed his store at 9 p.m. and the choices for restaurants were pretty slim at that point in the evening. He moved to a new location a couple years ago and now closes at 7 p.m. opening up more options for dining in the Dickinson area. One place that I've known of for quite sometime is the BrickHouse Grille in downtown Dickinson. Before I went to North Dakota earlier this fall, I told my dealer to set us up with reservations at the BrickHouse for dinner.
Collin Wehner and Mike Riesinger were two lifelong friends who grew up in Dickinson. After high school, both moved away to pursue their education and interests. Riesinger went to Denver for college, graduating with a business degree. He ran a handful of profitable companies in Colorado before he decided that he wanted to move back to North Dakota and open up a more upscale restaurant in Dickinson.
Riesinger contacted his friend, Wehner, who had moved to San Diego to go to culinary school and, upon graduation, worked in a fine dining restaurant under a reknown chef. Riesinger told Wehner of his plan to open a fine dining restaurant in Dickinson and he wanted Wehner to be his chef. Wehner jumped at the chance because he, too, was looking for a change of scenery and to be able to have full control of his own kitchen.
Riesinger and Wehner moved into the ground floor of what was known as the Walton Block, a building that had been built in 1912. Many businesses were located in the business over the years - doctors and dentists had offices in the building. A bakery was once on the main floor, and a long-time Dickinson drug store/gift shop was probably the longest tenent opening in the early 1950's. There was even a three-lane bowling alley in the basement of the building at one time!
After a business meeting with my dealer and some training for his staff, we took a caravan of cars to downtown Dickinson to go eat dinner at the BrickHouse Grille. There was a parking lot caddy-cornered across the street, next to an old train station. (See map) The place, which holds just under 100 people, was about half full when we walked in around 8 p.m. that evening. They were holding a table for six toward the back of the very nice dining room. Linen-topped tables were in interspersed between exposed brick walls in the dining area. A small enclosed bar area was at the front of the restaurant.
The menu features handcut steaks, fresh seafood that is delivered daily (even in Dickinson, which isn't quite the middle of nowhere - well, yeah, it is), and other entrees including pork chops, smoked duck breast with rice noodles, and a black-pepper crusted lamb sirloin. Seasonal wild game is available as specials from time to time. A number of appetizers along with soups and salads were available, as well. No one was a wine drinker, but I figured that I'd get a glass of wine with my meal and they actually had a pretty respectable wine list at the BrickHouse Grille.
Our server for the evening was Aili, a tall young lady with a pleasant disposition. We started out with drinks and I got a bottle of the Bent Nail IPA from the Red Lodge Ale brewing company out of Montana. I'd never had one of their beers before, but I'll have to say it was pretty tasty.
We ordered up a couple three orders of the beer-battered onion rings. While the onion rings were just all right, they were served with a jalapeno ranch sauce that was simply outstanding. The onion rings were helped immensely in taste with the zesty, but not overpowering jalapeno ranch dressing.
My dealer is not really into fine dining being one of the most picky eaters I've ever encountered in my life. He doesn't like pickles - I once saw him send back a hamburger because he had asked for no pickles anywhere on the plate and they put pickles on the side. He claimed that he could taste the pickle juice from the pickles in his hamburger. He also doesn't like mustard. So, he and three of his guys got the 1/2 pound Black Angus burger with steak fries. I was like, "Guys! Once a year I take you out for dinner and you order up burgers at a place like this?" But they seemed to be happy with the burger which actually looked pretty good.
One of the other guys did step up to the plate and ordered a New York strip. The other guy with us that night got something that I really thought about getting - the beef and mushroom penne pasta dish. It featured chopped beef tenderloin and mushrooms sauteed with sun-dried tomatoes and roasted garlic in a basil sauce, mixed with penne pasta and topped with feta cheese. He told me that it was excellent and I'll be it was.
I went the steak route, as well. I got the 10 ounce beef tenderloin filet with a side of their horseradish mashed potatoes and green beans. I also got a glass of the Liberty School cabernet with the meal. I ordered my steak rare and it was a perfect cool deep red center. The filet was bacon-wrapped and was drizzled in a red wine demi-glaze that wasn't overpowering to the fine taste of the meat. I was extremely happy with my meal.
After dinner, I offered the guys to order up some dessert. I had seen a lemon bar with fresh berries on the dessert portion of the menu before we ordered dinner and I knew that I had to try that. I got a glass of the Glenfiddich 12 year scotch to go with the dessert. The lemon bar was tangy and very tasty topped with real whipped cream and a medley of blackberries and raspberries. It was simply outstanding.
A couple of the guys both got the black cherry and ricotta cheesecake. It was drizzled with a combination caramel and chocolate sauce. They said it was very good, but one guy - the one who had the beef and mushroom penne pasta - was having trouble finishing his cheesecake. He was full from his meal and was getting his fill of the very rich cheesecake.
Dickinson isn't quite at the end of the world, but you can certainly see it from there. The BrickHouse Grille was one of those great surprises that I have the pleasure of experiencing during my many travels. It would have held its own in much larger cities. The food, I thought, was very good. Aili's service was impeccable, even when we had her running to and fro to get more things for us. The ambiance of the place was great. I only hope the people of Dickinson and Western North Dakota understand that they have a great restaurant in the BrickHouse Grille.