Although the summer flooding Minot went through changed things here and there, Norsk Hstfest is going strong, as is the unique Norwegian dining experience known as En To Tre.
Kent Arntzen has been a chef at En To Tre once before, two years ago, but this is his first time as the head chef.
The menu features the usual lunch buffet, including cold selections like Norwegian smoked salmon, cold water shrimp salad, spiced herring with spicy mustard sauce, oven roasted turkey, and hard boiled eggs served with Swedish anchovies. Hot selections include spare-ribs served in a traditional Norwegian Christmas style, minced pork patties served in a rich, brown sauce, Norwegian-style pork sausage, and fluffy mashed potatoes. For dessert there is fresh fruit salad, lingonberry stirred in a fluffy egg-white cream with vanilla sugar, and rice pudding topped with strawberry sauce.
The chefs who give En To Tre its unique flavor take time for a quick photo at Norsk Høstfest Wednesday. From left are Kent Arntzen, head chef, and chefs Christian Lind, Thomas Eriksen, Eli Davidsen, and Knut Ludvigsen.
Because of the Souris River flood, Arntzen had to make some changes to the dinner menu, making it an expanded buffet for the first time.
"Of course with the flood it's very hard this year to get volunteers to do the serving, so that's why we also have an upgraded buffet for evenings instead of the three courses that we used to have before," Arntzen said.
The evening buffet includes cold selections such as marinated spiced herring, smoked salmon role, cucumber salad, egg salad, fresh green salad, waldorf salad, head cheese, cured meat, marinated wild meat, and a cheese platter. Some of the hot selections are Norwegian fish soup, steamed white rose potatoes, lamb and cabbage stew, grilled tenderloin, and scalloped potatoes. For dessert there is apple cake, cloudberry cream and krumkaka, carmel pudding, and carmel sauce.
"In the evening you have more expensive food, so the cost is a little higher and you have a little bit more on the buffet," Arntzen said. "It's a very exclusive buffet."
As for what's most popular, Arntzen said people are enjoying things they are a little more familiar with like the smoked salmon and cheeses, but at the same time they aren't afraid to experience new tastes.
"It seems like they try a little bit of everything, which is what we want," Arntzen said.
The lunch buffet, which runs from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., is $30 per person. The evening buffet is $40 per person, or there is a special entree and entry package for $60 per person that includes admission to Hstfest after 4 p.m. and the evening buffet. The entree and entry package can be purchased at the door of Hstfest. To make a reservation or for more information call 852-2368. En To Tre can be found in Oslo Hall.
Because of the difficulty getting authentic Norwegian products to Minot, some of the buffet items were made in Miami, while the rest were made here. When developing the menu, Arntzen said he had to balance the Norwegian flavor with what products could actually get in time to make the taste as authentic as possible.
Arntzen and the other chefs like to get out and visit with people in the restaurant when they can, and the compliments have been plentiful. Arntzen said the guests enjoy tasting real Norwegian food as opposed to Norwegian food that is made in a more American style.
"I have three guys from Norway with me and one chef from Miami, so we try to mingle around and talk to people," Arntzen said. "People like to hear about where we are from and what we do, and we talk about the food with them."
Even though the flood forced a few changes, Arntzen's first time as the head chef is going smoothly. The man who started En To Tre and was head chef until this year, Willy Hansen, was planning to have dinner there Wednesday night, according to Arntzen.
"My father-in-law is his brother, so we're quite the family," Arntzen said. "He's 70 years old, so he's very happy that I could take over this place."
Taking over for the founder of En To Tre might rattle some chefs, but Arntzen wasn't worried in the least.
"I've never been nervous. I've been cooking for 24 years, have lived in the states for many years; I've lived in Las Vegas and Florida. I know a lot about food, I know a lot about what Americans like," Arntzen said. "When I worked in Las Vegas we had a Norwegian buffet once a week. Some of that experience compared to what we have at home is probably what I use here."
Overseeing En To Tre is kind of a working vacation for Arntzen, who owns a catering company back home in Norway. Although Arntzen and his staff put in 12-hour days, he said it's something different from his own catering business, which is very busy.
"It's a good time," he said.
Arntzen has been having a fun time at Hstfest this year, and said crowds have been very good with many people in high spirits. He didn't expect En To Tre to be so busy this year, but he's glad it is.
"It's been actually very good. I guess people expected it to be very slow this year because of the flood, and there's a lot of challenges," Arntzen said. "It seems like we have a lot of customers coming in here, and it seems like things are OK. I'm very happy to have the Hstfest not canceled this year. We've actually had good numbers, so I'm very happy with that. It's good for Minot, too."