1801 2nd Avenue, East
International Falls, Minnesota
(U.S. 53, south of 17th Street)
Even at the height of the summer tourist season, the choices available to the would-be diner in International Falls on a Monday night are limited. We almost passed this place by, because from the outside it looked for all the world like a dive. Stepping inside, we were not immediately reassured, as the dining room was dark. There were, though, some respectable-looking people at tables in the bar, so we joined them in what proved to be a comfortable, well-lit and well-decorated room, with a quiet murmur of conversation providing the background.
Monday nights are pasta nights at the Spot: of the six pasta dishes selling for fourteen to eighteen dollars on the regular menu, four are available on an all-you-can-eat basis, for eleven dollars; and patrons can mix and match. One of the four offerings was unavailable, a pasta dish made with butternut squash. Since it was so early in the evening when we arrived, I have to think they didn't get their squash shipment in. But that wasn't a problem, since the other three choices were all higher on my list of preferences anyway. My friend chose the white wine chicken over penne; I picked a tomato-based sauce (I forget what it was called) with chicken, over capellini.
If I were only rating the place on the white wine pasta, I'd have to give it a higher rating by half a chili pepper. That dish was superior, with a discernible wine flavour in a smooth cream sauce that was neither too thin nor too thick. The strips of chicken breast were obviously out of a bag, no doubt delivered frozen, but otherwise the dish was well-made and thoroughly enjoyable.
But the other dish was ordinary in every way. The angel hair pasta was overcooked and the same frozen chicken strips were used; but worse, the sauce was both watery and bland. When it came time to re-up, I asked for a half-order of the white wine chicken pasta.
Both dishes were served with breadsticks that varied from warm and soft to stale and hard.