If you're in the Decorah area and looking for a cozy, hip spot right downtown, stop into La Rana Bistro on Washington Street! The bistro prides itself on a commitment to ingredients that are fresh, often local, and bursting with flavor.
As I perused the slightly limited but rather varied menu, I thought I'd try one of their small plate options and go for the mixed greens salad with Caesar dressing. I also sampled the deluxe grilled cheese that featured red, ripe tomatoes and mushrooms and red peppers along with a delectable white cheese. Both options tasted as though the produce had just been picked from the garden and as if the marble rye had just been baked. The Caesar dressing also definitely had that homemade vibe to it. I'm a bit of a connoisseur of Caesar dressing as the Caesar salad is for me a go-to option, and it made my lifetime list of top three Caesar dressings I've had the good fortune to enjoy.
My dining companion said the tomato basil soup was very good as well. It had a deep, rich color to it and certainly is in a quite different stratosphere of soups than anything that can be released from a tin can plucked off a shelf. One might even say it's in that elusive mesosphere of soups and stews.
In addition to fresh sandwiches and salads, including the seared tuna salad, they offer a quiche that changes daily. I noticed dessert options as well, such as a pear and cream tart. As I continued to peruse the offerings, I was happy to see that their libation list includes local craft beers from Toppling Goliath in Decorah and from nearby neighbors to the north, Pearl Street Brewery in La Crosse, Wisconsin. And the wine list is very generous. If a lover of vino can't find a favorite to imbibe at La Rana, then they just aren't trying. With its intimate bar area, it would be a great place to ring in 2018.
After grabbing a meal or a drink, you could take a walk downtown and do a little window shopping. Or perhaps add a donation to the Scarves in the Park Project that is currently adorning the trees next to the Oneota Food Co-op. This is a wonderful community effort that accepts hats, mittens, and scarves from anyone with the resources to give. Clean or new cold weather items can simply be clipped to the trees with clothespins for those in need of a little winter warmth to unclip and put to good use. If you choose to do so, you might just leave downtown with a full stomach and a full heart. So, put La Rana and the Scarves in the Park Project on your Christmas to-do list and enjoy the gifts of receiving good food and drink while giving warmth to a fellow community member.
Photo credit to the author.