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Barney's in Akeley offers unique menu

Michael and Irina Palmer are satisfying appetites with a creative, original menu at Barney's Headwaters Restaurant in Akeley. The restaurant is located at the corner of Highways 34 and 64. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

Step into Barney's in Akeley and prepare to be swept across the planet - to relish Russian fare, to savor some Cajun or Key West chowder.

Michael and wife Irina, who grew up in Belarus in the southern part of the former Soviet Union, offer a cosmopolitan menu at their eatery on the corner of Highways 34 and 64, with favorite staples aplenty.

Opening last autumn, the restaurant is named for Michael's late father. "I'd been looking for a place and this fit the bill."

Michael has 31 years' experience in the restaurant business, having launched his career as an A&W carhop in Robbinsdale. He would go on to train under graduate executive chefs.

"I like the business because every day is different," he said. "I couldn't sit in a cubicle."

Irina shares her Russian heritage Saturday nights from 5 p.m. to closing with a menu that includes preogi - potato and bacon filled dumplings; pilimini - a meat-filled dumpling; bellini - a crepe-like eggroll filled with mushrooms and cabbage, olivie - Russian potato salad replete with potatoes, carrots, meat, peas, onions, eggs and mayo; and cabbage rolls with pork, chicken and rice in a homemade sauce.

When the weather warms, borscht - beet soup - will be on the menu.

After fishing opener, the Russian fare will be served Wednesday evenings.

All soups are homemade and a specialty is the homemade sausage, biscuits and gravy for breakfast.

Restaurant chef Mike Couch shares his southern background, as well.

A Cajun menu will be introduced in the evenings, come summer, with jambalaya and seafood etouffee (with mussels, crawfish, andouille sausage, shrimp and spices) to be served.

The restaurant's menu includes open-faced sandwiches and Reuben's - "we corn our own beef," Palmer said. Extra lean ground beef is used for burgers.

Grilling on the patio is also in the planning stages to attract "people heading north" Friday evenings.

The restaurant is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. It's closed Monday.

Breakfast is served until 11 a.m., with the lunch menu continuing until 2 p.m.

Sunday brunch begins Mother's Day - with a menu ranging from pastries, eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, pancakes and waffles to chicken and mashed potatoes.

Wireless Internet is available at the site.

Palmer is working with Audrey's Purple Dream Team to hold a golf tourney fundraiser Saturday, June 20 at Tianna Golf Course, Walker. Registration will be accepted beginning April 15 for the two-person scramble. Tickets are $75 per person, which includes 18 holes of golf, the cart and dinner at the VFW, where prizes will be awarded.