Tag Archives: supper club

Pub’n Prime

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Pub’n Prime is now one of my favorite all time restaurants in Wisconsin. As a matter of fact, I recommended Pub’n Prime to Ron Faiola for his upcoming second volume on Wisconsin Supper Clubs. Pub’n Prime does so many things right I don’t even know where to start.

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The service was spotless, crushing the challenge of most of the guests leaving the Tiki Bar (yes, it’s a prime rib and tiki bar kind of place) and moving into the main dining room at the same time. The servers use hand written checks, including all the abbreviations, and pick up hot food when their server number silently lights up on an elevator floor display kind of sign. I love old school systems like that!

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The menu is blissfully minimal: focused on one thing (prime rib) and doing it right. First we received fresh baked rolls and WIsconsin butter, as well as a nontraditional relish tray of black olives and crackers with a richly delicious cheesy spread. The prime rib arrived deliciously seasoned in its own jus and something strange happened to me, and I kind of blacked out. Next thing I know, EVERYTHING is gone, all the meat, even the fat I would usually trim off. It was outstanding.

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Gruff male hunters, at the table behind ours, were intoxicated by the $2 margarita Monday special and berated the owner, saying the price for prime rib was different on their website. The owner calmly replied, in a low frequency tone I could only just make out, that the out of date menu was from a third party website, as the restaurant does not even have one. I was concerned these butter and beef-fed Wisconsin jerks would snap her neck.

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I had nothing to worry about: she was a pro. Scientists may as well have discovered that the low frequency tone of her voice had the same effect on the lizard brains of these two hog-men as the umami-packed jus of the prime rib. The signature peak in the brain waves was identical. For her, these 300LB silverbacks was NBD. There would be more than enough prime rib to sate all comers. Top notch service and killer prime rib (in my blackout I didn’t even take a photo!) won us over, and the silver fox owner won these old boys over too. Next time I’m in town, Pub’n Prime is where I’m eating!

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Marty’s Place North

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We returned to Marty’s Place North at the very beginning of the 2015 summer season: it was the first week of June and leaves had only been open on the tall trees for about a week. The waitress and my girlfriend had some kind of weird vibe going on but all that I was interested in was the food.

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The relish tray, usually so good, had a couple issues that I will bring up here as constructive criticism for the Marty’s team: the green onions were not properly drained and so a bunch of water emptied out on the table. Also the bread was super flaky and too soft, tasting less than fresh.

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I love Marty’s and only bring this up because the relish tray is the first impression for the guests and the details are important!

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The ribeye and walleye, on the other hand, were absolutely delicious. The steak was perfectly seasoned and grilled, and the walleye was golden and crispy on the outside and sweet and moist on the inside.

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My favorite, the strawberry schaum torte, was torte-ally amazing once again! See you next time we’re in the Northwoods, Marty’s!

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Mission Table

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We rolled up the dirt driveway and parked next to a Chevelle from the sixties. The parking lot sits directly next to wine vineyards. I imagined the old muscle car belonging to one of the Old Mission wine barons.

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Mission Table, housed in a historic, sprawling building that renowned Michigan breweryJolly Pumpkin calls home as well, could not have been more cozy. There were comfortable chairs beside a roaring fire. The dining room had its own fireplace, and windows on the lake.

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Etta and I loved the food here, one of the best meals I have had in Michigan. Mission Table pairs classic technique with local ingredients, and the resulting dishes are high quality and flavorful.

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We had lake trout in a light, acidic tomato broth, and steak in a rich sauce of beef shortribs. The locally grown vegetables were shining, at this time of harvest. My girlfriend enjoyed her cocktail. An interesting part of the restaurant is that they make all their own beer (Jolly Pumpkin), wine and spirits.

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Right before the entrees arrived, the sun burst through the grey pall blanket of clouds on its descent. The bottoms of the clouds caught pink reflections. The resulting contrast was so surprisingly beautiful many of the diners, including me, stopped eating to step outside and see.

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White Gull Must Fly

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A big part of my “love at first sight” with Door County, Wisconsin, was my dinner the first night I visited. We stumbled upon Pelletier’s, one of the last restaurants holding up the tradition of the Door County fish boil. Since that first time, I have come to prefer the White Gull Inn, but that’s just semantics, the important thing was getting Meghan to a fish boil.

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Door County is more isolated than Cape Cod, with as much or more natural beauty. The hordes of tourists and escalation of tourist infrastructure that has transformed the Cape in the last fifty years has not touched Door. There are probably more miniature golf courses (2) on the outer lands of the Door Peninsula these days, but that’s about it. It’s not hard to imagine what this place was like way before, and the magical thing about a food tradition is that those bites of food taste the same, just as delicious, now as decades back.

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Etta held off from a full on butter coma. Meghan turned out to be an expert at de-boning whitefish. I tried to eat everybody’s cherry pie.

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White Gull Inn

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This was not my first rodeo, I mean fish boil. Years ago, with no prior knowledge that there was such a tradition, Etta and I ate at Pelletier’s. When the chef threw the lit kerosene and ignited the fish fat into a huge fireball, it was an elemental shock, an unexpected thrill on par with my first cliff jump at Cave Point County Park. It was part of what hooked me on Door County.

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White Gull Inn is the best fish boil I have ever been to. They are doing everything right. The boil itself is outside, with a bar. Maybe it says something about the Door County tourist demographic, but I was not the only drinking Clausthaler at this backyard boil, if you know what I’m saying. The chef, Tom, explained what he was doing, and the explosion of whitefish fat lit the eager faces of all of us gathered around.

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This place does it right: you watch the fish boil outside, and eat in comfort inside the historic inn. Guests are served freshly boiled whitefish from an efficient and friendly buffet line, and servers attend to tables for drink and fish refills. It’s all you can eat. Let me be clear, the amount of whitefish you are able to eat will be in direct proportion to the ratio of drawn butter and tartar sauce you garnish with. Etta partied too hard and got knocked in a classic Wisconsin butter coma.

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The whitefish was perfectly cooked, the potatoes and tartar sauce were tasty. Our server demonstrated de-boning so well I was confident and successful with my fillet. I quickly forgot her lesson and butchered the tail piece, but that’s my fault. The cherry pie was out of this world delicious It was the best fish boil I have ever eaten. No fish boil is complete without a walk to Sunset Park.

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Hearthstone Bistro Part 2

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We were returning to another fond memory of a dinner we had at Hearthstone Bistro a couple summers ago. The Hearthstone, in operation for decades, lived up to its reputation as the best restaurant in the Muskegon / Grand Haven area.

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The soups are particularly good: Etta had a lobster bisque with rich aroma and flavor balanced by acidity. I had the Wisconsin cheese soup, the buttery cheesy base accented by crunchy light cheese puffs.

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Steak frites draw them in and for good reason, the cut was tender and well seasoned. I also enjoyed the bread pudding with creme anglaise for dessert, featuring Michigan fruit. We sat out on the patio and got to watch the sun duck storm clouds on its descent to the lake.

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Lawry’s The Prime Rib

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For her 30th birthday I took my meat-loving lady to Lawry’s, a classic dining room housing the city of Chicago’s finest prime rib. She squealed at first sight of the meat cart.

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My favorite part of the meal was the meat itself. Soft, rich, perfectly pink and juicy in an indescribably addicting rich meat gravy with super soft mashed potatoes. I cleaned my plate.

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Etta got a much bigger portion of prime rib, called the Diamond Jim Brady cut. Her favorite part of the experience was the service. Our server, in old fashioned uniform with a bow on the back, was gracious and informative. The busser was amazingly efficient and did things that I did not think were possible, like cleaning and crumbing the table of forty seven different things in ten seconds. It was a deliciously old school meaty experience!

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Marty’s Place North, Part 2

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The day after “the indoor waterpark” incident I was still really shook up. I felt like I had been in a war: bruises on my elbow to my wrist, water lodged near my brain, ringing in my ears, fatigue.

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We drove to the Northwoods and had dinner at one of our favorite Wisconsin supper clubs: Marty’s Place North.

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Located in Arbor Vitae, Marty’s Place North was slowly filling up at 5PM on a Friday (it felt like midnight to me!) in January.

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The horseradish cheese, lake trout, steak with blue cheese butter, and strawberry schaum tort were all better than ever. We even bought a container of cheese and crackers to take home.

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The place was packed by the time we retreated back to the safety of our TV and fireplace at the Black Bear Lodge.

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