Monday, March 14, 2022

Bar Food in Wisconsin

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties 
- Bar and Supper Club Grub in Wisco

Over the years there's been more than 300 restaurants from Wisconsin featured on this site (close to 90 posts total). Today we add five more spots in the form of dining destinations that double as bars.

Random Bars in Wisconsin


The 615 Club (Beloit)

I've had the chance to grab dinner at The 615 Club a couple times over the years. It's located in downtown Beloit which is the first spot in Wisconsin you enter when traveling north on 90 from Illinois (about an hour south of Madison). The 615 Club is a Beloit landmark going back to 1936. The type of spot you go to celebrate a promotion or anniversary and the likes. The Saturday night hotspot so to say. It checks all the boxes for a classic Wisconsin Club starting with a relish tray which can be seen above. The building, bar and dining rooms are all old school with photos of the past hanging on the walls. You can never really go wrong with the prime rib at a place like this and def try an order of the onion rings which have a sweetness in the batter like that of a donut. Good cinnamon rolls too. 

Saturday Night Supper at The 615 Club 

Nite Cap Inn (Palmyra)

Next Stop: Friday Fish Fry in Palmyra (pop. 1781) at The Nite Cap Inn in the Scenic Kettle Moraine State Forest. This place is a step back into time with it's wraparound bar, curtain covered windows, Old German menu (Saturday’s only) and the vintage blast from the past dining room. The building itself dates back to 1857. The first restaurant opened here in 1938 and Nite Cap Inn has been occupying the space since 1988. Cod is all you can eat but walleye is where it’s at. Served with your choice of fries or what many consider the best potato pancakes in the state. The recipe comes from the lady who owned the previous restaurant in this building which she opened with her husband in 1974. Betty Betenz was the area’s Potato Pancake Queen until her passing at 93 in 2016 but her legacy lives on in these housemade potato pancakes that live up to their billing as some of the best anywhere. Even better they’re all you can eat with your Friday Fish Fry. So good I took four to go (extra charge). The fried walleye was pretty much perfect as well. The homemade dessert list features German torte including one that's not well known outside of Wisconsin. Schaum Torte is the German equivalent of Pavlova. Lots of old Sconnies of German descent make this meringue topped with fruit and ice cream for special occasions, like Friday Fish Fry. A contender for best fish fry in the state.  

Friday Fish Fry at Nite Cap Inn

Clifford's Supper Club (Hales Corner)

Here's a spot I visited a few years back. One of the many cool things about Wisconsin Supper Clubs is you can pretty much count on them being the same place they were on your last visit whether that visit came last year or more than a decade ago. Clifford's has been a mainstay in the Milwaukee area since 1959. They're commonly mentioned when the best fish fry's in the area are discussed. But they don't do any of the lake favorites which is what I prefer. Still I had a fun Friday night when we sat at the bar during what was Christmas season at the time. These places always have festive crowds but the holidays make them even moreso. One plus about spots that serve cod is it's usually AYCE. 

Friday Fish Fry at Clifford's Supper Club 

Mibb's & Vivs (Lannon)

About 15 minutes outside of Milwaukee is the small town of Lannon. It seemed like a pretty sleepy place but like so many other small towns in Wisconsin it comes alive on Friday night. The building that houses Mibb's & Viv's has been home to a bar for more than a century. You can feel the history inside. It's an old school spot with a friendly small town atmosphere though some of the regulars seemed to be easily swayed by the likes of Fox News and Facebook. The waitresses here make the rounds around the bar taking orders for Friday Fish Fry. Cod seems to be popular but walleye is a better bet though the breading is different. Fish Fry comes with your choice of potato and I always choose pancakes if it's an option. I thought these looked like the store bought kind but I was wrong. One of the best potato pancakes I've had alongside a fish fry. They also make a really great German potato salad (served warm). The rest of the fish fry was very traditional down to the buttered bread. This is one of the Milwaukee areas best fish fry experiences. Saturday is broasted chicken night. 

Friday Fish Fry at Mibb's & Viv's

Buckhorn Supper Club (Milton)

If you want to experience some serious Saturday night supper club vibes than head to this contender for best supper club in the state. This spot hits all the high notes when it comes to classic Wisconsin Supper Clubs. It’s got the retro looks and feel, it sits on a lake, and the food is fantastic as far as supper club grub goes. Sure there’s no relish tray but gimme perfectly medium rare prime rib, fried blue gills with Old Fashioned's, and some of the best onion rings anywhere all paired with cheap cold beer. About two hours from Chicago and an hour north of Rockford. Serving the area for 90+ years.

Dinner at Buckhorn Supper Club 

See ya next time @chibbqking

Friday, March 11, 2022

Alexander's Restaurant

-Got Beef?
The Burgers of Chi

There was recently a report over at Block Club Chicago that the Edgewater favorite Alexander's Restaurant would open in the former Jeri's Grill in Ravenswood. Jeri's was somewhat of an iconic neighborhood spot that sat at the corner of Western and Montrose for 58 years before shutting down for good in 2020 due to the pandemic. Those in the neighborhood that miss having a classic all day diner option will soon have one again with the opening of a second Alexander's Restaurant. 

Locals Favorite in Edgewater 

Alexander's has been at the corner of Clark and Granville since the early 60's. It's a classic Greek style diner now on it's third leg of ownership. These day's it's owned by it's former lead cook who's of Ecuadorian descent. The menu is the same as it ever was with all of the usual suspects when it comes to a classic Greek diner. The usual suspects being just about everything you can find on a typical all day diner menu. Greek diners have never been short with options. Alexander's has something for just about anybody myself included. When I dine at a spot like this I usually lean towards the burger. Greek diner burgers are a thing and they tend to be big juicy burgers cooked to your liking that can come dressed a variety of ways including Greek style with feta cheese and the likes. That's what I visited Alexander's for a couple years back. Another feature of the Greek style diner burger is soup is usually included. Typically the split pea or lemon rice is the way to go. 

Split Pea Soup 

Alexander's lists some interesting burger options on it's menu. The namesake burger comes served on pumpernickel bread with grilled onions and bacon. But the one that caught my eye is listed as "The Greek Island Special" and it's described as "a 1/2 lb of fresh ground beef seasoned with oregano and feta cheese. Served on rye bread with grilled onions." This is available as a deluxe which comes with lettuce and tomato as well as a side of cole slaw. It's an excellent version of the Greek style diner burger but I would've liked the bread to be a little better toasted. Exactly what I wanted that day. 

The Greek Island Special at Alexander's Restaurant 

Alexander's Restaurant
6158 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60660 
(773) 743-3841

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Recanto Brazilian Grill

-Grubbing in Chicago
Brazilian Comfort Food in Lakeview

I've never been to Brazil but it's near the top of the 'to visit list.' The cuisine of Brazil is influenced by a wide variety of cultures and like most large countries the food can be very regional. Chicago has a small Brazilian population compared to a place like South Florida but there's actually a handful of Brazilian restaurants the newest of which is Recanto Brazilian Grill on Belmont in Lakeview. 

Newly Opened in Lakeview

The menu at Recanto features lots of traditional Brazilian favorites such as feijoada and pichana steak as well as frango a parmegiana. Each one of those Brazilian classics is influenced by different groups of immigrants. Another popular dish in Brazil that has it's origins elsewhere is stroganoff. Originally a Russian dish it's also popular in France and Brazil where Russians and French people emigrated in the 1920's following the revolution. Though over time Brazil has made the dish it's own. These days stroganoff in Brazil is typically served next to rice with shoestring potatoes on top. My mom used to make a great beef stroganoff with the scraps of the holiday beef tenderloin so it's one of those dishes I consider comfort food. I tried the beef stroganoff from Recanto this past winter and it really hit the spot. Small chunks of steak stir fried and mixed into in a rich mushroom gravy with the aforementioned shoestring potatoes lending some much needed crunch. Very comforting stuff. 

Brazilian Stroganoff 

Recanto Brazilian Grill 
928 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 661-9485

Friday, March 4, 2022


-Grubbing in Chicago  
Michelin Star Dining in the West Loop

Chicago's fine dining scene remains one of the best in the country. There's handfuls of spots that can contend for the city's best dining experience which is telling of a strong scene. Elske is of those spots commonly mentioned when Chicago's best restaurants are discussed. The Scandinavian inspired hotspot has been nominated for and won many awards including the earning of a Michelin star. 

Locals Favorite in the West Loop

This was actually my first trip to Elske which I'd wanted to check out long before covid arrived and shook up the restaurant industry. There were two instances when I had made reservations weeks in advance including one for this past New Years Eve but I ended up in Florida for that and also had to cancel another one a couple years back. On this visit I was able to get a reservation on the day of which was surprising but maybe not when you consider the pandemic isn't fully over. Elske is said to have one of the city's best tasting menu experiences and it looked really good but we both thought the ala carte items were more so our style. So to start, an order of cured hamachi covered with a long strip of kohlrabi. Underneath was pristinely cut yellowtail with summer pickles and toasted kombu. 

Cured hamachi with kohlrabi, summer pickles, and toasted kombu

I've been really into risotto lately which I've been cooking up at home pretty regularly. Looking for some inspiration for my next go around with it we ordered Chef David Posey's offering which sounded super fancy. This one was made with celeriac, apple, hazlenuts and black truffle. Perfectly al dente rice was nice and creamy and there was some sort of gravy that really took it next level as far as risotto goes. We also had to try the pasta offering which had some mac and cheese elements going on. Zucca made with annatto is tossed with egg and served over kabocha and covered in pecorino. 

Risotto and Pasta at Elske 

While all the dishes we ate were pretty great it was a couple of the fish offerings that really stood out. I enjoyed the Midwest elements at play in each of them with a perfectly cooked piece of black bass being topped with celery giardiniera sitting atop a rolled piece of kohlrabi holding beans and shrimp inside. It'll go down as one of the most satisfying fish dishes I've ever tried. Our server said her favorite dish from the current menu was a plate of perfectly fried whitefish sitting atop braised kale surrounded by a creamy foam of sorts with mushroom escabeche. An excellent recommendation. 

Fish Dishes at Elske 

I'm down to order the pork collar pretty much anytime I see it on a menu. It's always a hit at what tends to be Thai restaurants. But Elske does live fire grilling so it was without question the dish I was most intrigued with when we first looked at the menu. The collar of the pig is a muscle that runs from the jowl through the shoulder and extends into to the loin. It's called the "money muscle" in barbecue competitions. Pork collar always works really well with smoke which was the case here. There was some sort of glaze that was a bit over-salted but a side of black garlic glazed sunchokes and shaved chestnuts tamed down the overpowering salt. This was decadent and had me near food coma status. 

Pork Collar with with black garlic-glazed sunchokes and shaved chestnuts

But first dessert! We ordered their "since day one" offering which is described as "Sunflower seed parfait with sour honey, licorice, and bee pollen." I had no idea what to expect from the description but if it's been the menu the entire time it's got to be pretty good and it really was. I could eat that every night right before bed knowing if I croak while sleeping my last bite was a real winner. The kitchen also sent out their other dessert offering which was a blend of coffee and coconut milk sorbets with amaro baba, and buddha’s hand (a citrus plant). It too was a winner though I could only finish the sorbet portion as the wife had already checked out for the night. Both of us left happy and full so don't worry about having to go get tacos after running though the ala carte options at Elske. I'll be back. 

Desserts at Elske 

1350 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 733-1314


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