SUPPER CLUBBING: Shawano Country Date Night

Like a great many Wisconsinites, when we think of an actual dinner date in Shawano Country, most of us imagine our next romantic meal to be at a supper club.  Supper clubs are the heart of Wisconsin’s dining scene and have been for decades.  Our beloved supper clubs are often copied by other states, but those states can never have what we have: The Original Supper Club Culture.

Supper Club Culture means that you and your date will feel comfortable immediately upon entering a Wisconsin supper club, staffed by friendly locals whose first step will be bringing you cocktails.  If you and your date are from Wisconsin, you’ll likely be ordering Old Fashioneds; brandy sweet or whiskey sour – your choice.  They’ll come garnished as you like and properly muddled and you’ll enjoy them at a romantically lit table, most likely shining with a lone candle and decorated with carefully folded cloth napkins and gleaming silverware.

Supper Club Culture also dictates that whatever you order comes with hot, fresh bread or rolls served ahead of your meal – with butter, of course; this is The Dairy State, after all – and access to a salad bar (or in some cases, an iconic relish tray) with an amazing array of choices.  We’re talking salad bar choices that you don’t see in other parts of the U.S.; only right here in Wisconsin.  Here are some examples of the unique salad bar toppings that are typical of most Northwoods Supper Clubs:

  • Chicken Gizzards (we promise you don’t have to eat them unless you want to…but maybe at least try just a bite, ok?)
  • Hot Bacon Dressing
  • Green Peas
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Pasta Salad
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs
  • Sesame Breadsticks
  • Mushrooms

Of course, you’ll also find all of the “normal” salad bar items, like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cheese, croutons, typical dressing selections, and the like, so worry not if you have no desire to dig into a heap of BBQ chicken gizzards…and if you do, more power to you!

Soup may be offered at the salad bar and, depending on the day of the week and the time of year (Lenten Season affects menu choices in Wisconsin quite heavily), you may be able to try homemade clam chowder, chicken dumpling, beef barley, or a variety of other hearty soups make in the kitchen, and almost assuredly from scratch.

Supper Club Culture dictates that your entrée will be served with some manner of potato.  Twice-baked is frequently the spud of choice, and establishments can be very protective of their secret twice-baked potato recipes.  If a twice-baked potato seems like gilding the lily to you, a classic, buttery baked potato with sour cream on the side is your next choice.  Wisconsin practically lives on meat and potatoes and neither shall be in short order at any well-established supper club.

Hidden Valley Supper Club

Before your entrée comes, you’ll order another Old Fashioned.  If you don’t imbibe, you’ll order a locally-famous Sundrop soda (or “pop”, if you will) – and you’ll ask if they have it in glass bottles.  If you’re lucky, they will, and you’ll get to experience the preferred beverage of Shawano Country, as it was meant to be enjoyed: fresh from a cold, green glass bottle.

Anello’s Torch Lite

The main event in Supper Club Culture is, of course, the entrée.  By the time it’s placed on the table in front of you, you may be a bit full, already, but trust us: Your main course is the headliner for a reason.  Your options for an entrée might include items like filet mignon, something involving chicken, or even succulent scallops or shrimp, but one thing is certain… if you have the option to order prime rib, this is what you choose.  If you have the option to choose prime rib plus a seafood item, that’s an instant winner, as well.  In Wisconsin, nothing says “I love you” quite like a great cut of meat (or an ice cream drink, but that’s yet to come).

Crab ‘n Jack’s

No place on earth prepares perfect prime rib like supper clubs do.  Supper club prime rib is meltingly succulent; like nothing else one earth.  You almost won’t need the provided knife to cut it, and it will be served with a warm cup of savory au jus that takes it right over the edge into mind-blowing meat territory.  Generally, you’ll have the option to order an 8 oz., 12 oz., and 16 oz. cut.  Order big, because this caliber of leftovers doesn’t come along every day…and if you eat every last bite, you’ll be in good company!

About the time that the main course is finished and any potential leftovers are carefully boxed up for later, you may be asked about dessert.  Most supper clubs tend to be somewhat sparse in the traditional dessert arena (although usually there’s a slice of cheesecake to be had, should you even have room for it after dinner, which is unlikely) but they also are one of the few places where one can still get an ice cream drink.  When was that last time you enjoyed a Grasshopper or a Brandy Alexander?  Have you ever actually had an ice cream drink?  Well, now is the time to try to make room for one, because they are both part of Supper Club Culture and something you’ll probably want to try recreating at home.  Ice cream drinks are a dessert-cocktail hybrid that we’re surprised we don’t find all over the country, but Wisconsin, is after all, the center of the dairy universe as far as we’re concerned, so it makes sense.  Do yourself a culinary and local cultural favor and order this finishing touch to your amazing Supper Club date.  Your partner will thank you.

Classic’s Restaurant & Lounge

SHAWANO COUNTRY SUPPER CLUBS

Anello’s Torch Lite
1276 E. Green Bay St.
Shawano, WI 54166
(715) 526-5680

Antler’s Supper Club
120 E. Green Bay St.
Bonduel, WI 54107
(715) 758-2190

Classic’s Restaurant & Lounge
W6026 Lake Dr.
Shawano, WI 54166
(715) 524-8711

Crab ‘N Jacks
N2580 WI-55
White Lake, WI 54491
(715) 882-8611

Hidden Valley Supper Club
12704 County Rd. M
Caroline, WI 54928
(715) 754-5995

Kassidy’s Studio Lounge & Dining

Kassidy’s Studio Lounge
7703 County Hwy. MMM
Shawano, WI 54166
(715) 524-5883

Seasons Restaurant & Lounge
201 Airport Rd.
Shawano, WI 54166
(715) 201-0090    

Seasons Restaurant

 

Shawano Country’s Top 10 Cozy Winter Comfort Foods

Whether you’re planning on visiting Shawano Country to take advantage of our many winter outdoor activities or you’re looking for a weekend away during these frigid Wisconsin months, we’ve created a Top 10 list that will lead you to our area’s favorite comfort food dishes.  Here are our happy-making favorite cold weather dishes from some of Shawano Country’s favorite diners and pubs:

1) Angie’s Main Café: Walleye “Breakfast” Plate
Over at Angie’s, they make diner magic happen on their sizzling flattop every day.  One of their signature meals that will not only give you all kinds of Wisconsin feels but will fill you up for whatever outdoor adventure awaits (or whatever outdoor adventure you’re warming up after), a comforting Wisconsin-style Breakfast of Champions: 2 eggs (any way you like, of course), pan-fried walleye, choice of potato, and buttery toast.  Belly up to Angie’s counter and place an order for this plate of crispy, savory local warmth!
130 S. Main St., Shawano, WI 54166
(715) 524-6240

2) Brothers’ Pub: Steakhouse Burger
First off, this is not a place where you skip the appetizers.  Part of this Shawano-lakeside comfort food experience is ordering either (or both) the Homemade Mozzarella Sticks or (and) the Half-Naked Cheese Curds, because the three tenants of Wisconsin comfort are: Cheese, Cheese, and Cheese.  So, before we move on to the main comfort course, let the waitstaff know you’re gonna need to start with the cheese course.  Then you’ll order the Steakhouse Burger, loaded with melty cheese, perfectly sauteed mushrooms and onions, and a healthy slather of A1 sauce.  You’ll enjoy every juicy mouthful, stopping occasionally to wipe sauce from your chin and to remark at why you’ve never had one of these hearty beauties before.  If that’s not your thing (but it should be), Brothers’ offers a whole menu of dishes you’ll want to cozy up to.
N5867 Lake Dr., Shawano, WI 54166
(715) 524-5212

3) Farm Inn’ On Main: “Tractor Tire” Pancakes
Two words: GIANT. PANCAKES.  They call them “tractor tires” at Farm Inn’ and you’ll see why.  These fluffy buttermilk griddle cakes are nearly as big as the plate they arrive on and they chase winter blues away faster than you can say “Spring Has Sprung.  If you need some savory refreshment to go along with breakfast, this is the kind of place that you can order up a Bloody Mary alongside pretty much anything and prepare for a long winter nap, post-meal.
123 N. Main St., Shawano, WI 54166
(715) 524-4916

4) The Harvest Restaurant: Biscuits & Gravy
There’s a lot of options at The Harvest, but we’re craving Biscuits & Gravy.  Peppery cream sausage gravy over two hot-and-fresh biscuits will make anyone’s day, with enough happy-making carbs (we Wisconsinites REQUIRE carbs to slog through winter) and creamy gravy to bolster anyone for an afternoon – or evening – of the great snowy, blustery outdoors.
W17256 Red Oak Ln., Wittenberg, WI 54499
(715) 253-3600

5) Hungry Bear Family Café: The Bear Skillet
Wisconsinites LOVE their skillets, and if you’re looking for the heartiest of comforting meals, a skillet is one of your best bets.  At Hungry Bear Café, the skillet you’re going to go for is aptly named “The Bear”. It’s a heaping portion of eggs absolutely loaded with onions, green peppers, gooey cheese, and your choice of bacon, sausage, or ham.  Oh, and it comes with perfectly crisp hash browns, in case the skillet isn’t enough to satisfy (but trust us, it is).
120 W. Green Bay St., Bonduel, WI 54107
(715) 758-2727

6) Hurricane Dawn’s: Dawn’s Famous Chicken Dumpling Soup
Of course Hurricane Dawn’s has a bar menu to order from, featuring burgers, pizza, and the like, but the true winter comfort food treasure is Dawn’s Famous Chicken Dumpling Soup.  Not only is it a known local cure for seasonal blues, but it makes for a heck of a warm-up after you’ve been out on the trails or on the ice!  Don’t mess around with a cup; order a big bowl of this Midwestern comfort food cure-all!
W11057 County Rd. D, Marion, WI 54950
(715) 754-5138

7) Luigi’s Pizza: Alfredo + Anything
OK, pizza is an obvious comfort food for most of the U.S., and you can safely order a Luigi’s pizza and trust that these handmade pies are going to knock your wool socks off, but we’re here to talk ALFREDO.  Creamy, rich house-made alfredo sauce over al dente linguini can make even the most doleful case of winter blues fall away.  Add chicken, shrimp, or broccoli, as you like, or just go all-out and order the Seafood Alfredo as an instant cold-weather cheer-booster.
607 S. Main St., Shawano, WI 54166
(715) 524-4791

8) The Lumberyard: The Kraut Burger
There’s a whole lotta German food lovers around these parts and The Lumberyard is meeting demand
with knock-out new burger ideas, complete with German flair, by offering the Kraut Burger.  It is what it sounds like: a juicy beef burger topped with heavenly melted Swiss Cheese and tangy sauerkraut.  Think of it as the Rueben’s comfort-food cousin.  We recommend the Parmesan Garlic Fries on the side for the maximum winter blues comfort food treatment!
815 North St., Bonduel, WI 54107
(715) 853-7077

9) Red Rooster Café: Hot Beef Plate
Just sit right down and order yourself the Hot Beef Plate.  This will ensure you’re delivered a huge, steamy plate of succulent beef tips over bread, with a mountain of mashed potatoes and gravy to boot.  You can’t possibly leave hungry and may even need a winter afternoon nap.  Bonus points: The menu says you can order a “SODA POP”, which is about as Midwest Charming as you can get!
237 S. Cecil St., Bonduel, WI 54107
(715) 758-6678

10) Shawano’s Café: Stuffed French Toast
Comfort comes easy at Shawano’s Café, but if you want to know our pick, we think the Stuffed French Toast can’t be beat.  In fact, it might even temporarily cure your cabin fever.  Warm, eggy French toast filled with sweet strawberries and luscious cream cheese.  Is it dessert?  Is it breakfast?  Who cares!  Order up!
W7389 River Bend Rd., Shawano, WI 54166
(715) 201-1122

…watch next month for our Valentine’s Day Supper Club Guide!

 

 

Wisconsin Autumn: Shawano Country’s Best Fall Park Picnic Spots

As Northeastern Wisconsin’s last warm days are doled out to us over the months of September and early October, we want to take in every last minute outdoors before the snow flies.  Many of Shawano Country’s parks are located on lake- or riverside shores and showcase the beauty of our fresh, flowing waterways, soon to ice over, and trees – ready to explode into color – are everywhere in our Northwoods neighborhood.  Shawano Country’s parks – some of them tucked away in rural corners you may never have visited – offer some of the area’s best outdoor social distancing options for peaceful play, walks, and picnicking.   Speaking of picnicking, we’ve listed our favorite park picnic spots, plus where we recommend you stop for picnic supplies.

Get outside this fall and take in the final hurrah of Shawano Country’s autumn color!

Hayman Falls
N4386 Hayman Falls Ln., Marion, WI  54950

Long known by area nature enthusiasts for its magically gnarled cedars rooted atop boulders, its rapidly flowing section of the Embarrass River, and riverside pathways and swimming holes, Hayman Falls is a local favorite.  This glimmering riverside park feels almost like a movie set, with twisting cedars and sparkling waters accessible via trails that run alongside the river and wind through the park… there’s even an island you can (usually) wade out to!

Hayman Falls also has playground equipment, enough room for a makeshift baseball game, and picnic shelters, so bring the kids!  There are also grills available if you want to prepare your picnic meal on site.

Best Hayman Falls Picnic Pick: Get Hurricane Dawn’s  to go!  Order bar favorites and take them to the park.  Hurricane Dawn’s is a just few minutes away from Hayman Falls, in Pella (mapped as Marion), Wisconsin, and it’s on the way if you’re coming from Shawano.

Heritage Park
524 N. Franklin St., Shawano, WI  54166

Adjacent to Sunset Island Park, which is also part of our park system and appears later in this list, which is alphabetical, Heritage Parkis located in the City of Shawano and it contains a glimpse into the area’s rich history.  Featuring historical buildings from the city’s beginnings, Heritage Park encourages you to imagine the early years of Shawano’s development as a logging community and a booming town on the Wolf River.  Just across the street, the Shawano County Historical Society building holds a huge amount of information on the area’s early European settlers and businesses of the past, for both the city and the county.

When you’re done strolling through the grounds and taking in breaths of the past, take your picnic lunch over to Sunset Island Park… more on that Heritage Park sister location, to come!

Mielke Park
N5649 Airport Rd., Shawano, WI 54166

On the grounds of Shawano’s Mielke Arts Center Shawano County Arts Council, you can enjoy wooded trails circling tranquil ponds and weaving around the forested grounds of our area’s only performance theater.

During the summer season, Mielke Park is the location for many of our area’s arts festivals, from folk music to crafts.  There’s a playground for the littles and a picnic shelter with a view of Shawano Lake’s southwestern corner, located right across the street.

Best Mielke Park Picnic Picks: Order from Brothers’ Pub or The Launching Pad.  Located about a quarter mile down the road in either (opposite) direction, both of these Lake Drive restaurant-and-bar establishments have terrific menus.  Hit The Launching Pad for seriously bangin’ burgers and Brothers’ for creative wraps… both are perfect carryout foods for your picnic!

Oconto River Park (Pulcifer Park)
Highway 22, Pulcifer, WI  54124

Located approximately 30 minutes Northeast of Shawano, between Pulcifer and Gillett on the Oconto River, is Pulcifer Park.  Featuring fishing platforms so you can cast away and a boat launch available for put in and take out, our easternmost county park offers a place to stretch out and enjoy the tranquil stillness on the banks of a Lake Michigan tributary.

Oconto River Park Picnic Pick: Lakeview Convenience (on the hill in Cecil) is a great option for grab’n go hot deli sandwiches, delicious broasted chicken by the piece or bucket, breakfast items, baked goods and more.

“The Rock”
Butternut Rd., Richmond, WI 54166

This one’s kind of a secret.  It’s not a County Park but we would be remiss in leaving it off this list of local favorites.  You may have to ask a local to find it, but your hint from us, is that it’s on the Red River in the Town of Richmond, close to Weed Dam.  The Rock’s true name is Gilmer Falls, and the granite boulders strewn across the amber waters of the Red River are big enough for sunbathing, fishing from, and some even serve as natural slides and whirlpools.  There are no picnic shelters or tables, but if you love natural water and geological features, this is your park.

Here’s all we ask: Please don’t trespass to find this gem (Note: It’s not at “The Novitiate”) and please, PLEASE no glass bottles at this park, as with all of our parks.

Best “Rock” Picnic Pick:  Shawano Country’s beverage of choice, Sun Drop from Twig’s Beverage …but NOT in glass bottles, please.  😊 Grab a can or plastic bottle of Shawano’s favorite “Golden Cola” and bask, riverside, on the warm rocks at this jewel on The Red.

Shawano Lake County Park
W5791 Lake Dr., Shawano, WI 54166

In the center of Shawano Lake’s North Shore, one of Shawano’s most popular parks has seen loads of upgrades over the past few years.  Not only does this park have a gloriously sandy swimming beach perfect for the summer months, but also a campground, picnic shelters, grills and picnic tables scattered about, playground equipment galore, and a large gathering space available for rental for weddings and parties of all kinds.  Yes, there’s a boat launch.

Best Shawano Lake County Park Picnic Pick:  This park has a concession stand, The Shawano County Snack Shop, so order up!  If you’re visiting in the off season, we suggest packing your lunch, enjoying your day at the park, and then heading to Classic’s Restaurant & Lounge, just south of the park on Lake Drive, for dinner and drinks.

Sunset Island Park (aka “Monkey Island”)
524 N. Franklin St., Shawano, WI  54166

Known to most locals as Monkey Island, Sunset Island is a sister to Heritage Park.  Pull into the parking lot at the corner of North Franklin and West First Streets in Shawano, and take the footbridge over to the island.

Sunset Island has a picnic shelter and several spots around the island where you might want to throw a bobber in the water and see if you get a bite.

Best Sunset Island/Heritage Park Picnic Picks:  Stop in at Charlie’s County Market and check out their picnic-ready selection of cold deli items, like taco dip, subs, salads, wraps, and other chilled bites.  They also have daily hot deli item features like ribs and baked chicken.

Wittenberg Park & WOW Walk
104 Park St., Wittenberg, WI 54499

Western Shawano County and has some of the most fantastic murals you’ll see in the state of Wisconsin.  Painted by a variety of artists and showcased on the village’s businesses and historic buildings, there are nearly 30 murals to visit in this quiet, rural village, which is a high concentration considering the village’s population hovers around 1,200.  The colorful murals of the Walls of Wittenberg depict a variety of real area people, activities, industry, and culture that represent the heart of this small town.

You can take a self-guided walking tour of the murals and stop at Wittenberg’s Washington Park for your picnic.  This small-town gathering space has picnic shelters and tables and plenty of playground space, plus a beautifully restored 1940 band shell, completed as one of the country’s New Deal Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects.

Best Wittenberg Picnic Pick: Grab a hot or cold lunch from the Hanke’s Sentry Foods deli.

Voelz Memorial Park at Wilson Lake
Oak Rd. Wittenberg, WI 54499
Though you won’t likely be taking a dip in fall, this lakeside park offers a beach for swimming, picnic shelter and tables, and ski trails for the winter months.  There’s also a boat launch and plenty of space to wander around this 110-acre patch of hidden Wisconsin beauty.

Best Voelz Memorial Park Picnic Pick: Stop in at Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats for some of Wisconsin’s best meat and cheese snack items!

Finally, here’s Shawano County’s Summer Recreation Map.  Although it has some seasonal elements that might not apply as we turn towards winter, this map shows area picnic shelters, boat launches, and other key features for those wishing to explore the public, natural beauty and resources of Shawano Country.

For updates on our area’s favorite parks, follow Shawano County Parks on Facebook…and get outside and enjoy everything Shawano Country has to offer before winter sweeps in!