Wednesday, February 13, 2008
On this visit, we went in search of the Landmark 1850 Inn, the oldest tavern in Milwaukee, constructed of beautiful cream city brick. The building used to be a stagecoach stop.
The place was neat; lots of history, from the converted gaslight sconces to the antique woodwork and tin ceiling to the neat old black and white photos throughout.
The Landmark also sports a decent patio area.
We also noticed some newer touches, but overall it was great to see this establishment, and they had almost 50 draft beers to choose from.
The food selection is light, pizzas and such, but the cozy atmosphere and large selection of beer, it's worth checking out.
Update - I have heard that as of December 2007, the Landmark was closed for remodeling. As soon as I know more, I will post about it.
Landmark 1850 Inn
5905 South Howell
Milwaukee, WI 53207
Monday, February 11, 2008
This weekend took us to Iowa City, and the Hamburg Inn No. 2, Iowa City's oldest family restaurant, recommended to us by our friend Minney.
The little place was packed when we got there, so we sat at the counter, facing boards listing menu items. The shakes & malts board caught my attention, with the choice of vanilla, chocolate, coffee, butterscotch, strawberry, blueberry, cherry, pineapple, orange, lemon and maple. We placed our order for a butterscotch malt.
The back wall of the Hamburg Inn, established in 1948, is covered with political advertisements and memorabilia.
From their web site: " The Hamburg Inn story began in the mid 1930's when Joe Panther started Hamburg Inn on Iowa Avenue." There were, at one time, three locations of the Hamburg Inn. Number 2, launched in 1948, is the last remaining location.
For lunch, I had to try the sweet potato pancakes, so I ordered just one, and a California burger, topped with cheese, avacado and pico de gallo.
StfRon went with a bacon cheeseburger, fries and chips. The chips were homemade, toasty brown, and pretty good. The burgers served are 1/2 pounders.
The sweet potato pancake was huge, enough to almost cover a dinner plate. The sweet potato and spice flavor is subtle; at first I thought it was just an ordinary pancake, but it's a nice change.
The butterscotch malt was awesome. I might have to make several more trips back to to get my fill!
214 North Linn
Iowa City, IA 52245
Our last meal in Memphis, Tennessee this trip was at Coletta's Restaurant.
I saw Coletta's listed on the Food Network's web site, and it is also Memphis' oldest restaurant. They also claim to be the originators of Elvis' favorite pizza, the BBQ pizza. All of this was sufficient for me to want to check the place out.
Coletta's is now in it's fifth generation of family ownership.
There are now two locations, but we chose the original 1923 location.
The restaurant was probably quite nice in it's heyday, however the floors and ceiling could use some real updating now.
We both decided to try pizza, but not the Elvis special. I had an Italian spinach pizza and StfRon went with sausage.
The pizzas were very good, with a nice crisp, thin crust and salty, buttery browned cheese on top. The spinach pizza was covered with tons of spinach, so much so that I started pulling it off after a while.
We were there a little late in the evening, on a Sunday night, and the restaurant was rather quiet.
If you're looking for the oldest restaurant in Memphis, Coletta's original location is the place for you.
1063 S. Parkway East
Memphis, TN 38106
After dinner in Pensacola, Florida, we decided to try Seville Quarter, a complex of bars we had noticed on the web.
The building is an old brick structure, with wrought iron decorative balconies, reminiscent of New Orleans.
All of the bars/restaurants are attached inside, so you can wander from place to place to see what's going on.
We found deuling pianos in one location, 80s music and aviator's decor in another, a live rock band in one, and a nice outdoor courtyard with gas heaters in back. There was a small oyster bar location as well, which seemed to be our speed, but the place was full up.
There was a place to play billiards and video games, and all of the locations allowed smoking, which was something we had not seen anywhere on our trip.
Opened in 1967, Seville Quarter really is a sight to see, with gates from the governor's mansion in New Orleans, chandeliers from England, French doors also from New Orleans, brick flooring from a theater in Pensacola, old train station benches, bar stools from an 1870s café, ship's doors, the list goes on and on. It's really quite stunning, and seemed to be the place to be as the night wore on, more and more people piled in.
130 East Government Street
Pensacola, FL 32501
We had a great time at McGuire's Irish Pub in Pensacola, Florida. I had seen the restaurant on the web, and at least wanted to stop there for drinks to check the place out.
I love a little imbibery and debauchery just as much as the next gal.
McGuire's is dubbed one of America's Great Steakhouses, and opened in 1977. They moved to the current location, a 1927 fire house, in 1982.
This restaurant was room after room of tables packed with diners. One of the coolest rooms was the wine cellar, an intimate dining room with room at the back for 8,000 bottles of wine. The wine list features a huge selection of Chateau Mouton Rothschild Artist Series, pick your vintage year and they probably have it. We could have ordered a bottle of wine from the year of my birth for a mere $2,000.
One of the most stunning sights when you visit here is that the bar and lobby ceiling, plus parts of the restaurant, are covered with dollar bills bearing names and messages from patrons of Irish descent. There are well over half a million dollar bills hanging in this place.
The rest of the decor is a blast to check out, from corpses to celebrity photos to odd signs and the like.
For dinner, I ordered yellowfin tuna with a side of asparagus. StfRon decided to try the hickory smoked prime rib. Our meal was preceded by a delicious loaf of warm brown bread drizzled with honey, and some great garden salads. The tuna was excellent, as was the prime rib. We also split a bottle of wine, a $25 Pinot, instead of the $2,000 bottle. Our meal with tip was about $90.
Our enjoyment continued when an Irish chap took the corner stage and played some tunes, so we hung out for a bit longer.
Actually, the place was so nice, we visited twice.
On our second night's visit, we mixed things up a bit. This time I had the hickory smoked prime rib, again with asparagus and a great salad, and StfRon tried the ribs. These ribs were covered in thick meatiness. There was no way to finish this rack. My prime rib was excellent.
For dessert, we split some bread pudding, which was delicious.
On this visit, there was a bagpiper wandering from room to room. The music was excellent and not overwhelming, and added a great touch to the atmosphere.
McGuire's Irish Pub
600 E. Gregory St.
Pensacola, FL 32501-9971
Over the years, Mona's has evolved into a famous 250+ seat restaurant.
Three generations of Bernardi's are now in the restaurant business.
We heard that Mona's and Capponi's in Toluca were celebrating their 75 anniversary in February.
StfRon used to have lunch at Mona's every Sunday after church when he was a wee lad, so that's where we headed last Saturday night.
I especially love their old neon sign out front.
On this cold, blustery night, we entered through the bar, where StfRon was not allowed as a kid.
The decor in the lounge is quite nicely vintage, with a white marble look to the tables and bar top, vinyl booths and barstools with wooden backs. The rat pack tunes complete the feel.
The restaurant was bustling at 5:00, and there were several large group tables being set up. We're talking tables of 12 and 20.
We were seated in one of the back dining rooms, which has a neat stone fireplace along one wall. The walls are covered in nicely darkened paneling with a nice scalloped wood trim at the ceiling. You can't find trim like this at Lowe's.
In the dining room, we were a little disappointed to not hear the same tunes from the bar being piped over the sound system, but there was some lighter music playing.
Looking around, there were several older patrons dining with kids and friends, who have probably been coming to Mona's for decades.
Our waitress, Teresa, was funny, cheerful and efficient throughout our meal.
We each went with meals we've had at Bernardi's many times over the years. I had the chicken Parmesan, an unbreaded, marinated chicken breast next to some spaghetti, the whole thing topped with their signature meat sauce and cheese, accompanied by two hearty slices of garlic toast.
StfRon had the 1/4 famous fried chicken, in their tempura-style batter, all white meat, a side salad topped with thousand island dressing and a side of tortellini with meat sauce. StfRon claims the dressing at Mona's still tastes like he remembers it as a kid, but that Bernardi's dressing is good, but not exactly the same.
I had some of their new dipping oil with the bread that was brought out when we were seated, mixed with a little Parmesan cheese. It was very good and nicely seasoned. You can buy the oil to take home, for about $5 a bottle.
Everything was very good.
We finished our meal by sharing a dish of peppermint ice cream, another treat from StfRon's youth at Mona's. The ice cream did not have the peppermint crunchy candy in it that we remembered, so we asked our waitress, and she said the ice cream used to be Prairie Farms, but now is Blue Bunny.
The restaurant does not accept reservations for groups less than 12.
75 years is something for a restaurant in central Illinois to be proud of. If Mona's keeps the food, service and atmosphere going the way they are, they should be around for many more decades.
202 N Main St
Toluca, IL 61369-9431
We had the opportunity for a little travel to the suburbs, so we sampled some local fare in the Chicago area.
On the evening we arrived, we headed for the Fondue Stube, 2717 W. Peterson Avenue in Chicago. We had dined there almost 7 years ago when we first started dating, so this was a trip down memory lane, of sorts.
I remembered the decor being a little different, kind of 1980s living room with silk plants, sponge paint and the addition of red and green lights lining archways in the room, and my memory served me well. The theme is also classical, including the music, some of the artwork and the names of the menu selections, like Sinfonia Eroica.
The last time we were in, I think we went with the Sinfonia Eroica, a three-part meal including a cheese fondue served with bread cubes and apple chunks; beef fondue with vegetables and dipping sauces; and a fudge fondue for dessert, served with fruit and cake. The thing I remember from that visit was that we were not overly impressed with the fudge fondue, but we had a nice time.
Several years later finds us more the fondue aficionados (we have swiss fondue about once a month at home), so this time we went straight for the cheese: one order of cheddar fondue and one order of swiss, with the promise of a dessert fondue as well. Each pot of cheese fondue was $17, with dessert priced at $9 each. The cheese fondues are also available in half orders.
We were surprised when salads were served to us, as we didn't realize we would get them. The salads were well above most garden salads served to us at home, filled with dark leafy greens, a large carrot slice, a tomato wedge, a cucumber wedge and some red cabbage, accompanied by garlic bread and a dressing caddy at the table with Bleu cheese, creamy Italian and white French dressing.
Next came our pots of cheese fondue, set on their own flame in front of us, and each of us received our own basket of bread cubes and a nicely-arranged set of apple chunks. The fondue was a little mild for our cheesy palates, and also seemed a bit oily. Both had a nice garlic flavor. I was surprised to find that I preferred the cheddar to the swiss, so much so that I finished the whole pot, with a little help from my husband, StfRon.
After all of that, and after waiting a few minutes for our server to have a chance to come back, we decided to pass on trying the caramel dessert fondue.
Our server was pleasant and the other gentleman working was johnny on the spot with the water pitcher.
The Fondue Stube is a small, local restaurant, a bit off the beaten path. It's not the best fondue we've ever had, but we have enjoyed our visit each time we've been in.
Tuesdays and Thursdays they feature scallops, fish and chicken for your fondue enjoyment.
The also seem to believe in advertising and coupons, so be sure to check online if you decide to go. We've saved money with coupons and offers each time.
2717 W Peterson Ave
Chicago, IL 60659
We stopped to check out the Village Supper Club, in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.
It was odd at first for us to be in a place that allowed smoking, since our home state of Illinois recently went smoke free.
The dining room was small and cozy, done in dark wood, with a bar along one wall. The bar was topped with shelves housing bottle after bottle of an interesting collection of vodkas. There was Virgin Vodka, vodka bottles shaped like dolls, even a vodka bottle with a skull on it. Someone has quite an extensive collection. Along the restaurant wall, there is quite an array of beer cans as well.
After this most recent stint driving on 32 from Milwaukee to Chicago, we were discussing how much fun it might be to do a supper club/cocktail lounge crawl in the area, after booking a room at one of the motor lodges nearby.
We had a drink and had to be on our way, but would love to come back and check out dinner some time.
Village Supper Club
10909 Sheridan Rd
Pleasant Prairie, WI 53158