Monday, April 27, 2009

Tinker Swiss Cottage

On our visit to Rockford, Illinois in March, we stopped to see the Tinker Swiss Cottage.
The architecture of the building was beautiful, and StfRon was interested in taking the tour, so we paid our $12 admission in the gift shop and waited for the tour to start.
On this rainy Saturday in March, we were the only two waiting for the 3:00 tour, so we got a private tour of sorts.
Built in 1865 by Robert Hall Tinker, the house is filled with stunning woodwork. We started in the sun porch area, and I don't think I would ever have grown tired of studying the room.
The gentleman who gave us our tour was engaging and full of interesting stories, and the house was very impressive with all of its beautiful wood and hand painted scenes on the walls and ceilings.
The property was left to the Rockford Park District by the family, and all of the belongings were intact when the park district took over. As a result, there is a lot of good information on the history, including some diaries kept by Tinker.
I had heard about the suspension bridge on the property and was looking forward to walking across it, but it was closed during our visit.
Due to the heavy rain that day, I forgot to get a photo of the exterior (photography is not allowed of the interior). I'll stop back on a sunny day and take a picture of the house, and hopefully get to test out the suspension bridge as well. Actually, we also need to go back to take another stab at finding the geocache located on the Tinker Swiss property. We looked for a bit, but the rain eventually sent us back to the car.

Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum
411 Kent Street
Rockford, IL 61102

Monday, April 6, 2009

Der Rathskeller

Early in March we had a chance to stop for dinner at Der Rathskeller in Rockford, Illinois.
In business since 1931; the restaurant is said to be the oldest in Rockford operating in its original location.
We were just under an hour early for dinner, so we sat at the bar to wait for the downstairs dining room to open. From here we were able to check out the many sausages and cheese offerings. Most of the sausages are made on site, with a few of them coming from Usinger's of Milwaukee.
Once the basement dining room was open, we headed down and took a seat. I get the feeling that the basement decor has not changed much over the years, especially since there was a picture on the wall near our table displaying the dining room from years ago, and we recognized the same quaint chairs and the same wall sconces. There's something to be said for leaving things the same.
I started my meal with a cup of the beef Spatzle soup and found it to be delicious. The stock tasted homemade, perfectly savory and chocked full of Spatzle.
As my entrée, I went with a Schweineschnitzel, which was a special menu item that evening, along with red cabbage and potatoes. Everything was quite good, although after sampling my husband's sauerkraut, next time I would select that over the red cabbage.
Service was good and the waitresses helped each other out with the tables. My only complaint was that they congregated right next to our table a few times and chatted amongst themselves, since we were right near the kitchen serving counter.
Der Rathskeller was quite the find, and I know we will be trying to work more visits there into our trips back and forth to Milwaukee.

Der Rathskeller
1132 Auburn Street
Rockford IL 61103