Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sauk City, WI and vicinity

On a recent Saturday morning as I sat reading the paper, my husband said "You'd better get in the shower...you're being kidnapped."
"Kidnapping" is a tradition my friends and I came up with several years ago. The nabbers plot and plan a secret trip for the victim, perhaps having to tell them the date(s) of said trip in advance, but nothing else. The kidnappers plan everything and whisk the person off to destination unknown.
The only clue I received regarding this trip was that it was someplace we had never been before.
We drove for a couple of hours, eventually crossing into Wisconsin. Was it Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright's house in Spring Green? Nope.
We decided to detour into Madison for lunch and ended up heading out of the college craziness to a more sedate neighborhood where we noticed an inviting looking place called Mickey's Tavern.
Nearby there was a bike path, the Yahara River Bike Path.
Once inside, we were directed to help ourselves to some coffee or water at the side bar and take a seat.
We selected a small table near the door and I drank in the delightful art deco-esque decor.
After we ordered iced teas, StfRon decided to go with the World's Greatest Sandwich, which was sort of a BLT with an egg and cheese. I went for a steak sandwich which involved ginger after wavering between it and the portobello sandwich. Both came with chips and slaw.
The sandwiches were tasty, the slaw not the creamy variety.
During our visit we did venture to the restroom and were able to check out some of the other rooms. I especially enjoyed the room with the pool table, with its bright, funky colors and mod pendent lamps.

Back on the road, my husband revealed our first destination just a few minutes from our arrival at the Wollersheim Winery in Sauk City.
The property, first selected for vineyards in the 1840s, made us feel like we were back in the Rhine Valley in Germany, with its hills and stone buildings. The property was purchased by the Wollersheim family in 1972.
Oddly enough, I later found that my parents had visited the winery many years ago with me in tow as a child.
We headed to the tasting bar and asked which wines were made with grapes grown on site. We tasted three of them and were surprised to find that we really enjoyed the Prairie Blush, so much so that we each ordered a glass. We normally drink red wine, mostly Zinfandel and Cabernet.
We took our wine out onto the grounds and walked around, heading toward what appeared to be an old stone wine cellar graced with a beautiful ornate gate. We sat on a nearby bench for a bit and enjoyed our wine, then headed back to the wine store.
Upon looking at the literature for the Prairie Fumé, we decided we should sample that wine as well, since it garnered Wisconsin’s famous nationally-acclaimed Double Gold and Gold medals. We found it to be crisp, fruity and refreshing, so we bought a bottle to go.
On our way out, I stopped and snapped a photo of the charming Ganser's Motel sign, which sadly had no vacancy lit up.

We next stopped in downtown Sauk City and poked around in some antique shops, then headed on to Lodi to check into our hotel.
We visited downtown Lodi for a bit of shopping and exploring, then headed for the next phase of my surprise trip, dinner plans at a German restaurant in Roxbury (the address is Sauk City).

The Dorf Haus Supper Club was originally a grocery store and tavern, purchased in 1859 by Vern and Betty Maier who began serving dinners a couple of years later.

Approaching the restaurant, we noticed the parking lot across the road, which was next to a beautiful church, was full of cars. We cruised the restaurant parking lot and found nothing, so headed across the street to park and wondered about our chances at getting a table for our early dinner.
Walking inside, however, we were relieved to see that the hostess stand was quiet and the bar was only moderately full. Turns out there was a wedding party in the banquet room.
We mentioned we would like to enjoy a cocktail before dinner and our hostess was very accommodating, offering to come and get us in about 30 minutes.
We thoroughly enjoyed the beer as well as the company of the customers and staff and the atmosphere of the bar.
We took a seat in the dining room and ordered our meals. I went with Sauerbraten and the beef burgandy soup, StfRon ordered Rahmschnitzel and chicken dumpling soup. Our meals also included a soft white bread and salad bar. I was pleased to find fresh spinach on the salad bar along with a crock of hot bacon dressing.
My soup was wonderfully rich and flavorful. The chicken dumpling soup tasted like my mom's homemade chicken and noodles.
The tender Sauerbraten had a distinct ginger gravy and the accompanying spatzle had a nutmeg flavor. Both meals featured appropriate portions, and at $15.95 each, seemed like a steal.
We also split a chocolate mousse cake, which was surprisingly good.

Leaving pleasantly full, we decided to stop by the third staple in Roxbury, the Roxbury Tavern.
The place had an eclectic flair, and was hosting Cajun night. We each ordered a beer from the busy but friendly lady tending bar and I wandered over to read some newspaper clippings posted on the wall, taking in the colorful history of Sam the former tavern dog and the burning of pianos. Back at the bar I checked out the breakfast menu and thought it sounded scrumptious, but alas we headed in another direction when we left the next morning.

Sunday morning we drove through Mount Horeb, former home of the mustard museum, took in the wooden troll collection and checked out the scrap iron menagerie (a fun collection of iron creatures made by Wally Keller) where a dog stood sentry, barking at us to protect his home. We detoured into Monticello and saw a great Blatz beer sign, amidst the intense construction in the downtown area.
We drove through Monroe and discovered that the Joseph Huber brewing company is now Minhas, and noted with interest their annual cheese festival.
And soon we were home, with memories of another great road trip.

Mickey's Tavern
1524 Williamson Street
Madison, WI, 53703

Wollersheim Winery
7876 Wisconsin 188
Sauk City, WI 53583-9529

Ganser's Motel
 7433 Wisconsin 188
Sauk City, WI 53583

Dorf Haus Supper Club
8931 Hwy Y
Sauk City WI 53583

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