Re-Pete’s Saloon and Grill Review – Black River Falls, WI

Re-Pete's Saloon and Grill Review

Re-Pete’s Saloon and Grill Review

Black River Falls is a burg in Wisconsin on I-94, two hours from Minneapolis, two hours from Madison, and five, give or take, from Chicago.  It’s a hub for outdoor sports in all seasons, no matter your choice of Northwoods fun.  They also have one of six locations of casinos of the Ho-Chunk Nation. Their casinos are modern with all of your favorite games, restaurants, and value-priced hotel rooms. I made my semi-annual donation.

Re-Pete’s Saloon and Grill is located just south of the city center, on Wisconsin Highway 27.  I have no idea what the name means.  It’s a spacious building, with a separate dining room to the left of the door (not in use on this day), and a dining area to the right in the bar area.  The decor is the usual lit beer signs and sports nonsense.

(SIDEBAR)  OK, I just looked at their website and the name comes from that there used to be another joint in this building that was named “Pete’s.”  When you know, you know.

It’s a lengthy menu, with American fare, bar food favorites, dinner entrees, and the ubiquitous Friday nite fish fry (an upper midwest thing).  Couple of Mexican choices, too.

They were busy, in that the bar stools and every table were full.  Appeared to have three servers, young women, harried but trying to keep up.

My dinner companion went with a burger described as “BACON CRACK JAM” Topped with fried onions, melted Provolone cheese, Applewood smoked bacon and Jen’s homemade bacon crack jam. It was substantial and tasty with extruded fries on the side. (Why did someone think “bacon jam” had to be invented)?

I couldn’t pass up the Lake Perch, found on so few restaurant menus. Other fish choices were trout or catfish filets.  Tough decision for me.  And it took a while to be served, but the wait was worth it, five crispy breaded fillets. There was a place further down I-90 called “Blue Gilley’s” that I liked to stop at, a lot of dishes with Blue Gill fish.  Didn’t make it through the pandemic, tho. Read about it anyway, and learn about my dad’s love of fish for every meal.

Stayed overnight at the Comfort Inn, my current value loyalty choice, nice complimentary hot breakfast, indoor pool and spa.  Everything was neat, clean, and orderly, friendly help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re-Pete’s Saloon and Grill Review

Russ Kendalls Smokehouse Review – French River, Minnesota

Russ Kendalls Smokehouse Review

Russ Kendalls Smokehouse Review

Writing about Russ Kendalls Smokehouse Review, I can’t pin down how long they have been in business, but I certainly remember stopping there with my dad 60+ years ago.  Long an institution on the north shore of Lake Superior, about 15 miles north of Duluth, Kendalls smokes and sells herring, walleye, lake trout, ciscoes, cheese and other goodies, as well as selling locally produced preserves, honey and craft beer.

I went for the ciscoes, because it’s what we always used to purchase, and just like back then, the fish come wrapped in newspaper and freezer paper.  What’s a ciscoe? Sometimes called small lake herring, they are actually a member of the Salmonidae family.

They are lightly smoked, it’s easy to pull out the entire spine intact, but watch for small bones the size of hairs. Not really a “fishy” taste, but the flesh feels a little oily, just an FYI.

Russ Kendalls Smokehouse ReviewBest eaten with your fingers, atop a cracker if you wish, Kendalls offers a number of different kinds, including Scandinavian flatbread, which would be ideal, but we didn’t need that kind of quantity, so we just got a sleeve of saltines.

Parked ourselves along the lake on an agate-strewn beach, and polished off the fish and crackers in no time.

Glad I got back there, glad they were open, they had a pretty severe fire a few years back, but were able to rebuild after some time and difficulty.  Imagine they’ll be there still 65 years from now!  Far down below, you’ll find last year’s shipping menu, if you’re inclined to dine, but not to drive!

Russ Kendalls Smokehouse Review

Sitting on the shore of the big lake they call Gitchi Gummi.

 

Russ Kendalls Smokehouse Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

Russ Kendalls Smokehouse Review

Laughing Larrys Lunchroom Review – Tomah Wisconsin

Laughing Larry Lunchroom Review

Laughing Larrys Lunchroom Review

Talking about Laughing Larrys Lunchroom Review. frequently look for “offbeat” places when I travel, always in search of a great “undiscovered” meal.  Found one at a truckwash outside of Tomah, WI, just off I-94 and I-90, and right before the “I divides.”

Laughing Larry does two things well (that I know of).  Cooks a mean short order meal, and laughs. A lot.

We rolled in at lunchtime and it was a tough choice, breakfast (served all day) or lunch? A little of both, perhaps.

I went with the bacon cheeseburger and a side of rings. The hand-pattied burger was preparedLaughing Larrys Lunchroom Review excellently, bacon and cheese in correct proportions, bakery soft roll, tender to the touch, but sturdy enough to hold whatever condiments I went with.  The rings were crispy with just the right amount of breading.

My pal went with the smoked brisket sandwich, served on grilled rye, with swiss and optional kraut. Unusual, huh. But superb.

It was mid-Saturday afternoon and Larry’s wasn’t very busy, so he came and sat at the table across from us and we reminisced about better times, including the days of great music, and artists that had faded from glory, previously prominent fixtures in small midwestern towns like Tomah.

Did you miss the links above where I posted the breakfast and lunch menus?  See them both right here.  Some dinner entrees are also available, but be sure to check Larry’s closing time on the day you want to dine.

BTW?  Insiders know enough to ask Larry if they can join the “club” and hear his theme song. It’s a treat!  Larry’s a treat.  A Midwestern gem.

Laughing Larrys Lunchroom Review

Smoked brisket sandwich on rye with kraut.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laughing Larrys Lunchroom Review

Lake Aire Review, Lake Geneva, WI

Lake Aire Review

Lake Aire Review

For over 50 years, the Lake Aire has occupied, arguably, the most valuable real estate corner in this vacation paradise. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, 82 miles northwest of Chicago, Illinois, has long been a four-season playground for area elite as well as the hoi polloi.  Watersports and beaches in the summer, skiing, snowmobiles in the winter.

While the restaurant shows its age, it wears it well, and is the perfect destination for people who appreciate standard American food with a sprinkle of nostalgia.

They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and their sign posts “breakfast served all day” which is always a plus for me.  I’ve posted their menus below, and they are also online here.

My fellow diner ordered the traditional eggs benedict (Florentine option also available), eggs were poached perfectly, hollandaise creamy, English muffins toasted correctly. (I know a restaurant in New Orleans that sells them for $35 and they are served on Melba toast.  Can you imagine?)

I went with the pork tenderloin (they call it “Country Fried Pork” on the menu) and eggs, rye toast. As far as I could see, breakfasts potatoes are always ala carte, I passed on them. I’ve had some amazing tenderloins in my life, most recently in Walcott, Iowa, but there were giant ones in a small town bar in Lenore, Illinois, and at an old-timey drive-in at Kokomo, Indiana (no connection with Beach Boys song).

The Lake Aire’s version was good, crispy crust, the meat remained tender, flavorful, and juicy. Sausage gravy at ample chucks of pork sausage in it, so it was a pork on pork meal. Homer Simpson would have appreciated it.

 

The rye toast was of the marble variety, no complaints but I would have preferred more butter.  Sure, I could have asked for it, but I didn’t.  One out of thousand times, “healthy lifestyle” prevails in my thinking.  OK, one of of five thousand times.

The server was affable and professional.  I have a sneaking suspicion he’s somehow involved in ownership.

Final aside, their coffee is great.  Complete with real half/half on the side.

The only thing I didn’t enjoy about the experience had nothing to do with the restaurant or meal. And this issue burns me every single time I go to Lake Geneva.  I hate the downtown parking meter system. Probably some company sold the city a contract that they’d install for free in return for a large portion of the revenue.  It’s the ticket on the dashboard variety, except you have to enter your license plate, and it’s only available in two-hour increments.  The screen is hard to read.  The system is basically a nightmare for seniors and the disabled. Oh well.

Lake Aire Review

Country Fried Pork and Eggs Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As promised, the menus.  Click to enlarge.

Lake Aire Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Aire Review

 

 

 

 

 

Gramma’s Kitchen Review – Walcott Iowa

Gramma's Kitchen Review

Gramma’s Kitchen Review

If you’ve ever driven across Iowa on Interstate 80 (Mainstreet USA), you’ve either stopped at this exit or at least noticed the signage for “The World’s Largest Truck Stop.”  Yep, it’s at this exit.  But that’s not where I stopped this trip, I stopped across the road at Gramma’s Kitchen because two years it ago, it made the list of the best tenderloins in the state, according to the Iowa Pork Producers.

So what exactly is a tenderloin?  It’s a boneless pork chop, smashed with a hammer or other blunt instrument until it’s enlarged and very thin, the drenched in a coating or batter, deep-fried, plopped onto a bun entirely too small for the piece of meat, and dressed up with pickles, onions, and occasionally mayo.

I opted for tots on the side, pickle was included, a damn fine one, too, crispy half-sour.

The sandwich was perfect, crispy coating, but the meat was still juicy inside. Bakery style bun, soft yet substantial enough to hold the ample cut of meat.

The tots were piping hot, right from the fryer, and lightly seasoned.  I hated “baked” tots, not crispy enough.  If your tot hasn’t got crunch, why get them?

The restaurant has an attached bar with an abbreviated menu, and throughout the building are Iowa souvenirs as well as some preserves and the like.

As is my habit, I grabbed a colorful souvenir magnet, even tho I have no place to put them anymore, my frig is stainless steel.

Take a gander at Gramma’s menus and start planning your next road trip.  Oh, almost forgot, you don’t have to get the tenderloin battered and fried, most places will happily grill one for you instead.

Gramma's Kitchen Review

Fried Pork Tenderloin Sandwich with Tater Tots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gramma’s Kitchen Review

Gramma’s Kitchen Review

Jo Jo’s Pizza Review – Delavan, Wisconsin

Jo Jo's Pizza Review

Jo Jo’s Pizza Review

Jo Jo's Pizza ReviewI knew I had to be in this part of the state the other day, it’s the “lake country” of Southern Wisconsin.  I had scoped out a couple of potential pie places to visit, both old-timey, been around forever, small-town kind of pizza.  The only problem with my quest, is that the hours for both of them as shown on their website were WRONG, they didn’t open til later and I wasn’t about to hang around.

So I started down the road back to the place I was visiting in Walworth, Wisconsin, and finding nothing on the way there, except a lonely Little Caesars, and what would be the point of that, I was prepared to admit failure for the day’s pizza run.

A flash went on in what few brain cells I have left.  Did I pass a place out in the sticks that said pizza?  Or did it say BBQ? Or tacos?  I retraced my steps down the highway and came to this little place, really out in the middle of nowhere, Jo Jo’s.

I went in, perused the menu, glanced at the slices they had available to judge whether or not the pie was going to meet my usual guidelines (seemed so) and I ordered.  A 16″ thin crust sausage and green olive.

About fifteen minutes later, or less, out it came, piping hot in the box, as I juggled it carefully walking back to the car. (I have experienced in the past, doing this and the pizza ending up upside down on the parking lot). (No, that didn’t stop me from eating it).

Took a pic of the pie on the trunk, moved it to the front seat, opened my beverage, and set to work.  This pizza was made as if I have given very specific instructions as to my “likes.”

Cracker thin crust, hand-pulled flavorful sausage, tasty olives, mounds of cheese and a smattering of Italian herbs.  Perfect. I wouldn’t have objected if the sausage chunks were a little bigger, but not a complaint, really.

Wisconsin pizzas JUST TASTE BETTER.  I don’t know why.  Closer to the cheese source (humor).

Jo Jo appears to be an enterprising guy (or woman).  In addition to pizza, they have a very long menu, with sandwiches, pasta, entrees.  Out back there was parked a food truck for tacos.  Ambition.  The American dream.  Gotta love it.

Unofficial website.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jo Jo’s Pizza Review

Jo Jo’s Pizza Review

Boomer Baseball Hot Dogs Review

Boomer Baseball Hot Dogs Review

Boomer Baseball Hot Dogs Review

Boomer Baseball Hot Dogs Review

 

I love minor league ball.  In the Chicago area, we have six teams, crazy huh?  It’s mostly kids (at least to me) playing their hearts out for the love of the game, most realizing they have little change for the big leagues. The best park I’ve been to is in Louisville.  The Louisville Bats.  Triple A for the Cincinnati Reds.

But I support two teams around here, one being the Schaumburg Boomers.  They have a nice stadium, prices are reasonable, and plenty of free parking adjacent.

Every year I go to a Boomers game with the hope/expectation that there’s been an upgrade on the hot dogs.  Nope. If you’ve ever purchased a “gray water dog” on a street corner in New York City, these pups will look very familiar to you. They’ve been too long in the soup, so to speak, maybe even left from the day before.  They’re a bit mushy, even for skinless dogs.

And this year, there’s an absence of “loose” condiments (chopped onions, etc) because of the ‘vid.  I get that.

But the peanuts?  Exceptional.  Baseball, a loss.  But weekly fireworks? A bonus.

I’ll keep going.  Gonna have to move on from the dogs, tho.

You can buy your Boomers tickets online.  A fun night out for the entire family.

I love minor league ball.  In the Chicago area, we have six teams, crazy huh?  It’s mostly kids (at least to me) playing their hearts out for the love of the game, most realizing they have little change for the big leagues. The best park I’ve been to is in Louisville.  The Louisville Bats.  Triple A for the Cincinnati Reds.

But I support two teams around here, one being the Schaumburg Boomers.  They have a nice stadium, prices are reasonable, and plenty of free parking adjacent.

 

 

 

Boomer Baseball Hot Dogs Review

 

 

Alef Sausage and Deli Review – Mundelein, IL

Alef Sausage and Deli Review

 

Alef Sausage and Deli Review

Alef Sausage and Deli Review

Dry smoky salami. Delish.

I had a delightful time at Alef and found the clerks helpful and friendly. So you can pronounce some of the names of the meats in the service counter? TRY? It goes a long way. Just as it would be appreciated if you were traveling abroad.

Take some time to read the bio of the founder online, an American dream come true for an immigrant. Amazing accomplishments!

The store is bigger than it looks from the outside, and has a very good selection of Russian, Polish, and other Eastern European fresh and boxed groceries, as well as a wide choice of hearty breads. There’s a hot food counter as well.

I picked up some bresaola, a favorite of mine, it’s air-dried beef that can be eaten as a snack or as part of a sandwich. I’ve seen it across Switzerland, but it originated in the Northern Alps on Italy’s border. It’s salted before air drying for 2-3 months, when it turns almost purple you know it’s ready. Usually made from top round, it’s lean and tender.

I also bought a salami I could not pronounce, so many choices. It is delicious, frim, dry, lean, very smoky.

I see they offer droewors, another favorite of mine, a South African style of dried meat stick with interesting spices.

Alef Sausage packaged products are widely available in grocery stores throughout Chicagoland and can be purchased online at their website.

I had a delightful time at Alef and found the clerks helpful and friendly. So you can pronounce some of the names of the meats in the service counter? TRY? It goes a long way. Just as it would be appreciated if you were traveling abroad.

Take some time to read the bio of the founder online, an American dream come true for an immigrant. Amazing accomplishments!

The store is bigger than it looks from the outside, and has a very good selection of Russian, Polish, and other Eastern European fresh and boxed groceries, as well as a wide choice of hearty breads. There’s a hot food counter as well.

I picked up some bresaola, a favorite of mine, it’s air-dried beef that can be eaten as a snack or as part of a sandwich. I’ve seen it across Switzerland, but it originated in the Northern Alps on Italy’s border. It’s salted before air drying for 2-3 months, when it turns almost purple you know it’s ready. Usually made from top round, it’s lean and tender.

I also bought a salami I could not pronounce, so many choices. It is delicious, frim, dry, lean, very smoky.

I see they offer droewors, another favorite of mine, a South African style of dried meat stick with interesting spices.

Alef Sausage packaged products are widely available in grocery stores throughout Chicagoland and can be purchased online at their website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alef Sausage and Deli Review

Alef Sausage and Deli Review

Nanas New York Deli Review – Crystal Lake, IL

Nanas New York Deli
Nanas New York Deli Review

“Ga-Ba-Goo” Italian sub

Nanas New York Deli Review: Tiny take-out featuring “New York Style” overstuffed sandwiches. The “Waldorf” is corned beef, pastrami, swiss, Russian, and slaw on marble rye.  Exceptional deli meats.

The “Gabba-Goo”  is salami, mortadella, hot capicola, lettuce, tomato, onion, vinegar, and oil on an 8-inch roll.  Again, exceptional on the meats.

The slaw is creamy and the vegetables in it crisp. Pickle included with the sandwiches is you ask, kind of a half-sour, and half size, larger than a gherkin, smaller than a big kosher dill.

Build your own is an option, of course, choosing from a variety of breads, meats, cheese, vegetables.  Soup, salads, and hot dogs round out the menu.

Half dozen flavors of chips from Deep River chips in Connecticut and bottle drinks, Pepsi products.

Couple of tables inside and on the sidewalk if you can’t wait until you get home to gobble these beauties.  Menu below or online.  Click to enlarge.

Nanas New York Deli Review: Tiny take-out featuring “New York Style” overstuffed sandwiches. The “Waldorf” is corned beef, pastrami, swiss, Russian, and slaw on marble rye.  Exceptional deli meats.

The “Gabba-Goo”  is salami, mortadella, hot capicola, lettuce, tomato, onion, vinegar, and oil on an 8-inch roll.  Again, exceptional on the meats.

The slaw is creamy and the vegetables in it crisp. Pickle included with the sandwiches is you ask, kind of a half-sour, and half size, larger than a gherkin, smaller than a big kosher dill.

Build your own is an option, of course, choosing from a variety of breads, meats, cheese, vegetables.  Soup, salads, and hot dogs round out the menu.

Half dozen flavors of chips from Deep River chips in Connecticut and bottle drinks, Pepsi products.

Couple of tables inside and on the sidewalk if you can’t wait until you get home to gobble these beauties.  Menu below or online.  Click to enlarge.

Nanas New York Deli Review

Menu Page 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nanas New York Deli Review

Menu Page 2

 

Nanas New York Deli Review

The Point Hotel Review – Minoqua, WI

The Point Hotel Review

The Point Hotel Review – Minocqua, WI

The Point Hotel ReviewThe Point Hotel Review. Took a drive in Wisconsin this week, ended up in Minocqua, a town so far North, one is in spitting distance of the UP of Michigan. This large complex sits waterside in this island town, which is known for sport angling, particularly for Walleye Pike and Muskellunge.  The large hotel complex is made up of privately owned condominiums, which are rented out and managed by the company as if they were hotel rooms.

The rooms are stylishly decorated and equipped with the usual add-ons, iron, microwave, mini-fridge, toaster, and a flat-screen TV.  They all ( I think) offer sweeping views of the 1400 acre Lake Minocqua, with 16 miles of shoreline.  There are picnic tables, bbq grills, firepits, landing docks, and kayaks and canoes for rent outside of the building.

Indoors you’ll find an exercise room, heated pool, hot tub, and sauna.

A complimentary breakfast is served from 7-9 AM, and during COVID times, the selection is limited to items that can be individually wrapped, as well as the ubiquitous hot waffles.

The hotel has done a good job with ‘Vid preparation, the rooms were spotless, the staff is masked, and distancing was encouraged.  The reception area has a plastic shield in place.

The staff was welcoming and helpful.  They changed our room to a better one upon arrival.  (There weren’t many guests that week, I saw no other people at breakfast or in the pool area).

There are a couple of restaurants within walking distance.  GrubHub and the like seem to not be present.  We had dinner across the lake at the “Boat Club,” which I will write up in the near future.

A nite stay was a C note.  I suspect higher “in season.”  Yep, just checked, a 3 night weekend stay end of June will set you back $236.   Add about another hundred if you want a two-bedroom suite.

Activities and attractions in Minocqua (if you aren’t there for fishing, snowmobiling, or ATV rides) are listed on the town’s website.

Photo credits:  Waterfront, author.  Hotel lobby, hotel website. Check availability and rates online.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Point Hotel Review

The Point Hotel Review

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