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

 

 

 

 

 

Please-U Restaurant Review New Orleans

Please-U Restaurant Review New Orleans

Please-U Restaurant Review New Orleans

Please-U Restaurant Review New OrleansPlease-U Restaurant Review. “Since 1946.” Doesn’t that tell you all you need to know about the Please-U Restaurant, on St. Charles Avenue close into downtown?  Open from 6A – 6PM, this old-timey diner serves all the American favorites as well as traditional New Orleans sandwiches and hot plate meals.

I wandered in early a couple of days last week, first for a customized breakfast po-boy with egg, cheese, bacon, ham, sausage, mayo, butter, lettuce and tomato, and another day for a muffaletta (they make their own olive salad!) after a muff disappointment the previous day somewhere else.

First time I got take-out, order was prepared fresh, hot, to my specs.  Second time it was a bifurcated experience, half in, half out, after a couple of eye-opening crack-o-dawn coffees.

But both were excellent, and I’m a sandwich kind of guy.  Bread was fresh, innards were ample, including the meats and cheeses. The server lady was right to crow about the house-made olive salad, it was excellent, and trust me, there are some bad versions in the city,  like long on cauliflower and short on olives!  Hey, it’s not called “cauliflower and carrot salad” is it?   You can learn more about this tasty treat here.  I make my own at home rather often.

 

Sandwich photo is mine, storefront pic is from their website.

 

 

 

Menu.

Please-U Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Please-U Restaurant Review New Orleans

Choice Hotels Review

Choice Hotels Review

 

Choice Hotels Review

For most of my career, I traveled the world, mostly staying in the finest hotels an area had to offer. Many 5 stars, some purporting to be 7 stars. Of course, there were some that claimed “5 star” and that simply meant there was a door with a lock on it, or glass in the window.

Domestically, both with planes and hotels, I fall into a pattern where I’m terribly loyal to one company or another, for an extended period of time, then something happens, and I’m off to another company.

With national chains in the US, consistency can sometimes be uneven, since the hotels are owned by franchisees.  Of course, they are supposed to maintain the standards set forth in their agreement, but it doesn’t always happen.

I have found that isn’t the case with the dozen brands owned by Choice Hotels.  I have found the inns of the chain to be very consistent, even tho the different brands are geared to different price points, to cover the entire spectrum of travelers.

In the past week, I’ve stayed in a “Sleep Inn,” “Comfort Inn and Suites,” and “EconoLodge.”

My experience in each of them was excellent. Friendly, personable staff, clean rooms, tastefully decorated with the latest amenities – all included a large screen TV, microwave, mini-fridge, complimentary coffee maker, iron and board, hairdryer.

All included complimentary hot breakfasts, at the “higher end” of the range of this offering in all hotels.  Included are: hot eggs, breakfast meats, biscuits and gravy,   hot and cold cereal, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, made to order waffles and syrup, sweet pastries, slices of bread, bagels, muffins, fresh fruit, several juices, coffee, tea, cocoa, milk. “Extras” include cream cheese, peanut butter, fruit spreads, honey, hot sauces, salt and pepper.

I imagine this can vary by location.  I  know I was in an EconoLodge this summer in a small town in Iowa, and the hot breakfast was mostly prepared in-house from scratch.  That was wonderful.

Some hotels have indoor pools, some outdoor, some don’t have them.  Everyone I have been in had excellent free wi-fi throughout the building.

Their loyalty program “Choice Privileges” is good, with lots of partners and it’s easier to earn free nights than with most programs I’ve been a member of.  Choice Hotels is also now in the vacation rental business if that’s your preference for stays away from home.

The company began as a non-profit referral group for seven Florida hotels in 1939. Today, the complete list of Choice’s brands includes the following brands, in 41 countries, with 560,000 + rooms:

  • Ascend Hotel Collection
  • Cambria Hotels
  • Comfort
  • Sleep Inn
  • Quality Inn
  • Clarion
  • MainStay Suites
  • WoodSpring Suites
  • Suburban Extended Stay Hotel
  • Econo Lodge
  • Rodeway Inn
  • Vacation Rentals by Choice Hotels

I recommend them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choice Hotels Review

Choice Hotels Review

 

Ox Yoke Inn Review – Amana, Iowa

Ox Yoke Inn Review Amana Iowa

Ox Yoke Inn Review – Amana, Iowa

The Amana Colonies are seven villages on 26,000 acres (11,000 ha) located in Iowa County in east-central Iowa, United States: Amana (or Main Amana), East Amana, High Amana, Middle Amana, South Amana, West Amana, and Homestead. The villages were built and settled by German Pietists, who were persecuted in their homeland by the German state government and the Lutheran Church.

For nearly one hundred years, the Colonies were completely self-sufficient. When they decided to start selling their home-made goods to the outside world, they formed the Amana Society, which included the Amana Corporation (the appliance company).

Today, the colonies are largely a tourist destination, which shops selling home-made goods like quilts, and furnitures, as well as locally produced foods. There are a number of restaurants, including the Ox Yoke Inn.  Opened in 1940, the restaurant features old world and traditional recipes, and side dishes that are served “family style.” Service includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a Sunday brunch buffet.

It’s big on the tour bus circuit and has several large rooms to accomodate groups.

This is one of those places that is probably resting on their laurels from decades ago.  While the food and service is fine, I have big doubts about the number of things prepared on site.

I order the wienerschnitzel, as I always do when it’s available, and it was topped (upcharge) with cheese and ham.  It was perfectly fine, as I said earlier.  It came with a couple of sides, mash/gravy, and green beans, both of which were perfectly forgettable.  Doubtful on whether the gravy was made in house, ditto on the dinner roll.

The prices are what one would expect at a tourist destination.   They also have a variety of pies to go, around $14 per.

Stop for the novelty.

Full menu.

 

Ox Yoke Inn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Ox Yoke Inn Review Amana Iowa serving old world and traditional favorites since 1940

Ox Yoke Inn Review Amana Iowa serving old world and traditional favorites since 1940

 

Marges on Rose Restaurant Review – La Crosse, WI

Marges on Rose Restaurant Review

Marges on Rose Restaurant Review

I lived here once upon a time. It was where my first job out of college was. I wasn’t so concerned with restaurants at the time as I was with bars and happy hours, and La Crosse was chock a block full of them. (I was in to misbehaving).

Marges on Rose did not exist, and I happened to stop because I was passing through and all the places I used to stop are long gone.

So I wandered in, just after the lunch crowd, but it was still doing fairly brisk business, including a lot of carry out orders from the third party delivery services in town.

I failed to glance at the “Specials” blackboard, and that wasn’t a mistake, but be sure to take note if you stop by.

Despite it being afternoon, I’m always up for breakfast, and always up for Chicken Fried Steak, and if you’re a regular reader, you know I’ve reviewed a lot of them.  See?  (Not even including derivations like wienerschnitzel!)

Was I expecting a variation of “Large Marge” at this diner?  Can’t say that for sure.  But they were crowing loudly about “home cooking” so I was anticipating my steak and eggs with glee.

.And it was great.  Light breading, crispy, home made sausage gravy,  eggs done as ordered and “American fries” (rough cut dice, but shredded hash browns are also a choice).  Rye toast for me, always.  Only $7.75.  Wish I saved room for pie, they had a bunch of choices, and they all looked delicious!

By the way, locals call La Crosse “God’s Country.”  It’s strikingly beautiful, butting up against the Mississippi along US Highway 61.  It’s a great place for a family vacation any season.  For the more boisterous, hit up their Oktoberfest starting in just over a month!

 

Full menu

Marge's On Rose Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Star Inn Motel Review Biloxi Mississippi

Star Inn Review Biloxi

I can stay anywhere I want.  I traveled the globe for business and stayed in some of the most luxurious hotels on the planet.  Actually, you can get sick of them.  I’M NOT KIDDING.

When I travel now, I’m decidedly down market – prefer the lower priced end of the segment, and especially independent mom and pop establishments. Which is what I found in the Star Inn in Biloxi.

It has so many things going for it besides very reasonable rates.  (What we paid for six nites was less than one nite at any of the fancy pants casino hotels down the street).

Comfortable, clean rooms, with everything you’d find in more expensive motels.  Some Jacuzzi suites. Refrigerator, microwave, hair dryer, iron.  King or two queens.  Park right outside your door.  Warm, clean swimming pool.  Modest complementary breakfast each morning, coffee, juice, milk, cereal, yogurt, fruit, breakfast breads.  Free wifi, cable. What more do you need?

Wonderful host family, friendly, helpful.

Spoiler alert.  It is across the street from the magnificent, free, open access Biloxi Beach, which they spend oodles of money keeping pristine. (See the pic below for the very reasonable rules).  Three fun casual restaurants also across the street, a 24 hour Waffle House, and the largest tee shirt/souvenir shop in the area.  Perfect.

I was so impressed I made reservations for a return in a few months.  Hey, one of the best things I did?  Went on a little tour that teaches you all about shrimpin’.  Fun and education.  Book it.

 

 

 

 

Star Inn Motel Review Biloxi Mississippi

Star Inn Motel Review Biloxi Mississippi

Super 8 Motels Review – Nationwide Chain

Super 8 Motels Review - Nationwide ChainAfter decades of business travel on the company time, in posh hotels where your every single whim is attended to, I’m happy these days to mostly stay in ‘value priced’ motels. Generally franchisees, locally owned, and adequate for as little time as I will be in attendance.

Super 8 is in the top 5 of the segment, overall I find them well maintained, well furnished and up to date.

I do have two things I take exception to.

While I laud the development of the complimentary breakfast in motels, Super 8 is on the more modest end. No meat, no eggs.  Your ubiquitous Golden Malted waffles (these guys must have made a bucket load of $$$).  juice, fruit, yogurt, bread, cereal.  Adequate.

Second, and most importantly? No matter how many website with the identical rates you show the front desk when you are checking in – they are going to have some excuse or another to charge you more, and they know you’re beat from being on the road and odds are good you’re going to suck it up and pay it.

This month in Mount Vernon, Illinois, and Sikeston, Missouri, in both cases the demanded rate was $30 north of the published rate on hand.

Wyndham?  You need to sort that out. And amp up breakfast. Other than that? No complaints.  (Tho I am old enough to remember that the rooms used to be $8.88).

Locations near you

 

 

 

Super 8 Motels Review – Nationwide Chain

Super 8 Motels Review – Nationwide Chain

Sams Diner Review – Waterford, WI

Sam’s Diner Review – Waterford, WI

Sam's Diner Review – Waterford, WIThere are a few times in my life when I’ve had a plate put in front of me at a restaurant and I’ve sighed and said “this is art.”

When/where this has happened, it’s never been dependent on the price or the number of stars, or some fancy name chef.

It’s about quality ingredients, meticulously prepared, properly plated, and probably a little love thrown in.

Such was the case at Sam’s Diner, a small eatery out in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin. It so exceeded my expectations on every level. It’d decorated with rustic Americana, about a dozen tables and booths.

I ordered the ham steak and eggs and was presented with a thick slab of quality ham prepared just the way I requested. I opted for “American fries” for the potato, thinly sliced crispy rounds, and marble rye toast.

Everything was superb including service and follow up, including getting chatted up by the manager and the chef.

It was about a 40 minute drive for me. Well worth it. I’ll hit it again and explore more of the menu.

You can find the full menu on Zomato. It’s pretty ambitious for a small joint.

Thirty miles Southwest of Milwaukee, eighty miles NNW of Chicago (map below). Opens early, seven days.

Sam's Diner Review – Waterford, WI

Ham steak and eggs, American fries

Sam's Diner Review – Waterford, WI

Sam's Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sams Diner Review – Waterford, WI
Sams Diner Review – Waterford, WI

The Norwegian Restaurant Review – Rockford, IL

The Norwegian Restaurant Review

The Norwegian Restaurant ReviewI grew up in a medium sized city (250,000) that was pretty ethnically diverse at the time. At least “Euro-diverse” largely because the first generation of settlers hadn’t died off yet.

Judging from the telephone book, there were a lot of Norwegians, Finns, and Swedes. Finns seemed to be the most notable, there were food and clothing stores that identified with that market.

As an “unwoke” child growing up in the 50s and 60s, I was acutely aware of people of these origins, and that at least one segment was subject to constant ridicule with “Fin-lander jokes.” “How many Finns does it take…” and so on.

Are Finns on the “bottom of the Scandinavian ladder?” Beats me, and I’ve traveled that part of the world.

Other ethnic groups? I’d hear adults (not in my family, tho) talk about the number of Jewish people in the city (650, one synagogue they said), and the single black family who moved into our part of the city (and was treated horribly) after retiring from the local airbase.

I didn’t personally know any Norwegians until college, when I went to a kind of Norse-centric institute of higher learning. I learned how to drink beer with one Norwegian guy. I had drunken clumsy sex with one Norwegian woman. (Consensual! Ask her!) Damn she was lovely. Is to this day.

So I find myself in Rockford, IL last week, also a place with a Scandinavian or ten, I thought I’d opt for a new restaurant called “The Norwegian.”

They offered a refreshing selection of breakfast dishes with top quality ingredients. (Menu below – click on to enlarge).

I went with the “Croque Madame” (French) curiously not a Norwegian dish at all, but nicely done with house-baked, coarse toasted bread, some variety of quality, thin-sliced ham (Danish?), melted Jarlsberg cheese (that’s Norwegian), a generous dollop of Bechamel sauce (also French) and a soft boiled egg perched atop the sandwich. (No idea on the ethnic origin of soft boiled eggs…..Chinese?)

There was a fistful of some unidentifiable (by me) greens along side.  The plate was delicious. As was their espresso.

All attended to by the most joyful server I think I have ever encountered, despite having been in restaurants of all price ranges in 65 countries. According to the receipt, her name is apparently “Weekend B.”

Although the joint seemed to have plenty of help, kinda seemed to me like she was a bit overworked, she was handling the full bar, both diners and drinkers. With aplomb. And a million dollar smile.

Open for breakfast and lunch, Tues-Sun, and apparently, unless I’m reading it wrong, Thursday afternoon happy hour.  Cozy atmosphere. Apparently live music at times.

You should check it out if you’re in Rockford. It was jammed on a Saturday morning, but table turnover was pretty fast. Two entrees, three drinks, around $34.  Parking in rear. Front facing signage is pretty minimal, so keep your eyes peeled.

The Norwegian Restaurant Review

“Croque Madame”

 

The Norwegian Restaurant Review

The Norwegian Restaurant Review

The Norwegian Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
The Norwegian Restaurant Review

The Norwegian Restaurant Review

Jubelts Restaurant Review Route 66 – Litchfield, IL

Jubelts Restaurant Review

Pony “Horseshoe” Plate

Dating from 1922, Jubelts is arguably the oldest surviving restaurant on the original US Route 66 segment in Illinois.  It’s about halfway between Chicago and St. Louis.

Functionally a full bakery with attached restaurant, the eatery is open to serve delights from all three meal dayparts.

It was late when I rolled in, and I was really looking for a motel to crash in, but when the lightbulb went off that this place was what I remembered it to be, I had to try it.

Although faced with a very lengthy menu,  as well as a full page of specials, when I’m in central Illinois, there’s really no choice for me but to get a “Horseshoe” – a plate unique to the area that many say originated in the Springfield area.

A “shoe” is two pieces of toast, with your choice of protein on top (burger, ham, pork, bacon, chicken) topped with fries, and then cheese sauce or sausage gravy. Throw in a couple of fried eggs in the middle there, if you’re inclined.

The “pony shoe” is a downsized version, and that was just fine for me; i chose another regional speciality, the fried pork tenderloin as my protein.  A tenderloin in these parts (and Indiana, and Iowa) is a lean piece of pork hammered very think, battered, deep fried, usually served between a terribly inadequately-sized bun.

In this case, it was in the middle of my pony.  Opted for cheese sauce, probably gravy would have been better.

Nevertheless, if you’re getting your kicks on Route 66, plan your day’s drive to hit Jubelt’s. Good grub.  Jubelts Restaurant Review Route 66

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jubelt's Bakery & Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jubelts Restaurant Review
Jubelts Restaurant Review

1 2 3 17