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

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

Franks Chicago Shrimp House Review

Franks Chicago Shrimp House Review

Franks Chicago Shrimp House Review

Franks Chicago Shrimp House ReviewFor people who don’t live around Chicago, fried shrimp probably isn’t the first things that pop into their minds as a “Chicago food.”  No, you’re knowledge probably ends at Deep Dish Pizza and Italian Beef Sandwiches.

But fried shrimp is a thing, and there are dozens of outlets for it, including some mini chains.  Seems WW II GI’s, returning from the South Pacific, had developed a hankering for the tasty deep-fried morsels and more than a couple of them set up the first simple take-out stands.

Today, in addition to regular or “Chicago style” (slightly spicy), many stores sell a bit of chicken, fish, frog legs, scallops and fried vegetables.  Full typical menu looks like this:

My chain of choice is Franks Chicago Shrimp House with four outlets scattered around the city, including the one I patronize in the far northwest suburbs.  Food is sold in 1/4 increments. I always go for the catfish strips, and today, feeling bold, I threw in some onion rings and a couple of frog legs.  They do not offer local fish like walleye, smelt, perch or blue gills, but there are other places that do.

Their breading is a mix of flour and cornmeal, same for the onion rings which I suspect are made in house, because they are inconsistent, and I don’t mean that in a negative sense at all, but rather that they are irregular sizes and shapes.  Food service rings are usually identical in those regards.  It’s a nice size ring, with a juicy circle of real onion inside, not “onion bits” as some fast food joints sell.  BTW, best fast food onion rings?  Arbys.  Seriously.

The catfish is meaty flesh, slightly flaky, but firm. The breading is not seasoned, or if it is, it’s so slight as to not be detectable by old fart taste buds.  The usual array of sauces are available for dripping, tartar, cocktail, lemon juice, bbq and more.

I don’t get over there enough.  It’s a dozen or so miles from my house and I rarely have a reason to head in that direction.  I’ll make the effort in the future!

 

 

 

Frank's Chicago Shrimp House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
 

Franks Chicago Shrimp House Review

Franks Chicago Shrimp House Review

BBQ King Smokehouse Review – Huntley, IL

BBQ King Smokehouse Review

 

BBQ King Smokehouse Review

A friend wanted to check this place out, had never had brisket before and wanted to see what all the hubbub was about.  So we drove out to the Huntley edition of the BBQ King Smokehouse, we could have opted for his other location, in Woodstock IL, as well.  This one is newer.

We knew we were going to get the food to go, there’s a nice park/town square in Huntley, and it was a great day for a picnic lunch.

I’ve been lucky to have been to some of the great BBQ centers in the US, including five of the restaurants in Lockhart, TX, and a number of them along the Historic NC BBQ Trail, including BBQ Center in Lexington, as well as stops in Memphis, St Louis and the rest.

I’m not comparing this place to any of those.

I started with the oversized pretzel for $6, “glazed with butter and salt” and a side of “our house-made cheese sauce.”  It was the doughy type of pretzel, no exterior crispness. The cheese has some bite to it. The pretzel served me was devoid of any salt.

I ordered a hamburger, with bacon, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and onion.  Each “topping” was 75 cents, so that added nearly $4.00 to an $11 burger. Included with sandwiches are fries and a couple of bites of slaw.

The burger patty itself was good enough, “100% beef brisket” the menu claims. The bun was bakery soft, but ample enough to hold the toppings.

The fries are the extruded variety, and if you’re a regular reader, you already know those aren’t my favorites. I can’t imagine why any restaurant uses them. Price? Speed of cooking?

Salad Anyone?

My coleslaw was non-descript, neither sweet, tangy, or creamy.  Curiously, the dressing on mine was white, the dressing on my friend’s serving was yellow.  There’s a “Q” place in the Mississippi delta, Abe’s, I swear has the best slaw on the planet, and he swears the only ingredients are sugar and vinegar.  I don’t believe him.  (Abe’s has been open since 1924 and is located in Clarksdale, MS at the famous “Crossroads” where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for becoming a guitar virtuoso). (So the story goes).  It’s only a ten-hour drive if you feel the urge.

On to the brisket.  Sandwich came with fries, slaw, and cornbread. In my experience, brisket should be the star of any BBQ joint.  It’s what some people work for years to perfect.

This shredded beef lacked much smoke flavor and was relatively sauceless.  The texture was good, it was a nice cut of meat.

Finally, our “to-go bag” was missing the following:  cutlery, salt/pepper, napkins, sauce, butter, or honey for the cornbread.

There were two tables in use when we walked in, and one server. She did a good enough job and was very pleasant.

Why a burger for me?  I like to see how restaurants do with menu items that aren’t their specialty.

I have friends who swear by this place, they just love it.  You probably will too.  All restaurants are having a tough time during the “difficulty,” but especially local mom and pops.  Give them your biz, whether you choose to dine in, carry out, or have delivery.

 

 

Menu.

Catering Menu.

 

 

 

 

BBQ King Smokehouse Woodstock Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
BBQ King Smokehouse Review

BBQ King Smokehouse Review

Asadoras Argentinas Burgers Review – Oswego, IL

Asadoras Argentinas Burgers Review
Asadoras Argentinas Burgers Review

Tipcia Burger

My Asadoras Argentinas Burgers  Review comes with a spoiler. It’s terrific!

I’ve had a great deal of satisfaction lately in exploring unique restaurants in small towns in the Upper Midwest.  You stumble on to them and are almost tempted to say “what the heck is that doing here?”

Such was the case in Oswego, IL, and finding Asadoras Argentinas Burgers. Oswego is 45 miles west of downtown Chicago, just off I-88. A bit more from Rockford, IL, 72 miles Southeast, I-39 to I-88.

Asadoras (Spanish for “roasted” or “grilled”) serves char-grilled hand-pattied burgers (about 1/3 pound, at least) with Argentinian style toppings, somewhat adapted for the American palate. We tried the Criolla Burger, which was topped with Mozzarella, salsa criolla, and chimichurri mayonnaise.  Burger number two was the “Tipica,” topped with lettuce tomato, honey ham, cheddar, fried egg, and red bell pepper strips.

Both were superb.  Cooked perfectly, perched on an ultra-soft bakery roll that was still firm enough to hold the ingredients without collapsing in your hands. (Don’t you hate it when that happens? I sure do!)

The primary side is a very unique extruded fry, which they call “side wedges.”  By extruded, I mean these are made from a potato slurry and pushed through a mold to gain their unique shape.  Very crispy on the outside, and pillowy inside, we opted for the chimichurri style, so the fries were decorated with dollops of the famous chimichurri sauce, as unique an Argentinian condiment as you can find.

Asadoras Argentinas Burgers Review

Chimichurri Fries

Although it’s served throughout the Western hemisphere now, its roots are solidly Argentinian, but by way of (most common story), a British soldier stationed there in the early 19th century. It’s (usually) a melange of finely chopped parsley, garlic, pepper, oregano, vinegar, and olive oil.

The unique shape of the fries holds the condiment well.  You can also opt for regular fries, paprika fries, or cheddar bacon. Optional side sauces include Criolla, Avocado Mayo, and Poblano.

There are other sandwiches, and wings on the menu, a vegetarian sandwich and a kid’s menu.

If you’re a fan of great burgers, this is worth a stop. Very friendly and helpful staff, too!   Facebook page.

 

Here’s the burger menu, click to enlarge.

Asadoras Argentinas Burgers Review

 

 

 

Asadoras Argentinas Burgers Review
Asadoras Argentinas Burgers Review

Freddys Steakburgers Review – Nationwide Chain

Freddy's Steakburger Review

Freddys Steakburgers Review – Nationwide Chain

Started in Wichita in 2002, Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers has quickly grown across the country, now with over 300 locations in 30 states.  The eatery focuses on smash patty burgers, Vienna Beef brand hot dogs, and frozen custard deserts.

I visited the one in Lake Zurich, IL, which opened fairly recently.  It’s on a busy stretch of US Highway 12, and anybody in the area has dozens of dining choices on this highway.

My stop as lunchtime on a Monday.  It wasn’t very busy.  Maybe eight diners inside, no cars backed up at the drive-thru.

The restaurant was immaculate, including the restrooms, and one or two employees were in constant motion wiping down tables, counters, and so on.

I ordered the “Original Double” combo (with cheese).  Two beef patties, two slices of cheese, small fries, small drink.  $8.50 with tax.

Burgers standard dressing includes mustard, pickles, and onion, which is great for me, that’s how I order my burgers everywhere, and how I dress them at home.

The fresh burger patties are smashed thin on a flat top grill, cooked until the edges are crispy. (Also a personal preference).  The beef has terrific flavor all on its own.  It may have a slight sprinkle of seasoning. The pickles are mild dill, sliced thin, lengthwise.  The bun is soft and fresh, but not nearly substantial enough to hold moist weight. It did crumble on me. Not a deal killer. They did forget the onion on mind.

Fries are ultra crispy, and also thin.  Thinner than traditional shoestrings.  But great flavor and seasoned well. The restaurant’s small condiment stand includes a dispenser for two different varieties of “fry sauce.”  I don’t see the point. Not sure what it is anyway, like a thousand island/mayo mixture. Variety two contains Sriracha.

Pepsi products are the fountain option.

In addition to burgers, they offer Vienna Beef brand hot dogs, a couple of chicken sandwich options, tenders, cheese curds, and chili.  In lieu of fries with the combos, you can opt for Baked Lays or Apple Sauce.

I’d go again.  BTW, personnel were friendly enough, and although they weren’t busy, they didn’t set a speed record for product prep.  10 minutes to get my order.  I dined in.

Full menuLocations.

Freddy's Steakburger Review

Food portion of menu. Click to enlarge

Freddys Steakburgers Review

Freddys Steakburgers Review

A Day at An Amazon Fulfillment Center

Amazon MKE Center

I accepted an invitation to tour an Amazon fulfillment center, this one near Kenosha, WI, and charged with handling only small articles (less than 25 pounds).  I arrived at shift change, and was able to view the streams of employees existing the building, going thru a TSA type inspection station, some then stopping at their private lockers, before heading out to the parking lot.  I didn’t see any scowls or hear any expressions of discontent, as are often rumored.

You are (or I was) struck by the abundant signage, cautioning employees with all sorts of safety tips, including how to walk across a parking lot glazed over with winter ice.

Signage is everywhere throughout the building, mostly addressing employee welfare.

I have to say, I was amazed.  I can’t even conceive what kind of brain it took to think up how all this works.  The building is multi-story, as big as dozens of football fields, criss crossed by conveyors, with “robots” traversing the floors, carrying bins of merchandise to different work stations/processes.

The guide was excellent, she knew the company, the processes, the procedures.  Very enthusiastic about what it was like to work there, all the benefits available to employees, from day one, and the fact that the starting wage is $15, compared to the state’s minimum wage of $7.25.

As one would suspect, the operation relies heavily on technology, and tech prompts employees as to what their tasks are.

The local (Milwaukee) TV station ran a piece on the center when it opened.

 


 

I probably get 2-3 deliveries a week at home from Amazon. Now that I’ve seen the inner workings, I am still amazed that they rarely make a mistake.

The current government thinks they should be “broken up.” I don’t. I think they are one of the few things in America that really works. Well.

You don’t have to be a special person like me to tour one of their facilities. If there is one near you, sign up here.

By the way, this one is called “MKE” because that is the airport code for Milwaukee.

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock AR

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock AR

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock ARMeh. Though I didn’t go for the beer, but I hear it gets high marks for a microbrewery. (What’s smaller than a microbrewery? A mini microbrewery?  Anyway, this place is pretty small, in a pleasant residential section of LIttle Rock.

Some friends wanted to meet there, so meet we did. They all ordered beers. I had a diet cola. I always have a diet cola. Or bottle watered. Do I have a drinking problem and purposely stay away?  Nope, never did.  But after I passed into adulthood, paying to consume something that was either going to make me sick or lose a day – seemed silly.  Still does.

Four persons.  Two ordered food.  One ordered the black bean burger, one a catfish strip basket with cole slaw and fries.  Bean burger came with spinach, onions, hummus, and mushrooms with a maple cayenne mustard on a vegan bun.

The joint wasn’t crowded and we were the only ones who ordered food.

Ten minutes. Twenty. Thirty.  I inquire of the (only) waitress.  “What, well I put that order in, let me check.”

She passed by the table a few minutes later with the news “He was just plating it, it will be out in a minute.”

Result?  It wasn’t.  “He” started on the order when she went back.  So at the 45 minute interval, out cames the food, prettily plated (well, in baskets), bean burger first bite – satisfactory.  Catfish first bite. “Does this look raw to you?”

It was.

Good lord, people own up to your mistakes.

And millenials? Speak up when you aren’t happy with goods or service. Expect better.

It was resolved by taking it off the bill.  Really?  That’s it?

Maybe the beer is good.

 

 

Stone's Throw Brewing Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock AR

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock AR

Milwaukee Burger Company Review – Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee Burger Company ReviewI don’t read reviews before I go to a restaurant. I know, that’s odd for someone who regularly writes them, but I want my experience to be my own, not influenced by someone else’s observations.

And so many are bogus, anyway, aren’t they? I wonder what kind of person it takes to completely trash a restaurant based on some (usually imagined) slight, like “My water had ice cubes in it?” “We were VERY nice to the waitress but it didn’t help.” “I didn’t want onions on it, even tho the menu said that, and I didn’t tell you otherwise.”

I can imagine these people as children: “Wah, you didn’t cut the crusts of my sammich!” “What do you mean you washed my favorite shirt?” Whatever.

None of them have the slightest clue about how difficult it is to start and run an independent restaurant, and then add 4-5 more of the same concept over a few years. Somebody’s blood, sweat, tears, money, debt, and 100 hour weeks. Nor do the whiners have any concept of what it’s like to be a server, one of the least appreciated jobs around, where no matter how big of a jerk your customer is, you’re expected to be ultra sweet and polite to every one. I couldn’t do it. Either. For sure.

So as for me, I look for the redeeming things in every restaurant experience, because I take into account the points I listed above. I have ‘elastic boundaries.’ And I like to be surprised to the point where the reality of a meal experience far exceeds my expectations.

And after that long line of B.S. above, we come to the heart of the matter, my experience at Milwaukee Burger Company (MBC), at their Kenosha location.

This indy has five locations in SE Wisconsin. And during my visit, they exceeded every one of my expectations.

MBC has taken local ingredients to create American cuisine that just rocks. While there are some creative takes on the menu, the chef didn’t feel the urge to go crazy by reinventing American classics.

This is a burger shop. And craft beer. And they excel at both.

So here’s the deal: server – John. Knowledgeable. Friendly. Interested in our experience. Conscientious checking back.

Hamburger. I had the Cheese Curd cheeseburger, which had two giant curds atop the patty (see pic below). If you’re not from or been thru Wisconsin, cheese curds are a pretty standard offering but most of them are pretty awful, reminiscent of those fried cheese sticks in bars.

Curds are not supposed to be like that, and these certainly aren’t. MBC starts with a sizable cube of (choice of) fresh cheese, and douses it with their own unique breading formula before frying it just to the point of the breading being crisp and the cheese starting to melt. Perfect. These should be the standard by which all other curds are judged. I’m not joking, pal.

Onion rings for an appetizer. I’ve had the pleasure (privilege?) of dining in 65 countries, and o-rings are one of my go-to foods to try every where. Spoiler alert? Without a doubt, no questions asked, no contest, MBC makes the best rings I have had anywhere on the planet.

They start with large slices of sweet onion, again into their special batter which somehow ends up being crispy and fluffy at the same time without being overbearing. I like a lighter breading on my rings, not those kind that are more like a string of onion inside a donut. Two of us couldn’t finish an order. A very generous serving, and a good value.

Finally, the burger. I dissemble them, that’s my thing. I want to see how I like each part of a burger before seeing how I like the entire experience. And of course, the beef patty has to be the star of the show, and at MBC it surely it. Great beef flavor, a light seasoning, nice texture. A very pleasurable experience.

The menu offers a variety of ‘pre-designed’ choices for burgers, or the build your own option, with lots of choices for cheese, toppings, and condiments.

The burger comes nestled on a bakery soft, brushed with butter bun, which is sturdy enough to hold whatever you choose to top your burger with. And as I am sure you are aware, flimsy buns can be a problem at many places.

I upgraded my side to get the poutine, which, if you’re not familiar, is the national snack dish of Canada, available everywhere you go up North. It’s fries (here, superb fresh cut), brown gravy, and cheese curds (not fried), and MBC’s “interpretation” is great. Too many chefs today think this is one of those things they can ‘gussy up’ with weird ingredients.  Loved this one.

All in all? I’m enthused enough that I will drive the hour that it takes me to get to one of their locations to try many more things on the menu. To me, it is that good. Congrats, people!!!  Oh, and I’m not a craft beer drinker, but if you are, you’ll be more than happy with the selections available.

Was there anything I didn’t like? Sure, but that’s just me. Most people will find the wall to wall TV’s with sports enjoyable. Whenever I’m in a joint like that, I always wish they could have one TV on

CNN or something. But you (I) don’t have to watch, either.

Milwaukee Burger Company Review

Fantastic Onion Rings

 

Milwaukee Burger Company Review

Cheese curd burger and poutine

Milwaukee Burger Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Milwaukee Burger Company Review