(Her) The hubby and I ventured down to the In-Laws this weekend and met his dad and gal pal at Baumgartner’s in Monroe. Being situated in the heart of Cheeseland, USA in a city that not only hosts the Cheese Days Festival every other year but also is the only city left in America to continue to make Limburger cheese sets the bar kinda high. While Baumgartner’s can claim to be the oldest cheese store in Wisconsin, they really shouldn’t brag about their selection. I’ve seen better selections at Woodman’s grocery store. In fact, the hubby and I found a much better selection up the road at the Alp and Dell cheese store.
With that being said, my first impression was that Baumgartner’s is a really small tavern with really limited seating and possibly the worlds tiniest cheese store. However, what Baumgartner’s lacks in space, they make up for in ambience. In keeping with the area’s rich Swiss culture, the bar has huge Swiss murals painted above it, there are dollar bills tacked to the ceiling, the menu is just a list on the wall, and they may be the only place in existence that sells a Limburger sandwich. Baumgartner’s is definitely “no frills”. They don’t have much of a kitchen so they mostly served soups and sandwiches. I ordered a bowl of chili and a Braunschweiger sandwich and the no frills thing became pretty apparent when my sandwich arrived on a piece of butcher paper. The chili was made in a traditional Wisconsin style (celery, green peppers, chunks of beef, kidney beans, soupy not stewish) which is not how I prefer my chili and was good, but not great. For me, eating Braunschweiger means white toast, yellow mustard and slices of meat. I think this is because it is the only way I remember my grandpa eating it and one of the only things I remember him ever making for me. At Baumgartner’s I got four slices on good dark bread with requested onions and several accompanying mustards to choose from. Those of you who haven’t grown up in areas rich in German heritage and the German love of charcuterie will have to look it up, but be warned– the description for Braunschweiger will probably scare you off as fast as the smell of Limburger will.
Speaking of fast, we left rather quickly, as there was a huge group coming in to the bar and lingering in your seat is frowned upon, but I did buy some cheese and meat to take with me. Then I went up the street and bought some more meat and cheese. There is no better souvenir than food. My final comment: Baumgartner’s is truly a lot of Wisconsin all rolled up into one small package, and it is definitely worth the trip for that alone. As long as you’re in Monroe, you should also check out Minhas brewery and distillery, New Glarus brewery, the Swiss Colony of cataloged ham fame, buy some fresh potato chips straight from the factory in Freeport at Mrs. Mike’s, and sample all the other cheesy goodness the area has to offer.
Ambience…..9.321 Service…..7.899 Value….6.454
(Him) editors note: The husband had written something that our computer deleted. I assure you, it was quality writing and mostly reiterated what I have already said. He had been hearing about Baumgartner’s for years from his parents and had always wondered why they’d drive an hour to get to the place. He’s glad he went, he recommends you going. If he weren’t so pissy about his blog being lost he’d tell you himself. His rating was 6.985 overall.