(Her) If you are looking for a really nice article on the genesis of Parker John’s and it’s owners other ventures, you can read one from Sheboygan Press. If you are looking for a chubby girl’s honest opinion with a little less hyperbole and a whole lot of sarcasm….you came to the right place! Continue reading
(Him) Tripping around the Missisipi River and gallivanting around Southwest WI we happened across The Bagley Hotel in downtown Bagely. Mind you Bagely has a population of 364 living souls so the need for a hotel seems minimal. I imagine back in the day when this place was built, the Railroad and River Trade was hopping and Bagely was a mini mecca. It is no more, but as soon as I saw this place I knew I had to stop there.
The place is old, like built in the early 1900’s old. There is a bar ,kitchen and dining area on the first floor. The Hotel office has made way for more tables. It’s wicked cool and a good reminder of days gone by. Jean a retired School teacher took over the place not so long ago and makes sure you get a good meal. She even allowed me to go upstairs and check out some of the 7 rooms they have for rent. Simple clean rooms with no fanciness. Good for you in 1901 and just as good for you in 2015.
OK NOW THE FOOD…..THE CHEESECURDS…Huge portion and hand battered. By far the highlight of the meal. Golly Jeepers these things were the best. I’ve had very few better fried curds in my life than in downtown Bagely WI. I also had a turkey club of some sort with fries. That was fine enough but THE CURDS ……. THE CURDS …….THE CURDS……
It’s a scenic drive….It’s near Wyalusing State Park…Take a drive….stop for Curds and good company. Also for you Morel Mushroom hunters you can stay here why looking for your favorite fungi which is plentiful down here.
Rating Curds 10 out of 9 , Ambiance A Jean 6 out of 6.27
(Her) I can’t really say that I shared my hubby’s “we gotta stop here” delight when I first saw the Bagley Hotel. I must admit that we passed it and then came back around. It turned out that may be quite literally the only place in town to eat. One thing we had learned about the area along the Mississippi River was that it was full of small towns just like this one with food offerings being few and far between.
That being said, I was happy once we walked in. Most of the original architecture and character are still there and it isn’t hard to imagine what this hotel was like in it’s hey day. First of all, you just know this place is haunted and has “seen some shit” and secondly, it sort of reminded me of a smaller version of the Union Hotel in De Pere. Jean, the new owner was very welcoming and didn’t get annoyed at all by our many questions. The cheese curds we started with were amazing. They were exactly how fried curds in Wisconsin should be: hand breaded curds from a local dairy in the best place to get them. This is a beautiful dairy rich portion of the state where cheese mongers take pride in their cheeses and do goofy things like build caves for them and have dinners right in their barns with their cows.
I ordered a fish sandwich which was almost overshadowed by it’s yummy bun (probably locally made at least it seemed so) and choose salsa and chips both of which were homemade. I absolutely loved the option of having my own salsa and chips instead of fries because I really wanted salsa and the hubby didn’t. (because onions) After our meal, we were treated with a piece of homemade cake that apparently was included in the meal. We were too full for cake, but I brought it back to the campground with us and it was delish.
Jean told us that the hotel has a slow time during the winter months but gets booked regularly by the Morel hunters so that’s as much of an insider tip as you’ll get from us. Somewhere in the driftless region there are Morels people!!
Anyway, I loved the quaintness of the place and it definitely felt like we had stumbled upon a hidden gem. Everyone we talked to in this area seemed to know Jean and spoke fondly of her, and if you need a place to bone up on your French and Latin she taught both for many years. I’m definitely rooting for Jean to make this work and if you are anywhere near this place for the love of corn, go try the curds!!!
Ambiance: 9 Food: 7.32 (curds were a 10) I should have just ordered my own curds and stopped right there a happy woman. Service: 9.43
(Him) Let’s talk about the good stuff first, and that is pizza sauce even though we didn’t indulge on pizza for this visit. I will say this was the saving grace of our recent visit, and its use this time was as a condiment for greasy cheese curds. Whatever they do to the sauce to make it so thick and delicious and flavorful, they need to keep doing it. This sauce is probably the best I’ve tasted in the valley. We arrived thrust into the tradition of the Friday night fish fry and it appeared that there was only one waitress working about 35 tables so needless to say that the service was painfully slow. We ordered curds as an appetizer and even though I said they were greasy they were a tasty treat. These curds were a nice departure from the standard frozen off-the-Sysco-truck fare that most places serve. I ordered a turkey bacon club sandwich that bordered on inedible. The “toast” was as crunchy as a crouton on the top and as soggy and wet like a pancake on the bottom. It’s hard to eat such a bipolar sandwich. The cheese on the sandwich was so thin that you could actually see through it. Even if the sandwich was tasty, I would have felt the lack of ingredients was not reflected in the price. On a side note, the crowd enjoyed the Brewers game and made it fun to watch so I would suggest this place if you want to watch a sporting event and eat greasy curds. I’ve eaten here two times and the standard seems to be good apps, bad entrees.
Sauce…..10 out of 9 Television per human ratio………pretty darn good returnability…….4.75
(Her) The 5th quarter is close to our home and I was so sick of our “where do you wanna go? I don’t know where do you wanna go?” argument that I chose it out of exasperation. I was sort of hoping to get pizza here since my darling hubby gave up pizza for lent and I subsequently have not had it either. It’s funny how someone can rave about pizza sauce and then order a turkey club and be disappointed. I immediately helped myself to some popcorn from the Valley Popcorn machine so I wasn’t all that worried about how slow the service was because I f@#$ing LOVE Valley Popcorn. I wasn’t too fond of the limp and greasy cheese curds and actually thought that for a moment they had brought clam strips out. They do come on a bed of fries to help soak up the grease though so you feel like you are getting a good deal on those curds. I ordered a perch sandwich and a cup of clam chowder. The perch was great, I had the option to have it breaded or beer battered. I should have skipped the sandwich and the clam chowder was unique and more of a rich bisque therefore, some of the best I’ve had in the valley. I liked the fact that there were multiple side options including veggies and dip. I wish more places did this. I did feel bad for the poor waitress who was trying to keep up and even though the service was slow, she did manage to bring us plenty of drink refills. What restaurant doesn’t know that they should have extra help on a Friday night? I will say that watching the Brewer game here was fun. The crowd was a bit older and really intensely focused on this game and it reminded me of what sports was like before my husband killed that too. Alas, I will probably never be back to taste their pizza and watch their many televisions. Perhaps I will have to take a friend.
Value….6.99 for a perch sandwich with two butterflies of perch and that included a cup of soup. I’d say that’s pretty darn good on a Friday night. Service….Understandably slow, but you could tell the poor girl was trying. Popcorn…..TEN
That’s right folks, we are finally back. Seems like the common thread these days is that when we do want to go out to eat it’s usually for Mexican food, and it seems to be a trend that isn’t going away. Ultimately, I don’t like to pay for food that I could cook at home, but Mexican food remains a mystery to me. Even if I could figure it out, most of the recipes have been in the family forever, they are complex and require many simmering hours on the stove. Who has time like that for the off chance that it might taste somewhat similar to what you had? We thought we should share our opinions with you even if you didn’t ask. You know, before there was a food duo I don’t think the hubby ever even had Mexican food. He claims he didn’t even like Taco Bell. Anyway, here’s our list of tops and flops–our entire relationship using Mexican food as the context.
Taco Burrito Mexico: Green Bay, Wisconsin
(Her) My first foray into authentic Mexican food that wasn’t a chain restaurant. Just a little shack making the biggest burritos ever and all made to order. The entire menu was a la cart and the fact that I’d bring some back with me to the UW for later eating probably contributed to my freshman 15.
(Him) Perfectly fine Mexican joint as long as you go to the one on Webster Avenue. Everything else gets a solid “meh”. I wouldn’t complain if I had to go here again. If this restaurant were a Monopoly property it would be St. James place and the West location would be Vermont Avenue because they charged us for chips and salsa.
El Patron: Downtown Appleton, Wisconsin
(Her) A greek place that couldn’t make it trying to be a greek/Mexican place and not doing either of the traditions well. Just give up already.
(Him) So they are on the Ave…I’m sure the rent is high however so should expectations on the quality of food. A miserable fail, I can’t help but be harsh as in my years of eating I’ve noticed that Mexican food is hard to screw up. If it’s average then make it fast. This spacious eatery offered neither deliciousness or speedy service on a mundane afternoon. The prices were way too high for what you got. No reason to drop two twenties on a lunch in Appleton unless you are getting a 4 course or something.
Some random food truck : Denver, Colorado.
If you stumble off your plane, through your hotel, and into a waiting limo and then find yourself in the hub of Denver’s mall and think “sure I’ll have the tamale from this food truck and yes, I’ll have the green sauce” DONT. Even though we think of Coloradons as a bunch of beer drinking hippies, they are truly southwestern and their green sauce is not the mild tomatillo sauce I know and love. It is a green chili sauce with a pension for heat and no amount of sour cream can save you.
Mr. Taco: Downtown Appleton, Wisconsin
(Her) This was reminiscent of my beloved Taco Burrito Mexico, but without the quality or seasoning.
(Him) A 9 PM visit on a Saturday night and we were the only ones there. It was a little place with counter seating and a very limited menu. The owner was friendly enough, but all the meats had onions so the menu was further constricted. I had about the worst quesadilla I’ve ever done had. The bean dip was blah. I do not recommend.
Antojitos Mexicanos: Downtown Appleton
(Her) The current winner of my affection. You’ll find flavors here that you won’t find at any other restaurant. Antojitos serves authentic street food as well as recognizable fare but with multiple sauces and salsas to choose from and all are done well. Seems to be that many parts of Mexico are represented here. This is one of the few places around town authentic enough to serve Barbacoa and lengua tacos, gorditas (that don’t look anything like they are from Taco Bell), and Tortas. The pickled vegetables with cactus in them are amazing. They will make amazing guacamole at your table if that kind of thing impresses you. If so, you should get out more or cook more. The restaurant is cozy and small and with it’s location off of College Avenue, I’m still confused as to why it’s not always packed. Definitely a hidden gem.
(Him) Small cozy joint that we almost overlooked. A pork and pineapple quesadilla doesn’t sound all that exciting, but their spin on it takes it to a whole new level of culinary masterpiece. High praise, high praise indeed. I’m at a loss for words because of its greatness.
(Him) Our friends the Hs love this place…I’m not sure why. This is a super fast place I’ll give it that. They have good Iced Tea. so they have that going for them. The food is just so-so. Refills come slowly. Good luck getting seconds on chips and salsa even with a big group. They are conveniently located next to the movie theatre so if you are date nighting it up, you could do worse. No reason to go unless you are in a hurry to eat subpar food.
Taco Loco #2:Beloit
(Her) see previous blog. Still a contender with high ranks.
(Her) see previous blog dedicated to this place. This is still one of my favorite due to the authenticity of the surroundings.
(Him) I was impressed with this Mexican supermart and taqueria upon entry. The produce section was bar none and had so many items you can’t find around here. The meat section has meats sliced so thin you can read your comic books through it. How can you not like a place that has all the tripe your heart desires? The taqueria is the old school equivalent to an old Kmart eatery from the 70s. The servers speak very limited English, and trying to engage her in a conversation about onions was futile. I pointed to the flautas on the menu and she brought me Fajitas, but to her credit there were no onions. It was ok.
(Her) We only went here because the hubby had won a gift certificate. I really wished the food would have matched the upscale atmosphere, but in retrospect I should have ordered something different than tacos. We ordered three different desserts, and the crepes with goat’s milk caramel and pecans was orgasmic. We ended up dipping everything in the amazing chocolate sauce from the churros. The tweens we brought along were a little overwhelmed by the fancy atmosphere, but we didn’t feel uncomfortable having them there. They really liked the fancy bathroom with an infinity sink, and thought it was funny when the servers would rush and pick up their napkins when they left the table. I guess we are all just a bunch of Wisconsin hicks! They perked up during the dessert course.
(Him) Good time, free food is always great. I had some amazing slow roasted pork shoulder in banana leaf served in all its glory; without all the garnishes and what not. Could not have been happier, feeling like a high falootin’ Minneapolite. My drink of blood orange juice was so good I ordered two. So glad they accommodated us since we didn’t have reservations. Definitely the Park Place of Mexican joints. Perhaps Pennsylvania Avenue if I hadn’t been drinking.
The list definitely goes on with Mexican places that we have eaten at and then never returned for one reason or another. (Mostly onions) But honestly if these places would have been good, I would have pushed to go back. like Chinese food, I often get the impression that Mexican food has been dumbed down for our American tastes. I sometimes feel that other ethnicities are laughing at us going ape shit over fresh and local trends since it is what they have always done. The places we seem to enjoy are the ones who give the finger to the Americans and serve what they want to eat. We felt that Masa deserves a review all it’s own (especially since the hubby has such a good draft of one waiting in the wings) so we’ll post that separately.
**Meats and cheeses update: opened the beef sticks in the car and they were really kinda juicy which I do not prefer at all….put them on a drying rack at home for about 6 hours and they were just perfect.
I cut up some meats and cheeses while the dog was upstairs asleep and she did not come running until I opened the St. Jeanne cheese. It was fun to watch her try to figure out where that funky aroma was coming from and it was so strong that I immediately cut off the rind and gave her some and threw out the rest of the rind. I think she really wanted to roll in it. I’m sure I broke some sort of cutting the cheese etiquette, but I have to say, this cheese is pretty funky and I don’t think I would seek it out again.
I enjoyed the goats milk cheddar and ate it plain and melted over the top of my Mexican lasagna…..I think I actually enjoyed it better with food than on it’s own.
The highlight of the meats was the Bolzano salami. The hubby wasn’t fond of anything I got from Butcher Block but he did say that the salami was the best he’s ever had “in his life”. High praise from such a picky eater.
If you like bologna you’ll most likely love Mortadella. It’s not really a snack meat so much as it would be better on a sandwich served on focaccia the way I’ve seen it suggested. With it’s big chunks of fat, it’s got a weird melt-in-you-mouth texture that may creep some people out.
Finally, the hot Coppa was ok. I have to admit that I’ve been addicted to Capicola ham that I’ve been buying at Festival foods that is in no way authentic, but I actually prefer it over the real stuff. I would have preferred Butcher Block’s even hotter. Textures don’t usually freak me out, but I prefer the ham like texture on the fake stuff to the stringy neck meat chunks of the authentic stuff. I eat the fake stuff on crackers with cheese, and again I think I’d prefer the authentic stuff on a sandwich where it’s texture can be better masked (er, complimented)….I’m also thinking it may be more awesome heated up and crispy topped with cheese, olive oil and basil.
(Her) I ventured out on a solo trip and decided to check out what is considered one of the best Mexican restaurants in Milwaukee. It just happens to be a taqueria called Taco Loco located inside Super Mercado El Rey. I am specifically mentioning this because this wasn’t immediately obvious to me or my GPS. Anyway, to those of you who read our blogs, I may have solved the mystery as to why the Taco Loco we love to visit in Beloit, Wi is actually called “Taco Loco #2.” Continue reading
(Her) Just walked in the door with my bag of cheese and charcuterie after finally stopping at Butcher Block Meats & Cheese in Oshkosh and was more than happily greeted by the dog who must have thought she hit the jackpot. As I munched on a beef stick on the way home, I decided I’d help a brother out and blog about the experience. Continue reading