An appetite for Appleton

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ScreamingChicken
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2014/01/31 10:27:37 (permalink)

An appetite for Appleton

Last weekend I was in Appleton on important business so I had a chance to check out some places I'd found on line.
 
On Friday afternoon my first stop was Wendt's on the Lake, located north of Fond du Lac on US-45 and the western shore of Lake Winnebago.  Like many establishments of its type it started as a bar and eventually grew into a small restaurant with about 15 or so tables by my count.  Our sales assistant here at work is from Fondy and has good memories of Wendt's. 

 

 
Somewhere the road ends and Lake Winnebago begins, and the scenery is markedly different than what it'll be 4 months from now!  While I was there a few fishermen came in off the ice and they looked quite frozen.

 
I arrived at the end of the lunch hour and had the dining area pretty much to myself.

 

 
Wendt's is known for lake perch so as far as I was concerned there were no other options.

 
I ordered the 5 oz. plate and the fish was hot, moist, and flaky.  Whether it arrives fresh or frozen, it was well-prepared and not at all fishy - Wendt's reputation is deserved.

 
The choice of the smallest plate was deliberate, as I wanted to save room for dessert.  And what's great for dessert?

 
Fried chicken, of course!  My waitress was nice enough for offer me a 2-piece ala carte option in place of a full meal so I chose a drumstick and thigh, and they were both very good.  The crust was exceptionally crisp and crunchy and the meat was nicely seasoned.

 
This afternoon the bar area seemed to contain mostly locals but I'll bet in the summer it's packed with a mix of vacationers as well.  Wendt's is a prime example of a Wisconsin lakeshore gathering place that's moved up from being just a bar to a local dining destination.
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    Pancho
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/01/31 10:35:15 (permalink)
    Looks great! I have a friend that has recommended Wendt's but have never made it. Here's another idea for you in the same general neighborhood. I had the broasted chicken special here one late Sunday morning. Fantastic! They also have a great fish fry.
    http://www.yelp.com/biz/p.nells-place-oshkosh?nb=1
    While I'm at it, here's another similar place. I had the fried lobster basket one Monday night and it was unbelievable. Wanted more. Right on the lake.... very quiet and private feeling.
    http://www.normshideawaywi.com/
    post edited by Pancho - 2014/01/31 10:38:11
    #2
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/01/31 10:44:29 (permalink)
    After Wendt's I worked my way north on US-45 and 41 until I arrived in Appleton and The Cozzy Corner, located downtown off of (but not at the corner of) Memorial Drive and College Avenue.

     
    The menu does have some variety, with daily specials.

     
    The interior is very musically oriented, and while I was there the sound system was playing mostly Motown.

     
    That Friday's special was spicy chicken and ribs and I picked mac & cheese and red beans & rice as my sides, with a locally bottled (New London) Flavor 8 orange soda to wash things down.

     

     

     
    The chicken appeared to be fried chicken with a coating of house "hell sauce", which added some nice heat and flavor even though I think the chicken would've been just fine without it.  And even though the ribs didn't have a smoke ring they still had a light smoky flavor and excellent texture, and the regular house sauce went well with them.  I also liked the mac & cheese and the beans were very good, with nice pieces of moderately spicy sausage and a nice broth/gravy.  The Cozzy Corner is definitely on my list for my next visit, as I'd like to try some of the other menu items.
     
    At this point my original plans called for a stop at Cinder's Charcoal Grill for a locally produced Haen's bratwurst, but I was pushing my limit and with a long weekend ahead I felt it best to save it for another time.
    #3
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/01/31 10:50:31 (permalink)
    Pancho

    While I'm at it, here's another similar place. I had the fried lobster basket one Monday night and it was unbelievable. Wanted more. Right on the lake.... very quiet and private feeling.
    http://www.normshideawaywi.com/
    Norm's has been on my radar and isn't too far from my house, but awhile back I sent an email asking about fried chicken and never received a response.  Therefore, Norm's will have to wait until a summer weekend when I can afford the time to check it out regardless of the chicken situation.
    #4
    lleechef
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/01/31 10:53:33 (permalink)
    That perch looks wonderful!  In the summer we head up to Port Clinton for walleye and perch.
    http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Overview/8089/jolly-roger-seafood-house
    I would've ordered the fried chicken for dessert too!! 
    #5
    Wintahaba
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/01/31 10:55:20 (permalink)
    Brad, Great report....we will have to get together on one of your trips in the future. Glad you enjoyed Cozzy Corners.
    #6
    ChrisOC
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/01/31 11:02:07 (permalink)
    I like the orange soda with sugar, not HFCS.
    #7
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/01/31 13:09:57 (permalink)
    It was pretty good too, but the red tabletop made a lousy backdrop!
     
    Wintahaba, I'm always good for the last weekend in January (this is my 28th straight year) but occasionally I do get up that way during the warmer months when I feel like taking a drive.  And there's probably a good chance I'll be up there this summer for a visit to Cinder's.
     
    Speaking of Cinder's, I did get a chance to stop at Haen Meats on my way out of town Monday morning.  I picked up some bratwurst, brat patties, andouille, and a couple of ribeyes; the sausages went in the freezer when I got home and we had the steaks for dinner a couple of nights ago.

     

     
     

    post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2014/01/31 13:19:02
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/01/31 13:33:31 (permalink)
    Ooh.. Wendt's... Remember that well... in the '80's we would drive up to Oshkosh on the weekend, pick up Grandma and Gramps and drive them to Wendt's on the Lake for Perch.  They absolutely loved that and were too old at that time (according to them) to drive almost ALL THE WAY to Fond du Lac from Oshkosh.  (Wisconsinites will appreciate the humor in this)...my grandparents were afraid to drive on the "super highway" (41).... Wendt's was the most wonderful place and it holds alot of memories.  Now my husband goes there every few years and drives out on the ice to fish with pals...
    #9
    ann peeples
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/01/31 16:58:47 (permalink)
    Love Wendts! The perch is( was when I was there) excellent. Next time I will try the chicken, as well.....
    #10
    agnesrob
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/01/31 18:23:40 (permalink)
    Delicious report Brad!
    #11
    lleechef
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/01/31 18:42:34 (permalink)
    Those rib eyes look absolutely perfect! 
    #12
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/02/01 15:22:28 (permalink)
    Lunch with God
     
    After my Haen's stop I continued toward home with a slight detour into Fond du Lac to check out Trinity Lutheran Church.

     

     
    Except that it's no longer a church...it's a restaurant!  I'd heard varying reports about the food but its uniqueness convinced me to stop.  I'd checked out the menu and knew that I wanted to start with a cup of beer cheese soup.

    It was cold day and this soup was a great way to start lunch.  Neither excessively cheesy nor beery, it had a nice hint of Worcestershire sauce that brought out the flavor and had nice pieces of vegetables as well, which some people don't expect to find in a cheese soup as they expect it to be akin to nacho cheese sauce.  My first thought was that it needed salt but after a couple of spoonfuls I changed my mind and wasted no time in finishing off the cup.
     
    I had originally planned on a wood-fired pizza but because of the cold temperatures the oven was shut down.  According to the owner, when the mercury drops below zero the chimney gets so cold that the smoke cools too much and loses velocity, and can actually exhaust back through the oven.  Not good!
     
    So I had to come up with an alternative and I decided on the Jucy Lucy, made with house blend beef and American cheese on a toasted ciabatta bun.  It usually comes with lettuce, tomato, and onion but I don't like them on a burger so mine was a bit naked.

    It was a solid burger but nothing truly special, but then again because I love my burgers as rare as I can get them I'm probably not the best person to judge a Jucy Lucy.
     
    The fresh-cut fries, however, were excellent.  Thin, hot, and ever so slightly oily like I think a good fry should be.

     
    After I'd finished the server brought out the dessert tray.  I felt bad about telling her that I'm not a dessert eater in the traditional sense...

     
    ...so I ordered a cup of spicy gumbo instead.

    It had a rich, earthy flavor and plenty of chile heat that wouldn't be for everyone, but was right up my alley.
     
    Probably because it was a very cold Monday there was only 1 other occupied table in Trinity when I arrived, and when it cleared halfway through my lunch I pretty much had the place to myself.  This was a great opportunity to check out a lot of the restaurant, so here's a short tour:
     
    Looking down the bar from my table.

     
    From the other end of the bar; my table is at the back right-center.

     
    Immediately to my left as I entered the main dining area, which was originally the congregation floor.  I don't know what this alcove originally was but it's been turned into a nice semi-private room.

     
    Another shot from my table.  The choir loft at the upper rear is also used for seating.

     
    A better view of the loft and the stained glass windows over the entrance.

     
    This room is on the other side of the wall from my table and is the remainder of the floor plus the altar tableau (I'm not sure if that's the proper word but it sounds cool).  The lower section is used for overflow when the main room gets full, and by itself the entire room becomes a banquet space.

     
    Looking right and up from my position in the previous photo I spotted the "box seats", which I assume were where the wealthy patrons of the church originally sat.  That, or being Lutherans it's where they banished those who smelled of lutefisk.  The space is used as 1 larger or 2 smaller banquet rooms as well as individual seating and there are heavy curtains that can be lowered to block them from the room below.

     
    Hands down this is one of the neatest restaurants I've ever been in, and if I didn't live 90 minutes away I'd definitely make more visits to explore the menu further.  Trinity has been open for about a year and a half and I hope it prospers, and any quality issues get ironed out because whether it's fair or not, a venue like this is going to have customers expecting a lot from the food.
     
    After that it was back to the highway and eventually I made it home, with trivia contest XLIX safely in the books.  Hey, we're a year older than the Super Bowl!
    post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2014/02/01 15:32:49
    #13
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/02/01 17:01:49 (permalink)
    What a great looking restaurant.
    #14
    leethebard
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/02/01 17:09:44 (permalink)
    Now that's one great place to eat...don't forget Grace before meals!
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    Pancho
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/02/01 18:05:41 (permalink)
    Great looking place! I love the cozy feel to it. You ever go to Oscar's in Fondy?
    #16
    Wintahaba
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/02/01 18:14:01 (permalink)
    Great photos of the Trinity Brad....I love the feel of the place,  the thing I most enjoyed was the pizza, that unfortunately you could not try. I do hope they survive, although the parking is tricky downtown.
    #17
    agnesrob
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/02/02 08:42:00 (permalink)
    Thanks for sharing this Brad!
    #18
    love2bake
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/02/02 09:18:58 (permalink)
    leethebard

    Now that's one great place to eat...don't forget Grace before meals!


     
    What a fun and unique place!  I expect it was challenging to design, too.
    #19
    joerogo
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/02/02 09:40:32 (permalink)
    Seeking out great food is never a "trivial pursuit"!
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    Sundancer7
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/02/02 10:46:24 (permalink)
    Reminds me of "The Abbey" which is now closed in Atlanta.  I believe it closed around 2005.  I only ate there once around 1980.  It was huge.
     
    Paul E. Smith
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    Ram4
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/02/03 16:36:06 (permalink)
    Frank's Pizza Palace is a great pizza joint in Appleton.  It's been around since 1955 and is the classic Chicago/Wisconsin tavern style cut in squares thin pizza.
     
    Frank's Pizza Palace
    815 W College Ave
    Appleton WI
    (920) 734-9131
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/02/04 10:26:43 (permalink)
    Pancho

    Great looking place! I love the cozy feel to it. You ever go to Oscar's in Fondy?
    Nope, never been there.  I see it's on the corner of Western and Division, though, so I drove right past it on my way home. 
    Ram4

    Frank's Pizza Palace is a great pizza joint in Appleton.  It's been around since 1955 and is the classic Chicago/Wisconsin tavern style cut in squares thin pizza.

    Frank's Pizza Palace
    815 W College Ave
    Appleton WI
    (920) 734-9131
    I do want to get to Frank's someday and I've already been to Cranky Pat's (the Neenah location).  The trivia team's pizza of choice is Stuc's and it's pretty good, with both thin and deep versions available.
    #23
    Pancho
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/02/04 10:58:53 (permalink)
    ScreamingChicken

    Pancho

    Great looking place! I love the cozy feel to it. You ever go to Oscar's in Fondy?
    Nope, never been there.  I see it's on the corner of Western and Division, though, so I drove right past it on my way home. 
    Ram4

    Frank's Pizza Palace is a great pizza joint in Appleton.  It's been around since 1955 and is the classic Chicago/Wisconsin tavern style cut in squares thin pizza.

    Frank's Pizza Palace
    815 W College Ave
    Appleton WI
    (920) 734-9131
    I do want to get to Frank's someday and I've already been to Cranky Pat's (the Neenah location).  The trivia team's pizza of choice is Stuc's and it's pretty good, with both thin and deep versions available.
    A friend in the area suggests Parnell's (near Oshkosh) for their broasted chicken. I have been there one time and it was fantastic. Besides Wendt's he also recommends Blanck's (on the lake) and Jim & Linda's. I'm looking forward to trying Wendt's my next trip over that way. How was Cranky Pat's? I think Wedl's opens in mid-March or do you know differently?

    #24
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/02/04 12:46:48 (permalink)
    I drove past Parnell's Place on my way into Oshkosh since it's right on 45, and for awhile it was even on my short list of possible visits but lost out since it fell right between Wendt's and Cozzy Corner.  Ardy & Ed's is just up from there, too.
     
    Unfortunately for me Blanck's doesn't open 'til 4:30, which ruled it out.
     
    My Cranky Pat's visit was a few years ago but it was a good thin crust pizza; IIRC Frank and Pat brought their recipes from Chicago in the mid 1950s and started out together before going their separate ways.  The nice thing at the Neenah Pat's (the original, I think) is that there's counter seating where the pizza-making process can be observed.
     
    Sorry, no idea on Wedl's but that sounds like a reasonable timeframe.  There'll probably be an announcement on their FB page a week or 2 in advance.
    #25
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    Re:An appetite for Appleton 2014/02/04 13:28:25 (permalink)
    Ardy & Ed's...that place is awesome.  My mom was a carhop there in the early '60's during high school. I remember going there as a kid and just loving the root beer and the whole nostalgic thing.  Awesome burgers.  They had little tiny ones for kids if I recall.  That place is a must-see!!!
    #26
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