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 Roadfood near a tourist trap?

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JRPfeff

  • Total Posts: 2375
  • Joined: 12/1/2006
  • Location: Pewaukee, WI & Fuquay-Varina, NC
Roadfood near a tourist trap? Mon, 08/24/09 9:59 PM (permalink)

First a sad admission.  I am just a bad Roadfooder.  Invariably, as soon as I sit down in a restaurant I say "Oh (insert bad word here), I forgot my camera."

So there will be no photographic trip report this time.  But I did find excellent honest-to-goodness Roadfood at the Midwest's tourist trap mecca - the Wisconsin Dells.  

 
Last week my family had a travel club condo for the week and on Sunday we took my daughter up for 4 days with her friends. When we checked-in to the unit we mentioned that we were taking four starving girls out for dinner after a day at the water park and were planning to go to an Italian place* on Broadway - the Dells' main tourist strip. Our local host suggested we go to an "Italian Place" in the country, Cimaroli's, instead.

 
His instructions said it all. 
Drive to the nearest stop light (7 miles from the condo), then keep going until you get to the drive-in theater.  At the drive-in, turn left and then drive 8 miles - can't miss it. 
His directions were dead-on correct, but after passing nothing but corn fields and a hog farm we would have given up without GPS.   We kept going and the can't miss it was right.  It was a beautiful new building sitting alone in a country setting. 
 
Once we got inside I knew we made the right choice.  I told the hostess that we had six in the party and she asked if they were all here yet, she was ready to seat me, Bobbi and the famished girls immediately. 
 
We ordered some appetizers with our beverages and they came out immediately after the drinks.  A big pile of battered onion rings ($3.95) and some corn fritter-like things with honey butter ($4.95).  Both were devoured by the group.

I must point out the Cimaroli's is a supper club, although they offer some Italian items. The restaurant was a very good choice, besides tasty food and speedy service, the entrees were dirt cheap - $7.95 for pasta with chicken, $8.95 for broiled walleye, and $10.95 for a 10 ounce flatiron steak.  The meals came out on cast iron plates, with the steak sizzling and still cooking.  When they say "Caution, hot plate" they really mean it.  The walleye fillet was on the small side and side dishes were limited to a starch - their Italian potatoes were awesome.  You could also add 6 shrimp - fried or scampi - to your entree for just $2.95.

It was a $2 adder to an entree for salad or soup.  The salad was large and fresh, I had French and Blue Cheese dressings with crumbled blue cheese on mine - French Roquefort dressing - a supper club classic.  Bobbi ordered the Steak and Vegetable soup.  It was loaded with tasty, tender and lean steak pieces - maybe 3 or 4 ounces - in a very rich broth.  A definite winner.

Even the desserts were cheap, only $2.95 for each of our choices, I read elsewhere that they are made on site.  I fed the 6 of us for under $100 (no alcoholic beverages were ordered).  Much better that the $15 entrees at the place in town.  We went back to Cimaroli's again on Saturday night before leaving, it was that good.

One last thing - Cimaroli's is a cardiologoist's nightmare.  Besides the honey butter with our appetizer, we also had a large slab of soft butter for our dinner rolls, the walleye came with drawn butter, the scampi was swimming in lemony butter, and the Italian potatoes were drowning in garlic butter.  I used the garlic butter on everything, it was especially good on my flatiron.

Cimaroli's Supper Club
W11793 State Road 127
Portage, WI 53901-9437
(608) 742-2238‎


When we came back up on Wednesday night after the girls had left, and we kept passing a sorry looking diner on Hwy 13.  It usually had a full parking lot with what looked like farm and work trucks.  We applied our new rule for life:  WWbbD?  That made it easy, we decided to stop there for Sunday breakfast instead of one of the touristy pancake houses.  A very good decision. 

Food at Stuff's Family Restaurant was priced well (about $5 for a breakfast plate) and the food was first rate. They had the best biscuits and gravy I have found in a restaurant in Wisconsin, peppery gravy over soft biscuits.  Bobbi had corned beef hash with eggs over medium - the eggs were perfect (usually her pet peeve).  Our friend Claire had a veggie omelet that she really enjoyed.  Portions were excellent, all 3 breakfasts had leftovers taken home.

My daughter is not a breakfast eater and was served a BLT at 9:00 in the morning.  The waitress said they serve everything on their menu anytime they are open.

An extra bonus - No FIB license plates in the parking lot.

Stuff's Family Restaurant
On Hwy 13
One mile North of Hwys 23 & 16 Intersection
608-254-6323


The moral of the story, good Roadfood is available anywhere.  Even in Tacky Tourist Trap
Towns.


* I'll note the in town Italian place was not a chain, but the online menu was pricey.  I think that good value is a key attribute of a Roadfood place, something the in town place was not.


<message edited by JRPfeff on Tue, 08/25/09 7:10 PM>
 
#1
    Nancypalooza

    • Total Posts: 3778
    • Joined: 6/17/2004
    • Location: Columbia, SC
    Re:Roadfood near a tourist trap? Tue, 08/25/09 10:46 AM (permalink)
    Both places sound delightful, JP!
     
    #2
      irisarbor

      • Total Posts: 603
      • Joined: 3/8/2006
      • Location: Deerfield, IL
      Re:Roadfood near a tourist trap? Tue, 08/25/09 12:43 PM (permalink)
      sounds awesome, we have lots of faves up in the Dells. even tho a few may not be off the beaten track-
      we abbosulute love Wally House of embers-
      not cheap, but great food every time, and the private rooms anre a real trip backwards in time if you can book them.
      E
       
      #3
        BuddyRoadhouse

        • Total Posts: 4082
        • Joined: 12/10/2004
        • Location: Des Plaines, IL
        Re:Roadfood near a tourist trap? Tue, 08/25/09 1:35 PM (permalink)
        JRPfeff


        An extra bonus - No FIB license plates in the parking lot.



        Now how could it be any good if no Friendly Illinois Bumpkins were there?

        Buddy


         
        #4
          buffetbuster

          Re:Roadfood near a tourist trap? Tue, 08/25/09 1:41 PM (permalink)
          Thanks to Buddy for the explanation on the FIB license plates.  Have never heard that term before.  As for the WWbbD, that one I think I can handle!
           
          Thanks for the nice write up.  With descriptions like this, photos aren't necessary!  And any place that will make you lunch for at 9:00AM gets a thumbs up.  So, no pie?
           
          #5
            ChiTownDiner

            Re:Roadfood near a tourist trap? Tue, 08/25/09 1:52 PM (permalink)
            bb -

            Don't be fooled by these cheeseheads...that ain't what FIB stands for!

            Congrats on WWbbD...my sentiments often!

             
            #6
              enginecapt

              • Total Posts: 3486
              • Joined: 6/4/2004
              • Location: Fontana, CA
              Re:Roadfood near a tourist trap? Tue, 08/25/09 2:49 PM (permalink)
              BuddyRoadhouse


              JRPfeff


              An extra bonus - No FIB license plates in the parking lot.



              Now how could it be any good if no Friendly Illinois Bumpkins were there?

              Buddy
              That's the FIB version of calling a B-52 a Big Ugly Fat Fellow.


               
              #7
                BuddyRoadhouse

                • Total Posts: 4082
                • Joined: 12/10/2004
                • Location: Des Plaines, IL
                Re:Roadfood near a tourist trap? Tue, 08/25/09 4:39 PM (permalink)
                ChiTownDiner

                bb -

                Don't be fooled by these cheeseheads...that ain't what FIB stands for!


                It's not?!?  Heavens to Betsy, I can't imagine what else it could mean...

                Buddy
                 
                #8
                  JRPfeff

                  • Total Posts: 2375
                  • Joined: 12/1/2006
                  • Location: Pewaukee, WI & Fuquay-Varina, NC
                  Re:Roadfood near a tourist trap? Tue, 08/25/09 7:20 PM (permalink)
                  buffetbuster


                  So, no pie?


                  As I explained, I am a bad Roadfooder.

                  I actually had a nice key lime tartlet at Cimaroli's that might be considered a pie.  Other than that, the dessert tray was cakes.

                  I don't recall seeing any pies at Stuff's, and the take-home menu doesn't show any pies or other desserts.

                  Jim
                  <message edited by JRPfeff on Tue, 08/25/09 7:21 PM>
                   
                  #9
                    quijote

                    • Total Posts: 643
                    • Joined: 12/22/2007
                    • Location: Milwaukee, WI
                    Re:Roadfood near a tourist trap? Tue, 08/25/09 11:19 PM (permalink)
                    I'll probably take a day trip up that way this fall, so thanks for the scoop on these places. Cimaroli sounds good, but I must admit that I'm a pushover for really good biscuits and gravy, so Stuff's will be a stop for sure.
                     
                    #10
                      ScreamingChicken

                      • Total Posts: 4737
                      • Joined: 11/5/2004
                      • Location: Stoughton, WI
                      Re:Roadfood near a tourist trap? Wed, 08/26/09 9:16 AM (permalink)
                      The Dells and Lake Delton are neat places to visit in the dead of winter.  Since a number of indoor water parks have been built in the past decade or so the towns are a little livelier but still not even close to what they're like in summer.  My wife and I once spent a weekend up there during a major snowstorm and driving around was almost a surreal experience, but the House of Embers was open and we had a good dinner.

                      Brad
                       
                      #11
                        mayor al

                        • Total Posts: 15066
                        • Joined: 8/20/2002
                        • Location: Louisville area, Southern Indiana
                        • Roadfood Insider
                        Re:Roadfood near a tourist trap? Wed, 08/26/09 10:15 AM (permalink)
                        Seconding the positive recommendations for these two places, my Baraboo resident daughter and her family have visited them and the endorse positive comments! They like them both, but feel Stuff's is more of a good Breakfast Stop!
                         
                        #12
                          stricken_detective

                          • Total Posts: 2330
                          • Joined: 3/10/2004
                          • Location: the 262
                          Re:Roadfood near a tourist trap? Wed, 08/26/09 11:49 AM (permalink)
                          Brad_Olson


                          The Dells and Lake Delton are neat places to visit in the dead of winter.  Since a number of indoor water parks have been built in the past decade or so the towns are a little livelier but still not even close to what they're like in summer.  My wife and I once spent a weekend up there during a major snowstorm and driving around was almost a surreal experience, but the House of Embers was open and we had a good dinner.

                          Brad


                          I experienced the same shock on a Tuesday morning during the summer. We had the place to ourselves!!!!
                           
                          #13
                            irisarbor

                            • Total Posts: 603
                            • Joined: 3/8/2006
                            • Location: Deerfield, IL
                            Re:Roadfood near a tourist trap? Sun, 09/6/09 2:05 PM (permalink)
                            A fun breakfast, (but only breakfast) stop in the Dells is Paul Bunyan's-
                            it's all you can eat- and they make these homemade sugar coated donuts... oh my-
                            I could just make breakfast out of those, but everything else is very good too- standard pancakes, eggs, etc.

                            Another nice place is the Moosehead pizza and brewery where they brew their own beers (very good) and you can get a great sampler with 8 or 10 - 2 oz tasters of all the different kinds... and they also have delicious home brewed root beer for the little guys if they are along or if you are needing to continue your drive.  The pizza was also quite good, and I'm not really the world's biggest pizza fan, so that's high praise from me.

                            And as previously mentioned we love the house of Embers- coconut shrimp are wonderful, their ribs are really quite good, as are their steaks, and if they have it, prime rib.  PLus they have an extensive martini menu, and serve everything with these delicious homemade cinnamon dinner rolls.  They also have cute little private rooms available sometimes.

                            If you have a hankering for a great burger, there is Monks- reviewed here on RF-

                            For a lighter meal there is a place called the Cheese Factory that even tho it is (gaasp) vegetarian serves excellent food, and you come away quite satisfied, nice pastas, veggie cutlet parmigiana, and many imaginative entrees.  You don't feel like you have been to the land of seeds and sprouts if you know what I mean. It can be a nice change of pace at times.

                            I think Ishnala supper club may have closed, and they were only open in summer, but they were a gorgeous place out on mirror lake- with more fabulous eats....

                            <message edited by irisarbor on Sun, 09/6/09 2:09 PM>
                             
                            #14
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