Last Friday I traveled from the Madison area to Appleton, which gave me the chance to grab a bite to eat at a couple of local places along the way.
Just before noon I was in Rosendale, roughly halfway between Madison and Appleton and home of Tabberts
and the legendary Rosendale speed trap (30 MPH means
30 MPH). I've never driven by Tabberts when there weren't at least a few cars and trucks in the parking lot, as they have a great location and are a good alternative to the myriad of chain and fast food places found in the US-41 corridor between Oshkosh and Appleton.
I was originally thinking about breakfast but not everything at Tabberts is made from scratch and that includes the corned beef hash, so when I heard that 1 of the daily specials was walleye hand-breaded with crumbs from homemade bread I decided to go that route instead and I'm glad I did. The fish was flaky and mild while the breading was crisp and not greasy at all, which made it a winner. The fries appeared to be a standard food service item and were OK, but because I'd been thinking about that homemade bread I ordered a side of toast as well. In retrospect substituting it for the fries would've been an easy choice to make as the bread (1 slice white, 1 slice wheat) was thick but not dense or heavy, and well-toasted instead of being just barely browned like some places do. If Tabberts doesn't offer a walleye-and-eggs breakfast special they should think about it.
After finishing my lunch and leaving town at 28 MPH I headed up WI-26 toward Oshkosh and Appleton. I didn't need to reach my destination until 6 or 7pm and it wasn't even 1 yet, so I took a leisurely drive east on US-10 to the town of Brillion and arrived at Rudy's Diner
, a local fixture since 1939, a little after 2.
Rudy's closes at 2pm Monday through Thursday and at 3pm on Friday, so it looked like I might be the last customer of the day.
I was still pretty full from lunch at Tabberts and was thinking that a small bowl of soup would be fine, but when the waitress told me that perch was 1 of the specials and I didn't have to place a full order I figured it seemed like a logical progression from the walleye of a couple of hours earlier. Like Tabberts' fish it was hand-breaded with crumbs from homemade bread but it was definitely saltier; someone who prefers little to no salt might not've cared for it very much but I thought it was fine (and my dad would've still reached for the shaker). Crunchy with a mild flavor without being oily, and the homemade scalloped potatoes, a bit salty as well, were a very good accompaniment.
Oh, and that bowl of soup I was originally going to have? Sure, I guess I can squeeze in some chicken dumpling for dessert...
Another item from the salty end of the spectrum but loaded with shredded chicken and small pieces of dumpling, and with a slice of homemade bread it would've been a good lunch on its own.
I'm not sure why the food at Rudy's seemed a bit saltier than normal. Maybe his original recipes were created that way, maybe it was because I'd eaten not very much earlier and was a little more sensitive than I would've been if I'd been hungrier, or maybe the environmental effects of years of industry in the Brillion area have created a generation of mutants that need more sodium than the rest of us to keep from turning into brain-devouring zombies...your guess is as good as mine.
Both restaurants also get good marks for friendly, efficient service although the environments were totally different. I was part of the lunch crowd at Tabberts so my waitress didn't have much time for chitchat while at Rudy's the staff and I carried on a conversation as they worked and I ate, which was much nicer than sitting there and eating my perch and soup in silence. Plus the young guy working in Rudy's kitchen commented that it was nice to see someone still using film.
With a soft drink at each place the total including tips for both lunches was around $27, which for walleye and perch are pretty reasonable.
From Brillion I headed back to Appleton and eventually met up with some friends, who suggested going out for dinner.
We went to a local sports bar called Coaches Corner, which like just about every other bar in Wisconsin serves a Friday fish fry. The choices were cod, shrimp, and perch and since I'd already had both perch and walleye I chose the cod, which turned out to be a bad move. A couple of others ordered the perch and said it was pretty good but the breading on my cod was too greasy inside despite being crisp outside, which makes me wonder if the volume of frying being done by the kitchen (the place was packed) wasn't allowing the oil to come back up to temperature between batches. I didn't ask if the fish was hand-breaded although in places like this it's not unusual for it to be a frozen prebreaded product. The pieces were surprisingly thin and I think if they'd been thicker the breading would've been more tolerable, but that would've only gone so far even though my expectations weren't all that high to begin with. The onion rings were quite ordinary but at least the rye bread was pretty good, our waitress (dressed in the traditional sports bar basketball referee outfit) was pleasant, and Capital Amber was available on tap.
2 hits, 1 miss. Not bad and while things could've been better they could've also been a whole lot worse. And now I have to wrap this up as my kids are yelling that they want to get on line and the 40 feet long, 3 feet high drift at the end of the driveway isn't going to shovel itself...
<message edited by ScreamingChicken on Wed, 02/2/11 10:55 AM>