One of the great things about traveling is
not having to wash dishes or make the bed exploring the dining scene. While I was in the Fox Cities recently, I had some good eats and want to share with you what I liked most.
Spats Food & Spirits
Spats has been around for quite some time. In fact, the name pays hommage to the era when gentlemen wore spatterdashes to protect their shoes. (Think late 1800’s and early 1900’s.) The restaurant opened in 1922 and has served as an Appleton landmark ever since.
Nowadays, diners enjoy food that has been locally sourced (when available) and prepared by Cutthroat Kitchen Champion Ryan Sherman. He is passionate about the quality of the food that he serves at Spats.
I love horseradish sauce and Spats Sauce is a winner in my book. It’s so creamy and delicious with little bits of goodness throughout I was tempted to eat it all by itself. I even bought a bottle to have at home.
I ordered Bourbon Street Shrimp (betcha can’t say that three times real fast!). The entree is described as: sauteed shrimp, garlic, peppers, onion, and fresh mushrooms served in a Cajun cream sauce over a 6 grain house blend. Yum! Oh, the bread served at Spats is made by Manderfield’s Home Bakery in Appleton and it was a great accompaniment.
You might be wondering why a dairy is included on my list of good eats, but hey – I was in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is THE place to go for cheese and milk. And Lamers Dairy is one sweet little spot that we stopped at and learned more about the bottling process. The milk that at Lamers Dairy is sourced from 7 local farms within a 30 mile radius. Their chocolate milk is so delicious that it took first place in the 2016 World Dairy Expo Championship. (It smooth, creamy, and chocolaty – like a good ice cream.)
Speaking of ice cream – Lamers also serves soft-serve ice cream at the dairy. With it being Fall, they have Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream to celebrate the season. Delish!
Vince Lombardi’s Steakhouse
Vince Lombardi, one of the greatest football coaches in history, became the coach of the Green Bay Packers in 1959. Appleton is only about a half hour away from Green Bay, so naturally the Fox Cities area is Packer territory. It only makes sense, then, that a great steakhouse with Vince Lombardi’s name is located in Appleton.
The cozy, upscale dining environment at Vince Lombardi’s Steakhouse showcases mementos from Lombardi’s life and career, including the one and only (replica) of the Super Bowl I trophy made by Tiffany & Co.
Lombardi’s is open for dinner, but I was able to have a glimpse of the restaurant during a special luncheon. The service was impeccable. When the waitress overheard me mention that a cream cheese spread would be great on my sandwich, she informed the chef who whipped up a spread and it was brought out promptly. What I enjoyed most about my meal, other than the service, was the Butternut Squash Soup. It was creamy and seasoned perfectly. It’s not on the menu, but I would recommend that you ask for it.
Stone Cellar Brewpub
Stone Cellar Brewpub is a spot that I would definitely like to go back and eat again. Located in the cellar of a building that was originally built in 1858 as a brewery, the Brewpub’s environment could well be described as cozy and intimate.
The German Style Soft Pretzel is locally made and served with Six Grain Beer Mustard. The pretzel that I had also had a side of cheese sauce. Together, they were a heavenly pair.
Stone Cellar Brewpub naturally serves Stone Arch Beer, which is made in the same building. Even non-drinkers will like their nonalcoholic Root Beer which was fantastic.
For dessert, the Chocolate Cheesecake was a winner!
Simon’s Specialty Cheese
Cheese! Simon’s Specialty Cheese knows their stuff. I know because I had the privilege of listening to two of their Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers talk about their craft. (Did you know that Wisconsin is the only state that certifies cheesemakers? It takes a lot of work – applicants to the program must have 10 years of being a licensed Wisconsin Cheesemaker before beginning the 3 year specialized program. Then the applicants have to submit samples for judging, plus written tests!)
In addition to award-winning cheese, Simon’s Specialty Cheese makes take-and-bake pizzas that are so good that I found it hard to stop eating them. Oh – and the chocolate cheese fudge – don’t even get me started!
Beefeaters Grille & Ale House
Beefeaters Grille & Ale House proved to be another delicious dining experience in Appleton. Walking through the front door, visitors are greeted by a Beefeater statue. But what makes Beefeaters a special place to eat is that is serves good ole Wisconsin favorites, like fried cheese curds, along with classic British pub fare.
Happy Bellies Bake Shop
The most delightful food find on my trip was Happy Bellies Bake Shop. This place – people – is AMAZING. I didn’t discover it until my last full day in the Fox Cities, so I only ordered a few things to try. The picture above is a Chocolate Cupcake, but it’s no ordinary chocolate cupcake. It is a handcrafted, natural cupcake that is gluten and dairy free that could pass for the real thing (gluten- and dairy-full). It was so good. I ate the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Big Muffin the day after I bought it and it was still moist and delicious. (Hey Happy Bellies – I’d love to have your recipes. ~wink, wink~)
If you find yourself in Appleton, you need to stop at Happy Bellies. It does not matter if you have food sensitivities or not – their treats are incredible. Plus, you can feel good about eating them. Here is their mission statement:
Our mission is to bake nutritious allergy free desserts and treats with the most natural (NON-GMO) and healthy ingredients possible to ensure each item is healthful and affordable, without compromising any flavor.
Our vision comes down to four main things; allergy free, all things natural, stewardship and God. We will always produce our products in a dedicated gluten free facility where we can offer a variety of alternatives to those who are living without, or for those who just plain want to eat a treat without the junk. (Diabetics are in luck as well!) Our vision has been and always will be God as our leader. He opens the doors we walk through and because He is so generous and gracious, we are able to do what we do. Our promise is to be good stewards of this business and what He has provided for us.
I enjoyed exploring the dining scene in the Fox Cities. If you find yourself lucky enough to be in the area and want more information, check out the Fox Cities CVB website at www.foxcities.org. I’d like to thank the Fox Cities CVB for hosting me and allowing me to explore their beautiful communities.
Hungry for more about the Fox Cities?6