If you’re anything like I am in this way, you may look at a restaurant’s menu online and see one item that compels you to drive there. Other eateries may already be favorite haunts of yours, and when they offer a new item that looks especially good to you, you’re game to try them. Other places may be out of your usual rounds, but their surroundings and culinary approaches keep you coming back to sample more of their wares.
All three of the above reasons to eat out come into play for this month’s review. Not entirely by design, the trio of experiences involve what some have called nature’s perfect food: the egg.
You might figure that if there’s out-of-town travel involved in chowing down on edible hen droppings, one of those meals is going to be breakfast. Right you are, dear reader, but did you also figure that it might also involve fish? My only other prior encounters with seafood for morning meals involve leftovers Grandma Rake’s leftover salmon patties and adventures in African-American soul food that include croquettes similar to my late granny’s and shrimp with cheese grits. But a trip to the Badger State’s Holy Land was in order to take in the trout and eggs at Eden Cafe (303 W Main St, Eden, at the corner of County Highways B and V).
Half of the butterflied filet of the freshwater swimmer in question might be enough for some appetites, and that can be had for $2.60 less than the whole thing. But how good that whole thing is, fried to a golden brown, with its ever so slight fishiness adding to the fulsome flavor of its tender flesh. With those eggs (my mood was for basted ones that day), toast and American fries, it was filling without being oppressively heavy. After a full night’s sleep without any snacking before bedtime, the entire trout just may not be an unreasonable portion to power a body through until lunch after all. And though lemon and tartar sauce weren’t offered, the entree was so tasty on its own that the condiments may have only complicated a savoriness that stood well on its own.
Special note should be taken of those fries as well. Hash browns and the seemingly more standard American cut of sliced potatoes are available, but what a pleasure it is to find a breakfast nook that offers cubed American fries prepared to be crispy on the outside, nearly fluffy inside. Sometimes the littlest things can upgrade the simplest meal from really good to great.
The Belly Buster at Waupun’s Golden Cup Cafe (400 E. Main St., at the corner of Main and Madison) was already a great deal of food, consisting of a half pound patty that’s 35% smoked pork belly and 65% beef, topped with fried onion chunks, bacon and a combo of lettuce-tomato slices and pickles on the side. But the recommendation of one of the Cup’s food service providers, as evidenced by the colorful tent on the sides of establishment’s booths and tables touting it, has resulted in the Buster’s transformation into simply The Belly Burger. Ironically, it’s even more of a gut buster with the addition of one more protein-rich topping. If you’ve been paying attention, you know that topping to be an egg. Gloriously messy as this munchable monstrosity already is, ordering that ovum over hard was one of my better decisions the day I first sunk my teeth into one of those treats. On a more personal note, since cerebral palsy makes me a one-handed diner, next time I order a Belly Burger (and, Lord willing, there will be numerous next times), I’ll have it cut in half before it meets my hungry gaze. That should make it at least a bit less messy.
Fries at Golden Cup merit mention, too. Pickle fries, that is. My previous sampling of deep-fried, battered pickle chips at a barbeque joint in Waukesha left me underwhelmed. Since I was trying one new thing at one of my favorite home town locales to score a veggie omelet, however, why not try its recent addition of dill spears slathered in batter and dipped into hot oil as well? The salty plant flesh makes for a peculiarly addictive duo with the crispy, light coating surrounding it. Ranch dressing for dipping, which you’ll have to request, adds a complimentary creaminess, but next time I’m of a mind to order them, it would be good to have a friend along to split the sizable order.
My pastor kidded me about eating “health food” when I told him of The Belly Burger, but he shouldn’t be so sarcastic about the Salad Nicoise at Mayville’s healthy grocery & cafe The Natural Way (35 S. Main St.). What must have been my first French food since last going out for crepes in Cedarburg is Chef Earl’s preparation of the literally Nice dinner salad on a rectangular plate filled with chunks of cold grilled tuna, artichoke hearts, baby spinach, little tomatoes, diced boiled potato, mushroom slices, olives, celery, cold and crisp green string beans, and sunflower seeds, and a halved hard boiled you-know-what! All over which is lightly doused with a sprinkling of lemon vinaigrette. Perhaps sensing a general regional distaste for them, though I’m personally game for them…Earl forgoes the traditional inclusion of anchovies in the mix. Though she’s arguably speaking from a position of bias, Earl’s partner in the Way, nutritionist Patty Roskopf stopped by my table to offer that the dish on the plate before made made for the perfect meal. She has a point.
She and Earl also have a penchant for nigh divine desserts. My first trip to their eclectic emporium ended in my ordering a piece of the their chocolate lava cake. What tasted like a hint of raspberry flavor in it turns out to be an affect of the fermented chocolate used in the recipe. Topped with freshly whipped cream, it’s worth the price, which happens to be only $3 less than the salad mentioned above. Expect me to report on a hot main dish, which may be a weekend brunch, at this most delightful Way some time in the near future.
And For Another Dessert…
Going to Kwik Trip convenience stores is more about the reliably scrumptious, fairly inexpensive sandwiches and the breakfast and chicken barbeque pizza variations than anything else for me. But a recent addition to their pastry selection will earn my return at least a time or two.
Raspberry Crowns look and tastes like open face turnovers: buttery, flaky crust surrounding and upholding a fruit filling that is, like the old Canada Dry Ginger Ale jingle put it, not too sweet. If it looks like a Danish without icing, no reasonable soul would blame you for thinking so. Sorry Triple Chocolate Bismarck, it looks like you’ve moved to #2 when it comes to my favorite KT goodie.
Next month: Sausage party in Madison!