Saturday, January 30, 2010

We have moved

Click on this link to be redirected to our new site.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

We are back!

I have had a number of emails asking why there haven't been any new postings, the truth of the matter is the Little Marinara has not been well and I have been staying close to home for the last few months.  Marilyn has decided she will enjoy fish frys vicariously through the blog, what the hell I have to eat.  I have been compiling a hit list of out of the way places so keep tuned for more updates from the Northwoods.  You can also follow some the the Big Ragus reviews on Urbanspoon.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mulligan’s Restaurant & Pub - Rhinelander, WI

A mulligan, in a game, happens when a player gets a second chance to perform a certain move or action. The practice is also sometimes referred to as a "do over."
Since this restaurant is located in the Northwoods County Club in Rhinelander it was only fitting that we take a mulligan on our first visit.  Step up and get tee’d off with me on the second visit.
It’s Friday night and time for cocktails and fish.  The Little Marinara and I flip the coin and decide to give Mulligan’s another try.  We arrive and receive  a friendly greeting from the hostess.  We tell her we are going to the bar for a cocktail and to hold a table for us – no problem.  I order my usual Martini and Marilyn decides on an Old Fashioned.  I can immediately tell from the vacant look in the bartenders eyes that this is going to be difficult.  She asks me if I want a lemon or lime twist and I tell her lemon, what I get is a big chunk of lemon in my drink, which is served on the rocks.  Umh – I asked for it straight-up – OK she answers and pours it in a water glass, dumps some vermouth on it and plops in the lemon chunk.  Wow – this place is class.  Well never to be deterred in the face of stupidity I ask her if she has any Straight-up Martini Glasses (they are hanging on the rack above my head).  “You mean these she crokes, most men don’t like these girlie glasses”.  My eyes wandered over the crowd and I decided she was probably correct, however, I sucked up my manhood and asked for the glass.  At this point it was time for a table.
As we look over the menu it is apparent that their main strength is sandwiches for golfers or people who happen to be hungry and not too picky.  Friday evening they have the traditional Fish Fry with the following:  Fish Fry:  three pieces of Beer Battered or Lightly Breaded Haddock with Fries or Potato Pancakes $10.95.  All you can eat Haddock, Beer Battered, Lightly Breaded, or Broiled with Fries or Potato Pancakes $11.95.  The true creativity of the chef is founding the next entrée that is the Sampler Platter; this consists of one piece of Beer Battered, one piece of Lightly Breaded and one piece of Broiled Haddock for $12.95.  Additionally you can get Clam Chowder or a Salad. 
Our waitress tells us that the Beer Batter is very heavy so we both opt for the Lightly Breaded Haddock, we both order Clam Chowder and Fries and additionally I order some of the Potato Pancakes.  Our waitress asks if we want another round of drinks, the Little Marinara still has a full drink on the table and she tells our waitress that this is the worst drink she has ever had.  The waitress says nothing; she just leaves.  This sucks because now I am with an unhappy girl with a drink that also sucks.  The Chowder arrives and it looks good. Lots of clams but it has a kind odd taste, like uncooked flour.  The fish arrives and as you can see by the photo it is just average as are the freezer fries.  This is all pre-breaded Sysco type food.  Now for the Potato Pancakes; they are a step in the right direction.  Good consistency and good flavor, out of the jar applesauce but then that’s to be expected.  Total for dinner and two poorly made cocktails is $35.  Way too expensive for the product received.  No more ‘do overs’ for this place.

The Big Ragu gives this a 2 Outa 5

Mulligan's Restaurant & Pub on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Buckshots Saloon - Eagle River, WI

The Little Marinara and I received an email from Don in Rhinelander telling us that the best Fish Fry in the area could be found at Buckshots Saloon in Eagle River, WI.  Since it was a nice Saturday in Fall we decided to go for a drive and ended up at Buckshots for lunch and the Badger Game (Go Big Red).  My first impression was; how do they move a lot of people through here on a Friday evening?  The bar is fairly large but the dining room has three 4 tops and one 6 top.  They must have a long wait for tables, of course in the Summer there is outside dining on a covered deck.  We looked over the menu and decided to have a Burger and Patty Melt with Ho-Made Chips and Frys.  Our waitress is trying to take an order but I am busy contemplating the Ho-Made part of the menu.  Were they made from scratch - this is where my sick mind starts to work overtime.  Since I couldn't let it go I decided to ask the expert in these matters, our waitress.  I ordered the Ho-Made Chips and Frys and she told me that only the Chips were Home made.  The Little Marinara pointed out that the menu clearly stated Ho-Made Chips and Frys.  Our waitress looked at us like we were nuts and I decided it was time to go to the mens Ho's there.

Despite all the BS about Ho's , the Chips and Frys were very good and hand-cut.  Marilyn's Burger was juicy and huge and my Patty Melt was hot, juicy and flavorful.  Best of all the Badgers pulled it out in the end and beat the Golden Gophers.  God I am glad I didn't go to MN - who the hell wants to be called a Gopher almost as bad as a Buckeye.

Buckshots is a bit of a drive but we will be back for the Fish Fry some Friday evening.

Buckshots Saloon on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 2, 2009

Rhinelander Cafe & Pub

Our usual focus is on the WI Fish Fry, however, those of you who enjoy the ‘fry’ and the cocktails that accompany the tradition know there is a fact of life to be delt with.  In the morning after a good night out you need to feed the furnace, and what better place than the Rhinelander Café & Pub.

The RC&P has the best breakfast in town and I say that for several reasons.  First the English Muffin Toast; not only is it tasty - they still butter toast the ‘old fashioned’ way…they use a brush and paint on the clarified butter.  (Honey dial 911 cuz the arteries are startin to close.)  The Little Marinara loves this, her pet peeve is when she gets toast and it only has a meager dollop of butter.  We are true Wisconsinites when it comes to butter; don’t insult us with your margarine or oleo crap.  Second: are the breakfast entrees.  I always have the Corned Beef Hash with Poached Eggs and an order of Hashbrowns with fried Onions.  It seems that I have only found two places that can poach an egg, here and the Eagles Nest in Wausau.  (At most places the poached eggs look and task like golf balls) Of course the plate is garnished with fruit, which I promptly remove from the plate least it attempts to make me healthy.  Marilyn always orders Eggs with a slab of Ham and Hashbrowns, she also eats the fruit..someone has to!

The décor is right out of the mid seventies, dark furniture and carpeting that has throw back colors, dark paneling on the wall and some pictures that are always for sale.  Most of the waitresses in the morning have been there since day one; they are tired but friendly.

We have been there for lunch several time and always found the sandwiches to be of a generous size but slightly expensive, we have never had dinner there. 

The Little Marinara and I have always worked on the theory that you dine on the strengths of the establishment and for us this is a breakfast only place.

Big Ragu gives this place a breakfast rating of 4.5 Outa 5

Rhinelander Cafe & Pub on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wausau Elks Club - Wausau WI

Even though we have moved to the Northwoods, the Little Marinara and I still maintain our Membership in the Wausau Elks Club.  Why?  Well I can still smoke a cigar inside (at least for a few more months), we like the people and on some Friday’s in Fall we bowl in a couples league.  Actually Marilyn bowls, I throw the ball and hope it doesn’t flop in another lane or bounce around the floor and whack someone.

Anyway it is Friday and time for cocktails and a Fish Fry.  This club has two bars, the Member’s bar where you can smoke and the upper bar for those who like to complain about those who smoke.  We head down to the Member’s bar where I can smoke a cigar and still listen to people complain about it, however, I usually have someone stop by and tell me how much they enjoy the smell of a good cigar.  Since we haven’t been around as much we find out we have a new bartender so it is back to teaching someone how to make a decent Martini.  This is a On-the-Rocks crowd so there is a learning curve and for whatever reason they haven’t invested in the proper barware to do this correctly.  Our good friend and Republican Tammy pops in with a fresh tan from some country I can’t pronounce and we beat the crap out of Health Care for a while.  We really do miss this place.

Our table is called and my cigar is not done so we have our bartender call the hostess to give us another 15 minutes.  Two minutes later the hostess calls our table again, (need some work on this skill-set) it is not busy so we don’t worry and I finish my stogie.

We arrive at out table and a few minutes later our friend Jim Carlson arrives at the table next to us.  He is alone so we ask him to join us.  Nancy takes our order and we are off to the salad bar.  The food at the Elks Club is usually good, the atmosphere is dated and the dining room needs a facelift.  On Friday evenings they have a large salad bar with the usual items, token pasta salad and cole slaw. The salad bar is good but boring, it never changes.  I believe this is in part due to the fact that the cook is not real creative.  Additionally, there are always two types of soup of which one is a clam chowder (always excellent) and warm rolls with garlic butter.  I will give this kitchen crew credit, they make good soup. 

I order the Perch with Homefries and the Little Marinara orders the Poor Mans Lobster with Hashbrowns.  The Marinara loves the Hashbrowns that they serve and I have to agree they are some of the best out there.  My Perch as usual is very good, light breading and flavorful, Marilyn has more than she can eat and takes home her usual box–o-fish.  She still enjoys the Milwaukee tradition of a shore lunch for breakfast.

We go down to bowl only to find out that our opposing team is not there, I am sure they heard the Big Ragu was bowling and decided to forgo the contest (it was safer for them).

I always tell people that the Wausau Elks Club is the best deal in town – and it is.

The Big Ragu gives this Fish Fry a 4 Outa 5

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Saxe's - Delafield, WI

Just off Hwy 18 and about ½ mile to the West of Hwy 83 tucked in the Kettle Moraine hills you will find Saxe’s Restaurant.  The owners are Tom and Lynn Saxe who were once in the movie theater business but sold 1985 and opened this restaurant.  I was in town for a few days and met my good friend and Masonic Brother Joe Harker for a late dinner meeting.  I have enjoyed lunch at Saxe’s many times and also a good Fish Fry on a Friday evening, but that is a tale for another story.

This was the middle of the week and owner Tom Saxe was behind the bar and Tony was working the tables.  Saxe’s went smoke free recently so the Big Ragu had to forgo his cigar.  Fortunately they did not go alcohol free.  Tom mixed a Martini for us and we were good to go for the evening.

The specials this evening were steak – several different ways, Diane, Sicilian or a NY with Garlic Mashed Potatoes.  I went for the NY and Joe tried the Chicken and Dumplings, Joe just got back from a 4-day golf outing with the boys and wanted to let his arteries flush out.  Tony brought us a hot loaf of bread and a Cilantro infused Olive Oil for dipping.  The side salad was fresh and crisp as it should be.

 Service was very good; Tony had a sense of humor and was very attentive and professional.  I liked the presentation of the food; my NY came with Onion Strings, Two large Shrimp and Garlic Mashed Potatoes.  The steak was small but properly cooked to a medium rare, which is hard on a thin piece of meat.  My only complaint was that the potatoes were cool on the inside and warm on the outside (bad nuke job).  I wasn’t really interested in potatoes and only wanted a taste so I didn’t say anything.  Joe said his Chicken and Dumplings were great, it was presented well and of a generous portion.

Most of you know that I am not a desert person, however, Tony did the age-old restaurant tactic of showing me a sample of the special deserts for the evening.  I am usually a sucker for this.  I gave in and had the Flan with a cup of coffee.  Flan is a type of baked custard with a caramelized sugar base and can be dressed up with sauces, fresh fruit or in this case both.  Think of it as a Crème Broulee on steroids.  Just look at the photo and drool– it melted in my mouth.

It was a good evening and I will be back with the Little Marinara.

This Big Ragu gives this a 4 Outa 5

Saxes on Urbanspoon