I spent some time up in Bayfield and as always did a little research on where to eat while en route. Somewhere along the line I came up with a rec for the Delta Diner which is far, far north. It's about 20 minutes SW of Ashland which sits on Lake Superior. If there were ever a place I ate at that sits in the middle of nowhere this would be it to date. Surrounded by lakes and a few gravel rocked roads with packs of wild turkeys along them. But I'm sure lurkers knew about this place back when Weezer was rocking, so apologies in advance if I'm wasting your time. Feel free to go tweet to your Lou while I do what I do best, you aint even impressed no more you're used to it.
First off if you look this place up on google, theres like six different towns they say it's in. My GPS was no help at all as it wanted us to turn down a narrow snowmobile/ATV path that would of wrecked the bottom of my car. But if you're lucky enough to have a signal on your cell phone (I didn't, she did) then google maps will get you there. But you'll go down unpaved roads for about 10 miles and wonder with each passing minute whether you're going around in circles en route to nowhere. In the end though, it's all worth it.
A feel of the East Coast hidden in the Northwoods of Wisconsin
The Delta Diner was born in 2004 and if you want the entire story about how it was born and became about you can check their website HERE
. The owners decided to restore what they were told is an old 1940's Silk City Diner
. They wanted to put the diner in the locally historic site of the old Delta General Store which is written about in "Growing up in a Country Store: Memories and History of Delta and Ino, Wisconsin
" According to that book the town and the general store came about at the same time in 1924.
Views from the counter
I'd urge all to read the link from their website about the story of how this diner came about and the history of the land it stands on. To try and sum it up in a few quotes though. "Having an authentic diner was very important to us"
"In early 2003 we contracted for a “frame-up” restoration of a 1940 Silk City Diner, due for completion in the fall of that year"
"The Delta Diner was about 90% complete in the middle of October of 2003. Living in far Northern Wisconsin we were facing a dilemma...The restorer agreed to ship the diner for completion on site so that we could complete excavation and concrete work prior to the ground freezing. In the end we cut it close, but got it done! It was quite a sight seeing the Delta Diner coming down Bayfield County Highway H in one piece on a semi-trailer"
"We expected that our chapter to the story of the “Delta Diner” would take many years to develop. Many ingredients contribute to the story of a diner. The building, its location and possible past locations, the characters that make up its customer base, the owner or owners, and its eclectic staff all paint the picture of a diner. It can take many years to have an intriguing story unfold. Without knowing it, our diner may have come prepackaged with intrigue"
"Where did the Delta Diner come from? Where did it operate prior to being abandoned “in a field somewhere in New York?” What can the identification tag on the original frame (if still on the frame) tell us about our diner? What did it look like when it was removed from the field? These are questions that can only be answered by our restorer. While we were provided a brief verbal version of our diner’s history, the promised written and photographic record has not been delivered. We have a contract that states we purchased a “restored 1940 Silk City Diner”. However, despite our efforts to obtain verification, we have yet to receive it."
A peak inside from the front/back
So to this day they dont know the exact history of what's supposed to be an old real deal restored Silk City Diner adding to the intrigue of this place. I'm not a diner expert but if this is indeed a rebuild of an original it's a damn fine copycat job. They try to make the experience as authentic as possible so this includes no menus. Everything available is on display and when your waitress comes to take your order she'll explain what EVERYTHING on it is. Her description of the Norwegian pancakes was like that of a big money making saleswoman so she had me sold on those which came recommended cooked with chopped jalapenos inside.
Norwegian Pancakes with chopped Jalapenos cooked in
Pancakes ala Norwegian are a larger more thin and airy type of pancake, similar to crepes. These were served with bacon from a local butcher in Ashland that was really thick and full of porky flavor along with a sprinkling of powered sugar and lemons. The chopped jalapenos inside worked really well. Our waitress was dead on with that one. The item I had read people praising was their PBLT which is a BLT with a piece of fried yellow lake perch on top. This too was very good. Served on locally sourced bread from the Ashland Baking Company
with fresh in season tomatoes and that same great bacon, it made for a really tasty brunch paired with the pancakes.
I thought the food was great and even though they may not have much history as of today. You can see/feel that they're well on their way. Whether or not the restored diner was a real one or a restoration of a restoration it had that charm both from the atmosphere and the staff and also great food. One thing that caught my eye was Monday is "burger day" and that's all they serve. Beef is ground fresh in house and I imagine buns come from the same baking company as well as locally sourced toppings. I bet it's really good. The piece of homemade coconut cream pie to finish it all off sure was. Dude in the red Camaro should have rolled thru here by now.
I hope to make it back one day soon...
14385 County Highway H
Mason, WI 54856