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Dinosaurs of Southeastern Wisconsin

Dinosaurs of Southeastern Wisconsin
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  • Dinosaurs of Southeastern Wisconsin

    Post #1 - October 15th, 2006, 12:22 pm
    Post #1 - October 15th, 2006, 12:22 pm Post #1 - October 15th, 2006, 12:22 pm
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    There are many kinds of dinosaurs out there and we are fans of all of them-- the prehistoric kind, the train and streetcar kind, and the restaurant kind, just to name three. Being on our own yesterday, the boys and I decided to take a road trip to Wisconsin, revisit one museum we'd liked earlier this year, visit another we'd never been to, and try some places people had mentioned, where else, on LTHForum.

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    First stop was breakfast and this discovery by Cathy2, The Coffee Pot. The Coffee Pot is the Edgebrook Diner of Kenosha, an old-time diner given a light coat of modern times by new owners but very true to its comfy, unpretentious diner-food heritage, and spot-on in terms of quality and preparation. Not surprisingly, it was packed the whole time we were there.

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    Younger son had banana bread French toast, which he loved (I'm sure the 1/4 cup of butter on his plate influenced him). Banana bread was fluffy enough that this worked and wasn't too heavy. The waitress (probably, actually, one of the two women who own it) mentioned that next week they'd be doing cranberry bread French toast. I'm seriously considering the drive.

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    Older son had biscuits and gravy-- terrific fluffy biscuits, good gravy if a little thin on actual bits of sausage, slight livery tang which I took to be a sign of old school locally-made sausage (at least it's pleasant to think that's the reason). Dad, alas, screwed up--

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    I wanted corned beef hash, they were out by then, I ordered this thing which they called a strata, it had apple cinnamon sausage in it, I forgot I like savory more than sweet at breakfast, it was sort of like a big hunk of bread pudding for breakfast, just not my thing. But that was my fault, not theirs. This is a great little place, exactly the kind of all-American place that the Sterns would go on and on about, and it would be worth the trip on its own for anyone who lives in the northern suburbs-- it's going to take 20 minutes to get to your nearest Le Peep or something probably anyway, what's another 20 or 30 for something really good?

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    Incidentally, I noticed from the signboard that The Coffee Pot was defending its title in the 2nd Annual Kenosha chili cook-off last night. Wonder if they held onto it?

    Next stop was the Kenosha Public Museum, a small, free museum which Myles had been asking me to go back to-- he really liked the exhibits about Native American daily life in the midwest, which are very nicely done in a small-scale, practical-aspects-of-life kind of way. It also has a nice exhibit of a woolly mammoth found in the Kenosha area, and some rather random stuff upstairs-- a bunch of stuffed wild animals, some Lorado Taft dioramas of ancient and medieval artists' studios, etc. While there, we learned that they've just opened a second small museum (also free) in the old post office, devoted to dinosaurs-- basically one room, but between that and some activities in the basement (digging for plastic dinosaurs in boxes of soil), it was fun for them.

    The Coffee Pot
    4914 7th Avenue
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    262-653-8849

    Kenosha Public Museum
    5500 First Avenue
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    262-653-4140
    http://www.kenosha.org/museum

    Dinosaur Discovery Museum
    5608 Tenth Avenue
    Kenosha, WI 53140

    Truth be told it was less than two hours since breakfast but that was okay, we had another LTHForum spot to hit in Racine:

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    Kewpee's. How could I turn down an old burger place like this? Especially given the chance to sit next to a chunk of the Berlin Wall (not really) and an eerily silver-skinned Kewpee ornament.

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    I can't really improve on Jim in Logan Square's comment "it's everything Steak & Shake wants to be" except to say that it's what McDonald's ought to be, too. Maybe because they overdid my ketchup a bit, mine tasted an awful lot like the old, traditional thin hamburger at McD's, except with the real taste of fresh beef-- which is, of course, all the difference in the world. (I think I might order it with everything except ketchup next time, and add that more sparingly myself.)

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    I must admit, I'm not a huge kringle fan, I admire it more for surviving as a regional specialty than for its actual taste (which is like shortening covered with frosting), but sheesh, we were there, so I spun the wheel, selected O&H as one mentioned in that thread I hadn't had before, and picked up a pecan one for this morning. It's fine... just like every other kringle I've ever had.

    Kewpee Sandwich Shop
    520 Wisconsin Avenue
    Racine, WI 53403
    http://www.kewpee.com
    262-634-9601

    O&H Danish Bakery
    1841 Douglas Ave.
    Racine, Wisconsin 53402
    Phone: 1-262-637-8895 | 1-866-637-8895
    http://www.ohdanishbakery.com

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    Our plan for Milwaukee was the science museum at the Discovery World complex. Got there and... the science museum had decamped for other quarters on some pier or something, presumably near the Calatrava art museum and all that. That left us with the Milwaukee Public Museum, which is sort of half Field Museum, half historical museum-- and a big hit with all three of us. Myles' favorite part was a butterfly room, where he quickly became quite adept at getting butterflies to land on him and taught Liam how to catch them and treat them gently.

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    They both also really liked the street scenes of old European houses, which you can walk among, peering in the windows; it segues into streets of old Milwaukee (no, not that kind), and Liam seemed quite captivated, asking me (as he did on the steam train in Santa Cruz), "Is this the olden days?" I think he thinks it really is, for a moment.

    Never let it be said that Dad doesn't know an opening when he hears one, though, and so I seized on that moment to ask, "Would you like to eat at an olden days restaurant?" That made my next stop a much easier sell than "How about German food tonight?" would have.

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    I have to say, I'm surprised Karl Ratzsch's hasn't gotten more love, or any, on this board. I recognize that Wisconsin is full of old mittel-Europäischer places, and only one person has made it a personal mission to try them all, but even so, here's a 102-year-old restaurant still packing them into its over-the-top steins-and-antlers-everywhere interior for German food that's surprisingly good and non-tired.

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    The food, and the popularity, is a direct rebuke to everything the Berghoff had declined toward in its last years (and its new incarnation). It's not cheap compared to other such places, I gather, but you're certainly not going to go out hungry when dinner starts with a basket of bread and liver dumpling soup:

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    Though Liam ate off the kids' menu, Myles was game for German food, and so I ordered a special platter for us to share (and for a $1.50 split plate charge, they gave us two generous servings-- an investment in repeat business from a place which has seen many customers' entire lives, no doubt). It included roasted goose (the best thing on the plate, so succulent and roasty-birdy-good), cranberry relish, what they called an Oktoberfest strudel (which was kind of like a reuben in pastry), very good sauerbraten, purple cabbage, spaetzle, and a dollop of sweet potato puree...

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    Plus ice cream and a trip to "the famous Treasure Chest" for candy.

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    As Myles said, Ratzsch's was our fourth museum of the day, and a fine end to it. I hope this will inspire a few more LTHers to join other celebrities starting with L:

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    in paying Karl Ratzsch's an overdue visit. The place is 102 years old, and you're not going to be around to eat there forever.

    Karl Ratzsch's
    320 E. Mason Street
    Milwaukee, WI 53202
    414-276-2720
    www.karlratzsch.com/

    Milwaukee Public Museum
    800 West Wells Street
    Milwaukee, WI 53233
    http://www.mpm.edu/
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  • Post #2 - October 15th, 2006, 6:18 pm
    Post #2 - October 15th, 2006, 6:18 pm Post #2 - October 15th, 2006, 6:18 pm
    HI,

    Terrific post and clearly a day well spent exploring Wisconsin's cultural treasures.

    The last time I was in Milwaukee, I want to go to Karl Ratzsch's. Nobody I inquired with could give me directions and someone even suggested it was closed. Thanks for the heads up this place is still amongst us.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #3 - October 15th, 2006, 6:54 pm
    Post #3 - October 15th, 2006, 6:54 pm Post #3 - October 15th, 2006, 6:54 pm
    Mike G wrote:
    I must admit, I'm not a huge kringle fan, I admire it more for surviving as a regional specialty than for its actual taste (which is like shortening covered with frosting), but sheesh, we were there, so I spun the wheel, selected O&H as one mentioned in that thread I hadn't had before, and picked up a pecan one for this morning. It's fine... just like every other kringle I've ever had.


    Having tried pretty much all of the purveyors, I would say that only one kringle is the true kringle, that is the truly delicious kringle, and that's Bendsten's. It is so world's apart from the others. You have to re-vist Racine.

    The Milwaukee Public Museum is very cool; so cool that we are actually members (hint: join a museaum in Milwaukee, get good deals in Chicago!).
  • Post #4 - October 16th, 2006, 9:50 am
    Post #4 - October 16th, 2006, 9:50 am Post #4 - October 16th, 2006, 9:50 am
    Mike,

    Simply a terrific post! Great looking picture of the Kewpee burger and two of the pictures of Myles and Liam could give Annie Leibovitz a run for her money.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #5 - May 28th, 2007, 5:32 pm
    Post #5 - May 28th, 2007, 5:32 pm Post #5 - May 28th, 2007, 5:32 pm
    Hi,

    Sunday I headed up to Kenosha for a late breakfast with three potential destinations in mind: our first choice was Frank's Diner recommended by chicagostyledog suffering the riches of a long line inside; second choice was The Coffee Cup featuring dining al fresco stretching capacity enough to find us a table immediately; otherwise we would have gone to Andy's Diner.

    Our order at The Coffee Cup began with a shared plate of Strawberry-Rhubarb Stuffed French Toast looking as good as it tasted:

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    Mom had the KISS (keep it simple, stupid!) breakfast of two eggs scrambled, sausage and toast:

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    My friend Helen ordered a mushroom omelet with cheddar cheese and hashed browns. Lurking inside the omelet was a healthy quantity of crumbled sausage, while unexpected, was very good.

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    I had the decadent breakfast of Smoke Salmon Eggs Benedict that kept me smiling for hours afterward:

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    The eggs were perfectly poached with yolk still liquid gold. I borrow a page from our friend BILL/SFNM to share with you the last sweet bite:

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    This breakfast was still dancing in my mind this morning. I postponed the joy until another day, though it will be sooner than later.

    Happy Summer!
    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #6 - May 28th, 2007, 7:14 pm
    Post #6 - May 28th, 2007, 7:14 pm Post #6 - May 28th, 2007, 7:14 pm
    My friends and I are huge Ratzsch's fans. Last time I was in Milwaukee I wasn't up for something that heavy, and went to Sobelman's for a burger instead. But I need to get back there at some point this summer.

    For those of you not interested in doing a same-day round trip (for me, that's 110 miles each way), Priceline often has the Four Points at Milwaukee airport for $55-$60/night, if you don't mind the non-refundableness of it.
    "Fried chicken should unify us, as opposed to tearing us apart. " - Bomani Jones
  • Post #7 - June 20th, 2007, 10:43 pm
    Post #7 - June 20th, 2007, 10:43 pm Post #7 - June 20th, 2007, 10:43 pm
    Hi,

    Still dazzled by the Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict, I returned to the Coffee Pot for breakfast. While I had the very same thing, my Mom did order the classic Eggs Benedict:

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    Helen ordered Corned Beef Hash that was indeed made on the premises:

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    What I could not recommend is their dismal biscuits and gravy. While the biscuit may be passable, the sausage gravy was bland and uninspiring.

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    We were seated immediately despite being 11 AM on Father's Day.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #8 - June 21st, 2007, 12:40 am
    Post #8 - June 21st, 2007, 12:40 am Post #8 - June 21st, 2007, 12:40 am
    I love Karl Ratsch...but have only had the schnitzel. (Kind of dry - ask for extra lemon)

    What would they say if you asked for a sampling of everything - which is what I want to do next time!

    Pictures were great - I love that they welcomed your kids.

    The only thing that Maders does better than KR is the Sauer Brauten and of course the bacon salad.
  • Post #9 - February 21st, 2009, 11:02 am
    Post #9 - February 21st, 2009, 11:02 am Post #9 - February 21st, 2009, 11:02 am
    Couple of WI museum and food related trips in our recent past:

    We went up to Milwaukee to see the Titanic exhibit at the Public Museum a month or so ago, which is expensive as hell but quite interesting (though it doesn't have one of the highlights of a Titanic exhibit we saw many years ago in France, the huge Fresnel lens from one of the lighthouses that... um... actually I guess that had nothing to do with the Titanic proper, it was just one of the displays at the museum). Afterwards we ate at Mader's and I have to agree with the consensus, pretty good, not great (although damn, those reuben rolls are genius drinking food) and quite expensive. I did enjoy the fact that I have the only kids of their age who were picking out many of the prehistoric celebrities (Karloff, Laurel & Hardy, etc.) whose letters to Mader's are along the wall to the restrooms.

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    This week the kids were out for one of their entirely too many winter breaks and so we went up, with a friend of theirs, to Kenosha again. Kenosha's dinosaur museum has reopened and they have also opened, though it's still a work in progress, a Civil War museum dedicated to the service of people from the Great Lakes region. (The above is part of one of the displays.) Clearly strongly influenced by the Lincoln museum in Springfield, this is a very nice museum that helps explain the Civil War pretty well, and we spent a good hour and a half in it (great since one of us is 7), all for the price of... $5. That's right, $5 for adults, kids under 16 free. Pretty much the best deal in getting your kids culture anywhere in the area.

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    Afterwards, we hit Frank's for lunch-- practically empty at 1 pm, I should point out to those who have feared going there. I'm not going to say my garbage plate was the greatest thing I ever had, it's eggs and potatoes and stuff all put together, that's a pretty standard item, but Frank's sure has personality to spare, both in the railcar-diner setting and the staff, and yeah, it needs to be on everybody's gotta-go-there-one-of-these-days list.

    This morning I noticed that my son was wearing his Frank's T-shirt and my wife was wearing her Coon Feed T-shirt. Life is good.
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  • Post #10 - April 30th, 2016, 11:49 am
    Post #10 - April 30th, 2016, 11:49 am Post #10 - April 30th, 2016, 11:49 am
    A few days ago we made our annual trip to a conference in Milwaukee which always includes a German dinner. We stopped along the way at the Civil War Museum in Kenosha, which is a fine museum. Admission is now $9, but there's lots of free parking in the lot across the street. The sign about making johnny cake is still there.

    In the evening after the conference we went to Karl Ratzsch's as usual. When we started these trips 20+ years ago we tried several traditional German restaurants -- John Ernst (now gone), Maders and Ratzsch's, settling on the latter as our regular spot.

    The big news is that Ratzsch's was sold earlier this year to chef Thomas Hauck of c. 1890. Chef Hauk is a CIA graduate who was a James Beard semi-finalist. He's planning to take Ratzsch's closer to it's roots when it opened in 1904. He will add regional German dishes at lunch. The continental dishes are gone. There are still two seafood dishes -- salmon or mussels. The lower level will be more casual and the upstairs quieter.

    The interior had a makeover and they reopened earlier this month so our timing was good for seeing the changes.

    Big news -- there's now a toilet on the first floor! The kitschy decor is gone but they kept the basics, like the barrel-vaulted ceiling. I didn't care for the faux-wood table tops, but that's minor. They still have beer steins on display, but backlit so it's hard to see them. Biggest negative was the music -- sort of pop / country & western from 30-40 years ago. I tuned it out, but it irked others in our group.

    Staff is friendly & helpful, though a few glitches need to be worked out. The bread service was slow. They've only been open 2+ weeks, so I'm sure they'll sort it out.

    Most important, the food is good. I had a very nice goose shank. Came with wild rice & red cabbage. The skin was crisp while the meat was moist. I'd definitely order it again.

    Wife Number One had weinerschnitzel which she liked. It was a thick cut sauteed nice & crisp. She thought the cabbage wasn't quite as tangy as before, but was still OK. We shared a small spaetzle order which I liked; the spaetzle were nicely al dente.

    A friend had the rahmschnitzel. He said the mushroom sauce was very good. Another friend had kassler (cured pork chops). I didn't hear his comments, but it looked good

    By the way the menu has both an English side and a (mostly) German side. Supposedly identical but not quite. Our friend noticed the German side said the kassler came with "Kompot" (don't know if I spelled that correctly), but it wasn't mentioned on the English side. The waiter wasn't sure, but said he would check. When he brought the kassler, there was apple compote with it.

    There's a decent wine & beer list, including a number of beers on draft, as well as plenty of bottled beers. I had a Bitburger (in honor of our late client who was Chairman of Bitburger). Was surprised it was in a can and not a bottle when brought out, but maybe that's how it's shipped these days.

    The restaurant needs some fine tuning, but overall we enjoyed it and plan to return.

    320 E Mason Street
    Milwaukee
    (414) 276-2720
    http://www.karlratzsch.com/
    Where there’s smoke, there may be salmon.
  • Post #11 - May 1st, 2016, 5:31 am
    Post #11 - May 1st, 2016, 5:31 am Post #11 - May 1st, 2016, 5:31 am
    Thanks for the review!
    We had been regular customers for decades until about 10 years ago when things changed.
    Psychologists tell us that change is the norm and that happily accepting change will make your life better.
    I just don't think I will be able to eat again at Ratzsch's and have found no suitable replacement, certainly not Mader's.
    Wegner's gets good reviews and one of the dinner specials is sauerbraten. Wegner's will be my next try at finding a suitable German Restaurant in the area.-Richard
    http://stmartinsinn.com
  • Post #12 - May 1st, 2016, 7:37 am
    Post #12 - May 1st, 2016, 7:37 am Post #12 - May 1st, 2016, 7:37 am
    Wegner's does serve some very good German food. But don't go looking for it on a Friday. The entire weekday menu is replaced with a long list of Fish Fry options. Also excellent, but no German cuisine in sight.

    Buddy

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