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#1
Posted July 12th 2006, 8:33am
Speaking of brats....

Started in 1961 as a mom and pop Wisconsin beer-cheese-sausage highway stop the Brat Stop moved across Highway 50 into larger quarters, lit up the grill for it's house made brats and was well on it's way to becoming a must-stop on the Milwaukee-Chicago route. With my parents it was always a decision whether to stop at HoJo for clam strips and one of Howard Johnson's 28-flavors or the Brat Stop for brats and cheese curds. Truthfully, HoJo typically won out as my father dearly loved clam strips.

The Brat Stop of today is nothing like of old after a fire, a decade or two ago, they have been on a never ending expansion kick, seating for hundreds in the main dining room, banquet facilities, venue for formerly A-list rock bands, but drill down deep enough and, hiding in plain sight behind the front bar, is the core, the still beating heart of mom and pop Rasmussen, brats sizzling away on a live fire grill.

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For those of us who still hold the Brat Stop dear, even in it's current FrankenBrat configuration, there has been question and controversy. The brats have not been made in house for decades, but I had heard, born out by a question or three to busy employees, that the brats, all the brats, both served in the restaurant and for sale in the cheese-sausage shop, were made by Usinger's. Nothing wrong with Usinger's, in fact I grilled up a batch just last week, but a joint called the Brat Stop should really be rolling it's own, or at least it's own recipe.

The other 'controversy' is brats ordered at the bar are properly grilled with lump charcoal on the front bar grill, brats served in the multi level restaurant area cooked in the kitchen with a gas grill. As it turns out both of these theories are only partially true.

In an early morning conversation with Odie, like in the Garfield cartoon, I learned yes indeed Brat Stop brats are made by Usinger's, but only, and this is the very important fact I missed, the specialty brats, ie jalapeno, onion, cajun etc. The all pork Brat Stop brats are made to their original recipe specifications by Busch in Silver Creek Wisconsin.

Odie went on to say that all sandwich brats and, for that matter, frankfurter, rib eye steak and polish sausage sandwiches are made on the bar grill. All Brat Plates, in other words combos w/sauerkraut, fries etc, are made under a high intensity broiler (Salamander) in the kitchen, irrespective of where one is sitting.

Not to doubt Odie, but it seems unlikely that, given a full house, the small bar grill could possibly keep up with both bar and restaurant sandwich brat demand. I'm thinking the policy of grilling all sandwiches brats on the bar grill is somewhat elastic depending on how busy they are.

I still love the Brat Stop, though always take a bar seat with a view of the grill and, with varying degrees of success, try to block out the endless strings of beer advert neon, espn tuned tvs and focus on the essentials, the brat. It's all about the brat. :)

No brat pictures, I was at The Brat Stop early morning, which is why Odie had time to chat, they had not yet fired up the grill. Next time out I will be sure to take a few pics of the grill in action and both a brat and rib eye sandwich.

Enjoy,
Gary

Brat Stop
12304 75th St
Kenosha, WI 53142
262-857-2011
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#2
Posted July 12th 2006, 9:07am
G Wiv wrote:I still love the Brat Stop, though always take a bar seat with a view of the grill and, with varying degrees of success, try to block out the endless strings of beer advert neon, espn tuned tvs and focus on the essentials, the brat. It's all about the brat. :)


Thank you for tipping me off to the bar grill a few months ago, Gary.

I've since been to the Brat Stop three times. :wink:

Sitting down to the bar for a charcoal-grilled brat and a Point Lager draught is sure to become a summertime ritual for me.

E.M.
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#3
Posted July 12th 2006, 9:14am
Looks like I just found the first "rest stop" on my upcoming trip to Door County. :D
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#4
Posted July 12th 2006, 9:24am
That corner of 50 and 94 was always a stop on the route to Lake Geneva, until we moved far enough west that going straight up 12 made more sense.

In the 70's and 80's, the McD's on the same block was a test-market site, among the first to get sundaes, cherry pies, and onion rings. I don't know if it still has that distinction. Because of the mysteries that could be present, stopping there or the Brat Stop was always a toss-up.

(This was long before my current self-imposed ban on eating McD's, and more in line with my time of trying to hit 8 of them in one day just to get Monopoly pieces)
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#5
Posted July 12th 2006, 11:18am
The Brat Stop used to be one of our "must have" favorites, but a couple of years ago I got a brat there that contained more gristle than anything else and was leery of dining there after that nasty experience.

We have since found the Star Bar, at the exit for the Mars Cheese Castle, to be a better option for our family. I think their brats taste better, and Bobby Nelson's is right there on the other side of the Cheese Castle before we jump back on the expressway.

Yeah, the Star Bar doesn't have the ambience of the Brat Stop (or any former A-list bands), but I like it. In fact, we'll be stopping there Sunday on our way home from picking up our youngest at camp.

Suzy

The Star Bar
2616 120th Avenue
Kenosha, WI 53144
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#6
Posted July 13th 2006, 9:05am
sdritz wrote:Yeah, the Star Bar doesn't have the ambience of the Brat Stop (or any former A-list bands), but I like it. In fact, we'll be stopping there Sunday on our way home from picking up our youngest at camp.

Suzy,

Star Bar sounds like they put out a darn good brat, I'll most certainly give it a try soon. Do you happen to know how they cook the brats?

We are on the same page Bobby Nelson wise, I prefer Mr. Mit or Mit-Out (referring to garlic or no garlic in the Wisconsin summer sausage on Bobby Nelson's sign) to Mar's. Only time I stop at Mar's Cheese Castle is when I have a hankering for the cheese bread, it's really good when it's warm, or have to use the bathroom.

I might suggest giving Brat Stop another try, one gristly brat a few yeas ago does not a shanda make. :)

Enjoy,
Gary
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#7
Posted July 13th 2006, 9:31am
I went past the Start Bar a few weeks ago on our way to the Apple Holler (which was VERY good). They had advertised Blue Gill and Lake Perch for their Friday Fish Fry. I'm planning a trip up there just for that! (And a New Glarus stock up at Woodman's)
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#8
Posted July 13th 2006, 2:04pm
Gary,

Since my dad is a die-hard Brat Stop fan and he will be with us on the return trip from camp on Sunday, I may end up there instead of the Star Bar. I'll be sure to let you know if this experience is better than the last time I stopped there.

Actually, I doubt it could be worse. :wink:

Suzy
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#9
Posted July 13th 2006, 3:20pm
I've been dining at the Star Bar for the last 26 years. The blue gill is a regular item on the menu and can be ordered any time. Dave also makes a great Reuben sandwich(Vienna Beef), using his secret sauce, accompanied with a tasty potato pancake. For those die hard brat fans, Sheboygan Brat Days are coming August 3-5. Although Sheboygan doesn't have a professional sports team, ESPN will be airing a 60 minute special(August 5th at 3pm) on Sheboygan and Brat Days which will include the 2006 Johnsonville Brat-Eating World Championship.
www.sheboyganjaycees.com
Last edited by chicagostyledog on July 13th 2006, 9:06pm, edited 2 times in total.
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#10
Posted July 13th 2006, 4:01pm
chicagostyledog wrote:ESPN will be airing a 60 minute special(August 5th at 3pm) on Sheboygan and Brat Days which will include the 2006 Johnsonville Brat-Eating World Championship.


I hope they're serving something a little more hand-crafted at Sheboygan Brad Days than Johnsonville Brats. :roll:
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#11
Posted July 13th 2006, 6:19pm
chicagostyledog wrote:I've been dining at the Star bar for the last 26 years. www.sheboyganjaycees.com


Excellent! Then you can tell us... is their brat better than the Brat Stop's? :-)
(The reason I ask is, I may be headed up there in a couple of days - and
would like to stop, but probably have to choose between the two
places :-) Either do a brat for breakfast, do you know? (GW seemed
to indicate Brat Stop doesnt).

Also, thanks for your other WI reports earlier BTW - if I do make it up
there with some time, I plan on trying ... um, that burger place near
the Airport Road you had mentioned earlier (will be looking it up and
keeping copies before I head up there :-) For burgers in Milwaukee,
thats one of the better options? Along, of course, with my old
fave Mazo's? Would love to do Kewpee's again, but not sure I'll
make it down to Racine, sadly.

c8w
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#12
Posted July 13th 2006, 6:25pm
stevez wrote:
chicagostyledog wrote:ESPN will be airing a 60 minute special(August 5th at 3pm) on Sheboygan and Brat Days which will include the 2006 Johnsonville Brat-Eating World Championship.


I hope they're serving something a little more hand-crafted at Sheboygan Brad Days than Johnsonville Brats. :roll:


Johnsonville, like Usinger's is a popular mass produced retail brat. If one's seeking a fine hand-crafted Sheboygan brat , the best are available from Miesfeld's Market. They're in a class by themselves. :lol: The best Sheboygan hard rolls are baked at the City Bakery. While the Charcoal Inn has been serving great brats for many years, the concession stands at Road America serve a Sheboygan brat that's been awarded the " Best Race Track Concession Food Title" numerous times by racers and fans.

Miesfeld's Market
4811 Venture Drive
Sheboygan, WI
920-565-6328
www.miesfelds.com

City Bakery
1102 Michigan
Sheboygan, WI
920-457-4493

Charcoal Inn
1313 8th
Sheboygan, WI
920-458-698
http://www.galen-frysinger.ws/us/sheboygan24.jpg
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#13
Posted July 13th 2006, 6:32pm
c8w wrote:Either do a brat for breakfast, do you know? (GW seemed
to indicate Brat Stop doesnt).

c8w,

Depends on your definition of breakfast. ;)

The Brat Stop fires up the bar brat grill around 8:30. Rib eye steaks sandwiches are really good as well. Thinly cut rib eye cooked hot and fast, perfect with raw onions and a brat sandwich chaser. :)

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

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#14
Posted July 13th 2006, 9:21pm
c8w wrote:
Excellent! Then you can tell us... is their brat better than the Brat Stop's? :-)
(The reason I ask is, I may be headed up there in a couple of days - and
would like to stop, but probably have to choose between the two
places :-)



c8w


Brat Stop's product are made for them, sold retail fresh/frozen, and in the restaurant. I haven't been there in 20 years. I'm a blue gill and reuben eater at the Star Bar and can't compare the two. However, as a member of the BMW & Miata car clubs, I'm in Elkhart Lake and Sheboygan participating in driving schools at Road America, where I enjoy fabulous brats.
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#15
Posted July 14th 2006, 7:15am
I used to go to the Brat Stop quite regularly but the last few visits were unexciting so I stopped a couple of years ago. Thanks for the tip on the bar grill and the Star Bar. Will try that on my next outing to Kewaunee County in a couple of weeks (not fashionable enough for Door County, not us).

My issues with the Brat Stop are many - the place is too big, the service too lackadaisical on a busy day, and the Brats inconsistent and never quite perfect. The last is the only one that counts, really. So maybe the bar grill will fix all that, but meanwhile Star Bar here I come.
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#16
Posted July 14th 2006, 12:29pm
I guess I just need to decide for myself which is better -- Brat Stop or Star Bar. Star Bar says they open at 6am, Brat Stop says they open at 8am. They both say that they serve brats all day.

So on Friday, July 28, I plan on making a pit stop of sorts, first a stop at Star Bar just before 8am, then at the Brat Stop just after 8am. And then with a full stomach, I'll complete my trip up to Door County. :D
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#17
Posted July 14th 2006, 1:36pm
BR wrote:then at the Brat Stop just after 8am.

BR,

From my conversation at the Brat Stop it's my understanding the grill man gets there at 8am mostly. I'd say 8:30am, maybe even a little later on the Brat Stop brats, if you want bar grill brat certainty.

Looking forward to the brat face-off results. If you think of it, please ask at Star Bar how they cook the brats.

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

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#18
Posted July 14th 2006, 2:02pm
G Wiv wrote:
BR wrote:then at the Brat Stop just after 8am.

BR,

From my conversation at the Brat Stop it's my understanding the grill man gets there at 8am mostly. I'd say 8:30am, maybe even a little later on the Brat Stop brats, if you want bar grill brat certainty.

Looking forward to the brat face-off results. If you think of it, please ask at Star Bar how they cook the brats.

Enjoy,
Gary

I'll take your word on 8:30 (the woman I spoke to on the phone might not realize how serious I am about showing up early). And absolutely, I will find out how Star Bar cooks the brats.

Of course, with all the discussion on how best to cook a brat, I have also decided that it's time to go to Paulina, pick up a couple of fresh porks and cooked veal and Sheboygans and try various methods to find out which is the best brat, as well as the best way to cook it.
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#19
Posted July 20th 2006, 2:08pm
Don't miss the cajun brat at the Brat stop, I love them
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#20
Posted July 20th 2006, 7:19pm
G Wiv wrote: I learned yes indeed Brat Stop brats are made by Usinger's, but only, and this is the very important fact I missed, the specialty brats, ie jalapeno, onion, cajun etc. The all pork Brat Stop brats are made to their original recipe specifications by Busch in Silver Creek Wisconsin.



chicagostyledog wrote:Brat Stop's product are made for them, sold retail fresh/frozen, and in the restaurant.


First off, thanks Chicagostyle for the Sheboygan links. I'll be at Blue Harbor Resort in a few weeks, and will try to hit one or two of those places (Especially City Bakery)

I have been stopping at the Brat Stop for years and buying their brats fresh, then grilling them at home properly (similar to links to Gary's method here). They come in plastic bags, not prepackaged, the # of links dependent on how much I ask for.

I understand the Jalepeno's I occasionally get are for sure Usinger produced (per Odie in Gary's post) but I was wondering if Gary, or Chicagostyle can clarify if the retail fresh brats are the same family recipe produced by Busch in Silver Creek

Great thread!
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#21
Posted July 20th 2006, 11:04pm
G Wiv wrote:The Brat Stop of today is nothing like of old ...


I remember the Brat Stop used to serve us at 15, then we "discovered" the 2nd bar area in back which was rarely used unless the house was hopping, in this bar area they made the mistake of leaving the taps on. Oh my to get sloshed for $5 then tear up the roads coming back across the border. (big sigh)
G Wiv wrote:For those of us who still hold the Brat Stop dear, even in it's current FrankenBrat configuration..


I do and thanks for the info.
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#22
Posted July 21st 2006, 5:42am
Willkat98 wrote:[q but I was wondering if Gary, or Chicagostyle can clarify if the retail fresh brats are the same family recipe produced by Busch in Silver Creek

As per Odie the all pork brats, whether in the bar, restaurant or retail cheese/brat area are made to the Brat Stop's specifications by Busch in Silver Creek, Wisconsin.

Any brat with a 'flavor', cajun/jalapeno/onion, is is made by Usinger's.

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

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#23
Posted July 24th 2006, 10:36am
Saturday we were on our way up to Oconomowoc for what turned out to be an incredible Alumni Day program and concert at my childhood summer camp. We went to the Star Bar for lunch on our way up.

All three of us ordered the Brats, which come with your choice of fries or chips. My daughter ordered the fries. They looked batter dipped, but when I questioned the waitress, she told me they were not. I don't know where they are getting them from (they are not made in house), but they were really great. She said a number of people have started coming in for just a plate of fries since they began carrying them.

Brats are char grilled and served on a bakery bun. They put jars of relish and chopped onion on the table, and have Koop's mustard on the table in addition to plain old yellow French's. It was just as good as we remembered, and a steal at only $4.75!

My husband rounded his lunch out with a special of the month draft beer, which was New Glarus Spotted Cow. The daughter had a Sprecher's root beer and I opted for ice tea.

I did inquire as to who makes the brats they use and I was told they are from Usinger's. While I was interested in trying the fried bluegill, which is on the menu every day, we were short on time. Hopefully I will check it out when we return in two weeks.

Suzy
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#24
Posted July 30th 2006, 6:09pm
Friday, July 28 -- Star Bar vs. Brat Stop. And the winner is . . . BRAT STOP.

I first arrived at Star Bar shortly after 9am and sat down at the counter. Several tables were filled with people eating normal breakfast food -- toast, eggs and the like. But I went straight for the brat. As noted above, Usinger's. The brats are grilled on an indoor grated grill in the kitchen -- no charcoal, no wood. I was told that the brats were first boiled in beer. I didn't question this, although I assumed that they really meant simmered. But my heart dropped when I was told the beer used - - - Miller Lite. Are you kidding me? I'm sorry, but Miller Lite is not going to import any flavor into a brat!

Well, in any event, this was a very juicy brat. Perfectly cooked, moist, and good but not great flavor. In other words, it tasted like your run of the mill Usinger's, which is not such a bad thing. Their sauerkraut is some "secret" recipe, so they say, and though I have forgotten the taste 2 days later, it seems to have included some sort of mustard and was really excellent kraut. I recommend that you order it with your brat.

On to the Brat Stop. I found the brat to be a little less juicy and slightly overcooked. But it was still juicy, just not as juicy as the Star Bar Brat. But the Brat Stop's fresh pork brat was far more flavorful than the Usinger's from Star Bar, no question. It was so good that on my way back from Door County today, I stopped off for another one. This second one was actually perfectly cooked, making for a slightly more juicy brat, but equally flavorful.
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#25
Posted August 1st 2006, 10:51am
I've been a Brat Stop customer for more than 25-years, and find that I can't pass by that interchange without pulling-in for a brat, or two. Even when I'm at Great America or Gurnee Mills - I drive further along to the Brat Stop for a bite to eat. I'm a veal brat fan and prefer a sandwich or two to the "plate" offerings. I don't know if the Brat Stop serves the best brats around, but there's something about the place that I can't get out of my system.

In Chicago, or close hereto, when I want a great brat I head for Goldy's in Forest Park - "Sheboygan's."
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#26
Posted August 6th 2006, 3:34am
chicagostyledog wrote: Although Sheboygan doesn't have a professional sports team, ESPN will be airing a 60 minute special(August 5th at 3pm) on Sheboygan and Brat Days which will include the 2006 Johnsonville Brat-Eating World Championship.
www.sheboyganjaycees.com


To those who haven't been following this:

Takeru Kobayashi (who has dominated the Nathan's hot dog eating contest), won by downing 58 johnsonville brats in 10 minutes. Joey Chestnut came in second with 45 brats, and Sonya Thomas, the defending champion, ended up with 34, just short of the 34.5 she won with last year.

Since it doesn't mention it, I'm assuming that the brats were not eaten with buns, which probably explains the high numbers.
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#27
Posted August 6th 2006, 9:05pm
A friend of mine just reported on his visit to Oshkosh, at the fly-in. Apparently there was a Japanese sausage-eater there as well, who won the brat-skarfing contest. Was that the same guy??

Geo
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#28
Posted August 10th 2006, 7:20am
After planning to go to the Star Bar for comparison, we ended up at the Brat Stop. The comparative write up and information on the way they grill 'em at the bar swayed me. We went and sat at the bar.

I clearly have some problem with the Brat Stop, in that whenever I go, I cannot seem to get service. The place was 3/4 emply at 3pm on Friday, and we were seated quickly. And the tables around us were served quickly, but we were left undisturbed for some time. Neither of the wait people serving adjacent tables were ours, it seemed, and ours was MIA.

All's well that ends well, though, for when our waitress emerged she took our order promptly, and the food came almost as quickly. I do not think they were using the firelplace grill, though, so the char had no smoke to it. The brat was otherwise wondefully meaty and flavorful, on their good rolls. My German Potato Salad and Sauerkraut sides were tasty, too.

Objectively, it was good. But not close to as good as the fresh brats I bought at Marchant's (new outpost in Sturgeon Bay) and grilled at home, or the ones I bought at Salmon's in Luxembourg in the past. Will post more on them elsewhere when I provide my Kewaunee County food shopping update.

So the Brat Stop was good, no question, but I think I will be searching for some other stop on the way north - the thrill is gone for me. It has fallen afoul of that age-old trap: once I know I can easily do it better, much better, at home, I lose interest. Plus, as much as I want to say I am above it, the continued issues I have, and they sure seem to be specific to me, getting served there have begun to tick me off.
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#29
Posted August 10th 2006, 7:58am
dicksond wrote:I do not think they were using the firelplace grill, though, so the char had no smoke to it. The brat was otherwise wondefully meaty and flavorful, on their good rolls. My German Potato Salad and Sauerkraut sides were tasty, too.

D,

If you ordered a Brat Stop brat plate, which would include sauerkraut and potato salad, you brats were made in the kitchen, as opposed to the fireplace grill.*

No comment on the service issue, you weren't wearing your Down with Cheeseheads shirt, were you? :)

Enjoy,
Gary

*Odie went on to say that all sandwich brats and, for that matter, frankfurter, rib eye steak and polish sausage sandwiches are made on the bar grill. All Brat Plates, in other words combos w/sauerkraut, fries etc, are made under a high intensity broiler (Salamander) in the kitchen, irrespective of where one is sitting.
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#30
Posted August 10th 2006, 8:34am
Man, I thought I had read that post thoroughly but I see I missed that crucial point. Okay, one more time I will go and get a Brat Sammy at the bar, no plate.

As to my apparel, it was a camouflage green shirt and beige shorts with sandals. I would say I could have been taken for a local, but I know better. No one takes me for a local, anywhere. Still, I do not think I offended them that quickly and thoroughly :oops: .
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