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Ray Radigan's - fine dining tradition in nearby Wisconsin

Ray Radigan's - fine dining tradition in nearby Wisconsin
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  • Ray Radigan's - fine dining tradition in nearby Wisconsin

    Post #1 - August 15th, 2006, 9:07 pm
    Post #1 - August 15th, 2006, 9:07 pm Post #1 - August 15th, 2006, 9:07 pm
    Hi,

    I learned of Ray Radigan's only a few months ago while taking my oldest friend, a young 83 year-old, on a driving tour. She wondered out loud if Ray Radigan's was still around, which thankfully it is. I mentioned Ray's to a friend who lives in Waukegan, her face lit up at the mention commenting, "It is very special."

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    Ray Radigan's may have been founded in 1933. The roadhouse location on Sheridan Road just north of the Illinois-Wisconsin border suggests it has been there much longer.

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    While most restaurants promising 'Wonderful Food,' most don't live up to the promise, though fortunately Ray Radigan's does. This restaurant is the kind I could envision my Grandparents taking the entire family to when they wanted to celebrate. I could hear my Grandfather, whose Irish lilt never left his voice, reminding me, "Cathy, I want you to order anything you want." I then had to put up with brief critical looks from my parents when I took up Grandpa's offer by ordering a steak. I redeemed myself later by eating the whole thing, because at least it wasn't money wasted. My Grandparents, who raised children during the Depression, did not tolerate food nor money wasted.

    Starched white tablecloths, tasteful spray of flowers and a formally set table set the mood. Rolls warm from the oven was accompanied by butter with its' name stamped on:

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    I startled the waitress when I commented how neat it was to have butter stamped on the butter pat, "You sure are easy to please!" She then went on how everything is made from scratch with no microwaves or heat lamps in the kitchen.

    Reading through the menu I saw classic appetizers like Oysters Rockefeller, Shrimp de Jonghe as well as off-menu Scallops de Jonghe and relish plate of, "Our famous cottage cheese, bean salad and iced assorted relish tray." Naturally I ordered the relish tray for one, which was enough for two people:

    The waitress advised the cottage cheese is mixed on the premises from regular cottage cheese, dried cottage cheese and chives.

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    The kidney bean salad with crunchy chopped celery was made with a dressing made on the premises golden from egg yolks:

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    The relish tray was the crown jewel presented in a glass dish with shaved ice holding the radish (which we seem to have eaten already), green onion, carrot sticks, celery, pickles and pickled peppers:

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    I was a bit surprised to pay for the relish tray. I inquired with the waitress if the relish tray was once served complimentary. She affirmed it was until 8 years ago when the founder died, then his son immediately started charging for the relish tray. She intimated they lost a lot of customers from that move alone, which I could easily believe.

    The chicken noodle soup had a strong fresh flavor clearly made on the premises:

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    The house salad of Romaine and iceberg lettuces was ordered with blue cheese dressing for an additional dollar:

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    My main course choice of half a chicken was an easy decision when I read, "Fried the old fashioned iron skillet way OR broiled with an herb butter." I double-checked with the waitress to assure myself it was cooked to order when she advised it would take 25-minutes. I absolutely had to have it cooked in the iron skillet, which was worth every moment it took to cook:

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    The chicken was hot from the frying pan with a crisp exterior and moist interior. The mashed potatoes were homemade as promised with a sage gravy.

    My friend Helen had Wisconsin duckling, which was crisp outside though a bit dry inside:

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    When I coveted Helen's sage dressing, the waitress was quick to offer to get me dressing as well. While a bread and sage dressing is not my absolute favorite, I was very touched by the waitress' thoughtful offer.

    I would love to extoll you on their desserts, though I have no clue. I was so happy and full from the my meal I could not begin to consider dessert. I cannot imagine they would be anything but solidly executed desserts.

    While many older restaurants I have visited seemed to have been in their prime a generation or two ago merely riding on their faded laurels today. Ray Radigan's is crisply maintained with standards that have not been allowed to sag. The white bloused waitresses with black dress pants probably wore a black skirt instead years ago, a small accomodation to contemporary standards. Otherwise this restaurant would be clearly recognizable to my Grandparents in their youth.

    Ray Radigan's
    11712 S. Sheridan Rd.
    Pleasant Prairie, WI 53158
    Phone: (262) 694-0455
    Fax: (262) 694-0798

    The menu on the website is a few years old, so the prices have been adjusted up a bit.

    Best 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 #2 - August 15th, 2006, 9:21 pm
    Post #2 - August 15th, 2006, 9:21 pm Post #2 - August 15th, 2006, 9:21 pm
    C2,

    Thanks for going!

    I've been wavering for a while on Ray Rattigan's. It seems to draw a fair amount of opinions, and these days, it seems a lot bad. Combined with the high prices, I have not yet pulled the trigger (and to think the other night we ate at Culvers by the Outlet Mall*). Your post has me thinking that, yea, I have to try soon.

    *While the custard is nothing special, I find the burgers at Culvers surprisingly good for that kinda place. On par with say, In-N-Out or Fatburger in fast food quality.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #3 - August 15th, 2006, 9:36 pm
    Post #3 - August 15th, 2006, 9:36 pm Post #3 - August 15th, 2006, 9:36 pm
    Vital Information wrote: I find the burgers at Culvers surprisingly good for that kinda place. On par with say, In-N-Out or Fatburger in fast food quality.

    Rob,

    My strong preference is In-N-Out over Cluver's, though a direct comparison is somewhat apples and oranges.

    10-12 years ago I was a once every few months regular at Ray Radigan's, very consistent, never a disappointment. It has to be at least 8 years since I was last there as my memory is of complimentary relish trays. Actually, that is the first I have ever hear of charging for a relish tray at a supper club/roadhouse in Wisconsin.

    Cathy, nice pictures, did you take one looking East from RR's? Lake Michigan is directly across the street. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
      Hold my beer . . .

      Low & Slow
    • Post #4 - August 15th, 2006, 9:42 pm
      Post #4 - August 15th, 2006, 9:42 pm Post #4 - August 15th, 2006, 9:42 pm
      HI,

      I didn't take a picture of Lake Michigan on this occasion. I will be back in a few weeks when my oldest friend celebrates her birthday. I will point myself east and take a picture of the lake.

      Even though it was my first time there, it was a walk down memory lane for me as well.

      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 #5 - August 16th, 2006, 5:08 am
      Post #5 - August 16th, 2006, 5:08 am Post #5 - August 16th, 2006, 5:08 am
      I first dined at Ray Radigan's in 1955, when we moved from Roosevelt & Keeler to Lincolnwood. It was a favorite family dining spot when visiting relatives in Highland Park and Waukegan. Back then it was "the place" to eat. I've returned to Radigan's for business lunches, parties, and family affairs since moving to southeastern Wisconsin in 1980. Each visit has been a bigger disappointment than the next. The food is no longer worth the drive. The restaurant maintains a major customer base of senior citizens, similar to Schreiner's in Fond du Lac. For the money, food, and atmosphere, a short drive north on Sheridan Road to Mangia Trattoria is a much better choice.
    • Post #6 - August 16th, 2006, 7:00 am
      Post #6 - August 16th, 2006, 7:00 am Post #6 - August 16th, 2006, 7:00 am
      CSD,

      I having no comparisons to the past, found the food to be better than average for the genre and worth the price. If there is any issue, then it is for paying for the relish tray though a lot of care was put into it.

      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 #7 - August 16th, 2006, 1:37 pm
      Post #7 - August 16th, 2006, 1:37 pm Post #7 - August 16th, 2006, 1:37 pm
      Sounds like really good comfort food. I will make a point of trying it the next time I am in the area.
    • Post #8 - August 16th, 2006, 6:22 pm
      Post #8 - August 16th, 2006, 6:22 pm Post #8 - August 16th, 2006, 6:22 pm
      Cathy, I've never paid for a relish tray at any Wisconsin supper club. The relish tray is considered the normal bill of fare with a meal at most northwoods supper clubs. One of the finest relish trays is available at the Guide's Inn in Boulder Junction. All meals include soup, salad, hot fresh baked bread, and large relsih tray. Jimmy Dean, owner and head chef at the Guide's Inn has been recognized numerous times for offering the "Best Fine Dining in the Northwoods." We'll be dining there a few times next week.

      Guide's Inn
      HWY W
      Boulder Junction, WI
      (715)385-2233
    • Post #9 - September 27th, 2009, 10:17 pm
      Post #9 - September 27th, 2009, 10:17 pm Post #9 - September 27th, 2009, 10:17 pm
      Ray Radigan’s

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      Since I’d rented a car for the weekend to attend to some family obligations I took advantage of the wheels to trek up to the outlet mall at Pleasant Prairie, WI and, afterwards, I stopped for an early-dinner at Ray Radigan’s. I learned of the restaurant as the result of a search here on LTH and after reading comments reported by Cathy2.

      It was about 2:30 when I pulled-up to the restaurant and when I didn’t see but one car in the parking lot I assumed the place was closed. Seeing a farmer’s market/produce stand across the road I pulled into the parking lot there, made some purchases and asked one of the employees if Radigan’s was still open for business – to which question she replied, “Yes.” Still not confident or wanting to enter a restaurant almost deserted I headed back down the road to a bar at which I saw a full parking lot of about 40 vehicles – thinking food might be served there. I think the name is “Mike’s Pub.”

      The bar was packed – with Green Bay fans watching the game. There is an impressive list of draught beers there and a large number of bottled beers as well. I had a pint of an “Octoberfest” – brewery unknown to me – saw no food was being served and headed back to Radigan’s where I saw three or four cars in the lot.

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      Immediately upon walking into the restaurant, I felt comfortable there. 8 or 10 other customers were seated at tables. I was shown to a table in a nice, bright room with may e 15 tables – three of which were occupied. Starched napkins and table cloths.

      The menu was more extensive than I expected – split in thirds between seafood, fowl and other meats. Dinners come with soup and salad and as mentioned by others the relish tray carries the extra cost of $4.50.

      After reading on the menu that the steaks are dry-aged on-premises and cut in-house as well, I chose for my entrée the 8 oz. tenderloin filet (prime), vegetable beef soup, dinner salad with Roquefort dressing, and baked potato (approx. $26).

      Vegetable Beef Soup

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      The beef broth was rich in flavor – clearly a made-on-the-premises soup with fresh vegetables and decently proportioned pieces of beef.

      Salad

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      The generously-portioned salad screamed-out “fresh!” Tomato-tasting tomatoes, crisp lettuce, pickeled beet slices, ripe red bell pepper slices and chunky Roquefort.

      8 oz. Filet

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      The filet was nicely-cut but arrived almost medium-well as contrasted with the “medium” which I ordered it at. There was enough pink that I didn’t send it back, but there was an after-taste I struggled to identify. I’d had a pint of beer at the bar down the road, some chocolate-covered almonds (from the Jelly Belly store where I stopped beforehand) and I was thinking those two things were interfering with my palate. I settled on an assessment that there was a slight taste of liver on the steak and I later overheard someone at a table nearby mention they’d had one of the night’s specials – liver. So, maybe the steak followed the liver on the broiler and that explains what I was trying to identify as the mystery aftertaste. It was a very tender filet but lacked the flavoring I’d hoped for when ordering it.

      Strawberry Shortcake

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      For dessert I ordered the strawberry shortcake ($3.50). The shortcake is baked on-premises and when the dish came-out I thought there was enough for two or three people, and I ate only about one-half.

      With dinner I drank a glass of the house Merlot, which I enjoyed. With dessert I drank some tea and a snifter of Sambuca. I liked that the bartender came to my table to clarify the manner in which I wanted the Sambuca ($6.50) served – and to explain the way the after-dinner drink is served at the restaurant – and I appreciated that special effort.

      My waitress was efficient but not intrusive and I observed the other waitress who functioned likewise.

      I get to that area only several times each year, and it’s been years since I’ve been on that stretch of Sheridan Rd., but if I find myself in the neighborhood again I wouldn’t hesitate to stop at Ray Radigan’s.

      Thanks to Cathy2 and the others who commented earlier in this discussion – comments which prompted me to stop at the restaurant and give it a try.
    • Post #10 - September 28th, 2009, 6:07 am
      Post #10 - September 28th, 2009, 6:07 am Post #10 - September 28th, 2009, 6:07 am
      Haven't been to Ray's in years. The last time we went, we took our daughter (then very young, now in college) across the street to the Pumpkin Patch. They set this up prior to Halloween, with decorated pumpkins to view...and thousands more available for sale. Together with Ray's great meal, it was a wonderful family day.
    • Post #11 - February 6th, 2010, 11:38 am
      Post #11 - February 6th, 2010, 11:38 am Post #11 - February 6th, 2010, 11:38 am
      how toddler-friendly is Ray Radigan's? My mom and I are taking my 14mo to the outlets and meeting an old friend for lunch. Princess Grace is a very pleasant lunch companion, eats most things without complaint, sits nicely in a high chair, doesn't scream, etc. However, she can be pretty messy, and the white tablecloths give me pause. OTOH, I've taken her to Sabatino's (white tablecloths and all), where the waitresses seem to adore her and don't bat an eyelash at her messiness. Thoughts?

      *of course I clean up after her, but some mess, such as pasta sauce or other smeared detritus, is a bit more challenging.
    • Post #12 - February 23rd, 2010, 8:45 am
      Post #12 - February 23rd, 2010, 8:45 am Post #12 - February 23rd, 2010, 8:45 am
      sweetsalty wrote:I've taken her to Sabatino's (white tablecloths and all), where the waitresses seem to adore her and don't bat an eyelash at her messiness. Thoughts?

      I have not been to Ray Radigan's in a few years, but the old school vibe is similar, in a Wisconsin Roadhouse sort of way, to Sabatino's. RR's attracts both an older and multi generational crowd, tables of 9-months to 90-years not uncommon.

      Far as the waitress adoring your child, I suppose that depends on the waitress and your child. ;)
      Hold my beer . . .

      Low & Slow
    • Post #13 - December 26th, 2011, 1:05 pm
      Post #13 - December 26th, 2011, 1:05 pm Post #13 - December 26th, 2011, 1:05 pm
      Just over the border.
      Thinking about it for New Year's Day dinner.

      Anybody eaten there in the last 30 days?
      Looking for an opinion.
      Ate at Convito on Christmas Eve. 2 Thumbs down. Want to avoid that experience.

      Wally Wade
    • Post #14 - August 3rd, 2013, 1:05 pm
      Post #14 - August 3rd, 2013, 1:05 pm Post #14 - August 3rd, 2013, 1:05 pm
      Just an update about Radigan's.
      Radigan's is like home to me and my wife as we ate there every few weeks for over 20 years and I knew Ray and his son Michael. It was also the prime location for company luncheons and dinners.
      Mike's daughter is now running the place and my wife suggested we go with friends for St Pat's this year.
      The Guinness lamb stew was very good, the Guinness while not on draft but in 12 oz bottles was served in pint glasses.
      I immediately told the server too bring more bottles, lots more for the four of us as you can't serve 12oz in a pint glass!
      Anyway, everything was just about as I remembered except that the complimentary salads and cottage cheese, vegetable tray is extra. We bide our time between a few fine restaurants these days and Radigan's is on the list.
      There are also two small private dining rooms available which we have used over the years for company affairs and private dining.-Dick
    • Post #15 - May 29th, 2015, 5:52 am
      Post #15 - May 29th, 2015, 5:52 am Post #15 - May 29th, 2015, 5:52 am
      As a final update to this Thread, Ray Radigan's has close it's doors until further notice.
      https://www.facebook.com/RayRadigansRestaurant
      We had a reservation for this coming Wednesday.
      It's not to be and it will be a difficult to probably impossible search to find a restaurant of Radigan's caliber close by.-Richard
      BTW, The Hob Nob doesn;t even come close.
    • Post #16 - May 29th, 2015, 7:03 am
      Post #16 - May 29th, 2015, 7:03 am Post #16 - May 29th, 2015, 7:03 am
      Ugh. Was planning on going in a few weeks when I'll be up there for a baseball tournament. This has been a really crappy month for restaurant closings!
      "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
    • Post #17 - May 29th, 2015, 7:32 am
      Post #17 - May 29th, 2015, 7:32 am Post #17 - May 29th, 2015, 7:32 am
      budrichard wrote:As a final update to this Thread, Ray Radigan's has close it's doors until further notice.
      https://www.facebook.com/RayRadigansRestaurant
      We had a reservation for this coming Wednesday.
      It's not to be and it will be a difficult to probably impossible search to find a restaurant of Radigan's caliber close by.-Richard
      BTW, The Hob Nob doesn;t even come close.

      Sebastian's Restaurant in Racine has been my favorite restaurant for years. Great food in north Racine on Douglas. www.sebastiansracine.com
      Mark A Reitman, PhD
      Professor of Hot Dogs
      Hot Dog University/Vienna Beef

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