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Sheboygan, WI - best restaurants

Hi ~ a co-worker is moving to Sheboygan, WI (from Seattle, WA). He's a doctor who has pretty sophisticated tastes. I was thinking that a good send-off gift would be a gift certificate to a great restaurant nearby: something special, scenic (on the Lake?), not necessarily "trendy" but good food, with a nice, welcoming atmosphere. No real budget limitations. Sorry this is a little vague, but I have NO idea what is there. Please help with ideas!

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  1. The best food I have ever had in my life came in the form of a bratwurst at The Charcoal Inn in Sheboygan. But it's not fancy at all.

    1. I travel to Sheboygan frequently, and I've been to most of the better restaurants there.

      I think Margaux is exactly what you're looking for. Read my report about my recent spectacular dinner there in this topic:
      www.chowhound.com/topics/397288
      I can't tell you enough about how wonderful it was. It was fantastic!

      I am not sure whether Margaux has gift certificates available, but I seem to recall seeing something at the entrance that said that they did; you will have to contact them to find out for sure. (It doesn't say anything on their website or on the flyer I took with me.) You'll find contact info on their website at www.dinemargaux.com

      Sheboygan seems to be an interesting town, kind of transitioning from a not-so-great blue-collar town to a resort town with upscale amenities. You can find out more information on the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce website at www.sheboygan.org

      Here are the best restaurants in the area, in order based on my personal opinion about them:

      1. Margaux. Spectacular. See link above to my recent report. www.dinemargaux.com

      2. For "fine dining", in addition to Margaux, there are Biro and O, which are owned/run by Marcel Biro, who also has/had a cooking show on public television. Creative cuisine, and pretty good, but I think the food at Margaux is much better. More info on their website at www.birointernationale.com

      3. The American Club is a big, expensive ($400 plus per night) resort in Kohler, near Sheboygan, and it has several restaurants. Upscale, nice, and pretty good, but very conventional. www.destinationkohler.com/restaurants...

      4. 52 Stafford, a combination Irish pub, upscale restaurant, and bed and breakfast in Plymouth. www.irishinnsandtours.com/stafford_la...

      5. Seabird, a decent seafood restaurant in the recently-developed waterfront development on Lake Michigan. I see from their website that they have added a wine and tapas bar since I was last there. www.weissgerbers.com/seabird

      6. Bruce's, in Elkhart Lake. American food. www.brucesofelkhart.com

      7. Richard's, an American restaurant in nearby Sheboygan Falls. www.richardsoffalls.com

      8. CityStreets, an American restaurant (prime rib, etc), also in the recently-developed waterfront development on the lake (but has been there a while longer than some of the others).

      9. Thai Cafe Restaurant - Pretty good Thai food, not at all fancy though. www.sheboyganthaicafe.com

      All of these restaurants are pretty good. The dining scene there is much better than you would typically expect in a county with just over 100,000 people. And, of course, it's only 45 minutes from Milwaukee, with its vibrant food scene.

      I haven't mentioned the Osthoff, which is a resort in Elkhart Lake. In my visits there, some times they have had their restaurant open, while others they have only had food available there for room service and banquets. www.osthoff.com Other places I've tried include Nino's Steak Roundup (steakhouse, www.foodspot.com/ninos ), Brisco County Wood Grill (American food www.briscocountywoodgrill.com ), and the Depot (a steakhouse in Plymouth); these are okay, but I don't think they're as good as the ones I've listed above. Also, Il Ritrovo specializes in Neopolitan pizza and is one of ~20 places in the country certified to do so by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association, but I have not been there. (Sorry, but the deep-dish pizza is so good at home in Chicago that I never eat pizza when I'm out of town.)

      As you can probably tell from what I've written, I am tremendously impressed with Margaux. You can't go wrong by contacting them about getting your friend a gift certificate. He'll be really impressed with such a great place right in town, much more so IMHO than for the other places I've listed. Not that they're bad - they're all pretty good, like I said - but Margaux is just WONDERFUL.

      HTH

      7 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        Wow ~ thanks for the wealth of information! Margaux sounds perfect. I will contact them, but also save the details on the others to give him. Do you think $200 would be a good amount (on the generous side) for dinner for two including wine, tax and gratuities? There's nothing like a great dining experience to ease the transition! (He's originally from Chicago, so he's looking forward to returning to the Midwest.)

        1. re: MsFishpaw

          Yes, $200 is on the generous side. For dinner, I spent $60 there last year, and $70 this year, including tax and tip, but no alcoholic beverages.

          As I mentioned in my report, I live in Chicago, and Margaux compares well with the best of the many casual fine dining restaurants here. I'm sure he'll love it!

        2. re: nsxtasy

          Knowing lots of "Hounds" refer to these pages long after the original info is posted, having eaten all over Sheboygan County for years here's a few real hidden gems for anyone going to the area. In Sheboygan if you are looking for a great sandwich or the town's best Friday "fish fry" try Gosse's at the Northwestern House, 1909 Union Ave, Sheboygan, WI. If you find this place, you will be the only non-local there. And remember they close promptly at 7:00PM so if you don't arrive before then and get your order in - you will be sent away hungry.

          If you are out and about in Elkhart Lake and looking for a great bar with good casual food (burgers, soup, daily specials) stop by and see Mike at the Brown Baer, 181 E Rhine St. They have live music on Sunday nights.

          A few miles out of Elkhart in the little village of St. Anne is Schwartz's Supper Club. Giant steaks, great onion rings and other stuff. Very inexpensive. Giant drinks. If they ever put "Wisconsin Supper Club' in the dictionary, there will be a picture of Schwartz's there. www.schwarzsupperclub.com

          Nsxtasy did a great job covering the better dining places in the area. A few updates; Biro is closed. Bruces is for sale but still open.

          My top three for fine dining in the area would be Margaux, Trattoria Stefano and newcomer the Paddock Club in Elkhart Lake. www.paddockclubelkhartlake.com
          All three of these places are run by chef owners.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            I forgot to mention Lake Street Cafe, in Elkhart Lake. I've been there a couple of times, too, and would rank it just below Bruce's in the numbered list above.

            1. re: nsxtasy

              The Lake Street Cafe is very good - especially for wood oven pizza and unique sandwiches. The Paddock Club is right next door to the Lake St. Cafe.

            2. re: nsxtasy

              I've just returned from another visit to the area. I went to the Paddock Club and it was very good, a welcome addition to the restaurant scene there. I had the shrimp pesto wontons special, the veal ragu pappardelle, a filet mignon special, and vanilla panna cotta for dessert. All were good and the panna cotta was spectacular. So add it to the above list.

              I decided to walk around downtown Sheboygan and check out the other places mentioned here. I went to Il Ritrovo and found that the pizza descriptions sounded boring, plus there was a 30+ minute wait to sit (even though it was only 5:30 pm) and the entire smallish bar seating was filled as well, all of which was a big turnoff and not worth waiting for. I also checked out the menu at Trattoria Stefano, which was similarly uninspiring (I think they share ownership with Il Ritrovo). So I wandered a few blocks north to Margaux to check out the menu in the window. And as usual, Chef Hurrie had some wonderful dishes that beckoned, making my choice an easy one. I started with a baby spinach salad, which was good, but the main I selected just blew me away, it was so sinfully delicious. It was a "Duo of Certified Black Angus", a combination of hanger steak and red wine braised short ribs of beef which were exquisite. Equally exquisite, both beefs were served on a bed of mashed potatos mixed with crab and caramelized scallions, which added a slightly sweet touch, accented with a healthy dose of spicy black pepper. Total YUM! For dessert, I went for the "Chocolate Fantasy", four smallish chocolate desserts: a Jim Beam shooter, a truffle with Godiva liqueur, dark chocolate ice cream, and chocolate malted creme brulee. More total YUM! I also had a nice glass of Niagara peninsula icewine for one third the price I had paid for the same thing the previous week at a well-known restaurant in Chicago.

              Margaux is one of the very best restaurants around; this was my best dinner of the year so far. If it were in Chicago, it would easily compare well with the best casual fine dining restaurants in the city (e.g. Blackbird, one sixtyblue, North Pond, Custom House). It's worth a special trip from Milwaukee and even Chicago, and is a "must try" for anyone visiting the Sheboygan area.

              1. re: nsxtasy

                Biro and O have closed.

                Bruce sold his namesake restaurant in Elkhart Lake and it is now called Dutch's. www.dutchsofelkhart.com

              2. I second the Charcoal Inn suggestion. It don't get more Sheboygan den dat dare hey...

                Also, any of Stefano Viglietti's four restaurants and specialty Italian shop on S. Eighth St. All are very good. All restaurants are very close to eachother and Stefano and his wife are always around. Very friendly people who are passionate about what they do.
                -Trattoria Stefano
                -Il Ritrovo
                -Field to Fork
                -Duke of Devon

                For something special a little ways out of town, the dining room at Whistling Straits golf course (part of Kohler) is very nice. Beautiful setting and great food. A seat at the windows overlooking the links style course and the lake is tough to beat. Also the restaurant at Blackwolf Run (also part of Kohler) is worth a try too.

                2 Replies
                1. re: mmillerk

                  As much as I love Margaux (I feel like I'm cheating on them to go on about any other establishment with the same enthusiasm), I've gotta hand it to Stefano. So far, I've had a very inventive pizza at Il Ritrovo--a daily special with fresh mozz, salami and I forget what else as I had it last week...DEFINITELY DIFFERENT and DEFINITELY GOOD. Service is stellar. Servers know their stuff. Ingredients are top notch.

                  Tonight, Margaux is closed, so I found myself at Trattoria Stefano. It reminds me very much of my favorite Italian restaurant in my hometown, which I LOVE. It is amazing how many great restaurants can be found--within walking distance--in this sleepy little town. The caprese was outstanding. I never had seen small tomatoes (like grape) in so many colors of the rainbow...the bigger sliced tomatoes were just as fab. And their bread is excellent, too--perfect for catching every last drop of deliciousness on the plate.

                  I can't describe my dinner any better than the menu did, so here it is...what a total treat! And I will enjoy the leftovers for dinner tomorrow. NOM!!!
                  Filetto al Tartufo - Grilled, grass-fed steer tenderloin, topped with a black truffle, mushroom
                  and shallot compound butter.Served with oven roasted rosemary potatoes,
                  cream-braised fennel and fresh sauteed spinach.

                  Tender. Perfectly mooing rare just as I ordered it. So flavorful. So damn good. Yeah, baby. Stefano, whoever you are, you do EVERYTHING right in my book. CENT'ANNI, my brother!

                  Oh, and if you're at Field to Fork or Il Ritrovo, do ask for extra biscotti to go with your latte...they are crispy, tiny, little bite-sized bits of something sweet...and they taste like MORE!

                  http://www.trattoriastefano.com/

                  -----
                  Margaux
                  821 N 8th St, Sheboygan, WI 53081

                  Trattoria Stefano
                  522 S 8th St, Sheboygan, WI 53081

                  Il Ritrovo
                  515 S 8th St, Sheboygan, WI 53081

                  1. re: kattyeyes

                    When off to Sheboygan you go
                    You must really meet Stefano
                    Not the man, no sirree,
                    Just his restaurants--all three*
                    Believe me, please, this much I know.

                    Il Ritrovo for pizza you'll find
                    Is truly apizza divine
                    Bresaola on a pie
                    For this is to die
                    And other great toppings in kind.

                    Field to Fork for breakfast or lunch
                    Their biscotti deliver a crunch
                    The taste can't be beat
                    Whether a meal or a treat
                    And great service from the whole bunch.

                    *There are actually four restaurants, but I didn't get to Duke of Devon, I got waaaaaaaaay too hung up on the happy triangle of Trattoria Stefano and the two restaurants above.

                    Now as much as I loved Margaux,
                    My heart belongs to Stefano!

                    -----
                    Margaux
                    821 N 8th St, Sheboygan, WI 53081

                    Duke of Devon
                    739 Riverfront Dr, Sheboygan, WI 53081

                    Trattoria Stefano
                    522 S 8th St, Sheboygan, WI 53081

                    Il Ritrovo
                    515 S 8th St, Sheboygan, WI 53081

                2. Hello Fishpaw,
                  The Immigrant Restaurant at the America club is probably one of the top ten dining experiences in the state. Several years ago, we went to the hotel for our honeymoon and ate one of our meals there. I can still recall the taste of some of the dishes we ate that night.. The American Club web site allows you access to the menues of all their eating estabblishments. If he has a sophisticated tastes, that is the place to go. Awesome food. Great atmosphere. Excellent service. Top notch wine list. I believe with reasonable notice they can make ANYTHING you want.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: WiscChiliPepper1

                    Thanks for posting, Chili. Upon further examination of the menus on the American Club website (see link in my post above), I am quite certain that I have not eaten at the Immigrant. I can tell from checking out those menus that the various restaurants in the resort have very different menus and atmospheres. The restaurant where I ate (twice) was probably the Wisconsin Room, and my comments above relate only to that particular experience.

                    Note that the Immigrant is dressy; the website says that jackets are required for gentlemen.

                    1. re: WiscChiliPepper1

                      I'm afraid the Immigrant Room has fallen far short of the mark recently. We had a bad experience there last week which I don't care to repeat, so I doubt we will be returning. The next time we stay at the American Club, we will go into Sheboygan to one of the very good restaurants there.

                      I don't know what the Chef was thinking. I don't even know who is directly responsible for this - I do know Chef Ulrich Koberstein oversees this operation and his philosophy of food is and I quote " to keep the flavors pure, clean and intense. Food combinations should complement each other and enhance the main ingredient to create culinary memories." That's not exactly what ended up on my plate and the plates of my friends. I ordered the Slow-Roast Crispy Maple Leaf Duck with Sweet Potato Risotto, Toasted Pecans and Stravecchio Parmesan Cheese for $34 . Now to me "Crispy", when paired with the word duck, means the skin is crispy. However this skin was anything but. I peeled something resembling a piece of innertube off the top of this duck. It was disgusting. The duck itself was unremarkable except that it has a very firm texture and wasn't exceptionally flavorful. The risotto next to it basically had no discernible flavor - certainly not that of sweet potato or Parmesan cheese, especially Stravecchio which is aged for about 2 years so it's actually hard to conceal the flavor. This offering was a non-starter as was the salmon my husband ordered - too fishy, which usually means a little older than it should be, and way too salty - his side dish was also boringly bland. The salads and appetizers were only acceptable and the complimentary appetizer was a soggy cracker topped with some kind of white fluffy stuff and sprinkled with a chopped substance which I couldn't identify. Totally tasteless! The kitchen should be ashamed. This was one of the worst meals I've ever had and considering we paid about $ 150.00 per person (including wine and tip) it will definitely be the last at the Immigrant Room. The service person was not the best I've ever had, but not remarkably bad - just sort of obnoxiously pushy.

                      And to think, Stefano's was just down the road a ways. How the mighty have fallen!

                    2. You can skip El Camino on 9th and Michigan for Mexican. I wish I did. You know how your lips feel when you eat too much salty popcorn? BLEAHHHH! Plan accordingly on Sundays, people--ALL THE TOP PLACES IN SHEVEGAS ARE CLOSED! :(

                      I do wanna get to The Winery Bar at The American Club, though:
                      http://www.destinationkohler.com/rest...

                      I tried on Saturday not realizing they open at 5:30...but that should be good for tomorrow or any other night this week.

                      Barring that, I enjoyed a very flavorful (and Sheboygan-authentic!) beer & onion-soaked double brat sandwich with coarse ground mustard, sauerkraut and "haystack onion rings" on a Sheboygan hard roll for lunch yesterday at The Horse & Plow (also at The American Club). Kind of funny considering I had been drooling over The Winery Bar's menu, but the brat was tender, tasty and just damn good...oh, and the rosemary parmesan steak fries (more like potato wedges) you can choose to go with are crazy good. You need a friend to help eat all of them, though.

                      -----
                      Horse & Plow
                      444 Highland Dr, Kohler, WI 53044