Eating Week #6: Restaurants on the Road

Usually Mike and I do a restaurant review, but the last month or so has been so busy for both of us that we couldn’t find an evening in which everyone was free to dine out.  In large part this situation was due to both of our families taking vacation trips.  So, Mike and I agreed that we’d each individually review some of the places that we ate during our trips.

My family drove from Minnesota to eastern Pennsylvania, with stops at the Wisconsin Dells and Gettysburg.  Our first stop was at the Wilderness Resort in the Wisconsin Dells, where we spent an enjoyable day at the waterpark.  For dinner we stopped in at Monk’s Bar & Grill.  It’s a fairly standard sports-bar style eatery, just a block or so from the waterpark.  We arrrived a bit on the early side and were seated immediately.  They pride themselves on their burgers, so I ordered a classic Monk’s Burger with PepperJack cheese.  I enjoyed it – the correct level of juiciness, with a nice meaty taste and texture.  The pepperjack was on the mild side, however, and I prefer it spicier.  Catherine had the Cranberry Mandarin Chicken Salad, and thought it was very tasty, although the dressing was a bit overdone with respect to amount – less would have been better, in this case.

We met my brother, his family and my mother and aunt in Gettysburg, where we toured the battlefields and the museum.  It was an enlightening tour and everyone was impressed by the museum and the audio car tour.  For dinner that evening we went into Gettysburg and ate at O’Rorkes Eatery and Spirits.  We ate at a long table by the stone fireplace, just around the corner from the bar.  While it was a bit noisy, the ambience was interesting.  I had fish, which was fine but rather forgettable.  Catherine’s choice was more interesting – she had the Shepherd’s Pie Potato Skin appetizer as her main course.  It was very filling, and there was more than enough to serve as a full course.  The only real disappointment was a very bland cole slaw side dish.

Later in the trip we took my mother out for a late birthday celebration.  She’s fond of Carrabba’s, an Italian eatery chain along the lines of The Olive Garden.  Alia had the Pasta Weesie, a fettucine alfredo with garlic shrimp and mushrooms.  While she picked out the mushrooms, the rest of it passed her somewhat picky food test, and she ate it quite happily.  I had to help her finish, as it was a very large portion.  Catherine had the special – linguini with clams – while I had the Manicotti, which was done with a blend of four cheeses.  The dishes were all prepared nicely, there was a lot of food, while the taste seemed designed to appeal to the widest possible audience.  I enjoyed the meal, but I expect that the restaurant will never provide me with a truly memorable meal, no matter how many times I returned.

On our return trip, we stopped in Michigan City, Indiana to check out the Indiana Dunes National Seashore.  After that, we hunted around for a place to eat, and decided upon the Shoreline Brewery.  The place was just getting busy when we arrived, but because we were with an underage daughter, we were given a table in a separate room off the main bar area.  I went with the Shoreline Fish and Chips.  The fish was battered using their English Pale Ale, and while it made for a bit softer, less crisp, batter the taste was very distinctive.  The fries were nice and thick, but the cole slaw was a disappointment – too bland and watery, without any real taste.  We sampled the beer also.  I had the Singing Sands Oatmeal Stout, as I’m very fond of stouts.  It was nicely done, with a very creamy head and the right combination of chocolate and coffee undertones.  Catherine had the Beltaine Scottish Ale, which had good color and taste too.  If we lived closer, I would drop by for a beer and dinner – I’d like more chances to sample their beers.


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