The Fireside Review #2

My wife and I went to the Fireside to see Legally Blonde The Musical partly because we had heard it was an excellent show and partly because my wife loves the movie, but it was completely as enjoyable as we were expecting.  The casting was very well done.  It’s always intriguing to compare movies to other iterations of a similar story, like musicals.  This one held true to the original source, as well as adding to it.  If you are thinking of seeing the show- hurry!  The show’s run is almost over.  And, as before, the show was not the only star. Part of the difficulty in choosing a show time is choosing which tasty meal you will get to enjoy.  This time we chose Sunday Brunch (all you can eat!).

Sunday Matinee Brunch
Chef-Carved Jones Cherry Wood Smoked Premium Ham and Roast Breast of Turkey,

(Both were delicious- and juicy.  Nothing’s worse that having dry turkey or ham, which was most certainly NOT the case here.)

Chicken Breast Tempura with Brandied Apricot Sauce,

(I’ve had this before, and I think it is one of my favorites- like a more flavorful and grown-up version of chicken nuggets- with a sophisticated sauce to boot!)

Eggs Benedict on Jones Hickory Smoked Canadian Bacon,

(I’m not a fan of over-easy – runny eggs, but this is definitely a personal preference rather than any comment on the dish.)

Scrambled Eggs,

(Both plain and with vegetables and cheese-  a breakfast classic.)

Jones Cherry Wood Smoked Bacon and All Natural Sausage Patties,

(Another set of delicious breakfast staples.  The bacon is the kind I prefer- not too soft.)

Fresh Norwegian Salmon,

(I love salmon in general, and The Fireside makes theirs well.  It’s a pleasant addition to the buffet- and again, it was not dry- a major plus!)

Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Tomato Butter Sauce,

(This is an example of a dish I would present to someone who says a vegetarian dish can’t be tasty.  I could have just kept eating these, if it wasn’t for all the other food I had to have.)

Bouquetierre of Garden Vegetables,

(A good mix of veggies.)

Beef Tenderloin and Broccoli,

(A nice flavor contrast to the other items on the buffet, paired with rice.)

Buttermilk Pancakes with Maple Syrup,

(I wasn’t in a pancake mood, but my wife enjoyed one of them made with M&Ms.)

and Home Fried Potatoes. 

(These were quite excellent- I’ve had a LOT of this type of potato, and often they are heavy and one-note.  These seemed lighter and had plenty of flavor.)

Your Brunch Buffet is accompanied by Chilled Strawberry Soup,

(Scrumptious and refreshing- a great idea for the start of the meal.  Not too sweet and with real strawberry flavor.)

Pastries from The Fireside Ovens,

(This was the opening item- a perfect appetizer.  A lot of variety and complexity in flavors.)

Banana Crème Brulee,

(A dessert well-done.  I’ve had other brulees of theirs, and they will all have you scraping the dish for the last bit.)

Coffee, Tea and Milk served at your table.

(I always have the coffee- a flavorful blend.)

Thanks again, Fireside, for a wonderful show and tasty meal!!

A Taste of The Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned

My wife and I went to The Old Fashioned (“Inspired by the traditions of Wisconsin taverns and supper clubs”) for a late dinner (if you can call our meal at near-midnight dinner) the other night.  The restaurant is located on the capitol square in Madison, Wisconsin.  We were quickly seated at a nearby table of our choice.  The space was comfortable, and allowed us enough room amid the other customers.  The music was a touch loud, but not unexpected for that time of night.  I sampled the brew of the month, and was happily surprised with a second glass free for their double bubble special.  It was an excellent beer to pair with my meal.  I was torn between the mac and cheese (which I’ve heard is delicious) and the No. 36 – beer battered walleye sandwich, which was my eventual selection.  I also upgraded to include a cup of their beer cheese soup (with popcorn!), but this was no mere cup.  The portions on both my soup and my fish sandwich were appropriately generous, making the meal a great deal for the price.  The soup was wonderfully tasty, and not over-reduced and thick as I might have feared for that time of night.  It paired well with my fish sandwich, which had a nice crunch with the toasted bread and cabbage/radish complement.  The tartar sauce was unique and flavorful.  My wife had a bowl of chili (also very generous-sized), and we also split an order of cheese curds.  Everything was excellent, and service was speedy.  Our server was welcoming and friendly.  We’ll be back, and I recommend giving the restaurant a try if you have not already.

Meal Review- The Fireside

I’ve often entertained the idea of taking a family “food vacation” to many excellent restaurants in an area, including any other food-related locations of interest, as well. Why should vacation attractions have all the fun?  Finding that gem of a restaurant out of the local area is enriching, as well.  Anyway…

I recently was able to attend The Fireside for their Viva Vegas show (only showing until March 4).  The show was excellent (although the music is before my time, there was little I had not previously heard).  The musicians/actors/actresses were able to put a unique spin on the presentation.  It’s theater in the round at its finest.  I wanted to comment on the consistently excellent food (and shows) that they offer.  My wife and I had the following before the show:

Bellagio’s Green Guacamole
Topped with Red Tomatoes and served with Crisp Tortilla Triangles

The guacamole had complex, tasty flavor.  There was perhaps a slight note of cilantro with the avacado.  My wife doesn’t care generally for guacamole, but she liked this.

French Onion Soup
Flavored with Spanish Sherry and crowned with a Rye Muenster Crouton

I love French Onion Soup, and often order it whenever it’s on the menu.  I was excited to have The Fireside’s take on it, and I was not disappointed.  The rye bread topper added a heartiness to the pleasantly onion-laden soup.  The stock, a critical element in this soup, was the perfect blend of flavors.

Caesar Salad
Smoked Turkey over Belgian Endive, Curly Frisee and Romaine Lettuce, Ribbons of Wisconsin Sartori SarVecchio Parmesan Cheese, and Classic Creamy Caesar Dressing sprinkled with Sesame Buds

The Parmesan balanced with the sesame croutons and Caesar dressing- with a slight bit of heat.

Freshly Baked Breads from The Fireside Ovens – They came by the table often with warm, fresh cheese bread and a darker walnut bread.  Both delicious!

Roast Boneless Pork Loin
Served with Herbed Crouton Dressing with Sauerkraut and Jones Original Sausage, Whipped Potatoes glazed with tasty Pork Stock Gravy, Fresh Carrots Vichy and a ramekin of our specially crafted Cinnamon Apple Sauce.

The pork was so tender, I didn’t even need a knife to cut it.  The combination of potatoes, gravy, carrots, and dressing is a classic combination for the wonderful ways the flavors work together, and this was no exception.  The cinnamon was a powerful note in the flavorful applesauce; I love the complexity of cinnamon.

Global Vegetarian Medley
Marinated Fresh Portabella Mushroom stuffed with Squash, Roasted Red Bell Pepper, Boursin Cheese and Pesto Sauce; Teriyaki Seasoned Rice with Orzo; Curried Couscous tucked inside a Roma Tomato; Grilled Polenta; Spinach Roulades; Steamed Fresh Asparagus; and a turban of tri-color Linguine topped with Marinara Sauce.

The above vegetarian combination was not technically my meal, but my wife was kind enough to let me sample a bit of it.  The portabella was imbued with so much flavor from the grilling; it was most certainly the best prepared portabella I’ve tried.  The roulades had an excellent flavor and consistency.  It was an excellent example of how vegetarian foods do not need to sacrifice flavor.

Black Jack “Golf Ball in Sand Trap”
Housemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Ball rolled in roasted ground Pecans, placed on Hot Fudge, striped with Caramel Sauce and served with a Shortbread “Poker Chip” Cookie

The presentation reminded me a lot of fried ice cream (though it didn’t taste like fried ice cream).  Overall, it was a delicious way to end the meal.  I found myself trying to identify all of the components in the complex dishes- guess I need to keep working on it!  There was a lot of good and nothing bad.  The Fireside knows how to prepare a great meal!

Tenuta’s (Added Link)



If you haven’t yet visited the local wonder that is Tenutas, you certainly should.  Make it part of a vacation or a foodie excursion!

You won’t be able to avoid the deli counter, as it would be a travesty of epic proportions.  Their tiramisu is sublimely delicious, and their cannoli have the perfect balance between the cream and the pastry.  I’ve only had the pleasure of the desserts, but plan to return for their assortment of other delectable deli foods.

Their shelves are fully stocked with a wide variety of goods, ingredients, and implements for the cook or connoisseur.  A word of advice- bring the shopping cart through right away; you’ll need it!

If you’re too far from Wisconsin, no worries!  Their online catalog is ready to serve.  Check out Tenuta’s; you won’t regret it!