Story and photography by Manos & Barbara Angelakis
Dining in Kohler Village
I fess up! We New Yorkers, believe that we have the best in culinary excellence in the country. And while New York does have some of the finest restaurants in the world, with the recent advance of the farm to table movement, we are finding more and more superb eating establishments west of the Hudson, in small towns and villages where one would not think to look. Such was our experience on our recent trip to Wisconsin… yup Wisconsin! Just 2 hours southwest of Chicago – another culinary capital – and less than an hour from Milwaukee, is Kohler Village, featuring several restaurants of distinction. We were traveling with a journalist friend, Babbie DeDerian (see her Four Seasons, Punta Mita in this issue). Babbie is a foodie like us, so we had the opportunity to taste more food by sharing dishes. Kohler was the second stop in our Wisconsin eating odyssey (see Elkhart Lake at restaurant notes) where we “ate till we dropped” at Elkhart Lake, just 20 minutes from Kohler. For east coast foodies, Milwaukee is a short 2 hour flight away and the dining opportunities at both Elkhart Lake and Kohler Village are well worth the trip.
One of Barbara’s favorite meals at Kohler was an extraordinary brunch at River Wildlife. River Wildlife is a private club that caters to lovers of nature, good food and the environment. Situated on a wildlife preserve, the land plays host to the Sheboygan River where some of the best trout and salmon fishing is available. There are 30 miles of woodland trails for hiking or horseback riding, and in winter cross-country skiing. There is also an isolated hunting reserve where supervised hunting of game birds and/or clay shooting is offered. Small complimentary buses shuttle you from the hotel to all the eating venues on the property. Then to reach the lodge you must walk down a woodland path, which during our stay was blanketed with gold, russet, orange, burgundy, and red leaves, recently fallen from their host trees. Shafts of sunlight filtered through the trees, lighting our way on the jewel covered path.
The Lodge’s cozy restaurant is renowned for its countrified gourmet cuisine and we can attest to the excellence of its creative savory dishes. The menu changes frequently but the day we were there their offerings included Korean Plum BBQ Glazed Duck; Cognac Beef Tenderloin and Wild Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie; Rainbow Trout Baked with Smokehouse Almond Lemon Butter; Almond Asiago Walleye with Lemon Caper Remoulade; and my selection, Sage Panko Crusted Pork Tenderloin Slices Broiled Open Face on Sourdough with Maple Balsamic Glazed Butternut Squash, Cranberry Walnut Pesto & Gouda melted on top.
What a fabulous combination of tastes and textures, where every item was a winner on its own, but together was a feast which I continued to eat long after my stomach begged me to stop. The pork was tender and juicy, the stuffing was amazingly flavorful, and the squash was heavenly. Manos and Babbie had the Duck and it was equally delicious with a rich shinny glaze over tender, not fatty, meat. For appetizers and desert, we choose an assortment from the abundant buffet table, and they were all delectable.
The Immigrant Restaurant is considered the crown jewel in the Kohler portfolio of renowned eateries. The Immigrant offers a Four-Diamond dining experience, from the attentive and knowledgeable service, to the contemporary cuisine, to the cellar of vintage wines. The Immigrant Restaurant is the recipient of the DiRoNa Award and Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. Located in the historic American Club Hotel, and with a nod to the immigrant population that the building was originally constructed to house for its name, the restaurant was once the laundry room for the Kohler factory workers. When in 1981 the hotel was renovated, the laundry room became the elegant Immigrant Restaurant and Winery.
We began with an amuse bouche of Sashimi Tuna and Hamachi served on a bamboo spoon. Next came the very unusual but very delicious white Gazpacho soup with vegetables and edible flowers… striking presentation. My main dish was lobster tail out of the shell over a lobster salad, with accompaniments of flan and green salad with ginger dressing. Manos had the Chilean Sea Bass with Mussels, Marble Potatoes, Baby Bok Choy, with Red Curry and Coconut Emulsion. Babbie ordered the Bourbon Smoked Strip Loin filet with a Potato Gratin, Cognac Reduction, Garlic Spinach and topped with micro greens. Manos felt his Sea Bass was overcooked and slightly dry but all the other dishes were beautifully plated and tasty. Even though we were very full, desert sounded… and looked… too good to pass up. We shared the Chocolate Chili Cake Napoleon with Mango Compote, Coconut Whipped Cream and Mango and Raspberry Ice Cream and the Espresso & Hazelnut Mascarpone, Dark Chocolate, Sweetened Condensed Milk.
Another memorable dining experience took place at Blackwolf Run Restaurant. We were the guests of Lam Vongsakoun, Manager of Food & Beverage Operations, and a delightful dining partner. Although we just met, Lam felt like an old friend and being at the Blackwolf Run Restaurant with its Native American artifacts, large wood burning fireplace, rustic wood beamed walls and ceiling, soft lighting and wonderful friendly service, proved a night to remember. The restaurant overlooks the Sheboygan River and the Pete Dye designed championship golf courses, which of course, we could not see at night.
We began our dinner with truly one of the most unique and fun appetizers I ever saw, Bloody Mary Scallops. A large pan-seared scallop was dropped into a Bloody Mary drink along with a celery stalk, olives, lemon, and pickled mushrooms skewered on top. We also had the delicious Lobster and Mango Spring Roll with Chipotle Fruit Salsa. Then we got down to serious eating with Spicy Honey-Glazed Smoked Double-Thick Pork Chops grilled and stuffed with Pistachio, Caramelized Apple and Wisconsin Blue Cheese. On the side were Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes and Fresh Asparagus. Manos and Babbie had the Duck, Duck, Goose dish of pan-seared Duck Breast, Duck Confit, Duck Cracklings, Goose Foie Gras in a port wine and currant reduction. The side was Sweet Potato Puree.
Lam ordered the Beer Baked Sea Bass with a White Bean Vegetable Salad floating in a Pepperoni Tomato Broth. For desert, we shared the Triple Vanilla Crème Brûlée and Warm Brownie Sundae, and the Mango Cheesecake. Espresso completed our last dining experience at Kohler Village.
Visit the Spa Section for a description of the Kohler Waters Spa Experience.
© December 2012 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.