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Door County can hold its own when it comes to serving up mouth-watering steaks, and these supper clubs have been doing it for several years.
Donny's Glidden Lodge is one of the only restaurants in Door County (that I know of) that is dry aging and cutting their own steaks. Dry aging tends to be a bit more time consuming and expensive for restaurants. Most will now wet age or even purchase steaks pre cut or portioned. How can Glidden Lodge offer a dry aged New York Strip and even run it as a special (only $14.95 Monday-Thursday)? Before Donny purchased the establishment on Glidden Drive in 1998, he had worked in other country clubs, but more notably, as a meat cutter and butcher in Kewaunee County. "You start with the best and go from there. Cutting your own lets you utilize everything and you know exactly what you got," Donny said. They buy large pieces of certified black angus that will age around three weeks. It seems one needs to have a butchers eye to know exactly when the aging is appropriate. "You can just tell," Don explains. "The knife will go through easier, ya know." The steak can be aged as much as six weeks, but Don feels that this robust flavor really demands a certain palate.
My go-to at Glidden Lodge is their signature dish, the Glidden, but I simply had to test the tenderness touted by the dry aged New York Strip (They also age the rib eye.) The cut was spectacular; tender, juicy, full of flavor and served with au jus, which I would have liked to have had in several more small shot glasses! The Glidden, a tenderloin with gorgonzola and toast points, has complexity and a delicious pairing. However, the New York strip flavor was indeed more distinct, full and more tender than I would have expected. So delicious, I must have been eating feverishly as my glass of Cigar Zin carried a few splatter marks. I'll blame it on the additional avalanche of onions and mushrooms.
Sturgeon Bay's Nightingale Restaurant should be on the top of your list for prime rib. Each year, my aunt Dang (yes, that's her name) makes her way around the world from Thailand to visit family in Wisconsin. Each day she is here, she insists on going to the Nigthingale for prime rib, the best she's EVER had in her decades of travel, and has it prepared very rare! I asked Veronica (Bugger) Ripp, chef/manager and daughter of owner Dave Ripp, what makes her prime rib so memorable. "It's the oven," she said. "Most people think its the cut. You have to start with good quality meat, but it's really the oven," she explains. "Low and slow!" The roughly twelve pound pieces make their way to the oven about mid morning, never reaching over 250 degrees all day, before it rests, allowing all the flavorful juices to steep back into the meat.
Veronica has the task of helping the family business transition as Dave reluctantly considers retirement. The supper club still has what you would expect, with local characters hunched over their brand old fashioned's and a side table of crackers, cheese spread and pate. You'll also find a fresh appeal to the menu with quinoa for starch or salmon as lighter fare with vegetables. "We're going to keep doing what we do well and that appeals to our locals, but we have the ability to turn heads. We need to continue to build on our offerings," Veronica adds.
A trip to the Nightingale wouldn't be complete without an ice cream drink. I recommend the Golden Cadilac, if for no other reason, to see where they keep the tall bottle of Galliano liqueur.
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