There’s nothing better than an exquisite meal…except for, perhaps, an exquisite meal on vacation. Whether it’s a day trip, a weekend getaway or a two-week excursion, food just tastes better to me when I am far away from story edits in my inbox, piles of laundry waiting to be sorted and cleaned and a to-do list that always seems to be increasing, not decreasing.
My husband Kyle, QJ and I enjoyed an absolutely exquisite meal - and much more – on a weekend trip to the Heidel House Resort in Green Lake. This charming resort, tucked against the shores of Green Lake, was far enough for Kyle and I to escape our work and household responsibilities but close enough that the drive didn’t tax our 4-year-old’s attention span.
We arrived on a chilly Friday night, and after dropping off our luggage in our lake view room with parlor, we headed to the Sun Room for a nice dinner. The beef short ribs I ordered were fork tender and tasted great with the house Pinot Noir while Kyle’s bacon-wrapped steak was nicely accented with a whiskey sauce. QJ, opting for the familiar, enjoyed a burger. After dinner, we had the entire resort pool to ourselves – it was warm as bath water and so gently refreshing.
The next morning, we enjoyed a nice breakfast buffet at the Sun Room and enjoyed the sun glistening over the lake’s ice. Kyle and QJ returned to splash in the pool while I headed across the street to the Evensong Spa. If it hadn’t been freezing, I would have walked; as the weather still flirted with subzero temps, I took the resort van the short distance. The spa itself is housed in a gorgeous building with large panes of glass, gray stones and warm wood panels. Its modern architecture, with touches of Prairie style, blends in with the beautiful woods surrounding it, and it feels peaceful just stepping in the door.
After almost falling asleep on the table from my deep tissue massage, I relaxed in the spa café with a cup of perfectly brewed, green tea. A tea connoisseur, I am always thrilled when it is brewed from loose leaves instead of bags and especially delighted when the brewer knows that green teas are brewed at lower temperatures than black teas.
Finishing my cup, I returned to the locker room to partake of the sauna, steam and waterfall tub. I finished my spa morning with a meditative walk along the labyrinth path inside the spa lobby. All of my aches, pains and worries washed away, I finally called Kyle to pick me up, and the three of us headed into town to find some lunch.
In all the years Kyle and I have been married, we have two rules when seeking out a restaurant in a new place: I have to approve of the menu and Kyle, who was an architect, has to approve of the building. We seem to never go wrong when we work together to search out a meal, and we discovered Goose Blind. A cute little town pub, Goose Blind has a pretty extensive menu of both food and drinks.
I settled on the Green Goddess salad, made with homemade dressing and topping a big bowl of mixed greens, shredded squash and zucchini and other vegetables while Kyle devoured a homemade chicken pot pie. QJ munched happily on his bowl of spaghetti and meatballs while occasionally stealing a bite of veggies from me. When we finished lunch, our waitress gave us an envelope, telling us that if we returned with the envelope and our next server opened it, we could get a surprise – like a free entrée or appetizer.
Satisfied, we headed out to a local hill known for sledding, and we easily expended the calories we ate, pulling QJ up and down the steep hill. Because sledding wasn’t quite enough, QJ and Kyle played baseball with a soft foam ball inside our room while I enjoyed my John Stanford novel.
Rested yet now hungry, we headed to the Grey Rock Mansion for dinner. Though I was tempted by the roasted pheasant with vanilla and pears – Chef Bryan Markel told me all the game is locally sourced – both Kyle and I decided to go with the monthly special – a five-course tasting menu paired with wines or beers.
A warm basket of bread was accompanied by lime butter, cinnamon butter and a mix of balsamic vinegar and oil. QJ ate almost all of the lime butter, and though he also devoured his burger, he enjoyed plenty of tastes off of both our plates.
My first course, scallops with cherry salsa was paired with a Pine Ridge Riesling, and the sweetness and peach and berry aromas of the wine picked up on the sweetness of the seafood and its sauce. Kyle loved his elk-stuffed mushrooms, which came with a vanilla stout beer.
While my zucchini and kale salad was delicious, especially paired with a Sauvignon Blanc (I substituted the blanc for the Riesling, because I already tasted that wine with my first course), Kyle’s tomato and fresh mozzarella salad was stunning. It arrived in a giant cocktail glass, and it reminded me that spring is on its way, even if I can’t see it through the windy gusts of winter.
Our entrees were so delicious, too. My flank steak, stuffed with pancetta and provolone came with a deep, dark and tannin-laced Cabernet Sauvignon, and it was fantastic. I regret that I so enjoyed it – I forgot to write down the name of the wine. Kyle enjoyed a gorgeous, perfectly plank-roasted salmon with a house-made sour cream and cucumber sauce, and it was paired with a nicely hopped ale.
For dessert, Kyle and QJ devoured a brownie dessert – Kyle with a dessert ale – while I enjoyed a strawberry-laced Napoleon and a sparkling rose. What most impressed me with sous chef Amanda Fendrick’s desserts is she made the puff pastry for my dessert from scratch.
Before heading back to our room, we enjoyed a few songs in the upstairs lounge. The singer dedicated a song to QJ – “Short People.” We were all charmed.
Sunday morning, we took one last dip in the pool – and gave our Goose Blind gift envelope to another family – before enjoying a pair of eggs benedicts in the Sun Room. I loved my crab cake version.
Since we weren’t far from Oshkosh, we stopped at the EAA Air Venture Museum before trekking home, refreshed and once again ready to tackle our to-do lists.