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Wednesday Food: Cedarburg, WI

The preceding week was a busy one.  Come to think of it, the last time I spent more than seven seconds online was last week’s post.  The circumstances of my absence are vacation-oriented, so please excuse the tardiness.

Last Wednesday I set off for a few quiet days in the small, historic town of Cedarburg, WI, twenty minutes north of Milwaukee.  Lake-effect snow in epic proportion kept the freeway speed at an intolerable 30 mph; by the time we reached our destination the only dinner to be had was at a 24-hour McDonald’s that the neighboring town recently welcomed.

One of the greatest aspects of this sleepy hamlet is that there is enough entertainment within a walkable ten-block radius to sustain a long weekend.  Cars are best parked, and drinks are best in quantity.  The first stop for refreshments was at the Anvil Pub and Grille.  Named for the former occupant– a 19th century blacksmith shop until just two years ago– the menu is broad but standard, from salads and soups to pastas and sirloin burgers.  They also have a  beautiful stone hearth oven for toasting sandwiches and finishing steaks.  For lunch, I chose from the variety of warming soups and a small but respectable regional craft beer list.  With the velvety shrimp and poblano bisque, I ordered New Glarus’s  Spotted Cow.  This is a ubiquitous beer around Wisconsin and may be considered the brewery’s flagship.   It is a yeasty farmhouse ale and at 4.8% abv is very sessionable, but the flavors are too muted and the fruit is not very forward on the palate.  I also don’t like the sweetness that they ascribe to the addition of corn– too reminiscent of Miller (but perhaps that could make this a “gateway” beer?)  As Founders’ Breakfast Stout was also on the list I couldn’t resist one for “dessert.”

A larger building connects to the pub, alike in masonry and with Provencial-blue shutters and doors.  It is a repurposed wool mill, housing a number of small antique stores and the town’s winery.  Cedar Creek Winery was established in 1990, and shares the Beaujolais-born winemaker from Wollersheim Winery, just north of Madison.  After a thorough tasting we determined their Vidal was the most unique, and paired beautifully with local cheese.

On the way back to Chicago we stopped at The Milwaukee Ale House in Grafton, WI.  With another location in downtown Milwaukee, they are basically a brewpub with take-away options in growlers and six-packs.  I sampled a flight of eight beers, most of which were disappointingly uniform pale ales.  The Sheepshead Stout was enjoyable and their Pull Chain Pail Ale was above average but nothing else was very notable.  The black bean burger on ciabatta was outstanding, despite out-of-season tomatoes, and the bleu cheese potato salad was creamy with a subtle tangy-bleu background.

Oddly, in the 36 hours I spent in Cedarburg I never made it to the creek-side brewpub that was across the street from my hotel.  I’ll have to head back soon.

From Wisconsin I went directly to Midway airport to catch a flight to California where my dining adventures crescendo (to be featured next week).

  • Wool mill/ winery viewed from the bridge
  • The Anvil Pub
  • Town mural
  • Spotted Cow pour


March 3, 2010 - Posted by | Wednesday Food


  1. Sounds refreshingly quaint! And great critical discussion of the beer- loving the direction your blog is heading!

    Comment by Vanessa | March 4, 2010

  2. Beautiful pics.
    What is that picture on the Breakfast Stout? A baby eating porridge? Weird.
    Enjoy California, and call if you come up north!

    Comment by Nick | March 4, 2010

  3. I’ve always heard such wonderful thing about the Founders Breakfast Stout, but have not yet found myself a bottle. I’m inclined to go on a quest, now that you have mentioned it.

    Comment by Brad Johnson | March 4, 2010

  4. Looks like my kind of town!
    Was at Founders this past weekend and had the Canadian Breakfast Stout and Kentucky Breakfast Stout which were both tasty, but the original is still my favorite.

    Comment by Chuck V | March 4, 2010

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