Door County: Bistro 42 in Carlsville, WI

I was kind of nervous when we walked into Bistro 42, a restaurant attached to the Door Peninsula Winery in Carlsville, WI because there was nobody at the bar and the dining room was virtually empty.  I think there were two other tables occupied in the large, impressively decorated dining room.  Then again it was a Thursday night and it was getting late so we decided to try it and boy am I glad we did. 

 I can rarely resist baked French Onion Soup when I see it on the menu and Bistro 42 was no exception.  The soup was very good but noting set it apart from other good French Onion soups.  If you are a fan, you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.  Moving on to entrees, I had the Pecan Encrusted Walleye with local sweet corn cakes and cherry tomatoes.  The Walleye, one of my favorite fish for as long as I can remember, was perfectly cooked with a killer crust of pecans, adding a nice nutty taste and some crunchy texture to the flaky fish. Two corn cakes (think pancakes but made with corn) sat underneath.  The cakes were nice and moist and the inclusion of kernels of corn ensured that each bite was bursting with corn flavor.  They provided a nice soft texture in contrast to the crunchy pecan breading.  The tomatoes were tasty but really didn’t tie into the dish at all, they were just kind of there. A sauce of honey and creme fraiche tied the dish together. My wife had the Mushroom & Cheese Stuffed Ravioli.  The menu said they were made from scratch and there was little doubt once the pile of irregular shaped ravioli arrived at our table.  They had a great earthy mushroom taste and I liked that the mushrooms were left in small chunks, adding a nice texture to the creamy cheese inside.

The wine pours were among the most generous I have seen anywhere.  What you get in one glass here is about double the standard pour at most restaurants. I had a glass of Door Peninsula Select Series Pinot Noir.  While it wasn’t the best Pinot I have tried (it was a little acidic for my liking) it paired well with my French Onion Soup and didn’t overpower my Walleye dish.  

Service was attentive and fast (though it was dead in there so I don’t know how they are during busier times). At first the waitress seemed to be going through the motions with no enthusiasm but she  kind of warmed up and became talkative as our dinner went on, which had me relieved.  Bistro 42 is a nice restaurant serving some great food in a warm and inviting atmosphere and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for something different while visiting Door County.

Bistro 42 is located at 5806 Hwy 42 (intersection of Hwy 42 & I) in Carlsville, WI 54235. Phone: (920) 743-wine (9463), web:



7 thoughts on “Door County: Bistro 42 in Carlsville, WI

  1. I live half the time in Door County. Sturgeon Bay to be more precise. After visiting and living there for the last ten years I can honestly say the restaurant scene is horrible. There are maybe three restaurants I’ll spend “good” money at, the rest are simply filling and empty stomach. Tourists are suckers.

  2. I’ve had pretty good luck in Door County with decent meals. There are some places that are great (Whistling Swan & Wild Tomato) and some places that are just “good” like Casey’s Inn. You do have to weed through a lot of places to find the gems. I would advise people to do their homework, read reviews on sites like Yelp and check other online reviews. As a general rule I almost always eliminate any non-Italian restaurant that serves Fettucini Alfredo ;)

  3. No cocktails at the Swan. Not crazy about the “hippie” thing either. The new JJ’s Waterfront is good, Saveur, and Blue Front. Haven’t been to T. Ashwell’s in awhile but they were good as well.

    • I never even noticed they didn’t have cocktails at the Whistling Swan. I am more of a beer & wine guy, I guess. I have heard great things about JJ’s.

      Now does anyone have any dining recommendations in the Dells?

  4. The Dells? Are you kidding?
    My advice — drive a couple hours further north and eat in Hudson :) (Paddy Ryan’s is a great bet for Irish fare, and we’ve had a few good meals at San Pedro Cafe)

    Seriously, though — I’d be just as curious about this as you are. We drive back & forth to MN fairly frequently and always seem to need dinner around the Dells on the way back. Culinary Wasteland so far as I can tell…

  5. In the Dells the only good food I have had was a burger from Monk’s bar downtown and great craft beer from Moosejaw (their Milk Stout is awesome). Their food is okay…kind of on par with chains like Chilis and TJI Fridays.

  6. We ate at Bistro 42 yesterday for the first time and I can honestly say I’ve never in my life had a worse waitress. She wrecked our entire experience, messed up my order than treated me like I was at fault when I asked her to take it back and get me what I ordered. Through the rest of the time she continued to make rude comments to us and roll her eyes. We will absolutely never go back there again.

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