Years ago I had a spectacular breakfast at Fish Creek’s The Cookery restaurant. Fast forward a couple of years and we drive by and notice that The Cookery is gone. Not out of business but completely gone. The building was destroyed by fire. The original Cookery was in a nondescript building that looked like any other residence in the neighborhood. What it lacked in looks it made up in character and great food. It has now been replaced with a new building that is one of the most attractive in Fish Creek with mission-style architecture and two sizable patios overlooking Highway 42. It also continues the tradition of serving some tasty, comforting food.
Any visitor to Door County will tell you that every restaurant has to serve 3 things; Capital Brewing’s Island Wheat (brewed with wheat grown and harvested on nearby Washington Island), some variation of Cherry Pie (some made with Door County cherries, others with canned ones), and the restaurant’s take on Whitefish Chowder. The whitefish chowder at the Cookery was superb, one of the best ones I have had in Door County. Nice chunks of potato and whitefish surrounded by a light, creamy broth of perfect consistency. I have had some Whitefish Chowder that is too thick starchy but this one hit the mark.
Both entrees we tried are what I would describe as good comfort food. Nothing earth-shattering, but nothing terrible either. Its tasty, satisfying food many could replicate at home but on a cold, rainy Sunday night in October, it really did hit the spot.
The New York Strip was covered in a balsamic caper reduction. While the tart acidity of the ingredients was the perfect contrast to the meat, a lighter hand with the balsamic vinegar would have been appreciated as it overwhelmed the steak, which should always be the star of the show. The smoked paprika rub on the steak was completely obliterated by this sauce. It was served with some very good smashed potatoes.
I had the oven roasted brisket. Instead of cutting it across the grain, as you would with barbecue brisket, they pretty much just shredded it. It was cooked enough to be tender but I think cutting across the grain might have made for a better presentation. There was a large amount of meat and it was served atop a tasty Parmesan polenta. I am probably in the minority but I would have preferred more of the delicious, creamy polenta and less meat but for most people the proportions are probably spot on. The sauce is everything you could ask for in a barbecue style sauce, tart, sweet, and spicy.
Service was good but I noticed at some other tables not so much. I overheard our waiter when asked for bread, say “I’ll get it later.” Service is always going to be a challenge in tourist towns and the Cookery’s service was on par with what I have experienced over the years at the majority of places in the Wisconsin Dells, Minocqua, and Door County. We skipped dessert. They had a Cherry Crisp that the waiter recommended but we were fairly stuffed at that point. I decided to enjoy a Shipwrecked Cherry Wheat beer when we got back to our room.
The Cookery is a nice mid-priced restaurant in the heart of Door County. The food is creative enough to attract foodies but still appeal to the picky eater in your group. They are one of a growing group of Door County restaurants that strives to use local ingredients including Wisconsin Cheeses and Door County fish, as well as locally sourced meats and produce. The beer selection is excellent (something I am noticing more and more of in recent visits to Door County) with selections from all over Wisconsin including Potosi, O’so, Furthermore, Lakefront, and Hinterland. If you are more of a wine person, they have almost 2 pages dedicated to wines by the bottle and almost 20 wines available by the glass. They also have an impressive selection of port and dessert wines.
4135 Highway 42 / Main Street
Post Office Box 376
Fish Creek, Wisconsin 54212
Post Office Box 376
Fish Creek, Wisconsin 54212
I’ll tell you, it’s taken me a few days to get back here and comment (for some reason I kept surfing to your post at the end of the day just as it was time to get going… and I never managed to get back). But, I wanted to tell you thanks — for posting reviews like this for places that I might actually decide to visit.
Every now and again we get up to the Door County area and we’re always looking for great mid-priced dining. Glad to book mark yet another spot to try!
Yeah the Cookery is pretty good. Following your site and trying a couple of your recipes, I am certain you can make food that is better than what they serve there but the prices are good and the atmosphere is nice. Its a tad more creative than a lot of places up there and the locally sourced ingredients are a plus. I think next time we’ll probaby visit at breakfast time. If you do go to Dooor County I think the one “must visit” is Wild Tomato pizza.