In a word: Everyone dining merrily.
The specs: #0440
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JM ate the #52 mac and cheese with ring bologna and a lemonade.
Nichole ate the #41 pork sandwich.
Ross ate the #42 beef sandwich with a beer.
Sam ate the #36 walleye sandwich with a Furthermore Knot Stock.
We split the #7 Lazy Susan appetizer, a root beer float, and beer-nut ice cream.
The total of the numbers is 178.
The bill was $82, or $20.50/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole gave The Old Fashioned an A-; Ross and Sam gave The Old Fashioned an A (see our grading rubric)
We chose the Old Fashioned to welcome an expatriate Sconnie back after a tropical adventure, and to introduce the wonders of Midwestern regional cuisine to our uninitiated companion. While the food resonated with authenticity, we were reminded that Midwestern also can just mean "mainstream" in America today. Some dishes on The Old Fashioned's menu, like the Miesfeld Market double brat, really push the Wisconsin angle, others are takes - skilled takes, to be sure - on things you'll find anywhere. Testament, perhaps, to Mark Kurlansky's observation that the Midwest the part of the country that nearly everyone wants to leave, and that's how the accent and the food has come to mean "common."
Philosophizing aside, we had a great time - according to Sam, this is impossible to avoid anywhere that Furthermore beer is sold. We started with the amazing #7 Lazy Susan, which included:
- Pickled beets - less sweet than our family recipe but more subtle
- Grilled bread and Ritz crackers
- Dilly, zingy potato salad
- Grilled vegetable and red pepper/bean dip, which were both a titch bland - or, as one of us proclaimed, "If I'm putting something on a cracker it's going to be cheese."
The assortment of goodies evoked memories of others, like the canned, tart red apple rings that sometimes appeared on our holiday table.
Three of us opted for sandwiches and were not disappointed. Nichole's tender pulled pork sandwich came on very buttery Texas toast, topped with mild Muenster cheese, sweet relish, and (apparently a dab of) smoked paprika sauce. The accompanying green salad was on the wilted side. Ross' chilled roast beef tenderloin sandwich had just the right kick from its "tiger sauce," with average fries on the side.
The walleye was melt-in-your-mouth with a light batter that held up well to the wait while Sam had her popcorn-garnished beer cheese soup. It was topped with a kind of deconstructed slaw made of shaved radish and cabbage and came with a side of house-made tartar sauce.
Each entree was garnished with a sweet pickle slice, which polarized our party across gender lines. No winner was declared in this debate, unless you count the sweet pickle fans who got double portions vs. the dill dogmatists who got none.
The mac and cheese was the star of the table and beautiful to behold - JM found the grainy mouthfeel, probably the Sarvecchio's contribution, to be ever so slightly challenging. A side of grilled ring bologna and excellent brown mustard filled out the meal. And JM knows from macaroni and cheese.
We made room for dessert. Hearing beer-nut ice cream as "Beer Nut" ice cream, Nichole was sort of disappointed that the bar treat was not part of the deal. She was not disappointed in the ice cream itself, which is made at Lombardino's from an Old Fashioned recipe. It was, again, quite buttery, with skin-on Spanish peanuts adding a pleasant saltiness but virtually no hint of beer. The root beer float was likewise wonderful.
We heartily recommend the Old Fashioned for its star turns of downhome cuisine. Everything on the menu may be "normal," but nowhere will it all be served with such care and thoughtfulness.