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Leystra's Venture Restaurant

In a word: Main Street Wisconsiana.

The specs: #0409
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Yelp; official web site; map; Leystra's Venture Restaurant on Urbanspoon

JM ate the country fried steak.
John ate the chuck roast and a slice of cherry pie.
Nichole ate the Reuben, a decaf, and a slice of apple crumble pie.
Rose ate the hot beef sandwich and a coffee.
We split a chocolate shake.
The bill was $41, or $10.25/person, plus tip (thanks, folks!)
JM, John and Rose gave Leystra's Venture Restaurant an A-; Nichole gave Leystra's Venture Restaurant a B+ (see our grading rubric).

Latest Leystra's Venture Restaurant news and reviews

Leystra's Venture Restaurant, besides having an evocative name, has a claim to fame in Cafe Wisconsin by Joanne Raetz Stuttgen, where it appears between Stoughton's Koffee Kup and Greenwood's Cafe in Reedsburg. Once in the back door, we walked past "Augie's Room" (a paneled dining room named for local son Derleth) and the pie case (always a good marketing idea) to sit at a (very) fixed booth in the L-shaped front dining room. We felt welcome.

That said, it is the first diner where we've experienced the swivel factor. The crowd was definitely made up of regulars and the place was packed. During dinner, every time Nichole looked up, the be-capped gentleman at the next table was looking back.

Hearing that the bread is homemade sealed the deal for Nichole: a sandwich it would be. Her Reuben was light and well-balanced and the bread, slices of which also accompanied the full dinners, was excellent.

Reuben

Chicken fried steak dinnerJM's chicken fried steak was tasty yet a little plain, though the two kinds of gravy helped. Mashed potatoes and carrots were better than average but not by one standard deviation. The coleslaw neither hit nor missed the spot. Not serving lemonade always hurts.

Pot roast dinnerThe rest of the table opted for the specials. John's chuck roast was very tender. The shimmering, beefy gravy veiled the meat, and complemented the potatoes as well. Each forkful had a different texture, sometimes soft and fatty, sometimes seared and bold. The carrots were cooked just right (not too soft) and were real carrots, not shortcut bagged "baby" kind that show up in restaurants more often than they should.

Honestly, just look at that roast.

Pot roast dinner closeup

Hot beef sandwichRose found her hot beef sandwich to be comparable to Norske Nook's (the standard to which we're accustomed to judging main street cafes). Also doused in gravy, it was truly comfort food.

Apple crumble pieCoffee and pie must round out a meal like this. The coffee was diner-standard, but we got to keep the carafe on our table.

Sadly, the pies were a touch disappointing. The crust was not very flaky and had a faint yet unsubtle butter-flavor flavor. The cherry filling in the cherry crumble slice didn't have a very strong cherry taste, and the apples in the apple pie were a bit too mushy for us. We only got crumb-topped pies, so perhaps the glazed double-crusts or creme pies are where it's at. By contrast, the chocolate shake was excellent, thick and plentiful, and a dollop went great in a hot coffee cup.

The service was fast but just a tiny bit gruff; as if the waitress would make sure we ate our vegetables before bringing dessert. If you're looking for down-home Wisconsin cafe style not far from Madison, here's your spot.

Comments

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I too have always felt the same "regular" factor every time I've gone here. I've worked in Sauk Prairie for over five years and it's kind of endemic to town. The pies are supposedly great but I've never really been that impressed, but I did really like the reuben.

Bruce - The person who made the great pies left to open the Luckenbooth. The pies are almost as good as my mother's. Yes, Elizabeth is talking about Luckenbooth pies again. I am the pie evangelist.

Wow...thanks for the reviews. However, the person making the pies, has been making the pies for almost 30 years and is still there. He is the owner! Some superb bakers do help periodically. And yes, some of them have gone to start their own restaurant locations. Please stop in and join us any time for the pies baked fresh daily, daily specials, soups, other fresh baked goods or ice cream!

Janine

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