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Rex's Innkeeper

Rex's InnkeeperIn a word: What do you call a classic Wisco Supper Club with a crummy bar?

The specs: #0550  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Madison Fish Fry; EatDrinkMadison.com profile; Maximum Ink profile; official web site; Rex's Innkeeper on Urbanspoon

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Amy ate the peppered steak with a Bud Light.
Clint ate the Sir Roberts Bone-In Ribeye with hashbrowns and steamed veggies.
JM ate the ribs and chicken combo with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the fried walleye.
Shaun ate the New York strip with mushrooms and onions and a Bud Light.
Tiffany ate the coconut shrimp with french fries and an Old Fashioned.
The bill was $118, or $19.67/person, plus tip.
[Ed.: Shaun and Clint gave Rex's Innkeeper a B;] JM gave Rex's Innkeeper a B-; Nichole gave Rex's Innkeeper a C+ (see our grading rubric).

Salad barRex's Innkeeper in Waunakee is 100% supper club. We arrived a little late to meet friends and family, and learned from them to avoid the $3 canned beers and weak Old Fashioned from a mix (in other words, don't come for the bar), but things looked up from there.

Rex's salad bar was far above average, and at $6.95 is a deal even if you pass on an entree. It helps if you love things like pickled herring and beets, but this bar featured the requisite lettuce mixes, mayo-and-peas pasta salad, and packaged breadsticks with cheese spread. Two mini loaves of crusty, warm bread awaited us when we sat back down.

They serve some seriously good white cheese curds at Rex's. On a doily, even! Inside a charmingly mottled batter shell, each curd was stretchy, golden brown, and fresh.

Cheese curds

The pair of steaks got solid B's from Clint and Shaun. The bone-in ribeye was cooked almost to perfection, and was flavorful without any rubs, seasonings or sauces. The New York strip, on the other hand, was somewhat bland but that's why Shaun got the mushrooms and onions on the side.

New York Strip steakSir Robert's Bone-in Ribeye

Pepper steakAmy's pepper steak had tender meat but squishy peppers, and was served over a wild rice mix. Similarly, the steamed veggies with Clint and Nichole's dinners suffered the same crunch- and color-phobic fate. One of us (who'll go unnamed) even considered noshing the raw kale that had been used as garnish, just to get her 11-a-day.

Rex's did better with beef than with seafood (aside: are lake fish seafood? Discuss.) Though the coconut shrimp were fine, the red sauce on the side was emphatically not cocktail sauce. Thinner, brighter red, and alarmingly sweet, the closest we could come to pinning down the flavor was Hawaiian Punch or maybe Black Cherry Kool Aid. The walleye looked big, but the thin filet of fish was short-sheeted in a blanket of light breading.

Coconut shrimpWalleyeRibs and chicken

These ribs didn't pass JM's "meat candy" test, the metric by which he measures the tenderness of this particular dish. The saucing was also just so-so with thickness standing in for smokiness.The chicken breading evoked Shake 'n' Bake ("and we helped!").

Hashbrowns

Despite the details that bugged us (expensive canned beer, weak Old Fashioned, lack of veggies, uneven pricing), the great old-school salad bar, cheese curds, and hashbrowns went a long way. Shaun and Clint consider hashbrowns to be a prime indicator of supper club quality, and Rex's are were very good. Shaun chose the O'Brien version with onions and cheese, while Clint just went for cheese; the cheese (OK, a very badly disguised square of American) melted over a crispy exterior and creamy interior of buttery potatoes.

We aren't sure we'd come back, but Rex's does a decent job maintaining the supper club aesthetic in Waunakee.

Comments

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To me fish is something that swims in water & has fins & scales [catfish being the exception to the rule], everything else that lives in water is seafood, ie shrimp, clams, shark, eels, lobster, etc.

Also, quote: "The pair of steaks got solid B's from Clint and Shaun." Shouldn't those letter grades be mentioned at the TOP of the article???

Before someone "corrects" me, I should say the above is referring to ANIMALS. Seaweed I would consider a "vegetable" [used to be a Oriental place in Bloomington, IN that had two WONDERFUL cold seaweed salads, a dark green one, similar to spinach, and a crunch lighter colored one, yum].

I have not been here for quite some time and certainly not since the smoking ban started. Your cloths smelled of smoke just walking into the place. I agree the bar needs work both on mixing and pricing. I believe the whole place needs a refresher. Scrape the smoke tar from the walls. The place is so old 70s that it is unappealing just going inside.

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