As I said in my previous post, we went back to the White Gull Inn in Fish Creek (see map) for breakfast the morning after we witnessed an authentic fish boil there. Knowing that we were going to be in Door County for a few days, a friend of mine from Chicago, Steve Weiner, told me that we needed to go have breakfast at the White Gull Inn. Since Door County is famous for their cherries, Steve told me that I had to have the cherry stuffed French toast at the White Gull Inn. That, alone, intrigued me about the place.
The White Gull Inn has been in existence since 1896 when a German born and educated physician who was living in Milwaukee, Dr. Herman Welcker, visited the small fishing village and fell in love with the area. He decided to buy some land and put up an inn that would cater to people who were seeking a "European health spa" experience. Swimming, hiking, boating - and eating - were the main staples of the "Henriette", named after Dr. Welcker's wife.
Dr. Welcker added cabins to the outlying area and also offered summer plays and music concerts put on by actors and musicians from around the Midwest. Relaxing at the Henriette was one of the favorite things to do by the rich and famous from Chicago and Milwaukee well into the 1920's.
After Welcker's death in 1924, the resort was operated by family members until 1939. For the next 20 years, a series of people owned the resort property, but never made a go of the venture. In 1959, a young couple from Madison, Andy and Elsie Redman, purchased the resort and changed the name to the White Gull Inn. Andy added a number of improvements to the property that are still in place today. The Redman's started to serve a traditional Door County fish boil, something that was a staple for church picnics and backyard parties in the area, but never really exposed to the general public. The theatrical presentation I described in my earlier post was a big hit for the people who visited the inn.
In 1972, Andy Coulson heard about an opportunity to buy into what had become a now-shuttered White Gull Inn and he jumped at the chance. Hoping to turn it into a New England style bed and breakfast inn, Coulson moved to Fish Creek and worked hard to open the inn before the Memorial Day weekend. One of the first people he hired was a young girl just out of high school by the name of Jan Lindsley. Lindsley came from a big family and understood the aspects of what it was to manage a large house.
Three years later, Andy and Jan married and they continue to run the inn and restaurant. They eventually became sole owners of the White Gull Inn in the 1980's. They've also expanded the White Gull Inn adding more space for the restaurant and adding cabins and buying surrounding buildings to add to their property.
The main building at the White Gull Inn houses the restaurant and the White Gull Inn store, a small store where the Coulson's sell cookbooks, knick-knacks and Door County delicacies. They have you coming and going at the White Gull Inn Store as you have to pass through it on your way in and out of the dining room.
We got to the restaurant around 9:30 and there was a good sized crowd of vacationers having breakfast. The hostess seated us and presented us with menus. The decor of the dining room reminded me of an old time New England fishing village inn. Since Fish Creek was once a hotbed of commercial fishing on Lake Michigan, it was fitting the decor matched the history and heritage of the area.
The first thing you see on the menu are the cherry stuffed French toast, the very same item my friend told me that I had to try. They take a piece of golden brown French toast, top it with Wisconsin cream cheese and Door County sweet cherries, and top it with the another piece of French toast. It's cut diagonally and served with real Door County maple syrup. OK, that sounded good to me.
Cindy went with the short stack of pancakes, even though they also had cherry pancakes. She wanted the basic pancakes that day. And she ordered them well done, like she always does. We both got a side of bacon and something to drink.
It took about 15 minutes for our breakfast to show up. And the cherry stuffed French toast was very good. But, oh, God! Was it rich! They must have used 8 oz. of cream cheese on the toast and added about two dozen cherries. The real maple syrup was absolutely wonderful. I'm a sucker for real maple syrup.
Cindy's short stack of pancakes consisted of two fluffy pancakes that were also very rich. She had trouble making it through half of what was on her plate. I had a bite and while I thought they were good, they were a little too fluffy for my taste. And they were definitely well done - just short of being burned on the sides.
Overall, the breakfast and the experience at the White Gull Inn was very enjoyable. They serve breakfast until noon every day, then they also have a lunch menu and a candlelight dinner menu on the nights they don't have their traditional fish boil. The White Gull Inn was everything my friend said it would be and then some. It's a quaint little place with very good food - even for a fish boil.