When we were finishing our dinner at Schartner's on the Shore that one evening, a family of four people came in and said they were hungry and tired of looking for a restaurant that came highly recommended to them. I heard our waitress talking about the place to them and I asked her when she came back to give us the bill what restaurant were they looking for. She said it was Donny's Glidden Lodge Inn that was located on the other side of the peninsula from Schartner's (see map). I figured that if this family was looking for a place like that, we needed to see what it was all about.
Donny's Glidden Lodge Inn is part of the Glidden Lodge, a very nice hotel on the south shore of Door County on Lake Michigan. The restaurant is actually not part of the lodge, but privately owned. We soon found out that Donny's is one of the top places to eat in Door County.
The Glidden Lodge has been serving vacationers to Door County since 1937. The restaurant has been in existence since the 1960's. In the 90's, Donny and Rita Zellner bought the restaurant after running their own supper club for over 15 years in a small town south of Door County. They specialized in both steaks and German food. In 2005, Donny and Rita retired and leased out the restaurant to their son, Tim, who was the bartender at the restaurant; and Andy Mueller, a young chef who had worked at lodges in the northwest part of Wisconsin. Tim and Andy did away with the German food, offering only sampler platters on Wednesday nights, and sticking to mid to upscale recipe items. Steaks and seafood are the main items on their menu.
After a winding, 20 minute trip down the very scenic Glidden Road, we came up to the Glidden Lodge on our right. We pulled into the parking lot at Donny's and went inside the stone-walled restaurant. We were met by Tim Zellner and he told us it would be a couple minutes before they were able to clear a table for us in the dining area. We took a seat in the bar area, which featured a large stone fire place, a small bar and a couple televisions. It wasn't long before a waitress came and got us and sat us in the smaller of the two dining areas in the restaurant.
This picture is a panoramic view of the main dining area at Donny's. It truly looked like a north woods establishment made with stone walls, wooden ceiling beams, hardwood floors and tons of windows to look out onto the lake while you're eating. It was elegant, but not very pretentious at the same time. We felt very comfortable wearing our shorts in the place.
It turned out they were serving prime rib that evening and that's what I ordered up. Cindy got the seafood special that evening - a whitefish platter with a lemon dill sauce. Boiled potatoes and vegetables came with Cindy's, while I opted for rice with my prime rib. Along with the meal came a very good salad bar that featured in house dressings and a very good homemade chicken noodle soup. The waitress explained to us that a number of years ago Donny took out the salad bar and put in additional seating in place of the buffet. She said that some long-time customers were so upset, they boycotted the place until Donny brought back the salad bar. Within months, the seating was gone and the salad bar was back.
Not long after we finished our salads, our main entrees showed up. My prime rib was a perfect medium rare, a nice full juicy cut. Cindy's whitefish platter was also plentiful, and the lemon dill sauce was very, very good, but also very, very rich. I was overly happy with the meal.
Cindy wasn't able to finish her fish because of the richness of the sauce and the large portion she was served. The waitress, however, didn't hesitate in asking us if we'd like to see the dessert menu. Cindy was about ready to explode and decided against it. I wanted to see what they had for dessert just for kicks and while some items were tempting (the homemade cherry pie, among others), I declined on additional food after downing a good-sized prime rib.
With some wine for dinner, the bill at Donny's came to about $120 bucks for Cindy and I, including tip. The waitress was friendly, efficient and had a great sense of humor. We thoroughly enjoyed the meal and the ambiance at Donny's Glidden Lodge Restaurant. It was definitely a very good meal.