Our first meal when we got to Door County was a late lunch at The Inn at Cedar Crossing in downtown Sturgeon Bay (see map). We didn't really know much about the place as we just got into town and we sort of stumbled upon this place. It looked nice from the outside and we decided to stop in.
The Inn at Cedar Crossing is a combination inn and restaurant. The hotel part of the place features nine themed rooms and suites. The restaurant, on the main level, is one of the better places to eat in Door County. The Inn at Cedar Crossing is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The building dates back to 1884 when it was built at the corner of Cedar and Cottage Streets (now 3rd and Louisiana) in Sturgeon Bay. Over the years, the building has housed a clothing store, a soda fountain, a drug store and doctor's offices. In the mid-80's, Terry Smith renovated the building and turned it into a small inn and restaurant. In the early 90's, Smith sold the inn and restaurant to Steve and Kathy Hellmann. In this New York Times article from 1999, the Inn at Cedar Crossing was called the best restaurant in Door County. Nine years later, I don't quite know if that's true, but we were willing to give it a try.
Actually, for about 2:30 in the afternoon, we were sort of surprised to see the amount of people in the quaint and cozy dining room. It was well over half full with families, couples and small groups of women having a late lunch. We were sort of amused by a family who sat next to us - it was a mother and father, probably in their 30's, with a baby in a carrier and a two year old in a high chair. Both parents had their lap top computers out and were e-mailing or looking things up on the Internet. Cindy said, "If that was you doing that while we were on vacation, I'd crown you."
I said, "I'd hope you'd crown me with the computer."
We got our lunch menus from our waitress and I ordered a Coke and Cindy got an iced tea. The food at The Inn at Cedar Crossing has an American/Italian flair to it. You can get any number of traditional sandwiches, but they also offer pasta dishes at lunch. They also have salads, steaks and an interesting roast duck confit on the menu for lunch. I wasn't all that hungry but I wanted to get something.
Three or four things caught my eye for sandwiches. Their basic burger with Wisconsin Havarti dill cheese was one. But I wasn't really in the mood for a burger. One other sandwich I looked long and hard at was the Reuben - slow roasted corned beef topped with Wisconsin Swiss cheese and sauerkraut on homemade dark rye bread. They really do make great Reuben sandwiches in the state of Wisconsin. And they also had a pastrami on homemade grilled sourdough topped with a horseradish Brie cheese. Man, my stomach is doing jumping jacks as I write this!
I ended up, however, with the tuna melt - albacore tuna mixed with capers, onions and tomatoes topped with Wisconsin cheddar and Havarti dill cheese and served on homemade sourdough bread.
Cindy had a similar problem figuring out what she wanted. She ended up getting a soup and half-sandwich lunch special - a bowl of chicken and wild rice soup with a half of turkey and swiss on homemade sourdough.
It didn't take long for our sandwiches to make it out to us. And since it had been about six hours since we had breakfast, we were ready to eat. My sandwich was very good. The tuna was light and the mixture of capers, onion and tomatoes gave it a great flavor. The combination of the cheddar and Havarti dill didn't overpower the taste of the sandwich. And the sourdough bread was very, very good.
Cindy liked her soup and sandwich. She especially liked the chicken and wild rice soup. She offered me a bite and it was very good.
Our bill came to a little over $25 bucks with tip - sort of expensive for lunch, but it was very good. Before we left, I took a look at the dinner menu to see what they featured. It wasn't much different than the lunch menu - they took some of the sandwiches off the menu and added about 8 more main entrees. Some of the entrees sounded pretty good, but nothing really jumped out at me.
Now, in doing some research for this entry, I found out that the Inn at Cedar Crossing had a very interesting breakfast menu. Had I known they had an extensive breakfast menu, we probably would've gone back there for breakfast. A couple things that jumped out at me while reading the menu on line was an andouille sausage burrito, as well as beef brisket hash. And I'm always a sucker for fresh blueberries on pancakes topped with real maple syrup. But I really perked up when I read about their Hazelnut French Toast - homemade brioche bread that's dipped in a hazelnut liqueur and egg batter, grilled and served with hazelnuts on the top. Yow!
Actually, our experience at the Inn at Cedar Crossing was pleasant. The food was good, service was good and the ambiance was fine. I don't know if it's the best restaurant in Door County, but for our first experience for food in the area, it sure didn't suck.