As our stay in Door County went on, we seemed to find even better and nicer restaurants to eat in. One place that we passed a number of times during our travels up and down the peninsula was The Inn at Kristopher's in Sister Bay (see map). It intrigued Cindy enough that she wanted to have dinner there.
The Inn at Kristofer's began in 1993 when Terri and Christopher Milligan opened the restaurant, wanting to use Midwestern foods made in a French culinary style. (Terri Milligan is pictured at the right.) The restaurant is elegant with white table cloths, a large Steinway piano in the dining area and floor to ceiling windows looking out into Sister Bay and beyond into Green Bay. They have a smaller private dining area on the second floor that had a great view of the bay, as well.
We were casually dressed as we drove up to The Inn at Kristofer's. Cindy was apprehensive that we may get turned away in our shorts and casual shirts. As we pulled up, she saw an older company in the front window - the man was in a navy blue blazer and tie, the lady was in a dress. Cindy said, "Oh, God. This place may be too formal."
I pulled into the parking lot and I said, "Cindy, our money spends just as well as that guy in the sport coat. Do you want to go in or what?"
She sat there for a second and she said, "Well, I guess all they can do is say that they have a dress code and not seat us."
I said, "They'll seat us."
As we were walking into the restaurant, a family of five, including three kids in shorts and sandals, walked out. The mother had a sun dress on, the father had khaki shorts and a polo shirt on. I knew we'd get seated - if they had space.
We stood at the host stand for a moment and the host - in a full suit and tie - came over to greet us. I asked if they had room for us and he said, "Well, I can either seat you here (at a table close to the stand), or it would be a 20 to 30 minute wait for a table up by the window."
Actually, the table that was open wasn't all that far from the window. I said, "Well, this is fine, here."
As we were being seated, Cindy said to the host, "We didn't know if we could get in dressed as we are."
The host said, "Door County is pretty casual. As long as you have a shirt and shoes on, we'll take you."
I was somewhat embarrassed Cindy said that. After the host left us, I said, "Cindy, you're making a much bigger deal about this than need be. You shouldn't worry about how we're dressed when we go into a restaurant. And if they don't want to seat us, it's not the type of restaurant we want to eat at, anyhow."
Our waitress, Sara, came by and introduced herself. She was very busy and said she'd be back with us momentarily. In the meantime, the host came over and asked us if we'd like anything to drink. I thought a Scotch would taste real yummy at that point and I asked if they had a MacAllen 12 year old single malt. The host said, "We're only a beer and wine restaurant, sir."
I was incredulous. "Really," I exclaimed. OK, so I just got a beer. Cindy wanted wine so she got an iced-tea for the time being while we looked over the wine list. Sure enough, I looked around the place and there wasn't a bar in sight.
As I said, the menu at The Inn at Kristofer's consists of a somewhat traditional Midwestern fare that is inspired by French culinary recipes. The menu mainly consists of fish and seafood items, beef, lamb, wild game and poultry dishes. While the menu isn't large, it was varied enough as to where you had some pretty diverse choices.
While I was looking to get a bottle of red wine, Cindy said that she wanted white that evening. I found a bottle of the 2005 Sonoma-Cutrer chardonnay that I thought we'd try, so I ordered that.
Cindy wanted seafood and she ended up ordering the grilled salmon served with a saffron reduction and fresh corn salsa. I was having trouble making up my mind as to what I wanted, but I settled for the grilled tuna - a tuna steak brushed with olive oil, herbs and garlic and cooked medium rare. We each got dinner salads before the meal.
While we weren't next to the window, we did get a good glimpse of the bay as it changed from daylight to twilight. The lights in The Inn at Kristofer's were subdued and you could see outside pretty easily as the day changed to night. It was a beautiful evening in Door County. In fact, the weather was just beautiful the whole time we were there.
Our meals showed up soon after we finished our salads. My tuna was cooked perfectly. I loved the garlic-herb taste along with the tuna. I need to try that on my tuna at home sometime.
Cindy really liked her grilled salmon. She gave me a bite of it and it was very tasty. The corn salsa was a nice compliment to the seafood dish.
All the while we were in The Inn at Kristofer's, we saw a variety of people coming and going. Some were dressed very casually, others were dressed up. Most of the people that were dressed up were much older. I told Cindy, "See? You really didn't have anything to worry about."
She said, "I know. Sometimes I get a little weird about it."
The Inn at Kristofer's was excellent. Each place we had dinner in Door County was excellent. My credit card was smoking after we left Door County, but we had a great time and ate a lot of great food. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of very good restaurants in the area. The Inn at Kristofer's was no exception. In fact, it was the best place we ate at while we were in Door County. And don't worry if you feel like you're under-dressed. Your money spends just as well as the people who are dressed up.