During our little "stay-cation" this past summer, we decided to take a day trip up to Mineral Point, WI, a little artists town in southwest Wisconsin about two hours from our home. Actually, this was something Cindy has wanted to do for quite sometime with our friend, Marcia. But for whatever reason they'd never been able to find the time to get together to do it. Since we weren't doing anything during our vacation, I decided to ferry Cindy up to Mineral Point to look at the shops.
Actually, Mineral Point was sort of disappointing to Cindy in that many of the shops were closed on Tuesday, or that there were a dwindling number of artists and pottery shops that were even still in existence. After visiting about a half dozen shops and artists boutiques that were open, we decided to have lunch. We found out that a number of restaurants are not open on some days through the week, as well. But one place that was open was just down the street from one of the artist's shop and it was highly recommended - Brewery Creek Brewpub. We decided to give it a try.
Mineral Point is a small, hilly and picturesque town that has a long history in the state of Wisconsin. The city has been on the National Registry of Historic Places since 1971 and is full of limestone buildings, large and small. At one point in time in the early 1830's, Mineral Point had a larger population than Milwaukee and Chicago, combined. That was due to the lead and zinc mines that dotted the landscape in the area. A number of experienced miners came to the area from the Cornwall area of England to work in the mines, and because of that there is a large Cornish influence in the community, starting with food.
A dish that is indiginous to the Cornwall area in the U.K. is the pasty (pronounced PASS-tee). A pasty is a folded pastry that is filled with beef, chopped potatoes, onions and, in some cases, turnips. Pasties in the U.S. that I've had before in both Mineral Point and up in the Upper Peninsula area of Michigan are usually made in pans and cut out and served in squares.
I wanted to try a pasty again in Mineral Point and the most famous place to try one is the Red Rooster Cafe in the downtown area. But Cindy wasn't too hip on going to the Red Rooster, so we settled on Brewery Creek Brewpub.
The Brewery Creek Brewpub in on the ground floor of what is also a small boutique bed and breakfast that features five rooms above the brewery/brewpub and two out cottages. The building that houses the brewpub/bed and breakfast was originally built in 1854 as a warehouse. At the time the building was the largest in Mineral Point and was used first as a cold storage building, then it became an insulation family and also was the stables for a local veterinarian.
In the mid 90's, Deborah and Jeff Donaghue came to Mineral Point to "do something completely different" with their lives. They came across the dilapidated building on Commerce Street (see map), basically unused since the 1970's and it had no power, no plumbing, no interior walls or stairways, and the doors and windows were all gone. They bought the building with the plan to turn it into the present day bed and breakfast/brewpub. Construction on the building began in July of 1997 and it opened about 11 months later. They named their inn/brewpub/microbrewery after a nearby creek - Brewery Creek.
Jeff Donaghue is also the brewmaster at the small microbrewery located on the main floor next to the brewpub. The 15 barrel brewery has the capacity to brew 3000 barrels of beer annually. Brewery Creek makes nearly 2 dozen year round and seasonal beers.
The menu at Brewery Creek features a number of farm fresh items including locally grown hormone free beef for their burgers, their tomatoes are grown hydroponically in nearby Darlington, the cheeses they use are from small dairies around the Southwest Wisconsin area, and many of the sauces, dressings, salsas and soups are made from scratch.
It was about 1 p.m. when we got into Brewery Creek. The brewpub is sort of small - it seats about 40 people, not counting the seats at the ornate old bar that sits on the north end of the brewpub. The ceiling has exposed beams and the large windows allow a lot of natural light into the room. Antique-style chairs and tables are throughout the place and along the long wall of the brewpub is a restored church pew.
Our waitress came over to drop off menus and give us the lunch specials for the day. We also both ordered up a pint of their pale ale. It was OK, sort of bland and a little flat, but with the price of hops skyrocketing (they're over $16 bucks a pound for just your run of the mill hops) I'm sure that he's not using as much hops in their beers.
Well, I wanted to get a pasty and they did have a pasty on the menu at Brewery Creek that particular day. But I was also enticed by their burgers and their grilled chicken sandwiches. They also featured a bacon/lettuce/tomato sandwich made with sourdough bread and topped with a homemade roasted garlic/mayo aioli sauce. That sounded out of this world.
One of their burgers was a stuffed bleu cheese and bacon burger topped with cheddar cheese that comes from the local Hook's Cheese Company along with lettuce, tomato, red and caramelized onions and their homemade aioli. That's what Cindy ended up getting. She also got a side of their homemade sweet corn souffle. I got a side of their homemade Belgian-style fries to go along with my pasty.
They were a little busy, even for the middle of the week, so it took a little time to get our food. She brought out my pasty and I saw that it was the authentic Cornish-style pasty and not one that is made in a pan and cut out. The folded pastry was light and flaky and it was filled with an ample amounts of large chunks of beef, potatoes and onions. A side of homemade hot sauce came with the pasty to dip the pastry shell into.
The pasty, itself, was a little dried out and lacked the sort of pizazz flavor that I was maybe looking for. But pasties are, traditionally, a food that Cornish people made in tough times. The drab flavor of the pasty was definitely helped with the homemade hot sauce.
But Cindy's burger was absolutely out of this world. Once again, she got something that was much better than what I had. She offered me a bite of the burger and it was juicy and flavorful, the bleu cheese and bacon stuffing was noticeable but not overpowering. The veggies on top were fresh and the roasted garlic aioli sauce was a great complement to the taste of the burger. The bun was also very good - Brewery Creek has a bakery in Madison make their burger buns for them. I still say that a good bun helps make a great burger.
However, the highlight of the meal had to be Cindy's sweet corn souffle. She took a bite and said, "Oh, my God! You've GOT to try a bite of this!" It was baked in a bowl with a flaky crust topping over the creamy sweet corn. And it was just outstanding. Here's a picture of Cindy with a big smile on her face enjoying a bite of the sweet corn souffle.
I was sort of stuffed after lunch - the pasty was very filling and really stuck to my bones. But our waitress came out and said that they had homemade desserts. When she said they had key lime pie, Cindy sort of lit up. She said, "We'll have a piece of the key lime pie with two forks." The key lime pie came with some whipped cream and drizzled raspberry sauce. It was good, but we've definitely had better.
Overall, we were pleasantly surprised with Brewery Creek. Oh, the beer was a little flat, the pasty was sort of dried out, and the key lime pie was average, at best. But the burger was excellent and the sweet corn souffle was a grand slam home run. I'd really like to go back at some point and get a burger on my own at Brewery Creek and since it's just off the main road between the Quad Cities and Madison, I'm sure I'll have a chance to give one a try on one of my next trips up to Madison.