While on my Wisconsin muskie fishing adventure in Vilas County, I had a really unique dining experience that I have to share. There we were, five big fishermen in a little station wagon, driving aimlessly about, looking for the right place to stuff our faces after a day of drinking beer and fishing. We pulled into the parking lot of a bar but decided we wanted something better than a burger. Then we found a nicer restaurant with white tablecloths and black-tie clad servers and decided that it was just a little nicer than what we wanted or were dressed for. We started to feel like the three bears (or five bears). Then we spotted it: a roadside supper club named none other than Pub 'n Prime, and this one was just rightl the name said it all.
Once inside, we immediately felt right at home. The bartender was wearing a tailored tuxedo shirt that was, of course, short-sleeved. The tablecloths were salmon colored, not white, and covered with glass (to save on linen costs and the environment, no doubt). Jamie, our Wisconsin tour guide and ad hoc leader, began to tell us how the supper club thing worked in these parts. He told us we'd have to go to the bar for forty-five minutes before we actually wanted to eat; there we would order a brandy old-fashioned and chitchat.
The cool thing was, along with the drink, came an amuse bouche, if you will. In this case, it was a large plate of Ritz crackers and Kaukauna-style port wine cheese spread. It was totally delicious and somehow paired nicely with my first brandy old-fashioned. I started to like the place even more; it felt like it had never moved on from the '70s, and I mean that in a good way (there was even a vintage Ms. Pacman machine). It was clean, comfortable, and you could tell the clientele had been coming for years. And everyone was in a good mood.
We got to our table in the dining room and were immediately greeted by our server, Kris. She was a late-fifties woman of medium build, affable, very polite, and menu knowledgeable; we liked her from the start. She got us another round of drinks and the relish tray. Relish tray! I was so happy to see a relish tray on the table, it brought me back to childhood, tipping my fingers with black olives, and gobbling up homemade pickled vegetables and crudite. Love this place. We all ordered exactly what you are supposed to order at a supper club: either meat or fried fish.
I had a huge slab of ribs for $18, a few guys ordered prime rib (the place being called Pub 'n Prime and all), and one got the fried fish. The food was fine, maybe good, but the service was superb. Kris seemed to float, our water glasses magically refilled, butter plates replenished without a whisper, she was always accessible and always smiling even though her section was full and we were a tad higher maintenance than most of her tables.
We finally finished our meals, grabbed our full doggy bags, and headed back out into the night and a freezing cold car. Once in the car, a guy in my party realized he had forgotten his doggy bag in the restaurant. He ran back to retrieve his goods, and as he opened the restaurant door, Kris was waiting in the vestibule with his satchel of food and a smile on her face.
I hope Kris is waiting for us in the vestibule next year.
>Pub n' Prime
8085 Hwy 70 E.
Saint Germain, WI 54558