Dec. 22 edition of the Daily News was the final
installment of the 10-week look at the 10 recommended
restaurants, as voted on by Daily News readers, in
Washington County. It ended with a profile of The Poplar
Inn in West Bend.
series started with a visit to The Norbert on Oct. 20.
Sandwiched, pardon the pun, in the middle were
Bibinger’s, Riverside Brewery and Restaurant, Sloppy
Joe’s, MJ Stevens, Krimmer’s, Tochi Ramen, Nuckleheadz
and Joe Mama’s.
Each restaurant was different in plenty of ways. But
they had one thing in common.
concept came to light after a discussion I had with West
Bend Police Chief Ken Meuler. At the time, I was already
kicking around the idea of doing something about the
local restaurants and he suggested I should do
something. That discussion was in early February and it
other motivation behind the project was with the help of
my in-laws. They’re from Saginaw, Michigan, about two
hours north of Detroit along Interstate 75. Saginaw is a
similar size to West Bend, but my in-laws, whenever they
visit my wife and I and our two boys they love going to
the local restaurants. They do because in Saginaw there
aren’t a lot of local restaurants, just lots of chain
Those two elements put together helped me with this
series. I just needed a way to do it. Then I thought
about doing a reader-based survey. I knew I had to do it
this way because if myself or our staff picked the ten
we thought were best, we’d miss ones for sure.
Don and Georgianne Weigend of Jackson toast to celebrate
a date night on Nov. 10 at
Krimmer’s Restaurant in West Bend.
John Ehlke/Daily News
had a hunch I’d get a lot of responses, but for that to
happen was a thrill. More than 1,000 responses to the
online survey were submitted. The data and everyone’s
willingness to comment on their choices was fantastic.
It really brought out a lot about the restaurants and
helped me get a baseline for restaurants I wasn’t
you remember, there were 10 restaurants listed as a
choice and then one more selection marked “other.” I was
often asked how I came up with the 10. Well, I used the
user ratings from
Yelp.com, taking the top 10. I needed a starting
point and that was it.
the more than 1,000 responses, 67 restaurants were voted
on. Out of those 67 there was one vote for Dairy Queen
and one for Taco Bell — don’t know if those were serious
votes or someone goofing off.
think about it, that meant there were 65 locally owned
restaurants that got at least one vote. Sixty-five! Did
you know there were at least that many in Washington
County? I say at least because I know there were some
that didn’t get votes.
Those that were in the Nos. 11-15 slots were The Great
Outdoors Supper Club, Dublin’s, Perc Place, Coffeeville
Co., and a tie between Bilda’s Friess Lake Pub and
have at least 65 locally owned restaurants in Washington
County should be something to be proud of.
decided not to rank them because we wanted each of the
10 restaurants to be on the same level, to not make one
better than the other — all 10 were great choices. I
certainly learned that after telling each of their
stories. All 10 had such neat characteristics that I
could see why they were selected.
you know that the chef at Bibinger’s had her first
featured dish in a restaurant when she was a teenager?
Did you know Sloppy Joe’s is a popular destination for
the restaurants among the 10, the ones I had been to
previously were Bibinger’s, Riverside and MJ Stevens. I
plan to visit each one that I hadn’t gone to previously
again now that I’ve learned more about them.
Each presented fascinating characteristics, such as the
memories at The Poplar Inn, a chef formerly cooking for
A-list celebrities at Krimmer’s or cooks taking simple
dishes and making them extravagant — Tochi Ramen, Joe
Mama’s and Nuckleheadz.
one thing was a common thread between all 10: fresh
of them made having fresh food, nothing frozen, as their
No. 1 priority. It showed. I guess you could say, “You
can’t beat freshness.” And most of the restaurants used
local vendors too, including Bibinger’s using a farm a
There you have it. I hope you enjoyed the series as much
as I enjoyed bringing it to you.
for the next visit from the out-of-town family, you now
have a checklist of restaurants to check out. I have got
Nicholas Dettmann is the managing editor
at the Daily News.
>> RESTAURANTS IN THE SERIES:
Intimacy creates memories at Poplar Inn
Making the ordinary extraordinary
Some things are just meant to be
It’s not your college ramen
Husband, wife dream a little dream together
Hard work is a family tradition at MJ Stevens
Turning from eyesore to ‘sloppy’ delight
Open a brew pub? ‘Sure. We like beer’
Bibinger's: An authentic hidden gem
The Norbert: Adapt, adopt, improve