When in Door County, WI, act like a Bier Zot

A what?

from B.C., Johnny Hart

No, not that Zot.

Translated from the Flemish: Bier = Beer   Zot = Idiot or Crazy :  To be a Beer Idiot or someone Crazy for Beer who goes to the Bier Zot Beer Cafe in Sister Bay, Door County, Wisconsin.

Bier Zot front door ( that space in the right side of picture is Wild Tomato 2 Restaurant) , Menu pic

We discovered this fun place last Friday but it has been there since 2014. We’re a bit slow sometimes. The Bier Zot is a Belgian style Beer Cafe that serves 11 drafts, one cask and 100 bottles of craft and Belgian beers. Couple this with a “European inspired” menu and you’ve got a tasty combination. The restaurant has casual pub style decor with outdoor seating as well.

Now the only way we found this place was through another restaurant, Wild Tomato, owned by the same people, Britt & Sara Unkefer. That restaurant in Fish Creek (further down on the peninsula) serves really great wood fired pizza. We did a short post on it in 2010. Last year the owners decided to open Wild Tomato 2 alongside their Bier Zot so while stopping for pizza at the new location we discovered it (the entrances share a hallway.) On this latest trip our destination was definitely Bier Zot, no pizza distraction.

Once seated the Beer Board offered an interesting selection. The waitress helped us navigate through it. There were full descriptions of the beers in the menu as well.

Curt went with the Ommegang Rosetta, a sour beer that I find hard to take by itself but it goes very well with food. I wanted something in the pale ale range and she suggested Boulevard Tropical Pale (half pour please). On both of these we were allowed a sample before committing to a glass. Our friend Carol was with us and she went with the Ommegang as well.

Ommegang Rosetta and Boulevard Tropical Pale

Next up, food. Now Bier Zot describes itself as a European inspired cafe and for the most part that is true. I saw a lot of German influence ( Thursday night was actually German Night) but there was French influence and some just creative cuisine as well. Find their menu here.

I went with the Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich. Schnitzel is just a pounded, seasoned and breaded meat that is fried. I am sure you are familiar with Wiener Schnitzel which is a breaded veal cutlet. My Chicken Schnitzel was served on a pretzel bun with greens, a yellow heirloom tomato and Dijon horseradish sauce. I liked it.Carol chose the Bier Zot Bratwurst. This was their house recipe brat on pretzel bun accompanied by sauerkraut and Dijon mustard. We can only assume they make these on the premises because it was extra long and it fit the bun, sort of. It had a taste and found it milder than many Wisconsin brats, more like a veal sausage.  I am ordering that next time. Finally Curt started out with a half-dozen Washington State oysters, which seems to be a new addition to the menu, pending availability. He followed that with the Aubergine Zacusca. This was grilled eggplant with tomato, greens, shallots, basil chevré and ground cumin on Naan. Our server told us this was concocted by a former staff member who is Muslim and had a hard time finding anything Halal in the kitchen.  It was a success and  found a permanent home on the menu.  It was excellent.

You can tell we passed our dishes around so everyone could get a taste. Hmm, maybe I’ll have this one next time.All in all it was a very enjoyable lunch and we will return.

One more thing. It took us a minute to figure out what the wooden tables were constructed from…..can you see it? Bleachers. Sturdy and a good reuse. In case you don’t feel like an idiot, Zot can also be translated from Albanian as “god”.  Beer idiot?  Beer god?  Maybe there’s not much difference between the two.

I am a bitter(s) man: Preamble

I am bitter over the loss of Bitter Lemon.

bittersYears ago I used to be able to buy Schweppes Bitter Lemon.  It was sold in most stores alongside the mixers like Tonic Water or Club Soda, but a lot of people drank it straight as a less sweet, decidedly bitter adult lemonade.   For some obscure reason Schweppes no longer makes or distributes their Bitter Lemon in the U.S.  Apparently it is available in the U.K. and some other markets but not here except as an imported item.

I bemoan the loss of Schweppes Bitter Lemon.  It was a refreshing, pleasantly tart (but not diet) summer beverage.

At some point it occurred to me that I might be able to “hack” an ersatz bitter lemon.  Most carbonated drinks are mostly carbonated water – seltzer or club soda.  The basis for the Schweppes Bitter Lemon is, in fact, tonic water which contains quinine where the bitter component comes from.  The lemon flavor comes from lemon, of course, which contributes tartness.  I like the bitter edge of Bitter Lemon and would welcome a little more (like I said, I’m a bitter man)  So why not add some real bitters, like Angostura – that’s its announced role.  So the juice of a fresh lemon, a half-dozen good shakes of bitters, some ice and top it up with tonic water (yes, Schweppes).  No chance of displacing the original but a pretty easy and quite refreshing hack for a bitter man

bitters_orangNote:  After making this the first time I was a bit disappointed with the color the bitters gave the drink.  But then I remembered that I had once bought a bottle of Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters.  It’s in the citrus family and all but colorless so in subsequent iterations I used Orange Bitters instead.