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.

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Dinner on The Esplanade

Little did I know when I booked our hotel in Toronto on a street called The Esplanade, that there were four restaurants on the opposite side of the street, referred to by some as the best patio street in the city. We stayed four nights and after full days of walking all over the city it was wonderful to go back to the room, freshen up and get to dinner in minutes. These were very popular restaurants and they were always packed even on a weekday evening.

Outdoors at the Bier Markt

All of them had outdoor cafe areas. Every evening we had beautiful weather so even though we  had to wait up to 25 minutes (at the bar, oh poor us) for a table we definitely opted for the outdoors. There were older couples like us but predominately this was the refuge for young professionals. Lots of talking, lots of laughing and lots of beer. Great fun.

Amsterdam Bicycle Club

The first night we tried the Amsterdam Bicycle Club. Lots of beer food: meatball sliders, chicken wings, provolone sticks…, Lots of pizza and lots of pasta. I had the cannelloni and Curt had the spaghetti with spicy meat sauce. The food was good but the portions were too hardy and heavy for me. An interesting aside, the outside cafe has a different name than the inside restaurant, The Old Spaghetti Factory, though they have the same menu and kitchen. The difference, our server informed us, was that the portions inside were larger. Yikes!

Next night, we went next door to the Bier Markt. They advertise 100 brands

Bier Markt

of beer from 24 countries, many of them from Belgium, many of them on-draft. While we waited for our table I had a Carlsberg and Curt, a Pilsner Urquell. This was not the easiest choice in the world since the beer list is pages long, all organized by country. While waiting for our table we had  time to peruse the menu so once we were seated we knew our order that evening was going to be the Markt Charcuterie for Two. This was part of the appetizers but it was a great dinner for us. A wooden plank arrived at our table with slices of coppa, cacciatorini, prosciutto, salumi and pate’ maison, small ramekins of a black cherry & balsamic compote and macerated plums, a selection of mustards and bistro bread. Accompanied by our cold beers, excellent!

Since we had such a great time on Tuesday, we went back to the Bier Markt on Wednesday. This night while we waited for our table I had the most interesting mushroom soup ever. I was served a bowl of roasted wild and tame mushrooms topped with two gougeres. Then the waitress poured mushroom broth over them. Very different and very good. Curt opted for one each of Pickle Point, Fanny Bay, Beausoleil, and French Kiss oysters. The Fanny Bays were the winners. Later for dinner we ordered from the appetizer menu again, this time the Wurst Sampler which consisted of bratwurst, smoked Bavarian and spicy sausage, gouda cheese, sour pickles, warm Bavarian pretzel and of course, a selection of mustards. I had the Urquell Pilsner tonight and Curt went with Jupiler (described as the Coors of Belgium).

Fionn MacCool's

Our last night in Toronto was spent at Fionn MacCool’s. The appetizers here didn’t work for dinner but the entrees were good. I had the Guinness Steak & Mushroom Boxty. A boxty is a seasoned potato pancake. The steak and mushrooms were stuffed inside.

Guinness Steak & Mushroom Boxty

Curt ordered the Fish and Chips which he dubbed excellent. We shared a Chocolate Volcano for dessert, oh yes.

Fish & Chips at Fionn MacCool's

Well this was a lot of good eating. I would recommend each restaurant and all for different reasons. Tonight Curt attempted a combined re-creation of our Bier Markt dinners with tweaks and additions. A selection of sausages (French garlic and salami), prosciutto and a mushroom-laced pate, french bread, herbed green beans, cornichons, macerated crap apples, black cherry compote, green-olive tapenade and homemade mustard. The only thing missing was the outdoor seating.

Spicy and sweet

A plate at the Heuer Cafe