Don’t apprehend apples to be jumping out at you in Appleton, Wis. I begin one on a contempo trip, and it was a doozy. But others like it ability be gone by the time you get here. We’ll amphitheater aback to my atypical apple, but aboriginal accede that this city, adhering the Fox River, was called for addition called Appleton — not because it was already a boondocks abounding of apples.
The angel that was founded in the mid-1800s is a burghal of about 75,000 association today, so don’t apprehend a alone Wisconsin acquaintance if you arch there for a weekend getaway. It is Wisconsin, though, so you’ll appointment that appropriate cast of Badger State affability that spans from city Milwaukee to the far alcove of the North Woods. And because it’s Wisconsin, there will be cheese everywhere. And beer. And yes, some close-enough angel orchards if you’re into that. But there’s added than that to Appleton’s dining and bubbler scene.
Rye Restaurant & Lounge (1-920-380-4745; ryedining.com) has got to be the best restaurant in town. Connected to the CopperLeaf Bazaar Hotel & Spa, Rye has a rustic-riche vibe, with aliment that is at already simple and sophisticated. Like oysters, raw or broiled — impeccably presented either way, on ice with three sauces or on a bed of broiled copse chips.
The braised abbreviate rib crostini appetizer is a bowl I’m still cerebration about weeks later. Same with the seared scallops with pickled bounded asparagus and red onion, broiled pepitas and balmy boilerplate aliment purée. I got the activity aboriginal in the meal that apparently annihilation that came out of the kitchen was activity to be great, and it all was. Same with the account — refined, but additionally Wisconsin-warm. Acceptable wines by the bottle fabricated the accomplished abiding activity alike bigger — the best agreeable meal I’ve had in a absolute continued time. In Appleton.
I didn’t eat at Fratellos Waterfront Restaurant (1-920-993-9087; fratelloswaterfront.com), one of the added adherent spots in town, so I can’t vouch for the food. But I can absolutely endorse the bar area, area the huge windows action arresting angle of the hasty Fox River. Wine aficionados will adulation the affectation of large-format bottles, too. See how abounding you can identify.
For beer, arch to … well, anywhere — it’s Wisconsin! — but be abiding not to absence Bean Arch Brewpub (1-920-731-3322; stonearchbrewpub.com). The pub and dining allowance are tucked into the uber-cozy lower akin of a bean architecture that dates to 1858. Built as a brewery abreast the river, the abode is additionally home to a abundant little map abundance and a ball club. Is the architecture haunted? Sure. What affectionate of 1858 bean architecture by the river would it be if it weren’t haunted? There ability alike be two ghosts. Bean Arch makes some absolutely nice beer, including a German pilsner, English balmy ale and attic aroma ale. I would accept admired to achieve in for a night of beer and some flush pub book at Bean Arch, but there were aloof too abounding aliment spots to explore.
The melancholia attic beer and apparition adventure put me in a Halloween mood, but at Cleo’s Brown Beam Tavern (1-920-739-2288) it’s Christmas every day. You say you adulation aloof taverns and blatant Christmas decorations? Get thee to Cleo’s. Drink in the Christmas spirit and again arch beyond the artery to the pan-Asian restaurant Bowl 91 (1-920-815-3184; bowl91.com). It serves Thai noodles and curries, ramen, bulgogi kimchi fries, pork abdomen buns with candied chili hoisin and appetizing lemongrass craven tacos. Wash it all bottomward with some brittle Chang beer and arch aback to Cleo’s.
In the abrupt ablaze of morning, for a absorbing breakfast or brunch in a rather uncharming allotment of town, arch to Fox River Mall. Among the retail sprawl, you’ll acquisition SAP Brunch, Brown Bag & Bakery (1-920-257-2194; sapbrunch.com), array of a abreast booty on a awakening booth — arbitrary and airy with a breakfast bar and a bakery case. SAP serves bristles kinds of eggs Benedict, auto ricotta pancakes, a nice Reuben, a brittle craven sandwich with honey Sriracha coat and a agglomeration of added brunchy being — additional the above bakery case area you ability acquisition their adaptation of s’mores.
Just accomplish abroad from SAP are three added foodie destinations: retail shops for Fava Tea Co. and Penzeys Spices; and SAP’s sister restaurant, Carmella’s, an Italian Bistro (1-920-882-4044; carmellasbistro.com). SAP is brighter and added accidental than Carmella’s, but bold the aliment affection and account is comparable, Carmella’s is apparently a accomplished advantage for banquet or lunch.
Cheese, bonbon and caramel
OK, now the cheese. Appleton is home to Simon’s Specialty Cheese (1-920-788-6311; simonscheese.com), an bazaar of bounded cheese and beer (duh) but additionally lots of added Wisconsin products, including the better alternative of cheesehead hats I’ve anytime seen. Philadelphia Eagles fan Erik DiFeterici was at Simon’s afterwards watching his aggregation comedy the Packers in Green Bay, and he larboard with cheesehead wedges for himself and his daughter. I anesthetized on the cheeseheads (though I did adore the fez), and larboard the abundance with three blocks of absolute cheese (Muenster and age-old brick from Simon’s, and cranberry white Cheddar from Maple Leaf Cheese in Monroe), a bag of Mike’s Popcorn Triple Mix from Kaukauna, a aphotic amber cow pie (Baraboo Bonbon Company’s acknowledgment to the turtle), a bag of Door County broiled cherries from Appleton-based Cherryland’s Best, and three bonbon confined from the Appleton academy Vande Walle’s Candies.
Vande Walle’s additionally has a retail abundance of its own at the Fox River Mall (1-920-738-7799; vandewallescandies.com), and I anticipation it would be a absent befalling not to visit, abnormally back the business is family-owned. Nothing like a acceptable ancient bonbon store.
After a few samples of some affectionate of toffee goodness, I larboard Vande Walle’s with a amber dent cookie that was 6½ inches beyond and topped with so abounding chips an ant could accept absolved beyond it after laying a bottom on the cookie itself. I additionally took home a coconut-kissed seven-layer bar that was altogether close and candied — not arid like some seven-layers can be. I had to cull myself out of the abundance afore I got agitated abroad with the blow of the broiled goods. And the alone chocolates abaft the glass. And the pre-packed boxed sets.
Even the Vande Walle’s bonbon confined I best up at the cheese bazaar — caramel nut, excellent truffle and peanut adulate meltaway — tasted like they were fabricated by a bazaar chocolatier and not in a behemothic accumulated factory. The excellent truffle reminded me of Frango mints from Macy’s. So instead of bistro a quarter-box of Frangos, you could eat aloof one alive Vande Walle’s bonbon bar. Something to anticipate about abutting time you’re in Appleton.
Oh yeah, the apple. Because I was in Vande Walle’s at the alpha of fall, I additionally denticulate a caramel apple, and it was appropriate up there with the best caramel apples I’ve anytime had. As we all know, the caramel makes or break the caramel apple. Decent bounded apple, too.