Growing up in a small Wisconsin town, fine dining options were far and few between. I mean, let’s face it, we were a community of farmers, shipbuilders and the like. You know, I lived in a blue collar town, and was damned proud I did. But sometimes, I yearned to put on the Sunday clothes and head someplace that was ‘high class’. Yeah, at times, the tavern across from the church, which served deliciously greasy burgers, didn’t always do the trick. And that’s how supper clubs came to be in the Upper Midwest. It was ‘high-class’ dining, or what hardworking Midwesterners pictured as high class, without a hefty check at the end of your experience.
I mention this because that’s what today’s spot is, and used to be. The Rite Place, located on a mundane corner in Bellevue Wisconsin, catches that true local Dairyland vibe well. The Rite Place has both a supper club portion, some may call it a banquet hall, and a more contemporary portion, which would be considered a pub and grill.
Supper clubs are becoming a dying breed. So, that’s why I felt I had to include one in my travel blog. I mean, really, if you want to catch the spirit of a Wisconsinite, If you really want to see part of their soul…Ok, that might be a little over the top. But really, many times, a spot like this was a party place for my grandparents and parents.
So on with ‘Fish Fry Friday’ at the Rite Place…
The last two days in Northeast Wisconsin have been a little drab. Its Friday, and we’re looking for an experience to brighten our moods. With the onset of Halloween, pumpkin carving may just cap off the night. But before then, we would like a little bite to eat, without a huge dent in the wallet.
So, we head off towards the Rite Place. I’ve been here before. This is Heidi’s favorite haunt, and, for a lengthy stretch, I drove by this place every workday. While Allouez Avenue and Bellevue Street are fairly busy roads, I wouldn’t call this restaurant’s location premiere. Yet, for us, it’s real close by and the prices and food beg return visits.
We walk into this no frills structure and are greeted by a hostess, “Would you care to dine in the pub or the supper club?” She asks.
Heidi answers, “The Pub and Grill.”
“Have a seat anywhere,” I sense a smile riding the hostess’ high cheekbones and recognize a glint in her eye, a mask can’t hide genuine hospitality. I should also mention, for those highly vulnerable to COVID-19, pick up orders are available.
We peruse the open expanse, which is quite crowded, and find a busser cleaning off a table meant for four. Vacant tables are scant this Friday night, so we wait for the young lady to finish. We have a seat, peruse a decent drink list, and enjoy live sports on several giant TV screens.
As we chit chat, I gaze out the large picture windows, imagining a late summer’s eve on their elegant patio. Although it’s fairly small, I find this alfresco dining spot very classy.
I also reminisce about our last trip here. The last time we ate, we were seated in the supper club. It was just how I remembered supper clubs; cushioned chairs, a carpeted floor, and finished wood.
Anyways, no matter where you sit, the prices and food are the same. And they offer Midwestern go-to edibles. Among a solid list of choices, I find delicious burgers, fish plates, steak dinners and other eats a Wisconsinite can devour with satisfaction.
We both order the walleye. Our big reason, besides the fact that walleye is very tasty, was that the plate is literally five dollars less than other places in town. That’s ten dollars off the final bill, plus a percentage of sales tax and a percentage of gratuity. Ok, Maybe I should have just said, “It’s pretty damn cheap!”
And when it gets to our plates, the quality is there. With potatoes, fresh coleslaw and rye bread as sides, it’s a standard fish plate. And a standard fish plate can fill this rural Wisconsin man’s tummy any day!
We finish up, smile at the final check and tip our waitress on the way out. When we’re out the door, I’m wondering how my orange gourds will come out this year. Many times, my carving topics depend on my mood. Passersby might be addled to find floral decor gracing my pumpkins, being that tonight’s dining experience came up roses.