Oh, Madeline (Island)!
Photo courtesy of Madeline Island Chamber of Commerce
For Foodie Adventure in La Pointe, WI, Just Add Water—Lots and Lots of Water
You stand, excited to be there, but also wanting to arrive at the next there.
You feel the shift of the deck beneath you, as if you’re standing on a table cloth when a magician whips it fro. A cool not-wind finds, brushes your face, then your neck…then it finds, brushes the half-ordered mishmash of bicycles and cars and smiling, expectant faces that surround you.
Like all of the best stories, yours begins on a ferry—that is, a mostly-flat boat delivering you from Bayfield, Wisconsin, to your destination, your next ‘there’.
You look around. Beyond the bikes and cars and smiles, pale triangles slice the ubiquitous blue like shark teeth without sharks. Sailboats on the water, you realize.
You look forward. A gigantic hooked index finger, beckons you like a favorite ogre aunt. The destination’s dock has snared your attention. Beyond the dock, ivory rectangles wiggle against verdant circles; houses and trees jostling for shoreline.
The sun lends the place its glow, or perhaps the place simply takes the glow – elegant gold shafts extracted from the glistening sky, evoking your objective’s original, Ojibwe name, Mooningwanekaaning.
The deck shifts again, the cool not-wind ceases its invisible massage. You’ve arrived.
Before you lies Wisconsin’s Madeline Island, which, according to its website (https://www.madelineisland.com/), “is the largest island of the Apostle Islands, located in Lake Superior in Wisconsin.” Here, outdoorsy options abound: “Hike, bike, kayak, swim, canoe, golf, nap, read, shop, and dine.”
While you shuffle from boat to dock, an existential growl asserts itself just beneath your sternum, informing you that that last option should be addressed first.
Happily, your newly-acquired location can oblige. As the Chamber of Commerce puts it, “Virtually all our dining locations offer a sunset view overlooking the lake, and some can claim every seat in the house is a window seat! Eat indoors or outdoors at most places on the island and expect live music on a regular basis during the summer months. This is the stuff vacations are made of!”
It’s no wonder that you’ve got plenty of choices, as the landmass in front of you is “roughly the size of Manhattan,” according to Sharon Zanto, Executive Director of the Madeline Island Chamber of Commerce.
One of the most popular Madeline Island’s eateries might sound out-of-place in such a geography. Farmhouse (www.farmhousemadelineisland.com/), as its name implies, claims a simple core principle: “Source the ingredients from as near as possible, as organic as possible, and always cook from scratch.” Of course, when your location is an island, “near” is a pretty specific term. “What we don’t grow or forage on Madeline Island,” they go on, “we source from farms and producers in the Chequamegon Bay area.”
Once the food, whatever its form, is collected, the real fun starts. “Farmhouse is a kitchen, inn, and farm on Madeline Island that strives to provide a genuine from-scratch experience for our community and guests alike,” professes self-styled boss, Lauren Schuppe. “Ever growing and evolving we are reaching a stride in making the various aspects of our vision work together while keeping local food, community engagement and respect for the land at the forefront. Good food, great hospitality in a beautiful setting.”
If you took a survey at the Farmhouse during Wisconsin’s warmest months, you’ll find yourself in the presence of company that’s equal parts local and exotic. Says Schuppe, “We switch up what we do in the summer versus winter to provide for our community in different ways.”
The colder months act as tourist kryptonite, the island’s visitors yielding the Farmhouse to her citizens. “In winter we do bingo nights and make school lunch for the elementary students, so very community-orientated,” Schuppe reports. “In the summer, we mainly do brunch, cater and provide for our inn guests.”
A dozen other eateries appear on the Chamber of Commerce’s website, varying in fare from lunch pail to froo-froo, from bakery to bar food, and from coffee house to wine bar. Two anecdotal favorites include Cafe Seiche, built around rock star chef Chris Wolfe and her team of professionals who craft “exciting daily offerings focused on local farming and agriculture,” featuring daily selections inspired by local farms. “We try to craft the menu with the seasons’ best choices, working with local organic farmers to get our meats, cheeses, and produce,” Chris Wolfe testifies. “We get our fresh trout and whitefish from Lake Superior.”
And for the discerning diner who prefers chewing and swallowing on her feet, there’s Jody’s Food Truck, also known as Rock House, which, despite its potentially-ambulant condition, can be dependably found on Main Street, thriving within the (figurative) shadow of the ferry that delivered you.
Having properly silenced your midriff, you’re now free to regale yourself of your surroundings’ other gifts which can be summed up succinctly. “In one word, beauty,” reports Sharon Zanto. “Natural beauty is bountiful on the island, between Big Bay State Park, and its majestic cliff views, it truly is a hiker’s paradise.”
And that’s not all: the bicycles which ferried with you might well move to the fore of your Madeline Island visit, as might your bathing suit, parasol, or kayak paddle. “Big Bay Town Park has an extensive sandy beach, and nestled right next to the lake is a nature lover’s dream, Big Bay Lagoon,” confirms the Commissioner. “Pair our natural beauty with amazing restaurants, shops, and galleries, there’s something for everyone!”
858 Main St.
La Pointe, WI 54850
794 Main St.
La Pointe, WI 54850
Rock House/Jody’s Food Truck
730 Main St.
La Pointe, WI 54850