Fireside's original '60s restaurant gradually evolved into a popular dinner-theatre venue which remains family-owned (see my review of the Fireside Theatre elsewhere). Dinner-only reservations are available on Friday and Saturday evenings. The sprawling multilevel restaurant is divided into cozy rooms by attractive etched glass panels and a pond bordered by artificial plants. The latter recalls one of Chicago's most romantic places of decades ago, Kon-Tiki Ports. The place is dark and windowless but Tiffany lamps cast a bright glow over each table.
The main entrance is actually in the northeast corner of the complex, near a towering outdoor sculpture. To access the restaurant, you wander through a long, winding corridor past several gift shops and the theatre entrance. The gift shops seem to cater to grannies on motor coach tours (giggle!). Not my cup of tea, so while the missus browsed, I chilled out in the swank cocktail lounge with a bottle of New Glarus.
Depending on when you dine, various menu options are available. For our weekday lunch visit, our group pre-ordered a multicourse meal. Overall, the quality was on a par with banquet food served by 4-star hotels and cruise lines - very good to excellent. But the star of the show was Fireside's in-house bakery. Baskets of warm, freshly baked bread sent several of us scurrying to the bakery counter to buy a loaf or two to enjoy at home. Fireside's Signature Salad with chunks of fresh fruit and papaya dressing was also stellar.
Our group ordered the chicken & ribs entree. Methinks the 3 bones were there just for decoration as the rib meat had already fallen off. My portion of buttermilk fried chicken was just half of one breast. Though served piping hot, it was no longer crisp. Truthfully, the accompanying side dishes were more enjoyable. And kudos for the Georgia pecan pie, plated with a scoop of unctuous salted caramel ice cream.
We were most impressed with the well-orchestrated service and extraordinary attention to detail. Substitutions and special requests were cheerfully accommodated. The dinner-theatre package is definitely worth the drive from Milwaukee or Chicago. If you're celebrating a special occasion, tell them when you make your reservation.
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