Two moments of musical clairvoyance bookended our visit to Quivey’s Grove in Verona, Wis. (near Madison). This was fitting since our group of friends came together around our similar taste in music.
The first moment happened on the car ride to Quivey’s Grove. Since there were no restaurants in the Milwaukee-area that met our criteria, we expanded our range to include Madison and Chicago and all picked Quivey’s Grove (Shannon’s submission was selected).
I told my car-mates TJ, Shannon, Cindi and Michelle that I didn’t know the song “Blurred Lines.” No one believed me, but I was honest. TJ, who was driving, was incredulous, and said it was the song of the summer and it was probably playing on the radio at that moment.
A turn of the dial and there it was … Robin Thicke’s hit.
This was just before we pulled into the palatial plot of land that accommodates Quivey’s Grove–two century-and-a-half-old buildings housing two distinct dining options–the Stone House and the Stable Grill (both buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places). Shannon chose the Stable Grill because it had a larger menu and was the more casual dining option.
In addition to the two buildings, when we arrived on a Friday night, there was a tent with a wedding going on beneath it, giving the whole property a pleasantly festive, lively vibe.
Adam and Mike had arrived before us and had put our names down for a table–they were told it was an hour and a half wait–as the Stable Grill does not accept reservations (the Stone House does). Luckily for them, and us after we arrived, there was a nice bar inside the stable (with a decent selection of local beer) and the weather outside was beautiful. I ordered a beer from Karben4, a local Madison brewer, while Shannon, who runs a blog called Bloody Marys of Milwaukee, tried their bloody. She said:
I was not a fan at all and did not finish it. It tasted like they poured the juice found in a hot dog bag and mixed it with tomato juice.
In what seemed like no time, and was certainly less than an hour, we were seated in the beautifully-restored stable built in 1855. The dark wood and low lighting resulted in an intimate ambiance. Adam said:
I spent a good amount of time checking out the ancient stone and duel wooden stairways leading to the second level.
We chose to order two appetizers. I called out the fried pickles and I loved them. They were lightly battered (think tempura), salty and flavorfully complimented by horseradish dipping sauce. At $3.95, these were an absolute steal. Adam commented on how nice to portion size was. All seven of us got a couple.
Cindi selected the smoked trout. She said:
The smoked trout appetizer was delicious! It was a hearty portion considering it was passed around several times.
We all enjoyed it, and I normally don’t like that kind of thing, though Shannon correctly mentioned that we could have used a few more crackers. They also brought served complimentary bread and butter, which was nice.
The place seemed to run like a well-oiled machine. This wasn’t their first rodeo. Shannon said:
The server was very friendly but too busy. She seemed rushed … and she was. Still, our food came out quickly.
Shannon chose the BBQ ribs. She said:
I don’t eat ribs very often so when I order them, it’s a little treat. These were not bad but they didn’t wow me.
TJ ordered tenderloin medallions, the most expensive entree of our group. He said:
They were $16 and I didn’t share with anyone because I was actually a bit surprised by how little the medallions were.
Michelle had a difficult time choosing her meal and settled on the reuben because of a unique element. She said:
I ordered the reuben because I generally always like them and Quivey’s Grove used cherry slaw instead of sauerkraut so I wanted to try it. The cherry slaw was not a good replacement, and didn’t add a lot to the sandwich.
Cindi went with a burger, which was made with Kobe beef and had aged cheddar cheese, smoked bacon, crispy onions, mayo, and BBQ sauce. She said:
This was a $13 burger, people. It was good and I use the word “good” with intention and despite the fact that most English teachers despise it. I had one other burger on our ABC quest, at AJ Bombers. It was much better and a lot less expensive. This burger came with a side of fries, which I didn’t like very much.
Mike chose the fish fry, one of Quivey’s Grove’s most popular dishes. He said:
It was excellent. The fish were a good size and it came with a parmesan potato hasbrown. The price was good at $12.95 but for an extra $1.50, it was all-you-can-eat. I didn’t think twice about paying the difference. One thing I do recommend to anyone that gets the all-you-can-eat fish fry–if you know you want a second plate of fish, order it early.
Many of us enjoyed Mike’s dish. I wish I had followed his lead and got the fish fry. It was lightly battered, like the pickles, and ultra tasty.
Instead, I chose the Manona meatloaf. The presentation was interesting, it was served as 8 smallish medallions of meatloaf, rather than the more common, large slice form that I am used to. The meatloaf was on the bland side. It wasn’t bad, but there was just nothing special about it. The price, $13.95 was right for the amount of food, but I just wish it had been tastier or there would have been some unique element. The smashed potatoes were a nice compliment, along with the mushroom sauce.
Adam chose a salmon salad. He said:
The salad was fresh and the salmon was very well cooked.
It was also among Shannon and Michelle’s favorite items because it was refreshing and different.
We were all full, but still decided to get a dessert. We settled on a fruit crisp. Michelle said:
I really liked the blueberry dessert, you can’t go wrong with fruit crisp-like dessert a la mode.
I think Shannon summed it up well. She said:
I liked the dessert a lot but probably wouldn’t have missed it.
After we paid the bill, we decided to have another drink at the bar prior to the long ride home. We got our drinks and headed to sit outside at a picnic table with a view of the wedding. Michelle said:
It was really fun, between the party music and people watching.
Even though it was only about 9:30, they were already onto the rap portion of the evening. The outro to Snoop Dogg’s “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?” is long. Like very, very long. I was saying that a good DJ would cut it–Mike agreed and said he should go into Juvenile’s “Back That Ass Up.” Seconds later–boom. It hit.
Mike’s musical clairvoyance amazed us all–our table erupted with shouts and laughter.
It was fitting that a wedding was going on the night we were at Quivey’s Grove. TJ, who works nearly every weekend as a wedding photographer, said:
I know what to expect when I sit down for dinner at a wedding: A meal that looks decent, isn’t too crazy with the spices, and is just above average tasting. That’s how you serve dinner to 200 people and keep them all happy at a low price. That’s what Quivey’s Grove reminded of… wedding food. Still, I’d recommend Quivey’s Grove because it is a really cool place.
Maybe it was the atmosphere. Maybe it was the drinks. But Quivey’s Grove hit the spot for me. It was one of those nights you wish didn’t have to end so soon. It isn’t the food, it is the atmosphere that pulls you in.
I think we all felt that way. We would recommend Quivey’s Grove–those quaint, beautiful old buildings, the tree-lined property, the just “good” food. It was more than the sum of its parts, it was the experience. The entire evening filled us with a sense of warmth and nostalgia, which was worth the drive to Madison, and elevated the evening far beyond the food.
Yes, I fell asleep on the way home. Big whoop.
Ratings for Quivey’s Grove were, as follows:
Quivey’s Grove cumulative rating: 6.9
Visit Quivey’s Grove online here.
Photos courtesy of TJ UTTKE PHOTOGRAPHY
Losing nominations for ‘Q’ were: None, we all picked Quivey’s Grove. Shannon’s submission was selected.
Introduction to the ABCs of Milwaukee Dining
AJ Bombers: 6.8
Beta by Sabor: 7.9
Comet Cafe: 7
Eatery on Farwell: 6.2
Fajitas Grill: 5.3
Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub: 7.5
Irie Palace: 6.2
Jow Nai Fouquet: 6.9
Louise’s Trattoria: 5.2
Newsroom Pub: 5.4
Odd Duck: 8.2
Pizza Shuttle: 5.2
Quivey’s Grove: 6.9
Rumpus Room: 7.2
Note: We selected Quivey’s Grove while eating at Pizza Shuttle, however, our busy summer schedules prompted us to select a Milwaukee-area ‘R’ restaurant and hold off on Quivey’s Grove until we could find a day that worked for all of us. All this to say, that is why we ate at an ‘R’ place before a ‘Q’ place. We know the alphabet. Seriously.