Nov 6, 2018

Tracking Sheboygan’s food scene –first stop: Gosse’s at the Northwestern House

If you travel enough, you begin to associate certain foods and drinks with certain parts of the country.  For instance, eating and drinking in Wisconsin probably brings visions of cheese curds, beer, butter burgers, bratwursts and supper clubs serving fried fish on the weekends. 

Perhaps no greater representation of Wisconsin’s food traditions can be found in the town of Sheboygan, located roughly halfway between Milwaukee and Green Bay along Lake Michigan.  As fate would have it, my work obligations took me to Sheboygan for several months, so I decided to make the most of it and try every food I could find that I felt defined Sheboygan. 

And so, we begin what I am dubbing the “Sheboygan Series” of blog posts with the very first place I tried – Gosse’s at the Northwestern House.

Given the town’s position on Lake Michigan and all the shipping that passes by, Sheboygan has plenty of blue-collar vibe, and Gosse’s is surrounded by it.   As the signage outside of Gosse’s suggests, the place takes more than just a little some inspiration from being literally right off the tracks, in a neighborhood that borders an industrial part of town.  The railroad them permeates Gosse’s inside and out.           

Before I arrived, I had expected more of a diner-style atmosphere.  Instead, Gosse’s looked and felt to me more like a small family restaurant built into a former residence.  In fact, I later learned the century-old “Northwestern House” was originally a boarding house. 

I was even more surprised to find they had a small but inviting bar in the front room.  But then again, this is Wisconsin, where drinking beer is kind of like drinking water … it’s almost an afterthought.  I found a seat to my liking and, since they had Capital Brewing Supper Club on tap, ordered one in advance of my dinner. 

At first, it had seemed unusually quiet for prime supper time.  But from my seat at the bar, I eventually noticed where most of the patrons were seated in what appeared to be the former living room and dining room of the house. 

Having done a little research before my arrival, I had already decided I needed to try the fresh lake perch sandwich, although I was also tempted by the brat sandwich or their popular broasted chicken dinner.  But I had plenty of other opportunities to get chicken and brats in Sheboygan.  I came for fish, with an emphasis on fresh.  And Gosse’s delivered.     

The portions at Gosse’s weren’t huge, but they were satisfying.  The perch filets for my sandwich came lightly breaded, which allows the diner to truly enjoy the mild flavor of the fish.  A nice mellow and creamy tartar sauce complemented the fish perfectly.  And you may notice something a little unusual about the bun, which isn’t really a sandwich bun at all.  It’s called a Sheboygan hard roll, hard on the outside, chewy and fluffy on the inside, and split open to fill with the sandwich’s ingredients.  It really brought the whole sandwich together quite well.   

There are a couple of things to keep in mind before visiting Gosse’s.  First, it’s a cash only place, but prices are very reasonable.  Second, it closes rather early, even for a restaurant that serves dinner.  As in 7 p.m.  So, if you’re expecting a few after-dinner drinks you might be moving on elsewhere.  Still, Gosse’s at the Northwestern House is a perfectly fine time with perfectly fine food, with a menu that’s somewhat light on content but heavy of Wisconsin and Sheboygan specialties.  Look it up if you’re shuffling through Sheboygan.  

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