Adrie Groeneweg was 19 when he decided he was tired of leaving his hometown of Hull, Iowa, every time he wanted pizza. Armed with six pizza recipes from his mother, Groeneweg opened the first Pizza Ranch in 1981, delighting travel-weary pie lovers with dough and sauce made fresh every day. At more than 170 locations in 11 states, a bevy of signature pizzas forms the backbone of the sprawling menu, with options such as the bacon- and beef-covered Bronco, as well as the Tuscan Roma's delicate assemblage of spinach, tomatoes, and alfredo sauce. A wide variety of such specialty pies lines the buffet table, but diners who don't see their favorite combo can make a special request to the pizza chefs?who will not only bake it and add it to the buffet but also hand deliver the first slice to the table. Alongside the disks of mozzarella and pepperoni are trays of the Ranch's other specialty, crispy broasted chicken that's seasoned with a house blend of spices and then broasted so that its crunchy coating conceals ultramoist meat and the occasional winning lottery ticket.
Old 60 Steaks and Chops pays homage to the classic American roadside diner with both its decor and menu. Among a cheeky collection of road signs and rims, the cooks specialize in meat, grilling up hearty steaks, chops, prime rib, and Angus burgers. They prepare pork osso bucco, for instance, in a slow cooker until the meat's ready to fall off the bone, and plate it over a bed of mashed potatoes and brown gravy. And they turn their slabs into sandwiches, including prime rib sandwiches, philly cheesesteaks, and french dips. But they also dabble in lighter fare, such as the shrimp skewer and broiled swai fish?a white fish known to make annual road trips.
Chedd's turns childhood comfort cuisine on its head by preparing zesty, uncommon interpretations of that tasty old stalwart, the grilled cheese. Eats injected with Wisconsin cheese bedeck the varied menu, which offers gourmet melts ($3.75 half/$6.30 whole) such as the Heartburn (horseradish cheddar, pastrami, onion, sauerkraut, and spicy mustard on pumpernickel) and Fish and Peppers (chipotle cheddar, tuna, banana pepper, jalapeno, mayonnaise, and relish on rye). Aspiring dairy draftsmen can sketch their own custom grilled-cheese sandwich ($4.95) before selecting from an architectural alphabet of cheeses (asiago, fontina, extra-sharp cheddar, and more), breads (focaccia, sourdough, white, and more), vegetables ($.99 each), and meats ($1.25 each). Cheddar aficionados can dine amid the sleek, inviting confines while pairing gooey delights with soups, shakes, sides, and brats that help reenergize diners after a long morning of fruitlessly attempting to milk the neighbor’s cows with a butter churner.
Taco John's swiftly serves an assortment of tangy Mexican fare and bold-flavored innovative snacks. The edible oeuvre includes the eatery's signature super potato olés: black olives, beef, beans, tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream, and melted cheese smothering a helping of golden-brown tater nuggets ($4.99). Those who create Venn diagrams to decide between soft or crunchy tortillas can choose the middle ground and get both with the taco bravo ($2.29). Taste another victory for American and Mexican relations with the taco burger, featuring tacos' usual contents nestled between two fresh buns ($1.99). The fajita chicken quesadilla melt ($6.29) awakens groggy taste buds with fire roasted bell peppers and onions.
Bookended by the rippling waters of Lake Madison and Round Lake, The Lakes Golf Course’s nine-hole layout arches over 3,128 yards of rolling, lush terrain. Conscientious clubbers will spend time at the adjacent driving range before the round to prepare swings and motivate lazy golf carts in time for the first hole, a par 5, 533-yard monolith rated the course’s hardest hole. Throughout the layout, gentle elevation changes create the occasional tricky lie and give way to splendid views of the lakes and the surrounding countryside topography. Those looking to extend their golf outing to an overnight trip or romantic getaway with their sand-wedge can hunker down in the rustic but modern accommodations at The Lodge, or pitch a tent made of polo shirts at the Camping Grounds.
Course at a Glance:
More than 40 years ago, Harry J. Hoenselaar chose individual hams, cured them in his secret marinade, and smoked them over hardwood chips before offsetting the earthy flavor with a crisp, sweet glaze. To this day, the staff still makes the signature bone-in hams one at a time and glazes them in the shop. In addition to the eponymous victuals, the ham denizens turn their braising prowess on similarly delightful platter toppers, including turkey and barbecued pork.
The hammery's kitchens also whip up classic side dishes and desserts, such as the sweet-potato souffl?. For less formal feasting, party trays and packed lunch boxes fuel business meetings, backyard grad parties, and lengthy end-zone celebrations.