Restaurants & Bars

Fish Creek, Door County--Whistling Swan & Mr. Helsinki reviews

Bill from Downers Grove | Oct 24, 200501:34 PM     1

My wife, 2-yr-old son and I just returned from a trip to Door County last week. We went to two interesting places in Fish Creek that are on the newer end of things there.

The first is Mr. Helsinki's Restaurant & Wine Bar, above the market in downtown Fish Creek. It's a small, funky place, with an odd menu mix of crêpes and Asian entrees. We asked the waitress why it was called "Mr. Helsinki," especially given the conspicuous lack of anything even remotely Finnish on the menu (not that I'd know). She just noted that the owner's a bit quirky and never actually gives her a straight answer for that. We were there early and only a few tables were full. I'm hoping that as business picked up for the evening she had a little more help...but for the number there she was fine and was suitably attentive and helpful with a wine suggestion. She had a minor slip and asked for our orders before she gave us the menu, but these things happen! I had the Pink Lady Pork Crêpe (pork sauteed with pink lady apples, brandy and swiss gruyere cheese); my wife had the Crêpe monsieur (smoked ham, red onion, swiss gruyere cheese, and garlic mayonnaise). Both were quite good. Their site is below.

The next evening we went to the Whistling Swan (http://www.whistlingswan.com/Template...), also in Fish Creek. A friend had noted that she once thought their prices were quite high for the peninsula, but the evening's menu only listed one entree over $20. The waitress explained that their previous chef used a lot of ingredients that needed expensive shipping methods to get out past Green Bay and that they've since kept their focus more local and been able to lower their prices to a more realistic point for the area.

We were seated in the veranda, which had a nice view out to the street as sunset hit the changing foliage (it's not as bad as we thought it might be this year!)

My appetizer was cajun-dusted calamari with a grilled pineapple relish and sweet chili aioli. I couldn't detect too much of the "cajun dust" on the calamari, but he relish and aioli were very good. My wife's mixed green salad with roasted red pepper vinaigrette was a little soggy, but the flavors were good.

My entree was the braised beef short ribs with bacon, white bean and spinach ragout, roasted asparagus and beets and a maple-veal reduction. The short ribs were fork-tender, the ragout was wonderfully smoky & lightly sweet from the reduction...and I even liked the roasted beets (I've never been a beet fan). The serving was a touch too ample, since we'd decided that we wanted to have dessert, but some might not consider that a complaint.

My wife had the horseradish-crusted canadian walley with yukon gold potatoes, corn and spinach hash with lemon dill creme fraiche. The horseradish gave it a little kick and she loved the lemon dill sauce.

The dessert list was surprisingly short...a coffee creme brulee, a napoleon of raspberry sorbet and whipped cream, and a raspberry cobbler (or was it strawberry? Anyway, it was a berry!). My wife's a brulee fan and a coffee lover, so her choice was obvious. I thought about the napoleon, but decided that I wanted something completely creamy rather than berries and cream...so I did the same. It was what it was...which was very comforting.

As for our two-year-old? The WS offers a kids' menu, but he's been kind of picky lately, so we decided to bring our own fresh berries and yogurt for him. They were fine with that. He also liked their bread just fine! He seemed kind of smitten with our waitress. With him in tow we intentionally do dinners eary...it gets him there before he's too antsy, gets him back to the hotel in time for a decent bedtime, and is generally fairer to the restaurant and other diners (although he was on quite good behavior!). At Mr. Helsinki he also ate food we brought for him. We'd like him to be more curious about the stuff on our plates, but that's just not what he's into right now, I guess.

So, I think we'd be happy to go back to either of these two places. I'm pleased to see more "interesting" restaurants showing up in Door County (following the lead of Sage, Cedar Crossing, Trio, etc.), to go along with the more traditional spots!

--Bill Pardue

Link: http://www.mrhelsinki.com

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