Finding Excellence in Unexpected Places: A Broken Spines Restaurant Review

You would miss ‘Round Up North’ driving through Brule (population 643) in northern Wisconsin.  It is in a low-slung building just off of Highway 2, north of Lake Nebagamon and south of the Apostle Islands and Lake Superior.

 

We were traveling from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan through northern Wisconsin with my wife and three boys (7, 5, and 3) and needed a bathroom stop. So, we pulled off the highway, and since it was close to dinner time, we looked around for options.  As with any northern town there are three or four bars with narrow windows that look like they do a brisk business in the wintertime with men on snow machines.  But, a block or so in, barely visible from the road, we saw ‘Round Up North’. We thought we would have a pizza and be on our way. Deep in Green Bay Packer country, we had no idea we were about to be treated to true Italian hospitality and gourmet cooking.

 

A camouflaged Polaris ATV was parked out front.  Inside, the obligatory 12 point buck was mounted to the wall and a Cubs game going into the 14th inning was on tv.  We were enthusiastically greeted by a man I assume is the owner. Unprompted, he brought the boys apple sauce, juice boxes, crayons and paper. Then he took our order: two Leinenkugels and a large pizza with homemade sausage. He brought our beers and a small dish of homemade marinated pepper antipasto along with fresh, warm dinner rolls. Continuing his perfect timing, he brought out the pizza with a light crispy crust, just the right amount of sauce and cheese – and the fennel sausage was magnificent.

 

After the pizza, and again unprompted, he brought us a small dish of homemade gelato and biscotti. It was the kind of desert that,  through its subtle sweetness, brings a meal to its climax.

 

This four-course meal for the five of us cost $22.61.  I can barely get a personal-sized Punch Pizza for that price.  The only thing that was better than the phenomenal food was the friendly service and genuine hospitality.

 

So what made this experience so excellent?  Perfectly timed and executed service.  By immediately sating the boys with apple sauce and crayons, my wife and I were able to relax.  The proprietor somehow knew that my wife would not care for marinated peppers and brought them only to me.  Not only did I thoroughly enjoy them, the gesture made me feel like I was at the head of the table.  Furthermore, it is nice to sit back and simply have food brought to you without have to order it or know to order it.  If the pepper antipasto was on the menu, I doubt I would have thought to order it.  But, perhaps most important of all, Round Up North’s owner clearly took pride in his work.  He was proud of his marinated peppers, homemade sausage, gelato and biscotti, and wanted us to eat them.

 

Next time you find yourself in northern Wisconsin, stop at Round Up North and tell them Broken Spines sent you.

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