New Category: Best Seasonal Menu
Maintaining a seasonal menu is no easy task for Drew Steinke, chef at The Source Public House in Menasha. It requires flexibility, creativity and adaptability.
“The menu changes about five to six times a year. It’s really hard because it depends on what’s coming in and out of season and the growing season in Wisconsin is short,” Steinke says. “I have to play it by ear and create the menus around that.”
It seems the extra effort has paid off for the restaurant which picked up first place Forks for Best Seasonal Menu and Most Vegetarian Friendly. During the summer season, Steinke sources produce from half a dozen local farms. The restaurant’s kitchen-side garden, with vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs and salad greens, supplements what he procures from local growers.
“I don’t want to order frozen vegetables that you just throw in the microwave. That’s not why I started doing this,” Steinke says. “I don’t even have a walk-in freezer. Some people at home have more freezer space than I do at work. We’re not your normal restaurant.”
With each menu change, about 80 percent of the offerings get a shake up, but diners can always count on several vegan and vegetarian dishes. A couple favorites are the harvest pasta where spiraled zucchini serves as fettuccini and the BBQ sweet potato sandwich with vegan coleslaw on a pretzel bun.
“People think of vegan and vegetarian food as being bland and unflavorful, but it’s all about how you season it and cook it,” Steinke says. “It’s a very small portion of the population that we’re catering to, but at the same time it’s taken off like crazy.”
The Source’s commitment to local products and sustainable practices is appreciated by consumers and inspiring to employees like Steinke, who joined the team in 2016.
“This industry can beat you up, but cooking here brought me back to how I felt when I first started,” he says. “This place got me to start love cooking food again.” —ACW
“The steak at George’s is always great quality meat and prepared perfectly to the diner’s request. I am a particular fan of the filet covered with shredded onion rings. I’m a great fan of good steakhouses and, having been to many around the country and world, this meal is one of my favorites.” — Maren Peterson, Appleton