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Eat your heart out: Restaurant Week is back and better than ever

Restaurant Week Fox Cities is happening September 29-October 10!

After a long break from the traditional comforts of dining out—or in restaurants, rather—this month brings something to smile about: Restaurant Week Fox Cities is back and better than ever. 

The event that stole our hearts and filled our stomachs in the past has expanded to 12 days this year—from September 29 to October 10—in an effort to give both guests and restaurants the best experience possible. 

Restaurants create three-course, multi-option menus for lunch/and or dinner at a fixed price, allowing diners to choose an appetizer, entrée and dessert. New this year is the addition of a breakfast category (of which three courses are not required).

It’s a celebration of the Fox Cities culinary scene in all of its glory, and includes a combination of fast casual and fine dining establishments. Designed for both foodies and restaurateurs, it encourages innovation and exploration in a field with limitless options.

“Restaurant Week is an opportunity for local restaurants to showcase their best/most creative new dishes on a special menu,” says Maddie Uhlenbrauck, Marketing Communications Manager at Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It’s a great way to try new places you’ve never been to or to just try multiple offerings at one place.”

Lucas Maggard, general manager of Stone Arch Brewpub in Appleton, agrees.

“The menu we’ve chosen this year really gives people a lot of variety,” he says. “And that’s the cool thing about Restaurant Week. You can come in and do it one day and then come back and have a completely different meal the next.”

Examples of food offerings on the Restaurant Week menu at Stone Arch include traditional English brewpub favorites they’re known for, like handmade cheese curds, a bison burger and Shepherd’s Pie, but they’re also focusing on plant-based options.

“Our Vegan Buddha Bowl is a crowd favorite right now,” Maggard says. “Couscous with roasted tomato vinaigrette mixed with tofu and surrounded by avocado, pickled red onions, roasted sweet potatoes, balsamic portabella mushrooms, golden and red beets, cherry tomatoes, carrots, and sprouts. It’s hands down the prettiest thing we have on our menu. Not only does it look good but it tastes good.

“Every restaurant involved this year and in previous years has been totally worth checking out. Take the opportunity. (Restaurants) handpick items that they think you’re going to love. It’s really an opportunity to see what they do best.” 

Many Fox Cities restaurants put their time during the pandemic to practical use, diving into extensive renovations and remodeling projects they’re eager to share with the community during Restaurant Week. 

“ACOCA really didn’t have a real kitchen in the past,” owner Bill Wetzel says. “Part of the expansion into this year was to install a full kitchen so that we can have a broader range of cuisine offerings.” 

ACOCA in downtown Appleton focuses on infusing as much flavor as possible into what may appear simple on the surface, using fresh ingredients and supporting other local small businesses whenever possible.

Their Restaurant Week menu offers a Breakfast Bagel Sandwich customizable using either Neuske’s bacon, Quinto Sol chorizo or pastrami from Jacob’s Meat Market. That, along with roasted veggies and a Fruit Cup with basil and ginger infused syrup rounds out the meal. 

“We want food that pops,” Wetzel says. “We’re not just coffee. Coffee is the foundation, but we’ve expanded into really flavorful food.

“I encourage people to get out and try things. Be adventurous, be curious. That’s what events like this provide: opportunities to stretch your boundaries a little bit to either reaffirm what you already know you like and dislike or you may be pleasantly surprised with some tastes that you didn’t expect.”

After a complete remodel of a 100-year-old historic building in Kaukauna, Sticky Fingers Café & Catering opened in June of this year, and knew Restaurant Week was the perfect opportunity to officially introduce themselves to the area.

“I think having this event for the community is a great way for people to get out and experience a different variety of local establishments that they might not otherwise try,” Kim Mischler, owner of Sticky Fingers Café, says.

“My description of the cuisine (here) would be a modern and innovative brunch, with a unique bakery display twist. We will be doing breakfast and lunch for Restaurant Week.” 

Said breakfast includes options like their Salted Caramel Praline Latte and Coffee Infused Bread Pudding and a Signature Egg Sandwich (a toasted bagel with honey butter, over easy egg, white cheddar and avocado). Their lunch menu includes the choice of soup or salad, a sandwich and desserts like Salted Caramel Oreo Pie.

Restaurant Week Fox Cities also welcomes back veterans, including Fress Restaurant & Bar in Appleton, which prides itself on its “New American/Local/Seasonal” fare. Among their menu options will be Braised Soy BBQ Pork Shank with Puffed Rice, Gremoloata and Charred Spicy Cabbage. 

Osorio’s Latin Fusion’s “made-from-scratch with a lot of love” traditional Mexican and Latin dishes highlighting fresh fish and seafood has played a part in each Restaurant Week since the inaugural event in 2015. This year, diners can expect gluten free/celiac safe and vegetarian items as well.

“We view this as a great community event. The Fox Cities has an incredible dining scene and many talented chefs,” says Kimberly Finnell, owner of Osorio’s Latin Fusion in Appleton. “We love how Restaurant Week shines a light on all of these hardworking, creative teams!

“(It) is an incredible chance for restaurants to show their creativity with their menus. It’s also a tremendous opportunity to get new guests in their doors and hopefully gain new, regular clientele. It’s also a great platform for us all to help promote each other!”

A common theme amongst Restaurant Week participants is that now more than ever, support from the community is key.   

“After a really tough year for the restaurant industry, this is a way to continue showing our support for the local restaurants we know and love,” Uhlenbrauck says. “They were there to serve us throughout the pandemic… this is just another way we can say thank you.”

For more information and a full listing of participating restaurants and menus (reservations are encouraged!), visit restaurantweekfoxcities.com.

Be sure to tag @restaurantweekfoxcities and @foxcitiesmagazine on Facebook and Instagram to share your satiated cravings!

Restaurant Week specials:

Breakfast, $10.
(Value $14 or above.)

Lunch, $15.
(Value $19 or above.)

Dinner, $26 or $32.
(Values $32 or $38 respectively.)

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Food & Dining

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