Juniper’s Gin Joint Features the Artistic Creations of Chef Neller Polanco + Live Music for Labor Day Weekend!
The new chef at Juniper’s Gin Joint in Fish Creek, Chef Neller Polanco, isn’t a newcomer to Door County.
A love of food came from her deep relationship with her Grandma, a fine and experienced home cook. Neller was her Grandmother’s shadow, first watching and then learning to cook everything from scratch; and inculcating her with a strong work ethic and an abiding love for the making and sharing of food. Though many memories of her time in her Grandmother’s kitchen and one stands out: rolling out the dough for egg noodles.
Chef Neller can’t remember a time when she didn’t want to be a chef.
Nine years ago at age 30 she decided that if this was her dream she should get started, so she went to the Kendall ‘School of Culinary Arts’ in Chicago (considered the best cooking school in the Midwest), and graduated in two years. She loved cooking and was an accomplished home cook, but Kendall taught her the basics plus all the cooking techniques she’d need for professional cooing. In addition she learned the management of a kitchen, the methods, the reasons for doing things and the finances of a successful restaurant. After that she went on to study Restaurant Management so she could bring more to the table as a chef and then began at Mangiano’s Little Italy (a Lettuce Entertain You Restaurant in Illinois).
Not busy enough it seemed, at this time Chef Neller also started her catering company in Wadsworth which she called ‘Princess and the Pea: One Small Girl Doing Big Things’. The jump into her own business stretched her skills even further: Menu writing, running a successful company, being in charge of all aspects of her business, learning to become a good baker and managing her time and resources combined with working at Mangiano’s was for her like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Her love of food and desire to create memorable menus and dishes and make people happy wasn’t diminished by her workload, it was strengthened.
All this led to Chef Neller to apply and interview for the position of head chef at the Juniper’s Gin Joint (formerly Cooper’s Corner) in Fish Creek (owned by the Pollmans, who also own and operate Door Peninsula Winery, Shipwrecked Brew Pub, Fat Louie’s Olive Oil, Bistro 42 and Door County Distillery). After the interview on her way home to Illinois while her son drove, Chef Neller started creating a menu for the restaurant and sent it the next day. She’s been involved from the beginning in the re-branding and creation of Juniper Gin Joint.
Spending that time catering developed her creativity in creating a menu and the foundation of Kendall taught her how to manage her costs, a combination that is essential in today’s restaurant.
The menu at Juniper’s Gin Joint is a Door County influenced Chicago Style Steak House. Imagine a classic American supper club influenced by Chef Neller’s unique flavor palate. She has created flavors using what Door County (cherries, cheeses, junipers, whitefish) is so well known for and then added some creative touches. Take Saturday’s special for example. It is Prime Rib like you’d never expect – finished off on the grill, giving it that deep, smoky flavor.
She didn’t forget whitefish – serving up a Lemon Juniper poached whitefish with juniper, lemon and white wine, over herb roasted new potatoes. There’s also a Whitefish Club sandwich: a beer battered whitefish fillet with bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato and honey mustard (made fresh in the kitchen) on a special Kaiser roll. The Friday Night Fish Fry will satisfy the fish lover offering perch, whitefish and halibut.
Juniper’s Gin Joint‘s Signature dish, available at lunch and dinner, is a Cheese and Charcuteries Board featuring cheese from Renard’s Cheese (Door County Cheese makers) and an Artisan Sausage Board, both serving a Grilled Door County Cherry Brat. And not to jump to the end, but the restaurant’s (and Chef Neller’s) Signature Dessert is a Chocolate Pinot Noir Cake featuring the Pinot Noir from the Door Peninsula Winery in Carlsville, just a little drive south on Hwy. 42.
“I consider myself an artist,” says Chef Neller.
Chef Neller likes to have fun with her desserts. During May lucky diners enjoyed the Fish Creek Fluffy Pie and the Tipsy Bunny Cupcake (carrot cake with a rum butter).
All sauces, dressings, soups and bakery is made in house. The food is clean and delicious, with nothing added that doesn’t have to be there. “Having the kitchen organized and food prepped means preparing it for our customer is smoother and provides them with an elevated dining experience that makes them feel satisfied and happy. That’s what our whole team is working towards every day.” Diners with special diets have many options to choose from and using the very best ingredients and everything from scratch means the food is at its best.
Chef Neller has been working with the Pollman’s to rebrand the restaurant this summer, and she’s had the complete support of her team in the front of the house and the back of the house. Neller believes that everyone should be able to step in and do anyone’s job if need be, including herself and including washing dishes. She wants the staff to know what they are making and serving so she often cooks dishes for them.
“They’re excited and proud to be making and serving our food. We’re all here to create a memorable dining experience for our guests and they know we’re in this together.”
Enjoy a meal at Juniper’s Gin Joint, open daily from 11am-10pm in season, with live music each weekend in the summer. For Labor Day Weekend there is music each night at 9:30pm!
- Friday, Sept. 4 – Terry Murphy & Last Man Standing
- Saturday, Sept. 5 – Greg McMonagle
- Sunday, Sept. 6 – Jim Counter
***Saturday, Sept. 5 – Marybeth Mattson performs outside in front of J. Jeffrey Taylor from 2-4pm (right across the street from Juniper’s Gin Joint). This local singer/songwriter welcomes Juniper’s diners to enjoy her music and encourages listeners to enjoy Juniper’s dining and outdoor seating.
For more Live Music and Entertainment and Last Minute Lodging Options this weekend, please visit our Labor Day Weekend Blog!
Labor Day weekend in Door County brings some great weather so you can enjoy being outside for Sister Bay’s Marina Fest, the beautiful light and music at Woodwalk Gallery’s End of Season Music Festival, and take advantage of tons of opportunities to enjoy free live music with a great meal!
An abundance of indoor and outdoor LIVE MUSIC can be found this weekend as summer comes to a close and Door County anticipates autumn (for more, visit the Door County Events Calender). Each of these venues offers their own delicious menu and musical flavor, and invite you to enjoy a meal with them this weekend. (Restaurant Menus can be found HERE, or by downloading the FREE Door County Chefs Mobile Dining Guide App.)
Juniper’s Gin Joint in downtown Fish Creek – Juniper’s Menu is a Door County influenced Chicago Style Steak House. Imagine a classic American supper club influenced by Chef Neller’s unique flavor palate. She has created flavors using what Door County is so well known for (cherries, cheeses, junipers, Whitefish), and then added some creative touches. Late Night Live Music makes a drink after dinner especially enticing!
- Friday, Sept. 4 – Terry Murphy & Last Man Standing 9:30pm
- Saturday, Sept. 5 – Greg McMonagle 9:30pm
- Sunday, Sept. 6 – Jim Counter 9:30pm
- *Saturday, Sept. 5 – Marybeth Mattson performs outside in front of J. Jeffrey Taylor from 2-4pm (right across the street from Juniper’s Gin Joint). This local singer/songwriter welcomes diners to enjoy her music and encourages listeners to enjoy Juniper’s dining and outdoor seating.
Gibraltar Grill on the north end of Fish Creek – With what has been called the Best Patio Bar and Outdoor Music Venue in Door County, Gibraltar Grill celebrates the end of summer in style! Live music Friday and Saturday night will be followed by the End of Summer Party IV will run from Noon until 10pm on Sunday, Sept. 6th. Admission is just $10 and your wristband gets you $10 in Food and Drink Tickets, In and Out privileges, and 10 hours of live music! Even the family dog is welcome to join the fun—well behaved and leashed at all times please! They’ll be serving up brats and hot dogs, cold beer, and more!
- Friday, Sept. 4 – Cookee – Timeless Music 7:30pm
- Saturday, Sept. 5 – One 2 Many Band 7:30pm
- Sunday, Sept. 6 – End of Summer Party: Cookee – Timeless Music 12-3pm, One 2 Many Band 3-6pm, Big Mouth & The Power Tool Horns 6-10pm
The Cookery Restaurant & Wine Bar in downtown Fish Creek – Listen to live music in the Wine Bar while you enjoy dinner, wine and beer, and/or coffee and dessert from indoor or outdoor seating! Their menu offers American cuisine with a creative twist, and lots of homemade recipes featuring many local and in-season ingredients.
- Wednesday, Sept. 2 – Katie Dahl 6:30-8:30pm
- Friday, Sept. 4 – The Nicks 8pm
- Sunday, Sept. 6 – The Girls of Small Forest w/ George Sawyn 8pm
Wickman House restaurant in Ellison Bay – Wickman House serves an out-of-this-world Sunday Brunch featuring Door County Farm Fresh Eggs, Buttermilk Pancakes, Biscuits and Gravy, and lots more, with local songbird Katie Dahl performing while you dine! Reservations accepted for parties of 6 or more.
- Sunday, Sept. 6 – Katie Dahl with Rich Higdon 11am-2pm
- Friday, Sept. 4 – Crossing Paths 8pm
- Saturday, Sept. 5 – Unity at Stone Harbor 8pm
- Sunday, Sept. 6 – Out of Time 2-6pm
Sister Bay Marina Fest – September 5 & 6, 2015 – Enjoy Labor Day Weekend outdoors with live music, kids’ carnival rides, a petting zoo, dingy and cardboard boat races, a boat show, and the return of the Waterboard Warriors Water Ski Show. The Festival kicks off with a Pancake Breakfast at 8am on Saturday, Sept. 5th, and Marina Fest activities begin at 10am with live music from River City 6 until 2pm. Replica takes the stage with more live music at 4pm, and Fireworks will light up the shoreline at 8:45pm. On Sunday the fun continues with more live music, rides, tours and more, including showings of the animated movie Finding Nemo. Whiskey Ditch performs at 6:30pm, and another round of Fireworks wraps up the evening. For more information visit the Sister Bay Marina online.
Jeanne Kuhns’ Woodwalk Concert Series – Season Finale Music Festival Week, Woodwalk Gallery, Egg Harbor. 3 Nights of Music Sept. 2-4. All Shows begin at 7pm. $20 at the door. BYO wine is welcome! Coffee, Soda, Beer, and Ice Cream treats will be for sale before and during each show. Concert goers are welcome to arrive as early as 5:30 to picnic before the show but must reserve tables ahead of time as limited tables are available. Call (920) 868-2912 for ticket and picnic table reservations.
- Wednesday, Sept. 2 – Julian Hagen at “This Land is Your Land” – A Door County Land Trust Event Night. This Washington Island singer songwriter performs classic Door County folk music that is heartwarming and delightful, infused with an unmistakable sense of humor.
- Thursday, Sept. 3 – Hans Christian in Concert. This multi-instrumentalist creates dialogues with sarangi and sitara answering each other and swooping cello sitting in opposition, in layers of musical voices through live looping.
- Friday, Sept. 4 – Michael Lee Ammons & The Water Street Hot Shots in Concert. Experts at performing blues, rags, hokum, and novelty tunes in the style of the 1930s jug bands. Celebrate the closing of the concert season with the vintage party music that this acoustic combo brings to the stage.
Get ready for all things Cherry! Celebrate our summer harvest in Jacksoport this weekend. The 21st Annual Cherry Fest will be held at Lakeside Park on Hwy 57 from 8am-4pm this Saturday, August 1st. Enjoy refreshments and cherry treats while you peruse a juried arts and crafts fair featuring artists from Wisconsin and the Midwest, and listen to live music all day!
Try a cherry brat or burger for lunch, save room for cherry pie, cherry ice cream sundaes, cherry kolaches, and make sure to take home cherry jams, jellies and more to help preserve this cherry experience! A penny hunt in the sand will keep the kids busy for a while, and the whole family will enjoy the Jacksonport Historical Society collection exhibited at the Root Cellar where you’ll also find the 2nd Annual Car Show! For more information, please call 920-559-0570 or visit www.jacksonporthistoricalsociety.org.
Independence Day weekend in Door County is a spectacle to be savored as each town celebrates the holiday in special ways including a Renaissance Faire, lots of live music, delicious food and drink, two parades, pie and ice cream eating contests, games and activities, and of course, fabulous Fireworks displays on July 3, 4, and 5!
Check out the happenings below and visit Door County Lodging’s Last Minute Lodging Blog to find rooms, suites, and condos still available this weekend so you can celebrate 4th of July with us and enjoy all this…
Friday, July 3rd
Gibraltar Grill in Fish Creek features live music with Cookee – Timeless Music, at 7:30pm outside on the restaurant grounds, dine on the patio then sit around fire ring or bring your own chairs and enjoy the music. For more information call 920.868.4745 or visit online!
Sister Bay’s new Harbor Pie Company will have local singer/songwriter Marybeth Mattson playing acoustic folk/rock outside on the patio next to the Door County Ice Cream Factory from 1-3pm on Friday.
In Baileys Harbor, enjoy the Arts & Crafts Fair both at the new Baileys Harbor Visitor Center & Historical Society (8061 Hwy 57) and on the Town Hall lawn with music by Scott Wilcox from -5pm. From 10am-5pm check out Wowballs USA Pool Activities at Lakeshore Adventures. 920.839.2366
In addition to the varying Thursday night music, The Cookery’s wine bar will be featuring Katie Dahl on Wednesday evenings throughout the summer and fall. Dahl is a Door County folksinger known for her sharp-witted lyrics, intricate melodies, and engaging performances.
Live music with Katie will begin at 8 p.m. during the months of July and August. The Cookery’s full dinner menu will be available. There is no cover charge.
Celebrate Father’s Day in Door County, WI. There are lots of opportunities to catch live music, enjoy delicious food, and have a cold brewski or two with Pop! Still looking for a great room this weekend? Visit Door County Lodging’s Last Minute Lodging Blog for open rooms, suites, and more festival information!
Door County’s Concerts in the Park series began this week and will continue tonight Thursday, June 18th when Jeanne Kuhns’ band Small Forest plays at Egg Harbor’s Harborview Park from 5-7pm (inside at Landmark Resort in case of rain). Sit outside for supper at Shipwrecked Brew Pub, pick up a to-go order from Greens N Grains to enjoy outside, or bring a picnic bag of your favorite goodies from Main Street Market to enjoy while you listen! Sit on the grass or bring your own chairs or a blanket, and enjoy the view behind the band!
Find more live music Thursday evening at The Cookery Restaurant & Wine Bar in Fish Creek where Katie Lott and George Sawyn will play from 7-9pm.
Door County’s annual Side Pork Fest will be held on Saturday, June 6th at Martin Park in Sturgeon Bay, WI this year, and will feature live music from 11am-3pm by the White Chocolate Band and from 3-7pm by the Dow Jones Band. The Arts and Crafts Zone will be open from 10am-6pm as will the Kids Zone which offers more than 10 different activities from trampolines to rock climbing and more! From 8:30-11am participate in the annual Hog Wild Run, benefiting the YMCA Door Fins, which includes a 10k and 5k Run along with the Kids Run! All Kids event runners receive a medal and T-shirt. 5k and 10k Runners also receive a t-shirt and medals for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. Get in on the Sonny’s Pizza Street Basketball Tournament to work up an appetite, and the Food and Beverage Tent opens at 11am so you can enjoy delicious Side Pork all day long! Admission is free, just bring your lawn chairs so you can sit back and listen to the music, and don’t forget to bring home the bacon after this fun-filled day!
Sturgeon Bay is home to delicious restaurants, coffee shops, and pubs to make sure you find what you’re hungry for… take a walk down 3rd Avenue to 136 Restaurant & Wine Bar for a superb breakfast, lunch, or dinner and get your caffeine fix and do a little shopping at 5th & Jefferson Cafe & Decor. Across the bridge from Martin Park, it’s time to get a real meal at the Get Real Cafe, site down to a family dinner at Scaturo’s Baking Co. & Restaurant, and enjoy excellent, authentic Mexican cuisine at Hot Tamales!
Find what you’re hungry for all over Door County with the Door County Chefs FREE Mobile Dining Guide App, available for iPhone and Android.
Still looking for a great place to stay? Below are some last minute lodging options in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Check out Door County Lodging‘s Last Minute Lodging blog for more options and book your stay in Door County this weekend!
Bay Shore Inn in Sturgeon Bay is located along Bay Shore Drive just minutes from all the fun shopping and delectable dining in town, and offers On-Site Massage Packages as well as Dining Packages, please inquire when making your reservation. One 2-bedroom unit is available on June 5th and 6th at $149 per night. Please call for more information or visit online! (800) 556-4551
Stone Harbor Resort in Sturgeon Bay has rooms available this weekend and suites with whirlpools, fireplaces, balconies, separate bedrooms, and/or full kitchens, as well as resort amenities including a 21 slip marina, indoor and outdoor pools, a hot tub, free WiFi, business center, on-site dining, and live entertainment nearly every weekend! Ask about their great lodging packages including Romantic Escape, Arts & Heritage, and Family Fun! No minimum stay requirement. Please call for more information or visit online! (920) 746-0700
Glidden Lodge Beach Resort is located on the shores of Lake Michigan north of Sturgeon Bay and south of Jacksonport near Whitefish Dunes State Park where you can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. Enjoy dinner with a view at Donny’s Glidden Lodge Restaurant to wrap up your day, and voila, you’re already at your hotel! Two 2-bedrooms and one 3-bedroom unit left for 6/5-6/7. Two night minimum stay. Please call for more information or visit online! (920) 746-3900 or (888) 281-1127
Each summer visitors and locals alike look forward to the wide selection of live entertainment options on the Door Peninsula. A favorite spot to catch live music, The Cookery features different musicians in the Wine Bar each
Thursday night throughout the summer starting June 4th, and in July & August, Door County folksinger Katie Dahl performs every Wednesday night! The Cookery’s Wine Bar is open daily from 3-8:30pm serving from the dinner menu and the wine and beer list, and a dessert menu that will rock your world! The Cookery’s Wine Bar is located at 4135 Hwy 42, Fish Creek. Visit cookeryfishcreek.com or call (920) 868-3634 for more information!
*July 1 – Aug. 26 Every Wednesday at 8pm Katie Dahl – a Door County folksinger known for her sharp-witted lyrics, intricate melodies, and engaging performances.
June Concerts in the Wine Bar
Celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend May 9th & 10th, 2015 with a meal to remember! These Door County restaurants are sure to make her day extra special with delicious breakfasts, buffets, live music, and Mimosas for Moms! Reservations are recommended for the buffets.
The Cookery Restaurant & Wine Bar in Fish Creek is hosting a special evening of Live Music on Saturday for Mother’s Day weekend on May 9th with the Door County Mother/Daughter band Small Forest playing in the Wine Bar from 5-8pm. Marybeth Mattson, Jeanne Kuhns & Patrick Palmer will play songs from their upcoming album: DREAM, as well as favorites and originals to honor the hard work of mothers, as you enjoy a sumptuous supper and delicious desserts! Bring Mom back on Sunday morning for Breakfast with featured Egg Strata and Full Menu available, and complimentary Mimosas for Moms! (920) 868-3634
Harbor Fish Market & Grille is taking reservations for their annual Mother’s Day Buffet 10am-3pm on Sunday, May 10th! Spoil the most important woman in your life this year with a decadent and memorable meal in beautiful Baileys Harbor, WI.
The cost of the buffet is $19.95 for adults and $8.95 for kids under age 11 and includes the scrumptious offerings listed below. Make your reservations soon though, Harbor Fish Market’s buffets are incredibly popular and usually fill up! Call 920.839.9999 or make reservations online at harborfishmarket-grille.com.