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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.

Chef Neller PolancoPolanco’s family came from Wadsworth, IL to Door County for vacations often and she was an infant on her first visit. Her memories were of family good times and the beauty Door County’s nature.

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.

Juniper's Gin Joint frontAll 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.

Chef Neller's Friday Fish Fry - Hand Breaded Perch or Copper Ale Battered Whitefish

Chef Neller’s Friday Fish Fry (photo from Facebook)

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.

Chocolate Maple Bacon Cookie Sunday - Juniper

Above: Chef Neller’s Chocolate Maple Bacon Cookie Sunday (photo from Facebook)

“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!

***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!

Bring Home the Bacon! It’s the annual Side Pork Fest in Sturgeon Bay, WI: June 6, 2015

Side Pork Fest image from site


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!

136 sign outside

136 Restaurant

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!


DC Chefs App

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

lodging logoGlidden 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

A Knightly Affair: The English Inn Anticipates New Sculpture at Green Bay Location

POSTED ON May 28th  - POSTED IN Dining, dinner, fine dining, lunch, News, Restaurant Guide


The first and biggest thing Randy Daubner wants you to know about the two English Inns is that the menus are the same. Two English Inns? Yes! Last year their Green Bay location opened to rave reviews and relieved customers who may not always have the option of taking a day trip to Door County to enjoy the Inn’s fine dining in Fish Creek!

Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing

Spinach Salad w/ Hot Bacon Dressing

Their customers’ favorite menu items include their signature dish: Beef Wellington (always available whether on the menu or not); their Hot Spinach Salad (their famous Hot Bacon Dressing is also for sale and very, very popular); and the seven different ways they prepare whitefish including French Broiled, BBQ-Bacon-Onion, and Pistachio Encrusted Whitefish. They also serve their popular ‘All You Can Eat Friday Night Fish Fry’ to which they have added tasty Blue Gill!

Valentine’s 2015: Door County, WI’s Favorite Romantic Dining Spots

POSTED ON February 6th  - POSTED IN Dining, dinner, fine dining, Restaurant Guide, Wines & Spirits
Donnys Glidden inside from fb

Donny’s Glidden Lodge Restaurant

Door County, Wisconsin is teeming with romance as Valentine’s Day weekend approaches. Hotels, resorts, and B&Bs are offering Romantic Lodging Specials & Packages so you can enjoy a weekend away with your sweetie, and there are lots of options for your Valentine’s dinner. We asked, and Door County Chefs Facebook followers told us where they love to take their loved ones for romantic dining on the Peninsula…

Donny’s Glidden Lodge Restaurant took the cake as Door County’s #1 Favorite Romantic Dining Spot,

Open in Winter Dining in Door County, Wisconsin 2015

Donnys outside fb400x226

Donny’s Glidden Lodge Restaurant

Looking for open in winter restaurants in Door County, Wisconsin? Look no further – here are the winter hours of business for restaurants on the Door Peninsula offering a variety of cuisines to keep you well-fed and happy through the cold season!


Donny’s Glidden Lodge Restaurant just north of Sturgeon Bay and south of Jacksonport – open for dinner Monday through Saturday, year-round from 4-9pm. December Special! Monday thru Thursday: $16.95 New York Strip Steak, includes Soup N Salad Bar! 920-746-9460

New Year’s Eve & Day Open Hours, Live Music, & Special Meals in Door County, WI (2014-2015)

Door County, Wisconsin is ready to ring in the New Year! Are you? There are special meals on New Year’s Eve to be enjoyed at Sister Bay’s The Inn at Kristofer’s, and 136 Restaurant & Wine Bar in Sturgeon Bay, as well as live music and food at several restaurants and pubs including The Local Yokels at Sister Bay Bowl, Mickey Grasso at Donny’s Glidden Lodge Restaurant, and Michael Lee Ammons & the Water Street Hot Shots at Wickman house. On New Year’s Day catch Centerline at JJ’s of Jacksonport right after the Jacksonport Polar Bear Club‘s Polar Plunge into Lake Michigan! There’s also a New Year’s Day Parade in Egg Harbor, so make your plans now and make January 1st, 2015 a day to remember! Read on for who will be open this week, this winter, and for New Year’s celebrations, and visit Door County Lodging’s Last Minute Lodging blog for great places to stay…

New Year’s Eve & Day Open Hours, Live Music, & Special Meals in Door County, WI

I Won! Where Can I Use My Door County Chefs Gift Certificate?

POSTED ON July 1st  - POSTED IN breakfast, carry out, Coffee & Tea, coffee shop, Dining, dinner, fine dining, fish boil

Congratulations Door County Chefs Gift Certificate Winners!

Door County Chefs Gift Certificate Promotion Sponsored by Door County Lodging!

lodging logoWe invite you to experience a variety of dining options on the Door Peninsula for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and drinks! From upscale dining to delicious pub fare and everything in between, Door County restaurants are pleased to serve up a tantalizing array of classic and unique dishes often utilizing locally grown or foraged produce, and locally sourced meats and dairy products.

Uncork Summer at Wickman House June 28, 2014: Small Plate Dishes and Beverages Announced

wickmanLogoELLISON BAY, Door County, WI (June 12, 2014) — Door County North, the business association for northern Door County, Wisconsin, encompassing the Ellison Bay-Gills Rock region, has announced a partial list of the foods and beverages that will be served at the peninsula’s first county-wide food and wine festival, Uncork Summer, scheduled for June 28, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Click the following link to view, download, and print the UncorkSummer2014Map.

Uncork Summer will be located outdoors on the grounds of Wickman House, a highly-regarded restaurant on Mink River Road in Ellison Bay, and will feature 20 food booths, plus wines, ciders and craft beers. Local acoustic musicians will perform live music throughout the day. There is no admission fee to attend Uncork Summer. Tickets for individual small plate dishes and drinks are only $5 each.

The Taste and Tunes of Door County, WI June 12-15, 2014: Steel Bridge Songfest, DC Beer Fest, and Sip & Savor w/ Paddlefest

Get a taste and a tune in Door County this weekend! June 12-15, 2014 is Steel Bridge Songfest in Sturgeon Bay. This Saturday, June 14th is Sip & Savor with Paddlefest in Sister Bay, as well as Door County Beer Fest and the Ride For Nature in Baileys Harbor, and July 15th is Father’s Day – so bring Dad for all the festivities and toast to his health! Sample local beers, wines, and hard ciders, and treat the taste buds to dishes from a variety of local food vendors while you treat the ear buds to lots of live music. Skip the paisley tie this year and give Dad a six pack or two of a new brew or a few bottles of his favorite wine, and don’t forget that most of the musicians performing throughout the county this weekend sell CDs of their original music – which make great Father’s Day gifts too!


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The Tambourine Lounge, located next door to the Holiday Music Motel on 1st Ave. Sturgeon Bay, WI

Steel Bridge Songfest in Sturgeon Bay runs Thursday, June 12 through Sunday, June 15, 2014. This is an astonishing festival in that all the musicians who perform volunteer their time, and those who participate in the “Construction Zone” (there are some 70 this year) spend the entire week prior to the festival spinning a whiskey bottle to form groups in which they co-write dozens upon dozens of original songs which they record at the Holiday Music Motel, then perform for audiences at a variety of indoor and outdoor venues.

CLICK HERE for the Steel Bridge Songfest Venue Line-Up of Performers!

So Much to Love: Romantic Dinners & Delicious Door County Gifts for Valentine’s 2014

Strawberry Pound Cake Skewers (Door Peninsula Winery)

Strawberry Pound Cake Skewers (Door Peninsula Winery)

Valentine’s Day is this Friday, and Door County is ready to make you swoon. Check out some great gift ideas below and make your romantic Valentine’s dinner reservations at one of Door County’s fabulous restaurants!

Hoping to take your Sweetheart out for Dinner and a Show? Here are some great activities to enjoy and events to attend together: INDOOR ENTERTAINMENT: VALENTINE’S WEEKEND 2014

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