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.
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
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.
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!
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!
Originally a daily staple created from the most basic ingredients in a poor country, variations on traditional Irish Soda Bread have become well-loved additions to St. Patrick’s Day meals. Now often associated with desserts, Irish Soda Bread is served with coffee or tea as well as with traditional Irish dinners from corned beef and cabbage to steak and Guinness or shepherd’s pie. The following soda bread recipe is worthy of dessert status! Shared by Patrick Palmer, employee at O’Meara’s Irish House in Fish Creek, and member of the local band Small Forest, Paddy’s Irish Soda Bread is rich and dense with sweet golden raisins, and best served warm with butter…
The Harbor Fish Market & Grille in Baileys Harbor, WI has some of Door County’s most beloved Holiday Buffets including their Easter Day Buffet, which falls on their opening weekend for the 2015 season! Harbor Fish Market will open back up on Friday, April 3rd, with the Buffet on Easter Sunday, April 5th!
The Easter Day Buffet includes breakfast items like Pancakes, Egg Strata, Bacon, Baked goods, and Door County Cherry Stuffed French Toast, in addition to Prime Rib, Baked Ham, Salmon, Leg of Lamb, potatoes and gravy, and lots more! A decadent dessert selection includes pies and cheesecake to wrap up your meal.
The White Lace Inn in Sturgeon Bay feeds their guests well… Their Veggie Hashbrown Egg Bake is perfect for a family brunch or that most sacred of meals, Breakfast for Dinner (also known around these parts as Brinner). Serve with a side of local bacon or sausage, or add meat to the bake if you don’t have any vegetarians attending. Enjoy a delicious breakfast when you stay at White Lace Inn, and visit their website for more recipes. Eat up!
Veggie Hashbrown Egg Bake
1-32 oz. frozen Southern style hash browns (loose)
1 stick (1/2 c.) butter, melted
1 tbs. onion salt
3/4 loaf white bread cut into cubes, no crust
2 c. grated Monterey Jack
2 1/2 to 3 c. grated cheddar cheese (divided)
2 bunches green onions, chopped
1/4 c. chopped green pepper
1/4 c. chopped red pepper
1/4 c. chopped yellow pepper
1-8 oz. pkg. fresh mushrooms (thinly sliced)
1 lg. tomato, thinly sliced
7 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. half & half
1 tsp. dry mustard
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
Greens N Grains Natural Food Store & Café hosts a presentation by Dr. Nicole James regarding the launch of the Center For Optimal Health’s new CANcer THRIVEr program, on Thursday, December 18, 2014. Come to listen and discuss, questions are welcome. Beginning at 6pm will be the biweekly Dinner & a Movie event, featuring the film, FED UP.