RESTAURANT REVIEW: West Bend's Grasshopper

Casual, yet Classy

 

Casual, Yet Classy

West Bend’s Grasshopper offers a unique dining experience

By Jessica Kerlin

4 Forks

 

 

Grasshopper

241 North Main Street

West Bend, WI 53095

(262) 306-9100

 

Open Everyday

Mon-Wed: 6:30 am – 6:30 pm

Thurs-Sat: 6:30 am – 12:00 am

Sun: 7:00 am – 2:00 pm

 

Cuisine type: Café sandwiches, bakery

Price per entrée: $5 - $19

Attire: Casual

Reservations: Yes

Payment: Credit cards accepted

 

Recently I dined at Grasshopper, a local restaurant downtown West Bend. Immediately I was impressed by the calm and soothing atmosphere that Grasshopper has to offer. It is located on the corner across from the local bar, Games, in the building that once housed the coffee shop, St. Somewhere Café.

 

The owner, Stefanie Ulma, started the business just three months ago, in April 2010. Prior to opening Grasshopper, she was co-owner of The Sawmill Inn, located in Richfield, WI. Tired of the classy dining and full traditional menu, Stephanie wished to open a restaurant with more health-friendly and natural items. At Grasshopper, she assists baking along with several other chefs and bakers.  

 

Grasshopper may not be alone in the West Bend area as a small café style restaurant, but it certainly sets itself apart from others. The restaurant prides itself as being a healthy alternative to many common restaurant chains. The menu offers natural, unprocessed, gluten free, low calorie foods made fresh every day. Its friendly, quaint atmosphere, and matchless menu make Grasshopper a fun and worthy place to try.

 

On a Wednesday afternoon, my mother and I went to Grasshopper shortly after 2:00 p.m. for a late lunch. I loved the coffee shop mood the restaurant gave off. When I walked in, Grasshopper was warm and inviting. The fresh scent of burning candles pervaded the air, the lights were dimmed, and people were socializing at the high wooden tables throughout.

 

In honor of the restaurant’s unique name, the walls are painted a light green with easy listening music playing. To my left, I noticed a separate room called “The Library.” Here, lower dining tables rest next to book shelves and a shiny wooden bar.

 

The employees on the dining floor wear tan aprons over a black shirt and black pants. The ceiling pipes were visible, similar to a loft. There was a fake roof and gutter above the wall leading to the kitchen and fake green wooden window panels in the dining area. This helped to give the restaurant a casual feel amidst the dim lit and classy air.

 

After 2:00, Grasshopper has an “after lunch” menu, available at the front counter. It is simply a condensed version of the regular lunch menu. To my surprise, the menus were very plain. The after lunch menu was merely a piece of white paper with a few items typed in black on it. For the cozy and somewhat classy atmosphere Grasshopper has to offer, I expected more style from the menus—perhaps full menus in a bin or a full menu listed up above. Single sheet menus are just too plain.

 

We ordered our food at the front counter, and it arrived about fifteen minutes after we sat down. I ordered a Ham and Swiss Panini, which cost $8.99. It had that “fresh out of the oven” smell and taste—warm and melted in your mouth. The ham was all natural and thinly sliced.

 

I did find it odd that the Panini was made using rye bread. Typically they are made on sourdough or ciabatta bread. Despite this, the rye bread was thick and perfectly grilled. It had just the right crunch as I bit into it.

 

Fresh honey mustard accompanied the sandwich in a small dish, which had a very sweet taste. It also came with pita chips, which were baked, fresh and crisp. They were warm when served. Overall, the meal was well cooked and tasted delicious.

 

For the same price, my mother ordered a Thanks Giving Panini, which had all natural oven roasted turkey, homemade apple chutney, fresh crushed cranberry relish, and provolone cheese served on Grasshopper’s very own grilled rye bread. Once again, using rye bread for a Panini is different, but it works here. I could smell the fresh apple chutney immediately when the server set the plate down.

 

Unfortunately, the cranberry relish was missing on one half of the sandwich. Our server was very friendly and helpful, especially when my mother asked for the missing relish. I do have to say that it took about five minutes to simply get a side of cranberry relish, when there was only two other tables occupied in the restaurant. The pace could have been picked up a little bit.

 

For dessert, I bought a pecan kringle from the front counter. It cost $3.17. The piece was large enough to split between two people, but still relatively expensive overall. The pecans were fresh, crunchy, and delicious, but the kringle itself was too dry. Typically kringles are moist and have sweet frostings. The frosting wasn’t sweet or creamy enough to make up for the dryness. It also had a cinnamon taste, which isn’t common of any pecan kringles I’ve ever had.

 

The menu items are somewhat pricy, but considering the healthier foods Grasshopper offers, it’s probably necessary. The entrées run from $5 to $19 per plate, and the portions are relatively small compared to most restaurants. In terms of health, however, these smaller portions are better for you—it’s just not something most Americans are used to.

 

I give Grasshopper four out of five forks (stars). The restaurant had a relaxing and fun atmosphere. The service was a little slow, but very friendly. The food (minus the kringle) was delicious and well prepared. Overall, I was impressed with the restaurant and would recommend Grasshopper for your next dining out experience!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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