What's the number one question that residents of northern Door County get asked? Easy. "What's open in the winter?" For those of us that make the choice to live in Northern Door County year-round, the reason is simple. Northern Door County is more than just the five months of tourism season. It's the snowshoeing and cross country skiing, the beauty of the outdoors and state parks, the peacefulness of the frozen lakes, the other year round residents, friends and business owners that are like family. Most importantly, it's the fantastic restaurants that choose to stay open year round. Though they are few, they are truly the best Door County has to offer, no matter the season.
One of my personal favorite Door County restaurants, The Whistling Swan, just happens to be one of those restaurants that stays open year-round. Situated in beautiful downtown Fish Creek, "The Swan" is open 7 nights a week in the summer months, and Tuesday through Saturday nights in the winter months. The menu is constantly rotating with the heavy use of locally foraged produce, wild game, and fresh local fish. Although the menu options are small and thoughtful in selection, the bold and diverse choices will keep you coming back for more time after time.A local favorite is The Swan's casual Tuesday night menu that includes small plates and specials all under $15. They also offer beer and wine specials that night, specifically their handcrafted Hinterland tap beer. During the rest of the week, the dinner menu offers a terrific selection of appetizers (Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Grilled Kale Salad, Creama Kasa), entrees (Pan Roasted Trout, Chèvre Gnudi, Grilled Pork Chop) and desserts (Homemade Spiced Donut Sundae, Brown Butter Chocolate Tart), as well as a happy hour from 5-6pm at the bar. Executive Chef Ryan Klawitter and Sous Chef Dustin Keranen personally design the menus, which they describe as "contemporary American cuisine."
Each time I dine at The Swan, I'm immersed in the rustic yet modern charm of the dining room. The cozy ambiance is that of a big city restaurant with its intimate candlelight, crisp linen table cloths, open air kitchen, and helpful yet non-intrusive waitstaff, all while keeping the cool, small town feel of Door County. The spacious wood bar and gorgeous, original stone fireplace are my favorite details. Built in 1887, The Whistling Swan is housed in the Door Peninsula's oldest operating inn, and is listed on both the State and National Historic Register.
With it's incredible cuisine and beautiful dining room, The Whistling Swan will definitely be your next place to dine when asking "what restaurants are open in the winter?" Be sure to call for reservations – tables fill up fast! View their current menu online. 920.868.3442, whistlingswan.com