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By Peggy Sue Dunigan / Monday, Aug. 18, 2014 11:45 am
Mike & Mary Mead: 25 Seasons at The Shoreline

Crabmeat Pasta Shells
At the tip of Door County is Gills Rock, the tiny harbor community where Mike and Mary Mead opened The Shoreline Restaurant (12747 Hwy 42) in 1990. As the name implies, exquisite water views enchant guests from the bar and dining area, and from the outdoor terrace that’s filled with umbrella tables on warm summer nights.

On a Thursday evening, two longtime Door County innkeepers from Ephraim, my friends, enjoyed their dinner and relaxed from a busy summer morning. Together, we had a fabulous evening.

For one thing, the menu’s Crabmeat Pasta Shells have been a Thursday night special for years. The husband of this innkeeper team chose the special, one of his favorites, and which he orders whenever he gets the chance. Shoreline’s giant conch pasta shells overflowed with crabmeat, cheese, tomatoes, and tarragon, tweaked a little with red pepper bits.

Usually choosing a vegetarian dish, the innkeeping wife chose the Beet ‘n Goat Cheese Salad, dressed in champagne citrus vinaigrette, and a side of the sweet potato fries with dipping sauce. In a nod to the Shoreline’s ethnic twist on a Door County favorite, I eagerly ordered the Jamaican Jerk Whitefish Sandwich.
Jamaican Jerk Whitefish Sandwich

Mary Mead runs the dining room with experienced confidence and a bright smile, even when already crowded by 5:30 p.m. Several diners chose to sit on the outdoor terrace, appreciate the water views with a cocktail, glass of wine or local brew. A Hinterland Pale Ale garnished with a lime refreshed our trio, crisp and light on the palette. More than 50 varieties comprise the Shoreline’s beer list, including multiple choices from New Glarus. The extensive Shoreline wine list features well over 50 labels at affordable prices, along with several house wines.

When the Crabmeat Pasta Shells arrived, the delectable and rich cream sauce perfectly suited the crabmeat. On the side, champagne grapes add to the fruit garnish, a gourmet touch. Everyone fingers at least a few Sweet Potato Fries, barely salted, slim and golden, served with a side of exceptional dressing. The friendly waitress explained, that the dip mingles bacon, maple syrup, and jalapeños for a sweet bit of spice, a flavorful accompaniment.

Plated as an open face dinner, the Jamaican Jerk Whitefish can be eaten with a fork or not, the seared fresh catch delightfully seasoned with blackened, spicy heat. A hint of basil dressing can be tasted, complementing the mozzarella cheese, similar to a Caprese appetizer.  A small portion of lightly dressed coleslaw waits on the side, the huge sandwich only half-eaten because we already know Mary’s homemade desserts will finish the evening.

While the three guests choose from Mary’s glorious finales, the Key Lime Pie and a Triple Fruit Crisp, Mary engaged the innkeepers in conversation. How are the kids? What are they doing? After 25 years working in hospitality, the Meads and Innkeepers believe dedication and satisfaction describe their work ethic, and how true friendships follow their success.

Triple Fruit Crisp
When the desserts arrive, the server places the two plates in the middle of the table, while the trio samples each dessert. The pie’s creamy texture whirls together with the whipped cream spiral on the top, a just right citrus flavor without any additional coloring to the home baked confection. An outstanding Triple Fruit Crisp featured local cherries, blueberries and raspberries, covered with two vanilla ice cream scoops atop a crumbly, faintly sugared crust. Near perfection after the first mouthful, the fruits taste fresh, warm, and barely sweet, especially when the ice cream melts into the ruby colored filling.   

By this last forkful of dessert, guests begin to notice the sun setting through the Shoreline’s windows. We give a quick wave goodbye to Mary, who always displays real affection towards her diners and their comfort.  

For more information on Shoreline Restaurant, visit: www.theshorelinerestaurant.com.

12747 Hwy 42, Ellison Bay, WI
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