For Door County’s Grasse family, the words “from farm to table” have a special meaning, defining a distinctive link to tradition. Historical photos of the original Grasse homestead in Ellison Bay line the walls of Grasse’s Grill in Sister Bay. Owners Jimmy and Jessica Grasse use produce from the family’s 200 acres on their menu, a popular dining spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Sitting at the bar instead of tucked into a cozy booth this past fall, one can choose from premier Wisconsin craft beers on tap. The grill also featured a local apple-cherry hard cider, a specialty brew from Island Orchard Cider in Ellison Bay. The delicate rosé colored beverage tastes crisp on the palette with a touch of cherry aromas, fresh instead of simply sweet.After deciding what to drink, Grasse’s presents two daily soups – today's choice was Tomato Basil or Corn Chowder, the chowder being one of their most popular autumn soups. Jessica Grasse describes the soup as “farm fresh,” the corn and potatoes in the creamy broth harvested directly from her father-in-law’s farm. She says it warms her heart to know the soup comes from her family's produce. While the soup alone might be delicious, the hummus plate also proves to be a great vegetarian selection from this regional Midwestern menu.
Jessica places the hummus plate on the bar, and one admires the colorful trio: roasted red pepper, white bean and the delicate green garlic herb, three tasty scoops accompanied by carrots, cucumber, sweet baby peppers and quartered pita bread. Grasse’s mixes the hummus in house from locally grown herbs, and one savors the difference, enough to be relished as either an appetizer for two, or lunch when going solo.
If the sweet tooth needs satisfying, Grasse’s imports all-natural ice cream from Madison’s Chocolate Shop. My choice? The Zanzibar Chocolate, which is churned from three different cocoas into a frosty dessert. Customers walk up to the counter for a cone, ice cream in a dish or a large sundae to take away.
Numerous items on Grasse’s Grill menu incorporate local produce from Door County growers. The eatery’s whitefish sandwich combines prime freshwater lake catch from Charlie Hendrickson’s Fishery, topped with Renard’s Cheese. Apples and cherries picked from Seaquist Orchards form the filling for pastry baked by Harbor Pie Company. Sturgeon Bay’s Steep Creek Farms and North Bay Road Farm both contribute seasonal produce, inventively mixed into the menu by Chef Jimmy, who creates the delectable seasonal specials.
The waitstaff is considered family at Grasse’s. One waiter works in Sturgeon Bay on the weekdays, and weekends in Sister Bay. Jessica Grasse herself originally lived in Gurnee, Illinois but married Jimmy one afternoon at the Grasse Farm. Their wedding picture is on the wall at the restaurant front, behind the register alongside happy in-laws, Jim and Iva, who still hobby-farm the land that previously supported dairy breeding. While Jessica’s brother and sister-in-law work a portion of their ten acres on the homestead, her own family will soon build a new house on another ten acres, creating a three generation compound that serves the restaurant, now going into its third season in 2014.
Whether a guest orders the popular Apple Orchard Sandwich, with grilled chicken, cherries and toasted walnuts, or the Harvest Chicken Salad, the menu illustrates a philosophy carrying on the Grasse family tradition. Customers become family, as do the vacationers who return to Door County year after year.
When speaking of the Grill that has become her second home, and her family’s dream come true, Jessica explains, “We believe in our produce, what we serve on our tables. The grill’s menus coincide with our beliefs about how we like to eat and feed our own families.”
Grasse’s Grill is located in downtown Sister Bay at 10663 N. Bay Shore Drive (Hwy 42). 920.854.1125.