New Glarus Hotel Restaurant
100 6th Avenue
New Glarus, WI
New Glarus, Wisconsin has the distinction of being “America’s Little Switzerland,” having preserved it’s Swiss heritage since its founding in the mid-1800s. Arriving in the town, you do get a hint (ok a lot) of kitsch. All of the buildings are alpine chalet-style. Even the RE/MAX and self-storage boast Swiss canton crests and half-timbers.
Rolling into the town at about 1 PM Wednesday, it was pretty much dead. Our first stop was the New Glarus Hotel, the biggest building in town, home of the New Glarus Hotel Restaurant, featuring polka music on the weekends and tons of old-school decor.
We had a very friendly dirndl-clad waitress, who could clearly tell we were not local. We were quickly presented with a huge menu of old-school Swiss food as we listened to some yodeling piped in on speakers (no lie). The menu consisted of tons of Schnitzels, Roestis, Raclette as well as some basic American sandwiches. L started out with a cup of Swiss Onion Soup, which seemed to be a cup of French Onion soup with an extra crust of melty Gruyere, but with chunks of bacon (unfortunately, since L doesn’t like bacon that much). For a main course, L had the Roesti, a traditional Swiss dish. A Rösti/Roesti is basically a huge, glorified hash brown, consisting of grated potatoes fried with with caramelized onions and a bit of Raclette as a filling. L ordered the plain Roesti, though there were meat and cheese varieties. Though M ate most of L’s soup, the Roesti was quickly gobbled up.
M had the Raclette entree, which was basically a plate of boiled potatoes with melted Raclette cheese garnished with capers, baby gherkins and onions. The dish was probably overpriced at $11 (it was only potatoes and cheese), but M loves cheese so he enjoyed it. We sopped up the extra cheese with garlic rolls from the breadbasket, which were really excellent.
This was our first foray into Swiss food, and as far as we can tell, it is like German food, but with cheese. We like cheese, so that was a plus. There are a handful of other restaurants in New Glarus, most boasting the same stick-to-your-ribs meat/cheese/potato fare. The New Glarus Hotel restaurant is a good place to start – we only wish we had been there on polka night.