Top Bar


By Melissa Phaneuf
Ozaukee County News Graphic, January 8, 2001

Features editor Renira Pachuta, graphic designer Christine Aalto Jaeger and I chose the Port Hotel, located in downtown Port Washington, as our first restaurant review of the year. The three of us met
at the restaurant around 12:30 for lunch. Situated on the corner of Main Street and Wisconsin Street, the building housing the restaurant carries its roots back to 1902.

As we were escorted through the dimly lit dining rooms, we noticed how busy the restaurant was.
“This seems full for a Thursday afternoon,” Renira said. “It must be a very popular lunch spot.”
I agreed, noticing tables with business people, senior citizens and a family or two. Still decorated in
its holiday splendor, the main dining room sported hunter green tones and was strewn with garland, wreaths, twinkling lights and a handsomely decorated Christmas tree.

Browsing through the menu, it didn’t take Renira long to know exactly what she wanted – the broiled whitefish ($7.25), which included her choice of potato (baked) and soup (chicken rice). Christine and I, however, needed a little more time. Looking over the selections, we noticed a variety of options listed under the “High Noon Menu,” including red meat plates (steer tenderloin, strip sirloin steak, beef supreme special and top butt steak), sauteed baby beef liver, seafood (whitefish, lake perch and golden shrimp), sandwiches (Reuben, grilled chicken breast, cheeseburger, BLT, grilled cheese, etc.) and calorie counter specials (tuna salad, chef salad, shrimp salad, ground sirloin, fresh fruit plate and vegetarian plate).It wasn’t until our waitress, Deb, read the daily specials that our attention was piqued. Christine was drawn to the Black Forest Special, which, only $5.95, included smoked turkey, shaved beef, swiss cheese and thousand island dressing sandwiched between two slices of grilled dark rye; she also had her choice of soup – baked potato. I ordered the Oriental Chicken Salad for $6.25. photo for review

The Oriental Salad, front, proved quite delicious with its array of mixed greens, crisp vegetables, strips of tender chicken breast and special oriental dressing. Back left, Black Forest Special. Back right, broiled whitefish, served with tartar sauce.

The soup-goers thoroughly enjoyed their selections, which included a basket of warm bread. “It’s excellent,” said Christine about her baked potato soup, which consisted of a cream base, big chunks of potatoes, bacon and diced green onion. Renira also enjoyed her soup. “The broth is very tasty – there are loads of large pieces of chicken, celery, carrots, onion, broccoli and a healthy serving of rice,” she said.  Soon, our lunches arrived. Christine’s sandwich looked really good. “The sandwich makes a tantalizing taste combination; it’s similar to a Reuben, but better,” she said.

Renira also seemed content with the large filet of broiled whitefish placed before her. Sprinkled with paprika and freshly ground pepper, the tender fish was described as “perfectly cooked” by Renira.

I was happy that I tried the Oriental Chicken Salad. A large plate brimming with mixed greens, crisp water chestnuts, strips of tender chicken breast, celery, sweet mandarin oranges and sesame seeds met my eye. I am not a big salad dressing fan, so I hesitantly dipped my fork in the dressing, which I had requested to be served on the side. It turned out to be rather tasty; later I learned that it was made of sesame seed oil, honey, sugar and numerous oriental spices. Never one to pass up coffee, I ordered a cup of regular, and Christine, decaf; but, Renira, accustomed to her special brand of British tea, declined. Soon, our waitress was tempting us with dessert choices: banana creme pie (the house specialty), pecan pie, prune torte, schaum torte, tiramisu and Snicker’s cheesecake, amongst others. Although first we declined, we then relented, realizing it would be only fair to you, the public, if we sampled at least one. The three of us split a slice of the banana creme pie, which arrived at the table brimming with slices of banana, a rich custard filling and topped with real whipped cream – a dessert we sincerely recommend.

photo for review

The Port Hotel has not always been known by its current name. Built in 1902 by John F. Thill, it had been named “Thill’s Hotel”. From 1912 to 1973, it was changed to the “Mayer Hotel” after the current owners, Peter and Katie Mayer. In 1973, two local attorneys, Lowell and Donald Levy, purchased the vacant hotel and renamed it “The Port Hotel”, which was operated by Dave and Debbie Wickesberg. Although the hotel closed in the early 1980s, the restaurant, now owned by Joseph, has remained a popular landmark.