Wisconsin’s Oldest Restaurant Reopens

Red Circle Inn has new owners.

Nashotah’s Red Circle Inn, Wisconsin’s oldest restaurant, is back! It closed last fall when longtime owners Norm and Martha Eckstaedt retired and sold the business to Beloit-based Geronimo Hospitality Group.

Among the changes that Geronimo made to the 174-year spot (N44 W33013 Watertown Plank Rd.) were to update the décor and create a new menu. Executive chef Joe Heppe leads the kitchen – which he also does for Geronimo’s property in Delafield – I.d. at the Delafield Hotel. His menu includes some “time-honored” classics  (skate schnitzel, pan-seared walleye, beef stroganoff, roasted half-chicken, $25-$31) and dishes that are certifiably Wisconsin. For instance, the starters include Wisconsin meatballs with concord grape glaze, cannibal sandwiches and encargot en croute ($5-$28). The relish platter for two ($19) features cheddar beer cheese dip and dark rye canapes, grilled summer sausage and fried deviled egg. Entrees of a carnivorous nature range from beef tenderloin, ribeye steak and pork chop ($32-$54). Besides classic frozen cocktails like the grasshopper and pink squirrel, the dessert menu has a chocolate grasshopper torte, lemon creme brulee and seasonal tart ($9-$10).

Hours: Mon-Thurs 4:30-9 p.m.; Fri-Sat 4:30-10 p.m. Bar: 4 p.m.-close. Make a reservation here



Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.