Spectacular sunsets. Praise-worthy food. Handcrafted beverages. Live music. These are just a few of the treasures awaiting you at Lake Country’s outdoor dining spaces this summer.
With warm weather in short supply, take advantage of the glorious days that morph into memorable nights and dine outside. Consider these restaurants the adult version of a summer picnic.
Though the outdoor dining space is small -- only 10 tables -- Artisan 179 makes up for it in other extravagances, and the patio overlooking Pewaukee Lake is just one of them. This farm-to-table restaurant, located on the eastern shore of Pewaukee Lake, features craft cocktails made from “enhanced and infused” simple syrups flavored with herbs, juices, even flowers, says managing partner, Ted Anderson.
Dishes run the gamut from snacks and small plates to salads, burgers, sandwiches and entrees. Unlike many other restaurants, Artisan 179 does not do the traditional Friday night fish fry. Instead, try its Fish Friday, which features two fish specials in addition to the two already on the menu. “It’s a more exotic, more upscale fish dinner,” Anderson says.
Located in the former Lakefront Grill, Artisan 179 takes its name from Anderson’s description of the staff. He includes the producers who provide the ingredients, the rotating local artists whose work graces the restaurant walls and the musicians who play on the outdoor patio in that group of “artisans.” The number 179 is a nod to the restaurant’s address.
Sip a craft cocktail, watch the sun set and listen to “soft, sweet vocals” accompanied by the strains of an acoustic guitar while bistro lighting casts a soft glow. Life is good.
The Five O’Clock Club
Set on a hill overlooking a wooded lot, the Five O’Clock Club has a long history in the Lake Country area. The restaurant, which has been owned by the same family since 1929, is in a converted farmhouse built in the 1800s.
An outdoor deck wraps around two sides of the house, just enough space for 11 tables. Due to its former life as a working farm, the restaurant has “significant acreage,” said Jeanine Knutson, who with her husband, own the Pewaukee casual dining establishment.
Ancient oaks provide natural shade but the tables are topped with umbrellas for comfort. A wooded area in front of the patio screens the restaurant from its neighbors while still allowing a nice view of the southeast side of Pewaukee Lake.
Diners can be forgiven for thinking they’re eating “up north,” Knutson says. “It’s woodsy and as natural as we can keep it.”
Sample the diverse menu of classic American faves such as steaks, ribs, chicken, pork and seafood. Try the smoked pork sandwich, which is one of the dishes smoked on the premises. Much of the menu is sourced naturally and close by. Bounty scored from trips to local farmers markets appear on the plate. Honey comes from the property’s beehives.
There’s no better place to sip a Pewaukee Sunrise crafted with orange-flavored vodka, cranberry juice and sweet and sour or an RDK Martini, a vodka-based drink with bleu cheese stuffed olives.
Revere’s Wells Street Tavern
This Delafield staple for casual dining has a full-service patio with 35 tables. Touting its scratch cooking, this American family-style pub showcases different features every month.
Outside there’s a laid-back vibe. Diners can watch the game on a big-screen television; a stage features live music every Thursday and some Saturday nights. Quaff a brew from one of the 10 choices on tap or 75 in bottles. Pair the beverage with a giant pretzel or scratch cheese curds.
Try a twist on the traditional old fashioned made with flavored whiskeys and brandies. Patio heaters, if needed, take away the chill.
Owner Jim Aldinger has some surprises planned for 2017. Sunday nights are game nights featuring giant versions of Connect 4 and Jenga.
Seven Seas Restaurant
One of the Weissgerber restaurants, Seven Seas has graced the shores of Lake Nagawicka for many years. With several patios overlooking the lake, outdoor dining is its staple.
The largest, the Lakeside Patio, seats 250. Seven Seas serves a fish fry buffet on that patio every Friday in the summer.
A smaller patio, Jack’s Lookout, is fairly new, says Ramona Weissgerber-Kummer, the general manager. The 50-seat spot opened two seasons ago and has become a popular Lake Country hangout.
Named for Weissgerber-Kummer’s late father who enjoyed watching sunsets from the spot, the Lookout offers a full-service menu and includes a bar so guests don’t have to leave for a beverage refresher.
The Captain’s Room Patio can be reserved for private parties of up to 70.
Enjoy crispy shrimp tacos or the restaurant’s homemade ceviche while dining alfresco. Wash it down with one of Seven Seas’ popular drinks such as the Patio Pounder that’s served in a “yard glass” filled with elderflower liqueur, gin, Moscato wine and fruit. “We suggest it for two people to share,” says Weissgerber-Kummer.
Live music on Thursday nights begins in May. The restaurant also offers live music on the first Friday and Saturday of the month. An outdoor shrimp boil, a la Door County, is offered three times during the summer on Wednesday nights.
If you go
179 W. Wisconsin Ave, Pewaukee
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday
5 O'Clock Club
N58 W26658 Peterson Dr., Pewaukee
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
Revere's Well Street Tavern
505 Well St., Delafield
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to midnight Sunday
1807 Nagawicka Rd, Hartland
Hours: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday