Great Daily Specials (and Wisconsin Comfort Food) at Mequon's Range Line Inn
It’s impossible not to sense the history of Range Line Inn even before pulling into the parking lot. The inn is yet another Wisconsin restaurant that was (or at least looks like it was) someone’s residence at a point in time. Turns out Range Line Inn’s history has had many points in time—176 years to be exact—long enough to be one of Mequon’s oldest structures.
Range Line Inn of Mequon
Address: 2635 W. Mequon Road, Mequon, WI
Price range: $$-$$$
Handicapped access: No
CC, FB, FF, RS
Hours: Tu-Sa 4:30-10 p.m.
Inside, you feel transported in time. Low ceilings, lots of wood paneling, even carpet flooring, all contribute to the cabin-y vibe. The bar area is cozy with a handful of tables in addition to full bar seating, plus a few booths. These are somewhat incognito, secluding diners from (at times heavy) traffic generated by patrons making the mandatory commute from the entrance to the host stand. The main dining area is comprised of several small rooms and even smaller alcoves—some just large enough for a single four-top table.
For many regulars, the menu is driven by daily specials such as prime rib (Tuesday), fresh Lake Superior whitefish (Thursday), whole roast duck (Saturday) and lobster (Wednesday, seasonal)—not to mention Wisconsin classics like Friday fish fry (haddock, perch or cod) and pot roast. Served traditionally with mashed potatoes, veggies and smothered in brown gravy, pot roast ($24.95) is never the best-looking dish but here, it tastes the way it should: like mom used to make it.
For those looking for something other than full entrées, Range Line Inn offers a well-rounded menu, including chicken (fried, barbecue, Parmesan), steaks (filet, sirloin, New York strip) chops (pork, lamb), plus seafood, salads and sandwiches. While the inn is far from being a destination for vegetarians, one could be satisfied with options like eggplant Parmesan ($14.95), black bean or vegetarian burger ($9.95, $10.95), not to mention about a half dozen potato preparations.
Portions are reasonable, not huge. Entrée orders are bolstered with the inclusion of salad (house dressing was Parmesan peppercorn) or soup du jour and choice of potato. Normally, I’d have jumped at the salad option but passing up soup in Wisconsin during the winter seemed downright ludicrous. It was split pea with ham and was well-seasoned and definitely homemade. Baked French onion soup is always available by cup or bowl ($3.95, $4.95).
An itch for barbecue ribs (pork) can be scratched three different ways: appetizer ($12.95), half rack ($17.95) or full rack ($21.95). The meat was tender and flavorful; the sauce was tangy to the point of slight acidity. The ribs themselves were worthy to be ordered again—with sauce on the side.
It might seem trivial, but worth mentioning is the homemade breadbasket—quite possibly the unsung hero of this establishment. It’s an assortment of super-fresh baked items, some savory and some sweet, including popovers filled with cheese, mini muffins with orange and cranberry, and sesame crackers.