Restaurant of the Week: Paddock Club

Local sisters took a “gamble” on starting their restaurant, Paddock Club, nestled in the quaint village of Downtown Elkhart Lake–and it has sure paid off. Located in a centuries-old building, Paddock Club gets its name from a secret gambling club that once operated locally during the Prohibition era. Brick walls, an open concept, large windows and a gorgeous vintage wooden bar all create a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere, and that’s just the start.

The sisters’ restaurant roots span generations, including their grandparents who ran a local tavern for 30 years. An old black-and-white photo paying homage to them is prominently displayed in the dining room. Visitors can easily see the passion the entire staff has for Paddock Club, and it really is a true family affair (whether related or staff family). 

Recently celebrating its 15-year anniversary, Paddock Club is an incredibly immersive farm-to-table experience with a bit of European flair, all thanks to the brilliance of Chef Lynn Chisholm. Chef Chisholm started her culinary career in Milwaukee and brings her experience working there and in Madison to her dishes. The chef’s menu changes approximately every two to three weeks and includes as many local and seasonably available Wisconsin ingredients as possible. 

The Paddock Club kitchen is a place of culinary exploration for all staff members. The chef encourages a collaborative environment, sharing ideas for the menu. And, the service staff is just as excited to serve them. 

The menu features a variety of small plates, like the mushroom risotto fritters with white truffle dip, and the lightly breaded Calabrese cauliflower. Starter salads like the wedge and a spring burrata with asparagus, radish, snap peas and dill are fresh and palate-pleasing. Main courses include sandwiches, meat-free options like halibut and smoked beets, as well as fresh pastas, like the spaccatelli Bolognese, a slow, simmered meat sauce with veal, pork and beef.

Sister Cheryl Hau, who handles the front-of-house and operational side of the business, suggests the ever-changing agnolotti. “We call it pillows of love,” she says. When asked to name her favorite dish, Hau pauses with a bit of hesitation, “They are all so good,” but finally responds, “Chicken.” We could not agree more. The Baharat grilled half chicken served with beets, carrots, Brussels sprouts and pickled red onion packs such flavor and, bonus, it’s gluten free.     

The end of the evening at Paddock Club calls for a number of dessert treats. The crème brûlée changes with the menu, but we enjoyed the delightful combination of almond, honey and lavender. It is evident the passion for pastry lives at Paddock Club, as Chef Chisholm attended the French Culinary Institute in New York and it shows. And don’t miss out on the drink menu, including bubbles, wine, tap beer and craft cocktails, with favorites being the lavender Collins, pomegranate mule and cucumber-jalapeno margarita.  

A culinary gem in the heart of Wisconsin? You can bet on it at Paddock Club.

Paddock Club is open Tuesday to Saturday; the bar opens at 4 p.m., with dinner service at 5 p.m. Advance reservations are highly recommended. For more information, visit www.paddockclubelkhartlake.com.

Photo credit: Elkhart Lake

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