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by Stacie E
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
July 4, 2010
May 27, 2005
I was a little surprised, as we drove up on Highway 63, that this little supper club appeared to be in the middle of nowhere. The neon sign showed a lot of wear from many harsh winters. A small white building with a bright-red pagoda-style entrance sat in the middle of the woods. This was it!
On entering, it's a bit of a shock! There are pictures and bric-a-brac everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. It's overwhelming, and it takes a moment to get over the shock as you first walk in.
Our group was given the Sulton Room, a small private room off to one side. The restaurant was not full, but this was still off-season and it had enough tables filled to be called busy. I understand that in the summer it is packed.
The menu was mostly meats and steak. They offered lamb, steaks, chicken, and shish kabobs. A few of the appetizers were Turkish, and I was unfamiliar with them. Our waitress steered us through the menu and helped us order drinks and appetizers for our two tables.
It didn't take the waitress long to learn we were all first-timers and give us a little history lesson on The Turks Inn. It was the kind of story movies are made of! The place opened in 1930 by a Turkish guy who had just lost his candy factory in The Depression. Hayward, at that time, was mobster central. So, The Turk (as he was lovingly called) opened a fashionable supper club in the middle of nowhere. Dancing, big bands, and lines at the door, it was the 1930s version of The Viper Room! But when the father became ill, he asked his daughter to come home from New York, where she was a successful fashion model. Many of the photos on the wall are from her modeling days. The daughter, now elderly, is still here running the show.
Each piece of meat is aged downstairs for 5 weeks and hand cut by the daughter when you order it. I can promise you that this will be the biggest and best piece of steak you have ever tasted. The owner will come by several times and make sure your dinner is perfect. The meal ends with pots of strong Turkish coffee. The prices reminded us we were in Wisconsin. We ate like pigs, drank, and all had desserts, all for less than $30 per person!
I love The Turks Inn. I can't wait to come back. It's a little campy and shows a little age. But the food is outstanding and I promise you, it's one of a kind!
From journal Turning 50 Wisconsin-Style on Spider Lake