Where the Locals Eat -- cheese edition - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Where the Locals Eat -- cheese edition

(WAOW) -- From cheese curds, to cheese burgers, Wake Up Wisconsin's Nate Barrett and Paige Hulsey set out to find the cheesiest places around.

They got a fair warning before digging in.

"It's not health good, but it's good food," said Paul Meier, Blue Heron Brewpub owner in Marshfield.

Health aside, a diner chimed in on what makes the food so good.

"It's always better with more cheese," said James Dinkins, a loyal customer at Jenning's & Co. in Wisconsin Rapids.

Searching to see who is piling it on, the pair followed locals to Jennings & Co. in Wisconsin Rapids.

"Every time we come in, there is a surprise and it's kind of our happy place. It's a great place to be," said Jeanne Weymouth of WWisconsinRapids.

The cheesy treat on this day was called the "Jacked Up Burger."

"I would get three napkins and then just sit back and enjoy," recommended Dinkins.

This kitchen cooks up a new creation each week.

"Sometimes make it sloppy for our customers too, because they like that, a good burger and it's juicy and dripping all over up," said Steve Zimmerman, a chef at Jennings & Co.

"We wanted to raise the bar on bar and grill food," said owner Pete Jennings. "Quality is our main focus, creativity, freshness and local flavor."

Since the flavor of the week is cheese, Nate and Paige couldn't pass up a side of beer cheese soup before they finished their meal.

Their next stop took them to a new place in town, PJ's at Sentry World in Stevens Point.

"The vision is really simple. It is 'What does central Wisconsin like? What do they want to do?'" said Mike James, General Manager of SentryWorld.

Nate and Paige pulled up a chair and settled in for a show as they watched the rrestaurant's"pizza master" work his magic.

"It's my home away from home," said sous chef David Hayes, as he worked with the fire oven.

He trained to make these perfect pizzas in California.

"It's one of those things you get a feel for it," said Hayes. "It's a mental timer," he said as he rearranged the pizza in the fire oven.

Cooking the pizza this way adds a unique flavor and the perfect crisp to the crust.

The pizza might steal the show, but the cheese curds here hold their own.

"Our cheese curds, if we ever changed the ingredient in that, my wife would kill me. She loves the cheese curds and thinks that's just the best," said James.

To top off their tour, Nate and Paige checked out Blue Heron Brewpub in Marshfield.

Paul Meier, the owner, says he thinks he knows what keeps customers coming back: "We hope good food and good beer. It's what it's supposed to be," said Meier.

A cheesey childhood favorite inspired the recipe for the restaurants widely popular "Adult Mac n' Cheese."

"I grew up in kind of a small home and my mom made really good mac n' cheese and so that's one of the things we wanted when we started this place so we have really good mac n' cheese," said Meier.

Back in the kitchen, the chefs keep adding to the recipe, throwing in bacon and shrimp to saute with the garlic and other seasonings.

After another round of cheese and a quick bake, the dish comes out with a nicely browned and crisp top.

The piping hot dish is upping the ante on traditional mac n' cheese.

It's just one more reason why this is where the locals eat.

Where the Locals Eat featured locations:

Jennings & Co.
210 1st St, N.
Wisconsin Rapids
Recommended dishes: Beer cheese soup and burger of the week

PJ's at Sentry World
601 Michigan Ave N.
Stevens Point
Recommended dishes: Fire oven pizza and cheese curds

Blue Heron Brewpub
108 W 9th St.
Recommended dishes: "Adult" Mac N' Cheese (with bacon and shrimp) and cheesy garlic bread

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