Green Forest Family Restaurant
1702 Grand Ave
Wausau, WI 54403
Don’t you just love the phrase “family restaurant?”
Whose family? Godzilla? The Sex Pistols?
Some of these self-proclaimed family restaurants appear to cater to a clientele just this side of making an appearance on America’s Most Wanted; and the others are oh so “plastic” (the big chains, where the head of the “family” is probably eating at Le Cirque or Spagos while you choke down the overdone, overpriced rubber chicken with peas – – served “family style”.)
BUT, once in a while you, like anyone else, may hit a “winner.” I’ve got one.
The Green Forest Restaurant in Wausau (one of the gateways from southern to northern Wisconsin and vice versa) calls itself a “family restaurant,” and it is. . .for all kinds of families — kids, seniors, singles, and yes, even Godzilla.
We pass through Wausau about once a month or more. On this trip, we got off of the main highway and went searching for places to eat. We spotted this place, on Grand Avenue (Highway 51 South, about five minutes from the main downtown area of Wausau), and thought we’d give it a try. What a pleasant surprise. Large, comfortable, clean, smoking and non-smoking, with a big old-fashioned counter. . .a smiling husband-and-wife-team-owners, and some great service.
We sat down and noticed at least half-a-dozen specials on a menu board. The menu, in addition is unbelievable. (I firmly believe that if you want to eat it, the Green Forest serves it).
This particular day, I ordered the $9.95, 16 oz. t-bone steak special… served with soup, salad, potato (four different choices), veggie, rolls AND dessert (choice between Jell-o, rice pudding, tapioca or spumoni) it was so much even “python jaws” (that’s me) couldn’t finish it all. Tasty, quickly served, generous portions and a price that puts any fast food meal to utter shame.
My wife, a delicate and very choosy eater, opted for the fish fry, homemade crisp hashbrowns with onions, and a made-to-order Greek salad. She loved every mouthful.
Again, a great deal of the meal had to be happily schlepped home. The Greek salad had plenty of the “expensive ingredients” — you know, a literal handful of yummy Greek olives (the big places usually plop one on the plate); gobs of feta cheese; plenty of cucumber and tomatoes, and a true Greek dressing. Tasty, healthy, and filling.
After paying, we spoke to one of the co-owners. We found out that as usual, the best restaurants have “here-at-all-times-owners” who make sure things run well. I was impressed with the fact that there are ALWAYS a number of senior citizen specials (there were a lot of seniors in the place), and kids specials, and daily specials of all types. The wife is of Balkan heritage, hence the familiarity with Greek food, which is a specialty at the Green Forest. Things like gyros made with freshly cooked lamb. . .things like that, all authentically prepared.
The next time I was in Wausau, I stopped in again, and had one of the daily luncheon specials — a mammoth Greek salad, and an authentic Greek spinach pie. The spinach pie was done up in the mystical triangle shaped, delicate and light filo dough pastry… beautifully seasoned (two large pieces), and the salad, and the roll, and the butter, and the large iced tea… all cost me $5.50; and included any additional tomatoes I asked for.
We’ve been back many, many times since then. I particularly recommend the Green Forest for families. The prices are moderate. The selection is almost overwhelming… I mean that. The choices and variety of foods, ranging from pancakes to steak, homemade desserts, soups, daily specials and everything in between are unbelievable. The quality is high. The food tasty and well prepared. The ambiance pleasant. The servings generous.
No one could ask for anything more than that. Every one of us has been through the hideous experience of paying double-digit dollars for a couple of fast food sandwiches, fries and a soft drink!
One visit to the Green Forest and you’ll ban stopping for those greasy spoon burgers… whatever your screaming “little nippers” may say about the “free” (yeah, sure!) little goober doll that comes with every $100.00 purchase!
lt’s worth getting off the highway and take the extra fifteen minutes on your way north or south (Wausau is the literal gateway to northern Wisconsin, and once past it you immediately start hitting the northern forests). This is a “hidden winner,” and you, like us, will make it a permanent “rest/recuperation/eating” spot north or south from whenever you’re coming or going.
[Image: Courtesy of Flickr user Kayakman]