Sunday, August 10, 2008

Brunch at Al Johnson's

If you have ever visited Door County, you've probably heard of Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant. Quite possibly you've eaten there, too. Oh, ja, it's a Door County tradition, you know.

Al used to import his waitresses from Sweden, and they would live in cabins out back. But these days I think the help is all domestic. I can't recall the last time I heard a real Swedish accent there.

If you haven't eaten at Al Johnson's, you know of it anyway. All the roofs you see have grass on them for a reason. Yes, it's "the place with the goats on the roof."
Al's had green roofs since long before green roofs were "in."

Another long-standing tradition at Al's is, well, long standing. If you decide you're going there for Sunday brunch in the summer, be prepared to wait. Our party of five was told "about an hour" and it was indeed about that.

You can ensconce yourself in a surprisingly comfortable barrel-type chair that has seen hard use for the 35+ years that I've known it. Or you can shop in Al's gift shop (clogs, tchotchkes, and books of Ole & Lena jokes) or in the other boutiques up and down the block.

What you're waiting for is the No. 1 item on the menu:
I did let myself get distracted by the soup of the day, tomato dill. It was better in concept than execution, being slightly sweet, yet over-peppered at the same time. Still, the dill and tomato were a good combination. I think I'll try to make this one myself at home.

And at last the reason for the pilgrimage was set before us: Swedish pancakes, with lingonberries.
I do love these things. I don't know if they're worth an hour's wait when you're already hungry, but they're pretty darn good. And those lingonberries are yummy.

If you're in Door County, you should stop by Al Johnson's, if only to see the goats. If the wait's not too long, get yourself some Swedish pancakes, too.

Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant
702 N. Bay Shore Dr.
Sister Bay, Wis. 54234


  1. Oh, yum! The photo of the Swedish pancake with lingonberries made me hungry, and I just finished eating. Nice post, Kitt.

  2. This sounds like a great place to stop in for breakfast. I love Swedish food. :)

  3. I love lingonberries AND goats! How fantastic to have both in the same place.

  4. It's pretty tasty! I usually try to go during the week (if at all) because it's so tourist-crazy on the weekends, but half our group was leaving today and wanted to go.