You'll gobble up the Turkey Ciabatta at Proctor Black Woods
Sally Sundquist is such an adventurous eater, she doesn't even need to know what the food is before she dives in. OK, that's exaggerating. But if her experience on an Alaskan cruise is any indication, she has a pretty open mind. "There was fish e...
Sally Sundquist is such an adventurous eater, she doesn't even need to know what the food is before she dives in.
OK, that's exaggerating. But if her experience on an Alaskan cruise is any indication, she has a pretty open mind. "There was fish every night, many different ways. I don't even know what some of the stuff was, but it was all wonderful," she said.
As for sandwiches, if it's got some substance and some zing, Sundquist will give it a try. She tried, and repeatedly comes back to, the turkey ciabatta at the Black Woods Grill & Bar in Proctor. "It's got some zip to it," she says. "It's not your standard burger fare."
Sundquist and I met there for lunch Saturday. Being Labor Day weekend, the bar and dining room were pretty quiet with only a few tables filled. The waiters were poised for customers.
We ordered the sandwiches, which feature hot turkey and melted pepper jack cheese with red onions, bruschetta seasoned tomatoes and lettuce dressed with a spicy "agate sauce."
Sundquist substituted the house salad for standard fries for $1 extra, but I opted for the sweet potato fries for $1 extra, also adding a cup of tomato basil soup.
Sundquist and her husband, Ken, go out once a week, usually staying on "the top of the hill," from the Le Grand Supper Club on Old Miller Trunk Highway ("they have a great Reuben on sourdough bread") to the Outback Steakhouse on Haines Road ("the tilapia was great") to the Dry Dock on Midway Road and back to Black Woods. "My husband likes to sit in the bar area, so he can have some popcorn while we wait for our food," she says.
The soup and the salad arrived within minutes, followed mere minutes later by our sandwiches. In fact, they came out so fast that they sat awhile before we were ready to eat them.
Aside from it being a little less warm than usual, possibly because it arrived too soon, Sundquist pronounced the turkey ciabatta top-notch.
"It's not a wimpy sandwich. It's got some substance to it," she said. "And when I have a salad, I can only eat half, so I get two meals out of it."
This sandwich was colorful -- diced tomato, lettuce and a bit of red onion peeking out from the side, along with the turkey. It gets its name from ciabatta (pronounced "chuh-BA-tah" by the waitstaff), an Italian bread that literally means "carpet slipper." The name describes the loaf's squat, oval shape, but not, I thankfully note, its texture. Flecked with oregano and basil, it was firm enough to support the sandwich but retained a soft crumb.
At first, I thought the turkey looked like a pressed deli product, but it had "real turkey" flavor and texture. The mix of pepper jack cheese and spiced mayo-based dressing hit my spicy spot right. And there were just enough tomatoes to provide interest but not enough to make it go mush. My only complaint is that it arrived too early, five minutes or less after my soup.
The tomato basil soup, by the way, was better than I was expecting. It had a homemade flavor and a true tomato tang balanced by what tasted like a touch or two of heavy cream. At first, I thought the sugar-crusted corn muffin and cinnamon butter would be too sweet, but it paired well with the tangy soup.
ABOUT THE DISH AND RESTAURANT
Jill Schmidt, kitchen manager, said the turkey ciabatta starts with grilling the ciabatta, which is then filled with hot turkey, melted cheese and the toppings. The dressing, the restaurant's signature "agate sauce," contains mayonnaise, sour cream, cayenne pepper and other spices.
Schmidt says the menu combines the best of North Woods classics (walleye, $13.99 lunch), "comfy foods" (meatloaf, $10.99) and new items (chicken pesto flatbread, $9.99).
TOM WILKOWSKE is a food reviewer for the Wave. You can reach him at atablefortwo@