This week, myself and a few members of SGA headed to Kristen’s River Walk, located at 1140 Clark St. in Downtown Stevens Point. Joining me was Charlie Greiber, Ryan Specht, David Boardman, Kiah Hardy and Geoff Murray.
Kristen’s has a strong Wisconsin supper club vibe with a cozy bar in the front with upholstered booths and more simple tables and chairs in the back.
The crowd gathered here tonight had something much more important on their minds than just good food and drink: Trivia. Kristen’s features a volunteer driven trivia night each Wednesday at 7 pm. The groups of regulars here for trivia are subdued and friendly, with a median age hovering in the 30s. A family of four sits in a corner, with a large stained glass sailor ascending the rigging behind them. They play as team “My Little Pony.”
A muddled voice intermittently rises over older pop songs while posing questions that are just the right difficulty to make it a fun night for everyone from the jock to the computer nerd. It is a very relaxed atmosphere with no need to register online, hand someone your email, or sign up for some annoying rewards program. You just walk in a tad before 7pm and let the gentleman at the bar know your group would like to play.
I ordered their Bloody Mary to start with. Garnished with a pickle, olives, and a mushroom, this bloody is a welcome change from bland store-bought mixes. I recommend ordering it spicy and mixing half of the beer chaser in when you are about done with the drink.
Kristen, the owner, is proud to use fresh local ingredients when they can in all dishes and offers one of the best home-made bloody mixes in town. It is immediately apparent that she loves her business and wants to make sure you have a great visit.
For an appetizer I ordered the spinach and artichoke dip. I was immediately disappointed, as it had the appearance of tzatziki sauce – mostly sour cream with only a sprinkling of spinach throughout the mixture and five slivers of artichoke. The sauce was bland and without texture. I found myself digging through the sour cream in search of morsels of flavor without any luck. Geoff and I could not actually bring ourselves to finish this dish and pawned it off on Ryan who is willing to eat almost anything.
For the main course, I ordered the Cajun blackened burger. Unlike the appetizer, this was cooked to perfection and a must try in Stevens Point. The burger was rich, fatty and spicy. The meat was a perfect medium rare, browned on the outside with a juicy pink middle. Generous portions of pepper jack cheese and jalapenos coated the top of the burger, between two lightly toasted sesame seed buns.
Ryan ordered the Caribbean jerk sandwich, which he described as being very mild and not at all overpowering. The sandwich was nice and had good flavor but won’t knock you on your ass. If you’re looking for traditional Caribbean spice, you won’t find it here. The chicken was perfect – not too dry or moist.
Charlie ordered the patty melt, which he thought was pretty good. The patty was covered in caramelized onions that were cooked to perfection. The marbled rye was toasted and not soggy. The patty was cooked perfectly to order and in the end was a nice Wisconsin standard worth ordering again.
David and Kiah ordered the baked French onion soup which they described as decadent. It was heavy on the onion, with fresh, crisp onions saturating the soup and abundance of nicely browned cheese layering the top. They both recommended this dish.
We all agreed that their fries are some of the best in town. They are straight and natural cut, with skins left on here and there. Not too crisp and not too limp, the fries were loaded with flavor. I would have killed for a nice curry sauce to go with them.
Overall, Kristen’s is a must visit if you’re living in Stevens Point. You will not find white-linen high class dining here and the menu is not too extensive, but they make one hell of a burger and fries. With an assortment of delicious beers on tap, a caring bartender, and friendly patrons, Kristen’s personifies the ideal Wisconsin bar & restaurant.