Seventy-five minutes north from Madison on Hwy. 39 takes you a world away, to Wautoma in Waushara County. The terrain is strikingly different from Dane County, full of cool sandy soil and the scent from towering pine trees.
Wautoma is situated on pretty Silver Lake, a playground for families in the summer. The Silvercryst is a lake resort and supper club, and an afternoon or dinner there can easily make you believe you are back in the '50s. Housekeeping cottages are just yards away from the property. The monstrous steer that greets you roadside is an icon from way back.
Inside the supper club are several sprawling dining rooms, but choose the seriously lively bar, outfitted with tables, or sit outside. Old-school supper club cocktails reign here, and old fashioneds and martinis fly from the bartenders' hands. My hubby and I are vegetarians, but we make the trek up to Silvercryst for the well-poured cocktails and killer thin-crust pizza. The kind of pizza whose crust cracks when you bite into it, with real cheese and delicious toppings.
The bar area overlooks the lake, the patio and beach. Wait there to be called to dinner or have a drink where you can watch kids playing old-timey games (try to swing the ring attached to a string onto a spoke stuck into a tree). A busy pier even lets diners pull up by boat; they're greeted at a little tiki shack where they're served beverages and snacks.
The height of the experience is sitting beachside on the Adirondack chairs. Grab a cocktail, sink your feet into the soft sand, and watch teens flirt Dirty Dancing style while swimming to the raft and slipping into the lake from the slide. You're welcome to take a dip yourself if staying for dinner.
Dining inside is also special, with one room overlooking the lake and one room a woodland glen. Silvercryst serves a complete menu, including its signature top sirloin, porkchops, fish and seafood entrees.