I have written extensively about Waupaca, Wisconsin — a small town on a chain of lakes where my family vacations each summer. A few years ago a small café moved into the space adjoining the Waupaca book store in the old downtown area. My family has dined here on a few occasions and each time it gets better. Chez Marché uses local and sustainable products to create vibrant, fresh dishes.
On our most recent trip my mother ordered a bowl of their Curried Tomato Soup. I spooned some on top of my bread to enjoy. It was delicious. One of the fantastic things about this restaurant is that they have posted dozens of recipes on their website. Sadly, the recipe for this sweet and spicy soup is not included. I would love to be able to make this for myself in the late summer when there is always an abundance of tomatoes.
My father ordered a simple side salad with some beautiful greens and stunning tomatoes.
We enjoyed good quality olives with excellent bread as we waited for our main courses.
I ordered the Complex Salad: Fresh mixed greens, goat cheese, a poached egg, croutons and herbs in a house vinaigrette. In addition the salad arrived with cucumbers, tomatoes, thinly sliced onions and one glorious yellow nasturtium. I should have made a point to ask for the egg runny, as it was slightly cooked when it arrived to me (and warm runny egg yolk on a salad is something I find quite delicious). But this was my oversight and the salad was otherwise bright, flavorful and satisfying.
My brother Evan ordered Sautéed Garlicky Greens with melted Carr Valley Fontina Cheese.
My father ordered a special for his main course: A rich summer squash gratin.
My mother ordered Prosciutto and Fontina Sacchetini: Small "purses" of pasta filled with Fontina cheese, prosciutto ham, basil, garlic and pepper in a light cream and herb sauce.
The space is quaint, with tables, chairs and tableware in dozens of styles. Local art adorns the walls and the stage in front is often used for local music and speakers. The Waupaca Peace Group was holding a small meeting and my mother spoke with them about the Peace Group she belongs to in Woodstock. This restaurant definitely has a community feel to it and the service is always relaxed and friendly. This restaurant lets us take a break from the more typical grilled food and beer offerings in the area and have a civilized, quiet and local meal together. (Though we do love our ham/veggie burgers and beer).
The few times we have visited Chez Marché there have not been many other diners. If you ever find yourself in the area I would highly recommend this restaurant. We are worried that we will drive into downtown Waupaca one summer to find the café gone. This little gem deserves to stay around. Bonni Miller, the chef and owner, and has created some lovely dishes. In a few years I would not be surprised if they are putting out some of the best food in their greater-Wisconsin area.