We were shy one “Dish,” and we weren’t sure where to dine on a recent Thursday evening. We headed out to Lake Geneva to the unobtrusive Medusa Grill and Bistro on the corner of Broad and Dodge.
That’s when we realized it might have been a bad idea to arrive without a reservation. Most of the tables were already taken, but luckily we snagged three seats at the bar. We quickly discovered it was actually a great place to observe and to take in the ambience.
A large TV screen above the bar broadcasts activity in the kitchen, specifically what is cooking on the stovetop. We enjoyed guessing the dishes in process. We also had front-row seats to the chalkboard walls advertising the lengthy list of nightly specials and tempting us with the current gelato flavors.
The first order of business was the cocktail menu. Millions of Peaches ($11.50) sounded good to me, and it reminded Nikki of a song she promised to play for us on the ride home. Fun! Helene ordered the Medusa margarita ($9.50) because of the Solerno blood orange liqueur and house-made sour. So far, so good.
We were slightly overwhelmed and extremely over-eager when we saw the dinner options. Everything looked fabulous. When we read through the appetizers, we thought maybe we should just order them all and stop there. Instead, we settled on two.
The burrata ($14.50), one of the specials, was a refreshing taste of summer. The soft, creamy cheese was presented on a thick tomato slice resting in a saucy basil pesto, which we sopped up with bread. The banana pepper garnish was a nice touch.
For our second appetizer, we looked to the regular menu. Nikki has been longing for a great octopus dish, so she was thrilled to see Medusa’s grilled octopus salad ($14.50) that was served on a bed of arugula with a tangy vinaigrette. Squeamish as I am, I enjoyed it, too.
We knew at least one of us should order the chef’s choice. The problem was there was more than one: meat, seafood or combination ($49.50 each) or vegetarian ($47.50). The surprise element of getting whatever the chef wanted us to try has always been a great experience for me. I was eyeing the fish, Nikki wanted meat, and Helene preferred vegetables. Need I say more?
Over-the-top we went, and we didn’t look back. It was a great way to share and at the same time get a taste of everything Medusa has to offer.
The grilling process infused almost every element of our meal with a seared, full-flavored and savory taste sensation. With three huge platters in front of us, it was hard to know where to start.
The meat tray had homemade sausage topped with red sauce; a mouthwatering tenderloin kebab with herbed butter; a huge, juicy chicken breast, and a large lamb chop, all grilled to perfection. Fresh herbs adorned the meats, and everything rested on a serving of sauteed romaine and spinach that we had watched from start to finish on the big screen. The sausage was so delicious, it later inspired me to whip up a fennel-scented batch of my own.
The fish plate had a thin filet of delicate trout spread out to cover the bottom. It was topped with a grilled lobster tail and drawn butter for dipping, large shrimp, melt-in-your mouth salmon and chunks of firm halibut. More fresh herbs and sauteed greens rounded out the dish. It was a real party for a fish lover and all perfectly done.
The vegetable dish had pretty much all of the “sides” we had drooled over as we read the chalkboard wall—all cooked al dente, which kept everything crisp and fresh tasting.
Sweet corn (we observed them slicing kernels off of fresh ears), pesto-covered beets, marinated button mushrooms, rapini with a slice of polenta, beautifully sautéed zucchini, peppers and onions were presented in a partitioned tray, surrounding the center piled high with truffled fries that were crispy and hot.
Completely satisfied with our meal, we prepared to leave. But sitting next to the ice cream cabinet reminded us Medusa makes its own gelato and sorbet ($3.50/scoop). We closed the night with a light, sweet peach sorbet and a rich, salty caramel gelato.
The Four Dishes—Nikki Bolka, Helene Ramsdell, Jennifer Spangler and Beth Webb—review regional restaurants for The Gazette.