While Hotel Northland’s Poke the Bear often gets the moniker of sports bar, Dennis Fenrick, director of restaurants for Hotel Northland, says it’s so much more than that.
“We wanted to create an atmosphere that is fresh, local and still has that sports feel to it without being a sports bar,” he says.
As one of two restaurants in the boutique hotel, Poke the Bear is part of downtown Green Bay’s burgeoning food scene. Poke the Bear and the hotel’s other restaurant, the fine dining establishment The Walnut Room, offer ideal venues to impress job recruits and clients, says Jeff Mirkes, executive director of Downtown Green Bay Inc.
Far from stereotypical sports bar food, Poke the Bear offers unexpected and creative fare served in a fun, casual atmosphere dedicated to celebrating sports and fans. Its menu of house-made items includes hand-cut fries, fresh-made burgers and pastrami made onsite. And don’t forget the cheese curds.
Appetizers include twists such as the Devil-ish Eggs, which are finished with candied bacon, and the Duck Egg Rolls, served with a bed of rice noodle salad and house-made duck sauce. Favorite entrees include the towering Poke the Bear BBQ Burger, an angus patty topped with pulled pork, smoked cheddar, an onion ring and house-made barbecue sauce. Outselling even the restaurant’s signature burger is the Pastrami Reuben, featuring house kraut, Wisconsin Swiss and spicy 1000 Island dressing.
As for the restaurant’s unusual name, Fenrick says no one seems to have the exact answer on how it came to be. “The building is almost as old as the Packers, and we’re always kind of poking at the Bears,” he says.
— Jessica Thiel