B. J. Wentker’s: a triumphant union of past and present

by Janet Deaver-Pack


In 1908, B. J. Wentker (a former employee of the Finke-Uhen Brewery) built the Triangle Tavern and Buffet in Burlington. Designed around a hand-tooled bar he had purchased from one of the exhibitors at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, the tavern offered sandwiches and beer, and a comfortable place for locals to unwind.

Nearly a century later, B.J. Wentker’s Triangle Tavern and Grill still features the original tile floors, the intricately worked tin ceiling, much of the turn-of-the-century woodwork, and lovely subdued colors-all of which continue to exude a relaxed, friendly, Old World tavern atmosphere.


Wentker’s new owners, Tanya Peterson and Husband, Chef Eric Peterson (previously chef at Heaven City and Brissago at Grand Geneva), are determined to maintain the tavern’s longstanding traditions, while at the same time serve award-winning food. “I call Eric the Sauce King”, Tanya laughs. “His sauces are wonderful.”


Reconstructing the menu of the former owners, one of the most noticeable changes to the bill of fare at Wentker’s is that the previous sandwich-only lunch menu now boasts smaller portions of several of Chef Peterson’s signature entrees.


Still, the sandwiches remain a popular choice and include Blackened Cajun-style Tuna and Turkey Club Wrap. Lunch prices vary from $6.95-$8.95. Appetizers include Crab Cakes, Coconut Crusted Shrimp, Duck Ragout, and Wild Mushroom Encroute, and are priced between $5.50 and $8.95. Some of Wentker’s most popular entrees are the Rib-eye Steak and Pistachio-Crusted Walleye. The Hazelnut-Crusted Chicken is also delightful, the Pork Tenderloin is excellent, and Chef Peterson’s slow-roasted “St Louis-style ribs are hard to resist.

Dinner prices run $10.95-$24.95, and each is served with either soup or salad, and warm homemade bread. There is also a Children’s menu. Chef Eric’s sinful desserts include Cappuccino Cheesecake with a Hazelnut Chocolate Sauce, Chocolate Mousse and a Raspberry Martini in a Toffee Tuile glass.


The newly expanded wine list at Wentker’s offers 46 selections by the bottle, and 14 by the glass. In addition, its extensive beer list has selections from Belgium, Holland, Denmark, China, and many other countries, as well as a dozen kinds of beers on tap. The drinks menu also offers a variety of Scotch, Specialty Drinks, and Martinis. In addition, Tanya and Eric proudly announce the continuation of their distinctive five-course wine dinners.


In addition to Wentker’s excellent fare, the service is first-rate. What’s more, live jazz often accompanies dinner on Thursdays and weekends.


Take Hwy. 120 north, and turn right on Hwy. 36 at Springfield. About a mile beyond Burlington’s western border, look for the triangular building on your right. Allow 20 minutes from Lake Geneva. The dress at B.J. Wentker’s is casual and reservations are always recommended. Wentker’s is open daily (except Sundays) and begins serving at 11 AM; dinner seatings start at 5 PM. For more information, call 262-767-1514.


 * Prices and items may have changed since the publication of this article. *