Summer is time for the family road trip! Follow Kids Activities Blog and Julie Blair and her family as they travel 8 states in 30 days for the ultimate road trip story ¦
The world’s most epic game of Eye Spy can be played at Ella’s Deli, a circus-themed eatery in Madison, Wis.
“It’s got a merry-go-round,” Jim, the owner of the apartment we rented, told me. “It’s pretty good for kids.”
As a Michigan native, I can detect a humble Midwestern understatement when I hear one.
Sure enough, Ella’s was so spectacular that my kids will be talking about it until high school: Suspended from the ceiling are dozens of vintage tin circus-themed toys, chirping and clacking their way from one end of the restaurant to another.
The walls, too, were covered with tin toys: There’s a delightful singing Elvis, a balloon-headed Betty Boop perched atop a swing, a bulldog lifting a barbell.
But that’s not all.
A majority of the tables are functional shadow boxes. Ours included a working toy train and cutaway of a doll house.
We were so busy taking everything in, we didn’t mind the wait for dinner.
The Jewish deli dishes up matzo ball soup, sauerkraut sandwiches and a kind of pickle juice slurpee.
I tried a five-cheese cheeseburger deliciously tucked into a poppy seed bun; our manny Joel loved his cabbage roll-up.
For dessert, Charlotte and I split a chocolate cake made with sour cream and topped with homemade vanilla custard. (According to my friend Dana Villamagna, a Wisconsin native, this high-fat ice cream is specific to Wisconsin and made with, oh I don’t know, butter…)
The big kids had sundaes vaulted into antique footed dishes.
And finally, when we were stuffed and moaning, we exited for a ride on the wonderfully creaky 1927 wooden carousel,j paid for in poker chips offered at the deli’s check out.
I would agree with our host’s understatement: Ella’s Deli is “pretty good for kids.”