Family is not an important thing. It is everything ~Michael J Fox
Spending time with family is always my favorite thing to do. I was so excited to find out my Valentine’s Day would not be spent as a lonely bachelor! My grandparents, my brother and my mom would be joining me for a day of fun and excellent food! A visit to the latest exhibit at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum would begin our day of fun. I was given the honor of selecting our lunch destination to complete our day. A family day deserves a meal at a family based restaurant. So my selection was Chang Garden Weston.
My grandmother wanted her grandkids to call her Nana, which was quite easy for me to oblige as a toddler. On the other hand, my grandfather requested “Grandfather”, which as a toddler with CP, not so easy. My first consistent attempt was “Gumpy” and that has stuck for me and my brother. My grandparents have not been to my new digs yet, so it was cool giving them the grand 5 minute tour before we headed out. I could tell they were proud of my place and my independence.
Mother Nature decided to join in on our day and give us a break from the cold weather. For us Wisconsinites, this 40 degree day was a heatwave! We even lingered a bit outside the museum to take in the warmth and sunshine. Ironically, much of the artwork had the “Respect Mother Nature”, “We Are All One” simple, but important themes. The exhibition was incredible. My Nana is a quilter and my Gumpy is a woodworker, so the Quilts and Wood Exhibition was a perfect fit to start our day. The quilts and wood workings were creative and unique. I even learned a bit about the quilting process from my Nana. The walk through the museum brought back memories for my Nana of her favorite museum, The Philadelphia Art Museum. It was awesome to put a smile on her face.
I love the museum and the exhibit, but found my mind wondering from time to time to sushi and pepper steak! When it was time to leave, my stomach was grumbling. We all headed to Chang Garden Weston located on 4215 Barbican Ave in Weston, WI. Chang Garden has two locations, the other in downtown Wausau. The restaurant is owned by Sue and Tony Chang. However, it is a family affair. Sue’s son, Michael Gray, manages the Weston location along with his wife, Andrea. Her extended family also works at her two locations. Sue’s late ex-husband and friend, George Gray, was also a big part of the restaurants. In fact, a photo of George hangs in both restaurants to honor his memory.
The entrance to the restaurant does not have automatic doors, but there is plenty of room to roll in. We were seated at a large round table. Compared to most restaurants, my chair fits nicely under the table. There are also booths available for more private seating. The entire restaurant is easy to navigate in my wheelchair. However, the bar is quite high, which makes ordering drinks and socializing difficult. The decor and atmosphere at Chang Garden is amazing. It is the perfect place to celebrate special occasions, but also comfortable enough for a casual night out.
Michael and his staff go out of their way to make everyone feel special. Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted and seated immediately. Of course, because this is a local gem, there are times when there is a wait for tables. There is a waiting area surrounded by beautiful fish tanks. Additionally, there is the bar and bar area for comfortable seating while waiting. These spaces are both far enough away from the entrance, so no one ever has to struggle to get around my wheelchair.
Terry was our waiter. He has been with Chang Garden Weston from almost the very beginning. He is definitely part of the Chang Garden family. In fact there are several long term employees. This, of course, helps with the consistency of service. Terry is also very entertaining and makes the meal an experience. He made my grandparents feel special, which is important to me.
My grandfather’s birthday was in a few days so we turned this into his birthday lunch. My grandfather has a special talent and we wanted to celebrate it! The photo of his gift tells all! We all had a good laugh. Much to my grandmother’s chagrin, my grandfather stated he was wearing the shirt (with the same statement) the next time they go out for dinner!
When my mom, brother and I go to Chang Garden Weston ordering sushi is a must. This visit was no exception. My mom had the avocado roll, my brother ordered the California roll and I chose the Philadelphia roll. Perfection adequately describes our rolls! The sushi is incredible and there are times when there is a wait, but it is always well worth it.
We all ordered our lunch selection. I ordered the pepper steak, my favorite. Other selections at my table included vegetable lo mein, sesame chicken, shrimp egg foo young and hunan chicken. Each lunch came with a cup of soup, a spring roll and fried or steamed rice. WonTon, Egg Drop and Hot & Sour are the soup selections. My grandparents and I had the egg drop, my brother had the Won Ton and my mom ordered the Hot & Sour. They were all delicious! The portions were perfect for lunch. Service is not the only consistent thing at Chang Garden Weston, the superb quality of the food is as well. There were no complaints at our table!
During this meal I had a lapse of judgement. I thought I had tried the spicy mustard before. Unfortunately, my memory failed me and I had mistaken it for spicy mayo. Despite my mom’s repeated question “Are you sure you want that?” I dunked my spring roll in good and deep. This mistake literally caused a Dijon, horseradish volcano to erupt in my nose and throat! My sinuses were successfully cleared and I don’t think I have a single nose hair left!
We each received a complimentary slice of a gelatin flavored cake because it was Valentine’s Day along with the standard fortune cookies. Our waiter Terry added to the treats with a handful of Dove Chocolates, something special he does for all of his customers.
I definitely recommend Chang Garden for any occasion. This local gem is wheelchair friendly and accommodating to the needs of their customers with disabilities. I like to support locally owned businesses. Chang Garden makes it easy to do so. I also love the team effort of Chang-Gray family, this is truly a family operated business.
Until next time, Keep Rollin’ and Keep Smilin’