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The dish/ What's new in city dining


October 2009


I’ll start with the valet parking attendants at The Iron Horse Hotel. Two young men who welcomed us as if we were visiting royalty, despite the fact that this frugal writer chose to park on the street.

Smyth, one of three restaurants in the hotel, met our sky-high expectations, which were based on the spectacular décor that surrounded us as we entered the building that housed the former Berger Bedding Co.

After we ogled the Cream City brick walls, the massive pine posts, and the mix of antique and contemporary furniture, we found Smyth, located in what was the warehouse for the bedding factory. For the linguistically inclined, Smyth comes from "blacksmith," thus keeping the name in sync with the history imbedded in every aspect of The Iron Horse Hotel.

When we asked our server to recommend a luncheon favorite, she said, "I have a good story for you. Last week a gentleman asked the same question and when I suggested the pulled pork, he said, ‘Are you sure you want to do that, I’m from South Carolina.’" She continued, with a smile, "He loved it."

That settled, we followed suit and in tandem ordered side salads to accompany the BBQ Pulled Pork mixed with Mexican jardinière and aged cheddar. My companion, a person occasionally prone to understatement, took one bite and exclaimed, "This is absolutely, totally delicious." And it was — a mountain of perfectly seasoned pork studded with crunchy veggie surprises. Even the side salad deserves a mention, exceptionally flavorful greens dressed with a light vinaigrette. From our small sampling of Smyth’s fare, it’s clear chef Thomas Schultz uses only the best ingredients, keeps the preparation simple and lets the flavors speak for themselves.

We overheard more verbal applause at an adjacent table. "The burger is fantastic" and then, "The DLT is out of this world." The latter, a sandwich of duck confit, lettuce, tomato, bacon and balsamic aioli, will be on my plate when I return.

Smyth’s dinner menu lists many appetizers, including Foie Gras Du Jour and a Seafood Tower, a combination of prawns, oysters and king crab served on a bed of lobster seaweed. Schultz also offers several seafood entrées and an unusual Venison Osso Buco.

The hotel hosts two more restaurants, The Library, open for breakfast until 10 a.m., and Branded, a bar with a lunch and dinner menu and a long list of specialty cocktails.

Smyth gets a thumbs up and a return lunchtime visit for the spectacular DLT.

»Smyth is at The Iron Horse Hotel
500 W. Florida St., Milwaukee(414) 374-4766.

This story ran in the October 2009 issue of: