925 E. Wells St.
Leave it to Adam
Siegel, who snagged the James Beard Award for Best Chef Midwest in
2008, to shake things up in the fine-dining world. As executive chef
of not only Bacchus but Bartolotta’s sister restaurant Lake Park
Bistro, he straddles the concerns of regal and formal dining with a
want for innovation. Instead of offering plain-old foie gras ($17), he
dresses it up with a sweet touch of blueberry compote, French toast
and maple syrup, along with earthy notes in bacon and quail egg. For
all the foie-gras virgins out there, this is your dish. And no, it’s
not on the breakfast menu. The foie gras is served nightly as a small
plate, the perfect introduction to a more traditional five-star meal
of Filet Mignon or Porterhouse, if you wish. (But for the adventurous
at heart, sides to these dishes are creative, such as red-beet purée
with Scottish salmon or bourbon-peppercorn cream with Filet Mignon.
2643 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
are, by nature, picky about their beer. That’s what makes the
Beermosa ($5) unusual: the fact that beer, its primary ingredient, is
mixed with orange juice. Say what? However, the citrus nature of O.J.
infuses bright acidity into a mellow beer (New Glarus Spotted Cow),
making this a perfect brunch beverage. Known for touting locally grown
foods, and supporting a couple dozen farms in the state, brunch
(Saturday and Sunday only) dishes are no exception. Wisconsin maple
syrup tops thick slices of brioche toast for its French toast and
locally farmed eggs in the Farmers Breakfast. Open since 2009,
Honeypie has quickly morphed into a popular brunch spot for the Bay
View neighborhood and beyond.
Pan Seard Strauss
222 E. Erie St.
gastro-pub environment in the Third Ward, which opened its doors in
2007, but has earlier roots in Green Bay as a microbrewery and
restaurant, lies a serious love for meat. Lots of meat. Housemade
liverwurst. Rabbit liver pâté. Duck leg confit. Wood-fire grilled
strauss free-range veal chop. This also includes veal brains ($13)
that are pan seared and tossed with chanterelle mushrooms, kale and
sherry-pink peppercorn pan jus. Open for dinner only, the restaurant
supports many local farms and ranchers.
Alem Ethiopian Village
307 E. Wisconsin Ave.
As early as five
years ago, Milwaukee was a dry city when it came to Ethiopian dining.
Now there are two choices: downtown Milwaukee’s Alem Ethiopian
Village and the East Side’s Ethiopian Cottage. At Alem Ethiopian
Restaurant, which opened in January 2008, you can tour this country’s
cuisine via one of three samplers — vegetarian ($16.75 for one
person, $28.25 for two), carnivore ($45.75, enough for two people) or
meat stews ($17.75-$19.25 for one, $32.25-$36.25 for two). But first,
throw out the idea of convention, eating with utensils, and rely on
your hands as Ethiopians do.
Pastiche Bistro & Wine Bar
3033 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
When this Bay
View French-oriented eatery opened in 2009 it did so with bravery:
Pastiche introduced Milwaukee diners to frogs legs ($9), a delicacy
rarely found in this city but very common on Parisian bistro menus, as
well as Provence, Burgundy, Lyon, Bordeaux, you get the idea. It’s a
close second to escargots. Though a bit trepid, I ordered up a plate
as an appetizer and dug right in as my fish entrée was being prepared
in the kitchen. Dipped into a light batter and deep-fried, the four
frogs legs are accompanied by a side of Remoulade sauce (an upscale
version of tarter sauce that’s typically mayonnaise- or
aioli-based.) Unfortunately, this delicacy is available only on the
Fake ’n Eggs
2491 S. Superior St.
thought of dairy-fresh farm eggs the minute you walk in the door of
this unpretentious, down-home restaurant that counts many vegans among
its fans. Tofu scramble, instead of eggs, with a "juicy"
seitan steak ($8.95) are offered during the Sunday brunch. Getting
back to the needs of a hangover breakfast — Palomino features
"hangover" sandwiches each Sunday — hash browns and toast
are served alongside the vegan specialty that in a blind taste test
just might confuse carnivores. (For the record, you can also order
meatier plates like Mason-Dixon Waistline, a chicken-fried steak with
grits, two eggs and sausage gravy.)
Quail Egg Shooter
Wasabi Sushi Lounge
15455 W. Bluemound Road, Brookfield | (262) 780-0011
In Asian food
cultures, quail eggs are commonly used to prepare a variety of dishes.
But the States has not quite gotten on board with the practice. Give
quail eggs a test drive at Wasabi Sake Lounge, which opened in 2008,
and is worth the hike from downtown Milwaukee. For your shooter ($6),
which is on the small-plates menu for both lunch and dinner, choose
from fresh oysters or uni, which is combined with citrus ponzu, sake,
ohba, quail egg, green onion and a hint of chili oil. Once you’ve
got the shooter down, peruse the sushi menu, what Wasabi is best known
550 N. Harbor Drive
restaurant (open since the summer of 2010) in town, Bartolotta’s
Harbor House, on a slender peninsula wedged between Discovery World
and Milwaukee Art Museum, introduced Milwaukeeans to the convenience
of raw oysters, ceviche, clams (top neck or cherrystone), shrimp, cold
Maine lobster and crab claws, of the caliber that normally you’d
have to fly to Boston or Florida to experience. Unsure about what to
order? Simply point to one of four pre-selected towers ($24-$75),
including "The Yacht" (four oysters, four clams, three
shrimp, crab claws, ceviche and a half-pound lobster, $49). Harbor
House also let’s you build your own tower of raw oysters from a
market list. My dining companion and I seized the server’s
recommendation and developed a platter of half a dozen raw oysters
sourced from New York’s Long Island and the Pacific Northwest,
reveling in the communal saltiness and fatty texture, but also
noticing that size can vary depending on the waters in which they are
3815 N. Brookfield Road, Brookfield
Raw food diets
— where the food is cooked at a temperature of less than 115 degrees
— are all the rage for health-food fanatics. The concept made an
appearance in a "Sex and the City" episode a few years back,
yet for most people the concept is still untapped. Open since the
winter of 2008 in Brookfield, the menu (lunch and dinner) at Café
Manna is mostly raw, 100-percent vegetarian and heavily influenced by
the seasons. Its raw tacos ($15) — by far the most inventive in this
food trend because, for one thing, the staple of ground beef or
breaded fish is removed — are a customer favorite. Refried beans,
seasoned nut-based "meat" and lettuce are stuffed into three
corn shells, and topped with salsa and cashew sour cream. "It’s
something that we brought on last fall and they have stayed with
us," says Andrea Solomon, general manager.
Mac ’n Cheese