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The dish/What's new in city dining
Odd Duck


September 2012

Summer Heirloom Tomato Salad with shaved Sarvecchio Parmesan and 18-year balsamic pesto.
Photo by Dan Bishop

They know how to make diners feel special at Odd Duck. We had excellent service despite a crowd, and the small-plate dining restaurant in Bay View is full of palate-pleasing surprises.

They play with flavors here. Even the bar snacks listed on a chalkboard piqued curiosity, especially the Bacon-Almond-Caramel-Corn. According to our server, "They use bacon fat to pop the corn. That way it has it all: salty, sweet, savory." Or diners could start with a Beet-Pickled Egg and some Haus Marinated Olives.

A second chalkboard lists suppliers, including Braise RSA or "restaurant supported (local) agriculture." It’s all local here, especially the herbs growing in window boxes in front of the restaurant and the salad greens thriving in the back.

Odd Duck features small plates, both animal and vegetable, and a short list of large plates including the Seared Duck Breast my friend ordered. Her rare duck breast came with swiss chard, bacon and potato hash, studded with brandied cherries. She loved it. "I don’t need the duck," she says. "The hash with the cherries is amazing."

Because I’m a passionate bacon-lover, I ordered the Pork Belly and Black Bean Chili and found many fat chunks of belly in a generous bowl big enough for a light meal with some bread and, of course, dessert. We sampled the Wild Mushroom Ragout, mushroom stems in dense, rich-flavored "jus" with an unadvertised hot chili surprise.

The coffee we ordered with dessert came with its own French press. It was accompanied by an old-fashioned timer so when the sand ran out, we knew it was time to press. The coffee was a good match for dessert, a delicious lavender-scented crème brulée. Or, we could have ordered coconut cake with Purple Door ice cream, a second almost irresistible choice.

You have to grab it when you can at Odd Duck because the menu changes daily, the carpe diem of great food. Owner Melissa Buchholz says, "I have an amazing pastry chef. Last week she made crème brulée with curry."

Buchholz co-owns Odd Duck — her sister’s nickname inspired the name — with executive chef Ross Bachhuber, whose culinary credits include executive chef posts at Piano Blu, the Lowlands Restaurant Group and Milwaukee Art Museum.

»Odd Duck
2352 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Bay View


This story ran in the September 2012 issue of: