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Chef Speak/Ross Bachhuber
Executive Chef, Off Duck

Photos by Dan Bishop

April 2013

Odd Duck has made a splash on the city’s culinary scene ever since it opened in 2012. The Bay View restaurant, 2352 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., is noted for an ever-changing menu that emphasizes fresh local produce, meats and dairy products. Innovative dishes vary almost day-to-day in small plates or standard entrées.

A down-home atmosphere makes patrons feel comfortable, whether they be vegan, vegetarian or omnivore. Subsequently, a sample menu might include short rib bourguignon, a Goan seafood curry and a creative arugula salad.

Chef Ross Bachhuber admits that one has to be "a little bit odd" to be in this business. "The work is physically and mentally intense, but if you have a clear vision and surround yourself with good people that care, customers will respond."

The Duck’s co-owner Melissa Buchholz agrees: "I guess we see restaurants differently than most people. We see this as a relationship, between us and our clientele. For us, it is not about advancing our vision, or creating one perfect dish or trying to make everyone happy. We want to be a place that you trust."

Buchholz’s mom used to call her little sister "Odd Duck" so the partners thought the name summed up their personalities and business idea so it stuck.

The couple met about five years ago while working with the Lowlands Group. Buchholz now runs the front end/service, plus supervising the beverage selections. Bachhuber handles the kitchen/food end. Naturally, they both do everything else, a nonstop effort to get the place open every day. True to their love of real food, the couple have a seasonal vegetable and herb garden on the restaurant’s backyard patio.

The two live happily in the neighborhood. That said, they looked for nearly two-and-a-half years all over Milwaukee before settling on their current location. Although the two designed the place mostly on their own, architect Todd Ovard helped out. With the aid of Bachhuber’s carpenter brother-in-law, the pair did the grunt work.

"The restaurant basically kind of looks like an extension of our house. Which is cool with us, says Bachhuber. "The kitchen … oh, the kitchen. It is small, but we choose to see that as a challenge as opposed to an obstacle," he chuckles.


This story ran in the April 2013 issue of: