new collection of casual-eats restaurants opened in late winter and
early spring, ensuring there wasn’t an awkward pause in the flurry
of new restaurant openings.
debuted in Oconomowoc earlier this year with Grill Junkies (1288
Summit Ave.), a polished burger joint within a strip mall. A
delightful departure from simply ground beef, the burger menu includes
black bean, salmon and turkey burgers, along with a choice of
gluten-free buns. There’s even, "The Stripper," a burger
sans bun. A lineup of Asian dishes, ranging from Pad Thai to Kung Pao
is also available, as are the prerequisite sides to burgers like fries
(they come with each burger order) and milkshakes (chocolate and
vanilla). Glasses of wine hike this burger spot into the upscale
category despite the fact that, even while inside, you’re seated
under a beach umbrella.
Siders a new breakfast spot, the owners of Lake Geneva’s heralded
Simple Café (2124 N. Farwell Ave.) moved their second location into a
former car-repair shop, painting the walls hues reminiscent of fruits
(think blueberry, lime, Clementine, grape and lemon). Lighting
fixtures are crafted from white cast-iron pots, pans, percolators and
lids. Open until 3 p.m. daily, the menu focuses on breakfast and
lunch, folding in fresh, in-season ingredients like butternut squash,
sweet potatoes and pumpkin this past winter. Expect offbeat dishes
(like the Korean BBQ breakfast bowl), pancakes and omelets (including
the "designer" where you pick three ingredients from a
lengthy list) among the 20-item breakfast menu and gourmet sandwiches
for lunch (such as carnitas tomatillo).
Webo’s Mexican Grill (2301 S. Howell Ave.) took over the former
Guanajuanto space in Bay View, putting an upscale twist on Mexican
fare. For instance, three salsas come with the complimentary chips and
there are dishes that go beyond tacos and tostadas (seasonal ceviche
and fish tacos crusted in blue cornmeal). Black tablecloths and a wall
of artsy murals, along with fresh flowers on each table, create a
pleasant dining experience for lunch and dinner.
Opening in West
Allis, Double B’s BBQ & Burgers (7420 W. Greenfield Ave.) touts
a comfort-foods vibe for both lunch and dinner. Cherry wood in a house
smoker gives the meat a sweet, rustic touch to ribs, chicken, brisket
and wings, especially when combined with hand-rubbed spices. There is
also a kid-friendly menu. For those who don’t care for the ’cue,
plenty of options remain, including burgers, entrée-size salads,
appetizers (such as black pepper bacon wrapped around water chestnuts)
and bowls of chili or corn chowder.
In addition to
restaurants, there is a duo of new bars to check out this spring, from
Waukesha to the East Side. Fink’s (1875 N. Humboldt Ave.) is
inconspicuously housed in the former Redroom, sharing the same owners
as Fuel Café, Hi Hat Lounge, Balzac, BelAir Cantina and Palomino.
There’s a wall depicting a North Woods scene (along with Road
America posters) and craft beers on tap as well as a focus on classic
cocktails. Hosting live-music acts and entertainers (recently, Joe
Hite and, come May, Pat McCurdy), and DJs, The Lucky Rabbit (200
Madison St., Waukesha) also serves cocktails and innovative pizzas
(Santiago Taco or Bayou Cajun).
Venue for Shully’s
stranger to hosting wedding receptions and other catered events, Beth
Shully (owner of Shully’s Cuisine & Events in Thiensville) knew
it was time to ditch the tent and construct a permanent structure,
called The Watermark. It’s opening May 1 next to the
6,250-square-foot catering facility and Mill Pond. "I tried to
make it look a bit Victorian. It has peaked dormers and windows with
the rounds on top," explains Shully, along with a gray/silver
interior and two options for chandeliers (gray wood or wrought-iron).
With event planner Steven Jones at the helm — he spent four years
crafting nosh and drinks for the green room at Harpo Studios and
rubbed elbows with Oprah Winfrey — it’s sure to be a sweet venue.