have blushed into full bloom, wet and snowy days have long since
melted into memories, and Milwaukeeans, emerged from hibernation, seek
all things sun. Patio season is finally here, and this year’s
arrival comes with exciting new outdoor dining and drinking options.
Memphis-style ribs and sunshine or succulent pulled pork and daylight,
head to the Pigpen, the darling little deck and tiki bar of Atlas BBQ
(1304 12th Ave., Grafton). When owner Mike Tsuchihashi and chef
Michael Strand were designing the restaurant and menu, they traveled
to sample good barbecue joints across the Midwest. "We wanted to
make it as authentic as possible," Tsuchihashi says.
Strand and his
able kitchen staff, along with the help of smokers Jake and Elwood
(yes, the applewood-burning smokers are named after the Blues
Brothers), make everything in-house from the smoky, creamy tomato soup
to the decadent bourbon chocolate pecan pie. Even the pickles and corn
bread are made in-house. But as delicious as the veggie and seafood
options are — the chopped salad is divine — the real attraction of
Atlas is the meat.
smoked chicken, accompanied by the only Alabama white sauce I’ve
seen locally, to an addictive Reuben sandwich made with beef brisket
subbing for corned beef, Strand knows his meats. He also knows his
sauces. There’s a vinegary Carolina sauce, a sweet Memphis sauce, a
heat and sweet Texas sauce, a peachy and very spicy X sauce and a
Korean barbecue sauce with ginger and soy. Only two of the sauces
contain gluten so those with allergies can indulge safely.
Unfortunately for now, these incredible, made-each-day-from-scratch
sauces aren’t yet available for sale by the bottle. "I’m
working with a company to do that," Tsuchihashi says. In the
meantime, just enjoy them with a freshly shaken bourbon drink or a
perfectly paired ale.
The new patio at
The Bay restaurant (342 E. Silver Spring Drive, Whitefish Bay) is
expected to be open by June. And with the careful attention of
restaurateurs Paul Berlin and James McMahon, it should be every bit as
welcoming and sleek as the new restaurant, which opened in early May.
The patio will be the place to share pitchers of hand-crafted old-fashioneds
with friends. The restaurant itself boasts an eclectic and upscale yet
comforting and expansive menu. And while you’ll be familiar with the
names of dishes on the menu, you won’t find them as well done as
they are at The Bay.
roasted vegetables, an innocuous-sounding appetizer. The delicately
sea-salted and olive oil rubbed vegetables practically glowed — they
were that sweet and succulent, and they were accompanied by a zesty
red pepper sauce. My 3-year-old and my husband practically fought over
the carrots and asparagus. Another common sounding dish — the humble
burger. But at The Bay, the beef is ground fresh, several times a day
at nearby Sendik’s, and it comes topped with bacon, a fried egg and
more of that zesty sauce. The cod also surprises, as it comes topped
with just a dusting of andouille sausage. The chips — either as a
side or appetizer — are homemade, too, and they come warm, as they’re
made to order and worth the wait.
says summer like a biergarten in Wisconsin, and perhaps the most
authentic one you can find, this far outside of Munich, is at the Von
Rothenburger Bier Stube (N116 W15841 Main St., Germantown). Chazz
Hastings, who also owns Milwaukee Harley-Davidson, got the
authenticity of both the biergarten and the beer hall, right down to
the wooden slats in the furnishings. Everything, from the wall
hangings to the stained glass to even the picnic tables, hails from
Barvaria. The draft beer, or rather, bier, is imported from Germany,
as well as the giant pretzels and sweet mustard. "The focus is on
the authenticity," says Josh Neureuther, general manager.
music from German bands, as well as pig roasts, this summer, and then,
come October, the adjacent Jerry’s Old Town will reopen. "We’re
doing a complete remodel," Hastings says. (Find more Milwaukee
beer gardens in Filter on page 90.)
La Merenda (125
E. National Ave.) just opened a new patio. The patio isn’t just a
simple grouping of outdoor seats. It has nice tables and even a plush,
lounge area where you can sip sangria and nibble on tapas. The new
patio also features herbs and plantings from some of La Merenda’s
farmers who supply the restaurant. "I’m really excited about
it," says owner and chef Peter Sandroni.
new BelAir Cantina will launch mid-June (6817 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa),
with a wide patio perfect for seasonal dining. The 1940s era building
was once a car dealership. It will retain its industrial look,
combined with a California/Baja attitude. The original BelAir is
located at 1935 N. Water St. The menus will be basically the same,
according to Scott Johnson, partner with menu mavens Leslie Montemurro
and Kristyn St. Denis. Chef Noe Zamora will monitor both kitchens.
Watch for new margarita flavors this summer at both places, such as a
pineapple ginger margarita, a grapefruit jalape-o margarita and
fresh-juiced strawberry margarita. Montemurro says the Tequila Bottle
Club that started on the East Side will also be available in Tosa,
with two barrels of BelAir’s Private Label Herradura Double Reposado
en route from Guadalajara. Both BelAirs will have about 100 tequilas,
each offered as a shot, margarita or neat.
will be hosting more brunch items this summer, with huevos rancheros,
chorizo and egg burritos and chilaquiles on the ticket. Vegan options
are also available. P.S. No reservations will be taken at either
— Martin Hintz