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Rise of the south


October 2013

Photo courtesy of AP Bar and Kitchen

New restaurants, a new menu and a new brew pub: What’s not to love about Milwaukee’s South Side? This month the culinary place to be is trending south.

Crazy Water’s New Neighbor

In Walker’s Point, chef Peggy Magister ventured across Second Street from Crazy Water to open a second restaurant, the AP, or All Purpose Bar and Kitchen. Magister, a chef who is regularly recommended by other Milwaukee chefs, partnered with her nephew, Justin Anthony, who recently returned to Milwaukee after working in restaurants in San Francisco and Boulder, Colo. "We’ve always been close so I just love being able to do something like this with him," Magister says.

While the style of eclectic cuisine is similar to Crazy Water, the focus is small plates. Try a feta fondue with watermelon, squash blossoms with chevre or pork belly and fried green tomatoes eggs Benedict. AP also features a daily selection of oysters (try some with a glass of the Val de Mer sparkling Burgundy). "The wine menu features mostly French, Italian and Spanish wines, and they’re mostly from boutique wineries, many of which I’ve never heard of," Magister says, adding that Anthony is in charge of the wine program. Anthony is also in charge of the craft cocktails, and most of them are made with the bar’s own syrups, tonics and bitters.

The kitchen is run by Daniel Pope, a Chicago chef who worked at such spots as Avec, Blackbird and Sepia. "We have the same style of cooking and palates, but he deserves all the credit for the food," Magister says. Unlike Crazy Water’s coziness, AP is spacious, with a gleaming, 16-seat bar. It’s also open later. As long as you get inside the doors before midnight, you can sample the restaurant’s full menu. Check out for seasonal menu changes and plan to attend one of its wine dinners — a mushroom dinner is planned for this fall.

New Menu at Industri

Just down the street from the AP, Industri Café continues to evolve. Restaurateur Robert Klemm changed the menu to highlight more gluten-free and vegetarian options, including a gluten-free macaroni and cheese and meatloaf. "We have a meatloaf that we make using gluten-free bread crumbs, but it’s not just for those who can’t eat gluten. It’s an awesome meatloaf that anyone can enjoy."

In September Klemm and his staff also hosted their first gluten-free cocktail pairing dinner, and they plan to host more such special events in the future.

The vegetarian options also abound; the cucumber sliders are particularly tasty. The vegetables, as well as the meat and baked goods, are as locally sourced as possible. And some of the vegetables, herbs and sprouts will be so fresh they’ll be harvested to order. Central Greens, one of Klemm’s suppliers, has helped him set up a growing system in Industri’s front window. "People say farm to table — these greens are so fresh, they’re plant to table," Klemm says.

Beer by the Batch

Farther south, in Bay View, District 14 Brewery and Pub is expected to open before this month’s end. "I’m a home brewer, and this is a hobby gone wild," says owner Matt McCulloch. "I originally started home brewing about 10 years ago, and I got serious about it a year ago."

All of the beers will be brewed in-house in a small, three-barrel system. "Three barrels is not much, and every batch will be individually numbered," McCulloch says. District 14, named for the aldermanic district that encompasses Bay View, has 10 tap lines; half of the brews will change frequently. The regular taps include a session IPA, a floral IPA, a bready brown ale with caramelized richness, a chocolate stout, and a kolsch, which is a lighter, hybrid ale/lager. Simple eats like pizzas and baked appetizers will be offered, but the focus is on the drinks, not the food.

While McCulloch isn’t going to be serving any beer that he doesn’t personally brew, he does serve a variety of wines and craft cocktails, as well as a specialty cider and soda menu. "We’re going to be serving at least 20 different ciders, and we hope to have the largest selection of hard ciders in town," McCulloch says. As far as the sodas go, forget Coke and Pepsi; instead, look for 15 to 20 rotating sodas, including Stewart’s and IBC rootbeer.

Demarinis Revival

South on Kinnickinnic from the new brewpub, Mama Demarinis is being reinvented. After the Bay View icon closed last summer, no one was sadder than Mama’s granddaughter, Veronica Cieslak. Cieslak and her husband, Joey. They were heartbroken when her mother closed the Wentworth Avenue restaurant. Earlier this year they tried to reopen the restaurant at its original location. "We tried to reopen the building, but at that point, we were not grandfathered in, and it wouldn’t have been possible to reopen without making a lot of structural changes," Cieslak says. "Our attorney said, ‘You have a product that’s well-known. Why don’t you just look for another location?’"

They found a perfect location: the George Washington Bay View Post 180 of the American Legion, on the corner of Kinnickinnic Avenue and Fulton Street. Not only did the building have a new patio and entrance recently installed, but it also has a parking lot, and parking is always a premium in Bay View. The Cieslaks and their partner, Kurt Klitzke, have been working to update and improve the interior of the restaurant, which will be christened, Little Demarinis.

Little Demarinis will feature all of Mama’s original recipes for pizzas and pastas, and will also include vegan options that Veronica’s brother, Vinny Demarinis, had introduced before Mama Demarinis closed. Vinny will remain in charge of the kitchen, Joey will manage the front of the house and Veronica will do back of the house (accounting and ordering) work.

A mid-October opening is planned.


This story ran in the October 2013 issue of: