conley6.gif (2529 bytes)


Global flavors, Locally sourced ingredients

Photos by Scott Star

April 2014

Cafe Bavaria

You donít often hear the word "hip" preceding the words "German restaurant," but thatís exactly what the newly opened Cafe Bavaria is. The newest addition to the Lowlands Group is adjacent to the groupís Wauwatosa outpost of Cafe Hollander.

Wooden-beamed ceilings, dark wooden tables and whitewashed walls offer a touch of Germanic influence ó that European feel similar to Hollander, Benelux and Centraal cafes. Its motto, "Celebrating the fun side of all things Bavarian," comes across in subtle ways, like the pop music played in the cafe, but polka music piped in the bathrooms.

The menu itself is German, but modern German like Strauss veal meatballs in a creamy, decadent mushroom sauce. And even though itís got schnitzels and sausages, itís also got a rather extravagant selection of vegetarian options, including a stunningly delicious root vegetable appetizer ó roasted veggies served with a side of homemade buttermilk dressing.

And because itís German, the beer, er, bier list, especially on tap, is quite extensive with an array of bocks, doppelbocks, weisses and dunkels. Most drinks come in liter or half-liter glasses, but you can also get 2 liters served in a giant glass boot, Das Boot. (The bar has a list of rules on how youíre supposed to drink it.) If bier isnít your thing, you and three friends can try the shotski, four shots on a ski.

Cafe Bavaria, 7700 Harwood Ave. Wauwatosa, (414) 271-7700

Stone Bowl Grill

When I first visited the Korean Stone Bowl Grill on the East Side, I found the pulsing background music to be a little bit incongruous to the sleek yet soothing yellow and dark wood interior. But after listening for a few seconds longer, I realized it was Korean pop, not todayís Top 20, and I understood and enjoyed the match of music to interior.

Urban yet traditional, the menu spans the gamut of Korean delicacies, from fried chicken to barbecue. But the main attraction is the bibimbap. "Bibim" means mixed, and "bap" means rice. Bibimbap is a hot, mixed rice dish. Pick beef, pork, tofu or veggies, and then a hot ó and I mean, flaming hot ó black bowl arrives at your table.

The steamy, sizzling bowl is layered first with rice, then with veggies and/or meat, and topped with a lightly fried egg. Using your chopsticks, you can break the egg and mix it in, as well as add the Sriracha hot sauce thatís served with it.

The bibimbop also comes with panchan, or side dishes ó small bowls of sesame and soy-laced broccoli and carrots, slices of savory-sweet fish cake, and rice wine vinegar and sugar laced-slivers of cucumber and onion. You can eat the sides separately (I devoured two helpings of the fish cakes) or you can mix them in with your rice. The mixed rice itself comes with a rainbow of vegetables ó spinach, zucchini, carrots and shiitake mushrooms, and as you mix and serve yourself, the bowl continues to cook the rice to create a wonderful combination of crispy and chewy.

Korean Stone Bowl serves sake, mixed drinks and several varieties of soju (pronounced "sho-chu"), a refreshing spirit made from fermenting rice, stronger than sake. (The first time I tried it was when my Buddist monk host urged me to try it on a trip to Japan.) It can pack a wallop alone, but you can also enjoy it mixed in cocktails.

Korean Stone Bowl Grill 1958 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 220-9111

Grey Rock at Heidel House

Itís a bit of a trek to Green Lake, but the Grey Rock mansion restaurant at the Heidel House Resort is worth a trip. Chef Bryan Markel has done an amazing job reaching out to locally source most of his ingredients. "I like to do it as local as I can," Markel says.

One of the features of his menu is locally sourced game, which he gets from Hudson, Wis. The elk-stuffed mushrooms I tried were a tempting appetizer. Markel also makes bison tacos, fried venison medallions and a breast of pheasant that comes with a vanilla-scented poached pear. The pheasant is one of the most popular items on the menu, Markel says, and from the delicious looks of it, I can see why.

Though the game might lure you in for dinner, save room for sous chef Amanda Fendrykís desserts. Fendryk not only makes things like homemade custards, mousses and cakes, she makes all of her puffed pastry dough from scratch. That means her heart-shaped chocolate napoleon desserts are made from the butter up. "Thatís really her passion," Markel says, and it comes across in each decadent bite.

Grey Rock, Heidel House 643 Illinois Ave., Green Lake (800) 444-2812


This story ran in the April 2014 issue of: