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Savvy steak houses
16 sizzling joints that are a carnivore's dream

By MARTIN HINTZ
Photos by Dan Bishop

December 2014

Paleo-dieters and related meat lovers do well around greater Milwaukee, where staking out steak houses is an ongoing hunt. The following are among the area’s best — all places where the meat cuts are thick and juicy, the vegetable sides are fresh, the bread is warm and quality beverages are abundant.

Some restaurants are on the venerable, well-done side, others are relatively recent in a medium-prepared sort of way, and others have just opened — rare, if you will. But all are geared to satisfy the most hungry.

A top-quality steak house, says Ed Lump, president of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, is one with the highest quality cuts cooked to perfection, a well-trained chef, quality sides, professional staff and an excellent bar. "Everything has to be the best," he asserts.

For the following, just bring your appetite because the cutlery is already laid out, the napkins folded and the tablecloths fresh. And the sizzling perfume from the grill is wondrous.

 

Butch’s Old Casino Steak House
555 N. James Lovell St.
(414) 271-8111
www.butchssteakhouse.com

What to Ask For: Steaks cut to order are de rigueur.

On the Menu: From a cooler just inside the front door, diners can select what they want, with corn-fed steer filet being the most popular. Aged cuts come in 6-, 8- and 10-ounce servings. Juicy ribeye is next on the favored list.

Who’s in Charge: Starting in 1961 as a chef at age 19, chef-owner Bernie "Butch" Schettle knows his meats. This December, he is celebrating 20 years owning the Old Casino and now runs four other locations around greater Milwaukee.

Ambiance: The club has a traditional Milwaukee steak house look and feel — no chrome here.

 

The Capital Grille
310 W. Wisconsin Ave.
(414) 223-0600
www.thecapitalgrille.com

Chef Suggestions: Always popular is the bone-in Kona coffee-crusted dry-aged sirloin with shallot butter or the restaurant’s signature Delmonico that features a porcini mushroom crust.

For Big Eaters: Dry-aged porterhouse steak at 24 ounces satisfies any appetite.

Ambiance: The restaurant is elegant, with its self-described "refined sophistication." Private dining space is available.

Where Else: Hungry on the road? Find a Grille in Austin, Washington, D.C., Memphis, Houston, Cincinnati and other cities throughout the country.

Libations: Master sommelier George Miliotes roams the world seeking top wines. Follow him on Twitter at @TheWineExpert.

Barrel Cut Filet Mignon - Carnevor

Carnevor Steakhouse Moderne
724 N. Milwaukee St.
(414) 223-2200
www.carnevor.com

What’s in a Name: What more can be said about a steak house with a name like Carnevor?

What to Ask For: Wet- and dry-aged USDA prime beef is butchered by staff. The domestic 8-ounce Kobe beef center cuts are exceptional.

Libations: More than 400 vintages tempt guests, with specialty martinis to jump-start date night.

Who’s in Charge: Partners Mike Polaski and Omar Shaikh own the ever-expanding SURG Restaurant Group. Polaski’s Hidden Creek Farm in New London provides cuts from its Red Angus herd and other cattle breeds.

Community Involvement: SURG manages its own philanthropic foundation, emphasizing charities for families and children, and the firm hosts numerous charity events.

 

Carson’s Prime Steaks & Famous Barbecue
301 W. Juneau Ave.
(414) 223-331
www.ribs.com

Who’s in Charge: Owner Dean Carson is proud to be a third generation restaurateur.

Special Niche: Now celebrating a full year in Milwaukee, Carson has a corner on the city’s late night crowd. The restaurant also offers carryout until close and deliveries that end at 10 p.m.

Meats: Prime Midwestern varieties include a 16-ounce Black Angus New York strip, 10-ounce center cut filet mignon and 10-ounce filet Oscar.

Chef Suggestion: Go for the charcrust.

Dry-aged New York Strip - Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar

Dream Dance Steak, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino
1721 W Canal St.
(414) 847-7883
www.paysbig.com/dining/dream-dance-steak

Motto: "The diner always wins." Eating a fab filet at Dream Dance is never a mere roll of the dice.

What to Ask For: Seek out the house-made charcuterie and Wisconsin master cheese maker offerings, such as Red Rock cheddar blue from Roeilli Cheese Haus in Shullsburg.

What’s on the Menu: The Creekstone Farms filet mignon, with 8- and 10-ounce servings, is to die for.

Libations: No one goes thirsty for long with more than 600 international vintages by the glass, half or full bottle available.

 

Coerper’s Five O’Clock Steakhouse
2416 W. State St.
(414) 342-3553
www.fiveoclocksteakhouse.com

What’s in a Name: The "Five O’Clock" tagline originated in the old days when an alarm clock went off at 5 p.m. daily to announce a free drink for diners.

Claim to Fame: The original site opened in 1948.

Motto: "You’re only a stranger once at The Five O’ Clock Steakhouse."

On the Menu: Look for porterhouse, New York strip sirloin, filet mignon, ribeye and bacon-wrapped filets with blue cheese topping and a Parmesan cream sauce. The 16-ounce king filet is one of the most popular items.

Value Added: An exquisite relish tray and entire loaf of warm bread served with each meal. Hang around for live jazz or blues in the Alley Cat Lounge at 8:30 p.m. Fridays.

Ribeye - Mr. B's - A Bartolotta Steakhouse

Eddie Martini’s
8612 W. Watertown Plank Road
(414) 771-6680
www.eddiemartinis.com

Motto: "Where Else?"

On the Menu: Among the best on the list are Angus short ribs, New York strip, porterhouse, ribeye and filet mignon.

Not Just Dinner: On the lunchtime menu, look for beef short-rib stroganoff and the steak sandwich, plus the usual meaty cuts for hearty midday diners.

Libations: Wines originate from Sonoma, Napa and Walla Walla, plus imports from Spain, Argentina, France, Italy and Australia.

 

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar
15665 W. Bluemound Road, Brookfield
(262) 782-9463
www.flemingssteakhouse.com/Brookfield

On the Menu: Chef Ryan Charabowski’s bone-in ribeye is one of his most popular offerings.

Not Just Dinner: For a finely tuned "bar la carte" experience, try Fleming’s original prime rib melt with Gruyère cheese, sautéed mushrooms, whole-grain mustard and onion rings.

Steak Companions: Truffle-poached lobster, diablo shrimp or king crab topped with caviar.

Libations: More than 100 wines by the glass. Fleming’s national director of wine, Maeve O’Gorman Pesquera, oversees all selections.

 

Jake’s Restaurant
21445 Gumina Road, Pewaukee
(262) 781-7995
www.jakes-restaurant.com

Claim to Fame: In 2010, the Replogle family celebrated the 50th anniversary of the restaurant started by their father.

Community Involvement: Jake’s occasionally hosts special programs, including author dinners and book signings in conjunction with the Pewaukee Public Library Foundation. Every two months, there is a dinner/

beverage program with a theme-based meal.

On the Menu: Meats are USDA certified choice Angus or a higher grade, aged for 24 days. The broiled steaks are topped with butter.

Value Added: Two diners can enjoy the 36-ounce porterhouse.

Toppings: No need to devour a naked steak. Add a blue cheese butter crust, foyot sauce, truffle bearnaise sauce, Cajun blackening or another yummy topping. There’s also a Jake’s Steak Sauce made, of course, with secret ingredients.

Keep Coming Back: Present a Jake’s dining card and earn points.

Prime Rib - Ward's House of Prime

Kurt’s Steakhouse
22 W. Main St., Delafield
(262) 646-3333
www.kurtssteakhouse.com

Who’s in Charge: At age 10, executive chef and owner Kurt Amidzich Jr. helped his father, the late Kurt Sr., at Kurt’s Green Gables Restaurant on Okauchee Lake. In 2000, the pair opened Kurt’s in Delafield.

On the Menu: The 5-ounce petite tenderloin filet topped with buttered mushrooms, with its side of crispy onion rings, is always a hit.

Keep Coming Back: Kurt’s is open daily.

Try Something Different: Kurt’s Steak Siciliano is an Italian breaded beef tenderloin broiled with peppers and mushrooms.

Where to See and Be Seen: Kurt’s is one of the most popular eateries in Waukesha County, one reason being the restaurant’s "King of Steaks and Steak of Kings," the 22-ounce porterhouse.

 

Milwaukee Chophouse
633 N. 5th St.
(414) 226-2467
www.chophouse411.com

Motto: The Chophouse has two unofficial slogans: "Quality In, Quality Out" and "Recovering Vegetarians Welcome."

On the Menu: Simply put, look at the menu under the boldly typed "Meat."

Value Added: Locally grown produce and fruits are used whenever available.

Try Something Different: Chophouse small plate offerings include the steak "cargot," which are tenderloin tips with basil-garlic butter and toast.

Who’s In Charge: Located in the fabled Hilton Milwaukee, the Chophouse is owned and operated by Marcus Hotels and Resorts. The resataurant has grown to four locations since being launched in 2002.

 

Milwaukee Steakhouse: The Place for Steaks
6024 W. Bluemound Road
(414) 312-7891
www.themilwaukeesteakhouse.com

Motto: "Where Milwaukee Goes for Steaks." What could be better?

Libations: Every Thursday, indulge in the two-for-one old-fashioned special, the traditional cocktail of choice for a steakhouse. Every Wednesday, get half off any bottle of wine.

On the Menu: Offerings range from a 6-ounce filet to prime rib.

Value Added: Steaks are served with mushrooms, soup or salad, relish tray, sourdough bread and a choice of potato.

 

Mo’s: A Place for Steaks
720 N. Plankinton Ave.
(414) 272-0720
www.mosaplaceforsteaks.com

On the Menu: Mo’s signature cuts include a 20-ounce bone-in ribeye, a horseradish-crusted prime ribeye and a 12-ounce Wagyu filet.

Value Added: Mo’s roundtrip shuttle service includes home games for the Bucks, Marquette men’s basketball and the Brewers, plus select BMO Harris Bradley Center shows.

Sides: Mo’s has several potato styles to accompany its steaks, including the traditional baked and double baked, plus shoestring, french fries, roasted, truffle mashed and mashed with white cheddar cheese.

Where Else: In addition to the original downtown Mo’s, owner Johnny "Johnny V" Vassalo has restaurants in Houston and Indianapolis.

 

Mr. B’s — A Bartolotta Steakhouse
18380 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield
(262) 790-7005
www.mrbssteakhouse.com

On the Menu: Mr. B’s 12-ounce filet mignon and 14-ounce oven-roasted bone-in filet are top choices.

Value Added: Diners can enjoy a 6-ounce filet combined with scallops, scampi, salmon or crab. The ever-favorite surf-’n-turf plate showcases a South African lobster tail and an 8-ounce filet.

Claim to Fame: The steakhouse is an integral part of the Bartolotta Restaurant Group brand and started as a classic Italian steakhouse in 1999 at Stonewood Village. It moved to larger quarters on Capitol Drive in 2010.

Ambiance: Wood paneling with checkered tablecloths and plenty of plants scattered in strategic corners provide a comfortable atmosphere.

Libations: Mr. B’s captured a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2013, lavishing special praise on its California wine selections.

 

Palmer’s Steakhouse
122 E. Capitol Drive, Hartland
(262) 369-3939
www.palmerssteakhouse.com

On the Menu: Peruse the restaurant website for tantalizing views of Palmer’s steaks, a marvelous marketing tool guaranteed to activate taste buds.

Sides: Each steak is served with sautéed mushrooms, with dinners including a daily soup or a house salad, as well as a choice of potato, pasta or veggies.

Ambiance: Palmer’s is located in downtown Hartland’s Historic Cobblestone Inn. Outside dining is available during the warmer seasons.

Value Added: Palmer’s is open daily for steak lovers on the hunt, with its lounge opening at 3:30 p.m. and dining room accommodating guests beginning at 5 p.m.

 

Ward’s House of Prime
540 E. Mason St.
(414) 223-0135
www.wardshouseofprime.com
525 Wells St., Delafield
(262) 337-9199
www.wardshouseofprime.com/location-delafield

On the Menu: Mighty meats, from 8 to 168 ounces.

Silly Business: Ward’s Hall of Fame is dedicated to diners who tackle and conquer large slabs of prime rib in one sitting. After devouring one of those 168-ounce monsters, Mike Litman earned a menu item named in his honor.

Not Just Dinner: Prime rib and filet entrees are available, along with a tasty prime rib sandwich served on a grilled baguette.

Where Else: The Delafield location opened in late 2013.

Ambiance: A great mix of casual eat-’n-greet, with additional sit-down, quiet dining options offered. The Milwaukee site has a sports bar in the front of the restaurant, while Delafield’s bar is in the basement.

Claim to Fame: Ward’s was featured on the Travel Channel’s "Food Paradise" program.

Value Added: The restaurant often sponsors special events, pairing select beverages with its menu items. Recently, a Macallan Scotch dinner at the Delafield site featured the renowned whiskey and a special meal by executive chef Matt Thompson.

 






 

This story ran in the December 2014 issue of: