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Beer Hall, Stilt House and Troop Cafe

Photos by Dan Bishop

March 2014

Lakefront Brewery

Lakefront Breweryís Palm Garden isnít just for Friday nights anymore. The new brew-tastic restaurant, Lakefront Beer Hall, is open weekdays during brewery tours, with counter service and full service on Friday nights for its famed fish fry. "Each week, weíre adding a bit more," says chef Kristin Walker. The slow change ó Lakefront previously contracted its food service ó is allowing staff to make sure each new menu item is perfected.

Many of the dishes boast local food sources like Rocket Baby Bakery, Miller Bakery and Growing Power. One popular dish is the smothered fries. Hand-cut fries are dusted with kosher salt, chimichurri sauce, garlic ranch and flakes of Parmesan. "Itís got a nice combination of sweet to tangy to spicy, and itís really messy and gooey," Walker says, adding that the Cream City Pale Ale pairs perfectly with this decadent dish.

The Obatzda German cheese dip is made with aged cheddar, mixed with butter, buttermilk and walnuts with a little wine reduction. Itís served with a German pretzel from Miller Bakery, and it pairs nicely with the Klisch pilsner. "My sous chef and I did a ton of research on that dish to come up with the old German techniques," Walker says.

Another popular dish is the Polish pops ó Polish sausage boiled with beer and onions, then battered in an East Side Dark beer batter and fried, served with Polish mustard or cherry bacon jam. The Klisch pairs well with the pops, Walker says.

New on the menu ó and sweet ó is the Lakefront Brewery cupcake. Chocolate cake is laced with Fuel Cafe coffee beer, topped with maple syrup cream cheese and crumbled candied bacon. Naturally it pairs with the Fuel Cafe brew.

1872 N. Commerce St., (414) 372-8800


The Stilt House

The name for Cedarburgís newest hot spot references the stilts a bar owner installed underneath the establishment to gain a second floor in the early 1900s after the city denied his request. Stilt House owners Gordon Goggin and Keith Reid brought the building back to its watering hole roots ó it had most recently been a bike shop ó with a thoroughly modern twist: Itís an American craft beer-centric gastropub with an extensive wine list and a delightfully gourmet, yet playful, menu.

No spirits served here, but with 30 brews on tap and more than 100 in bottles, along with dozens of great wines, they arenít missed. Goggin, who was director of operations at the Lowlands Group (Cafe Hollander, Cafe Centraal,) has a masterís degree from Johnson & Wales University and has opened 35 restaurants. The Stilt House is the first restaurant for Reid, a former executive at MillerCoor, and a certified cicerone (beer sommelier).

On a recent visit I enjoyed a great Pinot noir, which paired perfectly with my small plates, ahi tuna tartare and a stuffed portobello mushroom cap with a balsamic glaze. The wine also went well with my fork-tender grilled beef tenderloin served with a fried rosemary sprig and baby carrots. The marinade included beer, which appeared on the menu in a number of forms, from salad dressings to desserts, including a fantastic beermisu (a brewy twist on tiramisu).

W62 N630 Washington Ave., Cedarburg
(262) 618-4889

Troop Cafe

Call íem brats with a mission: All of the workers at the nonprofit Troop Cafe are United States military veterans training to become chefs and food service professionals. "We have a small crew of six veterans; in six to nine months they graduate and we help place them in (kitchens) around the area," says executive chef Greg Bautista. Some graduates have gotten jobs at the Outpost, the Stackner Caberet and the Holiday Inn. "To see the vets progress through this program, itís very rewarding for me," he says.

The restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays for breakfast and lunch.

Everything ó sauces, soups, even salad dressings ó is made from scratch. Each dish is playfully named after military terms, like the Cuban Pickle Crisis, the Meatball Bomber and the Alamo Bowl. The meatballs on the bomber, served on a garlicky Ciabatta roll thatís split in half, come smothered in cheese and homemade tomato sauce. My dining companion dug in while I adored my bowl ó rice pilaf topped with roasted jalapenos, grilled chicken, cheese and pico de gallo sauce. A side of sour cream tamed the heat and added a touch of creaminess.

Service is casual: You order at the counter and the vets bring your dishes to your table with a smile. The dining room is cheerful, with a gorgeous mural depicting the walk veterans take.

This summer Bautista and his crew will be grilling their exclusive locally made artisan sausages made with Sprecher root beer right on the patio, which has a view of Marquette University High School.

3430 W. Wisconsin Ave., (414) 763-7490


This story ran in the February 2014 issue of: