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The dish on dining
Historic yet new. This month’s new restaurants boast a bevy of history, but while their spaces are historical, their flavors are novel and exciting.

Photos by Matt Haas

April 2015

The Cheel

Barkha and Jesse Daily, who together ran the Thiensville Farmers Market, had not initially planned on opening a restaurant. But when a condemned Victorian-style bulding, dating back to the 1890s, became available, the couple restored it and opened The Cheel.

"Whenever I represented the farmers market at events, I brought food I cooked," explains Barkha, who is originally from Nepal. "People would ask us, ‘Where’s your restaurant?’"

It took almost a year’s worth of renovations — and help from the local community — to get The Cheel, which means "eagle" in Nepalese, open for business. It has become a destination restaurant, as it’s the only Nepalese restaurant in the greater Milwaukee area. The space is warm and welcoming and shows off the building’s great bones, but with inviting touches.

Executive chef Joe Sandretti, who previously worked at Buckley’s, uses Barkha’s family recipes for traditional dishes such as momos, chicken tarkari or goat sekuwa.

Beef, chicken, fresh fish and lamb are featured prominently on the menu, as are many vegetarian and gluten-free dishes. Start with a tidbit or small plate like the momos or tofu gyaw, where pieces of tofu are coated with chickpeas and fried. Then, try a bigbit or entrée, but especially recommended is the thali or combination plate of the day, which features two entrees, a side vegetable dish, two dals, rice and your choice of achars or dipping sauces. If you can, save room for one of Sandretti’s cheesecakes, which he flavors with Nepalese spices. Each dish can be paired with wine or beer, but general manager Ryan Palkowski, who previously managed Elsa’s on the Park, also shakes up some very good classic cocktails. His version of the brandy old-fashioned uses imported Italian cherries and French cognac, and his cosmo boasts a secret fruit infusion (see if you can guess its flavors). Expect wine, beer and even spirits dinners this year.

105 S. Main St., Thiensville, (262) 236-9463,

The Brown Bottle

For years, visitors to the Schlitz Brewery ended their tour with a cold one at The Brown Bottle. Years later, after the brewery and beer "that made Milwaukee famous" closed, the pub became a restaurant.

Recently remodeled and reopened, The Brown Bottle now has new life, and at the helm of this iconic restaurant is executive chef Ben Hudson, a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute. Hudson previously helmed a vegetarian restaurant in Portland, Ore., and also cheffed at Bacchus. "I like to do an unusual spin on classic, comfort foods," he says.

And one of his biggest twists is on The Brown Bottle’s Friday night fish fry. The fish is either beer-battered or baked, and the baked version comes with a beurre blanc sauce. The sides, which include applesauce, tartar sauce and coleslaw, are all made from scratch, and the coleslaw is flavored with red peppers, chives and buttermilk. "We don’t dress the coleslaw until right before we open because I want it to taste as fresh and as good for the last diners as the first," Hudson says.

His from-scratch clam chowder is laced with fresh thyme and smoked bacon. Burgers are delicious, as are salads, which come with house-made dressings. Especially good is the fall panzanella — fresh greens are dressed with shallot vinaigrette, house-made croutons, cranberries and walnuts on a bed of creamy, roasted squash.

Later this year, expect to see beer dinners, and during the warmer months, enjoy the patio, which opens onto Schlitz Park’s new Brewhouse Square Park. If you plan to visit, call for directions or visit the website rather than using a GPS or Google, as Galena Street, which was recently extended, does not yet exist virtually.

221 W. Galena St., (414) 539-6450,

The Lakeside Restaurant and Lounge in Heaven City

Heaven City has a long history. The building was once a hangout for gangsters, a brothel and even a religious commune. When the space became available, Lakeside Restaurant owner Troy Schoenrock decided to remodel and restore the old Heaven City and move the Lakeside Restaurant to Heaven City’s historic locale in Mukwonago.

The restaurant boasts a series of interconnected rooms, including an enclosed porch and a fireplace room. While worn-out floors were replaced and new paint added, some things were kept the same — like a chandelier with a tilted fixture, as rumor has it was broken by a visiting gangster. The menu, created by chef Ricky Garcia, features all of Lakeside’s signature dishes like steaks, chops, seafood and Italian pastas, as well as Lakeside’s weekly specials like all-you-can-eat fish fry on Fridays, all-you-can-eat prime rib on Saturdays and all-you-can-eat Italian specialties on Tuesdays.

On Fridays, come early for dinner or expect a wait. Besides baked and beer-battered cod, try haddock in a white wine sauce or the Caesar-parmesan sauce, in which baked, tender whitefish is smothered in a creamy, cheesy sauce that is especially good for dipping the homemade potato chips in.

The wine list was carefully selected by general manager Tanya Haback, and the bar’s classic cocktail menu is carefully curated by bar manager Jason Neu, who previously worked for Great Lakes Distillery and Ray’s Wine and Liquors. Neu makes his own old-fashioned mix, and expect to try seasonal drinks as the weather warms up.

Lunch service was recently added, and special brunches are planned for Easter and Mother’s Day.

S91 W27850 National Ave., Mukwonago, (262) 363-9335,



This story ran in the April 2015 issue of: