Sneak Peek: Merriment Social – The Newest Addition to Milwaukee’s Fifth Ward

Brief disclaimer: I do know the difference between “peak” and “peek”.  I’ve been a bit foggy-brained this past week since laying my baby boy Riley (my 14+ year-old Golden) to rest last week.  Massive editorial error in the initial draft – sorry for that, folks!

I was invited by friends at Next Act Theatre to attend a pre-opening dinner at the new Merriment Social restaurant in the Fifth Ward (between the Historic Third Ward and Walker’s Point).  Most recently, the space used to be Prodigal Gastropub.

The space has been renovated to provide a cool and energetic vibe.  Where there used to be a wall separating the main restaurant from “The Bourbon Room”, the entire restaurant has opened up, creating a light and inviting space.  The open floor plan provides great views, but also generates quite a buzz (it’s not a quiet spot)!  Here are a few shots of the interior.

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The opened up space.

The opened up space.

Bright, colorful art hangs all around the restaurant.

Bright, colorful art hangs all around the restaurant.

The restaurant was introduced to me as an “American Dim Sum” experience.  What???  Well, sure enough, servers were circling the tables offering dim sum plates (which we devoured before I took pictures!).  Spicy cheese curds, scallops, roasted corn… I didn’t try the scallops, because, well, you know…but everything else was quite tasty and my friends enjoyed the scallops as well.

Marko was our server, and he was friendly, explained everything quickly and easily, and informed us that both the bone marrow (one of my favorite things!) and the short ribs (another fave) were no longer available (sold out).  It was a bummer, but that’s part of the reason for a soft-opening, right?  Working out the kinks before the massive crowds come piling in.

Here is the dinner menu (I noticed I accidentally cut of the braised beef short rib with herb spaetzle, horseradish gastrique and caraway pickles and the red rainbow trout with dill potato “salad”, pickled mustard seed and charred shallot vinaigrette under the “large plates”):

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I did hand Marko my blog card, and he was totally game.  In the meantime, my friend is wired like I am…the more cheese, the better.  So, she ordered the cheese curds – which were served in a cheese sauce!  Wow!  That was a bit rich, even for me.  But, also one very good bite!

Cheese on top of cheese!

Cheese on top of cheese!

When our main dishes were served, the first one up was fried chicken and pork belly pancakes.  When my table mates couldn’t claim the dish, we figured out that Marko had chosen the dish for me.  He read the card and served traditional butter instead of maple butter – THANK YOU, MARKO!!!

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He also mentioned that he had almost gone with the trout, but wasn’t sure if I just didn’t like scallops, or didn’t like seafood in general (it’s the former – an allergy).  This fried chicken had a great crust over a really moist piece of chicken.  Good flavor as well.  And, the pork belly pancakes with the hot sauce over them made for a great pairing.  I loved this dish!  I’m happy to say that I have half of the serving at home to enjoy tomorrow.  :-)

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Becky and I decided we would try dessert as well.  There was a genoise cake with orange blossom pastry cream and seasonal berries on the menu. Y’all know I don’t turn down citrus desserts!

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And, Becky the farmer’s cheese tart with roasted fruit and whipped cream.

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The desserts were the two lackluster items of the evening.  They were good, but I felt that the cake was a bit dry in my dessert, and Becky felt that the cheese made her tart a bit too salty.

In all, we all agreed that we will be back to Merriment Social, especially since it’s so close to Next Act Theatre as well!  I can see myself stopping in after board meetings and performances on a regular basis.  It’s also nice to invite another restaurant to the neighborhood that supports local farmers, artisans and producers.

One last note, the prices are reasonably priced and in line with many of the restaurants with which I would categorize Merriment Social.  Last night, however, the meal was “on the house” and we only paid for our drinks – and a proper tip to Marko for his excellent and attentive service throughout the night.

Merriment Social officially opens Friday August 7, 2015. You  can call 414.645.0240 for reservations.  I hope y’all will give it a try and leave a comment with your thoughts!

Cheers!

Ker

Sweet Milwaukee – Classy Girls Cupcakes Giveaway!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and that’s largely because I have been focusing on eating healthier, more well-rounded meals – at home.

However, when I saw a contest giveaway from one of my favorite local shops, I just had to enter!  Lo and behold, I won!

Classy Girl Cupcakes is an adorable shop in Cathedral Square in East Town Milwaukee.  Almost every time I have visitors, we make a stop in for a cupcake or a push pop.  With all the walking and exploring we do, CGC always seems to be a nice, sweet reward!

I’ve also used CGC for my “Clue-themed” party.

Six character themed cupcake styles from Classy Girl Cupcakes (on the right of the page).

Six character themed cupcake styles from Classy Girl Cupcakes (on the right of the page).

Classy Girl Cupcakes were also responsible for my contribution to UPAF Night at Casablanca earlier this year.  Four different flavors on hand, decorated in UPAF colors!  Carrot cake, Ghirardelli chocoloate, Red velvet and Vanilla (a personal favorite of mine!).

A gorgeous array of 250 cupcakes to celebrate UPAF and the hostess's birthday!

A gorgeous array of 250 cupcakes to celebrate UPAF and the hostess’s birthday!

So, back to the contest…  Every Friday, CGC takes one of their cupcakes on-location in Milwaukee for a photo shoot. The photo then gets posted on both their @cgcupcakesmke Twitter account and their @classygirlcupcakes Instagram account.

Followers should “repost” the photo to their own accounts. The hashtags to use are #CGCinMKE and #classygirlcupcakes. Followers should also leave a comment on the Classy Girls Photo with where they suspect the cupcake was photographed.

Photos are generally up by 8AM Friday mornings. And a winner is chosen by 6PM that evening. Here are a few photos (including the “Tequila-themed” photo which made me a winner!)

The deets...

The deets…


Festa Italia!

Festa Italia!


Tequila! (National Tequila Day) at Bradford Beach.

Tequila! (National Tequila Day) at Bradford Beach.

All I had to do to claim my prize was to stop by the shop (on my way home from a morning at the salon) and show the confirmation email Christine sent me the evening that I won (last night).  I had the lovely lady behind the counter pick her favorite jumbo filled cupcake and surprise me.

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I came home to a beautiful, and huge gooey pretzel chunk jumbo filled cupcake ($5.00 value, and who knows how many calories!).

Gooey pretzel crunch...

Gooey pretzel crunch…

IMG_2429aI’m not sure how long it will take me to finish this package of pretzel filled gooey goodness.  Every time I’ve strayed from my meal plan, my body gets a little upset with me, so I may have to take things slowly here!

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I will say this… it was love at first bite!

If you’re in the Milwaukee area, please remember to follow Classy Girl Cupcakes on Twitter (@cgcupcakesmke) and Instagram (@classygirlcupcakes), and pay special attention on Fridays!  The rewards are real!

Cheers!

Ker

Bites in Baltimore! Who am I kidding? BINGING in Baltimore! #PSTC

I flew out to Baltimore last week to attend my third PSTC (Pressure Sensitive Tape Council) conference.  It’s not a large conference, but a very focused industry event.

I found myself getting to know new colleagues from a sister company, spending lots of quality time with key customers, and bonding with newer colleagues from my own company.  In all, it was a great week (and I normally loathe being away for almost a week – especially while having a senior dog (and having recently said goodbye to my other senior dog)).

On my first evening in Baltimore, I met two new colleagues from Arkema Coating Resins for dinner.  I immediately knew Pat (the planner of the evening) and I would get along.  He promised me “a good restaurant”!  ;-)  Keith, a technical guy and I also hit it off quite quickly – lots of common interests! It’s awesome to feel such a natural connection with guys I had never met, and who live in NJ and NC, respectively.  Yet, we are now “family”!

We met at the cocktail hour reception at PSTC (quite literally one hour, folks…so we weren’t staying long). We walked several blocks over to Kona Grill and immediately realized we were in a good spot for a seafood dinner!  Here is the menu.

We were hungry, so we knew we wanted appetizers.  Pat chose the Shrimp Diablo (diablo sauce, danish bleu, bleu cheese sauce), and then Keith turned the second option over to Robbie, our server.  He chose the chicken + shrimp lettuce wraps (bibb lettuce, cucumber salad, spicy sesame vinaigrette).  Both appetizers were delicious, and we devoured every last bite!  IMG_2049IMG_2050

 

Robbie charmed me immediately with his great sense of humor (stepping back to “reset” as he flubbed when describing the evening’s special (which Pat ordered)).  I can definitely appreciate someone who can laugh at himself and who can also recover so nicely after a minor “trip up”.

It didn’t hurt that Robbie brought me a glass of Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay to compliment the appetizers and entree as well! :-)

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The entree he chose for me was the Snapper topped with crab meat, served with couscous and asparagus. Normally, couscous doesn’t seem like an interesting side, but Kona’s couscous had really good flavor and texture to it! Delicious!

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And, my colleagues had equally delicious, and beautifully plated dishes as well!

In addition to having a very pleasant server who was quite open-minded and excited about “She Ordered What?”, I had good quality time to get to know my new colleagues and to chat about both business and personal interests.

On Wednesday, we decided to have a casual evening and walk over to Oriole Park at Camden Yards to watch the O’s take on the Toronto Blue Jays.  I had never been to Camden Yards, so I was excited to check that ballpark off the bucket list of venues to visit!  If you haven’t been, you’ll see that it’s beautifully situated in the heart of the city and the brickwork makes it an absolutely beautiful area!

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The view from my hotel room! Thank you, Hilton Baltimore!

Of course, it was a hot dog and beer kind of night. No fancy dining while watching America’s pastime!  And, the Orioles won 6-1 that evening, so it made the local experience all the better!

Thursday, however, was a different story.  I was totally set on going to my hotel room for the evening to write meeting notes, but my colleagues convinced me to venture out for dinner at a restaurant an industry contact recommended – The Fork & Wrench.  It’s perfectly described as a “boutique dive bar”, and founded by Cyrus Keefer, (associated with that well-known James Beard foundation!).

The Fork & Wrench is an eclectic and charming space!

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The staff all greeted us warmly, and at ~6:30 on a Thursday night, we were able to grab a table for four with no problem.  Well, except the fact that we were all still reeling from one of the worst cab rides I’ve ever experienced.  To the driver of cab number 90 in Baltimore: I will NEVER get into your vehicle again! It was so bad I took a picture AND tweeted about this dangerous ride!

I have a strong stomach, but all four of us wanted to bail multiple times during this 2 mile / 35 minute cab ride!!!

I have a strong stomach, but all four of us wanted to bail multiple times during this 2 mile / 35 minute cab ride!!!

A quick glance at the menu, and I knew everything would be wonderful.  My colleague was really trying hard to “move out of her comfort zone”, so she was quite impressed when she saw me hand my blog card to our server, Greg.  He read it, and was totally up for the task!  The only question he asked me was how hungry I was.  Answer: pretty darned hungry!

The meal started with fresh bread and salted butter (delicious!).

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Then came fried oysters, served with a glass of Simonnet Febvre Brut Rosé .

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For good measure, I took a picture of all of the appetizers on our table.

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You’ll see smoked Beef Tongue with tostones, aji marmalade & cilantro crema on the right, and Ssamjang Glazed Pork Belly with green papaya relish, kimchi purée & Bibb lettuce on the left (the colleague who stepped out of her comfort zone – and thoroughly enjoyed her appetizer!).

I teased Greg that he gave me a clue about my entrée when he set down a serrated knife.

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For my entree, Greg was not the person to serve me, so I wasn’t sure if I should claim the dish that was presented or not!  After all, this was a surprise!

When I mentioned that it “might” be my dinner, the server sat the plate down and then excitedly told me that everyone in the kitchen saw the blog card and thought it was such a cool idea!  I have to admit that I got pretty excited by that response as well!

It turns out that I was served the Leg of Lamb served over stewed white beans, baby carrots & wild ramp salsa verde. Extremely tender meat and really nice flavor! I felt like it was a reasonably healthy dish as well – lots of veggies and no heavy cream sauce. That makes up for all of the gorging, right?

I couldn’t possibly finish it all, but I wanted to!  And, it turns out that I didn’t need that serrated knife – the meat was that tender!

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Although I was overly full, Greg had already decided that I needed to try dessert as well.  I mentioned on Instagram that I (jokingly) thought I found my soulmate in Greg.  He picked the dessert that had immediately caught my eye.  The “Creamsicle” Gooey Butter Cake with blood orange curd, orange sherbet.  Y’all know how much I love a citrus dessert!

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But, let me tell you that the butter cake was the absolute BOMB.  I wasn’t hungry any longer, but I would have licked that plate clean if it were socially acceptable!

On the way out, I stopped in the Ladies’ room, and I even felt compelled to take photos there. Such a charming space!

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It’s no wonder Baltimore is called “Charm City”.  Everyone I met was very pleasant, our servers Robbie and Greg were both charming men, and the spaces and places we visited had unique charm and character.

Now, time to get back to healthy eating and exercise!  No more binging!

I hope you enjoyed my recap of my visit to Baltimore as much as I enjoyed the visit!

Cheers!

Ker

Mother’s Day Musings…

Mother’s come in every shape, size, demeanor, and general profile. I chose not to be a “traditional” mother. I just never “felt that urge”.  However, my mother has always been that wonderful “traditional” working mother.  My friends used to joke that our family was the modern day “Cleaver Family” – T.K. being Ward, and Pamcakes being June.

I’m lucky to have them both.  They raised me well, and they loved me completely (still do!).  Today, being Mother’s Day, I wish a very happy, relaxing day (Pamcakes loves her spa days!) to my mom.  Happy Mother’s Day, mom.

263551_4408352200980_1841776122_n  I am also blessed to be considered “Auntie Kerri” to two gorgeous, loving and extraordinary girls (Lauren and Lindsey). Godmother is a role I take seriously, and am grateful to have been offered! 

Still, on this Mother’s Day, I find myself feeling equal parts grateful and sad.  As I mentioned, I have my own mother, and my Goddaughters to be grateful for.  However, I miss my grandmothers, Maxine (mom’s mom) and Clara (dad’s mom) – both women who helped shape my life, albeit in different ways.  And, I miss my baby boy Seamus (14 yrs 3 mos when we said goodbye).

Grandma Joy (Maxine) taught me to love to think, play, question, and enjoy life for life’s sake.

Old_Maid

Not exactly the same, but similar, as I remember them.

Not exactly the same, but similar, as I remember them.

I have many memories of life with her – playing “Old Maid”, watching “The Muppet Show” (born is my love for John Denver!), doing “latch-hook” designs, eating chilled Hershey bars out of her fridge and wondering which animal mug I would get for the evening.

One memory is a silly one, and is of us shopping for my birthday.  Grandma scolded me for continuously looking at the price tags. Birthdays, were for indulging in what you want, Kerri. That year, I got a mint green and white striped shirt – I was the coolest girl around (in my mind!). You guess the year!!

Sadly, my memories of Gram K (Clara) are less vivid, until the later years in her life. I do remember visiting her and admiring the flowers in the bed outside of their home.

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Gram K was not known to be much of a talker, but I also remember taking Riley to the nursing home once or twice, and seeing Gram K tentatively and gently petting my boy (who adored the attention!).

It was in the nursing home where she showed her biting sense of humor (cattiness about the “Senior Prom” at the nursing home – that was a good one!). Spunk – Gram K had spunk!

I also remember being the only person to eulogize my Gram K after she ultimately decided to join my Grandpa Harvey in the afterlife.  It was the single most difficult thing I had chosen to do in my young life (I was in my mid-twenties) – so much so that I wavered back and forth until the last second.  I still remember looking at my cousin Johnny at one point and COMPLETELY LOSING IT.  That may have fed into my fear of public speaking – which I still have today!

Tonight, as I sit here thinking about the powerful female influences in my life (many, many not mentioned before – like my aunts, my cousins, my friends, my colleagues, etc.), I also think about my new role as being a mom to one beautiful pooch (Riley) instead of two (Riley AND Seamus).

Riley bear...

Riley bear…

I have cried many, many tears for my beautiful baby boy, Seamus, whom I will never, ever forget. In a different way than giving Gram K’s eulogy, deciding to let go of Seamus when he needed to be let go of, but before I was ready to let go was the most difficult test in my life.  One day, we will be reconnected in the afterlife, and the hugs will be awkwardly long and filled with extreme love.

My Seamie (Seamus).

My Seamie (Seamus).

But, until then, I will continue to miss him, while thoroughly enjoying my time with my Riley-bear.  I will relish my role as “mother” of a furry, four-footed delight named Riley. I will also cherish the women in my life who have given motherly love to human, furry, scale-skinned (I’m looking at you, Rachel!), etc “children” alike.  You’re all wonderful in your own ways, ladies!

xoxo,

Ker

An honestly good time at Onesto! (Did ya catch that?)

How about party of one at “ONEsto“?  I’m feeling pretty punny today, friends!

Some people do not enjoy dining alone, but I have never really had a problem doing so.  I think having to travel for business so much throughout my career taught me to feel comfortable as a “party of one”.  Back in the day, I would bring a book with me and sit at the corner two-top table at which hosts and hostesses would inevitably seat me.  I’d read and casually eat my food while servers seemed to try to rush me out.  I never really knew if it was because they were feeling uncomfortable for me, or if they were just trying to turn the table – probably a bit of both.

Nowadays, let’s face it. I have my nose stuck in my iPhone – either playing “Words with Friends”, checking social media sites, returning emails, or taking photos to include in blog posts like this.  I really do feel that my “smart phone” has had the opposite effect on my intellect!

Anyhow, onto the story of my experience at Onesto, which opened last summer.  My first adventure on Sunday was to finally get out and see Next Act Theatre’s final show and final performance of the season… “Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher about Evolution”.  A WONDERFUL show, and it featured local actors I’ve come to know, as well as a Chicago-based actor whom I had as a houseguest for the first two weeks he was rehearsing the show.  So, you know I really did want to see Kyle in the lead role much earlier, but business travel and personal issues delayed my seeing the show.  (and, many thanks to my Next Act crew for giving a(n unnecessary) special mention in the program!)

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I loved hearing the remarks from audience members, both at intermission and after the show.  As a board member, I found that folks really appreciated providing me their points of view, their personal experiences, and the reactions to the theatre space in general.  It was a great afternoon!  But, I was hungry by the time the show ended!  That’s when I decided to head over and try Onesto (which was mentioned to me by my favorite gal at AJ Bombers).

When I walked up to Onesto, I was greeted with “Ker?” by the gentleman at the door. Simply amazing to me since I am just barely coming up on two years in Milwaukee!  Matt and I met at AJ Bombers a while back, and we know each other over Twitter, but I didn’t really think he would recognize me out of the blue!  What a warm welcome!

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And, a cool spot!  Check out the artwork that’s for sale when you stop in!

It was a gorgeous day, so I sat at the last seat at the bar, near the open windows facing N. Broadway Ave.

As he walked me to my seat, Matt gave me a few recommendations (Mussels with Linguini, Bolognese with meatballs, Butternut Squash Ravioli), but he also mentioned that Jason (behind the bar) would “take good care of” me. So, as Jason greeted me, I promptly greeted him back and handed him my blog card.  Jason verified that he understood the “instructions” and quickly went on his way.

He served me a glass of the featured wine:

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Then, I was served up a happy hour special – free Honey Roasted Bruschetta (roma tomato, basil, housemade ricotta) – and I bonded with Jason over his pronunciation of the word “bruschetta” – we both learned to pronounce it with a hard “k” sound rather than a “sh”.  It’s the simple things, folks!

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When my entree was delivered, it was actually one of the dishes Matt had mentioned during our brief chat.  I was served the Bolognese (housemade spaghetti, topped with brisket) and served with two pork and grass fed meatballs (Oh My Goodness!  I thought I was completely in love with the au gratin potatoes (served under the grilled beef tenderloin) at Millioke, but I now have to share my heart with these meatballs!)

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I mentioned that I was hungry that day!  I hadn’t eaten anything substantial until I went for this late lunch / early dinner.  This was a LOT of food, but it was so tasty!  Homemade spaghetti and meatballs – with brisket to boot!  I was absolutely full by the time I was finished.

That didn’t stop Jason from bringing me (another free of charge item) a decadent dessert!  Flourless chocolate olive oil cake with pistachio brittle (perhaps the best new discovery of recent times!).  Y’all, this cake…it was almost like eating pudding!  So smooth and creamy.  But, the brittle was the true hero, in my opinion!

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I advised both Jason and Matt that I would be sending the bill for my gym membership after having this meal!  It’s a miracle I had the energy to walk Riley and then do some work that evening.  I probably should have given into a carb crash and called it a night!

It was a perfect Sunday afternoon, and I thoroughly enjoyed dining solo while catching occasional conversation with both Jason and Matt throughout the afternoon.  They’re just lovely men and very friendly.

To sum it up: great service + great food + great atmosphere = a great time!  I’d love to know if you’ve been to Onesto and if you have a favorite dish!

Cheers!

Ker

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