A Killer Dinner at Kil@wat, Milwaukee

Last week, my employer, Bostik, Inc., had it’s annual UPAF (United Performing Arts Fund) donation campaign. I decided to be a member of the campaign committee for Bostik, though I can’t say that I felt I really pulled my weight (all day meetings and such distracted me).

I did, however, become a member of the UPAF Next Generation affinity group – and was asked to be on the council of Next Generation (you’ll see my name in the list!).  Not only am I happy to support the arts here in Milwaukee (so much in the way of great arts!), but as a member of the NG council and contributing member above the threshold amount, I will be able to take advantage of great local networking events.  I’m super excited to become even more connected to my current city!

Note: I also won the dessert category of the pot-luck fundraiser using the family recipe mentioned here.

I had missed serving my community.  While living in Ohio, I had served on the board of my local Habitat for Humanity affiliate.  I continued to work with HFH when I lived in Orange County, CA (though I couldn’t afford the $50K donation being a board member required).  My work life in Detroit affected me so negatively that I didn’t take advantage of any of the numerous opportunities to volunteer and be engaged that the wonderful city had to offer (save for a Kickstarter campaign or two), because there is no shortage of opportunities to be involved in Detroit’s community activity.  It’s nice to be involved again!

On Monday of last week, I won two tickets to the opera.  “Julius Caesar” is running March 28-30 at the Uihlein stage at the Marcus Center (a mere 0.5 miles from my place). So, my cultured friend Phi accepted my invitation to attend opening night.

We decided to grab a bite at Kil@wat in the Intercontinental Hotel (which is a stunning space, in my opinion) prior to attending the opera. Conveniently, Kil@wat is just across the street from the theater. They are one of four properties associated with the Marcus, and offer rewards and discounts (darn it – I hadn’t received my Smart Card yet!).

After a quick walk over to Kil@watPhi and I were warmly greeted, taken to our table, and advised that Jake would be our server. We had a drink menu, a full dinner menu, and a “pre-theater menu” presented to us. The theater menu (not up-to-date online) consisted of a few options for appetizer/soup/salad, entrée, and dessert for $30. Phi and I both opted to go that route, both because there were great options, and because she knew (from experience) that Kil@wat was swift in serving those items.

The only decision I could make was that I wasn’t interested in the Navy bean soup.  Salad, bacon-wrapped dates – yes. Braised short-rib, Trout, etc – yes.  Chocolate times 3, panna cotta – yes.  :-)

So, I advised Jake that I wasn’t interested in the soup, but would empower him to choose everything else for me.  He was all-in from the start.

I was first served the Shepherd’s salad, which Phi had also ordered:

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Artisan lettuces, roasted cherry tomatoes, goat cheese roulade, torn crouton, goat cheese dressing.  Jake said he chose this because the dressing is so good!  And, it wasn’t only the dressing that was fantastic…this salad is amongst my favorites of all time.  The ingredients were so fresh, so simple, but oh so tasty!  (plus, I love goat cheese!)

Phi had ordered the braised short-ribs, which were as good as any I have had (yes, we share!).  For my entrée, I was delivered the braised pork shank:

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Braised pork shank with Yukon whipped potato, braised scallion, roasted garlic jus.  Aside from that moment in which I bit into a thick slice of garlic and feared that Phi would not want to speak with me for the rest of the evening, this dish was perfection!

I had initially questioned whether I needed a steak knife (stupid me), until I touched my fork to the pork and it just fell apart on my plate.  It was exceptional, and the garlic jus complemented it perfectly!  I’m not ashamed to say that I finished just about every bite of this meal.

And…still had an appetite for the dessert Jake chose for me! He chose the Chocolate3 (chocolate cubed).  Phi had also chosen this dessert.

photo 3This decadent dessert consisted of dark chocolate mousse, chocolate ice cream, and chocolate caramel ganache.  The panna cotta of the evening was mango, and I would have been perfectly happy with that dish, but this chocolate 3-ways was fantastic.  Chocolate and caramel were made for each other!

Jake and the rest of the staff at Kil@wat did a great job of serving up exceptional food and doing it in such that Phi and I were able to make it over to the theater right on time!

Unfortunately, while we both felt that “Julius Caesar” offered up extraordinary music, the set and the actual stage performance were a bit lackluster.  It just started off slowly and never really seemed to gain the momentum that we both needed on a Friday evening after a long week of work.

It was definitely nice to get out and enjoy more of what Milwaukee has to offer, and I’m looking forward to future opportunities to do so.  There are so many wonderful shows and performances coming to the city.  Which are your must-see recommendations?

 

Turkish Cuisine at Tulip, Milwaukee

Last Friday, “Stairwell Guy” and I drove over to Tulip (a little over a mile from my place) to help my friend Phi celebrate her birthday.  We were the first to arrive, just moments before 7PM, and we took in the atmosphere.  Tulip is an expansive space, casually yet elegantly decorated with a friendly staff.

Once the other 20 people showed up – yes, Phi and her husband have loads of friends and family who turned out for this event! – we found our way to a large table off to the side of the restaurant.  It was somewhat secluded, and perfect for our party.

The gang's all there!

The gang’s all there!
Photo courtesy of Phi’s Facebook page.

 

The crowd was fully of friendly and engaging folks, making the evening comfortable and fun.  Lots of conversations happening in smaller groups all night.

Jeff and I had trouble deciding what to order because so many things sounded interesting and several items came personally and highly recommended by Phi and others.

Ultimately, Jeff landed on the Iskender (marinated lamb and beef roast, sliced thin and piled atop chopped pita bread.  covered with savory tomato sauce and drizzled with butter with yogurt on the side).  This was a heaping plate of meat that I wasn’t sure Jeff could finish.  I was wrong.  :-)

We both thought the Kayisili Tavuk Sarma (boneless chicken breast flattened and filled with crushed pistachio and apricot, rolled and baked to perfection) sounded intriguing, so I decided to order it (with rice pilaf on the side).  The chicken was moist and the filling was flavorful.  The portion was a bit too much for me, so I slyly slid two chicken rolls onto Jeff’s plate, which he eagerly ate.

I also tried a bite of Phi’s Doner (Turkish Gyro: marinated lamb and beef roast, sliced thin and served atop of bed of lavosh bread), which was quite yummy as well!

As I looked around, nearly every plate was completely clean.  It seemed that everyone enjoyed their meals.  And, for a group of 22 people, I have to say that the service was quite impressive.

It’s nice to know there is a good Turkish option close to home, though a bit “off the beaten path”, so to speak.  It’s in the Historic 3rd Ward neighborhood, but not on the main drag.  It’s worth checking out, in my opinion.

Have you tried Turkish food before?  Do you have a favorite dish?  Would love to hear from you!

Cheers!

Ker

 

 

Odd Duck – An odd’s on favorite in Milwaukee

Last week, my parents were in town to help me with “elderly dog care” while I was booked from day til night with business meetings.  They spent the days in my apartment downtown, only venturing out a couple blocks or two (due to weather and because they were uber-productive at home!).  Mom cleaned my place from top to bottom (including all of the dogs’ toys) and finished all of my laundry for me.  I didn’t ask her to do so, but I was appreciative of her help.  And, dad took care of early morning dog duties as well as running errands.  Oh, and bankrolling our few meals out!  :-)

It wasn’t until later in the week that I would be able to spend quality time with my parents, and on Thursday evening I relied on Yelp! for a recommendation on Mexican food.  Let’s just say, it was a bust.  Not that the food was terrible, but it certainly wasn’t 4 or 5 star rating worthy.  So, when mom informed me that they wanted to take me out for an early birthday dinner (I gracefully age another year on March 17) on Friday, I wanted to make sure to have a good dinner.  I researched a bit that Thursday evening, but ultimately didn’t decide on a locale until Friday afternoon.

Way to go, Ker.  Not good for reservations!

I called Odd Duck, which has been an ongoing recommendation from a coworker and friend for months, and they had one 5PM reservation available.  Mom and dad were totally cool with that. It was 6PM their time, and they had been on a breakfast and dinner only schedule, so eating early was perfect.  Since I was quite under the weather, getting home early was actually appealing to me too!

So, off we went to see what Odd Duck was all about…Nestled in the lovely neighborhood known as Bay View, Odd Duck is a small restaurant overloaded with character.The menu was diverse and reasonably priced.

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Odd Duck Kitchen

Odd Duck Kitchen

Our server, India, came over to greet us and to ask about our drink order. At this point, I told my parents “screw this cold, I’m having wine tonight!”.  When I advised India that I’d have her choose my meal and asked her to bring a glass of wine to complement it, she gave an affirmative nod of her head and simply asked if anything was off-limits.  Just the scallops (and later, i would determine that the maple vinaigrette would not have made my cut).  So, off India went.

India returned with a glass of Portuguese red wine for me, it was so new it isn’t even on the drink menu online.  She suggested that it is a very versatile wine and she thought it would complement her (still secret) entrée choice for me.  Then, wisely, India asked if we’d like to try one of Odd Duck‘s awesome cheese plates.  She and my dad collaborated on choosing five cheeses, including: Hook’s 5 Year Cheddar, Roth Kase Buttermilk Blue Affinee, and Izar-Gazta Raw Milk Idiazaba amongst a couple of others that escape me now but were delicious.  This was the perfect savory start to our meal – not too much food, but a variety of things to nibble on as we enjoyed the atmosphere.

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As we finished up the cheese plate, my dad’s mushroom salad arrived.  It looked wonderful, and he devoured it so I think it’s safe to say it was a very good, earthy-flavored salad!

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My parents were in awe of the crustini as well.  So thin and delicate!

Mom and I ordered another glass of wine (come on, that’s what we Kilbourne women do!) to be delivered with our entrées, which would be coming momentarily.

Mom had ordered a Korean BBQ style pork dish – which was a departure for her, for sure. Let me just tell you how that egg yolk perplexed her!  She finally gave in and broke the yolk to give the rice a better texture.  Aside from the bite of the Kimchi and the pickled pears, she thoroughly enjoyed it!  (mom doesn’t like spicy food) It had great flavor – we all shared bites of our dishes with each other.

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Dad ordered the braised short rib beef stroganoff, which also looked and tasted exceptional!  And, the portions were not overwhelming.

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And, India had chosen the “Duck times two” as I dubbed it.  In fact, it’s much more sophisticated than that by the restaurant’s description: seared duck breast over bread pudding with a cranberry gastrique and handmade (duck) sausage over confit. It was a simple dish, but expertly prepared and very flavorful, yet not “gamey”.  The seared duck and bread pudding were my favorite components of this dish.

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Again, the portions were just right, allowing us entertain the idea of having dessert.  As soon as India mentioned sorbet, I knew what my dad would be ordering.  Odd Duck was featuring Concord Grape sorbet – something I had never heard of before!  I opted for the lemon-ginger creme brûlée.  Mom insisted that she didn’t want dessert.

Funny, because that third spoon India brought “for sharing” sure was put to good use by Pamcakes!  She enjoyed the sorbet, but she could not get enough of the creme brûlée!  Both desserts hit the spot – for all of us.

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From beginning to end, my family enjoyed our first experience at Odd Duck.  And, I’m pretty sure the wine mom and I had comprised half the bill!  It’s an affordable place with exquisite food that is not pretentious or intimidating.

As I gazed at the crowd as we were leaving, I saw a young demographic swaying more toward the hipsters’ scene than anything else.  Casual and comfortable sums up my experience.

To India, thank you for making my early birthday dinner delightful.  You know your stuff, and you are a really pleasant server.  Hope to see you and the Odd Duck gang again soon.

Cheers!

Ker

From Soup to Nuts, errr…Dessert: The Noble, Walker’s Point, Milwaukee

A quick note: ICYMI (in case you missed it), Amanda S. was the randomly chosen winner of the Spreading WI Love Giveaway. She professes to be “obsessed with all things wine and chocolate”, and plans to try the “secret family recipe” I shared with her. Congratulations, Amanda!

Last week, “Stairwell Guy” (Jeff) and I decided to meet for dinner. I was heading to Memphis for friends’ wedding over the Valentine’s Day weekend, so we opted to have a nice dinner on the Tuesday night prior. I lost our Superbowl bet (thank you Denver Broncos for that!), so dinner was going to be my treat.

As a side note: “Stairwell Guy” is a man I literally met in a stairwell. I was walking over to Irish Fest last summer, and happened to hold open the door to a public parking garage that led down to the street that leads one on the way to Summer Fest grounds. He and I struck up a conversation as we walked ~15 minutes to the festival, and then he asked me for my number, or if he could give me his (so as not to appear too forward). Since then, we’ve met up a number of times to explore the greater Milwaukee area. I still refer to him as “Stairwell Guy”, both because it “stuck”, and because I know many Jeffs and this minimizes confusion. *end note*

I think “Stairwell Guy” is the only person I know that is more indecisive than I am; so when my friend Phi reminded me of her and her husband’s favorite restaurant in Milwaukee (The Noble), I texted Jeff and offered it up as a suggestion. He checked the website and thought it was a great option. So, we met at my apartment (in East Town) and drove a few miles down to Walker’s Point to enjoy our first dinner at The Noble.

The Noble is a small and unassuming joint, both inside and out. Phi had warned me that the restaurant doesn’t accept reservations and only has six or seven tables. For these reasons, I felt like heading over there on a chilly (okay, downright cold) Tuesday night was a wise choice.

We were greeted warmly by the staff and were seated right away. The tables, like the general atmosphere, were simple, yet inviting. Brown paper over white linens and silverware wrapped in paper napkins, but tied with sweet little bows.

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Jeff and I opted for hot tea as our beverages – we needed to warm up after the brief walk in the cold Milwaukee winter air. I didn’t even check the drink menu, but the bar in the restaurant gave me the impression that one could order some really delicious drinks if one wanted to do so.

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After perusing the small menu, which consisted of some wonderful appetizers and salads as well as nightly specials of the “Hunters” (meat dish), the “Gathers” (vegetarian), and the “Middle of the Road”, I decided I really couldn’t go wrong with anything on the menu.

Jeff decided to have the tomato and roasted red pepper soup to start. He then decided on “The Hunters” special, which was a NY Strip steak covered with crab meat and shrimp in a cream sauce for dinner.

Since I was so confident in the menu, I simply asked our server, Amanda, to choose her favorite dish for me. She was a bit startled (as was Jeff), but she quickly agreed to take good care of me.

Jeff’s soup came out quite quickly and was a large bowl of thick, creamy soup with wonderful flavor. (I failed to take a photo).

We chatted as we soaked in the eclectic atmosphere, and before we knew it, our entrees were served. Jeff’s was set down first, and it looked spectacular!

photo 1Amanda told me that she chose the “Middle of the Road” special, which was Beef Stroganoff, because “it’s the perfect meal on a cold winter night”. I definitely liked her reasoning, but honestly, after seeing Jeff’s plate, I was kind of wishing that I had gotten the NY Strip. That was…until I tasted the Stroganoff.

photo 2As you can see, it was served with rice, green beans and tomatoes. The sauce was creamy and light, but still very rich. It was a different take on Beef Stroganoff for me – mom had always made it over egg noodles and sans vegetables (well, veggies on the side, but not in the dish!).

I only managed to finish half of the dish, but was excited about the prospect of freezing the other half for dinner at a later date.

When Amanda asked if we were interested in hearing about the dessert specials, Jeff and I looked at each other awkwardly. Were we interested? After several seconds passed, I advised Amanda that we would like to hear the specials. I think Jeff probably let out a sigh of relief when I made that executive decision. ;-)

I remember that there was a blackberry bread pudding special, and something else being offered up – but I cannot remember the details after hearing Amanda talk about an orange cake with chocolate ganache, fresh whipped cream, and chocolate shavings. Y’all, I will eat chocolate on the regular, but given the choice, I’ll pass it up for an orange flavored dessert almost every time. So, pairing the two? Genius!

Jeff actually spoke up and ordered that, knowing how much I like orange desserts (and, he has a massive sweet tooth that never quite seems satisfied).

photo 3It took us no time at all to dive into this delicious dessert, and only a few minutes to completely clean the plate! This may be a dessert I need to attempt at home. Or, perhaps I’ll have my friend Katie, of Katie’s Adventures in the Kitchen give it a whirl! It is BY FAR my favorite dessert in the past several years.

Both Jeff and I really enjoyed a casual night out for dinner with exceptional food (and so reasonably priced!). Walker’s Point has so many spots to check out that I’ve made the mental note to spend some time there when the weather warms up a bit (June? July? :-) )

I want to thank Phi for the recommendation to check out The Noble. I’m thinking we should go back and enjoy dinner together sometime!

To learn more about their ever-changing menu, please check out http://www.facebook.com/thenoblemke or on Twitter @thenoblemke

Cheers!

Ker

Spreading WI Love Giveaway!

My friend and fellow Milwaukee-based blogger, Phi of the blog SweetPhi, has invited me to participate in my first “blog hop giveaway”, and I’m really excited to be a part of this clever concept!

Essentially, you will have opportunities to win fabulous prizes – not only on my blog, but on other participating blogs as well! See the list below.

Since February is often thought of as the “month of love”, or at least associated with Valentine’s day, and the local MKE blogger network is “spreading the love”, for my first giveaway, I’m going to send one lucky winner a fun and functional heart-shaped piece of Wisconsin bake ware pottery from Rowe Pottery Works, based in Cambridge, WI. It’s always a nice feeling to support local businesses. Rowe Pottery Works is located just about an hour west of me.

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You can bake your loved one(s) a heart-shaped dessert, or use the adorable dish to serve appetizers, dips, and other snacks. If you’re like me, you never really have enough good serving dishes. In my opinion, this one seems perfect to use at an intimate gathering. It will also show well just being placed on a shelf or used as an everyday candy dish.

Speaking of candy, I’ve also included a bar of Milk Chocolate Sea Salt by Indulgence Chocolatiers, based right here in Milwaukee.

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And, since wine and chocolate go hand in hand (and I can’t legally ship wine), I’ve included the wine stopper pictured above. It’s silver and red and the message reads “Charming, Seductive, & Pleasing”. Perfect for that bottle of wine you can’t finish in one evening!

As a bonus… I’m also going to include a tried and true secret family recipe with this dish! This is a “dessert” that is great as a an after-meal dessert, as well as a morning coffee cake. And, shhhh, it’s not a difficult recipe!

You may enter below by tweeting about the giveaway, liking and leaving a comment on the “She Ordered What?” page on Facebook, following me on Twitter, or by leaving a comment about why you’d love to win these prizes below.

The giveaway contest will end at 11:59PM on February 9th and the winner will be randomly chosen on February 10th. I will notify the winner on February 10th.

I encourage you to visit other participating blogs to discover fantastic recipes and enter their giveaways!

Check out:

Sweet Phi for a chance to win a WI shaped cutting board, a box of chocolates and a $10 Starbuck’s gift card.

Karis’ Kitchen is giving away two “Sweet Treats” boxes filled with an Indulgence Chocolatiers bar, candied pecans from Treat Bake Shop, and a jar of caramel sauce (plus caramels) from Becky’s Blissful Bakery.

The Frosted Vegan is offering up a chocolate bar from Indulgence Chocolatiers, a jar of smoked paprika from Penzey’s Spices, and a bag of Collective Coffee Blue Heeler blend.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cheers!
Ker

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