Ringing in the New Year – Out & About in Milwaukee with Good Friends!

Upon returning from Ohio in time to watch my Clemson Tigers beat Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl (yes, my priorities are a bit odd!), I found myself preparing for a visit from my dear friend Dana. Dana has been mentioned here (actually, she wrote that post!), here, and here.  She was driving in from Michigan the morning after I arrived back home, and planned to spend a few days in Milwaukee over the New Year’s week.

Dana is a wonderful and curious traveler, so she suggested several local things to try.  Before I get into how Dana and I ate our way through New Year’s week, I’ll share a few pictures of the other things we saw and did.

First, Dana needed her Bloody Mary from AJ Bombers!

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I’ve mentioned AJ’s before…

Then, on to the Pabst Brewing Company…Not a traditional brewing process tour, but rich in history and quite interesting, in my opinion.

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IMG_1127[1]Though the tour doesn’t focus on the process of brewing beer, you still get to enjoy beer during the tour.  Plus, this facility has a wonderful and intimate space in which to host weddings, parties and other celebrations.

Lakefront Brewery… My neighbor, and friend, Andrew also joined us for LFB and dinner later.

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(pro tip: The fried cheese curds are fantastic! The Beer Hall Wheat Ale batter is light and crispy…this is the only way I’ll eat cheese curds, and I’m not generally a big fan of fried foods!)

The Old German Beer Hall… Dana’s pick for dinner on the evening of her arrival.

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After all we had munched on at Lakefront Brewery, we were not as hungry as we thought we might be. Total bummer, because the German menu seemed to have real promise!

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We did polish off the Hofbräuhaus Brotzeitteller, which consisted of classic beer hall style bread, meat & cheese board, a 10oz pretzel, Rye bread & Obatzter with (local) Usinger deli meats, Swiss cheese, beer radish, and pickles. A great appetizer to pick at – a lot of variety, and very good food!

We may have polished off a few beers as well.  My choice… the Hofbräu Delikator – “Dopplebock” – actually, that was our server’s choice, and it was quite tasty!

Now…on to the main culinary events!

New Year’s Eve at Kanpai Izakaya… I made reservations for the five course dinner special.  $59 / person, for fresh sushi, sashimi, and wine/Saki pairing?  Yes, please!

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Courses one and two: Lobster Miso Soup and House Salad.  The addition of lobster meat to the soup…brilliant!

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Hamachi Ponzu appetizer (course three).

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Course 4: The “OMG” roll as it cooks. The roll has shrimp tempura, avocado, eel, shrimp, spicy and wasabi aiolis, and is served flaming under the fire of burning rum.  The resulting taste is of a delicious grilled sushi roll.

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Everyone at the table enjoyed this roll immensely, as do I!

The Chef’s Choice sashimi plate was the final delivery.  Please allow me to say that, OMG, this was amazing!!

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If I had a proper camera, this plate would have looked even better.  However, even with a phone camera, I hope you see just how beautiful all of the seafood looks!  This lovely plates hosts a party of Crab, White Tuna, Yellow Finned Tuna, Salmon, and Talapia (the chefs were advised that Scallops were off-limits for this gal).  I’m not even kidding when I say that the fish melted in my mouth – and, the Yellow Finned Tuna was my favorite, by far!

I’ve always enjoyed the food and service at Kanpai, but I think they managed to (somehow!) step up their game on NYE! And, Mary, thanks for wonderful service – always with a smile!

Kanpai was a great start to our NYE outing!  We then walked over to Cafe Benelux for a drink, and ultimately cabbed back to East Town to enjoy acoustic music (very good acoustic music!) at The County Clare.

The County Clare was busy, but not overly crowded.  Dana, Andrew and I had a great time just chatting, listening to the music, and watching folks (overly) enjoy their evenings.  We also thoroughly enjoyed the complimentary bottle of champagne The County Clare provided just prior to midnight! What a wonderful way to ring in 2015!

It was difficult to get a good photo with the lighting, but you see the "a hundred thousand welcomes" (céad míle fáilte)!

It was difficult to get a good photo with the lighting, but you see the “a hundred thousand welcomes” (céad míle fáilte)!

And…then came the After, After Party at GoodKind.

After having heard about GoodKind from a colleague, and reading about it being one of the top 21 new restaurants in the US, I decided we should make reservations for the After, After Party Brunch on New Year’s Day. We had a lazy morning and then headed over to GoodKind in Bay View with my friend Katie in tow as well.   We walked into an inviting atmosphere, busy with other brunchers!

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This was the inaugural brunch at GoodKind, so nobody, including the staff, knew exactly what to expect!

After reviewing the day’s menu, I knew I couldn’t decide (except to eliminate the Smoked Rotisserie Pork Belly served with a Maple Buttermilk Cake.  I LOVE pork belly, but there is no way anyone will get me to eat anything maple-flavored!)  Everything else was fair game.

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Our server, Caitlin, advised us that most tables had been ordering tapas style and sharing dishes, so we decided to do the same.  We took a few recommendations from Caitlin, and I asked her to choose an additional dish to surprise us.

We started by sharing a bottle of wine.  This Ramon Bilbao Rioja was rich in flavor and definitely improved as it sat.

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We then ordered:

Polenta Madame with hometown ham, goat cheese curds and fried egg.  What an extraordinary and savory delight!!

Polenta Madame

Polenta Madame

The Pork Cheek Donut – it’s just like it sounds…a sugary donut filled with tender pork cheek and served over a chocolate raspberry sauce.  I LOVED the concept here, but I think the sweet overpowered the savory a bit.  I would have loved to have a bit more pork in each bite.  However, if you have a sweet tooth, this dish may be the one for you!

IMG_1144[1]The aforementioned Smoked Rotisserie Pork Belly with Maple Buttermilk Cake was highly recommended by our server, so we did order that dish,  After being assured by my friends that the pork did not have a maple flavor, I gave it a try.  As it should be, the meat was very tender, if a bit high in fat content.

Smoked Rotisserie Pork Belly with Maple Buttermilk Cake

Smoked Rotisserie Pork Belly with Maple Buttermilk Cake

And, Caitlin’s choice for us was the Dungeoness Crab Bread Pudding with frisee, tarragon and lemon vinaigrette.  I thoroughly enjoyed this dish too!  The crab meat was not overpowering, but what a rich flavor!  I loved having a serving of savory bread pudding for brunch!  And, the frisee with lemon vinaigrette…so light and fresh!

Dungeoness Crab Bread Pudding

Dungeoness Crab Bread Pudding

As if my friends and I hadn’t tasted enough goodness at GoodKind, Dana made the executive decision to order each of the two desserts that were being offered that day!  I don’t recall what GoodKind named these desserts, but one was Door County cherry tart with whipped cream and anise sprinkles, and the other was chocolate cake, topped with chocolate mousse and brittle bites.

Door County cherry tart

Door County cherry tart

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Chocolate mousse cake

We enjoyed both desserts, although the chocolate cake was deemed a bit too rich for my rookie friends!  (I, on the other hand, thought it was super tasty!).

I think the menu at GoodKind, being so unique, may seem a bit intimidating to some people.  I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to take the leap of faith and to dine at GoodKind, knowing you’ll have great flavors served up!

GoodKind will begin regular Sunday brunches this month, and I hope locals and visitors give it a try!  If you’re into sushi, sashimi and the like, I really suggest Kanpai in the Third Ward.  Neither my guests nor I have ever been disappointed there.  And, for  local fare that is not fancy, but is just good, AJ Bombers, the Old German Beer Hall, and Lakefront Brewery are great local options.

I hope you enjoyed our tour of Milwaukee over the past few days!

Happy new year!

Cheers!

Ker

Happy New Year from “She Ordered What?”!!

Happy New Year to everyone!  I’m very excited to be taking some friends to my favorite local sushi spot, Kanpai Izakaya, tonight before heading over to the County Clare for some Irish music and new year’s celebration!  It’s going to be wonderful to ring in a new year with good friends, and I think 2015 is going to be another great year!

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I’d like to say thank you all for your readership and your comments on “She Ordered What?”.

2014 was a busy year, and I didn’t post as much as I would have liked, but I’m hoping 2015 will offer more opportunities for adventuresome dining!

There were ~20 new posts, 8,600 views, and readers from 93 countries!  The give-away posts were the most popular, followed by Melt Bar & Grilled, Mussels in Brussels, and Karu’s Indian food in Singapore.  I’d say that’s a pretty good variety of posts, locations, and types of food!

Here’s to more adventures in 2015 and possibly more guest posts (hint, hint!).

May everyone stay safe, be healthy, and be happy!  Enjoy the New Year’s celebrations!

Cheers!

Ker

A Super Supper at Sara’s Place, Gates Mills, OH

I’m back in Ohio for the holidays, and for the past several years, we have taken the opportunity to have a nice family dinner at Sara’s Place in Gates Mills – a cute spot in a quaint area.

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One of the many nice things about Sara’s Place is that they offer a wide variety of gluten-free entrees.  My brother has Celiac’s disease, and my uncle has a gluten intolerance, so Sara’s Place offers more options than most restaurants do these days.  

This year, we dined at Sara’s Place the evening after Christmas. A lovely Friday night out.

The atmosphere at Sara’s Place is casual, yet elegant.

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One of the unique features I love is that the kitchen is separated from the restaurant by handmade stained glass windows which reflect the local area.

The view to the kitchen

The view to the kitchen

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On Friday evening, I was HUNGRY, as I had been running around all day, including playing school with my god-daughters!

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I *may* be an overachieving student!

At one point, during the “school day”, I was asked to do 30 full push-ups for phys ed class!  And, I did them – straight through – after a morning workout, no less!  I was working up an appetite.  :-) My Purium apple-berry shake was my only meal of the day at that point as well.

So, when we got to Sara’s Place, everything looked good to me!  The Ahi Tuna, the (healthy option) Stir Fry,  the homemade Chicken Pot Pie, the Pasta Bolognese, the Filet…

Our server, Cindy, first took our drink orders (thank you, mom, for making that a comical series of events!), and then advised of us the evening’s side dish options (mashed potatoes or brown rice, and broccolini).  When Cindy went to take our dinner orders, I advised her that I couldn’t make up my mind.  I handed her my SOW card, and asked her to surprise me.  I also told her that all of the side dishes were fair game. Cindy was a good sport, asked a couple of questions , and then moved on to place our order. She had a big smile as she walked away from the table (a sure sign she knew what she wanted to serve me!)

My dad, my uncle and I started with the Stuffed  Banana Peppers (stuffed with Italian Sausage, mozzarella and parmesan cheese and served in the homemade marinara sauce (the DELICIOUS house marinara sauce!)).  The appetizer is not overly spicy, but it does have great flavor!

Stuffed Banana Peppers

Stuffed Banana Peppers

 

When Cindy brought the entrées out, she delivered me a perfectly cooked filet mignon over mashed potatoes and served with broccolini.  As I mentioned, the filet was expertly prepared, and the entrée was delicious!

Filet Mignon

Filet Mignon

I’m not usually one to dive into dessert, and if I do,when I go to a Gavi’s property, I generally will only order Tiramisu for dessert.  (It’s a fantastic recipe!)  On Friday night, however, I was mesmerized by the lemon-raspberry mousse bomb.  It sounded so light and refreshing.  I tend to love citrus flavored desserts anyhow!

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Lemon-raspberry mousse bomb

 

While we were a bit surprised by the (raspberry-filled) cake inside the mousse bomb, I have to say that the dessert was wonderful!  Light and refreshing – just as I had suspected.

Inside the bomb!

Inside the bomb!

My family enjoyed various desserts and coffee / after-dinner drinks.  It was a great dinner, from start to finish!

Thank you to Cindy and the staff at Sara’s Place for always treating our family to a lovely evening out and a delicious meal!

If you’re in the NE OH area, I suggest visiting Sara’s Place for dinner sometime.  You may be inclined to see a show at the Gates Mills Community Players Theater across the street, or to shop at the boutique next door.  This little Gates Mills area is so quaint and cute that it’s worth the visit!

Cheers!

Ker

Smothered Burritos Have Dropped! Qdoba’s Newest Item Hit The Spot! (@QdobaMexGrill)

First, I want to say that I had intended to write this post over a week ago.  However, work has been quite hectic and I’m just getting around to writing it.  :-(

Just about a month ago, Abby, the Wisconsin marketing manager at Roaring Fork, the franchise group of local Qdoba restaurants, reached out to me via email to invite me try a new menu item – the smothered burrito.  Abby had done her homework and had read my blog.  She shared personal experiences that aligned with the “She Ordered What?” concept, and I appreciated her initiative and outreach.  I also invited her to write a guest post sometime, if she’s so inclined!  ;-)

Abby advised me that Qdoba was introducing the smothered burrito on December 8th, 2015.  She offered me two entrees, an order of chips and guacamole or queso, and two drinks in exchange for trying the new item.  I gladly obliged, and the loaded reward card arrived on December 5th – just in time to try the item as it “dropped” on the menu.  (or, that was the original plan!)

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Typically, when I go to Qdoba, I order the burrito bowl because the standard burritos are packed so full of the delicious ingredients that I end up using my fork and knife anyway. So, why not just go with the bowl?  And, I love the burrito bowl, for the record!

However, when I walked to the local Qdoba yesterday (just before noon), I knew I was going to try the smothered burrito.  I walked into an empty shop and was warmly greeted by Taliyah.  I advised her that I wanted to try the new smothered burrito, and asked her to talk to me about the newest menu item.  Taliyah politely agreed, advising me that the smothered burrito is built from a smaller tortilla than the standard burrito.  Then, it’s a similar process:  choose your rice (white or brown), your meat (chicken, beef, steak or pork), and then your sauce (tangy verde, smoky chipotle cream, or bold red chile).  The other ingredients (lettuce, salsa, sour cream, cheese, etc.) are added after the burrito is rolled.

I had asked Taliyah if I could taste two of the sauces, and she graciously offered me two small cups with a chip to taste the tangy verde (made of tomatillos and mild peppers) and the bold red chile (made with toasted red chiles, with a bit of sweetness).  I opted not to try the smoky chipotle cream (creamy, with smoky chipotle peppers) this time, but I’m sure I will soon!  Both sauces I sampled were tasty, but I decided to go with the tangy verde sauce.  In an effort to keep the integrity of the taste, or maybe because I’m boring, I chose to have the tangy verde both inside the burrito and over top of it.

From there, Curtis took over and started building my smothered burrito.  He was also incredibly polite and helpful.  These are his hands at work!  I chose white rice (after an internal battle, thinking brown rice would have been the healthier option – but I wanted the cilantro in the white rice!) and chicken – with the tangy verde, of course!  I also decided to indulge and have the sour cream and cheese on top – because why not!

Curtis assembling my smothered burrito

Curtis assembling my smothered burrito

There was a bit of confusion when I went to use the rewards card to pay, but that was worked out quickly.  Alex was working the register, and just like the other employees, he was quite polite and professional too.

So, about that smothered burrito

Smothered burrito with tangy verde sauce

Smothered burrito with tangy verde sauce

I enjoyed the extra pop of flavor the tangy verde sauce added to the burrito.  It wasn’t overpowering, but it added just enough kick with the peppers.  The cool addition of lettuce and salsa was a nice juxtaposition against the piping hot burrito.  Let’s just say that the whole meal just “hit the spot”.

I’m very grateful for the invitation to try a newer menu item at Qdoba, and I was really impressed with the service Taliyah, Curtis and Alex provided me.  This might be one of the friendliest staffs I’ve come across in recent times!  Thank you all for a delightful lunch experience (you too, Abby!).

(side note:  I appreciate that Qdoba doesn’t discriminate against folks who express themselves through body art or piercings. The employees remain professional despite not always fitting the traditional image of professional appearance.)

As for the smothered burrito, I highly recommend it.  I will add a note that my male (and generally quite hungry) colleague was a bit bummed that the smothered burrito is smaller than the traditional one and that the ingredients actually inside the smothered burrito are limited compared to the standard burrito.  As long as you know that, I think you’ll really enjoy the Qdoba smothered burrito!

If you’ve tried the newest item on Qdoba’s menu, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment.

Cheers!

Ker

Sweetphi’s Date Night at Jackson’s Grill, Milwaukee, WI

I am so excited to be guest posting here on Kerri’s wonderful blog. I’ve been such a fan of her blog and the unique concept behind She Ordered What (whenever I’m at a restaurant and can’t decide what to get, I always use Kerri’s fearless method and ask the server to choose for me…but obviously with less grace than when Kerri does it, because I just get weird looks, so big props to her!)

Ker here: I get weird looks too, Phi!  The card usually helps to explain more clearly than I can do in the moment!  

I met Kerri over a year ago and have truly loved getting to know her and spend time with her. You may have seen my name pop up on She Ordered What a few times (see here, here, and here), but for those of you that may not know me, my name is Philia (Phi for short) and I have a food blog called the Sweetphi blog where I share simple, sweet & savory recipes and love to share how delicious food doesn’t have to have a bazillion ingredients or take hours to make in order for it to be great!

Ker again: Phi’s blog is so aptly titled – she is the sweetest woman!  It was love at first bite!  (we met for dinner with another local food blogger last year).  <3

But truth is, even though I love to cook, I love to dine out too! There’s something truly great about picking something off a menu, having it brought to you, and then when you’re done enjoying your food you can just leave (I mean, obviously you have to pay or there would be problems) and you leave the mess for someone else to clean up. That, in and of itself is enough to send me to a restaurant, especially since I’ve been so busy lately that my kitchen is looking neglected and like I have a reoccurring tornado staying with us.

And by ‘us’ I mean my hubby and I!

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So this week when he suggested going on a date night I whole heartedly agreed. We decided to go to Jackson’s Grill a lovely supper club in Milwaukee, about a mile away from Miller Park.

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I had heard of supper clubs being a ‘thing’ in Milwaukee, but had never been to one and wasn’t quite sure what they were, so I was happy when I heard the waitress telling a table over from us that they were a supper club and that meant the establishment only served supper…seems like a pretty cool concept if you ask me.

As soon as we entered, it felt like we were transported back in time. The beige décor, antique fixtures and the lingering smell of food, all made for a very welcoming environment, not to mention the gorgeous mahogany ‘old school’ bar one had to walk around to get to the restaurant portion. We were sat immediately, and our server mentioned that they had a wine list, but that they made a really good Old Fashioned.

Old Fashioneds happen to be one of my hubby’s favorite drinks, and not wanting to be left out, I ordered one as well. The server did not lie; they made a really good Old Fashioned. They were HUGE too!

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For starters we had a cheese plate.

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I just can’t resist a cheese plate, and this one did not disappoint. Besides the selection of cheeses, there were spiced pistachios and wonderful cherry compote.

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After our cheese plate arrived, we ordered. I told the server what I was doing (having her order for me) and she played along, just asking what doneness level I liked my meat.

Our meal came with soups or salad to start, and both my husband and I got soup. The server picked a seasonal butternut squash soup for me, and my husband got the seafood bisque. While I did enjoy the seasonality of the butternut squash soup (it had brown butter drizzled on top and slivered almonds) it was a bit heavy for my taste. My husband’s seafood bisque on the other hand…that I would order time and time again, it was absolutely delicious!

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We then received our dinners and I was happy to see that the server had chosen the same dinner for me as my husband had, just a smaller portion and a different side. My husband got the 10oz Black Angus Filet Mignon al a Portobello with garlic mashed potatoes, and I got the 6oz Black Angus Filet Mignon al a Portobello with mac and cheese.

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The steak…oh my goodness…the steak was so good, some of the best I’ve ever had! It was resting on the plate under a Portobello cap and with every bite luscious juices would ooze out (am I the only one that likes to dredge bread through the steak juices? You should try it…it’s so good!) As we ate, the chef came out and went around the entire dining room asking how everyone’s food was – I heard only glowing reviews from the other diners, and had one to add myself (although I did have a giant bite of food in my mouth so my response was just a nod.)

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We finished off our dinner with a dessert I’d never had: Bananas Foster. I’d go back to Jackson’s Grill for this dessert alone. Warm bananas in a caramel sauce topped with vanilla ice cream. My husband got a little glass of port that accompanied dessert. It was the perfect finish to our meal.

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I would also like to note that the entire meal: Cheese plate, soup, steak, dessert, took only an hour in its entirety. What a lovely little supper club that I’m sure I’ll be going to again!

After doing this I have 1 question for Kerri – how do you do it? How do you take pictures with such ease in dark restaurants and make them look good? So many props to you and your wonderful blog!

Ker again… Phi, my blogging / photo best friend has become Snapseed! Here’s the link to the iPhone and to Android app.  It’s so easy, even when I take photos without flash, to correct the images so they properly represent the food I’ve actually received (even in dark spots!).  

If you’d like to connect with me, you can find me on twitter (@sweetphi), Instagram (PhiliaKelnhofer), or on Facebook (SweetphiBlog).

Thanks for having me on your blog Kerri!

Thank YOU, Phi for sharing your wonderful and romantic (Nick is a gem of a guy!) experience in adventuresome dining!  I could NEVER pull off an incredible blog like yours, but I certainly can learn from it!  I’m flattered that you spent time offering to contribute to SOW.  Thank you so much!  

Cheers!

Ker

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