Lunching and Brunching in Milwaukee

This past weekend was a bit decadent for me. No real “working”, and lots of quality time with neighborhood friends.

On Saturday, my neighbor Andrew and I decided to head to The Historic Third Ward for a late lunch (mostly due to the fact that I indulged in a late morning nap!). Andrew suggested trying Swig after reading about it on Urbanspoon. I had heard of Swig and had passed by the place, but hadn’t stopped in yet, so I was game!

Natural light by way of a garage doorfront.  Mixed media decor. A nice, comfortable vibe (IMO).

Natural light by way of a garage doorfront. Mixed media decor. A nice, comfortable vibe (IMO).

Swig has a rustic modern casual vibe and because we were lunching at 2:30PM on a Saturday, the place was fairly empty. Andrew and I were seated at a table near the fireplace (the thing I miss most about my last apartment!) and greeted warmly by Kate, our server for the afternoon. I immediately liked Kate because she had spunk! As Andrew contemplated having a drink, Kate quickly called him out about enjoying the weekend – and soon after he was enjoying a Ginger Old Fashioned. Kate: 1, Andrew: won!

Ginger Old Fashioned

Ginger Old Fashioned

I was impressed, and overwhelmed with the menu.  I knew that I wanted a house salad – I needed my veggies!  Beyond that, I could have chosen almost anything!  The two items that bubbled to the top of the list for me were the Brie Grilled Cheese (I LOVE Brie, and I haven’t had it in quite some time) and the Crab Cake appetizer.  If I’m *really* honest with y’all, the baked Brie appetizer was appealing as well!

Long story short, I asked Kate to surprise me by choosing between the two and by choosing a flight of wine for me to enjoy along with the chosen meal.  She was on board from the get-go.

*side note: At Swig, you may choose your own flight of wine (three 2oz glasses – of your choosing) and then a 5 oz glass – all for $15. 

There was no way that I was going to be able to choose a wine flight with so many options from which to choose!

Borgo Pinot Grigio, Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc, and Crème de Lys Chardonnay.

Borgo Pinot Grigio, Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc, and Crème de Lys Chardonnay.

An incredibly tasty house salad (and only $4.50).

An incredibly tasty house salad (and only $4.50).

The house salad was loaded up with veggies and topped with parmesan cheese.  And, the dressing was AMAZING!

An amazing sweet and spicy apricot vinaigrette dressing!

An delicious sweet and spicy apricot vinaigrette dressing!

Kate gave me an idea of how to make this apricot vinaigrette, and after lunch Andrew and I promptly walked to Oro di Oliva in the Public Market to buy the appropriate vinegar!

Andrew decided to go “Ahi all the way”, with the seared tuna, arugula, and avocado salad with chimichurri sauce.

Seared Tuna salad with lots of avocado!

Seared Tuna salad with lots of avocado!

I was envious of all of the avocado that accompanied the beautiful seared tuna!  We both thoroughly enjoyed our salads, and probably could have stopped there, as they were generous portions.  But, we didn’t!

Kate brought me the crab cakes small plate.  These meaty crab cakes were covered in panko crumbs, sat on avocado puree, and were covered with roasted corn relish (another fave!).

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Like I mentioned, these were meaty (real) crab cakes.  The flavors were mild, but really tasty, and the wine paired beautifully with the dish.  For my 5 oz pour, I decided on the Crème de Lys Chardonnay.

Andrew stuck with the ginger Old Fashioned and had the Ahi tuna sandwich which had spring mix, red onion, wasabi aioli, and tomato cucumber salsa on it.  It was a big, and beautiful sandwich! Andrew said he liked that it had the teryaki flavor to it, making it a different experience from the salad he had just enjoyed.  The tomato-basil soup looked pretty thick and tasty as well!

IMG_1477[1]We ended up enjoying a few adult beverages and just hanging out on a Saturday afternoon.  After hitting up the Public Market, we stopped in at Hudson’s Business Lounge – simply because Andrew had never been in there.  It’s a cool shared space office building that my work team had used last year for an off-site working session.  There is a full bar attached, so we spent a few minutes there before calling it a night.  Nothing like a five-hour lunch!  :-)

I had previously made plans to have brunch with my friend Katie on Sunday morning.  The original plan was to head to the Hotel Metro because I love their breakfast and Katie had yet to experience it.  However, after talking with a colleague about Black Sheep, we decided to head down to Walker’s Point and hit it up.

We arrived just as the doors opened and found a small high-top table for two – which was a good thing since the place filled up pretty quickly!

After day-drinking with Andrew the afternoon before, I wasn’t sure I wanted to have a drink with brunch, but the list was intriguing.  After tasting the Wolf’s Spiked Tea, and having our server Corrine hint that there may be maple in it, I decided to head in a different direction and ordered the 2nd Street Cup (Canton, cranberry, lemonade and champagne), and after striking out twice with her orders (due to missing ingredients), Katie ended up choosing the Perfectly Peared (Belle de Brillet Cognac, pear nectar, and champagne).  Both were refreshing and light – and didn’t taste too heavy on the alcohol!  And, through the tea-tasting, Corrine learned of my disdain for maple (and she shares it due to a bad experience in the past!  I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE!!)

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The 2nd Street Cup in the foreground and the Perfectly Peared in the background.

As I perused the brunch menu, I couldn’t find any item that was off-limits, and so many things looked yummy.  Corinne was on board for choosing just as Kate had been the day before.  And, she made a great choice for me!  Lobster Benedict, which consisted of poached eggs, lobster meat, arugula, hardwood smoked bacon, tomato confit and hollendaise sauce all atop brioche toast.  Did I mention it was a decadent weekend?  ;-)

Lobster Benedict

Lobster Benedict

Katie chose what I learned is a Wisconsin staple:  Hot Ham & Rolls – which is a Parker House roll with shaved smoked Berkshire ham, maple butter (ick!) and two eggs. Though Katie mentioned this was a simple dish, she also said it had really good flavor.  We also agreed that Black Sheep’s fries were excellent – crispy and flavorful.

Hot ham & rolls.

Hot ham & rolls.

Both Swig and Black Sheep are local spots that I plan to revisit, especially since we didn’t try any of the wines on tap at Black Sheep!

Do you have a favorite daytime destination?  Please feel free to share in the comments!

Cheers!

Ker

 

Tapas, mom, not topless! Cafe Tu Tu Tango, Orlando, FL

I was traveling for work last week and found myself in Florida in February – there are worse places to go at that time of year!  My colleagues and I were staying at The Grande Vista Marriott, the world’s largest Marriott property.  At least that’s what the bell man told me as he drove me from the lobby to my hotel room!

After our fist full day at the ICE Convention in the Orange County Convention Center, nine of us went for a late dinner at Cafe Tu Tu Tango.  One of my colleagues, Lianne, had been there before and really enjoyed the tapas menu, the energetic vibe, and the local artistry on display in the cafe.

The wall behind our table...Campbell's soup artwork.

The wall behind our table…Campbell’s soup artwork.

Even the the silverware was a little work of art…

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Now, the reason for the name of this post is that my mom thought I said we went to a topless place for dinner when I told her it was tapas.  Ahhh, Pamcakes…

Back to the evening… In addition to a bevy of cocktail, beer and wine options, we enjoyed a slew of small plates.  Each of us ordered a couple of plates to share with the table.  Here’s the list of delicious orders…

Guacamame (Edamame, chickpeas, avocado, salsa roja, chips) and Tuna Sashimi (Yuzu vinaigrette, cucumber salad, avocado, sesame seeds, jalapeño, micro cilantro): 
Guacamame and Ahi Tuna

Guacamame and Sashimi Tuna

Spiced Alligator Bites (Local florida wild gator, key lime mustard):

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Goat Cheese Timbale (Whipped goat cheese, arugula, nuts, parmesan baguettes, balsamic glaze):

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Dynamite Shrimp (Crispy shrimp, sweet chili aioli):

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Hazelnut Lemongrass Mahi Mahi: (I failed to take a photo of this beautifully plated dish!)

Blackened Fish Tacos (Citrus and cilantro marinated white fish, avocado coleslaw, fresno peppers, microgreens)

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Picadillo Empanadas (Chipotle spiced ground beef, manchego, cilantro sour cream):

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Southwest Chicken Flatbread (Chipotle spiced ground beef, manchego, cilantro sour cream):

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Cajun Chicken Egg Rolls (Blackened chicken, roasted corn, red onions, cheddar, goat cheese, creole mustard sauce):

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Mediterranean Flatbread Pizza (Ricotta, eggplant, tomatoes and basil):

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Pork Belly Reuben (Roasted pork belly, house-made sauerkraut, thousand island, pretzel bun ):

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Argentinian Chimichurri Steak (Tostones, marinated steak, garlic mojo):

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Jalapeno Mac & Cheese (Oven-charred tomatoes, crispy pancetta, caramelized onions, jalapeño-horseradish mornay sauce):

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And…saving my favorite for last… the Short Rib Wraps (Kimchi, scallions, cilantro, bibb lettuce wrap): 
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Such a light dish, but rich with flavor.  Tender meat, the right amount of heat (I’ve loved Kimchi since I dated man of Korean descent in high school), and perfect flavors surrounding the dish.

While I enjoyed most of the dishes, my three favorite would be: 1) the short rib wraps, 2) goat cheese timbale (I’m a cheese fanatic, so please take that into account), and 3) the Cajun chicken egg rolls.

I was not a huge fan of the pork belly reuben, and I found the spiced alligator bites to be a bit lackluster.  The other dishes were great, IMO.  I loved the guacamame as an appetizer, and the dynamite shrimp was another worthy plate!

Have you been to Cafe Tu Tu Tango?  Do you have a favorite dish?  Have you ever purchased artwork there (I had my eye on a Michael Jackson, circa “Beat it” days painting)?

In general, do you have a favorite tapas plate?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Cheers!

Ker

MKE Chili Bowl 2015, Potawatomi Casino & Hotel – My winner has been declared!

Just a quick post about how I spent my gloomy Midwest Sunday afternoon…

It didn’t take long for my friend and neighbor, Andrew and I to decide we wanted to go to “The 2015 Chili Bowl”, so he purchased tickets and off we went to the Potawatomi Casino and Hotel.  When he handed me my ticket, ticket number 1770, I cracked a joke about whether there would really be almost 1,800 people at the event.  Well… rest assured that there were several thousand people at the Chili Bowl!

People waiting to get registered for the Chili Bowl. The actual registration is beyond those doors in the background!

People waiting to get registered for the Chili Bowl. The actual registration is beyond those doors in the background!

Tickets were only $13 in advance ($16 at the door), and that allowed for eight 3 oz tasting from a list of 33 vendors.  It was also a fundraiser for the Hunger Task Force (2 cans of food allowed folks two additional tastings).

Please note: Handling cups of chili, a cold beverage, while trying to take pictures just didn’t work, so please forgive the lack of photos.

I mapped out our first four adventures (4A, 15A, 20A, and 4B), Andrew picked our fifth location (7A), then Andrew’s friend Max picked vendor number six (7B), and we all agreed on vendor number seven (9B) – at which point we quit – bellies just full enough!  Don’t you just love our high-tech method (tearing out notches on the printed page!)?

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In the first ballroom, we all liked “4A” best – Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub’s effort.  A traditional chili described as “…filet, ground chuck & andoullie sausage.  Topped with onions, our famous cheese curds, sour cream and garnished with sour dough toast”.

The overall consensus winner was in ballroom B though…”4B” – Superior Culinary Center with Lisa Keefer from Puddle Jumpers, described as “Smokey Green Chili topped with Cheese & Sweet Corn Bread”.

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Superior Culinary Center submission – smokey green chili topped with cheese and sweet corn bread.

It had really good consistency, tremendous flavor, and was just different enough to be special without being too much of a departure from “chili” as I grew up knowing it.

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The very close second place vote (again, consensus) was “9B” from Braise.  We all agreed to try the chili tagged with “most unique” title in past competition.  This year the submission was “white bean & pork chili with rainbow cornmeal croutons”.  We tasted a hint of curry to the chili – which also had great consistency and was full-flavored.  It might have been difficult to consume an entire bowl of this flavorful fun, but 3 oz was a perfect taste.

Other honorable mentions go to: “15A” – The Fire Pit Sports Bar & Grill, mainly for the Fry Bread Bowl in which it was served.  “7A” (Red Rock Saloon) was another well-received submission – bourbon, beer, bacon and beef…need I say more?

All in all, we had a fun time navigating the dense crowds and figuring out which chili recipes we wanted to taste. It was a perfect event for an overcast Milwaukee Sunday afternoon.

I’m looking forward to seeing who wins the coveted “Golden Ladle”!

I’m off to Orlando for business tomorrow, so hopefully I’ll have more good eats to write about soon.  If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment!

Cheers!

Ker

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.

OGBH

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!

Kanpai

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

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