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