Archive for the tag “brunch”

Thumbs Up to Tre Rivali! (at the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel)

On September 16th, I received an email from a publicist in Chicago, Madelaine, inviting me and a guest to enjoy a complimentary brunch at the new restaurant in The Kimpton Journeyman Hotel in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward.

The invitation to Tre Rivali was for Saturday brunch for two (“on the house”), so I decided it was a great opportunity to invite my visiting friend to join me a what could be the “hot new spot”! My friend, Rich, was scheduled to visit me during the weekend of Oct 7-9th, and the ONLY thing I had planned was this brunch on Saturday the 8th.

Before I get into the experience at Tre Rivali, please let me tell you that, despite an intentional lack of planning, Rich and I covered (literally) lots of ground in Milwaukee, walking all over the city and visiting: the lakefront, Lakefront Brewery, Colectivo Coffee, Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub (Go Tribe!, Go Clemson!), the Pabst Mansion, the Harley Davidson museum, Kanpai IzakayaBugsy’s Back Alley Speakeasy and finally, Zak’s Cafe. It was a busy, fun and social weekend with other friends joining in here and there!

Back to Tre Rivali. We walked over to the Journeyman and entered a posh, but not intimidating boutique hotel.  Here are some of their photos. The restaurant is off to the left of the lobby, and I first thought it to be a coffee shop. Had we entered from the street, it would have been more obvious to me! (May I please have a break – it was still morning!).

There are two main areas within the restaurant. The room one enters is beautifully tiled, with a casually comfortable feel. The second room, which is all dining space almost had a bit of a cottage type of feel with large comfy cushions and white “siding”. It was a very inviting space.

Please note that the photo in the upper right is from the Journeyman Hotel’s Instagram page.

One of the disappointments of the weekend was the lack of good service at some of (not all of) the aforementioned establishments. We had EXCELLENT service at Tre Rivali. Larissa was our server, and she was prompt, happy, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable.

Rich asked me if I planned to let her choose my meal, and after perusing the menu, I had decided “yes”. There were many good options from which to choose, so why not let the expert do the choosing? And, Larissa was right on board! So much so that Rich felt compelled to “step outside of his comfort zone” and have her choose his meal as well!

Larissa chose the avocado toast for me. She had no idea how much I love both avocado and poached egg! This light whole grain toast was smothered in avocado, and topped with radishes, sprouts, olive oil and a poached egg. It wasn’t overly-flavorful, but had nice texture and the radishes gave a slight “bite” to it.

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For Rich, Larissa chose the beef burger which was topped with bacon jam pesto aioli, Fontina cheese and a sunny-side up egg. This was no small feat, and required a knife and fork, in my opinion! Rich was also served a bowl of the cucumber gazpacho (such a delicious side of soup!).

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Since he and I split our dishes down the middle and tried a bit of everything, I can personally attest to the fact that the burger was FULL of flavor and quite filling! As I mentioned, the gazpacho was extraordinary, with cucumber flavor cooling the palate beautifully!

I feel very fortunate that local companies reach out to me to try new venues and provide feedback. This was a great experience at new spot downtown. I’ve seen other friends post about brunch at Tre Rivali as well. I hope they had similarly nice experiences!

It’s certainly a restaurant I will keep in mind as the visitors keep coming (or when I just want a good brunch downtown!).

Thank you for a wonderful morning meal, Larissa and Tre Rivali.

Cheers!

Ker

Saying goodbye, with fond memories. Recalling a great brunch at Trocadero Gastrobar, Milwaukee

A few weeks back, I had lunch with the guy I had been dating at the time.  Not the right man for me, but we had many fun times together. I appreciated that this man knows and enjoys so many places around Milwaukee.  He introduced me to some very cool places. One of those times was at Trocadero Gastrobar on Water Street near Brady.  I had never been to Trocadero, and, I was in for a treat!

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Courtesy of Google search.

It was a chilly Milwaukee morning, so I was craving a warm beverage. Those of you who know me, know that I do NOT drink coffee!  And, frankly, I haven’t had hot cocoa in quite some time either.  BUT…the Mexican hot cocoa, mixed with Godiva Chocolate Liqueor, Ancho Reyes Liqueor, and sprinkled with cinnamon was too tempting to pass up!  Drinking in the AM is okay when it’s masked by hot cocoa, right?? 🙂

Please let the photo speak for itself!

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Amazing!!!

My brunch companion decided to have the spiciest jalapeno Bloody Mary on the menu.  It did have good flavor, for sure!  Quite a bite, as he once or twice had to “recover” from the “hot hit”.

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He doesn’t appreciate photos being posted, and although we’re not together any longer, I certainly respect his wishes.  So, I’ve superimposed (comically, and in a way that will make any “creative type” cringe) someone with whom I’d adore having brunch!  Ever since he appeared on Alias almost 15 years ago, Michael Vartan has had a major fan here!

_notGCI include the picture at all because he  was holding up the menu…a key piece of information!  Plus, my then boyfriend was kindly helping to make the picture a bit more interesting.  His idea, as he supported my unusual dining habits and my blogging.

For brunch,  I had the BELT – bacon, fried eggs, lettuce, tomato, garlic aoli, and Breadsmith herbed focaccia.  I had asked for avocado to be added to it, but alas…the one downfall of Trocadero Gastrobar is that they don’t offer avocado on any dishes.  Boo to that! Still, it deserves to be mentioned that the bread was so soft and delicious (not like any focaccia I have ever had!), and the sandwich was just fabulous!

The picture does not do the sandwich justice!  Trust me, it was SO good!

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He had the biscuits and gravy (Southern roots coming out, y’all?). House-made cheddar biscuits, white country gravy, two eggs. A large portion, but I can tell y’all that this man was pretty darned happy with the choice.

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We both really enjoyed our respective meals tremendously, and each others’ company very much. A lovely late morning/early afternoon out in our beloved Milwaukee. Plus, the atmosphere at Trocadero is quite casual and cool.

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Courtesy of Google search.

Unfortunately, all good things seem to come to an end, and we ultimately determined we were not a good fit for each other.  Perhaps we’ll find friendship together, but in any case, I wish him happiness in life.

I had originally reported that this was the weekend of NCAA March Madness consumption.  I was a week off.  It would be a week later that we decided to sit on the couch and watch NCAA basketball, and eventually ordered Smoke Shack BBQ to bring home.  Yum, yum, yum!

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It was also the day that I watched my baby of 13+ years begin to lose the use of his hind legs, and would ultimately experience the single most difficult day of my life…saying a tearful, heartbreakingly sad goodbye to my Seamus.

I was blessed to have this gorgeous goofball / knucklehead / ever-loving, angel of a baby live 14+ years (13 with me, after surviving and thriving after being rescued from an abusive home).  It has SUCKED to say the least, but I know that I will recognize that the good times will far outweigh the sorrow – in time.

RIP, my angel.  I could not have loved you more, my sweet baby.

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– Ker

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!  🙂

Then, in a blink of an eye, it was Sunday!

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

 

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

A Farewell “Toast” with Great Friends!

Some of you (friends and family) may know that I am planning to relocate from the greater Detroit area to the greater Milwaukee area soon. I’ve accepted a fantastic new position, and I’m really excited about this new opportunity. At the same time, I’m bummed to be leaving some really great friends behind in MI. I know that we’ll end up meeting up somewhere – MI, Chicago, Milwaukee, or some other “road trip” location TBD. But, that still means I won’t get to see these friends as frequently as I’d like. 😦

That said, two of my closest friends here in Michigan (whom I’ve written about before – here, here, here, and here, and who wrote a guest post for me) invited me to brunch this morning. We were to meet at Toast in Ferndale at 11AM this morning. I arrived a bit early and gave my name to the hostess – twice, as she neglected to write it down the first time (and it turns out, the second time too).

After Bryan and Jessi arrived, we caught up a bit outside of the restaurant. It was a rainy morning, but it was still warm enough to stand outside. We waited for 30 minutes before Bryan’s name, not mine, was called. The hostess simply dismissed the fact that my name had never been added to the list. I had been there for ~45 minutes at that point, and was not impressed by the “service” thus far, but was famished and ready to eat! Whatever. Moving on…

Once inside, we were promptly greeted and had our drinks delivered. Then, we were swiftly ignored for several minutes. Again, the service…not impressive.

Once the server came back to take our order, we couldn’t rattle off our choices quickly enough! I started by proclaiming that I couldn’t decide between the breakfast burrito , a standard on the menu, and a special item: Thai style Eggs Benny. The combination of flavors just sounded divine to me, but I also love a good breakfast burrito!

Breakfast menu Toast.

Breakfast menu Toast. It’s an “eye chart”, but you get the gist! The breakfast burrito consists of

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The server quickly responded that the special is fantastic, so the special was what I would have. Jessi ordered the standard Eggs Benny, and Bryan ordered a custom omelet – both with grits. The server ended up choosing home fries for me, though I would have welcomed the opportunity to have grits again!

We continued to catch up while waiting for our meals. Considering how crowded the restaurant was, they didn’t take too long to be delivered.

Thai style Eggs Benny at Toast.

Thai style Eggs Benny at Toast.

And, when I bit into my Thai style Eggs Benny, I knew I had made a good choice. The coconut biscuits had a subtle flavor, but were a cool compliment to the (semi) spicy red chili Hollandaise. I love having spinach on my breakfast foods, and it worked really well in this dish. And, the grilled shrimp (3 of them) gave another bit of much-needed morning protein and Omega 3 fatty acids.

I’m not usually a fan of potato chunks at breakfast. I prefer hash browns. However, the potatoes had a nice flavor to them, and I enjoyed several bites.

Home fries at Toast.

Home fries at Toast.

Bryan and Jessi had been to Toast before, and based on their prior experiences, we had we had talked about having brunch here before. I was glad we finally made good on that plan!

I was quite pleased with my breakfast, as was Jessi with hers. But, Bryan was disappointed with his, and from my view, rightfully so. His eggs were not tasty (they looked overcooked to me), and he said the chicken apple sausage lacked any apple flavor.

Sadly, even our attempts to cheer him up didn’t work. He didn’t really share the enthusiasm about mine or Jessi’s meals when we shared a bit with him. The Hollandaise fell short in his opinion (and he is an informed foodie!). He did admit that the red chili flavor was the upside of my dish (I agree!).

It was a bummer that his food wasn’t very good, since he and Jessi had always had fabulous experiences at Toast before. And, Toast’s reputation is quite good! Still, Jessi and I continued to dig into our meals!

My personal biggest disappointment with our brunch experience was with the lackluster service. Despite that, having leisurely brunch together at a new place (for me!) was a perfect way to spend a Sunday morning.

I’m going to miss having the opportunity to catch up with these two on a regular basis. Distance (aka: absence) will make the heart grow fonder – and will increase our already over-the-top texting conversations! Thanks for a lovely morning of catching up over brunch.

Love you two!

Ker, aka: Cupcake 🙂

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