Archive for the tag “Historic Third Ward”

Sneak Peek: Merriment Social – The Newest Addition to Milwaukee’s Fifth Ward

Brief disclaimer: I do know the difference between “peak” and “peek”.  I’ve been a bit foggy-brained this past week since laying my baby boy Riley (my 14+ year-old Golden) to rest last week.  Massive editorial error in the initial draft – sorry for that, folks!

I was invited by friends at Next Act Theatre to attend a pre-opening dinner at the new Merriment Social restaurant in the Fifth Ward (between the Historic Third Ward and Walker’s Point).  Most recently, the space used to be Prodigal Gastropub.

The space has been renovated to provide a cool and energetic vibe.  Where there used to be a wall separating the main restaurant from “The Bourbon Room”, the entire restaurant has opened up, creating a light and inviting space.  The open floor plan provides great views, but also generates quite a buzz (it’s not a quiet spot)!  Here are a few shots of the interior.

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The opened up space.

The opened up space.

Bright, colorful art hangs all around the restaurant.

Bright, colorful art hangs all around the restaurant.

The restaurant was introduced to me as an “American Dim Sum” experience.  What???  Well, sure enough, servers were circling the tables offering dim sum plates (which we devoured before I took pictures!).  Spicy cheese curds, scallops, roasted corn… I didn’t try the scallops, because, well, you know…but everything else was quite tasty and my friends enjoyed the scallops as well.

Marko was our server, and he was friendly, explained everything quickly and easily, and informed us that both the bone marrow (one of my favorite things!) and the short ribs (another fave) were no longer available (sold out).  It was a bummer, but that’s part of the reason for a soft-opening, right?  Working out the kinks before the massive crowds come piling in.

Here is the dinner menu (I noticed I accidentally cut of the braised beef short rib with herb spaetzle, horseradish gastrique and caraway pickles and the red rainbow trout with dill potato “salad”, pickled mustard seed and charred shallot vinaigrette under the “large plates”):

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I did hand Marko my blog card, and he was totally game.  In the meantime, my friend is wired like I am…the more cheese, the better.  So, she ordered the cheese curds – which were served in a cheese sauce!  Wow!  That was a bit rich, even for me.  But, also one very good bite!

Cheese on top of cheese!

Cheese on top of cheese!

When our main dishes were served, the first one up was fried chicken and pork belly pancakes.  When my table mates couldn’t claim the dish, we figured out that Marko had chosen the dish for me.  He read the card and served traditional butter instead of maple butter – THANK YOU, MARKO!!!

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He also mentioned that he had almost gone with the trout, but wasn’t sure if I just didn’t like scallops, or didn’t like seafood in general (it’s the former – an allergy).  This fried chicken had a great crust over a really moist piece of chicken.  Good flavor as well.  And, the pork belly pancakes with the hot sauce over them made for a great pairing.  I loved this dish!  I’m happy to say that I have half of the serving at home to enjoy tomorrow.  🙂

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Becky and I decided we would try dessert as well.  There was a genoise cake with orange blossom pastry cream and seasonal berries on the menu. Y’all know I don’t turn down citrus desserts!

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And, Becky the farmer’s cheese tart with roasted fruit and whipped cream.

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The desserts were the two lackluster items of the evening.  They were good, but I felt that the cake was a bit dry in my dessert, and Becky felt that the cheese made her tart a bit too salty.

In all, we all agreed that we will be back to Merriment Social, especially since it’s so close to Next Act Theatre as well!  I can see myself stopping in after board meetings and performances on a regular basis.  It’s also nice to invite another restaurant to the neighborhood that supports local farmers, artisans and producers.

One last note, the prices are reasonably priced and in line with many of the restaurants with which I would categorize Merriment Social.  Last night, however, the meal was “on the house” and we only paid for our drinks – and a proper tip to Marko for his excellent and attentive service throughout the night.

Merriment Social officially opens Friday August 7, 2015. You  can call 414.645.0240 for reservations.  I hope y’all will give it a try and leave a comment with your thoughts!

Cheers!

Ker

An honestly good time at Onesto! (Did ya catch that?)

How about party of one at “ONEsto“?  I’m feeling pretty punny today, friends!

Some people do not enjoy dining alone, but I have never really had a problem doing so.  I think having to travel for business so much throughout my career taught me to feel comfortable as a “party of one”.  Back in the day, I would bring a book with me and sit at the corner two-top table at which hosts and hostesses would inevitably seat me.  I’d read and casually eat my food while servers seemed to try to rush me out.  I never really knew if it was because they were feeling uncomfortable for me, or if they were just trying to turn the table – probably a bit of both.

Nowadays, let’s face it. I have my nose stuck in my iPhone – either playing “Words with Friends”, checking social media sites, returning emails, or taking photos to include in blog posts like this.  I really do feel that my “smart phone” has had the opposite effect on my intellect!

Anyhow, onto the story of my experience at Onesto, which opened last summer.  My first adventure on Sunday was to finally get out and see Next Act Theatre’s final show and final performance of the season… “Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher about Evolution”.  A WONDERFUL show, and it featured local actors I’ve come to know, as well as a Chicago-based actor whom I had as a houseguest for the first two weeks he was rehearsing the show.  So, you know I really did want to see Kyle in the lead role much earlier, but business travel and personal issues delayed my seeing the show.  (and, many thanks to my Next Act crew for giving a(n unnecessary) special mention in the program!)

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I loved hearing the remarks from audience members, both at intermission and after the show.  As a board member, I found that folks really appreciated providing me their points of view, their personal experiences, and the reactions to the theatre space in general.  It was a great afternoon!  But, I was hungry by the time the show ended!  That’s when I decided to head over and try Onesto (which was mentioned to me by my favorite gal at AJ Bombers).

When I walked up to Onesto, I was greeted with “Ker?” by the gentleman at the door. Simply amazing to me since I am just barely coming up on two years in Milwaukee!  Matt and I met at AJ Bombers a while back, and we know each other over Twitter, but I didn’t really think he would recognize me out of the blue!  What a warm welcome!

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And, a cool spot!  Check out the artwork that’s for sale when you stop in!

It was a gorgeous day, so I sat at the last seat at the bar, near the open windows facing N. Broadway Ave.

As he walked me to my seat, Matt gave me a few recommendations (Mussels with Linguini, Bolognese with meatballs, Butternut Squash Ravioli), but he also mentioned that Jason (behind the bar) would “take good care of” me. So, as Jason greeted me, I promptly greeted him back and handed him my blog card.  Jason verified that he understood the “instructions” and quickly went on his way.

He served me a glass of the featured wine:

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Then, I was served up a happy hour special – free Honey Roasted Bruschetta (roma tomato, basil, housemade ricotta) – and I bonded with Jason over his pronunciation of the word “bruschetta” – we both learned to pronounce it with a hard “k” sound rather than a “sh”.  It’s the simple things, folks!

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When my entree was delivered, it was actually one of the dishes Matt had mentioned during our brief chat.  I was served the Bolognese (housemade spaghetti, topped with brisket) and served with two pork and grass fed meatballs (Oh My Goodness!  I thought I was completely in love with the au gratin potatoes (served under the grilled beef tenderloin) at Millioke, but I now have to share my heart with these meatballs!)

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I mentioned that I was hungry that day!  I hadn’t eaten anything substantial until I went for this late lunch / early dinner.  This was a LOT of food, but it was so tasty!  Homemade spaghetti and meatballs – with brisket to boot!  I was absolutely full by the time I was finished.

That didn’t stop Jason from bringing me (another free of charge item) a decadent dessert!  Flourless chocolate olive oil cake with pistachio brittle (perhaps the best new discovery of recent times!).  Y’all, this cake…it was almost like eating pudding!  So smooth and creamy.  But, the brittle was the true hero, in my opinion!

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I advised both Jason and Matt that I would be sending the bill for my gym membership after having this meal!  It’s a miracle I had the energy to walk Riley and then do some work that evening.  I probably should have given into a carb crash and called it a night!

It was a perfect Sunday afternoon, and I thoroughly enjoyed dining solo while catching occasional conversation with both Jason and Matt throughout the afternoon.  They’re just lovely men and very friendly.

To sum it up: great service + great food + great atmosphere = a great time!  I’d love to know if you’ve been to Onesto and if you have a favorite dish!

Cheers!

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

 

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