Archive for the tag “Milwaukee”

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

Sweet Milwaukee – Classy Girls Cupcakes Giveaway!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and that’s largely because I have been focusing on eating healthier, more well-rounded meals – at home.

However, when I saw a contest giveaway from one of my favorite local shops, I just had to enter!  Lo and behold, I won!

Classy Girl Cupcakes is an adorable shop in Cathedral Square in East Town Milwaukee.  Almost every time I have visitors, we make a stop in for a cupcake or a push pop.  With all the walking and exploring we do, CGC always seems to be a nice, sweet reward!

I’ve also used CGC for my “Clue-themed” party.

Six character themed cupcake styles from Classy Girl Cupcakes (on the right of the page).

Six character themed cupcake styles from Classy Girl Cupcakes (on the right of the page).

Classy Girl Cupcakes were also responsible for my contribution to UPAF Night at Casablanca earlier this year.  Four different flavors on hand, decorated in UPAF colors!  Carrot cake, Ghirardelli chocoloate, Red velvet and Vanilla (a personal favorite of mine!).

A gorgeous array of 250 cupcakes to celebrate UPAF and the hostess's birthday!

A gorgeous array of 250 cupcakes to celebrate UPAF and the hostess’s birthday!

So, back to the contest…  Every Friday, CGC takes one of their cupcakes on-location in Milwaukee for a photo shoot. The photo then gets posted on both their @cgcupcakesmke Twitter account and their @classygirlcupcakes Instagram account.

Followers should “repost” the photo to their own accounts. The hashtags to use are #CGCinMKE and #classygirlcupcakes. Followers should also leave a comment on the Classy Girls Photo with where they suspect the cupcake was photographed.

Photos are generally up by 8AM Friday mornings. And a winner is chosen by 6PM that evening. Here are a few photos (including the “Tequila-themed” photo which made me a winner!)

The deets...

The deets…


Festa Italia!

Festa Italia!


Tequila! (National Tequila Day) at Bradford Beach.

Tequila! (National Tequila Day) at Bradford Beach.

All I had to do to claim my prize was to stop by the shop (on my way home from a morning at the salon) and show the confirmation email Christine sent me the evening that I won (last night).  I had the lovely lady behind the counter pick her favorite jumbo filled cupcake and surprise me.

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I came home to a beautiful, and huge gooey pretzel chunk jumbo filled cupcake ($5.00 value, and who knows how many calories!).

Gooey pretzel crunch...

Gooey pretzel crunch…

IMG_2429aI’m not sure how long it will take me to finish this package of pretzel filled gooey goodness.  Every time I’ve strayed from my meal plan, my body gets a little upset with me, so I may have to take things slowly here!

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I will say this… it was love at first bite!

If you’re in the Milwaukee area, please remember to follow Classy Girl Cupcakes on Twitter (@cgcupcakesmke) and Instagram (@classygirlcupcakes), and pay special attention on Fridays!  The rewards are real!

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

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

Casablanca and Next Generation UPAF – May 6th – Mark Your Calendar!

A little over a month ago, on a Monday night, I agreed to meet the man I had been out with a few times for dinner – prior to my leaving for Florida on a business trip.  He suggested (and made a reservation at, as he always does!) Casablanca on Brady Street.  Although we really enjoyed the delicious Middle Eastern food, I was more intent on enjoying the evening with the guy I would find myself dating, and then walking away from (aka: the eventual ex-boyfriend), than on taking photos to share in a blog post.

However, a few weeks later, through my affiliation with Next Generation UPAF, I found myself being hosted to another dining experience at Casablanca by a fellow Next Genner, Nadia, whose family owns the restaurant.  It was the perfect opportunity to take pictures and write a post! Oh, and to enjoy more delicious Middle Eastern food and traditions!

Nadia and her family have generously offered to host a fund raiser for UPAF on Wednesday May 6th, and she wanted a few people to come by and check out the restaurant, the food, and the Hookah.

I met Nadia at the upper level bar (Casablanca is a huge restaurant!).  She greeted me warmly and started to explain the concept of Hookah to me.  The flavors (citrus, mint, etc), the technique (think Clinton), and the social aspect of Hookah. When Nadia gave me my own mouthpiece, I sampled from her bowl.  I can honestly say that smoking Hookah isn’t “my thing”, but when in Rome…

At the bar, trying Hookah with Nadia.

At the bar, trying Hookah with Nadia.

Shortly thereafter, two others joined us, Craig and Kristi. Both work at Apex Systems, and have worked with Nadia in the past.  And, both were lovely folks – it was very easy to feel comfortable with these two!

Nadia, having checked out my blog, already knew that I would trust her and the servers to choose good food for me that evening.  And, they did!

We started with Adas Majrous (lentil soup) – which was wonderfully flavorful and had great consistency.

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Then, as we were enjoying casual conversation, we munched on some deliciously simple hummus and meat with warm, fresh pita bread.

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Our entrees were served quickly thereafter.  I was served chicken and beef kabobs with basmati rice.  A great combination of proteins and vegetables – all perfectly flavored.

IMG_1600During our dinner conversation, we talked about the event Casablanca will host on May 6th. From 5:30-8:30PM that evening, Casablanca will have guest bartenders from local businesses (including Nadia’s employer, Rockwell Automation).  The tips and a percentage of the bar take will be donated to the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF).  There will be delicious a Middle Eastern food buffet, a complimentary round of drinks, prizes (vouchers for the performing arts), belly dancers and other entertainment throughout the evening.

We took a brief break to enjoy a few bites of a surprise delivery of baklava (yum!).  I ended up taking a few pieces home to share with my house guest and to munch on later!  And then continued with our conversation.

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With the space Casablanca offers, the FABULOUS food, and the generosity of the owners, this should be a fantastically fun evening out!  “Like” their Facebook page for more information about this event as well as “Classic Movie Night”, “wine and canvas”, and other special events.

I hope to see local folks on May 6th for a great night out in support of the performing arts!

Cheers!

Ker

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