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Milwaukee Restaurants


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I'm quite fond of Izumi's for sushi but have never been to Hama. Is it far and away better than Izumi's? I suppose I should just point the car north and see.

I agree with your comments about Dancing Ganesha. Seems like the meat and fish entrees are particularly overpriced. The vegetarian entrees are more reasonably priced but if you are in the mood for flesh, you might feel like you've been taken.

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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I'm quite fond of Izumi's for sushi but have never been to Hama.  Is it far and away better than Izumi's?  I suppose I should just point the car north and see.

As far Hama and Izumi's go, I'd have to vote Izumi's the better place purely for sushi, but Hama definately has some interesting fusion-y stuff going on.

Another couple of places to look at if you're considering something higher end is Dream Dance, located in Potowatomi Casino. Emphasis on game, steak, etc. Or there's the fairly new Bionda (sp?) in the village of 'Tosa...I believe it's where Jolly's on Harwood used to be. If you're looking for foie, caviar, and truffles, it's probably the place to go.

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Back when I was in Milwaukee....I thought that Karl Ratche's was the most expensive restaurant in Milwaukee (or at least it had the reputation for being expensive.....). I really never thought that Milwaukee was a truffle, foie type of city (it mainly being blue collar). But then again, it's been 8 years since I've lived there. I big night for me was burger and a pitcher of beer at my college hang-out. I can still remember the Saturdays of running between breweries (Lakefront and Sprecher) for tours (sniff...sniff..)

Any really awesome places to buy seafood in town? I'm sure that I'll be doing some cooking when I'm there too. Any places besides Sendik's or V-richards?

Think before you drink.......I think I'll have another!
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I'd really like Bjonda to work because it's location is close to home. Also, I think their catering business is quite good. The three times I have eaten there, my meals have not been satisfactory for the prices paid. The first meal, everything was over salted and somewhat unpleasant. The other meals were not as salty but in both cases the service, particularly related to the wine service, was not on par with a Milwaukee restaurant sporting $25 entrees. One other thing that I didn't like was that the menu was the same each time I dined there and there were no specials.

I'll try it again, perhaps this winter when I don't want to drive very far from home. Hopefully, the service will have improved and the kitchen will have hit their stride by then.

Until that time, for approximately the same prices as what Bionda is charging, I'd prefer to drive down the road and go to Eddie Martini's. The service and food there are very consistent. In fact, I am feeling a bit odd about not thinking to mention it thus far.

edit: grammar and the spelling of the restaurant name (bah!)

Edited by slbunge (log)

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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Have not had good experiences at Izumi's and we stopped going. Have never had a bad experience at Hama's other than no one is Japanese! Karl Ratch'es used to be the place for hearty, heavy German cusine. To purchase fish, try Grashe's in Brookfield on North Av which is the only vendor I now use in the Milwaukee area. The first Stone Crab claws arrived on Saturday and on the way back from the Badger game, I picked up a dozen I had pre-ordered. They were the best I have ever had outside of Florida and HUGE @ $24.99/#. Two were enough for one person. They regularly have fresh sturgeon, skate wings, white salmon. With all fish mongers, you have to ask about when things arrived and make an educated judgement about freshness. The only problem is that they along with all other retailers are now only selling filets and not the whole fish. Makes it harder to judge freshness and no bones for soup stock. Swordfish is $7.99/# since the restaurant trade stopped purchasing and they will cut to order. I like my swordfish steaks about 2-3" inches for the grill. -Dick

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  • 4 months later...
For corned beef there's Jake's on North Av. Not a great neigborhood but Jake's still serves the best corned beef in Milwaukee.

I read that Jakes serves a pastrami that rivals Katz's in NYC. Tough to believe but any thoughts/feedback?

Jakes Deli

corner of W. North Ave and N. 17th St

Milwaukee

"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"
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  • 4 weeks later...

I'm going to be in Milwaukee for a weekend soon, and while most of my meals with be with my boyfriend's family, I will have a breakfast and lunch free. I am wondering what I should absolutely not miss. Maybe some ethnic food that the city does particularly well? I'm from Seattle so please don't recommend any seafood or Asian places-that's everyday fare for me.

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For breakfast, we really enjoy the cafe in the first floor of the Pfister Hotel. Very friendly and tasty. Get the sausage, Milwaukee does have great sausage. (If you get a hankering for a drink after 4, their bar Blu at the top is really nice too, good view and their cocktail munchies are huge goblets of whole cashews, yum!)

If you like German food, there are a few ethnic German places, not amazing foodwise, but very atmospheric. Mader's and Karl Ratzches come to mind. Maders used to have a good brunch on Sundays, but I haven't had it in a long time.

We also like Louisa's on Cathedral Square as a lunch spot. Kind of loud and often busy, but nice with a good solid Italian menu.

You are right to avoid the seafood and Asian spots. Especially the sushi, not good at all, at least the places we have tried.

Oh gosh, almost forgot... the best burger in town, hands down. Kopps custard stand. I think it is off the I43 Silver Spring exit, North of downtown. huge and YUM!! The custard t'aint bad either.

Edited by Cusina (log)

What's wrong with peanut butter and mustard? What else is a guy supposed to do when we are out of jelly?

-Dad

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Oh gosh, almost forgot... the best burger in town, hands down.  Kopps custard stand.  I think it is off the I43 Silver Spring exit, North of downtown.  huge and YUM!!  The custard t'aint bad either.

I must say Kopps has the best custard in the Heartland (better the Ted Drews, in a different way). You should plan your visit to Kopps on what the flavor of the day will be. They will have the standard chocolate and vanilla flavors, but their special of the day is worth checking out. They also have great burgers, too, as already stated. Every time I come through Milwaukee, I must stop by a Kopps (3 locations). And you should too. :biggrin:

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Where do they serve a good tube steak?  :wink:

Hey Fresser, get back to work and stop eGullet'ing. lol. :biggrin:

Go back to the 1976 thread, you have to reply to that one now.

Today's flavors for Kopp's Custard is:

Chocolate Raspberry Creme (Chocolate Raspberry Custard With Flakes Of Chocolate And A Ribbon Of Raspberry.)

Butterfinger Candy Bar (Lots Of Butterfinger Pieces Added To Our Secret Custard Flavor. No, We Won’t Tell.)

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Frozen custard is ice cream made with dairy + eggs, cooked so that the pre-frozen product is thickened. The terms "ice cream" and "gelato" can be confusing since in differents locales, they can refer to dairy+flavorings only, dairy/eggs/flavorings or, in the case of gelato, it can also mean a dairyless fruit concoction, or a dairyless fruit concoction with egg whites.

(Whew!)

In the case of the midwestern "frozen custard" (St. Louis, Milwaukee, et al.), eggs are included, thus the final product is richer and thicker.

If you haven't gone to Milwaukee yet, I'd also recommend:

Beans & Barley...for breakfast; an earthy-crunchy place in a stunning, open contemporary building. The glass-enclosed atmosphere is great in the a.m.

Lake Park Bistro...for Sunday Brunch; old building in the middle of the park that overlooks Lake Michigan; beautiful views, good bkfst. foods, also serves French-leaning dinners, but have never had. You can stroll around the park before or after.

Coquette's Cafe for dinner; renovated warehouse building, great food for unbelievable prices (by Chicago standards), French bistro-esque.

Trocadero for breakfast, lunch or dinner is a cafe/bar/restaurant with nice outdoor seating, some nice wines by the glass, decent food, relaxed atmosphere.

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There's still a couple days before I go...how about some kind of diner for breakfast? Some place that's family owned, with big portions, locally popular, etc?

Thanks for the suggestions so far.

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Doesn't Milwaukee have some great eastern european food-sloviakian, check,yugoslavian etc? Would love a few recommends. I get my Polish fix in Chicago.

What disease did cured ham actually have?

Megan sandwich: White bread, Miracle Whip and Italian submarine dressing. {Megan is 4 y.o.}

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My favorite restaurant is 'Pieces of Eight' right on the lake in Milwaukee. The food is very good; but the best part is the beautiful view- 2 sides of the dining room are glass which gives you an incredible view of the city. Nice romantic spot. They also have an impressive Sunday brunch (need reservations).

It's better to be looked-over than overlooked.
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I went to Marquette in the early-mid 80s, and used to LOVE the pizza and pastas at Al Calderone, at 2498 N Bartlett (not the downtown location.) It's on the first floor of the family's corner house in a residential neighborhood. "Mama" Rose (no, not from Gypsy) makes the best fried eggplant and manicotti. Ask for things that aren't on the menu - she's always just whipped something up in the kitchen. The room is essentially a big bar with zero atmosphere (unless "dated" is considered atmosphere), but the food is wonderful and the huge thin-crust pizzas heaven. Watch Mama when the check comes, however. She usually just presents a slip of paper with a number on it - and that's what you owe; call her on the carpet if she tries to charge too much! And be sure to check out the jukebox and play "Shaddup You Face (Whasamatta You!)" - I'm sure it's still on the list!

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Sanford Restaurant ranks among the best fine dining in the country - with prices about half of what you'd pay for similar in NYC or LA or Chicago.

Enjoy!

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My favorite restaurant is 'Pieces of Eight' right on the lake in Milwaukee. The food is very good; but the best part is the beautiful view- 2 sides of the dining room are glass which gives you an incredible view of the city. Nice romantic spot. They also have an impressive Sunday brunch (need reservations).

POE has a nice atmosphere, but the food is rather ordinary and high-priced (someone has to pay the rent!)

Instead, go for sunset cocktails - it's a wonderful location.

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For east european food my favorites are Three Brothers (2414 South St. 414-481-7530 - checks no plastic) and Old Town (522 West Lincoln 414-672-0206). I concur with Sanfords as a destination restaurant (same owners for Coquettes Cafe). Beans & Barley for lunch and a great selection of other ethnicities Don Quixote for Spanish and now a variety of japanese restaurants.

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For their pork shoulder BBQ try Speed Queen BBQ, see: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST...ndpost&p=346749

The finest thin crust I’ve had in the Midwest can be found at Zaffiro’s Pizza 1724 N Farwell Ave. Think saltine crisp crust.

Someone posted that Jakes Deli serves a pastrami that rivals Katz's in NYC, I have not been myself. Jakes Deli, corner of W. North Ave and N. 17th St. Corned beef is supposed to be stellar as well.

Does Kopp’s serve butter burgers? Solly’s does in Milwaukee. I think the butter flavor is a tad heavy, but then again you will be in Dairy country.

"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"
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  • 2 months later...

I made the trip up from Chicago for another weekend in Milwaukee (city motto: "Spring Here Guarenteed To Be Alaskan") and, given the dearth of Brew City posts, thought I'd give my karmic payback.

After processing my anger at having to experience >50 degree weather in June, I enjoyed the trip, which includes these food-oriented reports for your perusal:

Coast Restaurant. With beautiful views of the lake of Calatrava's stunning addition to the art museum, we had to try this place. Decor was a safe-suburban-businessman's view of comfortably stylish - nice curves to the ceiling, 80's-by-way-of-60's upholstery, brushed nickel silver rope railings that would be in the Wickes Contempo Series, all very stylish without being, you know, Too Hip. The interesting additional of the live piano player humming along to the likes of "Memories" and other Tasteful Background Tunes gave us pause, but it was subtle. We actually liked the Latin inspired canned music better that they played when he was on break.

Service was friendly and exceptional, apologizing when returning a smudged wine glass, noting that I'd removed the too-cold wine from its bucket and inquiring about its temperature, etc.

The food focuses somewhat artificially on concepts of "coasts", seafood items or things it could call, for instance, "Californian" or "New England." And although nothing was bad, all the food needed More. More garlic, or onion, or spice, or salt. It was too tame, safe, a bit bland. Fried calamari and crawfish were fine, but the dipping sauce too sweet with not much red pepper. Salads lacking an inspired dressing, though with excellent greens. Seared ahi tuna was fairly flat in flavor, though I'm a terrible judge of raw fish. The salmon had a nice sauce, but nothing special. A fairly nice wine list, great service, but there are better choices. One bottle of wine, one salad, 2 apps, 1 entree, $100.

Roots Restaurant. A very interesting, fun space in the gentrifying Brewers Hill area, this place is literally perched on top of this hill with great views of downtown. Owned and operated by a young chef with apparently some $$ from somewhere, the rooms would fit right into the west loop area of Chicago - lots and lots of artistic metalwork, carved cherry, nice attention to visual detail. There is a formal restaurant upstairs with a balcony, a more casual cafe/bar downstairs with its own great outdoor sitting area (including some pricey teak furniture). I would definitely enjoy this place in the summer. This place skewed younger, say mid 20's to early 40's, whereas Coast bumped the curve up 5 or so years.

Good service, decent wine list. Bread from local Sunflour Bakery, with asiago sourdough bread and poppy seed loaf, served with herbed olive oil. Food was better than Coast, and I return here, but I wasn't blown away by either the pureness of the craft (as I have been at the eminently recommendable Coquette's Cafe) or by its culinary leaps (Sanfords, to name one). Asparagus soup was overwhelmed by sage and thyme in the stock, so that it could have been broccoli for all I knew, though given the temps, appropriate. Grilled shrimp texturally succulent, but lacking great shrimpiness or flavor additions (brine, garlic, other possibilities). Blanking out on the other app and entree, but dessert was flourless chococake-cum-chipotle with...stay with me here...caladine caramel sauce (caladines the same mini limes the waitress plopped into our water along with cuke slices), cilantro creme and...shoot, some other funny item. Nothing bad, just a bit busy. Cilantro creme? Hmm. One bottle of vino, 2 apps, 1 soup, 1 entree, 1 dessert, $85. Will return, if at least for the views.

How does this city do it where Chicago can't? Alterra Coffee has 2 superior coffee shops with their own roasted coffee, superb locally made pastries and 2 way cool spaces. Intelligentsia is our closest, and though I am a regular customer, their space (and outsourced edibles) just don't compete. Nor does Peet's. Then there is Outpost, a cooperative grocery store, and Beans & Barley, a sleek modern cafe-cum-deli/bakery-cum-grocer. Both have a superb, well-focused selection of excellent wines under $20 selected by some passionate owners. I've gotten turned on to some great Algerian selections at both places, an can select unknown bottles there with the certainty that they will at least be interesting.

Now please, it's just my opinion, but I just don't get people's fascination with (the frozen custard at) Culvers, Kopps or Lixx. K's is the best in terms of dairy flavor, but all of it is way too fluffy and liquid-mercury smooth. And sweet. I don't hate overrun, per se, and smoothifiers have their place in the Great Ice Creams Of The World (cornstarch, eggs, egg whites), it just feels like I'm eating sweet liquid plastic. This is after multiple tries. Please don't hate me.

There are plenty of other food stores and eateries I could recommend, but we didn't visit them this time. Hope this adds to someone else's enjoyment.

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Thanks much for this report. I'll be moving to Madison in August, and will visit Milwaukee for the first time before the Norah Jones concert. Where can we have an early dinner beforehand? Should Sanford be saved for an occasion with more time allowed? I want to knock the socks off my also-moving-to-WI-for-me boyfriend... :biggrin:

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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Thanks much for this report. I'll be moving to Madison in August, and will visit Milwaukee for the first time before the Norah Jones concert. Where can we have an early dinner beforehand? Should Sanford be saved for an occasion with more time allowed? I want to knock the socks off my also-moving-to-WI-for-me boyfriend... :biggrin:

Coquette Cafe (also owned/operated by Sanford D'Amato) is an ideal, casual spot for a pre-concert meal. I'd save dining at Sanford for when you have more time.

Also nice (and a dynamite setting) is Lake Park Bistro, on a bluff over Lake Michigan in (you guessed it!) Lake Park.

Wherever you go, enjoy! And let us know how the meal went. :wink:

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Great report! The timing of this is perfect since I will be in Milwaukee next week.

Any suggestions for eating at Summerfest? I assume that there have standard State Fair type of options...... lots of deep fried foods (not that there is anything wrong with that)

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