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Food, glorious food

La Merenda Scallop Ceviche

La Merenda Scallop Ceviche

So I love to eat. A lot of us do. And I love to try out new restaurants but always come back to the comfort of familiar ones. Thankfully, Milwaukee has a surprising number of great restaurants. So while I was eating at one of our regular spots (La Merenda in Walkers Point) last Saturday, I got to thinking about what restaurants were like a great pair of blue jeans or a favorite sweater and which were the black tie and little black dress in my life.

I’ll try to give a little blurb and an approximate cost per person. Keep in mind, my memory ain’t what it used to be so the costs may be wildly off. Also, since I haven’t been to some of these places in a while, they may no longer exist but I still have fond memories of them.

Per Person, without drinks costs:

$10 -$15 = $
$16-$30 = $$
$31-$50 = $$$
$51-$???= $$$$


Comfort Places:

Trocadero – French themed bistro, good food nice selection of cheeses and wine $$
Cafe Hollander – Belgian style beer bistro – great beer choices and the pommes frites in a cone with sauces is a must! $$
La Merenda – Tapas place. Best combo of food and hip dress down cool. Check out the Beet and Butternut Squash Ravioli $$-$$$
Mayura – Best Indian food in the city, IMO. My daughter loves the Papadum Man. $$
La Fuente – Favorite Mexican restaurant. $
Beans and Barley – Vegetarian restaurant with options for non vegetarians. Love their stir-fry with brown rice. $$
Coquette Cafe – Sandy D’Amato’s take on the French Bistro. complete with the paper table toppers. Delicious specials. $$$
East Side Caffe – Italian underappreciated but delicious upscale Italian dishes in a relaxed environment. $$

Stepping out places:

Bacchus – Executive Chef Adam Siegel (2008 James Beard award winner) has a menu that is inventive and satisfying. Definitely an “event night” destination as our last trip there, with a bottle of wine, scotch, appetizers and desserts topped the $300 mark for 2 people. $$$$
Sanford – Sandy D’Amato’s flagship restaurant has carried the culinary torch in Milwaukee for decades now. Also a James Beard award winner (1996), his menus are reflections of regional tastes with a national panache. For us, it was excellent the first few times we went there, but the last time, the soft-shelled crabs were over-salted. Ugh. Still, it’s built up enough equity in the bank for us to try again. $$$$
– ex-Barossa chef Jan Kelly opened her own restaurant with a simpler menu that the late Barossa but the quality is still excellent. The food is wonderful and the space isn’t stuffy. We enjoy the restaurant for the balance in good cuisine and reasonable price. $$$
Hinterland – A “gastropub,” as it bills itself, in the Third Ward, it’s a chic, hip place that serves awesome food in a fusion of East and West (Kung Pao Sweetbreads and Seared Foie Gras on the same menu?). Chef Dan van Rite was just nominated for his first James Beard award. Haven’t been there in about a year, I need to check it out again. $$$$

Milwaukee skyline as seen from Roots

Milwaukee skyline as seen from Roots

Roots – A restaurant that is owned by a farmer and a chef should provide good food with lots of local and regional ingredients and Roots does not disappoint. Their regular dinner menu changes constantly and their specials reflect what is in season. Big believers in the Slow Food movement, dinner is served at a leisurely pace. When my son celebrated his 6th birthday, we asked him where we should go to celebrate and he picked Roots. He ordered and ate the Quinoa Stuffed Heirloom Tomato with a pesto sauce. Delish! $$$

*NOTE* Roots has a second dining space below their main sitting area called Roots Cellar. Reservations are NOT taken for Roots Cellar and cuisine is more pub-like (nachos, burgers, sandwiches) but still delicious. Costs for Roots Cellar are commensurate with the menu items. $$

As for other memorable restaurants, I love going to Taste of Saigon, Busara, Tara Thai, Panjshir, Carlyle Grand when I’m in DC. I still love Kinkead’s and bummed about Colvin Run Tavern. Wondering how Chez Francois is since the fire and want to re-visit the Minbar at Cafe Atlantico.

What are your thoughts? What are your favorite restaurants?

Categories: Family, Food, Friends
  1. Eric B
    March 4, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Wow…thought I would check the blog…you are the new walking/talking Zagat

  2. Elaine
    March 8, 2010 at 9:18 am

    My late, much lamented friend Dennis Getto would be proud of you!

    Keep in mind Zarletti’s and Osteria for Italian (both somewhat upmarket), and no list is complete without Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro for its food and its setting — though in the interest of full disclosure I can’t get my husband to go there because of the acoustics! Le Reve in Tosa is fun, moderately priced and more casual but we had a long wait for a table recently on a Saturday night.

    • Ody
      March 8, 2010 at 10:40 am

      Ahh, Ms. Elaine, I do love Osteria del Mondo but have not visited in quite a while so I was unable to provide a relatively recent assessment of the food.

      As for Lake Park Bistro, we’ve had such Jekyll and Hyde experiences there that I fear it’s been relegated to a brunch destination rather than a dinner destination.

      Le Reve is so close to work for me, I must make it there because so many people have raved about it. Perhaps this week…. 🙂

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