Summer is just around the corner. Right now, I’ve been basking in the beauty of this spring. While it seems like fall gets most press when it comes to changing of seasons (and what a depressing change it is …), spring is also a time of change.
And while we are all experiencing the physical manifestations of spring (better weather, more sun, etc.), our little group of diners are experiencing personal springs as well. These exciting developments–TJ and Shannon with their varied artistic endeavors, TJ’s new house, Michelle and I with our wedding and house hunt, and Adam and Cindi with beautiful, sleepy Marilyn–make it harder for us to find weekends that work for the “ABCs of Milwaukee Dining.”
So for the first time as part of this quest, we headed out to dinner on a weekday. A Monday to be exact. While part of me regretted not being able to experience an open-ended night of food, fun and drinks, I was glad that this quest could transform an ordinary weeknight it something more.
The Eatery on Farwell was selected by Shannon, who had recently reviewed their Bloody Mary. I reserved a table, but it wasn’t necessary.
The Eatery was lively, but wasn’t packed. The location features three unique spaces–the dining area, where we sat, has low lighting and ample seating, while the bar area is inviting, if a bit brighter with several televisions and though the patio doesn’t offer much by way of scenery, it remains a nice option for diners looking to be bathed in the summer sun.
Michelle liked the relaxed style inside, but would have enjoyed sitting on the patio had it been a bit warmer. Shannon said:
The atmosphere feels like a bar trying to live up to its own name. The theme works for them.
For the first time, we were joined by a seventh person, although this one weighs less than 10 pounds and didn’t add anything by way of conversation. Nevertheless, after months of waiting, it was great to be joined by little Marilyn.
As we mulled over the menu, we discussed the fact that The Eatery’s breakfast/brunch menu is well known and looked tasty. Adam said:
They had a huge menu but 1/3 of it was roped off. Most of the things I wished I could order were not available at dinner time.
Appetizers & Drinks
As we contemplated the menu, we enjoyed $3.50 Lakefront beers. It is always good to see the special featuring a local small brewery. I may have mentioned this before, but Lakefront’s IPA is my favorite. They also do an IBA (India Black Ale), which only comes in big bottles ($7) and is excellent!
Though no one had anything remarkable to say about the cheese curds, they ended up being finished, which is, I guess, a wordless endorsement, if nothing else.
The other appetizer, the Oysters Rockefeller, were a big hit. They were really tasty, savory and rich. I’d never had oysters this way before, despite the fact that I love oysters, and though we were unsure if they would come out cooked (they did), everyone who tried one enjoyed it (sadly, the order was only 4).
Besides being tasty, the appetizers were plated and presented nicely. TJ puts it well:
The place might not win culinary awards* but it’s a good place for “gourmet” bar food.
*The Eatery was runner up at 2012’s Fifth Annual Milwaukee Chili Bowl.
The Main Course
We were eager for dinner and, just in time, it arrived. TJ enjoyed a gourmet spin on a childhood favorite. He said:
Mac and Cheese is one of those meals that always sounds really good but for whatever reason, it usually disappoints. With that in mind, at first I was a bit underwhelmed, but by the end, it was great. I enjoyed it a lot.
If I went back, I’d have Michelle’s meal, which is crazy, because usually I won’t call a meal a meal unless it has meat. Nevertheless, I thought it was full of interesting flavors that met in a tasty way. She was less enthusiastic:
I was really intrigued by the idea of cucumber aioli, fried tofu and sweet potato straws. Veggie sandwiches can be kind of bland. This one was pretty good but it tasted “healthy”. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. I was not a huge fan of the fries.
My sandwich was good, but the unique elements—the jalapeño bacon and avocado aioli—did not really register on my taste buds, I wish they had influenced the flavor of the sandwich more powerfully. I loved that the turkey had been placed on the grill and had some nice browning to it. I agreed with Michelle, the potato wedges were pretty forgettable. They just seemed to be potato that had been cut up, too big, and fried with minimal seasonings.
When I ordered a Lakefront IPA to go with my meal, we were told it was the last one. Pretty surprising on a night when it is a special.
Adam had a sandwich called the Tinga. A theme was developing, though most of our food had awesome, unique ingredients, none of those ingredients seemed to make much of a impression on the pallet. Adam said:
The sandwich was good, pretty much on par with most barbecue pulled sandwiches. The chili was okay, it didn’t really have a ton of flavor.
Meanwhile, little Marylin slept, oblivious to it all. She makes me wonder, what kinds of things did my parents bring me to? Will she read this blog some day? Will it make her feel special that she was there? I hope so. Friendship is important to her parents. It’d have probably been easier to stay home, but Adam and Cindi, God bless them, are resolved to continue the things that were important to them before her birth, and to share her with the people who love them. I think it is a fantastic decision and, as is obvious in the opening photo, I love having her around.
Speaking of Cindi, she had a veggie-centric dish, just like Michelle. She said:
Adam informed me that when you get a sandwich made of veggies you can’t expect it to be full of flavor. I disagree with this statement, but in this case, Adam was right. I think it had potential and sounds delicious but needed more seasoning. I had it with a side of root vegetable mash which I really liked.
I tried the root vegetables, and I’d concur, they were excellent. Part of this quest is about trying new things, and I regret my choice of fries when there was something more unique and tasty available.
Shannon completed the female trifecta of meatless entrees. She said:
I thought it was really good and flavorful but the top bun was not needed … Actually the bottom one alone was a little too thick. I’m not a carb counter by any means, but there was too much bread to this sandwich.
When I was growing up, we finished our meals, but we never had dessert.
One of my favorite things about this quest is that we almost feel compelled to have the dessert. It is awesome!
We shared Beignets, which were essentially funnel cake balls with powdered sugar. They were pretty tasty. For some reason, we also ate that little flower. I honestly don’t know why. Cindi said:
I loved the Beignets which melted in my mouth. Would’ve been great with a cup of coffee!
It would be fair to say that The Eatery was a mixed bag. TJ had a poor experience his first time at The Eatery, so he was encouraged. And that is a good lesson, every place deserves more than one chance to make a good impression. There are just too many variables to damn a place after one bad visit.
And, to a person, we all want to go back for breakfast or brunch…
Ratings for Eatery on Farwell were, as follows:
Eatery on Farwell cumulative rating: 6.2
Nightcap: Goodbye Flatiron
With a baby joining us, we couldn’t very well go to a bar.
And it was just as well. As the lead singer of Semisonic famously reminds us in their only hit, ‘Closing Time,’ “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
Likely, this would be the last time we’d all be together at TJ’s apartment. TJ had lived there for less than a year, only enough time to make a handful of memories. Yet, this was still the closing of a chapter–the end of a “spring.”
I’ll never forget helping move TJ and our friend Brendan into the building. Two Mikes and I were driving down Water with Brendan’s bed in the back of a pickup. With one Mike at the wheel, the other Mike told us, from the backseat, in perfect deadpan, moments after we’d passed the intersection of Water and Knapp, that a mattress had fallen off the back of the truck. Mike took the next u-turn.
Brendan, in a separate car, came upon the scene and chuckled to himself about the idiot retrieving a mattress from the middle of an intersection in busy, Saturday afternoon traffic, only to realize that the idiot was me and the mattress was his.
We made memories there; it is where I met my canine pal, Beau, where the girls stuffed Michelle and I’s “save-the-dates,” where Adam threw two dead birds off the balcony while I said kind words, where Marilyn had one of her first nights out and where we watched some epic episodes of ‘Breaking Bad.’
Now, less than a year later, Brendan is moving to Chicago–we will miss him–and TJ is moving to a awesome, laboriously updated house and out of the coolest apartment anyone I’ve known has ever rented. Their place occupied one of those big corner windows in the picture above, it was magnificent.
I guess the point is that life goes too fast and all we can do is gather the memories and each other and make the best of it all. The “springs” that we discussed this random Monday night will pass, but, God willing, we’ll hold tight to each other, through silly, calorie-heavy quests like this one.
And with bottomless love and gratitude in my heart, I suppose that is good enough for me.
Visit The Eatery On Farwell online at www.theeateryonfarwell.com
Photos courtesy of TJ UTTKE PHOTOGRAPHY
Losing nominations for ‘E’ were Eagan’s on Water (Michelle), Envoy (Nick), EE Sane (Adam), El Canaveral (Cindi) and Elsa’s (TJ).