The worst part about the Ginger experience happens before you even get there. Settled on a busy section of 2nd Street in Walker’s Point, Ginger is hell to park at. Michelle and I drove in circles two or three times before I eventually pulled into a spot that someone was leaving from.
Once we sat down at the bar though, the experience improved drastically. Ginger’s decor is stylish; all earth tones and soft light, with floor-to-ceiling windows opening onto 2nd. We arrived before everyone and sat at the bar for a drink. The bartender was friendly. The beer selection is suitable.
The main room was mostly empty, although the outdoor seating behind Ginger was nearly full. We decided to stay inside to take in the atmosphere. As the others arrived, we began getting excited for our second tapas experience for ABCs of Milwaukee Dining. I was excited, after all, this one was my pick (though TJ and Michelle also submitted it) and, though it has been open for parts of three years, none of us had been there before.
The Milwaukee tapas scene is growing, with some of the favorites being La Merenda, Beta and Generations (in Waukesha). Before we’d get a chance to sample the food though, we had some drinks and ordered a half price bottle of wine.
The drinks received mixed reviews. Adam said:
I ordered a mojito in the raw and it was not good. It pretty much tasted like mint and seltzer water. No lime, no sweetness.
I had the rhubarb margarita to start which was very much like a margarita but a little more tart. I liked it!
One thing that didn’t get mixed reviews was the music. Adam said:
The playlist was great – some of the best dining music I’ve come across in a restaurant.
We heard Band of Horses, The Temper Trap, Phoenix, TV on the Radio, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Modest Mouse and more!
Our table was nice, looking out onto the sidewalk. The windows were all the way open, providing fresh air on a perfect night. It was time to order!
It didn’t take long for the first items to start arriving. Shannon ordered the Thai Chili Shrimp Rolls, she said:
At the time, I thought they were very good. However, after a few days, I can’t remember what they tasted like. They must not have made much of a lasting impression on me.
I do remember what they tasted like, they were excellent. They were light and crispy. Both dipping sauces–teriyaki and thai chili sauce–were so good, I didn’t know which to use.
Michelle ordered the Duck Nachos, she said:
These were pretty good although I was hoping to get more out of it than 5 chips. The duck flavor was very subtle.
My favorite dish. The meat was so tender.
I was really disappointed that they were out of only one item, the one I wanted the most, the Red Miso Steak Kabobs. I ordered the tater tots with roasted red pepper aioli and they were excellent. The tots were standard, however the roasted red pepper aioli brought a new zing that I’ve never experienced with tots before. Typically, I don’t dip my tots in anything, so this was a excellent experience and served as a nice side dish.
TJ ordered the Rosemary Mac N Cheese. He said:
I have to say, it was probably the best restaurant Mac and Cheese I’ve had. It was creamy but not too thick, which in my opinion, is how it should be made. I’d go back for that alone.
I wish I could have eaten more than a few noodles. I made a mental note to put rosemary in a ‘Shannon-style version’ sometime soon.
The food came out at a good clip, one or two dishes at a time. We never had too much at our table, but we always had something. The service was really good in that regard, and what anyone would want at a tapas place. My second pick was Grilled flatbread with herb infused oil. The bread was warm, and I enjoyed the little twist (that it was grilled). The dipping oil was plentiful (which isn’t always the case), but a little on the bland side.
Adam ordered the Bacon wrapped scallops. He said:
They were excellent. Cooked perfectly, simple and delicious.
Not only were the scallops cooked perfectly (they melted in my mouth), they were in a very interesting pomegranate sauce with chili oil, which provided a bit of sweetness to the buttery goodness of the scallops and the hickory flavor of the bacon. Michelle also counted them among her favorite.
Cindi ordered the Cantania toast with gorgonzolla cream, proscuitto, roasted red pepper, and crisped leeks on grilled baguette with olives. She said:
I really liked the toast. I thought made a great appetizer.
I tried an olive and it tasted a bit medicinal, but good.
As a group, we ordered the fish tacos. Michelle thought they were the best she has had.
I normally don’t like fish tacos at all, but these were great. The ingredients–cornmeal breaded talapia with mango jalapeno slaw and chipotle aioli in flour tortillas–were light and refreshing.
We were getting full, but there was still a number of excellent-looking items that we wanted to try.
TJ enjoyed the fish tacos, so he ordered the Salmon in Martini Sauce. He said:
I don’t typically like fish but the Salmon and Fish Tacos were excellent.
The martini sauce–vodka cream and green olive sauce–was very savory and the perfect companion to the tender fish.
We didn’t manage to get a photo of the last item, but Cindi ordered the 2nd Street beef sliders with caramelized onions and sun-dried tomato aioli on rosemary chibata buns. She said:
The meat was very flavorful and even a little gamey. This was my favorite item of the night but I regret ordering it at the end of our meal.
The sliders reminded me of bison burgers, which I love.
This is what I wanted my burger at Distil to taste like! It wasn’t super buttery, but it had a distinct, complex flavor.
Most of us were full at that point, Adam would have liked dessert, but the kitchen was closing.
What stands out to me about Ginger was the friendly staff, good music and half bottles of wine that you can take with you.
Not that we needed to take the bottle home with us.
In addition to that, just like we experienced at Beta, tapas provide the perfect group dining experience. Ginger itself stood out for excellent variety (we ordered half the menu) and interesting, quality dishes. TJ said:
I liked everything that everyone chose and you could tell they were all made with the best ingredients.
Ratings for Ginger were, as follows:
Ginger cumulative rating: 7.4
Nightcap: The Town of Lake
The Town of Lake existed apart from the city of Milwaukee until 1954 when it was annexed into the city of Milwaukee. The six of us are from three different cities, Oak Creek, Sussex and New Berlin, but after Michelle and I officially become homeowners next Friday, we’ll mostly be occupying the former Town of Lake.
On a perfect night, it seemed appropriate to go there. We sat on TJ’s beautiful new deck, drinking beers, talking and laughing. Making plans and celebrating that night and the many like it to come!
Visit Ginger online at www.gingermilwaukee.com
Photos courtesy of TJ UTTKE PHOTOGRAPHY
Losing nominations for ‘G’ were German Beer Hall (Shannon) and Georgie Porgie’s, Racine location (Cindi and Adam).
AJ Bombers: 6.8
Beta by Sabor: 7.9
Comet Cafe: 7
Eatery on Farwell: 6.2
Fajitas Grill: 5.25