R is for Rumpus Room



At the beginning of July, the seven of us–plus our friend Ryan–enjoyed six sun-soaked days at an all-inclusive resort in Playa Del Carmen.

All-inclusive resorts are amazing, but after about 3 or 4 days of eating food prepared in the same kitchen and drinking every drink you can think of, you start to long for food from a different kitchen, flavors from home.

So it was ironic that our ABCs of Milwaukee Dining choice for “R” about two weeks after returning from the sandy shores of Mexico was Rumpus Room–a gastropub owned by the Bartolotta Restaurant Group which, according to TJ, has a “Wisconsin” menu (I would concur). He and Shannon were the only two in our party who had been there, and this was Shannon’s selection (and Cindi’s).

Rumpus room is located on Water Street in the above building across from the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

Rumpus room is located on Water Street across from the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

We went on a Monday night in July. We had a reservation for our party of 7, but didn’t need it. Michelle, Mike and I arrived at 7 p.m. and had a drink at the lengthy bar that welcomes denizens into the room. They had an impressive listing of beers, organized by style and some great stuff on tap. Michelle ordered a New Glarus Serendipity (we visited their brewery earlier this year)–by her own admission, she “downed it pretty quick.” Cindi ordered a mead. She said:

The bartender informed me, in a very non patronizing way, of the difference between American and English meads–American meads are not as sweet. I ordered an American mead and loved it.


After everyone showed up, we were seated at a large booth near the front of room. ‘Rumpus room’ is another term for a ‘recreation room,’ but the decor is meant to convey the feel of a 50s or 60s hot spot. It wasn’t until we arrived at our table that I realized that the ambiance of Rumpus Room was a bit too dark, some low lighting on the tables and walls would have maintained the atmosphere while also allowing us to clearly see what we were eating. Shannon enjoyed the ambiance. She said:

The room was dim and not too cold that I had to wear a sweater–which is always appreciated.

Scotch egg

Scotch egg


We were hungry and ordered three appetizer. I’ve never had a Scotch Egg before–it’s a hard-boiled egg, encircled in sausage, breaded and baked–we were all really interested to give it a try. The combination of a bunch of distinctive flavors and textures all played well together. Shannon, TJ and Michelle also mentioned how much they liked this unique appetizer.



We also ordered Rumaki, which, I’ve had to inform everyone, is what bacon-wrapped water chestnuts are called. No one used to believe me about this. Rumaki is easily one of my all-time favorite appetizers and is pretty much impossible to screw up. These were tasty. However, I wish they came with some kind of sweet sauce or even a spicy sauce, which would have really amplified the flavor. Everyone liked them, but no one was blown away.



Shannon was drawn to the eggplant appetizer. She said:

It was different than expected but very flavorful. The rice had almost a asian/creole feel to it, mixed with a veggie slaw. Very good.

Mike said:

The eggplant dish was the best. I loved the asian spice or zing, which made it very tasty.




Like all gastropubs, Rumpus Room specializes in hearty, rich foods. Shannon had the wings on her first visit and decided to order them again. She said:

They were milder than I remembered but still very good. I’d recommend these to any wing-lover. They were crispy, meaty and the flavor was great.

Cindi also chose the wings and had high praise. She said:

They were the best I’ve ever had! Meaty, moist and crispy. Not an ounce of gristle or goo.

Fried chicken

Fried chicken

For dinner, I ordered the fried chicken with smashed potatoes and spinach. There was also a dip that I thought was gravy, but some of my fellow diners tasted a hint of mustard. The 4-pieces of chicken were seasoned well and were crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. The price $16.95, seemed about right for a four piece chicken dinner at a place that is a bit more upscale. TJ, Shannon and Adam all mentioned how much they enjoyed this dish.

Pork sandwich

Pork sandwich

Adam and Michelle chose the pork sandwich. Michelle said:

I don’t usually order pork but I really liked the spicy slaw that came on it. Definitely not a boring sandwich.

Adam said:

I was satisfied, but I definitely liked the wings and Nick’s chicken much more.

Chicken sandwich

Chicken sandwich

Mike hadn’t even heard of Rumpus Room prior to our dinner. He said:

After looking at the menu in person, I decided to order the chicken sandwich–adding bacon. The sandwich was very good and the bacon was fresh.



TJ enjoyed both of his visits to the Rumpus Room. Unfortunately, each time he has been there, his meal has been his least favorite–something I’m familiar with. He chose the cheeseburger this time. He said:

It was good but it wasn’t anything special. The bun was fairly dry which wasn’t very appetizing.

Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake


We opted to order two desserts. We almost ordered two S’mores, but at the last-minute, chose chocolate cake. Cindi said:

I feel bad for the chocolate cake. It won’t get as much love because we ordered it alongside a very rich dessert. I was happy for the variety. I washed these down with a delightful glass of port.


S’mores cake

Mike said:

I was pushing for the chocolate cake, the other dessert we ordered, and I wish I went with others and got two S’mores. By far, one of the best desserts I’ve ever had.

I loved the S’mores cake in all its rich, delicious goodness. We all did!

We enjoyed Rumpus Room and would recommend it for dates, after work dinners or a night out. The food was moderately priced, much of what one would expect for a place with this level of atmosphere. Adam notes:

I do recall being a little bummed that they no longer serve the veal sandwich or the meatloaf sandwich, so people should be aware that the website menu may not be 100% current.

We were far away from that The Royale, our all-inclusive destination in Mexico. We’d made good memories south of the border, but we were also happy to be at Rumpus Room, underneath a Milwaukee moon, in the city we call home.

Ratings for Rumpus Room were, as follows:

Adam: 6.75
Cindi: 7
Michelle: 7.5
Nick: 7.5
Shannon: 7.5
TJ: 6.75
Mike: 7.5

Rumpus Room cumulative rating: 7.2

Visit Rumpus Room online here.

Photos courtesy of TJ UTTKE PHOTOGRAPHY

Losing nominations for ‘R’ were: Rustico (TJ and Michelle), Ristorante Bartolotta (Adam), and Riverwest Filling Station (Nick).

Introduction to the ABCs of Milwaukee Dining
AJ Bombers: 6.8
Beta by Sabor: 7.9
Comet Cafe: 7
Distil: 5.8
Eatery on Farwell: 6.2
Fajitas Grill: 5.3
Ginger: 7.4
Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub: 7.5
Irie Palace: 6.2
Jow Nai Fouquet: 6.9
Kyoto: 6.3
Louise’s Trattoria: 5.2
Meritage: 6.5
Newsroom Pub: 5.4
Odd Duck: 8.2
Pizza Shuttle: 5.2
Quivey’s Grove: Coming soon
Rumpus Room: 7.2




One comment

  1. Shannon · August 27, 2013

    Not quite sure why you didn’t write up about our after-party at Dukes…

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