Tag Archives: Appetizer

X is for Wildcard: Harbor House

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Since there are no ‘X’ restaurants in Milwaukee, we decided to make this round a wildcard round.

Harbor House is one of Milwaukee’s premier restaurants because of its location. Set out into Lake Michigan between Discovery World and the Milwaukee Art Museum, Harbor House’s best tables allow diners a picturesque perspective of Milwaukee’s skyline and its changing reflections upon the lake.

Besides its view, Harbor House is known for seafood. Everyone but Mike had been there (it was Michelle’s submission). Continue reading

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V is for VIA Downer

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This winter has been pretty rough on Wisconsin. Frigid temperatures and mountains of snow make it easier to stay home, underneath the covers with wine and Netflix.

But on a Friday in early January, we found many similar souls braving the weather for pizza and drinks at VIA Downer on Milwaukee’s Eastside, which was chosen by Adam, Cindi, Michelle, Mike and TJ (Michelle’s entry was selected).

I walked in, kicked the snow from my shoes and when the fog cleared from my glasses, I was in a large dining room with a modernist, industrial feel featuring high ceilings, artwork on the walls, exposed beams, wires and pipes. To my right was a hostess stand, to my left was a large, crowded bar and beyond were tables full of people.

VIA, the sister restaurant of Transfer (near the Allen Bradley Clock Tower AKA “The Polish Moon”), was crowded and our reservations, with a group our size, came in handy. Mike said:

The atmosphere was cool. You can tell they were busy but you could also hear everything any of us were saying and sometimes that doesn’t happen with seven people at a table.

We were seated near the middle of the room at large table. It seemed like a good mix of people on dates and large groups of friends. Continue reading

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U is for Union House

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Go west from Milwaukee on I-94. Use Exit 285 in Delafied and head south on 83. Pass the crappy chain restaurants and large box retailers and then six miles of subdivisions, forest and farms until a sign appears–Genesee Depot. The Union House is impossible to miss, a massive, two-story supper club with a wrap-around porch in the center of town.

Arriving at the Union House is arriving in the past.

And we arrived there on a weeknight early in December. Our reservation was unnecessary, but there were several diners in each of the dining rooms, as well as a small number of people at the bar.

As the first person to arrive, I pulled up a stool and ordered a beer … sadly, it turned out to be a flat Guiness. About half of us had been there before, including Cindi, whose submission was picked (Michelle and Adam also selected Union House). A number of us were excited about Union Houses wild game specials. Continue reading

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S is for Seoul Korean Restaurant

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I’ve driven past Seoul dozens of times without even realizing it. You probably have too. It is on Prospect Avenue on the eastside–across from Urban Outfitters.

Adam selected it because he had enjoyed the lunch buffet when he worked in the area. He said:

I try to pick places that other people in the group would never try on their own. I feel like that is part of the fun of doing this–to step outside your comfort zone and experience what people from all walks of life call “food.”

The rest of us never had never tried Korean food before, so we’d be out of our comfort zone. Continue reading

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Q is for Quivey’s Grove

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Two moments of musical clairvoyance bookended our visit to Quivey’s Grove in Verona, Wis. (near Madison). This was fitting since our group of friends came together around our similar taste in music.

The first moment happened on the car ride to Quivey’s Grove. Since there were no restaurants in the Milwaukee-area that met our criteria, we expanded our range to include Madison and Chicago and all picked Quivey’s Grove (Shannon’s submission was selected).

I told my car-mates TJ, Shannon, Cindi and Michelle that I didn’t know the song “Blurred Lines.” No one believed me, but I was honest. TJ, who was driving, was incredulous, and said it was the song of the summer and it was probably playing on the radio at that moment.

A turn of the dial and there it was … Robin Thicke’s hit.

This was just before we pulled into the palatial plot of land that accommodates Quivey’s Grove–two century-and-a-half-old buildings housing two distinct dining options–the Stone House and the Stable Grill (both buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places). Shannon chose the Stable Grill because it had a larger menu and was the more casual dining option. Continue reading

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R is for Rumpus Room

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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). Continue reading

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P is for Pizza Shuttle

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It never felt right to eat at George Webb during the day.

Webbs is among a handful of local restaurants that are busiest once Milwaukee bars make their last call–others include Ma Fischer’s, Oakland Gyros, Real Chili, Johnny V’s Classic Cafe and, I always thought, Pizza Shuttle, TJ’s winning selection for our ‘P’ dinner in this quest.

So it made sense to us that in order to get the full Pizza Shuttle experience, we had to imbibe in the amber liquid that made Milwaukee famous prior to our pizza. In early May, the seven of us (Mike joined us again) headed to the East Side to build up that late night hunger at Yield and The Hotel Foster. We arrived at Pizza Shuttle promptly at 2 a.m.

Pizza Shuttle was closed. Take-out only. We were baffled. Continue reading

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N is for Newsroom Pub

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“Finkel is Einhorn,” I yelled emphatically, but incorrectly, during our dinner at Newsroom Pub, quoting Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and suggesting that the Third Ward is part of Walker’s Point.

Though my assertion was untrue, in another context the phrase proved very telling about our ‘N’ dinner stop, Newsroom Pub (Shannon’s pick)–I’ll get to the big reveal in a moment. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Some of us had been to Newsroom before, strictly for drinks. It is directly across from The Pabst Theater and The Rep on Wells, a stone’s throw from The Bronze Fonz. Nevertheless, none of us had ever tried their food. Did they have food? Continue reading

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M is for Meritage

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Cindi described her aspirations for Meritage, and expensive meals in general, in what will heretofore be known as “The Cindi Principle”:

When I spend a lot of money at a restaurant, I want to feel like I would be satisfied if it were my last meal. It’s dramatic but its the truth.

It’s a tremendous point and, as I reviewed the online menu for Meritage (Cindi’s pick), I hoped it would live up to The Cindi Principle. The girls decided that we would dress up for our dinner at this American fine-dining establishment.

Continue reading

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L is for Louise’s Trattoria

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Reflecting on the year that was, the first of this quest, it seems we fulfilled all of the hopes we began with. We enjoyed great meals (and a few okay ones). Great conversations. Great beer. We’ve gathered for dinner less than a week before Cindi and Adam brought their beautiful baby into the world. We had dinner shortly before Michelle and I got married. There were new homes, new jobs, travel, photography awards–we saw so much in a wonderful 2012.

The ABCs of Milwaukee Dining was a excellent excuse to gather and discuss these things over dinner and drinks.

So it was fitting that we got together one last time in 2012, only days before a brand new year. We headed to Cathedral Square–home of Whiskey Bar (yuck)–to give the downtown location of Louise’s a try. It was my pick (Shannon chose it too) and I had never been there before, though Michelle insists that she tried to get me to go to the Brookfield location on numerous occasions, which I do not recall. Half of us had been there before, and Adam didn’t hide that he hadn’t been a huge fan in the past, though he was determined to give the place a fair shake. Continue reading

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