Tag Archives: Milwaukee

Playboys at the Playhouse: A Winter Evening Downtown

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It was with the belief that a well-rounded man attends both sporting events and theater that initially prompted me to join my friend Matt in ordering season tickets to the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, also known as The Rep.

I’ve certainly attended my fair share of sporting events, and in the last six seasons, I’ve come to really enjoy being a season ticket holder at The Rep. Now, five times a year, me and my group of friends–Matt dubbed us Playboys at the Playhouse–are drawn Downtown to be transported somewhere else entirely – sometimes 1960s America amid racial upheaval, sometimes its pre-Industrial Revolution England. Sometimes it’s to Green Bay to see the story of the Packers’ most legendary coach, other times it’s ancient Greece to hear a gladiator wax poetic about the Trojan War.

No matter where we’re going, I always look forward to it. Continue reading

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ABCs of Milwaukee Dining: A Conclusion

Late 2011 at Firefly Urban Grill + Bar, Wauwatosa

Late 2011 at Firefly Urban Grill + Bar, Wauwatosa

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“For a moment … we’re all immortal. Time stretches out forever. There’s a moment like that in every meal. If you pay attention it’s there … where oblivion is replaced with infinity … and then, the check comes.” -Aaron Wolfe from “Ruthy’s Dinner” at The Moth.

It has been eight months since our ABCs of Milwaukee Dining quest ended. Eight months where I’ve tried to figure how to sum up a two-year quest with my best friends. This is the best I could do.

Looking back, it is astounding to see all the things that have changed in the two years of our ABCs of Milwaukee Dining quest. Adam, Cindi, Shannon, TJ, Michelle and I have experienced two marriages and two babies. New houses. A new dog. New jobs. New friends. Vacations. And other things too. Continue reading

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My Year in Concerts: 2013 & 2014

Craig Finn, lead singer of The Hold Steady and rock 'n roll prophet, soaks in the love on July 3, 2014, at Summerfest.

Craig Finn, lead singer of The Hold Steady and rock ‘n roll prophet, soaks in the Summerfest love in 2014.

We saw some great concerts in 2011 and 2012! So only seeing five shows in 2013 was a let down.

Nevertheless, when I put the last two years together, we saw some great concerts and although I don’t get to shows as often as I used to, I can’t think of many places I’d rather be than amidst other music lovers, beer in my hand and the music of a band I love making a moment into magic. Continue reading

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We Kayaked the Milwaukee River: An Afternoon with Milwaukee Kayak Co.

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Shortly after Michelle and I met, while talking on the phone, we discovered we had the same birthday. At the time, this little fact seemed charmed–a reason to keep talking despite the distance between us and the longshot prospects for a relationship.

Ten years on, that charming fact–August 3 being our shared birthday, I’m three years older–seems like more like a burden to bear. We always struggle to determine where to go and what to do.

As this past birthday approached, I decided to be proactive. I wanted to do something fun and memorable. I’d seen images on social media of people kayaking the Milwaukee River and I thought, if we were able to stay upright, it would be the perfect way to spend our day and take in a unique view of our city. Continue reading

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Reflections on Ralphie’s First Year

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“Animals should fit into your schedule,” I matter-of-factly told Michelle in the first week after we brought home Ralphie.

We were discussing whether she should walk him in the morning–if that would increase his comfort and tire him out for the 10 hours we’d be gone.

“When you love something, you make sacrifices,” Michelle retorted.

I’m not Michelle, so I had a lot to learn. Continue reading

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Y is for Yen Ching

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Whenever we select a restaurant I’ve never been to, I am eager to go online and see the reviews.

Thanks to Michelle’s winning entry of Yen Ching (Adam also picked it), I found mixed results of a curious, unsurprising variety. I saw claims that Yen Ching is the best Chinese in Milwaukee. I saw that Yen Ching was featured on Dirty Dining.

I was eager to form my own opinion, so on a sunny Friday evening in early June, we made the half-hour trek from Bay View to Brown Deer and pulled up in front of a restaurant festooned with life-size golden lions, red siding, green shingles and large Chinese characters.

The interior carried the theme further. The large dining space was decorated with items meant to evoke ancient China, and they looked like they had been in place for about as long. Adam said:

I loved the gold Buddha statue and paper-style lantern light fixtures.

The mostly windowless dining area was maybe a third full on a Friday night–no reservations necessary. Although, Cindi notes: “I noticed a lot of people picking up their take-out.” Continue reading

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Touring Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery: A Pictorial

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The unmistakable, lime green label of Lakefront’s IPA is ubiquitous in Milwaukee’s finer bars and restaurants, but as a neophyte beer drinker, I still remember it as the first microbrew that really made an impression on me. IPA remains one of my favorite beers.

So, it is a huge hole in my hophead resume that I have never been to Lakefront Brewery for a tour. I’d only first gone there the year before for a fish fry charity event.

When I saw a case of Lakefront beer and a private tour were a silent auction item, I had to win, and, eventually, after several other bidders stepped in, I made the winning bid – Michelle was okay with it because Lakefront also makes one of her favorite beers, Riverwest Stein, which is their most popular offering.

A year later, prior to our ABCs of Milwaukee Dining brunch at Wolf Peach, Adam, Cindi, Michelle, Shannon, TJ and I made the trek to the brewery, which is, decidedly, not on the lake. Instead, it is tucked in the Milwaukee River basin, in the Riverwest district. Continue reading

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Painting & Drinking: An Evening at Milwaukee’s Splash Studios

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The last time I put a brush to canvas was college. In my art class, I could never get anything to look how I wanted it. It was always frustrating.

Thanks to Splash Studio, in Milwaukee’s historic Third Ward, I now know that one element could have turneded those futile attempts at art into carefree fun … alcohol. 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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