Tag Archives: TJ

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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Z is for Zaffiro’s Pizza

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In late October, we made a trip to a frequent location–Milwaukee’s East Side–for our final ABCs dinner. On a moderately chilly Monday night, we drove up and down the streets that make up the Brady Street neighborhood…

None of us had ever been to Zaffiro’s but we had certainly heard about it before–it was Michelle and Adam’s selection. 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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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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W is for Wolf Peach

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Nothing could quite hit the spot after our morning tour of Lakefront Brewery (read about it here) than a great brunch, so we were counting on our “W” restaurant, Wolf Peach, to deliver.

Wolf Peach, named for the tomato’s European nickname with a menu that honors the fruit, was Shannon’s selection. Most of us had not been there before. Adam said:

The brewery tour served as a nice way to go buzzing straight into lunch. The first thing I noticed walking into Wolf Peach was the excellent view of the city. The restaurant sits perched on Brewer’s Hill and the entire back wall is a floor-to-ceiling window looking over the city. It also has a raised patio that I’m guessing seats people come spring and summer.

You almost exclusively see downtown from the Lake, but the view from Wolf Peach, atop a bluff above the Milwaukee River, highlights the city and its iconic buildings from a more impactful vantage point.

The place is small, rustic and was lively and packed throughout our brunch. Our spot was in the middle of the dining room, at a tall table–it seems like no space is wasted–the aisles are tiny and tables seem to take up every possible other inch. Reservations were necessary. 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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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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T is for Tenuta’s Italian Restaurant

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Sometimes, in certain neighborhoods, in the right places–the beautiful ones that seem unchanged by time, frozen several generations ago–if I squint hard enough, I can picture my grandparents, enjoying a meal with friends, smiling and laughing.

It is a comforting thought, these spaces shared with those who came before; home to conversation, fun and revelry, food and beer.

Bay View’s Tenuta’s (TJ’s pick, Shannon also submitted two entries) is one of those places. Cindi said:

How lucky are we to have such an idealistic Italian pizza place in our neighborhood? There is a certain charm to this cozy nook; you can tell that everyone around you feels it. There are few places I’d rather eat at on a chilly, Wisconsin night.

We were there on a Friday, and our reservations came in handy. The place was packed. Many of us had been there before, but this was my first time inside. Continue reading

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