Tag Archives: Weekend Dining

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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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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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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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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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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SPECIAL EDITION: Wisconsin State Fair Dining

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“In my opinion, the more indulgent the fair food, the better.” -Michelle

On an overcast Sunday, the last day of the Wisconsin State Fair, nine of us gathered to indulge in decadent fried goodness and other foodstuffs. It was Shannon’s idea to do a special edition of the ABCs of Milwaukee Dining at the Wisconsin State Fair. The usual crew was there–including Marilyn and Mike–and we were joined by Brendan and Clare, two friends who have relocated to Chicago and who’d come home to partake in this Wisconsin tradition.

All nine of us ordered an item and then, after the Fair, we ranked the items in the order we would eat them. Since there were nine of us (and Marilyn, who wouldn’t share her Cheerios for the contest), we were all full by the end of this quest. 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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I is for Irie Palace

Irie is a Jamaican word commonly used by Rastafarians that means “the state of feeling great–like paradise or nirvana.”

Often, I fear trying new things, but one of the points of this quest is to get out of my comfort zone. I think, for several of us, a Jamaican restaurant on the Northwest-side of Milwaukee, pushed us a bit. In fact, this was our first time out of the little downtown bubble we had established for ourselves.

So with that in mind, we traveled nearby 76th and Appleton and pulled up to Irie Palace, which is hard to miss. Large, bright blue and red panels span the front of the restaurant, located in a strip mall that also features an Asian grocery store, a Chinese carryout place and a nail salon. Continue reading

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