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Chow Down In Milwaukee

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A Downtown Brunch

Allow me to begin by saying I had zero intentions of writing this restaurant review. In fact, I had no intention of going anywhere to eat. It was my plans on this fine day to take in a Pow-wow in the middle of downtown Milwaukee. Margie and I arrived and parked with plenty of time to arrive at the Pow-wow to catch grand entry. We made the short walk and soon found ourselves inside the glorious Wisconsin Center. As we began to make our way through its hallways I was puzzled at the lack of signage showing where the event was. We asked a worker and were informed that although we were in the right place, we were indeed early…a week early. Looking at Margie with a smile I told her, “Would you like to get some brunch?” As we don’t make it downtown as often as we like we decided to make the best of our situation and try a place we have been meaning to go.

As we began to walk the few blocks to the place we had in mind we were detoured several times by the ever-present Wisconsin construction. On our way to the place we had in mind we passed a place I had only recently heard of. It was, aptly called – Brunch. The colors were turquoise and yellow which happens to be my favorite combination. It looked rather busy which was a good sign. Being that Margie and I, both have a soft spot for breakfast and brunch places we decided to switch plans and try this place. We asked a few patrons coming out if it was indeed a good place to dine. One young man informed us, “They have a 30 minute wait this morning, but I eat here all of the time.”
We were not in a hurry and decided to venture in. Even the large turquoise door with gold trim seemed to beckon us in. We made our way to the host stand and talked to the man who seemed oddly averse to eye contact. After exchanging pleasantries and discovering he either did not understand or appreciate my humor, he informed us there was indeed a 30-minute wait. Much like other very busy places I have been they take your phone number instead of handing you a clunky pager to carry around. I rather prefer that. There was a rather large bar that one could normally sit to pass the time waiting for a table, but on this Sunday morning it was full as well. It was also full of toys form the 1980s, which happens to be my favorite decade. I was really starting to like this place. We passed the time in a comfy couch decorated for Halloween by being lined with several tombstones.

We glanced at the menu and were captivated by the breakfast smells that seemed to be coming from everywhere. There was the scent of fresh brewed coffee, which you had the option to enjoy as you waited. There was the scent of pancakes and French toast being grilled with hash browns coming from the kitchen. We were soon called to our table. Everything followed the same color scheme as the restaurant I was happy to notice. My setting featured a turquoise place-mat with a cheery yellow mug featuring their logo. Our server, Carson, came to our table with a rushed but pleasant smile. After my heart trouble I am supposed to limit my caffeine intake, but I could not help but notice they had Valentine Coffee, my favorite local coffee company. They also had Bali Blue Moon roast, which is my favorite roast. So, I asked for a cup of coffee. I was about to discover one great thing about Brunch – there are plenty of options. I was informed I had my choice of cold brew, nitro coffee, nitro latte, toffee coffee or hazelnut coffee. I chose regular coffee. Margie ordered orange juice which was slightly delayed as the restaurant had run out of cups.

The trouble I am often faced with placed like Brunch is there are so many amazing options it can take me forever to choose. For starters we compromised on the breakfast egg rolls. Served three on a plate with a maple chili dipping sauce, they looked mouth-watering. It was all we could do to wait for them to cool. They were filled with scrambled eggs, house made sausage and cheddar cheese. They had a good size to them and were not greasy at all. The sauce was what it was all about. The initial taste of maple syrup was soon followed by a slow heat that continued to grow long after it was gone. It never became too hot but had a very good amount of spice.

Enjoying these wonderful appetizers allowed us to finally narrow down and pick something from the main menu. I ordered the ‘Hangover Burrito’ featuring bacon, French toast bites, scrambled eggs, maple syrup, and sriracha all wrapped in a four tortilla. I was advised by Carson to select the hash browns, which I did. When I plate arrived I was pleased to see not only was the burrito a good size it was adorned with the Brunch logo grilled into the tortilla. The flavor and texture were impeccable. Just spicy enough with a little bit a sweet. It appeared to be the best of both worlds. The hash browns I would have liked to be a little more done. They were good, but I would be interested to try another side next time I return.

Margie ordered the ‘Chicken and Waffle Sandwich’. This featured a southern fried chicken breast served on a Belgian waffle with sriracha aioli and maple butter honey. She also ordered a side of the Lemonberry Pancakes. These were blueberry pancakes topped with a lemon curd, blueberry syrup and whipped crème. Let us look at the sandwich first. It was from every angle a disappointment. The chicken breast was very dry. The promised sriracha aioli amounted to about half a teaspoon. Enough for perhaps half of the sandwich. The waffle, however, had a great flavor with hints of vanilla. The lemonberry pancakes were exotic and I enjoyed them. The blueberry and lemon combo gave an almost slight anise flavor which was a pleasant surprise for the palate.

Overall, we enjoyed our experience at Brunch quite a bit. We will definitely return and try several different items. The atmosphere reminds one of a restaurant you would find at a tropical resort. It is open, airy and clean. Our server was very friendly and helpful. I would suggest trying Brunch on a weekday as Sunday morning proves to be a very busy time. My only suggestion would be for them to increase the amount of staff they have working the floor. Our server seemed to be taxed a little beyond what should have been. There were a few times I refilled my own coffee cup and ran into others from different tables doing the same. That being said, Carson was always there with a smile and great service.

Try brunch, you will not be disappointed. Make sure to take in the great atmosphere including all the fun decorations at the bar. With your meal make sure to enjoy either some great Valentine coffee or a nitro brew which will be on my list next time.

By Neil Panosian

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