Chow Down In Milwaukee

Restaurant Reviews

The Brass Alley, A Taste Of New Orleans

I went to The Brass Alley on Old World 3rd Street for a Sunday brunch. The Brass Alley is part of a three-floor package with Evolution on the second floor, and The View on the rooftop. During the summer season, The Brass Alley serves brunch on the roof top with live Jazz music, calling it Brunch and Beats. I was a few months too late to experience the pleasure.

On days that the Packers play, they host Packer parties with a live DJ. Between Thursday and Saturday, a little later in the night, they remove the tables and chairs from the back room  and make it one big dance floor. Patrons can get their groove on to live music and dance the night away.

The Brass Alley specializes in New Orleans style cuisine. “There’s really no creole food in Milwaukee,” says Arin Dietz, the assistant manager. “We have our own little niche. It soul food, it’s hearty, and personally, I think it’s great hangover food.

Drew Duster, one of the operating partners, tells me that they wanted to be different than anything else out there. “We opened the Brass Alley as a New Orleans themed concept because of our love of New Orleans!” Drew says. “The food, the culture, the entertainment, and the look make New Orleans one of the most unique and exciting places in the country.”

On the brunch menu, the restaurant has starters, entrees, and sides. Arin told me that a commonly ordered dish was the Chicken n Waffles. When my server, Amber, came to my table, I asked her which starter was popular among patrons. She said with confidence, “Definitely the Beignets.”

Before I ordered the Beignets, Amber delivered me the Cucumber Bloody Mary which is served with a spice-salted rim and garnished with a pickle, celery, a slice of cucumber, an olive, a cheese curd, and bacon. The cheese curd is a thick and hearty curd that leaves you with a tiny kick of heat after you eat it. This definitely left me wanting more curds. The bacon is perfectly cooked, with crispy edges, a crunchy lean portion, and a tender fat area.

For the alcohol, they use a cucumber infused vodka. Previously, in other infused Bloody Marys I’ve had, I’ve never tasted the flavor of the particular infusion. With The Brass Alley’s cucumber infused Bloody Mary, the cucumber taste is prominent; I tasted the cucumber flavor right away and it was extremely smooth. I was very pleased. What delighted me just as much was the tomato juice; immediately I knew it wasn’t from a can, which Amber confirmed it was house-made that morning. I definitely tasted the freshness; the tomato has a bold, robust flavor and the spices accompanied are great.

For my starter, I basically chose to have dessert first. The Beignets are heavily covered in powdered sugar. I kept licking my lips after ever bite, but still, the powdered sugar sweetness lingered. They remind me of super-sized doughnut holes. “Beignets are a staple in the French Quarter of New Orleans,” Amber told me. They have a slight crisp outside due to the light deep-frying, while the inside is somewhat dense, but somehow at the same time is airy as well. Even though the Beignets are light in weight, the five of these heavily dusted with powdered sugar pastries make for a very rich and heavenly sweet starter.

Since Arin told me a popular brunch dish is the Chicken n Waffles, I decided to try that. The chicken is battered, the waffles are made with cranberries and walnuts, and they’re served with butter and syrup.

Sometimes when I’m served chicken it’s just warm. But here, they serve their chicken hot, which is great, like it came right off the pan or out of the fryer. I appreciated the fact that it has a light coating of batter and that it doesn’t fall off the chicken when I slice a piece off. It’s a decent sized piece of white meat chicken that simply falls apart in your mouth. It’s moist and tender and I was glad it wasn’t over-seasoned; it had a great natural taste.

The waffles are in the form of the thick Belgium style with a slightly crispy outside and a smooth inside. The cranberries are scattered throughout the waffles, but you get a soft walnut with a slight crunch in every bite. You’re chewing your flaky, creamy waffle and then suddenly, crunch! The combination of cranberry and walnut has been around for a long time and it’s a great pairing. It reminds me of a cranberry-walnut muffin, but instead it’s styled as a waffle.

The butter is extremely thick, but not hard. I realized it’s pure butter, no cream is added. The syrup is quite thick as well and seems to thicken even more as it sits. The waffle graciously soaks up the syrup, making an already sweet waffle even sweeter.

After all that sweetness, I needed something savory. Since I’ve never before tried grits, a commonly served dish in New Orleans, I figured ‘why not give it a try’. Most people compare grits to Cream of Wheat.
I ordered the Smoked Cheese and Bacon Grits from the sides portion of the menu. Immediately I could taste the smoky flavor of the cheese. The smokiness actually infused it’s essence into the whole dish. The cheese taste is somewhat there, but it’s the smoky flavor and the bacon that are prominent. When I saw the bacon on top of the dish, I prematurely thought that that was all the bacon. However, besides the bacon garnish, there are small pieces of bacon throughout all of the grits. Since I’m sure grits by themselves would be quite bland, along with the smoky essence, the bacon adds the needed saltiness to the dish. It is like Cream of Wheat but more grittier, more chunky and hearty. This dish alone would easily fill me up.

Between the Beignets, the grits, and the New Orleans atmosphere seen all over the restaurant, I could easily picture myself experiencing and indulging in the New Orleans culture.

The Brass Alley is hosting two parties this month. On October 13th, they are celebrating the restaurant’s third year with a Brass Alley Birthday Party. If you miss the birthday party, then grab a costume (or not) and head on over to their Halloween Party, Something Wicked, on October 28th. All three floors will be spookily decorated and have live music, also on every floor. Order some authentic New Orleans cuisine and have yourself a blast!

--Amanda Maniscalco--


1023 N Old World 3rd St, Milwaukee, WI
FB: @thebrassalley
Open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily and until 2:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays
Paid/Meter street parking
Reservations not required, however, again, I would recommend reservations during peak hours of operation.

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