Chow Down In Milwaukee

Restaurant Reviews

Downtown Dining Week In Milwaukee

Downtown Dining Week is underway. It kicked off Thursday night, May 30 and goes until June 6. This means you get a whole week to try new restaurants you may not have heard of or thought to try before. New restaurants on the scene will also be participating like Char'd and Oak and Shield.

There are over 30 different restaurants participating in Downtown Dining Week. Some restaurants have both a lunch and dinner menu, some have one or the other, both of which will have either a two or three course meal. The lunch will run you $12.50 and the dinners will be either $25 or $35. You do have the pleasure of choosing your appetizer, entrée and dessert (if offered) because there are at least two options per course. You basically create your own meal, it’s great!

Cantina Tequilla and Taco Bar - 1110 N Old World Third St.

I was eager to get out there and try some new restaurants I haven’t before. I decided to start with lunch and went to Cantina on Old World Third Street. This restaurant is one of the ones offering a three course lunch.

First, it was between the Guacamole and the Queso Fundido. I chose the Queso, simply because I’m a cheese fan and really like spiciness. Needless to say, this had the perfect amount of heat and the queso wasn’t too thick to where it broke my chip; it was actually a great consistency.

For the entrée, the options were: a Queso Smothered Burrito, a plate with two chicken tacos, or a vegetarian taco plate. Bring me more queso please! Yes, I chose the Queso Smothered Burrito. You have the option of steak or roasted veggie; it’s nice they give you the vegetarian option but I was surprised it wasn’t offered with chicken.

I chose the steak – which I don’t normally lean toward but for 13 bucks with tax (and two other courses), I decided it’s a steal of a deal, why not. Turned out, it was a great decision. There were endless amounts of good sized chunks of steak surrounded by beans, rice, corn and shredded cheese. I was actually happy to see they left the lettuce out of the burrito. Together the ingredients worked perfectly together and the queso acted as the sauce that smoothed things out and helped add creaminess to the dish. Finally, the fresh cilantro sprinkled on top enhanced the steak's flavor. From this point forward, I feel like every steak I have needs to be accompanied by cilantro, no doubt.

Finally, the dessert. It was between a Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake or a Chocolate Brownie. If you know one thing about me, it’s that I can’t turn down cheesecake – no way. The cheesecake was delightfully decadent, to say the least. I appreciated the strawberry flavor throughout the cheesecake – it’s quite a big difference than just having it on top. The cheesecake itself was creamy but still had a nice fluffiness to it. I was splendidly shocked by the crust which reminded me of a cinnamon coffee cake – not the usual crust on a cheesecake, but this was warmly welcomed. Between the sweet strawberry flavor, the rich crust and creaming cheesecake with a little drizzle of chocolate sauce on top, this dessert should be enjoyed by everyone. .

Oak and Shield Gaming Pub - 600 E Ogden Ave.

During the third day of Downtown Dining Week, my boyfriend and I decided to check out Oak and Shield for their three course lunch menu. Oak and Shield had their grand opening last year, May 4. Oak and Shield is a gaming pub with nearly 100 board and card games to choose from to learn or play while eating and enjoying your time with friends. This is the restaurants first time participating in Downtown Dining Week and they are happy to be apart of it.

I originally went with the soup of the day that I overhead was a zucchini and yellow squash, cream based soup. After I ordered that and Justin ordered the house salad, I was informed they did not have the soup of the day. That’s OK I decided to go with one of their other appetizer options and ordered the Black Bean Chili. I’m glad they didn’t have the soup of the day – I was meant to have this chili. It was very filling, I probably should not have finished the whole thing. I had fresh diced tomatoes and plenty of black beans and the combination of both ground and chinks of beef was a great idea. The herbs they used enhanced the sauces flavor, which was a very creamy tomato base infused with the smoky essence of the meat.

For our entrée, we decided on the same thing – go big or go home. For you meat lovers out there, we chose the Return of the Briskwitch. This sandwich has brisket, bacon, Swiss and cheddar cheese on Texas toast. I was skeptical on how thick Texas toast is, but the toast turned out nice and buttery and lightly toasted so the bread could be easily be smashed into the cheese and meat.

The cheesiness wasn’t on point. I believe the abundant amount of meat over powered the cheese in this sandwich. But still, the flavors of the meat were superb; it had the great smoky flavor and the brisket wasn’t chewy. The bacon was nice and thick and provided a sturdy bite every time. In my opinion, if you ask for some BBQ sauce, this would be mans best sandwich friend.

Finally, the dessert – even though I was already full. I ordered the Cookie Dough with Vanilla Ice Cream and Justin ordered the Deep Fried Marshmallow drizzled with Caramel and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Once his dessert was served, immediately my mind went to our Wisconsin State Fair, where you can get almost anything deep-fried and on a stick. That’s exactly what this was – served to him was a deep fried marshmallow (or two) on a stick.

I began to eat my cookie dough and ice cream, which was delightful after a heavy,m substantial meal. I look over after my first two bites and his plate is empty. My eye’s widened and sarcastically I asked, “Well, did you like it?”

“I could have four more of these; they were so good,” Justin says. He couldn’t stop raving about it either, “I would have one of these everyday if I could,” he said, nodding his head, licking his lips and smiling.


If it weren’t for Downtown Dining Week, we wouldn’t have discovered a great new tequila and taco bar with huge burritos or a gaming pub with a State Fair look-a-like treat! I know I’ll be bringing my son here to play guess who and enjoy some cookie dough and deep fried marshmallows.

Please stay tuned for more updates on Downtown Dining Week and please feel free to leave a comment below or go to our forum page if you have advice or questions for Chow Down in Milwaukee.

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