Chow Down In Milwaukee

Restaurant Reviews

Reunion - American Food At It's Best

Being a food critic can often mean separating your emotion. It means foregoing your expectations and going into each review with an open mind and a clean slate. Most times, this is a relatively easy thing to do. However, on a rare occasion, I walk into a new restaurant to do a food review filled with anticipation that borders on excitement. The more intense this feeling is, the more it sets up for a let down. As Margie, my mother and I headed down to reunion, I felt as excited as a kid on Christmas. Reunion Restaurant is located at 6610 West Greenfield Avenue in West Allis. The address is not as important as the actual building it is located in.

Reunion is located in what used to be the office building of the sprawling Allis Chalmers complex. Most of that complex has been converted into a shopping center. The stand alone building recently got a state fair mural covering the east side of the building. Margie and I watched as construction commenced in converting this relic of the past into a hip and happening restaurant and entertainment destination. The first thing I noticed was the buildings rotunda had been demolished, or so I thought. When speaking to Chris Paul, one of the owners, he informed me the paid close attention to preserving and repurposing as much of the building as they could. If you look behind Reunion’s first floor bar, you will see the liquor shelves are made from that very rotunda. As you are looking behind the bar, it may serve you to look down as well. The bar foot rail you are standing on, it is made from left over conduit from the previous iteration.

I made it a point to walk around Reunion’s first floor bar and restaurant. From humorous signs about food, to nostalgic photos of the city’s and building’s past, Reunion has managed to blend both modern and industrial atmosphere perfectly. There are even large paintings in the rest rooms. (Marilyn Monroe for the gentleman, James Dean for the ladies) There are several nooks and unique seating areas. One area featured a giant round logo stamped on the wall, coupled with bookshelves. The wine rack looked particularly interesting. Chris informed me that was fashioned out of the old boiler system. Even the area in which you will wait if you order carry out is adorned with couches and mirrors bringing the very edge of a steampunk look. It was so cool that Margie was arguing to eat her dinner there. Televisions are plentiful throughout the first floor of Reunion. That means whether you are meeting friends for a few cocktails, more on those later, or having a fun dinner with the family, there will be no excuse to miss the game. I could spend several pages describing the fun you can have inside the first floor of Reunion but let me just conclude by saying when you do stop, you owe it to yourself to explore.

I don’t believe I have ever written this much of a review before even getting to the food. Reunion sure lived up to the hype when it came to the restaurant atmosphere, but what about the food? With all the effort they put into the décor would the same effort translate into the menu? We were all hungry and it was time to find out. We were greeted by Jonnie, our very friendly server. All the servers are wearing what looks like a leather shop apron. It is a nice touch that does serve as a constant reminder of the history of the building you are enjoying your meal in. The servers use a handheld tablet to take your order. Despite being open for a mere 4 days before our arrival, Jonnie seemed to have this down quite well. It was time to let our taste buds explore the menu, just as our eyes had done with the building.

The menu at Reunion can best be described as classic American. That is selling it a little short in my opinion. Yes, it includes appetizers, salads, burgers and pizza. These are not the boring usual options you would expect. Their burgers are “Famous Stuffed burgers” or delicious “Smash Burgers”.  There are so many tasty options to choose from it can make your head spin. Not sure which one to pick? They have a “build your own” burger option with lots of topping to choose from. Even the fries that you get with a burger have several options. You can have them seasoned, Cajun, ranch or garlic parmesan. There are also a whole host of other sides including, but not limited to, deviled eggs, wasabi mashed potatoes, cheesy grits, mac and cheese and grilled asparagus.

The appetizers are just as unique and creative. There is the usual paired with items you could only find here. We decided to select one from each of those categories. First was the layered nachos. The description says they are tortilla chips layered with cheese, pico de gallo and Monterey jack cheese and topped with black olives. This may sound like a simple plate of nachos, but the quality of the ingredients could not be beat. The presentation was perfect as well. Guacamole on one end of the plate and sour cream on the other. If there was one issue we had with the food, is was that these came out a little colder than they should have. Certainly, being open less than a week, I am sure this will be fixed. It should be noted this was the only item that did not come out hot. The chips were light and airy and the portion was enough for the three of us. All of which love nachos.


Next, we had to try something more unique. I am glad we did because I feel you should certainly know about this item. Stuffed Chicken Bites are described as chicken stuffed with pepper jack cheese and wrapped in bacon, then fried till crispy. This description is accurate except for one important detail – the word ‘bites’. We all anticipated finger-sized options that we could pop in our mouth. What came out was four baseball-sized chicken breasts wrapped in bacon. If you have never seen a baseball made out of bacon, it is enough to make the eyes widen. When pressed about the confusing use of the term ‘chicken bites’, Abby, Reunion’s other owner and Chris’s wife, explained that calling them “Chicken Balls” seemed slightly uncouth. Certainly understandable. Just be aware these four chicken bites are easily enough for eight people as an appetizer. Slicing into the ball, you could see the melted cheese leaking out of the juicy chicken breast. The bacon was crispy due to the deep-frying process, but that made it easy to cut and eat. A rich and savory item that tasted just as good warmed up the following day.

We were also treated to an order of Fried Cauliflower. I must confess, this vegetable is one of the three things on the planet that I do not consume, so I must rely on the opinions of Margie and my mother. The batter was seasoned to perfection and had a light and airy texture. The two sauces it came with were the perfect compliment to take this dish to the next level. The one issue they both mentioned is that the batter did not stick well to the cauliflower, and this made it a little tricky to eat, but did not compromise the taste.

Let us get to the entrees. My mother ordered first and chose to build her own burger. She added sauteed onions, pepper jack cheese and garlic aioli. The burger came out done medium well just as she enjoys. She chose the seasoned fries. After the amazing appetizers we enjoyed, the healthy size of the burger was almost intimidating. She said the burger was done enough while remaining juicy. All their burgers are served on toasted brioche buns. Even they were delicious.

Margie ordered the Prime Rib Steak Sandwich. This sandwich consisted not only of delicious prime rib but Swiss cheese and caramelized onions on a hoagie roll. Served with a side of au jus and horseradish sauce. Again, the portion you get with this sandwich is worth the price. It was also just as delicious the next day. Margie chose the garlic parmesan fries. The seasoning on these fries was delicious, but unlike the other two options we explored, could have had more seasoning. Overall, definitely a dish to return for.

I wanted to choose one of the ‘Famous Stuffed Burgers’. Specifically, I picked the Borderline Burger. Once again, served on one of those delicious, toasted brioche buns. This burger was Cotija stuffed with jalapenos, pepper jack cheese, pico de gallo, tortilla strips and Cajun seasoning. To stick with the theme, I also went with the Cajun fries. The burger was tall and thick. It was done to medium perfection. My mouth still waters thinking of it. The fries were good, and the Cajun seasoning was flavorful, but not spicy. In thinking back, I would definitely explore one of the more creative sides. I took half of this burger home and just like the other food we took with us, it was just as mouth-watering the next day for lunch.

All these wonderful culinary creations are the work of Executive Chef Jhabre Fouche. The flavors are at once familiar, yet unique. Using quality ingredients to craft delicious entrees is what Reunion seems to specialize in. My only regret in the dinning portion of our adventure was that there were not more of us in the party as there are so many more dishes left to try. We left the table full, happy and with lunch for the next day.

There are also a host of delicious cocktails that I cannot wait to return and try as well. Dessert features Skillet cookie with ice cream on top, New York Cheesecake, and Capri Cannoli. Although we were so excited over our entrees and did not leave enough room to try any of these, we certainly will return to do so. If the quality of the meals we enjoyed were any indication, returning for a handcrafted cocktail and tempting dessert is not out of the question.

Reunion still had more pleasant surprises to offer. What can you possibly do with all of those delicious calories you can’t help but consume? Why take the stairs, or elevator if you are too full, to the 5000 square foot arcade on the second floor. Up there you will be able to purchase a game card that can be used to access the many games. Just like the meals on the first floor, the games were a great mix of the familiar and the new and creative. There was a great virtual reality game were you were a headset that Margie enjoyed watching me play perhaps even more than I enjoyed playing. There are classics like Skee ball, where all three of us had a great time challenging each other. We ran into Chris, the owner, again here. He showed us where they had torn down a wall to make room for some of the games. “Would you like to know what we did with the bricks?” He asked with a grin that begged us to implore him for an answer. 

We are certainly glad we did. Chris directed us outside to the east end of the building. There we could see two Volleyball courts and the Cream City brick from the wall used to make a very welcoming firepit. Around which were placed several relaxing chairs. Perfect to enjoy a cocktail with friends. There were also several games of bags as well as something I have seen nowhere else – a pool table you play with your feet! Chris also informed us there will be live music and other events here in the future. It would appear this place is more than just an amazing restaurant, but a complete entertainment destination.

Whatever you are looking for in a night out, Reunion Restaurant in West Allis checks all the boxes. Looking for a fun atmosphere to meet up to watch the game? Reunion has that. Looking for a nice place to take a date that has both atmosphere and amazing food and specialty cocktails? Reunion has that. How about somewhere to let the kids, and kids at heart, blow off some steam and have some fun in a 5000 square foot arcade? Reunion has that. What about that fun location to get together with friends for volleyball leagues, live music or just a cocktail around the firepit? Yes, you guessed it. Reunion has that.

With so many different possibilities, Reunion will be your go to option for many different occasions. They also have a birthday room for rent in the arcade. The food that Executive Chef Jhabre Fouche creates would be worth driving some distance to pick up. However, failing to enjoy that wonderful fun and atmosphere that Abby and Chris Paul created would leave your experience incomplete. Reunion is a clean, fun and friendly place that I will be returning too quite often. I know if you indulge yourself in a trip here, you will definitely return more than once.

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