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Chow Down In Milwaukee

Restaurant Reviews

Downtown Downing Week 2021

Downtown Dining Week is going on now! Many local restaurants around Milwaukee are participating in this dining week experience, hoping to see friendly faces again and entice new customers to try their unique cuisine. 

After a year long hiatus from dining out, now more than ever customers want to get out and try new things while restaurants are looking to bounce back to somewhat normalcy. During Downtown Dining Week, we can all achieve our goals and help the economy while doing so. 

There is no better time to dine out, find a new favorite restaurant, try a dish you wouldn't normally, or get the dish you've been missing for so long. Each restaurant has either a $13 lunch menu or a $25/$35 dinner menu, and some restaurants have both. 

Here is a sneak peak of a few of the restaurants participating. 

The Knick

The Knick’s DDW lunch and dinner menu are both three course meals which is a lot of bang for your buck considering the deal you’re getting. The knick is located at 1030 E Juneau Avenue and is open every day of the week from 9AM to 12AM.

For the appetizer, I ordered the Gazpacho, a chilled tomato and vegetable soup. The aroma brought me to a garden of fresh tomatoes right away. Upon tasting, I immediately tasted basil and other herbs which were accompanied by kick od acidity. The tomato based soup was light, but rich and the texture was fine grit, with no clumps. I’d say this was a perfect choice on a hot summer day.

Next came the Entrée, which I choose to be the Pulled pork sandwich. I was shocked after my first bite of the sandwich because I was expecting a different flavor. Instead, the pulled pork had the seasoning of a Mexican taco. The piled high shredded pork was nicely sauced with the seasoning though, and only need a bit more of the pineapple slaw. The pineapple slaw was quite refreshing and consisted of cabbage, carrots, red onion and the pineapple. The dish was accompanied with waffle fries that had the seasoning of which reminded me that of curly fries.

Finally, I chose the flourless chocolate cake for the dessert. It was amazing, to say the least. It was shockingly decadent and creamy with a thick cheesecake consistency. There is a mix of both milk and dark chocolate and dressed with a drizzle of raspberry sauce which added tartness to this very sweet dish.

Flannery’s

I took my son and significant other to Flannery’s for lunch, and between the three of us, we were able to order almost everything on the DDW menu. Flannery is located at 425 E Wells Street, right by Cathedral Square Park.

The appetizers offered are Reuben Rolls, cheese curds and chicken wings. When you think of food, rarely do you think of shape, but we were all shocked to see the square cheese curds as they arrived. The coating is airy and slightly crispy, but I must say, I was expecting a bit more cheese for the size of the curds.

The Reuben Rolls definitely belong on the menu in this Irish flared restaurant. There’s a lot of corned beef in these fat, wonton wrapped rolls. The beef was well seasoned and nicely chopped so the bite was easy to eat. The only thing that could have made this better would be more sauerkraut inside the roll because the thick, creamy thousand island dressing on the side was well appreciated. This is a very filling appetizer.

When ordering the wings, you are given your choice of sauce and either ranch or blue cheese. My son order the wings with barbeque sauce and the ranch dressing. Immediately he said, “These are tasty. Really juicy”, as he covered his entire mouth area with sauce. Needless to say, he finished almost all of them. The wings were hearty, good sized and cooked perfectly – not too dry or underdone. I also appreciate the array of flavors they offer.

When it came to the Entrée’s we decided to try the half-pound cheese burger and the blackened Mahi fish tacos. Justin and my son order their burgers medium, and medium well and had the choice of lettuce, tomato, pickle or onion on them along with the choice of cheese. The burgers came out cooked just the way they ordered them. Justin says that the meat itself was well seasoned and flavorful and that there was enough cheese on the big burger to be able to get the kick from the pepper jack.

My Mahi fish tacos were a delight. With the combination of the prominent cabbage, pungent cilantro and lightly breaded fish, these tacos are quite light and very refreshing.

Dessert was a must for all of us. We ordered each dessert, the carrot cake and the brownie, both of which contain nuts. The carrot cake was fluffy yet still moist and was topped with a thin layer of smooth cream cheese frosting. The brownie was velvety and coated your mouth every bite. The nuts in the brownie must have been minced because I could hardly taste they were there. Either way, this is a brownie that will leave you wanting another.

Rodizio Grill

The Rodizio Grill is a great choice for anyone who likes a laid back, leisure dining experience that includes tableside carvings, allowing you to try various meats at snack size portions, as well as a salad and sides buffet bar. This Brazilian steakhouse is located right by the river at 777 N. Water Street.

After being seated you are able to go up to the salad and sides buffet bar which included a variety of items, from salad fixings, a fruit selection, various pasta salads, beef stroganoff and cheesy bread. The mashed potatoes had the skin on, mostly smashed and were a great based for my beef stroganoff. I loved the sauce of the dish, but it could have used a lot more beef bits and mushroom. The cheesy bread were rather balls and not cheesy at all, but the fresh mozzarella balls made up for that. My absolute favorite item from the buffet bar was the fried plantains. They were mashed but still held their thick, finger sized shape. They were significantly glazed and topped with a course, caramelized sugar that gave a tad crunch to the otherwise soft, sweet side.

Here comes the meat. The waiters come to your table with a specific meat on a spit and ask if you would like any. If yes, then they carve you off a slice as you grab it with the provided tongs. They have a wide variety of meats that circle around ranging from chicken and beef to pork and sausage.

I’d say my absolute favorite is the honey glazed ham, simply because of the glaze. It’s a thick, glossy sweet finish to a great piece of ham. The notes of honey and maple are prominent and pleasing. I thought this would be an even better bite if I combined it with the sweet plantains. My gosh, was I right!  

The garlic beef is a well-cooked meat, little to no pink and has just a hint of garlic flavor. The texture and seasoning reminds me of shredded roast beef, it was delicious. I wanted to put this on a bun and dip it in Au Jus.

The marinated chicken thigh with the bone has a lot of meat on it and the skin isn’t crunchy but done enough to enjoy its flavor with the meat. When it came to the chicken breast meat, though, it was a tad dry. The sweet and spicy sauce didn’t stick well to the meat because there certainly wasn’t much, but you could still taste the sweet chili flavor they used. The bacon that wrapped around a different chicken breast was appetizing; I just wish the bacon had been cooked a bit longer.

Suddenly, it was like a water balloon of juice exploded in my mouth as I bit into Rodizio’s sweet, fresh grilled pineapple. Immediately my mouth filled with pineapple essence and I was bombarded with zest. That was a well welcomed gift from the grill.

I was shockingly impressed with the top sirloin which I found to be very tender, almost soft. The lean red meat wasn’t chewy at all and I loved the outer brown char. Even the fat around some of the edge was flavorful and easy to eat.

**You can visit https://www.milwaukeedowntown.com/bid-events/downtown-dining-week to view all participating restaurants and their Downtown Dining Week Menus. 

Fish Fry's Around Milwaukee

Everyone has their own opinion of what makes for a good fish fry. After conducting a few polls via social media, based on your suggestions, I decided to visit four Fish Fry’s in the Milwaukee area. They were: Amelia’s, Victor’s, Kegel’s Inn and The Thistle and Shamrock. Let’s take a look at what each of them have to offer.

Amelia’s

Location: 724 E Layton Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207

Hours: Sunday – Thursday 11AM to 2AM, Friday and Saturday 11AM to 2AM

Dine in and curbside pick is available.

Amelia’s Friday Fish Fry is $14 and comes with beer-battered fried cod, coleslaw, rye bread and fries. They also have other seafood options under their Friday weekly specials list. For instance, my company ordered the Perch Dinner.

I was excited to dig in to my large filets of beer-battered cod, probably my favorite fried fish. The fillets were not only thick and sturdy, they were tender and flaky. The cod was contained in a somewhat thin, airy breading which was lightly crisped on all sides. Their homemade tartar sauce was slightly tangy and a great addition to the warm fish.

My company’s Perch Dinner is $16 and came with several pieces of perch. The fillets were thinner than the cod and had a thicker, crispier crust. There’s a crunch as you bite into this meaty, hearty fish.

The soft marble rye came out first with the coleslaw and tartar sauce. The coleslaw seemed like it had a mix of a mayonnaise and vinegar base to it. I liked how the slaw was evenly coated, as well as the slight tartness to it. The fried cod came with fries that remind me of thin pub fries, not real crispy, kind of mushy, but still tasty

I also ordered a side of Potato pancakes which are $4. They were traditional, but the edges were pretty crispy, while the middle was just done enough. I liked the consistency of the potatoes and I always enjoy it with applesauce which was served with them.

Victor’s

Location: 1230 N Van Buren St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Hours: Monday – Thursday 4PM-2AM, Friday and Saturday 3PM to 2:30AM, Sundays are closed.

Dine in available.

The Friday Fish Fry at Victors will run you $15.75, and comes with either beer battered or baked cod, a huge loaf of white bread and butter, coleslaw, and your choice of potato – fries, baked potato or cheesy hash browns. Perch is available as well.

Here, too, I ordered the fried cod, which I am very happy I did. The plate came out with four decent sized fillets of well-coated beer-battered cod. The cod meat was very juicy and moist, just fell apart delicious. The coating wasn’t too thin or too thick, but it was a little greasy. The tartar sauce that came with it was alright, not too tangy but I could distinctly taste the relish.

I didn’t care too much for the coleslaw so much. It had a very earthy flavor to it and is quite chunky and in my opinion, needs a tad more sauce for the base.

For the potato, I ordered the cheesy hash browns. When I looked at my plate of fish and potatoes, I was amazed by the heaping mound of hash browns that was almost as big as my face. They were definitely cheesy, with a good sharp flavor. However, the hash browns were slightly underdone and could have been cooked a little longer.

I must say, the service was extremely slow, but the fish and cheesy hash browns made up for it. Overall, this dinner was quite filling and the atmosphere makes for a great place to gather and enjoy a Friday Fish Fry.

Kegel’s Inn

Location: 5901 W National Ave, West Allis, WI

Hours: Tuesday – Thursday and Saturday 4PM-8PM, Friday 11AM to 8PM, Sundays and Mondays are closed.

Dine in, drive through and delivery available

Tonight my significant other treated my son and I to a Fish Fry at Kegel’s Inn. I decided to go a different route than the classic, and order the Walleye instead, while Justin and my son choose the Classic Cod Fish Fry. Each Friday Fish Fry plate comes with fries, rye bread, tartar sauce, coleslaw and lemon. Potato pancakes and German potato salad can be substituted for the fries at an additional $2 charge.

The Walleye coating was crispy and well-fried and lightly seasoned. I must say, it also stuck perfectly to the fish, so you get a crunch aspect in every bite. Walleye seems to be a slightly firmer and meatier fish. The meal comes with 2-3 fillets that are thinner yet long. For my first time trying Walleye, I was impressed, and I will definitely order Walleye again in the future.

I opted for the upgrade to potato pancakes which came with apple sauce. The cakes were crisp on the outside, slightly charred on the edges, but soft and smooth inside with a pleasant cheese flavor. This is not your typical potato pancake; I enjoyed it quite a bit, and highly encourage the upgrade.

Justin described his Cod as fresh, the freshest he’s had thus far (since he’s been with me to all of these fish frys). He liked the crispy crust and added some lemon juice from the given wedge which made it even more refreshing.

The tartar sauce was almost sweet, not too much relish, and very smooth. The coleslaw, too, was on the sweeter side, but was well unified by the creamy base.

The Thistle and Shamrock

Location: 3430 N 84th St, Milwaukee, WI

Hours: Tuesday – Thursday 11AM to 11PM, Friday and Saturday 11AM to 12AM, Sundays 11AM to 7PM, Mondays are closed.

Dine in and take out available

The Thistle and Shamrock is known for having the largest fish fry in Milwaukee, serving a variety of over 20 different kinds of fish. Knowing this, I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and try something different.

They have two combo options, meaning you can choose two half orders of fish. I chose the one costing a little more, $19.95. There were so many options it was very hard to decide. But finally, after serious contemplation, I choose the Catfish and Blue Gill.

There was one large, lightly breaded fillet of catfish presented on the plate. After taking my first bite, honestly, the taste reminded me of fried chicken – I’m not sure if it was the breading, the fryer they used, or what. But since I thought it may be the breading, I pieced it apart and tasted the meat of the fish. It was delicate, texturized and a little on the greasy side. Again, it kind of reminded me of the dark meat of poultry. Don’t get me wrong, it was a delightful piece of fish, it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

The small fillets of Blue Gill were also lightly breaded with the skin on. The meat was tender and flaky. I was weary about the skin being left on, because I’ve never had breaded skin-on fish, but needless to say, the skin was super thin and didn’t interfere with the taste or overall bite of the fish.

My partner decided to order the Northern Pike which he described as rich and meaty. The breading was fluffy, not too crispy, but did sort of separate from the fish.

The potato pancakes might be a hit or miss. They were not your typical small, thin and somewhat smooth potato pancake. Instead, they were big and thick, a tad greasy and just barely cooked enough. I’d go with the fries, baked potato or their famous Thistle chips next time.

The Tartar sauce has a creamy texture with a unique but welcomed twist. That twist was the inclusion of dill in their homemade sauce. The potent taste of dill was also graciously accompanied by the apparent spice, tartar.

State Fair's NEW Foods of 2019

Wisconsin State Fair is home to the cream puff, food on-a-stick and new exotic concoctions that various vendors craft together for fair goers to experience and explore their adventurous side. From Bug tacos, to loaded german pretzels, deep fried portabella fries, to apple crunch cheesecake quesadillas, and much much more, there is something for everyone! Here are 10 of over 60 new foods at the Wisconsin State Fair.

1. Cinnamon Toast Crunch French Toast Sticks - $7.50

This was a great option for the first thing in the morning. At Goonies Fish and Beer Shack you wouldn’t think you could get a breakfast delicacy like this – but you can! And it’s their first year offering a breakfast option.

The six French toast sticks are deep fried after being filled with cream cheese and bacon and rolled in Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal and served with a side of syrup. The cream cheese inside was hot and gooey and delicious. I enjoyed the Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal on my lips after every bite. You must dip it in the syrup. The crunch from deep frying goes away after dipping the French toast stick in the syrup and together, it makes for a breakfast you’ll want over and over again. The bacon was quite subtle, almost hard to miss, but when you did get a taste of bacon, the combination of salt and sweet was superb.

2. Boss Hog Sandwich - $9

This could be considered perhaps a brunch option due to the fried egg atop a grilled bratwurst and cheese. The hoagie bun was soft and easy to handle and held everything together just fine. Margie didn’t like how the brat didn’t snap like most should but Neil and I thought the grind of the sausage and it’s seasonings made for a great brat. Came with a slice of cheese, but because these are made to order, the hot brat and fried egg quickly made the cheese melt, which was nice. The fried egg was fully cooked with a crispy edge, not runny at all, so it wasn’t sloppy. The egg and brat went surprisingly well together. I might just cut up some left over brats and put them in my scrambled eggs next time. You can find this brunch get-up at Roberts.

3. Sfingi - $5

Pistol Petes, a new vendor this year to the fair, was offering Sfingi, an palm sized Italian donut. We chose the cinnamon sugar option, and had all four sauces, white chocolate, dark chocolate, caramel and raspberry. Comes with five donuts, which are stuffed and topped with what seemed like a vanilla flavored cannoli cream. The cream was on the thicker side, but I appreciated that because it didn’t run out of the donut the first time you bite into it. Between the cream and the abundant amount of cinnamon sugar, this smaller sized donut was quite rich and filling.

I’m happy we got the cinnamon sugar, but if you do, be warned – you will need a lot, I mean, a lot of napkins for the sugar that is just too much to lick off your fingers.

4. Blazing Deep Fried Olives - $8.50

These olives were meant to be blazing because of the jalapenos stuffed inside them. However, there was no spice what-so-ever to these. They use pitted Queen Green Olives, which are a hefty size, I must say. The first bite was quite salty, so was the second. But the cream cheese that was stuffed inside offset the saltiness a little and was a great pair. If you like olives and want to keep with the fair’s tradition of food on-a-stick, come this way.

 

 

 

5. Snake Soup - $12

First of all, I want to say I have never tried snake in any sort of way – and now, it seems like I still haven’t. The soup smelled like French onion, but was veggie based and had some rice. But where was the snake? I might have gotten a little shred here and there, but nothing prominent for sure. It tasted plain, not much herbs or spices at all, if any.

For Twelve dollars, between the lack of flavor and snake itself and the amount you get (even though I wouldn’t have wanted any more), this is not worth it. If you’re looking to go exotic and/or adventurous, I would suggest trying the Grasshopper Slushie on-a-stick.

6. Queso-Fundido Dog - $7.50

This was the best bang for your buck deal that we came across today. A thick all beef hot dog covered in queso blanco, bacon bits, chorizo, pico de gallo, jalapenos and tortilla strips. Between the queso, chorizo and jalapenos, the heat was all there and the combination was great. I also loved the crunch from the tortilla strips. The hot dog was delicious in itself as well, a good flavor and was quite big.

Altogether, this mountain of a dog was way past well worth the seven dollars and fifty cents, especially for people who like hot dogs and a bit of spice in their life.

7. Chick-N-Stix Sampler - $12

This was a great combination of sweet and savory due to the variety of sauces Sprecher Landing crafted. There are 6 chunks of white meat chicken, breaded and either grilled or fried, with a little sauce ladled over them. The PXP Island was a sweet tropical one with pineapple and mango sauce topped with macadamia nuts, toasted coconut and banana chips. Then there was the Poco Loco with that great hint of lime, due to the Sprecher Golden Ale Chili Lime sauce, which was topped with roasted corn, ghost pepper and snicker doodle crumble. The Wisconsin Triple was on the side of savory with a kick, tossed in a buffalo sauce with Wisconsin Gorganzola and Wisconsin raw honey. The three others are Generation Peanut, which is similar to a thai peanut flavor, the Hoptastic, which to Neil’s mother seemed a little “hoppy”, and finally the Root Beer BBQ, which by the way, you can most certainly smell and taste the root beer in this sauce. Check out the Sprecher Landing for these sweet and savory pieces of chicken.

8. Puco Locadilla On-A-Stick - $12

Also at the Sprecher Landing was a Sporkies Finalist, the Puco Locadilla on-a-stick. The tortilla was soft and seasoned one of the tips. Once off the stick, it was easy to wrap the tortilla around the chicken and eat it like a taco. The buffalo seasoning on the tortilla was a great minutiae addition of heat as well. To off seat the heat, the cilantro and lime were quite refreshing. There was a conspicuous absence of the crumbled snicker doodle though – which was OK by me. The chicken in this dish was grilled unlike the breaded chick-n-stix. The chicken was juicy and had a hint of lime flavor as well – delicious.

 

9. Buffalo Cheese Curd and Chicken Tacos - $7 or 2 for $10

Another Sporkies finalist and new food at the Wisconsin State Fair is the Buffalo cheese curd and chicken taco, everything deep friend, including the tortilla but minus the blue cheese slaw it was topped with.

The shell was crispy and flaky but still held everything together – until the end. The shell was also a little greasy, but not overly. We had to let it sit for a little while because it was served piping hot. The white meat chicken’s texture was spot on and was seasoned very nicely. The cheese curds didn’t have much of a buffalo flavor so I would recommend adding buffalo sauce (which they provide as self-serve condiments) to your taco if that’s the flavor you're going for. As for the coleslaw, it’s a must have in every bite! It’s coolness offsets the taco’s temperature when you’re first served the meal. Also, it had a refreshing flavor, but lacked the blue cheese, for sure.

10. Chicago Dog Nachos

The chips were homemade potato chips that tasted so great that no seasoning was required The hot dog was sliced thick and had a great flavor, but the relish was the predominant flavor. Overall, this dish confused the brain whether you were eating a Chicago hot dog or nachos.

 

Written By: Amanda Landowski; Tasted By: Amanda Landowski and Neil Panosian

 

It's National Mac and Cheese Day - Let's Get Cheesy!

Today, July 14th, is National Macaroni and Cheese Day! Also known as mac and cheese, this dish has long been considered one of America’s top comfort foods and has been enjoyed in almost every household since the early 19th century.

Do you see those cheese commercials for California cheese? Well, did you know that Wisconsin produces the most cheese of all the states, and produces more than double than that of California? Sure, we’re not France, but Wisconsin still produces 600 varieties of cheese.

Probably the easiest and the most popular way Americans enjoy their cheese is through the comfort dish, macaroni and cheese. Noodles, cheese, maybe some milk and seasonings – but there are countless ways of making macaroni and cheese and Wisconsin does just that.

Milwaukee has the privilege of hosting many restaurants that serve mac and cheese as a side, or put it on pizza, or even specialize in creating signature mac and cheese concoctions. Some of these include, Comet Café, Noodles and Co., Ian’s Pizza, Triskele’s, East Town Kitchen and Bar, and Grate Modern Mac and Cheese who works with Renard’s Cheese and Sassy Cow Creamery.

At Grate Modern Mac and Cheese, if you come in on National Mac and Cheese Day, you will get the chance to enter to win a free catering bar experience from Grate Catering. Some of Grate’s mac and cheese dishes include a cheesy twice baked potato mac, a buffalo, a Nacho mac, a pizza mac, the Wisconsin and more. They supply also their classic mac and cheese along with a Mexican street corn mac, which are both vegetarian, and also offers a gluten free mac dish.

Comet Café’s social media manager, Ed Subias, says, “Our Mac and Cheese is made to order and covered with so much cheese, it nearly creates a cheese shortage in Wisconsin!” Comet Café is located on Milwaukee East side at 1947 N. Farwell Avenue.

At Triskele’s, their classic mac and cheese is always on the menu. You can choose from any combination of Wisconsin Cheddar, Goat Cheese and/or Gorgonzola. “The most popular is the Mac and all 3 Cheeses,” says Lynn Winter, co-owmner and manager. “Our mac is a bit unique in that each dish is prepared individually and finished off in the oven. Folks can also add Roasted Chicken Thigh or Grilled Polish Sausage. We also do different Mac preparations for specials. One of those, which is one of Head Chef and co-owner JoLinda’s favorites is Mac and Cheese with Gorgonzola, Fresh Rosemary and Cabernet Reduction.” This one isn’t always on the menu, but if requested, Jo will always do it if she can.

Show your love of cheese today by grabbing some comforting mac and cheese at any of these restaurant. Or, you can simply make grandma’s signature baked mac and cheese that’s been past down. Either way, let’s get cheesy. Take a selfie with your mac and say CHEESE!

 

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.

DOWNTOWN DINING WEEK

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.

37th Annual Taste of Milwaukee

Taste of Milwaukee celebrated its 37th year at the Italian Community Center featuring many of Milwaukee’s finest and famous restaurants. Hosted by Broadscope Disability Services, all of the proceeds went toward helping people with disabilities and their families.

Taste of Milwaukee invited 20 establishments, including restaurants, café’s, food trucks and wineries to showcase their signature items. Some of the restaurants included Saz’s, 9th Slice, the Bavarian Bierhaus, Valentine Café, Lovely and Tasty Walking Tacos, Get Them While Their Hot Tamales and two Bartolotta restaurants – just to name a few.

Probably the most well-known was Saz’s. I spoke with Jason Cornelius, the General Manager, and he says that after 43 years they have definitely established themselves here in the community. The restaurant gives back any time it can, including going to benefit events like Taste of Milwaukee and donating to charity. Cornelius says that Saz’s simply wants to support the people who have supported them all of these years.

Saz’s brought its signature flatbread with roasted mushrooms, caramelized onions, fig jam, fontina and parmesan cheese with white truffle oil and chives, prepared by Chef Justin Verbanac.

The Bartolotta restaurants are also very active in the community. Not only have they attended Taste of Milwaukee in the past, many times a year the Bartolotta restaurants participate in events benefitting people in need and donates to various organizations including the Liver Foundation and the Performing Arts Center.

Joey Gerard’s served raw beef, onions and deviled eggs, while the Rumpus Room served their signature deviled eggs with Rumpus candied bacon, a fan favorite and an item that has been on the menu since they opened.

Fresh, fast and friendly is what’s happening at 9th Slice Pizza Co. Alycia Pogreba, Store Marketer, explained that every ingredient is fresh and the pizzas are made in-house and quick fired for just over 3 minutes. Not only is it fresh, it can be made healthy.

At Taste of Milwaukee, 9th Slice showcased their health-conscious pizza with a cauliflower crust and topped it with their signature artichoke dip. They also had to serve their famous 9th slice – a slice of hot chocolate chip cookie, a dessert everyone walking through the door gets at 9th Slice.

From Italian to Mexican, Taste of Milwaukee had a great variety of food for its guest to sample. Lovely and Tasty Walking Tacos is a local catering company offering Dorito flavored walking tacos. Taste of Milwaukee was Lovely and Tasty Walking Taco’s first charitable event, but Laquana Beverly and her partner say they would enjoy doing another event again like this. The duo served they’re signature walking tacos and their best seller, the Loaded Nachos.

Another Mexican establishment was not far away. Get Them While They’re Hot Tamales, a food cart and catering business, served their signature tamales, either spicy or not, along with nachos and a sliver of churro. Ran by Jann and Pedro, the ma and pa business started in 2010 and has recently launched a website that features fundraising catering – a way for Get Them While They’re Hot Tamales to give back to the community they’ve lived in for over 50 years.

Moving toward the drinks, we arrive at Valentine Café and Wine Bar, a fairly newer establishment to the area, celebrating it’s second year. Robb Kashevarof, Founder of the company, and his staff at Valentine Café enjoy giving back to the community so they try to attend as many benefit events as possible.

Valentine Café served an assortment of sweet and savory scones including Cranberry Orange, a blueberry Glaze, a Chocolate, Lemon Poppyseed, an Everything scone, as well as a Ham Cheddar and Chive.  Beside the scone, they served their signature Valentine coffee, roasted here in Milwaukee.

Finally, what is an event in Milwaukee without beer? German beer at that! The Bavarian Bierhaus attended Taste of Milwaukee to not only help and support people in need, but to also showcase their specialty beer. “The Bavarian Bierhaus has been 90 years in the making,” says Matt Prostek, Brand Ambassador. Full steam ahead, in the last three months, the bierhaus has revamped its menu and beer selection.

The beer selection offered by the Bavarian Bierhaus at Taste of Milwaukee included a Pilsner, a Dunkel, a Hefeweizen and a house choice for the evening which was the Night Marauder.

Other than coffee at Valentine and beer at the Bavarian, other places offered wine and typically was paired with the dish. These places included Fleming’s, Greige, and Lo Duca Wines. All the while, Soulboxer Cocktail Co. poured their signature brandy and bourbon old fashions.

Besides the restaurants mentioned, Café Benelux, The Gouda Girls, Rollin’ Dough Specialty Cookies, the Foxfire Food Truck, Thunder By Grille, Oberweis Dairy and Famous Dave’s also participated in the 37th annual Taste of Milwaukee.

SCJohnson was a major sponsor for Taste of Milwaukee; this event could not have taken place without their support along with the support of others, including Capital Trust Group, Infinity, and Miller Coors.

The 37th Annual Taste of Milwaukee offered a taste and a sip of some of Milwaukee’s finest and most deliciously versatile restaurants. Thank you Broadscope for hosting the event and thank you to the public and your interest in food and giving back to the community you live in.