Food/Drink – Milwaukee Record http://milwaukeerecord.com Music, culture, gentle sarcasm. Fri, 18 May 2018 14:58:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 http://milwaukeerecord.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/cropped-mrapp-32x32.jpg Food/Drink – Milwaukee Record http://milwaukeerecord.com 32 32 228 consecutive Friday fish frys and counting: Fireside Theatre (Fort Atkinson) http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/228-friday-fish-frys-fireside-theatre-fort-atkinson/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/228-friday-fish-frys-fireside-theatre-fort-atkinson/#respond Fri, 18 May 2018 05:40:08 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=50066 Caleb Westphal hasn’t missed a Friday fish fry since 2013. Follow along with his never-ending adventures here. or those who prefer the taste of fried fish over magic mushrooms, but would still like to enjoy a slightly psychedelic and otherworldly evening, The Fireside Theatre (1131 Janesville Ave., Fort Atkinson, 800-477-9505) is the place to be. Unique […]

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Caleb Westphal hasn’t missed a Friday fish fry since 2013. Follow along with his never-ending adventures here.

For those who prefer the taste of fried fish over magic mushrooms, but would still like to enjoy a slightly psychedelic and otherworldly evening, The Fireside Theatre (1131 Janesville Ave., Fort Atkinson, 800-477-9505) is the place to be. Unique architecture and a seemingly never-ending supply of visually stimulating rooms, make it reminiscent of the House on the Rock, and its theater and gift shops make it feel like a Medieval Times for grown-ups.

Designed by Helmut Ajango, who also masterminded The Gobbler, The Fireside was opened by Dick and Betty Klopcic in 1964. Originally a pyramid-shaped restaurant that could hold 120 diners, and named after the fireplace at its center, The Fireside has been expanded and renovated multiple times, and is now run by a third generation of Klopcics. In 1978, it was joined with a nearby building that was converted into a theater-in-the-round, and The Fireside became the Fireside Theatre. It has since showcased professionally performed musicals, with visitors coming by the busloads from in and out of the state. But on most Friday nights you won’t find a theater production happening at The Fireside. This is Wisconsin—on Friday nights people arrive to experience the only entertainment that is necessary: the Friday night fish fry. This past week I joined them.

Immediately upon entering The Fireside, I found myself in a multicolored-carpet-covered hallway that was flanked by numerous gift shops. Although a great amount of time could have been spent exploring, it was already around 7 p.m., so my group and I barreled past them. After the hallway twisted a bit and went past the theater entrance, it opened into the original pyramid-shaped room with fireplace and bar. We walked up to a desk that looked like it belonged in a hotel lobby and requested a table. Within a few minutes we were on our way to our seats.

We were brought past a few dining areas and seated in a booth. Panes of glass adorned with sea creatures were arranged throughout the area. Foliage and bricks held back a lit-up lagoon, and the whole room had a teal-hued tint to it.

“Are we in the Ocean Room?” I asked our waiter.

“No, this is room G,” he replied.

“How many letters of the alphabet do the rooms cover?” I pressed.

He paused for a moment, and tried to count them up in his head, coming up with 16 as an answer. I made a mental note to go exploring after the meal. We ordered drinks and perused the menu.

Fish options at The Fireside include deep fried beer battered cod, and steamed cod with peppercorn beurre blanc sauce. Baked chicken is also an option. For $13.95 you can get one of them, and for $15.50 you can get two or all three. Now, if I was doing a proper food review, I suppose I would have gotten all three. But doing a proper food review is not what this is about. This is about trying to maximize the amount of fried fish you can get, so that’s what I ordered. Potato options include french fries, potato wedges, baked potato, or potato pancakes. Besides clam chowder, Wisconsin beer cheese and French onion (topped with Wisconsin cheese, of course) soups are available. There are a few more options for the kids menu, but besides desserts, that is the whole Friday food menu. After realizing this, I looked around at all the people eating and thought, “IT’S POSSIBLE THAT EVERYONE I AM LOOKING AT IS EATING FISH RIGHT NOW.” As Wavy Gravy said at Woodstock, “We must be in heaven, man!”


As we waited for our food, I noticed that kids at nearby tables were all ordering funky non-alcoholic drinks. Some kid at the table next to us had ordered something that was called the Orange Dream, or something of that nature. I imagined a lot of these kids waited all week for these high calorie cocktails, just like I had waited for my Old Fashioned (a solid Old Fashioned, by the way). At about that time, I started getting distracted by the frequency of the lights. They were set in such a way that a trail was left behind your hands if you moved them too quickly. I started getting carried away with this, moving my hands every which way, as quickly as possible. Eventually I stopped after the kid drinking the Orange Dream and half of his table looked over at me, wondering what the hell I was doing.

Then came the clam chowder, and the bread and coleslaw. Just like Baby Bear’s porridge, the chowder was “just right,” having a perfect balance of flavor and texture. I do think a little more could have been fit in the cup though. Wrapped in a cloth napkin in a basket, the in-house bread was warm, and had a soft middle with a crispy crust. The juxtaposition of these textures enhanced the bread’s appeal, as did the fact that we were brought both rye bread and cheddar cheese bread. We were given two family-size bowls of coleslaw—a classic green cabbage and carrot creamy slaw.

Soon afterwards, the rest of the meal arrived. The fish, of which there were four pieces, was covered with a thin, tastily greasy beer batter, and was of moderate-to-good quality. The tartar had what was perhaps a hint of lemon and garlic to it. The potato pancakes were extremely crispy—so crispy that they had a thick outer shell and could be eaten as finger food. They were right on the edge of being burnt, but weren’t, and were quite good. They came with chunky and bright red apple cinnamon flavored applesauce. Fresh roasted vegetables were also included, consisting of green beans, red bell pepper, cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots.

After finishing my meal off with a dinner-included coffee (tea and milk also are included), my companions and I began wandering around The Fireside like children at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. We found a room which I will call the Forest Room, as well as a Fire Room, and a few rooms upstairs inside the original pyramid, where miniature, model hot-air balloons hung from the ceiling. Finally, we settled into the sunken-down lounge area and pulled up a seat at the bar (where the bartenders are sunken down even farther, being eye level with you as you sit). I saw a lady having a cocktail with a colorful fan in it, and asked the bartender to make me whatever she was having. So it was I ended my slightly psychedelic evening with a Mai Tai and a giant colorful fan. Who would have thought that journeying to Fort Atkinson would have been a trip in more ways than one?

Takeaways: It used to be a cornfield, and it’s in a city with less than 13,000 people, but it showcases professional theater productions and people come from miles around; there is a room that looks like an ocean, and one that looks like a forest, and one that looks like a fire, and they are given boring names like “room G”; there were some crazy frequency lights by our table and I couldn’t tell if I was tripping or having a stroke—it turns out it was just the lights; Baby Bear’s chowder; super crispy pancakes; tastily greasy beer battered cod; cinnamon stick in the Old Fashioneds and multicolored fan in the Mai Tai; unlimited top-notch bread and coleslaw; bread and other fresh baked good available for purchase at bakery; multiple gift shops that I avoided, so you’ll just have check them out yourself. RECOMMENDED

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After 12 years in session, Comet’s Beer School will end next month http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/after-12-years-in-session-comets-beer-school-will-end-next-month/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/after-12-years-in-session-comets-beer-school-will-end-next-month/#respond Thu, 17 May 2018 05:15:44 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=50035 In its 22-plus years in existence (and counting), The Comet Cafe has worn many hats. What started as a quaint and character-laden cafe that employed the city’s entire music scene has slowly turned into a local culinary powerhouse with a tremendous comfort food worthy of Guy Fieri’s blessing. The cozy East Side staple is also […]

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In its 22-plus years in existence (and counting), The Comet Cafe has worn many hats. What started as a quaint and character-laden cafe that employed the city’s entire music scene has slowly turned into a local culinary powerhouse with a tremendous comfort food worthy of Guy Fieri’s blessing. The cozy East Side staple is also home to a more-than respectable selection of vegetarian and vegan menu items (a favorite among local authorities and certain pro wrestlers/authors). Yet another way Comet Cafe has been ahead of the curve and influential in Cream City consumption is with the attention the restaurant has paid to its beer list.

Long before the craft beer boom, Comet has hosted a monthly Beer Class event. Over the last 12 years, the restaurant has held ticketed events on the first Tuesday of each month that highlight rare and unique beers, tout specific styles and regions, and introduce the city to new and exciting breweries. After playing an invaluable role in how Milwaukee drinks and appreciates beer, Beer Class will be out of session after the June installment.

“We are so lucky to have such a strong and supportive craft beer community in Milwaukee and we are very proud of the role we play in it,” Comet Cafe general manager Nicholaus Westfahl says in a press release. “It is incredible how much the industry has changed since we first started this fun little experiment. After nearly thirteen years and 150 months of planning, promoting, and executing Beer School, it is time to humbly hang up our hats.”

On June 5, Comet Cafe will host its 150th installment of Beer Class, fittingly dubbed “The End.” The series finale will feature samples of rarities from the likes of Lakefront, Central Waters, Good City, New Glarus, Hop Haus, MobCraft, Company Brewing, Black Husky, Hacienda, and Third Space. Comet will be serving up small plates and specialty desserts. The restaurant will be closed to the public to create a “beer festival” type of environment.

Tickets are $50 and space is limited. If you’d like to say goodbye to this long-running and influential means of beer appreciation, you can buy your ticket in advance now.

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Spirit of Oriental Drugs will live on in Crossroads Collective food hall http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/oriental-drugs-live-on-crossroads-collective-food-hall/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/oriental-drugs-live-on-crossroads-collective-food-hall/#respond Wed, 16 May 2018 06:50:04 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=49955 In a video from 1987, beloved East Side pharmacy Oriental Drugs is continually described as a “crossroads.” “It’s interesting,” says one woman. “It’s a crossroads. Everyone comes here at one time or another.” Oriental Drugs closed in 1995, leaving the corner of North and Farwell avenues anything but a “crossroads” for decades. Multiple tenants came […]

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In a video from 1987, beloved East Side pharmacy Oriental Drugs is continually described as a “crossroads.” “It’s interesting,” says one woman. “It’s a crossroads. Everyone comes here at one time or another.” Oriental Drugs closed in 1995, leaving the corner of North and Farwell avenues anything but a “crossroads” for decades. Multiple tenants came and went. Ever since the closure of Rosati’s in March 2017, the space has stood empty.

But now, new life is coming to the 7,000-square-foot space—new life inspired by old life. Crossroads Collective, “a unique culinary-driven food hall with multiple micro-restaurants,” is set to take over the former Oriental Drugs this October. The brainchild of New Land Enterprises owner Tim Gokhman, Crossroads Collective intends to revitalize one of the city’s most iconic—and ever-changing—intersections.

“I knew Oriental Drugs was an institution,” Gokhman says. “I underestimated how integral it was to the community, to people’s lives. It was something to everyone, and that’s when we understood why a food hall was the only correct choice. It’s difficult for a single restaurant to be many different things. But you get six different chef/owners into a space, and we think it’ll be magical. It’s the best tribute we can pay to Oriental Drugs.”

Crossroads will be managed by Cordial Consulting, a newly minted restaurant consultancy formed by Justin Carlisle and Dan Frame. It will feature six to seven vendors—some startups, some second or third locations. The space will also feature a main bar, as well as “a speakeasy accessible only from Black Cat Alley, located in a secret space inside the food hall.”

So what’s a food hall, anyway? According to a press release:

The food hall movement has been sweeping the country, but a specific definition of what a food hall is doesn’t exist. Some think of concepts like Eataly in Chicago or New York, or the Public Market. Crossroads is neither, and both. Unlike some of the larger food halls operated by one entity, the six to seven vendors will all be operated by individual owners. Crossroads is also much smaller (some have started calling halls under 10,000 SF micro food halls), and maximizes efficiency by sharing cooking, prep, cold and dry storage, as well as beverage service, in a commissary style kitchen.

The Crossroads team will be seeking out and interviewing potential vendors in the next few weeks. As for the vibe of the new space, expect a few flourishes from its Oriental Drugs past.

“We found two original cash registers in the basement,” Gokhman says. “We will continue to look through memorabilia, get feedback, and incorporate as much as we can into the design. It’s a very exciting project.”

Oh, and about the name. Per the press release:

Looking at an old video posted by the Milwaukee Record, they heard “crossroads” used multiple times to describe what Oriental Drugs was culturally and physically (given the 5-point intersection). The venture named itself right then and there.

You’re welcome.

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Come to The Cooperage June 4 to watch our ‘Shot For Shot With Chefs’ series premiere http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/come-to-the-cooperage-june-4-to-watch-our-shot-for-shot-with-chefs-series-premiere/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/come-to-the-cooperage-june-4-to-watch-our-shot-for-shot-with-chefs-series-premiere/#respond Wed, 16 May 2018 05:45:15 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=49982 It’s no secret that, in general, chefs are incredible drinkers. Between the long hours spent on their feet in hot kitchens, the chaotic work atmosphere, and the generally thankless aspects of the job, its hard to keep up with chefs once they finally get a chance to unwind at a bar after their shift ends. […]

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It’s no secret that, in general, chefs are incredible drinkers. Between the long hours spent on their feet in hot kitchens, the chaotic work atmosphere, and the generally thankless aspects of the job, its hard to keep up with chefs once they finally get a chance to unwind at a bar after their shift ends. That doesn’t mean we can’t try to match their pace.

Last summer, Milwaukee Record filmed the pilot episode of a new series called Shot For Shot With Chefs. The booze-fueled and food-focused web series features hapless host Tyler Maas talking about the ins and outs of Milwaukee dining with a local chef over some drinks. Okay, lots of drinks. The format is broad and the conversation will touch a variety of areas, but there’s one rule: when the chef drinks, Tyler also has to drink.

The first installment features Goodkind co-owner/chef Paul Zerkel, a respected name in Milwaukee dining and a legendary drinker by his own right. After two-plus hours together and 17 shots apiece, we emerged with a few minutes of interesting, informative, and entertaining footage. We also left with the harsh realization we can’t do that to ourselves again. At best, the series will need some re-tooling to move forward. At worst, this could be the one and only episode.

Join Milwaukee Record at The Cooperage on Monday, June 4—during Downtown Dining Week—to watch the first (and possibly last?) episode of Shot For Shot With Chefs. Starting at 7 p.m., The Coop will host a premiere event featuring a pop-up menu crafted by Zerkel and Taco Moto chef Mitch Ciohon, specialty cocktails from Great Northern Distilling, draft beer from Company Brewing, and a “Zerkel” special that consists of a High Life and a shot of whiskey. At sundown, we’ll talk about (the parts we can remember from) that drunken night with Zerkel and director Sam Kirchoff, show some outtakes that didn’t make the final cut, and debut the first Shot For Shot With Chefs.

If that’s not enough to get you to attend this free event, maybe this teaser we filmed after the shoot was over will sway you. We’ll see you there! Shot For Shot With Chefs is sponsored by Boone & Crockett, Company Brewing, and Great Northern Distilling.

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Milwaukee chef writes open letter to industry “plagued with predators and vultures” http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/milwaukee-chef-writes-open-letter-to-industry-plagued-with-predators-and-vultures/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/milwaukee-chef-writes-open-letter-to-industry-plagued-with-predators-and-vultures/#respond Mon, 14 May 2018 13:45:42 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=49844 Recently, the culinary world was rocked by numerous allegations of abuse perpetrated by restaurateurs, chefs, and various others in positions of power in the dining industry. These troubling revelations have put the actions of renowned chefs into question, as well as those of lesser-known food figures in the male-dominated field. Apparently, Milwaukee isn’t immune from […]

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Recently, the culinary world was rocked by numerous allegations of abuse perpetrated by restaurateurs, chefs, and various others in positions of power in the dining industry. These troubling revelations have put the actions of renowned chefs into question, as well as those of lesser-known food figures in the male-dominated field. Apparently, Milwaukee isn’t immune from those unacceptable incidents. After learning about some of the hardships a female friend of his faces in the culinary industry, Milwaukee chef Shay Linkus—former Vanguard and current Snack Boys chef/owner—decided it was time to speak up.

“A good friend of mine works in corporate [restaurants] and is constantly looked down upon for being a woman,” Linkus says. “It hurt me. Not being able to help her was crushing.”

Linkus says this friend told him the only way he could help her was to raise his son to be a good person who would never treat someone with less compassion because of their gender. Her advice prompted Linkus to write an “open letter” about the culinary industry, which he claims “is plagued with predators and vultures,” both in Milwaukee and as a whole.

“It really stuck with me and this is how to start being a better person for him,” Linkus says.

You can read full statement Linkus sent Milwaukee Record below:

My name is Shay Linkus. I used to be a chef. I’m not sure what I am anymore. Restaurants and bars have the ability to change neighborhoods and shape the youth that will likely spend time working in them. Even when they decide to love or leave it, these kids will be affected by their time in the workplace. That being said, this industry is plagued with predators and vultures. I have always wanted to change it into the happy place that I thought it could be, but I might as well give up. Heroes of this job are overlooked, while scum and bottom feeders rise to the top on the shoulders of false merit. I can only hope that the ones who provide a safe place and care for everyone with respect and equality are given the credit they deserve.

Philanthropy is not part of the job description, but chefs and owners are the teachers and parents of hundreds of people that work for us. We are the ones that can show people the love that is needed to provide the caring environment for the next generation. Things have changed since my time climbing up the ranks, but only to the public eye. It is still ripe with sexism and homophobia. Abuse of power and alcoholism are going to hide in the shadows and no one will say anything about it out of fear of losing their membership to the clubhouse. That being said. I am not perfect. I have my own demons and tend to feel happiest staring at the world through the bottom of a bottle. Lately, I just don’t give a fuck anymore.

Chefs and owners should be given the opportunity to narrate their own life. We stand in front of the firing lines of online criticism and judgement based on the whims of trolls and the social elite. We should stand as moral leaders and be critiqued on the way we run our business and lead the kids who work beside us. I make the food I want to eat. If you don’t like it, fine. That’s your call. If I’m a piece of shit who stands tall while degrading and abusing the ones who can’t defend themselves, shame on you for supporting me. It’s okay to have a wild time and live like tomorrow is your last day. But always remember that if it’s not [you last day], you will have repercussions to deal with. People will rise and people will fall, but the next one to stand up and take the reins should be based on the talent that was nurtured and the morals that were passed down.

If you are reading this and need someone to talk to, I will always be there to listen and stand beside you. If you can’t defend yourself, I will walk in your shadow to make you feel safe. There are a lot of great people in this industry and Milwaukee has such an amazing community of chefs and owners, but we are not without our rotten eggs. Fuck this boys club and the predators that swim in the waters.

Shay Linkus, Sandwich Artist

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227 consecutive Friday fish frys and counting: Café el Sol http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/227-friday-fish-frys-cafe-el-sol/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/227-friday-fish-frys-cafe-el-sol/#respond Fri, 11 May 2018 05:25:05 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=49663 Caleb Westphal hasn’t missed a Friday fish fry since 2013. Follow along with his never-ending adventures here. ast year Cinco de Mayo fell on a Friday, and I made a trip to Café el Sol (1028 S. 9th St., 414-384-3100), with hopes of trying their Latin-inspired fish fry buffet. It turned out that the United Community […]

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Caleb Westphal hasn’t missed a Friday fish fry since 2013. Follow along with his never-ending adventures here.

Last year Cinco de Mayo fell on a Friday, and I made a trip to Café el Sol (1028 S. 9th St., 414-384-3100), with hopes of trying their Latin-inspired fish fry buffet. It turned out that the United Community Center (UCC), which houses Café el Sol, was having their annual anniversary dinner that evening, so I ended up eating at Muskie’s Gourmet House instead. This year Cinco de Mayo fell on a Saturday, so I thought I’d attempt to go to Café el Sol on Cinco de Mayo Eve. The UCC’s anniversary dinner had been held the week before this year, so the restaurant was open to the public.

Cinco de Mayo is widely misunderstood in the United States, and it is often celebrated in ways that are culturally insensitive, to say the least. It commemorates the victory of Mexican forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. No, this wasn’t part of the Mexican fight for independence—that fight was against the Spanish, and began in 1810 and ended in 1821. Rather, it was a battle against the French, who were trying to establish a foothold in the country at the time. Today Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Puebla, and in some parts of Mexico, but it is much more widely celebrated in the United States, by Mexican Americans in honor of their heritage and culture, and by a wider American population, that tends to be ignorant of what they are celebrating.


As a white American living in the “build the wall” era, I reflected on the best way to celebrate the holiday. Certainly it is not by wearing a sarape and sombrero and downing shots of Jose Cuervo. Nor is it probably best done by eating a taco bowl at Trump Tower and then tweeting “I love Hispanics.” It seems to me showing a bit of deference and an intent to learn is the best approach. It was with that mindset that I headed to Café el Sol.

Café el Sol specializes not only in Mexican food, but in Puerto Rican cuisine as well, and has been open since 1984. They have been serving fish frys for at least a few decades. As I entered the UCC, I wandered around for a minute, until I was pointed to an elevator by someone behind a desk, and told the restaurant was in the basement. Upon leaving the elevator there is a small bar to the right and a large dining area ahead and to the left. I inquired about a table and the buffet, and I was told I could sit anywhere I would like. Surprisingly, only a handful of tables were occupied, and the whole place was pretty empty. I was brought some salsa and chips, which supplanted rye bread for the night, and I ordered a margarita on the rocks instead of an Old Fashioned. I also confirmed I was getting the fish fry buffet and headed to check it out.

The buffet consisted of coleslaw, lettuce salad, Puerto Rican rice, white rice, pork, chicken, broiled fish, and fried fish. Although the pork and chicken looked great, eating them would have meant less fish, so I decided not to take any. The coleslaw was almost all red cabbage, had a little bit of cilantro, and had some heat from some small cuts of hot red peppers. The broiled fish was a nice option, and was prepared with peppers and onions. A light yet crispy breading with a Latin-inflected seasoning covered the fried fish. The fish itself was a little on the dry side, but not necessarily in a bad way. It could still stand on its own without tartar, but it was almost as if it was calling out for its condiment companion. The tartar managed to be both tangy and sweet, and gave the fish a real punch.

As I finished my third plate of food, I sat back and took in some of the live music. It’s not out of the ordinary to hear accordion playing and polka music at many Milwaukee fish frys, but at Café el Sol one hears Latin music with Spanish vocals. How great it is to know that people are enjoying fried fish and music of different flavors and varieties throughout the city. Here’s looking at you, Milwaukee.

Takeaways: Fish fry buffet!; a darn good margarita; a little heat in the coleslaw; the tartar and fish seemed meant for each other; served from 5-8:30 p.m. with live Latin music beginning at 6:30 p.m.; you aren’t in the wrong place, the restaurant is in the basement; no need to wait until Cinco de Mayo, this fish fry is worth checking out any time of the year. RECOMMENDED

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Sprecher will bring five “Feasts on the Beach” to the Traveling Beer Garden at Doctors Park http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/sprecher-five-feasts-beach-traveling-beer-garden-doctors-park/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/sprecher-five-feasts-beach-traveling-beer-garden-doctors-park/#respond Thu, 10 May 2018 05:30:38 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=49633 What’s better than Milwaukee County Parks? How about beer in Milwaukee County Parks, courtesy of the ever-popular Traveling Beer Garden? And what’s better than beer in Milwaukee County Parks, courtesy of the ever-popular Traveling Beer Garden? How about the just-announced “Feasts on the Beach,” coming this summer to the Traveling Beer Garden at Doctors Park? Now […]

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What’s better than Milwaukee County Parks? How about beer in Milwaukee County Parks, courtesy of the ever-popular Traveling Beer Garden? And what’s better than beer in Milwaukee County Parks, courtesy of the ever-popular Traveling Beer Garden? How about the just-announced “Feasts on the Beach,” coming this summer to the Traveling Beer Garden at Doctors Park? Now we’re talking.

Co-presented by Sprecher, the five Doctors Park beach parties will feature different themes, different menus, and, in one case, a screening of an Elvis Presley movie (Clambake!). Here’s the schedule:

Thursday, July 19
New England Clam Bake
Steamer clams steamed using seaweed, corn on the cob, red potatoes, cornbread, and 2 pints beer/person.
Entertainment: Screening of the Elvis Presley movie “Clambake” followed by Elvis tribute singer Tony Rocker.

Tuesday, July 24
Door County Fish Boil
Whitefish, Cole slaw, red potatoes, corn on the cob, cherry pie, and 2 pints beer/person.
Entertainment: Pangaea Steel drum and Marimba Duo.

Wednesday, July 25
Hawaiian Luau
Pig roast, roasted fresh pineapple, Hawaiian poi, tuna poke, and 2 pints beer/person.
Entertainment: Haleo Malo Hawaiian Dance Revue.

Thursday, July 26
Louisiana Crawfish Boil
Crawfish, shrimp, corn on the cob, red potatoes, red beans & rice, cornbread, and 2 pints beer/person.
Entertainment: Danny Nimphius Milwaukee Blue Grass All Stars.

Tuesday, July 31
Maryland Crab Feast
Blue crabs, cornbread, corn on the cob, red potatoes, Kielbasa sausage, and 2 pints of beer or soda/person.
Entertainment: Jay Matthes (Surf Songs and Jimmy Buffet Tribute).

Tickets are $60 each, and can be purchased here. A “Take the Tour” 5-pack is also available for $250. Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets, lawn chairs, and other beach stuff. The fun begins at 6 p.m.

The 2018 Traveling Beer Garden season kicks off May 16 at Juneau Park and Greenfield Park.

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Why not, here are 13 more Milwaukee area patios http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/why-not-here-are-13-more-milwaukee-area-patios/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/why-not-here-are-13-more-milwaukee-area-patios/#respond Wed, 09 May 2018 12:56:29 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=49525 Over the last three years, we’ve listed seven patios that make you feel like you’re not in Milwaukee, 16 quintessential Milwaukee patios, then 13 more goddamn patios. After that, we rounded up another 15 patios. Last spring, we wrote about 18 more patios for some reason and with that our work was done. Finally, we chased […]

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Over the last three years, we’ve listed seven patios that make you feel like you’re not in Milwaukee16 quintessential Milwaukee patios, then 13 more goddamn patios. After that, we rounded up another 15 patios. Last spring, we wrote about 18 more patios for some reason and with that our work was done. Finally, we chased it with 18 additional patios last August because nothing matters. With that, we officially covered every patio in or around Milwaukee. Just fucking with you…there are so many more.

As local dining and brewing experience their heyday, the city’s patio scene is also thriving. With about a month left before summer starts, there’s still plenty of patio time ahead. As the world continues to rapidly fall apart around us, take some comfort in knowing we’ve found 13 more Milwaukee area patios for your lounging pleasure.

Bar Louie
If Bar Louie is your kind of thing, you probably already know the bar chain has a patio. If you’re downtown and want to grab a bite or a beverage outside, Bar Louie definitely exists.

Braise
Over in Walker’s Point, Braise has mastered high-end and locally-sourced takes on dining staples. Adding to their elegant presentation and fresh ingredients, the restaurant ups the ante in terms of ambiance with a rooftop patio that’s tucked away from the hustle and bustle of 2nd Street.

Cactus Club
Though the beloved Bay View bar and concert venue lacks outdoor space, Cactus Club makes the most of its limited exterior real estate with hand-crafted booths that run along one side of the business. It might not be the type of space you’ll want to spend a day, but if you want to break away from a show or get some air between innings, Cactus’ makeshift five-booth patio has given patrons a place to enjoy the elements, take a smoke break, or enjoy a meal from a food truck parked outside.

Cielito Lindo
With a number of other, better-known Mexican restaurants in the vicinity, Cielito Lindo gets somewhat lost in the shuffle. However, the 2nd Street establishment isn’t half bad! And the forgotten restaurant’s even-more-forgotten patio is pretty nice, too. The fenced-in rear enclave hosts close to a dozen tables, has a number of potted plants, and offers ample shade.

DiModa Pizza & Hotspot
Trocadero is gone, but the departed East Side haunt’s pristine patio remains intact at DiModa. The pizzeria took over the space last year and, thankfully, didn’t mess with the site’s outdoor accoutrements during the renovation process. It’s virtually the exact same patio you knew and loved at Trocadero, but with the ability to enjoy excellent woodfire pizza this time around.

Eagle Park Brewing Company
Just around the corner from DiModa is the brand new site of Eagle Park Brewing Company. After oodles of success in its quaint and hard-to-find original spot, the upstart brewery recently moved from its Bay View warehouse taproom to a East Side site (formerly occupied by Like Minds and The Hamilton) that can accommodate their brewing/canning needs, allow expansion to food service, and let Eagle Park’s formerly crowded clientele enjoy one of their tasty brews on the brewpub’s spacious side patio. Best yet, the patio also opens up to a huge (HUGE!) private parking lot, where owners intend to host outdoor events like concerts and beer release celebrations.

Enlightened Brewing
Just one floor below Eagle Park’s original Lincoln Warehouse spot is another up-and-coming brewery. Enlightened Brewing Company moved to its ground floor spot two summers ago. In addition to upping its brewing output and letting customers in to enjoy beers at the taproom, Enlightened has also built and installed a covered side patio on the corner of 1st and Beecher streets. It’s not much, but its a place customers can get a breath of fresh air and tip a pint outside.

The Explorium Brewpub
Speaking of new area breweries making a name for themselves, Explorium Brewpub has seamlessly brought new life to Southridge Mall with its vast and enjoyable cast of craft brews that are made in the Greendale shopping center’s basement. The interior is pristine, but when spring and summer roll around, the patio is where it’s at. Not only is there full food and drink service offered at Explorium’s many outdoor tables, there are also 24 draft options on hand at the brewery’s patio bar. If you need to unwind after shopping, give Explorium’s nifty beer garden a try. We suggest paying a visit on June 2.

Fuel Cafe 5th Street
Fuel Cafe
has been an important part of Milwaukee since 1993. Over the last 25 years, the cafe has evolved to expand its drink menu and food offerings as its local legend has grown in kind. In 2016, Fuel literally expanded when the seminal restaurant and coffee shop opened a sprawling new space in Walker’s Point that features a full bar and even more menu items to go with time-tested favorites. With a much larger space than its Riverwest counterpart, Fuel Cafe 5th Street is also able to offer a gorgeous patio that looks out onto suddenly bustling Walker’s Point thoroughfare.

Nomad Nacional
Last week, 5th Street got even busier and better with the opening of Nomad Nacional. The new soccer bar took over the former site of La Fuenta and, with it, inherited two gorgeous side patios. With cobblestones, tiled decor, and plants accenting these roomy outdoor dining spots, you should make visiting Nomad Nacional your…goal this summer. Get it? Goal. It’s like the soccer term.

Oak & Shield Gaming Pub
On the subject of newcomers reaping the benefits of past tenants’ patios, Oak & Shield landed a nice rear dining area when they opened in the former site of Karma last week. Admittedly, we’ve yet to visit the new business, but we’re excited to check out both the inside and outdoor offerings at Oak & Shield soon.

Tha Circle
Remember Treats Tavern? Sadly (or maybe not, depending on who you’re asking), the East Side dive and occasional host of 6:30 a.m. concerts is no more. However, a new bar called “Tha Circle” opened where Treats once stood last year. It survived winter and a rumored (and quickly rescinded) attempt to become a strip club and is now ready to welcome summer out on its rear patio. The newly-paved space has a grill, tiki torches, and a few tables.

Third Space Brewing
Last but certainly not least, our patio tour brings us to Third Space. The outstanding young brewery has helped bring a newfound resurgence to the once-desolate Menomonee Valley with delicious and innovative beers. When temperatures rise, those beers can be enjoyed in Third Space’s on-site beer garden. The space hosts food vendors, shows football games, and offers space for yard activities and other revelry.

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New bar, The Lost Whale, has found a home in the former site of Boone & Crockett http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/new-bar-the-lost-whale-has-found-a-home-in-the-former-site-of-boone-crockett/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/new-bar-the-lost-whale-has-found-a-home-in-the-former-site-of-boone-crockett/#respond Tue, 08 May 2018 05:01:05 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=49516 Now that Boone & Crockett has officially moved to its awesome new digs in Walker’s Point, there was an underlying question about who (or what) would be taking over the cocktail lounge’s original Bay View location at 2151 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. It turns out, residents didn’t need to wait very long to learn the answer. […]

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Now that Boone & Crockett has officially moved to its awesome new digs in Walker’s Point, there was an underlying question about who (or what) would be taking over the cocktail lounge’s original Bay View location at 2151 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. It turns out, residents didn’t need to wait very long to learn the answer.

A bar called The Lost Whale is slated to take over the space, with intentions of opening by mid-June. The new establishment—spearheaded by respected beverage industry veterans Tripper Duval and Daniel Beres—aims to bring “a Midwestern hospitality-focused bar” to Bay View. Duval recently worked as a mixologist at Badger Liquor, and has experience at Goodkind and The Hamilton. Beres is the former Beverage Director for Stand Eat Drink Hospitality Group.

The bar’s name is reportedly an ode to an April Fool’s article about a lost whale being spotted in Lake Michigan. You can expect that whimsy to combine with the owners’ impressive craft cocktail background to make for an interesting, enjoyable experience.

“Wisconsin is filled with hard-working people who want to go out to have a good time,” Duval says in a press release. “We value their time and we’ll be focused on speed behind the bar, a minimized wait time for drinks, and the cocktails will be fresh, innovative, and delicious.”

The bar will apparently also be focused on sustainability, which will be put into practice with biodegradable straws, composting, and community efforts that focus on maintaining Milwaukee’s waterways. The Lost Whale is projected to open mid-June. Check back for updates in the coming weeks.

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226 consecutive Friday fish frys and counting: Nite Cap Inn (Palmyra) http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/226-friday-fish-frys-nite-cap-inn-palmyra/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/226-friday-fish-frys-nite-cap-inn-palmyra/#respond Fri, 04 May 2018 14:32:13 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=49475 Caleb Westphal hasn’t missed a Friday fish fry since 2013. Follow along with his never-ending adventures here. ‘m hoping that Wisconsin’s winter season is finally over. A blizzard hit us the second weekend in April, and then we had another dumping of snow the following Wednesday. This year, winter seemed to last about six months, and […]

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Caleb Westphal hasn’t missed a Friday fish fry since 2013. Follow along with his never-ending adventures here.

I‘m hoping that Wisconsin’s winter season is finally over. A blizzard hit us the second weekend in April, and then we had another dumping of snow the following Wednesday. This year, winter seemed to last about six months, and at some point I thought it was going to suffocate me. It eroded my ambitions, and some days got pretty bleak. But in the back of my mind I kept having visions of winding and hilly Wisconsin country roads, lush fields, rolled down windows, a warm shining sun, and blaring rock and roll music. Would a destination even be desired in such a scenario? Probably not unless you realized that small towns dotting the Wisconsin countryside have restaurants that serve cherished Friday night fish frys. The sun may not have been fully cooperating this past Friday, but being that there were droplets of rain coming down and not flakes of snow, I figured it was time for a fish fry on the road.

The Nite Cap Inn in Palmyra (227 S. 3rd St., 262-495-2659) had been suggested to me a few times, and everyone who had brought the place up always raved about their potato pancakes. A guy I used to work for first told me about them, and most recently a guy randomly messaged me online saying I should go there. I figured I’d heard enough about it, and had to check it out for myself.

I left Milwaukee about 3:45 p.m., and put on John Prine’s new album as the soundtrack to the journey. As I drove the stretch between Mukwonago and Palmyra, I passed rolling fields, pine trees, and a stretch of blacktop painted with “turtle crossing.” My stomach grumbled as I went by the Brookwood Pub and Grill, which had a sign that said “The best fish fry.” I went past a picturesque scene of an old red barn with an American flag hanging off of it, and past Horseriders Campground, where horses could be seen tied up at camp, giving me the feeling I was passing a western movie. Finally I made it into Palmyra, which felt like a sleepy old town with the exception of one thing: Night Cap Inn.

It was about 4:45, and it was anything but sleepy inside the restaurant. I was on my own for the evening, but being that I had driven so far to a place of such promise, I decided there was no way I was going to do my usual eat-at-the-bar-when-I’m-by-myself move. I put my name in with the hostess. Then, in what has to be the best way to order food in the world, she said, “Fish?” “Yes,” I replied. “Pancakes?” “Yes,” I affirmed again. It was that simple. Who would think of choosing differently?

The Night Cap Inn has been standing since 1857, and has mainly been a hotel, restaurant, bar, or combination of those things over the years. From the 1870s into the early twentieth century, it went by names such as The Commercial House and The Commercial Hotel. It was purchased by William and Lily Braasch Reich in 1915 and became “Reich’s Hotel.” Their son Bill and his wife Isabelle took it over in 1938, and Isabelle restarted the restaurant part, which had been dormant for years. It appears food has been a part of the building ever since. It changed hands a few times over the following decades, until John and Betty Betenz bought it in 1974. Betty, who passed away in 2016 at the age of 93, was already known for her potato pancakes at the time, and her legend continued to grow until she became known as the “Potato Pancake Queen of Palmyra.” After John died in 1986, Betty ran it for another two years on her own; Helmut and Sue Nestler bought it in 1988 and have owned it since.

If last week felt like a trip to the 1970s, this week seemed to take me somewhere timeless. As I hovered around the bar, it wasn’t out of reach to imagine myself waiting for a meal in the early 1960s, or even in the late 1980s, during the time when I was a child. The best Wisconsin establishments have this timeless quality, where even though winds of change blow outside, the inside stands sturdy in tradition. Red swivel chairs encircled the keyhole-shaped bar. Thin red curtains covered a few windows, and a thin red cloth covered a piano that Helmut used to often play. Red carpet with a blue lined pattern covered the floors, and when I ordered an Old Fashioned, the bartender grabbed a glass from one of the many hanging from the ceiling. It is remarkable just how intact the Nite Cap Inn appears after so many years of use.

As I looked around, most people weren’t playing on their phones, but were actually talking. The age demographic was older, but even the young bartender seemed as if he was from a different time. I heard phrases such as “It’s how I remember it” and “Some good things don’t change” being used in conversation. People kept asking the hostess when their table would be ready, and because it was so packed she would jovially say things such as “You’ll eat when you eat” or “Who knows how long it will be?” In between, she would call out names of ready tables over the loud bar conversation.

After I had been there for awhile I left the bar area and sat on a chair that overlooked the dining area.

 Shortly afterward, the hostess pointed out a table that had just been cleared right inside of the dining area, and said it would soon be mine. Dishes of tartar, coleslaw, and applesauce were placed on the table. A few minutes later a plate and silverware was set, and a few minutes after that I was told I could sit down. As I settled into my seat I saw a framed fish fry article on the wall that was titled, “Fish fries worth some extra miles.” I thought this was pretty ironic, considering I had just driven pretty far myself, so I tried to take a picture of it. “No paparazzi!” a voice startled me from behind. It was my waitress who had brought my food—a plate with three pieces of cod and two potato pancakes, and a basket with a piece of dark rye bread. 

After she had left I took a picture of the setup, and after doing so the hostess walked back over to me. “You’re not a food critic, are you?” she queried me. My brain started racing as I had never been in this predicament. Just then a comedic moment took place, and I thought I wouldn’t have to answer the question. A whole group of people she had just called came up to be seated. They ended up having to go back in the bar area, because she had called a table for Bill and they were a table of Phil. She came back and pressed me again. I waffled, and I rationalized in my mind, “Well, you aren’t a food critic, you are a fish fry critic, and you really aren’t even a critic, you are just a guy who rambles about random shit.” Then I panicked and blurted out “No.”

I started eating my meal, but I knew there was no way I could enjoy it, or review it properly, with this cloud hanging over me. I pride myself on trying to be truthful and having integrity, and this was not going to stand. There was no way in hell I was going to sully the impeccable name of the Milwaukee Record either. I had been found out and I needed to fess up.

“So, you were right.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, about the food critic thing.”

And just like that my tenseness subsided. She brought out some old pictures of the building for me to look at, and then the owner’s daughter, Michelle, came out to talk to me. Michelle told me what history she knew. You could tell she was very proud of the business being in the family for thirty years and that they made all of their food from scratch. It turned out that her daughter was my waitress—the third generation working at the restaurant. Is this how food reviewing is supposed to work? You just say who you are and you get the inside scoop on a place? It seemed much easier than my usual under the radar approach.

The cod was lightly breaded with a great texture—it wasn’t overly crunchy and it held together nicely. It had a somewhat mild flavor that went well with the straightforward homemade tartar. The coleslaw was an above average creamy slaw. The pancakes had a perfect balance of texture: they were thin, crisp edged, and had a moistness inside—but not too much. Just like the fish, their flavor was rather mild, but in a good way. Michelle told me that the pans being used to make them dated back many decades. The tradition of good pancakes that was started by Betty Betenz continues into the present day.

All of the food together had an understated magnificence to it—a certain balance. Each part seemed to complement the other, and the setting seemed to perfectly match the food as well. In total I had seven pieces of fish and five potato pancakes. I was offered a dessert on the house, and although I was appreciative of the offer, I didn’t want any special treatment, and I turned it down. In hindsight I should have seen if I could have just gotten some more fish and pancakes to take home as my dessert. I could sure go for some right about now.

Takeaways: Everything is homemade; top notch potato pancakes with fish that is not too far behind; AYCE for a reasonable price ($12.95); family owned and operated for 30 years, and has been the Nite Cap Inn for even longer; timeless ambiance; get there early and plan on a somewhat long wait (I left my house in Milwaukee at 3:45 and got home around 7:45); they found out I was a “food critic” and I was startled enough to forget to order clam chowder or take better pictures of the food; besides fish and pancakes they are known for German cuisine; I saw a horse walk by outside while I was eating; their 30th anniversary party is May 11…that’s a Friday; this place is the real deal, folks—it’s totally worth the drive. RECOMMENDED

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