Food/Drink – Milwaukee Record http://milwaukeerecord.com Music, culture, gentle sarcasm. Fri, 18 Jan 2019 18:42:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0.3 http://milwaukeerecord.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/cropped-mrapp-32x32.jpg Food/Drink – Milwaukee Record http://milwaukeerecord.com 32 32 263 Friday fish frys and counting: Kam’s Thistle & Shamrock http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/263-friday-fish-frys-and-counting-kams-thistle-shamrock/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/263-friday-fish-frys-and-counting-kams-thistle-shamrock/#respond Fri, 18 Jan 2019 15:10:47 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=60971 Caleb Westphal hasn’t missed a Friday fish fry since 2013. Follow along with his never-ending adventures here. s I neared the host’s stand, I quickly scanned the room, looking for an open table or a spot at the bar. None could be seen, so it seemed necessary to put in my name. But when I spoke, […]

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

As I neared the host’s stand, I quickly scanned the room, looking for an open table or a spot at the bar. None could be seen, so it seemed necessary to put in my name. But when I spoke, I didn’t say my name, but instead blurted out an alias, the first time I have done so. It’s not that I have grandiose delusions and think that anyone gives a shit that I am eating fish every week, really. It’s just that anonymity keeps my nerves at ease and allows me to actually enjoy my Friday fish fry, which is the birthright of every Wisconsinite. Anyway, putting a name in turned out to be pointless, because a spot opened up at the bar in about a minute, and I just decided to sit there instead of waiting for a table.

Located on the corner of 84th Street and Lisbon Avenue in the Nash Park neighborhood, within a mile radius of both Schneider’s Food & Drinks and Gard’s, Kam’s Thistle & Shamrock (3430 N. 84th St., 414-871-3977) has been open since early 2015. It is in a building that houses some apartments and a few other businesses, including Kam’s Corner Tap, which opened in 2010. The name comes from Jeff and Carey Young Kamermayer, who own the restaurant along with Jakub and Miriam Lepold (the Lepolds also own the whole building). From at least the late 1960s until about 1989 the space housed the Ole Lamp Inn, and in the following years it was home to the Loose Connection, the New Lamp Inn, Mixers, and Pete’s Pizza. Kam’s has been on my radar for a few years, and I always figured I’d get to it at some point. With only 1,941 Friday’s left to work with, now seemed as good of a time as ever to check it out.

After ordering an Old Fashioned, I started digging into the menu. Kam’s claims to have “Milwaukee’s biggest variety of fish,” and if by this they mean Friday fish options, they may be correct, although I can’t say for sure. The first fish section of the Friday night menu listed pollock ($10.95), cod loin ($12.95), baked cod (13.95), haddock ($12.95), smelt ($13.95), catfish ($13.95), baked catfish (14.95), and northern pike ($14.95). A combo, where a half order of two of these fish options is included, was $13.95. The second fish section of the Friday night menu listed grouper ($14.95), baked grouper ($15.95), blue gill ($16.95), lake perch ($16.95), and baked or deep fried walleye ($19.95). A premium combo, where a half order of two of these fish options is included, was $17.95.

Wait, there’s more! The third fish section of the menu listed salmon ($16.95), barramundi $17.95), and red snapper ($17.95). Shrimp ($13.95) was also on the Friday night menu, as was seafood chowder ($3.95 cup/$5.95 bowl). I thought that was it, and maybe it was, but when I compared the print menu to what they had online, the online menu also had rainbow trout ($16.95), flounder ($16.95), mahi mahi ($17.95), and arapaima ($19.95).

I asked if I could make a combo out of a fish from the first section and a fish from the second section and was told I could. (I thought perhaps the price would be $15.95—the midpoint of the price of the two combo prices—but I was charged the premium combo price.) I chose cod loins and perch, and requested potato pancakes and seafood chowder. The other potato options that were available were french fries, baked potato, “thistle chips,” and loaded baked potato (add $2.50).

I was asked if I wanted the chowder out before the rest of the meal, and I said I did, but everything ended up being brought at the same time. The bartender offered to take the chowder off of my bill when she noticed this had happened, but I waved off the suggestion as it was really no big deal, and everything had been brought out pretty quickly anyway. Comprised of shrimp, scallops, and clams, with lots of carrots and seasoning, the chowder was outstanding. It was served with a warm garlic-flavored roll, which made it even better.

Five pieces of perch and two cod loins came with the fish fry. The perch had a thin, flaky breading, which had an elasticity to it, allowing it to be pulled away from the fish a bit while still staying intact. The flavor of the breading was pretty light, as was the flavor of the fillets. The cod loins were thick and of high quality; the breading was not very crispy, and was light in flavor like the perch breading was. A tartar sauce that really packed a punch could have livened up the mild-flavored fish, but there was wasn’t anything too striking about it.

The potato pancakes were soft and a little moist, and almost melted in my mouth. There wasn’t anything too out of the ordinary about their flavor, but overall they were a fine effort. The coleslaw had perhaps a little more black pepper and red cabbage than usual, but otherwise was pretty run of the mill. The marble rye bread was fine, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how good the garlic roll was the whole time, and really just wished I had another one of those.

Kam’s Thistle & Shamrock has a few things going for it. For one, they have many fish options, giving diners plenty to choose from. Second, for a place that serves fried food, they are very health conscious. They avoid using high fructose corn syrup, they make their food from scratch, and they use monounsaturated-rich “100% high-oleic canola oil,” “real butter – no margarine,” and “Sherpa Pink Himalayan Salt.” There were even some microgreens scattered on top of my fish. The many fish options and freshness of the ingredients are probably two of the main reasons why the place was so packed when I was there. From the way it seemed, Kam’s may very well be the hub of their neighborhood. But if you don’t live in the neighborhood yourself, I doubt you’d regret making the drive.

Takeaways: around a million or so fish options; fresh food made from scratch; a place to get a fish fry if you want to pretend fish frys are healthy; excellent seafood chowder complemented with a top-notch roll; high-quality, mild flavored fish; there’s a “combo” and a “premium combo” but no explanation on the menu on how to order a mid-grade combo, but you can do it; there’s a bar in the same building as a bar; the menu says that when you order smelt you get “approximately 17-20” of them, and I can just imagine that one dude who gets 16 and complains.

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Nearly 1.8 million people visited the Milwaukee Public Market last year http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/nearly-1-8-million-people-visited-the-milwaukee-public-market-last-year/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/nearly-1-8-million-people-visited-the-milwaukee-public-market-last-year/#respond Mon, 14 Jan 2019 06:01:56 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=60731 f you haven’t checked out the Milwaukee Public Market lately, well, you’re kind of alone. Today, the 13-year-old Third Ward destination released some impressive numbers for 2018: a total of 1,794,554 souls visited the Public Market last year, up from 1,625,843 in 2017. Total vendor sales jumped from $16,533,856 in 2017 to $18,179,752 in 2018. Nice! And […]

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If you haven’t checked out the Milwaukee Public Market lately, well, you’re kind of alone. Today, the 13-year-old Third Ward destination released some impressive numbers for 2018: a total of 1,794,554 souls visited the Public Market last year, up from 1,625,843 in 2017. Total vendor sales jumped from $16,533,856 in 2017 to $18,179,752 in 2018. Nice!

And yeah, the above picture is from the time we vaped there. Here’s one sans vaping, followed by the full press release. [via Urban Milwaukee]

Milwaukee, WISC: The Milwaukee Public Market reached another milestone last year. Today the Third Ward destination announced its gross sales and customer visits rose to record breaking levels in 2018. Total vendor sales increased 10%, rising from $16,533,856 in 2017 to $18,179,752 last year. Customer visits also saw a 10% increase, rising from 1,625,843 in 2017 to 1,794,554 in 2018, maintaining its position as a top tier local attraction.

Recently, the public market was listed third in number of attendees of area attractions, trailing only Potawatomi Casino and the Milwaukee Brewers.

“It has been our goal to cultivate a food-centric placemaking experience like none other in the region, which I’m proud to say is now a reality. We’ve become a hub of social and economic activity, where regional residents and national travelers seek us out as a culinary destination,” said market executive director, Paul Schwartz. “I’m enormously proud and grateful to our vendors, loyal customer-base and the hundreds of workers who are employed throughout the market that make the experience what it is today.”

As one of the most successful mixed-use venues in the city, the public market also plays host to cooking classes and private events. From a commercial real estate perspective, the market’s gross sales-per-leasable-square-foot is now over $1400. The 2018 total sales figure is more than double the total sales in 2011.

The public market, which opened in October 2005, is owned and operated by the City of Milwaukee Business Improvement District #2. For more information about the Milwaukee Public Market, please visit MilwaukeePublicMarket.org or call 414-336-1111.

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262 Friday fish frys and counting: Bass Bay Brewhouse (Muskego) http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/262-friday-fish-frys-and-counting-bass-bay-brewhouse-muskego/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/262-friday-fish-frys-and-counting-bass-bay-brewhouse-muskego/#respond Fri, 11 Jan 2019 15:00:14 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=60628 Caleb Westphal hasn’t missed a Friday fish fry since 2013. Follow along with his never-ending adventures here. n most circumstances, a sign that says “NOT A THROUGH STREET” is a deterrent. Upon turning onto a street with such a sign, you usually take another look at your GPS or a map, and awkwardly turn around in […]

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

In most circumstances, a sign that says “NOT A THROUGH STREET” is a deterrent. Upon turning onto a street with such a sign, you usually take another look at your GPS or a map, and awkwardly turn around in someone’s driveway. That is, unless you are trying to get a fish fry in Muskego. Then there’s a chance you are headed in the right direction, and you keep on driving.

Such was the case this past Friday, when I made my way past two of these signs in a sleepy residential area. It was dark and I didn’t really know where I was, but I figured the signs would lead me to the lake, and thus to the restaurant I was looking for. Sure enough, I came upon a giant parking lot, and an even more imposing building, which houses the Bass Bay Brewhouse and the Aud Mar Banquet Hall (S79W15851 Aud Mar Dr., 414-377-9449).


The businesses are owned in part by Ryan Oschmann and his mother, Laurie. In 1958, Ryan’s grandparents Audrey and Marty Oschmann opened the Aud-Mar Supper Club on Bass Bay, which is connected to Muskego Lake. At the time, the Aud-Mar served a Friday “fish plate” for $1.50. In the mid-1980s, Ryan’s parents took over the supper club; it closed in 2006. Ryan and his mom ran the Eatery on Farwell from 2010 to 2014. (I got one of my first Milwaukee fish frys there after moving to the city in January 2012.) After a proposed condominium deal at the Aud-Mar property didn’t come through, they had the opportunity to open a business on that property again. A good amount of remodeling was done, and the Bass Bay Brewhouse house born.

After putting a name in and being told it would be about 30 to 40 minutes for a table, my friend and I ordered some drinks and waited next to the large, square bar at the center of the restaurant. Three main dining areas surround the bar, and the whole place has a rustic look to it, which can largely be attributed to the repurposed barnwood that is everywhere. One of the dining rooms has a real fireplace in it, which employees were stoking and adding wood to. The overall vibe of the restaurant is refined meets casual, and somewhere between supper club and sports bar. In short, it’s easy to feel at home no matter what dining atmosphere your prefer. In about a half hour, or maybe a little less, we were shown our seats.

“Can I start you off with any appetizers?” the server asked, after a meticulously professional introduction. “Does clam chowder count as an appetizer?” I questioned back. “Well, I guess it does,” he answered. He brought us some beers, confirmed that I indeed was serious about a cup of chowder ($4.50 cup/$6.50 bowl), and then took the rest of our orders. I ordered the hand breaded cod ($14.95) and paid the extra dollar to turn the french fries into homemade potato pancakes. Other options on the Friday menu include poor man’s lobster ($14.95), cod oscar ($18.95), rye bread crusted Lake Superior walleye ($18.95), and fried shrimp ($16.95). Crab cakes ($12.95) are listed next to the clam chowder.

The chowder tasted fresh and had an ample amount of clam and potatoes. The meal came with three pieces of cod, and it was apparent they were prepared with care. The breading didn’t have much flavor to it, but it adhered well to the fish, had the right amount of crispiness, wasn’t greasy, and had a fine texture. High quality flaky white cod could be found inside. Overall, the fried fish could be described as clean. The tartar was tangy but sweet, and had a distinct flavor but was reminiscent of a tartar I’ve had before.

The potato pancakes were mild in flavor, but did have some slices of green onion. They were well browned on the outside, had a good chew to them, and had an interior texture unlike hash browns, being much more compact. Two pieces of excellent, soft rye bread were included. The small cup of coleslaw was pretty standard.

After the meal, there was one thing yet to be done. I walked out the doors and headed straight for the lake. Sure, going to a lakefront restaurant is probably best done on a bright summer day, not on a cold, dark night in January, but I was going to try to enjoy the surroundings anyway. I looked out over the frozen expanse and saw nothingness, except for the lights emanating from a few houses across the bay. But then I turned around and saw the most immaculate looking building, glowing in its full beauty, which no amount of cold or darkness could overtake. And did I mention the place serves a Friday night fish fry?

Takeaways: clam chowder is an appetizer, and no other appetizers are needed; the fish had a pretty mild flavor, but was of high quality all around; solid pancakes and rye bread, standard coleslaw; versatile ambiance; impressive building; always drive down dead end streets.

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First Impression: Sabor Tropical http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/first-impression-sabor-tropical/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/first-impression-sabor-tropical/#respond Thu, 10 Jan 2019 17:28:16 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=60593 This story begins in the final days of 2016. As one year drew to a close and gave way to 2017, Midwest Diner decided to call it quits. Unbeknownst to anyone, the sudden closure of the venerable 24-hour greasy spoon and vestige of “old Bay View” sparked a subtle shift in the neighborhood that would […]

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This story begins in the final days of 2016. As one year drew to a close and gave way to 2017, Midwest Diner decided to call it quits. Unbeknownst to anyone, the sudden closure of the venerable 24-hour greasy spoon and vestige of “old Bay View” sparked a subtle shift in the neighborhood that would find one business moving and another opening in its place.

Last June, Riviera Maya announced plans to move about a block down the Bay View thoroughfare into the vacant building that formerly housed Midwest Diner. Once the Mexican restaurant completed renovations last fall, it left a vacancy at its former home at 2258 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. The place didn’t stay empty long. In the last week of 2018, Sabor Tropical Restaurant & Lounge (2258 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 414-988-8030) quietly opened up in the old Riviera Maya digs, thus completing a round of restaurant musical chairs on Bay View’s main drag. A few days into the new year, Milwaukee Record set aside its resolution to try out the “Latin-inspired kitchen and lounge.”

The space: The chic and accessible spirit of Riviera Maya lives on in the interior of Sabor Tropical. The windows that run the length of the western-facing side of the restaurant supply natural light during the day and a nice glimpse of the hustle and bustle of Bay View’s busiest street at night. Beyond the seating at the small bar that’s set before some TVs that were showing sports during our visit, the sprawling space hosts a sea of tables that range from elevated two- and four-tops and rows of seating to accommodate parties of any size.

The decorative differences are small and seem to be done with the intent of solidifying the establishment’s tropical theme. Latin-inspired tapestries are draped across the room. Lively merengue music serves as the restaurant’s soundtrack. Colorful floral paintings of portraits of people dancing hang on the wall. As the restaurant thins out near the rear, diners are greeted by the legendary likes of Tito Puente—in a far more accurate artist portrayal than his likeness in that Simpsons episode—and other notable musicians on a mural that livens up a light yellow wall.

Other than Mr. Puente and the other minor interior flourishes, Sabor Tropical keeps its decoration to a minimum, wisely opting to let its food be the focal point instead.

Milwaukee Record‘s food: Unbeknownst to us, our visit also coincided with Sabor’s weekly mojito special. Each Tuesday night, the restaurant offers $5 flavored mojitos (usually $9) with a wide variety of fruit options. We took advantage of the deal and ultimately landed on passionfruit, which had a dash of mint-tinged sweetness and a stiff boozy kick. Sabor also offers a full bar with standard beer options and island-equipped spirits, as well as specialty cocktails.

As we enjoyed the cocktail, a complementary basket of bread was brought to our table. The soft, warm slices of French bread were drizzled with oil and topped with pico de gallo. Though the chunky pico had difficulty staying on top of the bread, the free appetizer was well worth the work. Other (not free) starters include an array of treats like ceviche, rellenos, empanadas, quesadillas, “tropical” wings, and an ever-rotating soup of the day.

We bypassed the appetizers and focused on Sabor’s entree options. As enticing as the Cuban Sandwich seemed and as strangely compelling as we found the restaurant’s two burger options to be, we set our sights on some of Sabor’s platters. We started with Perchuga Con Mole ($12), a tender seasoned chicken breast covered with a thick layer of rich mole sauce. It was topped with pico and cotija cheese and came with a small mountain of fluffy jasmine rice. The plating was nicer than any mole we’d ever had and the sauce was zesty and flavorful. Originally, we were concerned about portion size, but once the rice mound was plowed flat with our fork, that plate was packed.

Another platter that captured our attention was Pernil Al Horno En Salsa De Chile Guajillo ($12). We can’t do the dish justice in terms of a description, so we’ll just quote the menu.

“Slow roasted pork sauteed in guajillo pepper sauce creating a sweet heat, tart and light smoky flavor.”

Sounds pretty great, right? Well, it was! The succulent pile of pulled pork teetered the line between sweet, spicy, and savory with each bite that melted in our mouth. Adding to the excellent entree was our chosen side of sweet plantains that were roasted to perfection and an excellent clump of Puerto Rican rice that was bolstered with black beans and green olives. We should also note that Sabor has shrimp, steak, salmon, along with some vegetarian and vegan options. Despite the wide swath of options, we’re coming back for the pork. Oh, and we’ll be back for that pork.

The verdict: A longstanding all-night restaurant’s end brought Riviera Maya down the street and, as a result, made room in the heart of Bay View for a wonderful new restaurant to open in Maya’s place. We’ll always miss Midwest Diner, but Sabor Tropical—with its friendly service, inviting atmosphere, and elevated take on Latin-inspired cuisine—is one hell of a consolation prize.

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Can Crossroads Collective live up to the legacy of Oriental Drugs? http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/can-crossroads-collective-live-up-to-the-legacy-of-oriental-drugs/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/can-crossroads-collective-live-up-to-the-legacy-of-oriental-drugs/#respond Tue, 08 Jan 2019 18:19:55 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=60463 he word “iconic” gets tossed around a lot, but for Milwaukee’s East Side, few things are as iconic as the corner of North and Farwell. The beloved Oriental Drugs pharmacy/lunch counter/dime store held down that corner for more than 65 years, serving as a “crossroads” for the city at large. When it closed in 1995, […]

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The word “iconic” gets tossed around a lot, but for Milwaukee’s East Side, few things are as iconic as the corner of North and Farwell. The beloved Oriental Drugs pharmacy/lunch counter/dime store held down that corner for more than 65 years, serving as a “crossroads” for the city at large. When it closed in 1995, folks were devastated. A handful of uninspired businesses cycled in and out of the space over the next few decades. Finally, in March 2017, the corner went dark.

But not for long. In spring 2018, a novel new business was announced for the former Oriental Drugs: Crossroads Collective, a “food hall” that would feature multiple micro-restaurants. According to project mastermind Tim Gokhman of New Land Enterprises, the new concept would be “the best tribute we can pay to Oriental Drugs.” Also, the announcement included this tidbit:

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.

Crossroads Collective opened December 17. It’s been in business for less than a month, but it’s still worth asking: Is the new East Side business indeed a tribute to its gone-but-not-forgotten predecessor?

In short, yes. It’s not perfect, but it certainly has the potential to live up to Oriental Drugs’ legacy. Let’s pay it a visit!

First, some basics. Crossroads Collective is currently home to six micro-restaurants: Heaven’s Table BBQ, The Laughing Taco, Falafel Guys, Frida (soup and sandwiches), Beerline Café (veggie and vegan crepes), and Scratch Scoop Shop (ice cream). Multiple visits over the past few weeks have confirmed that everything is really, really good. The Duck Duo Po’ Boy at Frida ($10) isn’t joking around.

The overall feel of the space is light and airy. The Laughing Taco, Frida, and Beerline are located in the main portion of the hall, while Heaven’s Table, Falafel Guys, and Scratch are tucked away in an eastern alcove. Walking into this area for the first time feels like discovering one last Christmas present peeking out from behind a sofa. (More on Crossroads’ other “hidden” feature in a moment.)

How do you “do” Crossroads? You walk up to the restaurant of your choice, order your food, pick it up, and eat at any of the tables scattered throughout the hall. Easy. Counter seating is also available alongside the full-service bar. It’s fast, casual, and convenient. It’s kind of like a food court, except not.

About that. If you haven’t noticed, “food halls” are currently A Thing in Milwaukee. Crossroads is a self-proclaimed food hall. Sherman Phoenix is kinda-sorta a food hall. The reimagined Shops of Grand Avenue—a.k.a. “The Avenue”—will soon have a food hall where the singing electronic bears used to do their thing every holiday season. Is there much difference between a food hall and a food court? Strip away all the marketing lingo and you’re left with one important distinction: food halls have good (and local) food, food courts have Panda Express. Not that Panda Express is bad, but you get the point.

And why not have six places to get good food instead of one? Divvying up the space into a collection of mini-restaurants was, and is, a brilliant idea. Food halls are currently A Thing; cavernous sports bars and so-so pizza joints are not. Credit Gokhman and company for holding out for this concept, and for not simply filling the space with another out-of-state chain, or a cell phone store or whatever. The East Side is better off for it.

Then there’s Crossroads Collective…after dark. From 6 p.m.-1 a.m., the food hall is home to a secret “speakeasy” called Shanghai. The rigamarole involved in getting inside, or even finding Shanghai should appeal to all you Safe House fans out there: Walk into nearby Black Cat Alley, find a chainlink door, press a button on an intercom, squint as a bright light shines in your face, possibly give a password to a voice on the other end of the intercom, get buzzed in, walk down an alley until you find a door with an “S” logo next to it, and open the door. Inside, you’ll find a small, dim, and nifty little bar. It’s done up in old movie posters. One of the drinks (Nice Try, Lao Che) is named after a line in Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom. It’s perfect for dates, visiting friends and relatives, or for when you need to unwind after cutting loose at the nearby cat cafe.

If there are any quibbles to be had with Crossroads, they’re mainly aesthetic. The outside signage is a bit baffling. An orange obelisk looms over the front entrance, its faces scribbled with bits and pieces of the business name in relatively small type. Squint and you’ll be able to make out “CROSS COLLE” on one side, and “ROADS CTIVE” on the other. As for the restaurants themselves, their names and logos are relegated to upper windows a few doors away from the main entrance. Plus, there needs to be coffee.

Inside, the white walls and black-and-white hexagon motif give Crossroads an unfinished look. Hopefully, as the weeks and months pass and the businesses settle into their new micro-homes, the food hall will emanate a more warm, lived-in vibe. (As for the hexes, the space practically screams out for an oversized game of Settlers Of Catan.)

Speaking of time and a lived-in feeling, this is where Crossroads has the most potential. Say what you will about the power of the built environment and the importance of architecture, but none of that means squat without one thing: people. Oriental Drugs didn’t win its way into Milwaukee’s heart because it was a particularly beautiful building, or because its formica was especially nice. It succeeded because of the people who frequented it. It succeeded because of the people, the connections, the memories, and the sense of neighborhood that hummed away inside its walls for decades. Crossroads isn’t even a month old, but, given time, it can succeed, too. It all depends on you.

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The Dark Horse Tavern is now open in former Junior’s Hook location http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/the-dark-horse-tavern-is-now-open-in-former-juniors-hook-location/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/the-dark-horse-tavern-is-now-open-in-former-juniors-hook-location/#respond Tue, 08 Jan 2019 18:18:00 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=60491 New year, new bars! (Yes, we know we’re more than a week into 2019 now, but give us a few more days with these sort of intros, will ya?) Last fall, Milwaukee learned that Junior’s Hook, which opened in Walker’s Point in early 2015, would be closing. Owner Matthew Sherman recently stepped down as owner […]

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New year, new bars! (Yes, we know we’re more than a week into 2019 now, but give us a few more days with these sort of intros, will ya?)

Last fall, Milwaukee learned that Junior’s Hook, which opened in Walker’s Point in early 2015, would be closing. Owner Matthew Sherman recently stepped down as owner of the bar on 1517 S. Second Street, and Monica De Palma took over. De Palma—the owner of Monica’s On Astor who was prominently featured as an example of effective bar ownership on the Nick House episode of Bar Rescue—planned to reopen this winter with a new name and new look.

That transition was completed recently, as Junior’s Hook became The Dark Horse Tavern. Apparently, the bar quietly opened in late December, but it’s fully operational now. Dark Horse follows Junior’s Hook and The Parlor to become the third bar to open in the location since Bomb Shelter owner Greg Landig’s passing resulted in the bar’s closure in early 2012.

The Dark Horse Tavern is open 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday through Friday and 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday through Monday. For more information on the newest Walker’s Point watering hole, call them at 414-837-3016 or, better yet, stop by for a drink sometime.

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Bay View’s Crafty Cow will try to have “Wisconsin’s Largest Bloody Mary Bar” on January 19 http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/bay-views-crafty-cow-will-try-to-have-wisconsins-largest-bloody-mary-bar-on-january-19/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/bay-views-crafty-cow-will-try-to-have-wisconsins-largest-bloody-mary-bar-on-january-19/#respond Fri, 04 Jan 2019 22:10:55 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=60402 It’s no secret that Milwaukee loves its Bloody Marys. Between the ever-present “beer chaser” that accompanies the savory breakfast cocktail and the epic garnishes that take the drink to elaborate levels of gluttony, it’s safe to say that this city doesn’t mess around when it comes to bloodies. But if there’s any doubt that Milwaukee […]

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It’s no secret that Milwaukee loves its Bloody Marys.

Between the ever-present “beer chaser” that accompanies the savory breakfast cocktail and the epic garnishes that take the drink to elaborate levels of gluttony, it’s safe to say that this city doesn’t mess around when it comes to bloodies. But if there’s any doubt that Milwaukee is the Bloody Mary capital of the state (and, by extension, the world), one local restaurant will try to put the debate to rest this month.

On Saturday, January 19, Crafty Cow will team up with Great Lakes Hemophilia Foundation to try to be “Milwaukee’s Largest Bloody Mary Bar.” That day, the local burger joint will cut out all the stops by offering a staggering 60 (SIXTY!!!) topping options on a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar. The $20 “Boundless Bloody Bar” includes a trip through the bar and a 3 Sheeps/Crafty Cow glass (while supplies last), which customers can load up with as many toppings as they can fit. A portion of proceeds from the event will be donated to Great Lakes Hemophilia Foundation.

Crafty Cow co-owner Devin Eichler says the garnishes will range from traditional fare like meats, cheeses, and bacon to “some fun toppings from the kitchen” like buffalo wings, fried chicken, shrimp, and more. Eichler also tells Milwaukee Record this event will be a “practice run” for a later attempt by Crafty Cow to get in the Guinness Book Of World Records as the World’s Largest Bloody Mary Bar.

So if you want to be part of history…or if you just really like Bloody Marys, head over to Crafty Cow on January 19.

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261 Friday fish frys and counting: Light Palace Pub & Grill (Cudahy) http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/261-friday-fish-frys-and-counting-light-palace-pub-grill-cudahy/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/261-friday-fish-frys-and-counting-light-palace-pub-grill-cudahy/#respond Fri, 04 Jan 2019 06:45:54 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=60351 Caleb Westphal hasn’t missed a Friday fish fry since 2013. Follow along with his never-ending adventures here. was supposed to be at a place in Milwaukee that doesn’t serve fish frys at 5 p.m. I absolutely had to be there by 6 p.m. I wasn’t sure how long I’d have to be there, and what kind […]

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

I was supposed to be at a place in Milwaukee that doesn’t serve fish frys at 5 p.m. I absolutely had to be there by 6 p.m. I wasn’t sure how long I’d have to be there, and what kind of time frame I’d have afterwards to find fish, so it made sense to get fish beforehand. I needed a place that would be quick—the type of place where I could just sit at the bar, eat, and be on my way. So, I did what seemed to make the most sense: I drove to Cudahy at 4:15 p.m.

Snow gently fell as I passed the Cudahy water tower. I thought of the people that were probably staring at from the dining room of Joe’s K Ranch. I parked outside of Light Palace Pub & Grill (5880 S. Packard Ave., 414-489-2652). While walking to the entrance, I spotted the sign for the Cudahy Arby’s out of the corner of my eye. “Big things to report on down in Cudahy,” I thought.

Light Palace Pub & Grill was opened in 2009 by John Schulz, who named it after a high school friend’s basement that was decked out with neon lights. As I opened the door, I braced myself for a cornucopia of color and light. Instead, I found a rather austere setting. The white, almost sterile walls held a few sports and beer related posters and artifacts.

I made my way straight ahead, past the dining area, and took a seat at the crescent-moon-shaped bar. Everyone had a good view of everyone else, which I thought would be favorable for full-bar conversation. Yet, most people were either staring ahead silently or were quietly talking to the person next to them. But one guy—who had obviously been there for awhile—was talking to everyone, bandying questions across the bar. The bartender was gently urging a man who was using the business’ phone that he should hang up, because people were probably trying to call in orders for fish frys. He held on for awhile, perhaps talking to his sweetheart or an old friend, but eventually relented.

I ordered a Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet and asked for a menu. The drink was served in a pint glass, and there were a few lifeless cherries on the bottom of it, far too out of reach to enjoy. The menu was full of fish fry options. Beer battered or breaded cod ($10.95), walleye ($15.95), lake perch ($14.95), and bluegill ($12.50) are available at Light Palace. For those not wanting to choose, the Wisconsin Platter—a piece of walleye, three pieces of bluegill, and three pieces of perch—is an option ($16.95). For those who like their fish without the fry, baked cod and salmon are also available. Potato choices are french fries, mashed potatoes, potato salad, and potato pancakes. Those wanting to tack on homemade clam chowder are in luck—it’s available in a crock ($4.95) or cup ($2.95).

I’m usually drawn to combo platters, especially when they have “Wisconsin” in their name, and that’s what I did here. The pancakes weren’t homemade, so I went with fries. I ordered a cup of chowder as well.

Just as I’d hoped, the food came out quickly—the chowder after a few minutes and the rest in what must have been about 10. The chowder had a moderate consistency and a moderate amount of clams. There were plenty of potato chunks; the skin was still on them, but had loosened up from cooking. Parsley topped it all.

All of the fish was breaded, not beer battered. Lighter in flavor and barely having any grease, the breading was well above average. I think the quality of it almost shines through in the picture I’ve included. The fillets themselves also had a lighter flavor, and were of moderately high quality. There wasn’t anything too distinct about the tartar or the slaw. The marble rye bread was soft, and warm from sitting on top of the rest of food. The fries were not unlike what you would throw on a tray in your oven. They were a step up from the soggy fries that you ate in TV dinners as a kid, but were really just filler.

I was in and out of Light Palace in about a half hour. There was no time afterwards to write down notes about what I had experienced, as I usually do, because I had a place to be, and I was late. But I wasn’t late on account of Light Palace—it proved to be a great place for a quick fish fry. One wouldn’t expect so may fish options at what could be described as a corner bar, and the fish of the option I picked was commendable. With some tweaked fries, the addition of homemade potato pancakes, and a little character added to the slaw and tartar, this fish fry could rise to the top tier of bar frys.

Takeaways: There really aren’t that many lights in the Light Palace; decent amount of fish options; great for a quick fish fry; both the fish fillets and breading were satisfying; the chowder had a lot of potatoes; the fries were boring; I got two drinks for the price of one because of happy hour, and then was given a drink token for another free drink, because Wisconsin.

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Mandatory Milwaukee: Hi-Fi Cafe has been a Bay View “time warp” since the mid-’90s http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/mandatory-milwaukee-hi-fi-cafe-has-been-a-bay-view-time-warp-since-the-mid-90s/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/mandatory-milwaukee-hi-fi-cafe-has-been-a-bay-view-time-warp-since-the-mid-90s/#respond Thu, 03 Jan 2019 20:49:46 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=60302 Some places come and go, while some places become icons. Mandatory Milwaukee is all about the latter. Join us as we revisit beloved and well-worn local staples with fresh eyes, and explore how they might figure in the city’s future. ay View is changing. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But with each new bar, restaurant, or retail […]

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Some places come and go, while some places become icons. Mandatory Milwaukee is all about the latter. Join us as we revisit beloved and well-worn local staples with fresh eyes, and explore how they might figure in the city’s future.

Bay View is changing.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But with each new bar, restaurant, or retail store that opens and every time a luxury apartment complex or garish alderman mansion is erected, the “up-and-coming” neighborhood loses a bit of its history and sacrifices a potion of the identity that preceded the national attention and influx of young professionals. As it continues to change, a handful of area institutions are helping to keep the spirit of “old Bay View” alive.

Joining southeastern Milwaukee stalwarts like Rush-Mor Records, Three Brothers, and Cactus Club in preserving Bay View’s charm is Hi-Fi Cafe. Since the mid-’90s, the coffee shop on the corner of Kinnickinnic and Potter avenues has been a source of food, drinks, and artistic expression for an eclectic cast of characters. Almost 25 years later, the cafe—now one of many on a caffeinated corridor in Bay View—exists as a self-proclaimed “time warp” and remains an important place in a neighborhood that’s never been more popular.

Hi-Fi was started circa 1996 by Wild Kingdom and Citizen King member Sage Schwarm. In 2003, he sold it to Mary Hart and her partner Peter Frederick Steinhoff. Along the way, the business that was opened by an influential Milwaukee musician became a favorite local haunt of one of the city’s most accomplished performers of the moment.

Abby Jeanne says she first happened upon Hi-Fi when she took a bus from her home on Milwaukee’s North Side to Bay View when she was 12 years old.

“I got off on the corner and saw the neon sign,” she says. “I was like ‘What the fuck is that?’ I came in and totally fell in love.”

In high school, she says she’d cut class to hang out at Hi-Fi, where she’d draw, smoke cigarettes, and get to know other regulars in the artistic embassy set in the middle of Bay View.

“At that time, there weren’t as many businesses around Kinnickinnic. There weren’t as many cafes and newer restaurants around, so there were always tons of people in there,” Jeanne says. “It was always a bunch of artists and weird people and cool stuff I was seeing. It just became my community.”

She swears by the coffee and loves the food that’s made fresh to order (and that offers her, a longtime vegetarian, endless options). She worked there for a time in high school and, even though she moved around in adulthood, she would pick up shifts at the cafe when she was back in town between travel and tours. Through the years, she says she met some of her best friends at Hi-Fi.

Even though she doesn’t get behind the counter anymore (unless she’s grabbing herself some coffee at what she considers to be her office), the singer remains thoroughly involved in the business. Late last year, she started a label called “Hi-Fi Records.” The first release was a holiday song she wrote with some staff members in the cafe’s kitchen during a snowstorm last April. Other Hi-Fi regulars played on the single, contributed artwork for the release, and helped translate it into French for the B-side version. Her forthcoming full-length, Music Box Dancer, will also be released on Hi-Fi Records.

The artist offered Hi-Fi customers the first crack at buying both records with in-store sales, which brought a new generation of teenagers to the cafe. Music Box Dancer‘s cover features Abby Jeanne standing in front of the business’ counter. The back cover is the record’s tracklist that’s displayed on Hi-Fi’s iconic jukebox. Her songs now appear on the vintage machine beside some of her Hi-Fi favorites like “Emotional Rescue” by Rolling Stones and Eartha Kitt’s “African Lullaby.”

In addition to the classic juke, Hi-Fi Cafe has a timeless look and feel that’s accented with retro decorations and pieces from a rotating cast of local artists. Parts of the cozy interior could pass as a counterculture gathering spot from the ’50s, with others resembling an ’80s hangout, and shades of any era in between scattered around the comfy cafe. At a time where coffee shops sometimes blend together, Hi-Fi’s ambiance simply cannot be replicated.

“We hate trends. We despise them,” Steinhoff says. “It’s a time warp kind of concept. It’s not that we’re not trying to get with the new wave, we’re just not good at it.”

Though they’ve stayed afloat for over 20 years, the business is taking some steps to try to adjust to the times. They’ve recently updated their cash register to a slightly newer model. It’s no longer a “cash only” operation, and they’ve started to offer CBD in some food and drink items. Hi-Fi also got its liquor license of late, which will aid in the cafe’s efforts to bring in crowds for art nights, record spins, mimosa brunches, and anything else they can dream up.

Sure, there’s more competition than ever for the Bay View business, but owners see the neighborhood’s newfound “destination” status as a way to show new patrons what they do…and how it differs from other nearby places.

“We can never be overshadowed because we have style,” Steinhoff says. “We just live on style and we leave the technique to them.”

As the surroundings outside the corner cafe continue to change at a rapid, argument-causing, and rent-increasing pace, Hi-Fi remains a timeless and inimitable Kinnickinnic Avenue mainstay that offers great coffee, great food, a great jukebox, and a comforting taste of Milwaukee’s past.

“I think it’s one in a million,” Jeanne says. “I’ve never found a place like this anywhere in the world.”

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Here’s a list of upcoming Milwaukee ice bars. Learn it well, for it’s the chilling sound of your doom http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/upcoming-milwaukee-ice-bars-chilling-sound-of-your-doom/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/upcoming-milwaukee-ice-bars-chilling-sound-of-your-doom/#respond Thu, 03 Jan 2019 06:07:57 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=60279 hat killed the dinosaurs? The Ice Age! And ice bars! Oh, excuse us…allow us to break the ice: Here’s a list of upcoming Milwaukee ice bars. Learn it well, for it’s the chilling sound of your doom. In this universe, there’s only one absolute…Milwaukee will go nuts with outdoor ice bars in January. On Friday, […]

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What killed the dinosaurs? The Ice Age! And ice bars! Oh, excuse us…allow us to break the ice: Here’s a list of upcoming Milwaukee ice bars. Learn it well, for it’s the chilling sound of your doom.

In this universe, there’s only one absolute…Milwaukee will go nuts with outdoor ice bars in January. On Friday, January 18 (weather permitting, so everybody chill), St. Paul Fish Company, Cafe Benelux, and The Wicked Hop will kick some ice by opening three hand-carved ice bars outside their Third Ward locations. The event is dubbed “Milwaukee’s Coolest Festival.” Coolest festival? Cool party!

Freeze in hell, Batman!

Not to be out-iced, the East Side’s popular Black Cat Alley will set up its own ice bar on Saturday January 19, from 5-9 p.m. Black Cat’s so-called “Fire+Ice” event will feature a hand-sculpted ice bar, fire pits, illuminated murals, and more. Some of the muralists will be there, too. Their bones will turn to ice! Their blood will freeze in our hands! Er, um, the event is free, but there’ll be a donation box. Give what you can.

What’s that? Mercy? You want mercy from all these fabulous Milwaukee ice bars? We’re afraid our condition has left us cold to your pleas of mercy. The ice bars cometh! A freeze is coming! This January, hell freezes over! You’re not sending US to the cooler!

Stay cool, Birdboy.

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