Food/Drink – Milwaukee Record http://milwaukeerecord.com Music, culture, gentle sarcasm. Fri, 23 Feb 2018 20:05:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 http://milwaukeerecord.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/cropped-mrapp-32x32.jpg Food/Drink – Milwaukee Record http://milwaukeerecord.com 32 32 216 consecutive Friday fish frys and counting: Grainger’s Pub & Grill http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/216-consecutive-friday-fish-frys-and-counting-graingers-pub-grill/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/216-consecutive-friday-fish-frys-and-counting-graingers-pub-grill/#respond Fri, 23 Feb 2018 06:10:23 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=46533 Caleb Westphal hasn’t missed a Friday fish fry since 2013. Follow along with his never-ending adventures here. he setting sun blinded my eyes as I turned off of Howard Avenue onto Loomis Road and into the parking lot of Grainger’s Pub & Grill (3400 W. Loomis Rd., 414-282-9917), a place I’d last gotten fish at a […]

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

The setting sun blinded my eyes as I turned off of Howard Avenue onto Loomis Road and into the parking lot of Grainger’s Pub & Grill (3400 W. Loomis Rd., 414-282-9917), a place I’d last gotten fish at a few years ago. At just after 5 p.m., the whole parking lot was full, and I circled it a few times before I saw someone leaving. I wondered to myself where I would have parked if I hadn’t found a space, as there didn’t seem to be too much road parking in the area. (This question was answered when I left, when I found cars parked next to stalls, half on the grass, and completely on the grass.)

I took a seat at the square bar, situated on the edge of the main dining area. That area has a few high top and dining tables, as well as a fireplace. The walls and ceiling are both made of wood, and there are a few skylights. A pool table sits adjacent, and on the other side of the bar there is an area with a few slot games. The bartender told me that various additions and remodelings have been done to Grainger’s over the years, and that the whole dining area isn’t an original part of the building. She told me Grainger’s had been a few different establishments over time, and that it is now owned by the niece of the person who originally changed it to Grainger’s.

I had expected a rather boisterous setting, but people seemed to be talking in muted tones, and the mood seemed subdued. I saw a door swing open across the bar, and some people moving in a large open area behind it. I asked the guy next to me if there was more seating in the back, and he said it was a hall that could be rented out. He also told me he thought it was being used for a funeral that day. Apparently it was the subdued nature of the back room that had dampened the atmosphere where I was. I glanced up at the television above, and it was turned to news talking about the recent school mass shooting. Sadness. My thoughts drifted back to my reflections on death from a few weeks back. Sigh. I was ready for some fish.

I ordered a bowl of clam chowder and a cod fish fry. The chowder came with a little parsley and seasoning sprinkled on top, but this could not redeem it from its overall rather bland flavor. It was somewhat watery, and seemed a bit lukewarm, but this was probably partly because the chowder from the previous week was extremely hot, and almost beyond reproach.

At $10.75, the cod fry at Grainger’s is five dollars cheaper than the perch fry. Bluegill and walleye round out the types of fried fish available. I was given three average sized pieces of cod. Texturally, the breading was reminiscent of fried chicken, although not overwhelmingly so. There wasn’t much for flavoring, beyond it being a little salty. Most of the flavor of the fish came when it was paired with the tartar, which had a large amount of pickle relish in it, giving it its sweetness. The homemade potato pancakes were the most satisfying part of the meal. They were browned and crisp on the outside, with a soft inside. The coleslaw had a very light cream, and a lot of what looked to be celery seeds, although most of the flavor came from the cabbage. The coleslaw was pretty mild overall though. The two-tone rye bread was of high quality, and was soft, thick, and generously buttered.

Even in the most subdued moments, a fish fry will stand by your side. It’s the friend that never lets you down, and the lover that never leaves. It may not be a panacea for life’s ills, but it is a balm of normalcy and stability in a sometimes haywire world. I sure hope they had a lot of fish frys available to eat in the back room.

Takeaways: Bar with dining area and back hall; average cod; lackluster clam chowder; pretty good potato pancakes; the atmosphere was pretty subdued, but if you go there on Sundays they have karaoke and you can get loosened up to sing your favorite songs by trying some of their 55 varieties of tequilas.

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Tucked Away: Bamboo Restaurant http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/tucked-away-bamboo-restaurant/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/tucked-away-bamboo-restaurant/#respond Thu, 22 Feb 2018 17:39:25 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=46500 Between beloved and well-established local staples and a steady wave of new bars and restaurants popping up in and around Milwaukee almost every week, worthwhile dining and drinking gems can occasionally get lost in the shuffle. With Tucked Away, Milwaukee Record digs deep with the hope of unearthing some of these gems. Since 2014, Layton Boulevard […]

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Between beloved and well-established local staples and a steady wave of new bars and restaurants popping up in and around Milwaukee almost every week, worthwhile dining and drinking gems can occasionally get lost in the shuffle. With Tucked Away, Milwaukee Record digs deep with the hope of unearthing some of these gems.

Since 2014, Layton Boulevard West Neighbors have organized a month-long celebration aimed at highlighting the abundance of excellent Asian eating establishments in Milwaukee’s Silver City neighborhood. February 1 marked the opening day of the fifth annual “Phobruary.” All month, a few Silver City restaurants offer sale-price bowls of the Vietnamese noodle soup (pronounced “fuh”) for just $5.

It’s a fun (or “phon”) bit of pun-based promotion to help warm up winter’s last full month, but those who opt to venture beyond the single delicacy Phobruary pushes are sure to find a wealth of authentic Thai, Laotian, and Vietnamese cuisine at the participating restaurants that can—and absolutely should—be enjoyed all year long. We’ve already screamed the praises of Thai Bar-B-Que, but in the months since partaking in last year’s Phobruary festivities (phostivities?), we’ve also grown quite fond of its neighbor, Bamboo Restaurant (3427 W. National Ave., 414-316-9023). At the tail end of the pho-fueled month, we returned to the Phobruary participant to continue working through its regular menu.

The space: Bamboo is nestled near the high-traffic corner of National Ave. and 35th Street. The expansive, elevated exterior signage suggests a large, swanky restaurant within. That’s not the case. Instead, diners will find seven tables capable of seating, at most, 30 patrons assembled in one small room. Maps of Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam are framed and displayed on the wall, along with a television playing daytime programming and evening news. The windows facing out on bustling National Ave. are too high to have much of a view, and we can’t recall ever hearing music during any of our visits. Despite the incredibly friendly staff, Bamboo is admittedly a little lacking in the ambiance department. None of the matters when the food arrives.

Milwaukee Record‘s food: Our latest Bamboo sojourn found us going off book a bit and sampling from the Laotian segment that’s tucked in a small corner on the menu’s back page. Of the three offerings, the Chicken Larb ($12.99) seemed the most enticing. Within maybe five minutes of receiving our veggie egg rolls ($3.25), we were presented with a plastic platter of minced chicken, diced mint and basil, green onion, cilantro, and a cute little green rice container packed with the stickiest rice (it was almost paste-like, in the best way) we’d ever encountered. Initially, we were puzzled by the decidedly bland garnishes of raw cucumber pieces and lettuce, but the reason for their presence soon became clear: to help minimize the spice.

We’re heat-seekers, but we were glad we’d stuck with medium spice for our Larb order. The chicken, basil, and mint all complemented each other strangely well, giving the dish a much more complex flavor than its appearance might suggest. When set atop a bed of rice (so sticky that we had to flatten it with the palm of our hand) and doused with chili paste, it was outstanding. After a few bites, our sinuses were clear, our belly was full, and we had mowed through every cool and refreshing piece of cucumber and lettuce. The Chicken Pad Kee Mao ($9.99)—a regular dish in our Thai rotation—was also a welcome reprieve from the Larb’s satisfying-but-significant sting. The delectably oily mess of thick rice noodles mingled with sauteed onion, basil, broccoli, sprouts, bamboo shoots, sesame, and four types of peppers. Another unusual but ultimately awesome ingredient was tomato, which—along with the red and yellow pepper—brought a subtle sweetness that paired well with the gentle spice and savory sauce.

The verdict: Sadly, it took a punny promotion to bring us out to Silver City last year. Still, we’re thankful it gave us a reason to sample some of the amazing items places like Thai Bar-B-Que and Bamboo have to offer since that belated introduction. Phoburary is almost over, but that doesn’t matter. We’ll be back in March. Hopefully we’ll see you there.

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Palm Tavern is for sale http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/palm-tavern-sale/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/palm-tavern-sale/#respond Mon, 19 Feb 2018 06:15:10 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=46392 Way back in 2003, long before Bay View was a bastion of bars and restaurants with excellent beer selections and hundreds of liquor options on hand, Palm Tavern opened. In the years that followed, the small neighborhood bar established itself as one of Milwaukee’s first and finest craft beer bars and pushed its incomparable arsenal […]

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Way back in 2003, long before Bay View was a bastion of bars and restaurants with excellent beer selections and hundreds of liquor options on hand, Palm Tavern opened. In the years that followed, the small neighborhood bar established itself as one of Milwaukee’s first and finest craft beer bars and pushed its incomparable arsenal of whiskey and bourbon varieties past the 450 mark. Draft Magazine once called Palm Tavern “one of America’s best beer bars.”

The neighborhood might be gradually catching up to the trailblazing tavern, but you simply can’t buy the type of reputation Palm has built over the last 15 years. At least you couldn’t until now. Milwaukee Record has learned that Palm Tavern is for sale.

Apparently, the bar has been on the market since last fall. Owner Bruno Johnson is selling the 2989 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. property and the upper unit (2987 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.) for $350,000. A Shorewest realtor and a source familiar with the bar confirmed the sale price includes Palm Tavern. That price is the going rate for some homes in Palm’s vicinity these days, so it seems like a steal for one of the city’s most iconic beer bars. We’ll keep you updated on the status of Palm Tavern as the news develops.

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Gypsy Taco has a new name http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/gypsy-taco-new-name/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/gypsy-taco-new-name/#respond Sat, 17 Feb 2018 11:44:19 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=46309 Mitch Ciohon, the owner of award-winning taco purveyor Gypsy Taco (and a Gypsy Burger offshoot), announced he would be changing the name of his business last month. “It has come to my attention that the name around which I have created a brand is offensive to the people from which it stems,” Ciohon wrote as […]

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Mitch Ciohon, the owner of award-winning taco purveyor Gypsy Taco (and a Gypsy Burger offshoot), announced he would be changing the name of his business last month. “It has come to my attention that the name around which I have created a brand is offensive to the people from which it stems,” Ciohon wrote as part of a statement explaining his decision.

The chef concluded his apologetic and thoughtful statement by saying, “I ask only that all affected respect the time and capital necessary in the rebranding of a business. The process cannot be done overnight, but rest easy knowing it begins now with this.”

Less than a month after writing those words, it appears Ciohon’s business officially has a new name. Late Friday night, Ciohon posted a variety of logos for “Taco Moto MKE” and “Burger Moto MKE” on Instagram, along with the accompanying text “Yo. Peep my new shit. I love you. I love everyone.

The photo includes a few mock-ups of potential Taco Moto MKE and Burger Moto MKE designs. “I will get it all dialed in ASAP,” Ciohon wrote.

While this change is sure to fire people up and bring people out of the woodwork to defend the taco truck’s former name, Ciohon seems more than content making amazing tacos and burgers under a name that won’t offend anybody. Welcome, Moto.

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My cheesy valentine: A romantic, $150-per-couple dinner at Mars Cheese Castle http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/valentine-dinner-mars-cheese-castle/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/valentine-dinner-mars-cheese-castle/#respond Fri, 16 Feb 2018 06:50:30 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=46253 enosha’s Mars Cheese Castle is many things to many people. To locals, it’s a tourist trap infused with notes of ironic Wisconsin pride. For out-of-towners meandering through America’s Dairyland, it’s the last best stop to pick up some of the state’s finest on the way back home to the hinterlands. To drunken Ren Faire patrons, […]

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Kenosha’s Mars Cheese Castle is many things to many people. To locals, it’s a tourist trap infused with notes of ironic Wisconsin pride. For out-of-towners meandering through America’s Dairyland, it’s the last best stop to pick up some of the state’s finest on the way back home to the hinterlands. To drunken Ren Faire patrons, it’s an air-conditioned after-bar following a long day of mead and jousting that holds on to a bit of the ersatz Middle Ages vibe.

But has anyone ever thought it romantic?

The owners do, apparently, having concocted an intimate five-course, $150 per couple, surf and turf Valentine’s Day dinner billed as “Love at First Bite.” Allured by the prospect of spending the most amorous night of the year at a novelty cheese market, I convinced my husband and another couple we knew to sign up.

I came up from Chicago, while the other couple, Callie and Nick, traveled from Tosa. It was a reunion of sorts. The last time we were at the Castle together, Callie was about to fly off to Mozambique for a two-year stint in the Peace Corps. The food that day had been hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and potato chips served on paper plates. A serviceable meal to be sure, but not exactly destination dining for what now, years later, was supposed to the most sensual meal of the year.

That was before last year’s expansion. To the owner’s credit, Mars Cheese Castle has been significantly upgraded. My husband and I arrived to the majestic site of the castle’s main entrance, its crenulations and automatic sliding glass doors basked in the resplendent glow of flood lights. The store was still open, but essentially empty, except for some people in the pub area and a bored teen behind the checkout counter. The remodel created a lot of new space, more than doubling the store’s size to a gigantic 46,000 square feet. We wandered past a lovingly restored, just-for-show banquet table surrounded by wine racks. I bought curds to share with my FIB coworkers.

At 6:30 p.m., staff ushered us over to the actual dining area, underneath the pergola at the backend of the building. Normally, hungry customers that make it this far order from the menu at the service counter a few feet away, but this night the menu was prepped well in advance and we found our seats with the help of the general manager. Each table was set with squat candles, crimson rose-shaped folded napkins, and a dusting of actual flower petals. Little paper hearts dotted the space on the walls in between stained glass windows and iron wall lights. My husband described the atmosphere as gothic architecture and decor, subsumed by an industrial background, next to a mammoth Flemish-style crowd mural painted above a beer cooler. Nick just said it was like eating dinner at the supermarket.

Our server, a pleasant middle-aged lady named Fran, told us it was the third fancy dining event at the restaurant since the renovation, following meals on Christmas and New Year’s Eve. As strange as the Valentine’s Day Cheese Castle concept is, it’s easy to picture the other holidays working. Modern Christmas celebrations pretty much center around consumption and gut-busting food, and the Cheese Castle offers both in spades. And a boozy New Year’s party with plenty of hors’oeuvres sounds like a blast.

We ordered drinks. Due to a not-yet realized mix-up, Fran let each of us select our own bottle of wine. Due to intentional planning on my part, I drank from both bottles while my teetotaling husband stuck to the complementary all-you-can-drink soda. Callie and Nick opted to split a growler of Riverwest Stein.

Soon, Fran arrived with the charcuterie board, and the meal began. There were no notes as to what cheeses were included, but each selection tasted fine, along with cured meat, candied almonds, olives, and bread dipped into Solo cups holding olive oil, and served on a plastic plate masked as formal china. Sadly, there was nothing gooey. Valentine’s is a sexy holiday, and I wanted my cheese plate to drip.

The first course was a spinach salad with carrots, pickled radishes, red onion, bacon bits, and a warm bacon vinaigrette, but strangle, no cheese. Munching on the leafy greens at that moment felt vaguely like eating lunch at the Whole Foods counter.

The flavor factor amped up considerably upon the arrival of the second course, which consisted of a French onion soup poured over a piece of bread and topped generously with gruyere and fontina. Good stuff. The kitchen ran out of food in the middle of serving our table, so I sat there for a while looking hungry as everyone else at the table ate. There was a sense that the entire restaurant staff was straining to level-up for this formal dining experience, accustomed as they were to casually spilling burgers and fries into plastic baskets and calling it a day. My husband made use of the gap by handing me a Valentine’s card with the note, “Thank you for curating our beautiful life.” This struck me as sarcasm, frankly.

Next, Fran brought us some pasta carbonara. The noodles were thick and tasted like they were made in house, which was nice. By now, double fisting bottles of white and red was starting to affect my senses, and the whole event suddenly seemed more legit. It was the same experience I had had many times at “real” restaurants, if you could look past the grocery displays and focus on something like a stained glass window depicting a Viking locked in battle with a dragon. I had time to consider all this because it was taking a while to bring out the next dish. We were at the Cheese Castle, not White Castle, so we had to wait. I realized for the first time, there was no music playing. The whole crowd seemed to be lulled into a state of drowsy drunkenness that was pierced only by a scream emanating from the kitchen.

Whatever the yelling was about, it worked. The fourth course was the showstopper: champagne lobster tail with tarragon butter plated next to two cuts of chateau brion tenderloin and some roasted brussels sprouts. Having nibbled and sipped everything so far, it was refreshing to sink my teeth into something substantial.

Dinner was capped with a generously big oval pan of créme brulée, accompanied by a chocolate chip scone and a small flute of ice wine. Callie and my husband threw in the towel mid-course, so I happily finished their portions.

As we got ready to leave, we tried to tip Fran, but she said that gratuity was included and we weren’t supposed to give her any cash. We left her $20 anyway, and hoped she pocketed it instead of donating it to charity like she threatened. Then we hugged each other by the shelves of crackers and went our separate ways, four cheeseballs charmed by a night of love and love handles.

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215 consecutive Friday fish frys and counting: Buck Bradley’s http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/215-consecutive-friday-fish-frys-and-counting-buck-bradleys/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/215-consecutive-friday-fish-frys-and-counting-buck-bradleys/#respond Fri, 16 Feb 2018 06:40:08 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=46234 Caleb Westphal hasn’t missed a Friday fish fry since 2013. Follow along with his never-ending adventures here. elcome to Lent, the time in Wisconsin when many religious folk—and some who aren’t—eat fish frys twice a week. At this time of year, just about every publication in the state compiles and puts out lists of the best […]

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

Welcome to Lent, the time in Wisconsin when many religious folk—and some who aren’t—eat fish frys twice a week. At this time of year, just about every publication in the state compiles and puts out lists of the best fish fry stops in town (they look similar to this), or asks the public where their favorites places are. Some may say that “The Lenten season equals fish fry season…” but from my perspective, there really can’t be a season if something never stops. I don’t have an exercise season, or a reading season, or a listening to music season, and I sure as hell don’t have a fish fry season. Some Ash Wednesday Amateurs may say that now is the time of year to eat fish frys, but I think they are a sacred ritual throughout the whole year.

There really isn’t much of a science as to where I go each week. I’m not trying to get to every place that has been on a best-of list first. My motto is, “Fridays, they always come back around,” meaning that if I don’t have the best fry one week, guess what? THERE IS ANOTHER FRIDAY A WEEK AWAY. HOORAY! Sometimes part of the reason I go somewhere is for convenience. This past week I was headed to Turner Hall for GuthrieUNCOVERED—an event interpreting the songs of Woody Guthrie and illuminating their timeless relevance, so I decided to pick a place nearby and go on the way to the show. I ended up at Buck Bradley’s (1019 N. Old World 3rd St., 414-224-8500).


The building that houses Buck Bradley’s has been standing since 1854, when it originally started as a furniture store. It has had various additions and changes done to it over the years, and in the early 1990s it was remodeled into a replica of a bar and eatery from a century before its time. As I walked in, I was greeted by a host standing at a podium. I walked past a dining area on the right, and large animal heads on the wall on the left, and took a seat almost directly in the middle of the long bar. I had heard the story before, but the bartender told me that the bar is the longest straight bar in the United States east of the Mississippi River, being 75 feet in length. The granite-topped cherry wood bar is matched by an ornate cherry wood back bar, where large mirrors hang. The wall opposite the bar has mirrors as well—and photographs of Milwaukee’s past—with seating for more diners below them.

Unbeknownst to me, clam chowder is kept right behind the center of the bar, and I received a bowl within seconds of ordering. It had the perfect blend of clams, celery, and potatoes, and had a superb texture that could be attributed to its perfectly balanced creaminess. It had a rather mild taste, but in a good way, as to not be overbearing. The only downside was I had to struggle to not burn myself, as it was unbearably hot from just being ladled. It came with homemade flour chips, which were one of the best accompaniments I have ever had with a bowl of clam chowder. After I asked about them, the bartender brought me more.

There is just one Friday fish fry option at Buck Bradley’s—cod—which can be ordered deep fried, baked, or as a combination of those options. I was given three rather large deep-fried pieces. They were pretty standard in texture and flavor—nothing too exciting to report there— but were definitely enlivened a bit by the tartar. They came with a generous portion of straight cut fries that were a little seasoned and a little soft—not that that is necessarily a bad thing. The coleslaw was a decent extra-creamy slaw; there was so much cream it was almost too much. The bread was a pretty typical light-rye, with perhaps a little bolder taste than average.

I have to admit, I think I may have filled up on chowder and flour chips, because I left a few fries on my plate. There was no fish left, though, and I always make sure that is the case. As I got up and made my way to Turner Hall, I passed a sandwich board in front of the Milwaukee Brat House that said they serve fish frys; then I walked past the Old German Beer Hall, where I had gone just a handful months ago; then past Who’s On Third, where fish frys are also served. I turned the corner and walked past the Point Burger Bar, where I had gotten fish a few times when it was the Upper 90 Sports Pub. “Surely,” I thought, “they can’t have a fish fry, too.” But it turns out they do. Even my destination, Turner Hall, has a fish fry. So thank you Milwaukee, for being a city where you can walk past five places in a row that serve Friday night fish frys. It sure makes Lent—or any time of the year—pretty outstanding.

Takeaways: Claims to have the longest straight bar on this side of the Mississippi; if you sit at the middle of the bar and order clam chowder, it magically appears from right behind the bar, and it is excellent; flour chips!; beautiful interior—back bar, chandeliers, mirrors, and more; fish fry is alright, but nothing particularly exciting.

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Company Brewing is making a Milwaukee Day beer http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/milwaukee-day-lager/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/milwaukee-day-lager/#respond Tue, 13 Feb 2018 06:30:31 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=46135 It’s been less than 10 years since a group of friends realized Milwaukee’s 414 area code had a striking resemblance to the numerals in April 14 (or 4/14) and turned that laughable coincidence into a full-blown local holiday. Since its unlikely outset, “Milwaukee Day” has resulted in an official mayoral proclamation, a founder getting to […]

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It’s been less than 10 years since a group of friends realized Milwaukee’s 414 area code had a striking resemblance to the numerals in April 14 (or 4/14) and turned that laughable coincidence into a full-blown local holiday. Since its unlikely outset, “Milwaukee Day” has resulted in an official mayoral proclamation, a founder getting to throw out a first pitch before a Brewers game, an abundance of civic-centered specials offered by area businesses, a formidable hashtag, and too many “holiday” shows to count. As if Milwaukee Day couldn’t get any more legitimate at this point, the citywide holiday will soon have its own beer.

Milwaukee Day’s founders have partnered with Company Brewing to make Milwaukee Day Lager. The 4.14 percent ABV (get it?!) Helles Lager was co-brewed by the Riverwest brewery and some of the holiday’s organizers. The light and distinctly Milwaukee beer features German Pilsen and Vienna malts, as well as Hallertau hops. It will be available at Company Brewing starting April 5. Milwaukee Day Lager will also be on tap at a select few local bars, and will be available in cans at bars and some Milwaukee retailers while supplies last. The can was designed by Justin Thomas Kay, who also designed the new Milwaukee Bucks logo.

“We are very hyped to be working with Company Brewing on this collaboration,” Milwaukee Day co-founder Andy Silverman says. “We always thought it would be cool for somebody to make a Milwaukee Day beer, and I was really happy that the best damn brewery in the city stepped in to make it happen.”

With the blessing of Milwaukee Day’s founders, Milwaukee Record will be taking the reins on organizing the official Milwaukee Day showcase, which will coincide with the beer’s release. This year’s show will take place at Company Brewing on Saturday, April 14. Stay tuned for the full lineup and more details. In the meantime, let’s rejoice in knowing Milwaukee Day will have its own beer!

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Von Trier’s grand re-opening party is Thursday and it involves complimentary beer and food http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/von-triers-grand-re-opening-party-complimentary-beer-food/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/von-triers-grand-re-opening-party-complimentary-beer-food/#respond Tue, 13 Feb 2018 06:15:47 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=46170 The story so far: Back in August, Von Trier owners John and Cindy Sidoff announced they would be closing their beloved German bar and reopening it as an “upscale cocktail lounge.” Milwaukee was not impressed, and demanded the Sidoffs reconsider their plans. Incredibly, reconsider they did: A few months later, the Sidoffs announced that due to the outpouring […]

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The story so far: Back in August, Von Trier owners John and Cindy Sidoff announced they would be closing their beloved German bar and reopening it as an “upscale cocktail lounge.” Milwaukee was not impressed, and demanded the Sidoffs reconsider their plans. Incredibly, reconsider they did: A few months later, the Sidoffs announced that due to the outpouring of support (and grief), they had decided to keep the East Side icon’s German name and concept. Now, with some renovations, a new food menu, and a soft opening under its belt, Von Trier is ready to celebrate its grand re-opening party Thursday, February 15, from 5-10 p.m.

What to expect from the party? How about “ample helpings of Gemütlichkeit and a ceremonial keg tapping of Hofbrau Dunkel”? How about “tastes of the new German-centric menu […] as well as complimentary drafts of Hofbrau Dunkel Lager from the keg tapping (while supplies last!)”? And how about “a Weihenstephaner glassware giveaway and a complimentary food spread teasing the kitchen’s new offerings”? Yes.

Here’s a recent press release about the renovations and re-opening party:

For over 39 years, Von Trier has occupied the southwest corner of North and Farwell on Milwaukee’s East Side. Thousands of patrons over the years have had their first dates, second dates, engagements, graduations, or wedding rehearsals in the German-centric East Side Institution. Last summer, in response to the idea of Von Trier closing its doors and rebranding, a tremendous outcry and outpouring of community support helped to persuade owners John and Cindy Sidoff to reconsider their decision to deviate from the Von Trier concept.

“In order to better serve customers both now and in the future, a renovation and re-launch will help improve the guest experience, provide the classic Von Trier feel, and improve the quality of life for our patrons,” says General Manager Stephen Schultz. “The message was heard loud and clear; Milwaukeeans want Von Trier to stay. This is a place we want to be able to bring friends and family for years to come.”

The last day of normal business operations before Von Trier started its renovations was Saturday, January 27th, 2018; Von Trier closed the following day to start work on the facility, with the construction and renovation work spanning just fewer than two weeks. Improvements to the facility include re-launching a German-centric food menu, installing a new mahogany bar top, updating the woodwork and the restrooms, improving both the lighting and sound system, as well as bringing in new furniture and table tops.

“We’re planning on opening our doors for a soft opening very shortly as we acclimate to the new features and re-launch our kitchen,” says General Manager Stephen Schultz. “We’ll be kicking things off with our Grand Re-Opening Party on Thursday, February 15th, with more exciting events coming up in the next few weeks.”

Von Trier will be hosting a “Grand Re-Opening Party” featuring ample helpings of Gemütlichkeit and a ceremonial keg tapping of Hofbrau Dunkel on Thursday, February 15th at 5 pm. Tastes of the new German-centric menu will be available for guests to try as well as complimentary drafts of Hofbrau Dunkel Lager from the keg tapping (while supplies last!). There will be a Weihenstephaner glassware giveaway and a complimentary food spread teasing the kitchen’s new offerings.

With a more focused and German-centric approach, Von Trier will be reopening its kitchen following the renovation. An impressive assortment of German sharable tavern food including Large Pretzels, German Appetizers, Spätzle, Salads, Burgers, Sandwiches, and a variety of Wurst will satiate the appetites of Milwaukeeans seeking high-quality German fare. The menu will be both accessible and authentic, ranging from shareable plates to center-of-the-plate German entrées, featuring products from Usinger’s, Ney’s Big Sky, Foltz Family Market, Miller Baking Company, and Impossible Burger.

Von Trier will remain steadfast in its commitment to staying German-centric and serving Milwaukee’s East Side. Featuring a stand-out German draft beer program, a superb craft beer selection, a tap wine system, and an extensive bar and cocktail list, Von Trier will continue to be a gathering place for both Milwaukeeans and their friends for years to come.

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Merriment Social’s “March Madness Burger Series” returns with a charitable twist http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/merriment-socials-march-madness-burger-series-returns-philanthropic-twist/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/merriment-socials-march-madness-burger-series-returns-philanthropic-twist/#respond Mon, 12 Feb 2018 16:29:47 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=46068 It’s almost that time of year again! March Madness is just around the corner, and its arrival also signals the beginning of other competitions that coincide with the culturally transcendent college basketball tournament. Last year, Merriment Social asked its regulars to create signature sandwiches for its inaugural “March Madness Burger Series.” After seven weeks, thousands […]

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It’s almost that time of year again! March Madness is just around the corner, and its arrival also signals the beginning of other competitions that coincide with the culturally transcendent college basketball tournament. Last year, Merriment Social asked its regulars to create signature sandwiches for its inaugural “March Madness Burger Series.” After seven weeks, thousands of votes from happy hour diners, and three rounds of competition, Mark Fraaza was crowned the champion. His delectable “Swayze Train” was added to Merriment’s menu (where it currently has the distinction of being the second best-selling burger). With the first tourney’s undisputed success, Merriment decided to bring the culinary competition back in 2018, with a charitable twist this time around.


Fraaza—a medical professional who also drums in The DUIs—was invited to defend his title, and he’ll be facing off against seven Milwaukee businesses this year. Those competitors include 88Nine, Moda3, Founders 3, Lammi Sports Management, PKWare, PRA, and Traction Factory. Each of the participating businesses are located near Merriment, which owner Sam Emery hopes will bring a sense of community to the series and increase the level of competition between them.

“Involving the community and knowing most of the companies are right here on this street, it gives you a sense of neighborhood,” Emery says.

Every Tuesday to Friday starting February 20 and running through the second week in April, Merriment will offer two happy hour burgers ($5 each) for patrons to try. Customers will also be given a ballot to cast their vote for which of the two burgers is most worthy of advancement. The restaurant will also extend the happy hour burgers all night long every Thursday to coincide with a live Bucks Basketball Hour broadcast with 105.7 The Fan’s Bill Michaels, Sparky Fifer, and a current or former Milwaukee player.

After four weekly head-to-head match-ups, two semi-final contests, and the finals, there will be a new champion. In addition to the glory of having their burger added to the respected young restaurant’s menu, Merriment will also donate $1,000 to a charity of the winner’s choosing and will host a fundraiser for the winning business.

“The whole reason we started this restaurant was to have a canvas where we could do whatever,” Emery says. “We’re going to be raising a ton of money for non-profits. So now, instead of just doing it because it’s fun, and funky, and cool, we’re going to have an actual mission for it. Hopefully it’ll keep snowballing year after year.”

Emery says he thinks this year’s tourney could raise upwards of $10,000 between the $1,000 grand prize and the additional $500 Merriment will add to the donation pool every week somebody rents out the restaurant’s upper level. Milwaukee Fire Department’s “Warm Up Winter” program, Honor Flight, Donald Driver Foundation, and Walker’s Point School For The Arts are some of the organizations participating businesses have selected as their benefactor. If he can repeat last year’s beefy feat, Fraaza will give his prize to K9 Cupids. He’s planning an homage to a Taco Bell favorite this year.

“My friends are like ‘This is the biggest thing you’ve done in your life, and it’s all for a burger,'” Fraaza says. “‘You’ve put more effort into this than anything you’ve ever done.’”

If you want to see what sort of crazy burgers some Milwaukee businesses (and Fraaza) craft, exercise your right to vote, and be part of a unique benefit, swing by Merriment Social for a happy hour bite next week and subsequent every week through mid-April.

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Fusion Poke is coming soon to the former Hotch http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/fusion-poke-is-coming-soon-to-the-former-hotch/ http://milwaukeerecord.com/food-drink/fusion-poke-is-coming-soon-to-the-former-hotch/#respond Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:00:55 +0000 http://milwaukeerecord.com/?p=46070 Though news has been floating around since last December that a new poke place is coming to the building formerly occupied by Hotch, 1813 E. Kenilworth Pl., a few hot-pink, hand-drawn signs in the windows are making it official: Fusion Poke is coming to the space, soon. What can hungry Milwaukeeans expect from the new poke […]

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Though news has been floating around since last December that a new poke place is coming to the building formerly occupied by Hotch, 1813 E. Kenilworth Pl., a few hot-pink, hand-drawn signs in the windows are making it official: Fusion Poke is coming to the space, soon.

What can hungry Milwaukeeans expect from the new poke place that will be located immediately across the street from another poke place (FreshFin Poke)? According to the sign, Hawaiian poke bowls, rolled ice cream, fruit smoothies, bubble tea, shaved ice, and, because the East Side abhors a ramen vacuum, ramen noodles. (If you’re unfamiliar with poke—which has been taking Milwaukee by storm since nine months ago—it’s basically raw seafood in a bowl, or “deconstructed sushi.”)

The 2,371-square-foot Kenilworth space was leased by Fusion Poke WI, Inc. back in December 2017. Hotch closed in May 2017. No firm opening date for Fusion Poke has been announced. We’ll have more poke news when it becomes available.

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