Bay View is in the midst of a restaurant renaissance. The chunk of southeast Milwaukee—which already has such feathers as Odd Duck, Guanajuato, both DeMarinis, Palomino, Classic Slice, and Hué proudly stuck in its culinary cap—will look strikingly different both in terms of the amount and quality of things one can shove in his or her face by year’s end. Before the end of the summer, Goodkind should dazzle both diners and drinkers alike; The Vanguard will meld the holy trinity of booze, homemade gourmet sausages, and Chris Schulist involvement in the former site of Home; and the newly opened Lazy Susan is sure to be hitting its stride.
With a bevy of quality eats already in Bay View and more on the way, Milwaukee Record decided to start with dessert. After having its opening delayed until November, then February, and finally April, the shop at KK and Lenox was resurrected Easter Sunday as Cream City Swirl (2663 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 414-897-8769), making the neighborhood a bit sweeter with frozen yogurt, gelato, and crepes.
The space: Formerly just another grain of sand in the desert of hair salons on Bay View’s main drag, the corner shop exhibits few remnants from its cut-and-color past. The décor is sterile—relying on white as the primary color, with violet and light green accents. The warm paint job nicely counters the cold metallic quartet of frozen yogurt dispensers and a topping booth. Though far from vast, Swirl is fairly barren in the center, save for 10 topping dispensers, which allows for ample seating in the form of tables and benches along the window.
The service: Only a day into the job, owner Susan Nolan was pleasant and prompt in both helping us and training an employee was we waited on our order.
Milwaukee Record’s food: Technically, Cream City Swirl only offers three types of food. That limited menu, however, yields a galaxy of delectable possibilities to bring almost anybody guilty pleasure. The least guilty of those is the frozen yogurt. In all, there are 12 flavors (some fat free, others low fat) for diners to serve themselves. We were enticed by the fat free birthday cake flavor, which edged out peach for the honor of our small sample. From there, we topped the cake with two of Swirl’s immense menagerie of additives: piecrust pieces and generic Sno-Caps. We regret not piling on more of the 26 other toppings at our disposal, a treasure trove that includes standards like nuts, Oreo pieces, and mini M&M’s, as well as finer finishing materials such as cheesecake pieces, mango chunks, gummy bears, and fresh coconut. Every item costs the same, as they’re dependant on overall weight. Our small mound of sugar clocked in just under six ounces, setting us back $2.48.
Less calorie-conscious consumers out there will enjoy the quintet of gelato choices, highlighted by raspberry, tiramisu, and “pistaccio” (likely intended to be “pistachio”). We enjoyed a complimentary spoonful of the latter—no surprise, it was great because all gelato is great—before taking our cheat day irreparably far down the wormhole by indulging in the specialty that sets Cream City Swirl apart from its competitors: crepes. The trio of 14-inch crepes are “The KK Classic” (lemon, butter, and powdered sugar), “Banana Bobana” (banana bits and Nutella), and our order, the “Sweet Bay Viewer,” a mouthwatering convergence of fresh strawberries, a mixed berry puree, and goddamn cream cheese.
Upon the first bite of the flakey, rich, creamy, and tart delicacy, we had no doubt it was worth every cent of the princely $6.25 sum we’d paid. (The other two were $4.75 and $5.75 respectively). The only problem was the difficulty eating it. Our plastic spoon (quite literally) wasn’t cutting it, so we eventually gave way to fatness and ate it with our hands—emerging from the building looking like a well-fed cokehead.
The verdict: Cream City Swirl’s slogan is “Uniquely Bay View.” Sitting under a mile from longtime neighborhood lactose linchpin Babe’s, it needs to be different to keep up. With tantalizing crepes, fat free yogurt, and (predominately not fat free) toppings out the ass, it succeeds.