If the concept of a musical supergroup can be ported over to the world of food and drink, then the newly opened Goodkind (2457 S. Wentworth Ave., 414-763-4706) certainly fits the all-star bill. Owned and operated by Burnhearts owners William and Jessica Seidel, Burnhearts bar manager Katie Rose, and husband-and-wife chef team Paul Zerkel and Lisa Kirkpatrick (formerly of Odd Duck and Roots), the highly anticipated restaurant/bar has a pedigree most new businesses would kill for. But with a killer lineup comes great expectations: Can Goodkind stand out in the increasingly crowded Bay View fine/casual-dining scene? Are there enough locally sourced ingredients floating around for yet another foodie-friendly destination? With high hopes and empty stomachs, we gave the new restaurant a test-run during its first week in business.
The space: Goodkind occupies the former Mama DeMarinis building on Wentworth Avenue, tucked away in a quiet residential area just north of the Cactus Club. There’s little left of the longtime pizza joint, however: Goodkind’s exterior is a pleasing riot of colored wood and brick, and manages to stand out in the surrounding neighborhood without being too flashy. The interior can be described in one word: gorgeous. Dark wood is the order of the day for the tables, chairs, and the circular bar that dominates the space. Vivid, bird-themed wallpaper covers the back wall. Vaguely Art Deco lighting fixtures and stained glass accents make the space seem more like an upscale hotel restaurant than a funky neighborhood bar. It all adds up to a vibe that feels more “fine dining” than most Bay View restaurants. An open kitchen that serves until 1 a.m. (featuring a hypnotizing rotisserie) and a promise to be “part bar, part restaurant, and all awesome,” however, should help Goodkind become a hip-but-casual hangout in no time.
The service: Quick, friendly, informative. We arrived about 10 minutes early for our 5 p.m. reservation and quickly bellied up to the bar. Our bartender gave us a brief rundown of the extensive cocktail menu. Minutes later, we were seated at our table and hipped to Goodkind’s impressive, ever-changing seasonal menu. Our server informed us that the prices were directly related to portion-size, ranging from $2 appetizers to $24 entrees. She wasn’t kidding about the price-to-food ratio, as we would soon find out.
Milwaukee Record’s drinks/food: Rose has long been known for her cocktails (hello, Mitten Fest old fashioneds), and Goodkind’s list of 20 draft beers, wine, and nearly a dozen house cocktails (all made with in-house bitters) bears that out. Staying true to our ongoing romance with Bulleit Bourbon, we ordered the Wood Dog ($10), which included Bulleit, Byrrh, Carpano, raspberry syrup, and Angostura bitters. It was sweet, refreshing, and delicious.
For food, we started off with some Fried Chickpeas ($2), which were light, airy, and not too salty. We then dove right in to the Roasted Oyster Mushrooms ($16). Seated in a bed of saffron rice, sweet peas, piquillo pepper, and artichoke confit, the mushrooms were good, but would probably be better off as a small-plate appetizer than a full dish.
Goodkind’s true claim to fame, however, is undoubtedly its rotisserie, and that’s where the restaurant takes things to a level not seen before in Milwaukee dining. We ordered the Fennel Pollen Dry Brined ½ Chicken ($20), which came complete with potatoes and vegetables roasted in the bottom of the rotisserie. As informed earlier, the high price translated to a lot of food, and the half-chicken could have easily fed two or three people. Or maybe just one: The chicken was perfectly done and the fennel pollen was absolutely mouth-watering. It was one of the best meals we’ve had in years. Other rotisserie items on the menu the day of our visit included Rosemary & Coriander Crusted Bone-In Pork Loin ($20) and Red Wine & Sage Rubbed Duck ($24). Needless to say, we’ll be back for more.
The verdict: Goodkind takes its name from a 1940s-era Wisconsin cannery, and borrows that business’ old slogan: “All to the good and the best of its kind.” With a gorgeous space and a unique, first-rate rotisserie, it’s a motto the new Bay View restaurant easily lives up to.