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Jun 5, 2007 09:53 AM

Milwaukee, WI - any reviews for Mason Street Grill or Yaffa Lounge?

My friends and I are doing a girls' night in Milwaukee (we live outside of Chicago) and we're staying at the Pfister. Mason Street Grill is right inside the hotel, but Yaffa's website intrigued me... Any reviews on either? Or any suggestions for another fun place for us to try?

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  1. The Mason St. Grill is new, relatively. I can't recall if it's been reviewed here, or in the papers. You could check the Journal Sentinel website on it and Yaffa's. Where you're staying is now in the center of resto world in Milw. Within a two-three block radius there are at least 15- 20 places (I don't think I'm exaggerating or including too many bar/grill options). I haven't eaten at all of them by any means, but have heard good things about Brio and a few others. I've eaten at Cubanita's and Zarletti. Both are very good. I've had lunch at the Metro Cafe, which was okay. Louise's is very popular, but not good in my opinion. If I were you, I'd wander the neighborhood and check things out early and then decide.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mike_d

      Yaffa was pretty good, VERY trendy vibe, I found it a little pretentious, but some people are into that thing. I also second Cubanitas - strongest mojito I've ever had, and their roast pork dish is jucily to die for. And you can walk there from the Pfister.

      I would also suggest Bosley's (, great food, great wine (Monday, 1/2 off bottles) and relaxed atmosphere. This was always my go to place for a nice celebratory dinner with friends.

      1. re: kasiav

        Here is a recent review of Yaffa from a Milwaukee board that I belong to. Last year Yaffa also received a horrendous review from a group that dined there.

        " On a gorgeous 80 degree night, what better place to relax than the Milwaukee Riverwalk? And since Yaffa offers such a gorgeous and expansive Riverwalk vista, I couldn't wait for tonight's visit. The idea of sampling Mediterranean mezes, tapas and tagines on a warm spring night seemed perfect.

        And it would have been, if Yaffa could have delivered.

        Yaffa does not offer a patio hostess, so we entered through the front doors. We were immediately assaulted by a horrifying stench, one I couldn't place until later. It was the exact smell of the Racine Zoo's old Monkey House, and it was far from pleasant. Fortunately, we were sitting outside. Strangely, we were one of only a few tables, at 7pm on such a gloriously beautiful day. In contrast, Rock Bottom Brewery's patio had a 90 minute wait.

        Unfortunately, the patio service was spotty at best, negligent at worst. Our server was very kind and genuine, and tried very hard to help us. For some reason, however, he was also seating tables (not his) and waiting on faraway indoor tables. I have no idea how stations work at Yaffa, but this layout made very little sense to us as we watched him race between indoor and outdoor tables. Water was regularly provided by a second server, but simple things like place settings and napkins weren't delivered until after the food.

        And therein laid our greatest issues. Yaffa prides itself on its appetizers. It claims to understand the concept of mezes and tapas. Some of these were delicious and wonderfully done. Others were sparsely served (i.e., the cheese plate, which offered ridiculously small portions) or strangely presented (i.e., one appetizer looked as if it had just been thrown on the plate.) However, ALL of our appetizers were delivered together, despite being ordered at separate intervals. This made sense for some selections, but items expected to be served warm were in fact, served ice cold. We assume these appetizers had been prepared and were waiting to be delivered with others that took longer.

        I've traveled extensively through Spain and the Mediterranean, so I was very familar with the warm dish I had ordered, and knew what I could expect. So I didn't hesitate to notify our server that it wasn't pleasant and that I'd either like it remade, substituted or removed from the bill. The server was initially agreeable, and stated that he understood completely. I do not fault him in any way for what happened next.

        Our server returned to the table and indicated that the manager refused to remake the item, substitute an alternative selection of equal value, or remove it from the bill. We were somewhat startled, our first question was "Are you joking?" We explained our complaints again, with additional information. The server said he would go back to his manager and try again. He felt we were being reasonable, since we had barely touched the problem item.

        Shortly thereafter, the manager ("Megan") appeared at our table. Her introduction consisted of, "I hear you don't like one of our menu items" with a smug expression. She almost seemed to be DARING us to complain. We explained that the serving temperature had affected our enjoyment of the item, and that we had asked again for either a re-do, replacement, or removal.

        The manager was very blunt with us and said that the item WAS served at the correct temperature. (Clearly we were too stupid and backwards to understand this, being foolish Milwaukeeans.) She also told us it was one of THE most popular items and therefore no one had ever complained about it. We again reiterated our suggestions to make it right.

        The manager then took a strange haughty tone with us and said that if we weren't happy with an item, she would CERTAINLY remove it from the bill. (If that was the case, why hassle both us and her own employee for the past 20 minutes?) She then provided us with a small gift certificate for our next visit so we could "come back and try Yaffa again." (How this was an appropriate resolution, I'll never know. The item was not removed from the bill.) She later stood in the doorway and glared at us while we reviewed our bill.

        We promptly applied this strange gift certificate towards our bill and left the premises, stopping to compliment (and generously tip) our server on the way out.

        I can't say I will ever return to Yaffa after this extremely weird evening. What is WRONG with this picture? I couldn't beleive someone wanted to argue with us about a $8 appetizer. That is really quite unthinkable, considering the amount we spent tonight. Bad business all around! "

        Yanni's is right on Mason street and is a fabulous restaurant. Milwaukee ave has several places to dine and drink. The JSonline just did a review of Mason Grill. also has reviews of restaurants and clubs.

    2. You'll have fun at Elsa's and the bar at the new Intercontinental (old Wyndham!) is very cool. Get there early & get a private seating area. I personally love the lobby bar at the Pfister and Blue upstairs. Neither are what you could call hopping (Blu definitely more so of the two...), but both beautiful Old-World settings. You also really shouldn't miss the Safe House... sorry these are all bars (!) I've heard good things about The Social for food & drinks, but haven't been to the new location.

      1 Reply
      1. re: torta basilica

        oh man, yes yes yes, check out Kil@wat, the new restaurant at the Intercontinental, I totally forgot about that place. It is definitely the same vibe as Yaffa. aka small plates, trendy design. The food is really on point though.