Milwaukee: Hinterland, Sanford or Bacchus??
Husband and I will be in Milwaukee for a concert Saturday night. We'd like to eat at one of these 3 restaurants before the concert (i've read excellent reviews on all of them). We are from the Chicago area, so we are used to eating really great meals! We enjoy great food--doesn't have to be fancy or stuffy or way-out-there-artsy food/restaurant...we like great, good food! Don't know if dress code would factor into any of these (I've read that Sanford can be "stuffy", but we'll be dressed for a concert, not an opera!) or not. I've searched food boards, reviews, etc. to try and narrow it down, but I just can decide which one to go with. Please advise...Thanks so much!
We did the surprise menu tasting in January and loved it! It is really a "not to be missed" experience. Also, we were very impressed with their affordable wine menu...BUT as far as I know, you cannot order the surprise menu on Saturdays.
Being I don't know you...I am not sure what sort of concert you are seeing or what you are looking for in terms of atmosphere, but Sanford, for me, would be too formal and relaxing before a concert. I would probably want to go somewhere to have a drink at the bar before dinner and would want more energy. (Sanford does not have a bar.)
I have enjoyed sharing food at the bar at Hinterland, but would eat at Bacchus for a full dinner. While formal and beautiful, I have seen guests in jeans and their new cocktail and small plate menu would make me guess they may be bringing in a more casual crowd.
If you do go with Sanford, I am sure you will enjoy it...but I just wanted to give my two cents on the vibe of the restaurants.
I'd skip Hinterland. I thought that it wasn't that great. Not worth the money.
Sanford is excellent. I don't think that it's stuffy at all. It is very relaxing.... If you don't make it there this time, I'd make a point of going some other time.
I'd probably go with Bacchus. Great food, vibe, and bar. I was there about a week ago and they have these new drink consultants in the bar who make very interesting and perfect drinks. They brew all of their own bitters at the bar. There are big jars of different flavors on a window ledge. They also started a new small plates menu, which is fantastic. My husband and I skipped the entrees and ordered a bunch of different small plates.
Stopped in at the bar at Bacchus twice on a trip last week. Both Nick and Ira of Bittercube were there -- Nick was bartending one night, Ira a few nights later. Super nice guys, who took great care of us and Ira let us talk his ear off and didn't kick us out even though we were the last ones in the room (thanks Ira!). They have some great stuff on the menu and recently added a number of summer cocktails.
Particularly liked the Summer G & Tea (Green Tea Infused Death's Door Gin, Lemon, Summer Honey Syrup, Seltzer), a different take on a gin and tonic. Refreshing. My companion remarked "I could drink this all night!" Nice on a hot summer night, as was my Milwaukee Mule (Roaring Dan's Rum, Lime, Ginger Syrup, Bittercube Jamaican Bitters, Seltzer). Refreshing, crisp, gingery. They also do a lovely pisco sour with Bittercube Blackstrap bitters. Very very frothy (they do a dry shake first) and delicious! My Hemingway Daiquiri (Appleton White Rum, Grapefruit, Lime, Luxardo Maraschino) was also delicious and I might try replicating it at home, soon. There were more drinks but I can't recall any others oddly enough! :)
Ran through a number of the small plates menu items, too, on our two separate nights there. Olives which were good but pretty standard fare. Spinach risotto fritters (tasty but but a bit heavy for the weather). Excellent Asian-inflected tuna tartare. Lovely warm foie gras, too, but I'm a sucker for a french toast + foie + maple syrup combo: sweet, savory, fatty, carb-y. Duck confit rillettes were also good and served with an excellent mustard choice. I just wish the plates were a little bigger!
Came home with some of their bitters as well, which I'm excited to use! And a great place downtown to sneak away from the in-laws for a delicious cocktail -- especially one that ISN'T a brandy old-fashioned or a vodka tonic. I've always enjoyed dining at Bacchus but now I'm tempted just to hang out at the bar all night!
I completely agree with nsxtasy. While all 3 are fine restaurants, there is nothing in Milwaukee with the high level of attentive service, great environment, and excellently prepared food that Sanford has. I would suggest you get the 7 course seasonal "surprise" menu. I put surprise in quotes because many of the dishes are taken straight from the menu itself. Either way, you will not be disappointed.