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Waukesha County, WI - Hounds on the move

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  • shaja Apr 7, 2012 08:13 PM
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These Lake Geneva, WI, Hounds are pulling up stakes and moving to Waukesha County. It's very weird to go from being the one in-the-know to the newbie. I'm looking for the insight, recommendations and tips to help us feel like locals again. Everything from good diner, good meat market, good vanilla beans, good place to take the folks, good bakery, good special occasion, good Italian, good pizza, good deli, good Chinese, good Mexican, good specialty cooking shop, good date night place, good anything food!

Willing to travel around the county. Would prefer something besides Milwaukee fine dining recommendations and would prefer something besides chains (but I'll give a shout-out to The Machine Shed off of I-94 for being good comfort food and to the TGIFridays at Miller Park ... okay, technically not in Waukesha County but dang fine atmosphere, french onion soup and ribs).

We've already discovered the Peachtree in New Berlin (family diner); the Butler Inn in Pewaukee for amazing steaks, the Cornerstone in Genesee Depot, and the Chocolate Factory in downtown Pewaukee. Oh, and I've heard that Brennan's on Bluemound is THE place for cheese but haven't been there yet. Also have been impressed by what we''ve seen at the Sendik's on Capitol.

What's next??? Have map and are ready to go enjoy your recommendations for our new home!!!

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  1. I've only spent a little time in the Brookfield area, not much in the rest of the county, but here's what I can share. Mitchell's Fish Market in Brookfield is very good for seafood. Louise's in Brookfield is very good for California/Italian cuisine. I love Nora B's in Elm Grove for breakfast/lunch. (Strongly AVOID the Original Pancake House in Brookfield; this chain is usually good but this particular location is dreadful.) For bakeries, I wasn't all that impressed with Le Cakery in Elm Grove - it was just okay - and I'd go the few extra miles out of the county for Le Reve in 'tosa, which specializes in French pastries and baked goods. HTH

    www.mitchellsfishmarket.com
    www.louiseswisconsin.com
    www.norabs.com
    www.lecakery.com
    www.lerevecafe.com

    1. Hi shaja,

      Waukesha County is quite large and rather diverse. Everything from chain restaurants in Brookfield to hole in the wall Mexican places in Waukesha to some good lakeside dining in Lake Country. It sounds like you already have some good places in mind. Here are a few food and beverage places I recommend in their category...

      Cajun/creole/seafood - Fishbones in Delafield

      Spices - Penzey's in Delafield

      Meat /seafood/upscale grocery - Grasch's Fine Foods and Fresh Market (both are in Brookfield)

      Pizza - Doc's Dry Doc on Pewaukee Lake in Pewaukee

      Affordable everyday but nice grocery shopping - Pabst Farms Pick 'n Save in Oconomowoc ( I hope I spelled that correctly :-) )

      Upscale date night with live music - Piano Blu on Pewaukee Lake in Pewaukee

      Mexican brunch - La Estacion in Waukesha (we really love their brunch!)

      Mexican lunch/dinner - Senor Tomas in Hartland

      Cheese - Brennan's and Sendik's in Brookfield

      Wine store - The Wine Cellar in Elm Grove

      Steaks - Butler Inn on Peaukee Lake or Flemmings in Brookfield

      Mahogany wood/oriental rugs/comfortable place to have a martini - Delafield Hotel in Delafield (very good food as well)

      Fish Fry - The Phoenix in Hartland

      Sports Bar with decent food - Chammps in Brookfield

      Good place to have a patio drink with beautiful lake views - Seven Seas in Hartland (but avoid their food)

      Local Brew Pubs - Delafield Brewery or Water Street Brewery both in Delafield

      Wine Bar with Food - Wine Maniacs in Oconomowoc

      Wine tasting events - Delafield Hotel in Delafield

      I will think about this a bit more and try to come up with some additional recommendations. Best of luck in your transition!

      9 Replies
      1. re: Fowler

        Wow, thanks much, folks! We're going to print out that list and hang it on the back door. Really intrigued by the Mexican brunch Fowler recommended.

        We have been to both Mitchell's Fish Market and the Water Street Brewery; liked both and would return (actually did, in Mitchell's case). We also went to Bravo at the Brookfield Square Mall, and while the service was attentive I wasn't that crazy about their food so I am glad for the Italian recommendation. Does anyone know anything about Matteo's, just off of Hwy. 164 on Sunset in Waukesha?

        1. re: shaja

          Quick comment about my experience with Louise's...their wood fired pizzas are very good. I ordered something once that was similar to beef spiedini and it was drastically overcooked and tough as an army boot. I have also ordered their baked stuffed chicken breast and it was served still partially frozen! Not sure if either item is still on the menu but both showed a total lack of proper cooking. Never had a bad pizza there though. :-)

          I have not tried Matteo's but if you go there please let us know how it went. Milwaukee County is really your better bet for Italian. One of the best Italian restaurants in the state is just east of Waukesha County in the Village of Wauwatosa. Well worth the drive.

          1. re: Fowler

            Awww, you can't tease me like that! What is the name of this Italian heaven???

            1. re: shaja

              Ristorante Bartolotta. If we have guests from out of town that want to go out for Italian that is where we take them.

              http://www.bartolottaristorante.com/

              1. re: Fowler

                That's part of the Barolotta restaurant group, which offers some of the best places in the Milwaukee area, including Lake Park Bistro and Harbor House. www.bartolottas.com

                1. re: nsxtasy

                  Yes, and I have been told the same famiglia also owns successful places in Chicago and Las Vegas.

              2. re: shaja

                Ristorante Bartolotta would be good full-circle for you Shaja. Their Sous Chef is a Lake Geneva native (grew up right across the street from me!)

                I'll throw in a recommendation for Good Harvest market in Waukesha, right off I-94 at Silvernail Road. It's a Whole Foods-esque place with a great deli/cafe.

                1. re: mse924

                  Yea, I know where that Good Harvest is (without a map!) I've driven by there! That's around the corner from that German restaurant, isn't it? Gasthaus, I think is the name.

                  Can't wait to try Ristorante Bartolotta!! And pretty cool about the LG connection - six degrees of Kevin Bacon to be sure! (Sorry, just had to make that a "food" reference.)

              3. re: Fowler

                Yes! Love the California style pizzas (and salads), but always find myself disappointed when I order anything else at Louise's.

          2. I work in Waukesha--here are my favorite lunch spots.
            -Pat's Rib Place on Sunset in Waukesha for pulled pork
            -Rochester Deli for good corned beef and other sandwiches--great baked goods too.
            -Steaming Cup and Sprizzo--Cafes with great lunch choices
            -A new frozen yogurt chain--Orange Leaf--recently opened in Waukesha which I've been enjoying.
            There is also an Au Bon Pain in Waukesha that opened under the radar.

            Elsewhere...
            We do enjoy Mitchell's for chain seafood, but have also enjoyed Bonefish Grill.
            Parkside 23 is nice for upscale casual with a good beer selection.
            North Star Bistro-- Some of the dinner entrees can be hit or miss, but I always enjoy the pizzas, sandwiches, and more lunch/brunch type items.

            We also enjoy the Capitol Drive main drag in Hartland. There is a wine shop/cafe called Bin 111 that is fun to stop in and we like the bar areas at the Hartland Inn and Palmer's. Although, we did have a weird interaction at the Hartland Inn last time--they insisted we site at a table in the dining room rather than eating at the bar and I didn't care for that atmosphere at all...

            In Delafield, we've had good meals at Zin and at Kurt's Steakhouse, but those were both several years ago. Not sure how they are faring.

            Commenting on cheese shopping, I find myself annoyed that Brennan's only packages fairly large pieces. The selection is good though. I prefer to buy cheese at the Sendik's at 124th and Capitol. I enjoy the wine selection at that Sendiks as well, but also like the recommendation by Fowler for the Wine Cellar in Elm Grove.

            3 Replies
            1. re: bte576

              Those are great ideas, bte576! Is there now a Sendik's at 124th and Capitol? The only one I am familiar with in that area is the one around 124th and North Ave. I really like the one on Capitol and Brookfield Rd at Sendik's Towne Centre (sic) when it comes to cheese. Their meat is good as well.

              1. re: Fowler

                Total brain lapse/typo...I meant the one at Brookfield Road and Capitol.

                1. re: bte576

                  Thanks for the clarification. It is a great store. The wine guy, Dick, who is roughly 115 years old once owned one of my favorite wine shops in Milwaukee. He really knows his stuff.

            2. Ono Kine Grindz in Wauwatosa
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/842662

              1. Yokoso on Barker and Blurmound is a good sushi spot. As is Wasabi on the corner of Moorland and Bluemound.

                Lagniappe Brasserie on Greenfield in New Berlin always gets good reviews, and I've wanted to try for a few years, but I just don't seem to get out much (darn kids).

                You liked Peachtree? I'll have to try it sometime.

                Brennan's is a family favorite for produce, cheese, and microbrews. It has been dubbed "the tasting store" by my kids.

                3 Replies
                1. re: atcpa

                  My rule of thumb for any diner is to expect good sandwiches, soups and breakfasts, but dinners are hit or miss, and so I order accordingly. Peachtree pretty much lives up to my model. I love their American fries. Unusually, their chicken dumpling soup is heavy on peppers, but that works for some reason. Mr. Shaja really likes their cream of broccoli soup because there is actual chunks of broccoli in it, not just the usual "hint of broccoli crumbs" you see in cream soup.

                  1. re: atcpa

                    I enjoyed Yokoso, but it has closed as far as I know.

                    1. re: bte576

                      That's too bad. I really enjoyed it there.

                  2. All of these replies and not a single mention of Fuzzy's in Waukesha? For shame :).

                    Fuzzys is great. Its a dive bar that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, all of which are great. Its the type of place that would be a prime candidate for Diners, DriveIns, and Dives. The breakfasts are what I usually go for. I love their biscuits and gravy (served on weekends) and the breakfast tostadas and burritos. For lunch and dinner don't miss their awesome wings and the Mean Jean, a large burger with a giant mound of onion strings.

                    To answer your question about Matteo's, it is the best pizza spot in Waukesha. Maybe even the best in Waukesha county. I love their pizzas. The antipasto salad is another staple. I have eaten there (carry out or dine in) probably 50 times and still haven't tried anything but pizza, salads, and appetizers.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: EatWisconsin

                      Lagniappe Brasserie has insanely inexpensive specials on occasion. Stop by and make sure you are on their email list, twitter, or whatever they do to put the word out. The day to day fare is always worth the time and money.

                      Been going to Mateo's for the last 5 years when up there. Great Milwaukee style pizza. Solid pasta, but I also recommend the antipasto.

                    2. We are looking forward to trying Matteo's after these recommendations; every time we drive by, the parking lot is full.

                      Can anyone recommend a good Italian place that delivers in Waukesha? Looking for pasta and chicken parmesan. Last night's experiment with Rosati's (yes, a chain, but we wanted to compare the one here with one in Illinois we'd visit occasionally) was strange.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: shaja

                        Jimmy's Grotto delivers but their menu is limited (they may have spaghetti but not much else in the way of pasta or chix parm). Nobody gets anything but PonzaRotas anyways.

                        I don't know of any other non-chains that deliver. You are better off doing Matteo's, Mia's or Michaels (I love all of their veal dishes) carryout.

                      2. We ventured into downtown Waukesha for the first time and tried Montecito's. It was quite nice.

                        It has a very interesting vibe to the atmosphere that manages to be funky and home-y at the same time. Must have been a garage at one time, because the front wall of the bar is a big window-filled garage door. The restaurant floor has tables, sofas for lounging and gaming (pool, etc). all in the same space. We liked that it still felt intimate, and despite all the hard surfaces we had no trouble hearing each other.

                        We really loved their "Fritto Fior de Latte" appetizer, which was fresh mozzarella that had been sliced into rounds and lightly breaded and sauted, and served with tomato slices and balsamic vinegar. Mr. Shaja had a walleye sandwich, and that piece of fish was bigger than his plate!!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: shaja

                          Thank you so much for the report. So many never respond and I always wonder what happened to simple courtesy.

                        2. A link to an OnMilwaukee.com artilcle. About as good as you get from them (I am not a fan)
                          http://onmilwaukee.com/dining/article...

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: exvaxman

                            Thanks, exvaxman. A couple of people have recommended Albanese's, so after seeing it in this article I think we'll have to add it to the list hanging on the back of the door (I wasn't kidding ... I actually did that).

                            Last weekend we went to the Water Street Brewery at Hwy. 83 for the second time. Toss-up as to which location I like better for atmosphere, but this one sure gets loud when it's busy.. Tried their mozzarella sticks wrapped in wontons because it sounded unique, and they were really pretty good.

                            1. re: shaja

                              Thought I'd report back after visiting Albanese's. Wanted to like it, liked the atmosphere in the dining room quite a lot. But, Mr. Shaja's fish was burned, my pasta was skimpy for the money, the tomato sauce had an odd tinned/paste taste, and halfway during the meal we became aware of an unwashed sweaty body/locker room smell that made it unenjoyable to stay.. A solid Meh.

                              1. re: shaja

                                Sounds awful! Sorry to hear about that.

                                One thing to keep in mind about the onmilwaukee local neighborhood "dining guides" is that they are not reviews. They simply ask the restaurant to provide a two sentence blurb about their own establishment and that is what they publish. You may find far more misses than hits if you rely upon the OM dining guides.

                          2. A new restaurant just opened in New Berlin a few weeks ago, and I had a very nice date with the world's cutest 5 year old tonight. Bellafini's is now open in the City Center complex. My handsome man and I both ordered pizzas. Mine was Pizza Funghi, and I was very pleased. His was a Margherita Pizza, and both he and his sisters (he decided to share the leftovers) loved it. The olive tapenade that accompanied the fresh bread at the start of the meal was also very good. I recommend checking it out.

                            1. We ventured into downtown Waukesha again and tried Key Westconsin. It's kind of "upscale-meets-Key-West-beach-bar." I have to give the bartender and the hostess (the owners, I think) MAJOR MAJOR props for being so welcoming and friendly. We felt like we were among friends. The menu is heavy on fish, but there are things for non-fish eaters. Mr. Shaja had Lobster Benedict, which were eggs benedict with lobster instead of Canadian Bacon, and he enjoyed it.

                              PS - drove by Montecito's and saw that the thing I thought was an overhead garage door in the bar IS an overhead garage door....and it was rolled up and open last night. What a cool vibe.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: shaja

                                I have been to Key Westconsin twice. I wasn't terribly impressed with my lunch there. I had mini lobster rolls and they were unimpressive (needed some acid, maybe a squeeze of lemon juice) and the bun was kind of stale. The the crab cake sliders were overpowered by the pretzel roll buns. Neither was terrible but a little extra effort and ingredient selection would have yielded better results. The crab cakes would have worked well with a Sweet Hawaiian dinner roll bun or a mini brioche and some spicier aioli.

                                However I loved brunch there. I had the lobster Benedict too and it is really good. Having breakfast and one of their great Bloody Marys during Farmers Market season is one of the best dining experiences in Waukesha.

                              2. I thought you might find this article interesting...

                                http://onmilwaukee.com/dining/article...

                                1. I agree with many of the suggestions and it sounds like Shaja has been having fun exploring Waukesha County. A few more Waukesha area tips:

                                  Haus of Prime in downtown Delafield for prime meat - - its located in the gas station...dont laugh...its the nicest gas station you will ever be in.

                                  Tony & Mia's in downtown Delafield for Italian

                                  Brennan's in Brookfield has been mentioned...there is also one in Oconomowoc across Pabst Farms off of Hwy 67& I94

                                  The 5 O'Clock Club in Pewaukee (south east side of the lake?) - view of the lake and they use organic seasonal herbs/veggies from their own garden or local farmers markets

                                  The Pub in downtown Oconomowoc - Irish and they use local meats, cheeses & produce. They have a very nice selection for their cheese plates.

                                  Cafe Manna in Brookfield (on Capital by the Sendiks)- vegetarian

                                  Cafe Salsa in Pewaukee (on Capital) - updated Mexican w/ great signature margaritas (I believe they make their own specialty juices for the flavored ritas)

                                  Now a questions for you - we occassionally get to LG...what are your favorites? I loved Simple Cafe a few months ago. Tasty bibimbop.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: VintageGrace

                                    Looks like the list on the back of the door just got longer. :-) Thanks, VintageGrace!

                                    For Lake Geneva and environs: Simple is popular, but I don't understand why. I think it's the decor, which a good friend of mine from Chicago said was very reminiscent of what she would find in The City. I've never had good service there myself so I can't recommend it; too bad because I would like to like it.

                                    The Tuscan (formerly Ryan Braun's, formerly The Cactus Club) is nice. Strangely, we think their food improved after they ended their association with Ryan Braun, which makes no sense because it's the same menu. We were told by the host that Ryan Braun couldn't commit to visiting regularly as per the terms of their arrangement, so that's why he's not associated with it any more. They added a darn fine Chicken Parmesan sandwich the last time we were there.

                                    The Red Geranium and The Grandview at the Geneva Inn are two of the city's most overlooked restaurants, shame because both are very nice places. The Grandview has a brie appetizer with ginger and apricot sauce that is heavenly.

                                    Anything at Grand Geneva. Yum. So what if it's a resort, there are some excellent chefs there.

                                    For not-fine-dining but still darn tasty, Claws for sandwiches and The Lake Geneva Pie Company for pie. They've won several ribbons at the National Pie Championship. Highly recommend the Natural Apple, which is sweetened with apple juice not sugar.

                                    Now I'm going to take you around the lake:

                                    Outside of town off of Hwy. 50, the locals go to Mars for ribs.

                                    Another good Italian place is Cafe Calamari in Williams Bay. Another fine dining place worth the trip is BJ Wentker's in Burlington (about 15 minutes from LG).

                                    For breakfast, make the trip over to Millie's in Delavan.

                                    For a good family diner, go to Sammy's in Walworth (but not the Hot Turkey Sandwich-sorry, Sammy, I love you but you know we've talked about this). Also in Walworth, good pizza and pasta at Pino's (but not the Chicago style) and old-school mom-and-pop soft serve at the Dari Ripple (where a certain Hound worked 30 years ago...and can still make a darn good cone!)

                                    As long as you're in Walworth, pop south 5 minutes to the state line to the Big Foot Inn for Friday night fish fry or Sunday brunch. About 20 minutes from LG.

                                    In Fontana, go to Gordy's for good sandwiches and Chicken Tortilla Soup (creamy and the right amount of spice and cheese). Literally steps from the lake, which makes the whole package for me better than Popeye's.

                                    Down Hwy. 12 from LG and just over the border in Richmond, IL, is Doyle's Irish Pub, which has some surprisingly good food. I've recommended the meatless lasagna before. About 15 minutes from LG.

                                    Last but not least, bring a cooler and head over to Riga Tony's on Hwy. 50 in the Delavan Bay Inlet area. Authentic Italian from The City (two guys came out to retire and opened themselves a little shop to keep busy. Now they are busier than when they were not retired!). You can get great Italian Beef (with "gravy!"). One of the sons bakes desserts. Also, keep going west on Hwy. 11; just off of 11 and 14 is Sorg's for stupendous meats.

                                    1. re: VintageGrace

                                      I totally agree with VintageGrace about the meat from the gas station on the main street in Delafield. When someone told me about them years ago I thought they were joking me. No joke at all. Their grade prime beef is excellent and they have cuts of prime beef that no one else in the area carries. Quite expensive though and I do not believe they offer aged prime beef like the Italian store that used to be across the street offered.