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Showing off in Milwauke....

Old friends are visiting this weekend. We want to take them out for dinner on Friday night to a place that is hip and imaginative, but not too pricey or pretentious. Does such a place exist in our fair city? A place on a side street, with a nice patio, in an old neighborhood. Is "The Brew City" there yet?

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  1. We may not have your idealized thought of what you are looking for, but I think yes, we are "there".

    Not all of these have great patios, but if you are talking about tomorrow the weather may not cooperate anyway...unfortunately you also may not be able to get in to some of these places either on short notice despite not being pretentious.

    I would look up these places.
    Odd Duck - Crazy Water - Braise - Circa 1880 - Wolf Peach - Blue Jacket (new; haven't been, but sounds promising)

    A fun small plate itinerary could also be to check out the new Bavette La Boucherie (I saw they just started offering small plates) and visit the bar or lounge at Hinterland.

    Also, I have never managed to eat there, but from what I know, Tess may be a place for you to also look up.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bte576

      I would add Meritage to that list. Juniper 61 might also work well. Both meet your imaginative/non-pricey criteria. Hip is in the eye of the beholder.

    2. I would avoid c. 1880 given how understaffed they were when we went Tuesday night.

      Odd Duck is good but loud IIRC.

      Crazy Water also seemed a bit loud and cramped, and all the dishes we tried were good but a bit busy with too many ingredients.

      Overall my favorite of those listed so far might be Hinterland.

      1 Reply
      1. re: kathryn

        Crazy Water is not really my favorite either, but I know a lot of people seem to love it for a hidden gem type experience.

        That said, your comment about it being cramped reminded me that I really should not have recommended it for a hot day!! Maybe they've stepped up their A/C...but I have some memories of some summer dinners there that were uncomfortably warm.

      2. I would go to The Hinterland on Erie in The Third Ward and eat off their bar menu. You can sit in the back lounge area or sidewalk seating.
        Cafe Benelux has a great roof top seating, I would go there for drinks and maybe an appetizer.
        Wolf Peach , in the old Roots location, has a great view of downtown. I haven't been yet so I can't comment on the food.

        1. What about La Merenda? I have not yet been disappointed there, and I read in the JS that they have new patio space.

          1. Another thought. I can't comment on the food as of late, but The Iron Horse Hotel and Yard/outdoor patio are also cool spaces for drinks at least.

            OP-- Have you been to the places being mentioned? Just curious...might help refine the suggestions too.

            2 Replies
            1. re: bte576

              Nice setting, sunglasses required as there's very little shade. At least where we were sitting. Unremarkable food & drink.

              1. re: kathryn

                Thank you for the heads up....plus, as it turns out, it is next door to La Merenda (they will be there with their reletives tonight.) It would be good to take them to another part of town tomorrow. So...the search continues.

            2. Thank you for all the interesting suggestions. Tess is under serious consideration...the only thing holding us back is the priciness of the place. (Perhaps the ambiance and cooking are worth it. In terms of location it wins hands down.) La Merenda would have been at the top of the list as well; we have always been happy there. Alas, the Milwaukee branch of our friend's family are taking them there tonight. I have been to several of the other places mentioned. I sense that my motivation for posting the original query was that we are ready to try a new place.

              Blue Jacket is it. I will report back and thank all of you for your help.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Altoclefgus

                Ended up on the patio at Blue Jacket on Friday night. Liked the drinks, especially the Daily Grog. Had the meat plank and pickles/deviled eggs to start. Deviled eggs needed seasoning. Pickles and meats were good. Tried the chicken with parsnip purée, was OK. Pork with charred peaches, tomato, and pecans was better. Mains took a long time to come out. Service was OK.

                1. re: kathryn

                  Kathryn, I am a bit confused but it is early Sunday morning. So you were one of the guests Altoclefgus was hosting? It is rather unclear.

                  1. re: Fowler

                    Separate party--I don't know the OP.

                    My in laws chose it for dinner on Friday night coincidentally.

                2. re: Altoclefgus

                  It is a with a twinge of embarrassment (commingled with a good dose of old-fashioned guilt) that I admit to not following any of the excellent suggestions offered.

                  We took our guests to Sala da Pranzo.

                  Hampshire is a pleasant side street (why I was seemingly so obsessed with the requirement that the restaurant be on a side street is fodder for another discussion), the food was knowledgeably prepared and never fails to please. It might not be imaginative and it probably isn't hip, but the food is tasty, and that should count for something.

                  Our guests left the restaurant with one more piece of evidence that, yes, Milwaukee is indeed a hip town.

                  That was the goal.

                  I do plan, in the future, on trying out many of the places that were so helpfully recommended.

                  1. re: Altoclefgus

                    Good choice. When I lived in Milwaukee I really enjoyed eating there and it is one of those "under the radar" types of good places. I guess I did not realize it was significantly less expensive than Tess which you excluded because of price. Food and wine prices must have changed.

                    What did you have that you would recommend at SDP? I hope to try it again as well as the new Pizza Man when that opens.

                    1. re: Fowler

                      It is slightly, not significantly, less expensive than Tess....the entries being in the teens rather than the twenties.  I had, as an appetizer, a potato pancake (different from the Eastern European variety, more of a mashed potato croquette) and saffron risotto for the entree.  My wife judged her scallop dish  to be superb;  the other two dishes were "sugo" the house pasta, and a chicken in some sort of citrus cream sauce.  No patio...but the tables on the sidewalk fulfilled that requirement.

                      Funny that you mention The Pizza Man.    Last time our friends visited, that is where we took them.  Soon after, it was no more. 

                      That was a wonderful  patio.