“Hey, we’re going to Baby Boomers.”
“Baby Boomers? Where’s that?”
“It’s in Bay View somewhere. You know, they have that weird baby in the army helmet on the sign.”
That’s, more or less, an exact conversation that took place last Friday as lunch time approached. Fresh off our successful trip to another dive-bar-cum-restaurant, My Office, we felt emboldened enough to raise the stakes and go for broke.
Unlike My Office, I’ve actually eaten Baby Boomers’ food before. One night last winter, I found myself at Gumby’s Pub, where Cristina Daglas was tending bar that night. For some reason, her parents were on hand, too, and they had with them a feast from Baby Boomers – fish fry, fried mushrooms, mozzarella sticks, I think. Cristina’s mom being your typical mom of strong European heritage (Greek) insisted I eat and pushed a hamburger before me. (My only other encounter with a mom like this was when I’d go to my Italian friend Steve’s home for Easter during college. To this day, I’ve never been so full.) Not one to turn away a burger, I obliged. But dizzy with free cocktails and shots of RumChata, I have no recollection of the burger’s quality. A second visit only seemed fair.
After navigating the construction-riddled stretch of South Kinnickinnic Avenue, we turned onto Lincoln Avenue and parked. It might only be a block off the main drag, but, man, this place felt like the middle of nowhere. Road construction out front kicking up a thin haze of dust and the smell of a campfire nearby created a sort of rustic feel. But the large Klement’s Sausage sign looming across the street quickly brought me back to reality.
Inside, Baby Boomers is just as desolate as it was outside. Two pool tables, a bar and a few high-top tables in the back filled out the dark and dreary space. It felt more like a long-abandoned rec room than a restaurant. When offered the choice of a table in the back or the patio, we all quickly opted for the patio.
The patio, with assorted patio furniture, two little girl’s bicycles, a skateboard, a gas grill and a dog bone strewn about, looked like a neighbor’s backyard, which was actually sort of pleasant and comfortable. Menus were placed in front of us by the sweet older waitress (who, again, could have just as easily been a friend’s mom, doting on us hand and foot), and we got to work. The menu is small – only seven sandwiches, four dinners and six appetizers – but it covers all your major bar food groups: ground beef, fried fish, fried potatoes and wings.
The star of the show – which came as little surprise because it’s the item more often delivered to Gumby’s – was the fish fry. When Cristina ordered it, the waitress asked if she wanted applesauce or syrup with her potato pancakes. That’s a new one for me, but Cristina smartly went with the applesauce (would some sour cream kill them?). The potato pancakes were extra thick and crispy – the touch of onion mixed into the potato added a great bite of flavor, much more reminiscent of a potato latke (at least how my mom made them) than a traditional potato pancake. The crust on the fish was more like a shell – and I mean that as a compliment. The competing textures of the extra-crispy coating and the soft, succulent fish inside are what make a fish fry great, at least to me. And Baby Boomers nailed it.
Kathryn ordered The Boomer Burger, which differs from a normal burger in that it cost 75 cents more and comes with lettuce, tomato, cheese, fried or fresh onions and “sauce” (spoiler alert: The sauce is Miracle Whip). The burger was good – thick and handmade (the asymmetrical shape is a giveaway) and nestled in a chewy hoagie bun. Kathryn, who usually hates Miracle Whip, was reluctant to admit that she actually liked it. It wasn’t cooked to order so it was a tad overdone for my taste, but overall a very pleasant surprise. I, trying to find something different, went with the steak sandwich, which ended up being basically a harder-to-chew hamburger. I’m not sure of the cut of meat (maybe a ribeye?), but it was tender enough and at about 1/3 of an inch thick, more substantial than your typical burger.
While a place like My Office was able to overcome its shortcomings of ambiance, Baby Boomers’ interior was on such a level of disrepair that I’m not so sure. It’s fine for a corner dive bar, but I don’t really want to eat there (if it was a nice day and we could sit on the patio, perhaps), which is a shame because their food really was good. The bright side, though, is they’ll bring their fabulous fish fry and handmade burgers directly to you, just as long as you order at least $15 worth. Which I can’t imagine ever being a problem.
I tweet from time to time as evan_milmag.