A coworker waved two stalks of rhubarb in my face this morning. They came in the first shipment from her CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription. I don’t see any rhubarb on the new menu at Balzac Wine Bar (1716 N. Arlington Pl., 414-755-0099). But it does have some very seasonal sounding small plates. A panzanella salad with basil, tomato, cucumbers and fresh mozzarella ($5); grilled Cobb salad with a fried egg and Wisconsin Gorgonzola ($8); grilled Great Lakes whitefish with green garlic parsley butter ($8); and a tomato “tarte tatin” served with fresh ricotta cheese and greens ($9). Hours: Mon-Sat 4 p.m.-bar time; Sun 10 a.m.-bar time.… Restaurant patios come in all shapes and sizes. Adjacent to buildings, with views of the Milwaukee River; concrete slabs covered or uncovered; fenced-in backyards; and sidewalks next to urban street curbs. The sidewalk in front of Bay View’s Palomino – Balzac’s sister restaurant – is a chill setting to hang out with a beer and a Blue Pig burger. You don’t have to go the beef patty route, though. New to Palomino’s menu are the following: a blackened alligator po’ boy smothered in chicken and sausage gumbo, coleslaw and tomato (it’s called the Louisiana Purchase, $11); a beef brisket sandwich topped with slaw ($11); and, if you’re eating green, a house-made wild rice and pistachio burger ($10). The weekend brunch menu has a couple of newbie items as well – chicken-fried steak with cheddar grits, sausage gravy, two eggs and a biscuit; adn red velvet pancakes topped with buttercream frosting and, gulp, syrup. You might want to plan for a nap after that. Hours: weekdays 11 a.m.-2 a.m.; weekends 10 a.m.-2 a.m. (2491 S. Superior St., 414-747-1007)
In the weird facts department, lobsters can reportedly live as long as the old-timers featured on the Smucker’s jar segment on “The Today Show.” Who knew? There are other amazing facts out there about lobsters. To get in a hard-shell state of mind, Mason Street Grill is doing a summer ode to the this marine invertebrate. If you’re feeling a yen for a lobster boil, Mason Street is offering it on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s a whole Maine trap-caught lobster with corn on the cob, red potatoes, clams, mussels and linguiça sausage ($30 per person). The boil is not all. The regular dinner menu includes a lobster salad with cilantro-honey-lime vinaigrette, avocado, oranges and fennel; and a lobster cocktail with avocado and red onion (both market price). One additional lobster fact to leave you with: Lobsters molt. That refers to the lobster casting off its shell. As the lobster grows older and larger, it loses its shells and grows a new one. So there. (435 E. Mason St., 414-298-3131)
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