A Little Sugar
How much baking do you do during the holidays? I work it in, sometimes late at night, which isn’t ideal. But I have yet to experience a Christmas that was ever calm. Not in my family. It’s tempting to leave the baking in the extremely able hands of a bakery like the Third Ward’s Harlequin, especially once you’ve seen and tasted the holiday treats they have in the case. Very lovely things. The holiday cookies – varieties include eggnog, molasses and double-chocolate walnut – are sold in half- ($5.95) and full-pound ($11.95) boxes. Sugar cookie cutouts are sold individually. The tree and snowflake shapes come in two sizes (large, 75 cents; small, 75 cents for two). You can put together your own box of treats as well, choosing the aforementioned cookies, plus the bakery’s fruit tarts, apricot or apple crumb bars, brownies and sliced gingerbread and spiced pumpkin bread. Pastry chef Andy Schneider also makes elegant little chocolates (with strawberry, mocha and caramel fillings). They come in packs of two, six and 12. 316 N. Milwaukee St., 291-9866.
Caledonia is south of the O.C. (Oak Creek) – not really so far from Milwaukee. Chef Scott Sebastian rules Highway 32 and 5 Mile Road with his Sebastian’s Restaurant, which is looking fresher these days, inside and out. The dining room has a new coat of paint; new draperies are going up next week. They just had the parking lot resurfaced. Sebastian says he’s cooking on the line most nights – that always bodes well, I think. The menu is divided into small plates and entrées. Small plates: jumbo lump crab fritters, tuna tataki (seared sashimi-grade tuna), grilled asparagus with lemon butter sauce and others, including salads. Entrées: rack of lamb, pumpkin ravioli, seafood bisque, filet mignon with sherried wild mushrooms à la crème. Price range runs from $17 to $28. 6025 Douglas Ave., 262-681-5465.
Free Grape Juice
If I’m not eating out on a Wednesday night, I’m probably holed up on the couch at home. But I’m telling you, restaurants are really getting serious about drawing in diners on weeknights. I’ve mentioned half-price wine nights here before (incidentally, Eagan’s on Water offers their bottled wine for half-price on Tuesday nights, 5-11 p.m.).
Not everyone is doing bottles, though. Barclay Gallery & Garden Cafe’s “Wine Oh! Wednesday” is a little different (158 S. Barclay St., 347-0500). Diners get a free glass of wine with every entrée. They have some 15 choices on the wine list. And there’s live music to boot – jazz pianist Dan Dance, 6-9 p.m. Dinner entrées, a few examples: grilled prawns with mashed sweet potato, chicken pot pie, char-broiled flat-iron steak with duchess potatoes and seafood ravioli. On Tuesday nights, line up and have your cards read. Barclay calls it Tarot Tuesday. Dinner hours: Tues-Thurs 4:30-9 p.m.; Fri-Sat 4:30-10 p.m.
One Hundred Club
Tosa has a Vino 100 location (1442B Underwood Ave., 456-9463). The multi-franchise business’ spiel is that it offers 100 wines for $25 or less. Each wine features a “tastes barometer” that gauges the flavor and body (light versus full, fruity versus dry). It also tells you what goes well with the wine – whether it’s roasted meat or creamy cheeses. The Tosa shop has a bar where you have some wine and a bite to eat courtesy of an arrangement with nearby Ristorante Bartolotta. You can order carryout food from a limited Bartolotta menu and partake of it at the Vino 100 bar. Among your choices: an antipasto plate, fried calamari, Caesar salad and tiramisu ($6.95-$10.95). The apps are available Tues-Sat 5:30-9 p.m.
Can’t get enough dining? I chat about restaurants every Friday with Jane Matenaer and Kidd O’Shea on “The Mix.” Listen between 8 and 9 a.m. on December 15. That’s 99.1 WMYX-FM.
E-mail your worst restaurant gripes to me at email@example.com
And check out our calendar editor Julie Sensat Waldren’s picks for the best events in arts and entertainment on This Weekend.