At Good City Brewing – where natural light streams through floor-to-ceiling windows opening to sidewalk seating on Farwell Avenue – the words “Seek the Good” are a recurring theme. They appear on a brick wall inside the former bike shop, also on a sign board that alerts patrons to the casual, “seat yourself” service style, and on menus as a hashtag highlighting the kitchen’s local sourcing.
Good City represents the new evolution of craft breweries, in which the culinary component is as important as the beer, and the environment and style of service play crucial roles. We’ve seen this model start to take shape in Riverwest’s Company Brewing, where the brewery and cuisine meld to some extent, but Good City is different. Its three founders, including brew master Andy Jones – a graduate of the master brewers program at the University of California-Davis and a former plant manager at Lakefront Brewery – approached the project with a shrewd knowledge of beer. Milwaukee’s go-to architect, Rinka Chung, helped envision the design, which incorporates a bar, areas for seating and even standing dining, a taproom and the brewing factory space itself, full of towering steel tanks.
By the end of its June opening week, six Good City beer choices had joined the tap lineup – among them a citrusy mosaic pale ale called Motto and a big, fruity double IPA named Reward. The company plans to add several more brews this summer.
Beer and restaurant industry connections led Good City’s founders to their chef, Guy Davies, whose last two years were spent lubricating the machinery at Bartolotta’s Rumpus Room (he helped launch the two Joey Gerard’s supper clubs, as well). The Australia native honed his beer-and-food-pairing chops at Rumpus and brings an open, fresh take on brewhouse dining to the Good City audience, which Davies describes as a “really broad” demographic of locals who “want to eat well.” For snacking, the thick-cut curry fries ($5), pickled vegetables ($4) and chewy pretzel with Widmer’s brick cheese spread ($6) are solid options that pair well with even the lightest beer.
Some plates are true sit-down, fork-and-knife dishes, but they’re not too fancy for the casual environment of “floating” wait staff. (Instead of serving designated tables, they help wherever needed. But this presented challenges here, as the staff was still learning the routine. I had to flag down a server more than once during my first visit.) Satisfying accompaniments to the brews include the thick pork belly with lentils and figs ($11), half-pound burger ($13), and barramundi, a creamy skin-on filet in lemon-butter sauce with fingerlings, briny capers and green beans ($25). The dry, malty Risk IPA makes a sturdy partner for the fish.
There are new-venue kinks, to be sure. At press time, the owners said they plan to add Sunday brunch service. We’ll watch how summer – and diner response – affect Good City’s evolution.