Review: Making Good at Goodkind

Five Bay Viewites join forces for one of the year’s most anticipated openings, Goodkind.

Photo by Adam Ryan Morris

The U-shaped black walnut bar at Goodkind is impenetrable. The surrounding tables and handmade benches and booths are taken, too, by a spectrum of locals. My identifiers for them could be spot-on: Escaped from the Suburbs. New Parents (tiny infant in tow). Girls’ Night Out. Meet the Parents.

The bartenders make noise with their cocktail shakers. Servers weave around the room carting trays of fried calamari and steamed mussels, heady ale and jolting cocktails. More bodies flood inside the cozy Bay View dining room and add their names to the waiting list.

Two heads may be better than one. But here, there are five heads. Goodkind’s ownership quintet offers a wealth of service industry experience: Jessica and B.J. Seidel (who also operate Bay View’s Burnhearts Bar), Katie Rose (ex-Burnhearts “bartendress”), and Paul Zerkel and Lisa Kirkpatrick (married chefs who’ve clocked hundreds of hours together at Odd Duck and the late Roots Restaurant).

There’s a French farmhouse quality to the menu (which is printed daily), plus the stamp of alcohol expertise on the craft cocktail and beer lists. “Simple” is not Kirkpatrick’s favorite description for the fare, but it’s apt in that the menu simply doesn’t trip over itself trying to be impressive or “progressive.” The owners, all of them Bay View dwellers, spent last winter and spring remodeling the space, helping capture the mix of new and vintage, making the disparate elements of custom-made woodwork, wallpaper and retro lighting feel homey. The onetime home of Mama DeMarinis hasn’t looked this good in maybe, well, ever.

The individual menus, food and drink, likewise don’t exist in separate bubbles. They enhance one another. For instance, the Wood Dog cocktail, reminiscent of a Manhattan, has sweet, bitter and heady notes that complement the rich Penn Cove mussels steamed in sour beer with caramelized onions and house-made Belgian sausage ($12). Calamari, onion and sliced lemon make a crisp fried trio ($10). The lemony remoulade, flecked with bits of charred ramp (similar to a leek) served with it is agreeably piquant. A good balance to the rich batter and light pungency is the Golden Repair, a mix of brandy, spiced tea bitters and Szechuan peppercorn ginger beer. The cocktail’s spiciness is a welcome contrast to the cool, crisp romaine wedges laced with buttermilk dressing and warm potato chips ($9). On and off the menu in a flash in midsummer was an Italian kale pie (called erbazzone) with a dense, bread-like crust ($9). The wickedly good addition to the lineup was a preserved tomato jam that crystallized summer in a sauce.

Photo by Adam Ryan Morris

Kirkpatrick has said her husband’s “dream” is doing chicken, porchetta, leg of lamb and other meats in the style of French rotisseries. He’s living it now. Envision yourself walking through an open-air market in the City of Lights. You smell before you see the Frenchman with his sleeves rolled up, roasting chickens on the rotisserie. The fragrant smoke billows. It haunts you until you’ve pulled out your stack of euros.

At Goodkind, you can’t see the cooking process unless you happen to be at the table closest to the kitchen (which contains a French-made Rotisol rotisserie). Chicken cooked in such fashion is a house signature. It’s not to be confused with the grocery-store version. A succulent bone-in half-bird ($20) is dry-brined and seasoned with fennel pollen (stronger and sweeter than fennel seed). As the meat roasts, it releases its juices on the vegetables served with it – we had potatoes, beets, carrots and garlic scapes, which inherit the juiciness of the meat. The rotisserie also delivers a thick, tender slab of bone-in pork loin ($20), rendering a knife almost unnecessary. The pork’s cumin-coriander rub offers subtle, humming flavor, and the vegetables – again, courtesy of the roaster – are generously basted.

The Neah Bay coho salmon is bright pink, with a soft, creamy center. It has one of the menu’s more unusual flavor combinations, owing to the pistachio puree, fenugreek roasted beets and dandelion marmalade ($16). It works because the fish acts as a blank canvas. Also building beautifully on flavors is the spicy crab bucatini ($18). The Dungeness crab is ethereally light. The San Marzano tomato sauce is sweet and mild. It’s the ghost pepperoni, made by Madison’s Underground Meats, that intensifies this standout pasta.

Kirkpatrick isn’t a trained pastry chef, and while I’ve seen her do more technical, intricate desserts at Roots, she’s in “farmhouse grandma” mode here. But there are still touches of whimsy. (Just as with the regular menu, desserts will show the effects of the seasons and the inspirations of the chef.) A good illustration is her chewy, almond basque cake, topped with whipped crème fraîche and candy-coated fennel seeds ($9).

As Goodkind slowly took shape earlier this year, the excitement around Bay View began to build. The build-out took longer than initially expected, as often happens, but it only stoked the fires of anticipation. The name, at first coming off as vintage-y and cute, clicks as appropriate and significant. It suggests the heart of this place – the team.


Address: 2457 S. Wentworth Ave.
Phone: 414-763-4706
Hours: Sun-Mon, Wed-Sat 5 p.m.-1 a.m
Prices: Bites $2-$6; plates, including the rotisserie $6-$24; desserts $6-$9
Service: Amiable and helpful with menu suggestions
Dress: Jeans, cocktail dress, you name it
Handicap access: No
Reservations: Yes, at tables. The bar is first-come, first-serve.



Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.