Merriment Social to Open August 7

It’s almost time for open-air dining and drinking to return to this old Fifth Ward building.

What is happening behind the doors of Merriment Social, the former Prodigal and Moct space (240 E. Pittsburgh Ave., 414-645-0240)? We’ll soon find out. Merriment’s grand opening is Friday, Aug. 7. Chef/partner Andrew Miller left Salotto Zarletti (now called Zarletti Mequon) last May for the new venture, whose name was chosen for its “boisterous” connotation.

Miller is doing a selection of dim sum — using the term to describe very small bites like crispy BBQ chicharron, duck breast pastrami with pumpernickel crisps and grilled asparagus, and sweet corn and tomato panzanella with shaved summer vegetables ($3-$6). The main menu features small plates like crispy chicken wings with Massaman curry ($$7) and roasted bone marrow with bacon jam and focaccia  ($12); sandwiches including a pork belly Reuben and Merriment burger ($12-$13); and large plates such as braised beef short ribs with herb spaetzle, and seared rainbow trout ($18-$22).

The biggest change to the space, as Miller describes it, was to remove some partitions and such to make it more open. There’s now a six-seat kitchen counter, which (to start) will be available on Friday and Saturday nights and serve a tasting menu with wine pairings.

The bar program will offer beer and wine, as well as a variety of punch made with milk and rum. Miller says one version is a take on Benjamin Frankin’s milk punch.

Hours: Tues-Thurs 4 p.m.-midnight; Fri-Sat 4 p.m.-bar close; Sun 4-10 p.m. Sunday brunch service may be added in the next few months.

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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.