A day off means lingering at this writer's favorite haunts.
My MKE Staycation is an ongoing series on Milwaukeemag.com. We ask writers and contributors to describe their ideal day off in Milwaukee. Catch up on the entire series here.
A staycation should be all about lingering — kind of like a weekend day. With that in mind, I take Friday off so I can ease into the weekend feels. And because I’m self-employed and have a mild addiction to checking email incessantly on my iPhone I leave my phone at home. Aaah. Now I can breathe. Only problem is that I won’t be able to snap photos to share on social media. Perhaps that’s part of the staycation — a break from Instagram and Facebook?
I start the day with breakfast at Engine Company No. 3, chef-owner Peter Sandroni’s daytime farm-to-table eatery (he also runs La Merenda), meeting my go-to daytime-foodie pal, Dawn, who goes into work after the lunch hour. There’s no line and no wait. I spring for the Old-Fashioned Breakfast with my Naples-inspired Uovo in Purtgatorio (my breakfast rule is to order something I would never make in the morning, so this dish — roasted winter squash, egg and goat-cheese curds topped with arrabbiata sauce — fits the bill). It’s a take on Wisconsin’s famed cocktail, with Wisconsin maple syrup, fresh-squeezed o.j. and ginger beer.
After a nearly two-hour breakfast we get down to business. We’ve been wanting to check out Farm Girl Art & Antiques for what seems like forever. Limited hours (only open from Thursday through Sunday) have made it challenging. Today we have our sights set on some fun shabby-chic finds for our abodes, and the husbands won’t be with us to weigh in (this could be dangerous!).
I say adios to Dawn and continue antiquing at the Antiques Center in Walker’s Point, on South 1st Street, where dealers tucked into an historic brick building sell everything from glassware to vintage Hawaii décor and clothing (my latest obsession!).
I’m hungry. Fortunately Justin Carlisle’s Laughing Taco—which I cruise past daily but have not, until now, dined at — is just down the street. My late lunch of tacos washed down with a bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola hits the spot.
Shopping needs fuel, am I right? I drop by newish coffee shop Alderaan, where downtown meets the East Side. I’ve not yet visited because I tend to stick to cafes close to my Bay View home.
But that sandwich board on Pleasant Street has definitely teased me and I finally order the French Lavender Latte it often advertises. Seeing the word “French” reminds me of the week I spent in Paris last spring where afternoon coffee became a ritual. I reach for my phone to check airfare for the following spring. Wait. I can’t. I left my phone at home!
While I’m on this side of town I drop into Chattel Changers, a top-notch resale boutique a few blocks from Lake Michigan in Shorewood where many items in my home have been procured. It’s worth peering into the glass display case, too, for a funky brooch. Pro tip: step into the basement where even more furnishings, art and tableware lies. It’s like a summer’s worth of estate sales all under one roof.
Capping off my staycation day, I swing by Saffron Yoga Center’s $5 happy-hour yoga class. My husband meets me there, too. We typically attend a weeknight class but this time my mind is not on work or the day’s events. I’m totally chill.
Floating on a cloud of Zen, and because despite the class’s name the studio does not serve wine or beer, “happy hour” is a few doors down at Odd Duck (gotta stretch our legs from all those planks!). The spur-of-the-moment menu is based not only on what’s in season but what shows up at the restaurant’s back door that morning. We are lucky to grab two seats at the bar.
Our time in Bay View isn’t yet over. We swing into another KK Avenue entertainment staple: Avalon Theater, an historic movie theater that just opened a new restaurant (Mistral). We have just enough time before a 9 o’clock-hour movie to duck in, making a note to return another time, and as the credits roll I’m reaching for a handful of popcorn. Yes, the marquee really is true: this theater has the city’s best popcorn!