Reservations, a Fond Foodie Memory and More Dining Tidbits

A restaurant etiquette reminder, catching up with one of MKE’s bygone resto chefs and more


Why Do I Need to Make a Reservation?

Our dining editor on why booking a table is the considerate thing to do  

Q:  I like to keep things loose when I go out to eat, but it seems like more and more restaurants are requiring reservations. Why are they cramping my spontaneity? 

A: I get this question a lot. Like it or not, you really do need a reservation – especially on a Friday or Saturday night. In the last few years, staffs have shrunk and many restaurants have cut their hours – just a few of the reasons it’s gotten harder to get that coveted table. If you need to cancel a reservation, give the restaurant 24 hours’ notice unless it’s an emergency. It seems like an obvious courtesy, but no-shows are too common and hurt the restaurant, from wasted food to lost money for the server. Some places, particularly restaurants with very few seats or a prix fixe menu (like EsterEv), ask for a credit card deposit at the time of reservation. Others, including Ardent, require you to prepay for the meal when you book. Restaurants, particularly small ones, operate on thin profit margins. These policies may seem like an inconvenience but help restaurants survive.

What I’m Reading Right Now

Launched by Kickstarter in 2017, EATEN Magazine is a sumptuously illustrated indie publication (produced in England and printed in Germany) that covers ancient foodways and recipes and tells the stories of lesser-known gastronomes of the past. New issues drop three times a year, with its latest, Issue 13, putting a unique stamp on the morning meal with stories that explore the fascist history of Italian coffee culture and the development of the “all-American” breakfast. EATEN is bona-fide coffee-table material.   – AC

Two Chefs Tosa

Photo courtesy of Two Chefs Tosa

A fond memory for local foodies, Roots Restaurant and Cellar (1818 N. Hubbard St.) was a farm-to-table establishment that delivered a freshest-of-the-fresh approach. The two-level spot with striking city views operated from 2004 to 2012 and was subsequently home to various other concepts; currently, a modern Greek restaurant is in the works to replace the former View MKE. “Roots was a philosophy first, and a restaurant second,” says chef/owner John Raymond, who, after closing that chapter, spent five years at Lake Park Bistro. In 2021, he and his wife, pastry chef Carla Raymond-Haas, opened a prepared meal service called Two Chefs Tosa. They work out of a commercial kitchen and cater to a “small network” of clients. The dishes are scratch-made, including breads and sauces. The couple considers it their dream job: “We have so much fun,” says Raymond, 51. “This is our first and last chapter together.” To browse the menu or order, go to – AC


Spots You Love

Where are you celebrating Valentine’s Day? We asked our Instagram followers for their top romantic spots, and tied for No. 1 were two tried-and-trues: Lake Park Bistro (3133 E. Newberry Blvd.) and Zarletti (741 N. Milwaukee St.).  Pasta and pâté rule the romantic roost. 



This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s February issue.

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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.