The former Coquette Cafe digs have been transformed by the owners (who also operate the Third Ward’s DanDan). They’ve added a ’70s rock ‘n roll vibe and an untraditional French menu. That includes French onion soup, foie gras torchon, steak frites, duck a l’orange and cassoulet.
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This dive (meant in the kindest way) overlooking Pewaukee Lake offers almost no place to stand comfortably when it’s busy, but you stand, awkwardly, near the bar or the wood-accented, nautical-themed dining room, and just hope that someone gets up and leaves soon. It’s all worth this period of limbo. The crust is like a round, uniformly thin piece of lavosh lavished in toppings that improve when you add “super,” as in Super Special. That’s pepperoni and sausage, black olives and onions, green peppers and mushrooms.
A Friday Fish Fry, a Monday and Tuesday custom Surf and Turf option and we’re there. Sip on a “tutti-frutti” in their screened-in patio during summer while listening to live music and sampling some delicious menu options including Louie’s five-star signature filet.
Think of this high-end restaurant and adjacent bar as restored old Cream City brick building meets Ernest Hemingway-esque hunting lodge. The service aims to match the expensive house dry-aged steaks. Steaks are a menu highlight.
“Fine dining” has more than once been pronounced close to death’s door. Despite those claims, there’s still life in the concept. But what constitutes fine dining has changed, in keeping with broader lifestyle trends of the last 15 years or so.
A modern, plant-based take on bar food at the Shorewood’s former Village Pub. The seasonal menu is printed on the chalkboard and includes a Vietnamese po’boy, Thai grilled steak salad and grass-fed burger.
Shorewood bar Cloud Red (4488 N. Oakland Ave.) stops traffic with its chalkboard menu of casual, veggie-heavy plates. Some dishes are seasonally swapped out. But the Bhel Bowl has caught on so well that it’s never leaving the menu.
The center of this open, modern space is a wood-burning hearth, used for everything from bread-baking to roasting meats and fish. High marks for shareable menu items like roasted parsnips, sunflower seed risotto and whole chicken with BBQ carrots. Open for Sat-Sun brunch as well.
When I talked with co-owner Miles Borghgraef by phone a few months before Birch + Butcher’s opening – in Barry Mandel’s North End development on Water Street – the carpentry was finished, light fixtures installed and Borghgraef and his crew were christening the wood- burning hearth at the center of his kitchen.
Former Eddie Martini’s chef Jason Tofte offers up diverse shareable plates – such as friend chicken drumstick and meatloaf and mashed potatoes – in a warm, informal setting.
When Jason Tofte helmed the kitchen of Eddie Martini’s, he suited up in a white chef’s coat, cooked on the line and rarely ventured out to chat with patrons. That changed when the 18-year Tosa steakhouse vet left to run Waukesha’s The Steaming Cup with his wife, Cristina. The Cup came with a sizable built-in clientele, and serving up lattes with hummus wraps required interaction with customers. Read more…