"Highbrow snacks for lowbrow folks" – a new snack bar arrives in Milwaukee from a hipster food scene veteran.
The local F&B boys behind the new Snack Boys Snack Bar (814 S. Second St.) are making snack-time extra fun and just serious enough.
Mitchell Ciohon, one of three Snack Boys’ owners, is better known these days for the tacos he offers at Bay View’s Boone & Crockett than the scallops with banana puree that he made six years ago at the former Beta by Sabor on Water Street. Snack Boys smacks a little of that time in Ciohon’s career, while melding in the expertise of his partners John Revord (who operates Boone & Crockett) and Shay Linkus, the head chef at Bay View’s Vanguard.
Ciohon’s Gypsy Taco took top honors in Milwaukee Magazine’s Taco Tourney in August. The business has generated more attention in recent months, with Ciohon opening a burger offshoot called Gypsy Burger at Rogues Gallery (134 E. Juneau Ave.). In recent social media posts, Ciohon announced his plans to rebrand his 4-plus-year-old company business due to complaints that the name is offensive. Wrote Ciohon, in an Instagram post: “While not my intent, the name I chose to represent me as a chef was founded upon an inaccurate definition that disregarded the long history and plight of the Romani people.”
Boone & Crockett – home of Gypsy Taco – is also planning to move this spring to a bigger space (the old Hot Water Wherehouse, 818 S. Water St.)
As for the Snack Boys venture (in the former home of AP Bar & Kitchen), the boys’ theme of snack-size plates ($3-$12, roughly) in a creatively loungy atmosphere is as un-mainstream as these dudes are. (Of the new place, Ciohon says, “The music’s loud, the vibe is loud.” The neon is also bright.)
The menu has some staples-in-the-making, such as duck nuggets with foie gras BBQ, tots and caviar and a thing called French Onion, which (between the oxtail crepinette, demi-glace, onion ash, Gruyere and crisps) is supposed to taste like French Onion Soup. If you remember Ciohon’s BBQ turkey tail from the Beta days, you are in luck at Snack Boys. He’s serving the butt with BBQ vinaigrette, crispy potatoes and sharp Cheddar cheese. (And Bone Marrow for the Dark Lord gets my vote for best-named plate.)
Oysters from the West and East coasts are regular raw bar inclusions. Depending on what’s available, that menu might include snow crab claws, prawns (served with the fixings) and uni and potato chips.
The Brussels sprouts salad – mixing three different states of sprout (seared, fried and raw), pickled mushrooms, crisp onions and buttermilk dressing – is listed in the Veggie section of the menu, under cheese fries! Expect additional lighter plates to come, along with snacks that will rotate out.
Desserts? A couple. A tamarind-cinnamon ice cream sandwich on a slider bun rolled in granola and served with chocolate dipping sauce; and a cookies and “milk” custard creation.
A late-night food menu is also on the horizon.
Snack Boys kitchen hours: Wed-Sun 5-11 p.m. Bar opens at 4:21 and closes at 2 a.m.