November 1, 2013
By Gian Pogliano
Mr. Webo’s tends to be viewed as the odd kid out in Bay View’s restaurant scene: it is fairly new and with a name and signage that some find off-putting name. Some can’t even figure out the pronunciation — use a long “a” instead of an “e” and think huevos. It doesn’t help having the wildly hip Guanajuato’s (or GTO, as folks call it) two doors down. This is quite a shame, as the food is definitely not a thoughtless retread of GTO’s standard Americanized cantina menu.
Mr. Webo’s occupies a unique place in Milwaukee Mexican fare.
It is simultaneously traditional, using lots of cilantro and onions and featuring many menu items relatively unknown to non-Hispanic customers, while also putting a contemporary high-class foodie spin on standard dishes without alienating a customer base reared on Conejito’s and Johnny’s.
The décor is a crafty mix of contemporary urban murals and traditional Mexican tables and chairs. However, the background music of indie rock hits was a bit too modern and sometimes drew too much attention to itself. It took a bit longer than expected to get my food considering the number of customers, but not overwhelmingly so, considering the fact that all the dishes are made fresh to order. A few flies were milling about from the open patio in the rear of the building, but I don’t expect to see any when the back is closed up.
To start, I received chips and three house salsas: pico de gallo; salsa verde with red pepper flakes, and an unusual sweet and piquant salsa made with honey, sugar, and habanero. The chips were unusually long and thin, which made spooning up the chunky salsa a bit difficult even when the chips were broken in half.
I began with some enchiladas and tacos à la carte at $2.50 each, except for those with steak, which were $3. This is a great way to try each type of meat, and it fills you up quick even without the rice and beans. All of the tacos were served inside two fresh corn tortillas with lettuce and tomatoes that tasted like they came straight from the garden.
The pork, in long pulled strings, was juicy but a bit watery, having been marinating in a savory broth with long slices of celery. The chicken came in tender chunks and seemed to have a light marinade, a bit subtler than the heavily marinated pulled-chicken down the street. If you prefer chicken, GTO is the better choice, but if you like big juicy chunks of steak, Mr. Webo’s has proven itself superior to just about any cantina in town. My steak enchilada was full of tasty morsels, a rojo sauce with a sharp tang, and had pleasantly stringy melted cheese and sour cream on top.
Mr. Webo’s signature Fish Tacos Baja Style ($12.95) were perfect for rustic fall weather, with pickled cabbage, a mix of two types of cornmeal, chipotle aioli to add a bit of zing, and just a tiny bit of avocado to cool the palate back down. The tilapia was breaded just enough to give each piece a nice crunch, without overtaking the natural taste of the fish.
The refried beans served on the side were the restaurant’s one really weak point, and were the only item that didn’t seem to be particularly fresh. They seemed unusually spicy and were crusty and hard at the top. The rice was milder and less fried than typical cantina rice, with some cilantro mixed in.
Other interesting options with Mr. Webo’s mix of traditional and sophisticated include the Yucatan Style Pork Plate ($13.95), Shrimp Enchilado (smothered shrimp) in citrus tomato sauce ($15.95), and the Chorizo Roasted Poblano appetizer ($7.95).
August 31, 2013
By Gian Pogliano
Though not typically accorded high visibility in sandwich fare, the Italian beef sandwich is a creation that is American and a surprisingly difficult thing to do well. It requires a perfect balance of heat and piquancy in the toppings, mouthwatering flavors in the meat, and savory herbs in a dip.
Since Beef-E’s, a new food cart debuted July 8, it has been steadily gaining momentum. Owners Eric Manke and Dave McGuinness have created sandwiches of distinctly high quality.
Unlike many of the city’s brick-and-mortar options that offer the sandwich, Beef-E’s meats are prepped from scratch on the same day they’re in the cart. Both meats and vegetables are undeniably fresh, as opposed to the reheated food service products that most greasy spoon diners rely on.
Pals Manke and McGuinness found themselves traveling to Chicago regularly for authentic Italian beef sandwiches from legendary restaurants like Al’s in the city’s Little Italy.
They resolved to learn how to make their own, and eventually felt they wanted to share the real thing with Milwaukeeans. But to create the menu for their future food cart, they went through a long trial-and-error process to invent unique new twists on the sandwich.
They have created seven sandwiches and offer four per day, rotating the mix daily.
Beef-e’s Classic ($6), the standard Italian beef sandwich, comes with sweet peppers and hot or mild giardiniera. It is available every day.
A true Italian beef sandwich experience is fast and intense, as your mouth is pummeled by spicy bites and your hand drips with dip and giardiniera bits. It is not for the faint of heart.
The Italian Stallion ($6) delivers this in spades. A variation on a Philly cheesesteak, it includes mozzarella, pan-fried mushrooms, fried onions, and green peppers, along with the obligatory hot giardiniera. The roast beef was bold, seeming to leap straight from the slicer. The mushrooms were big, flavorful, and clearly fresh, with just a slight veneer of char. The onions were soft and caramelized and the mozzarella was subtle but an incredibly important element of the whole package. (Mozzarella is a free add-on for their sandwiches that don’t include it.)
The Stallis ($6) conferred multiple types of spiciness that collided with each other and jockeying for supremacy. The creamy yet peppery Southwest sauce blended nicely with the gravy-like savoriness of the dip before its hot chipotle aftertaste sets it back at the top of the hill. I tried it with green peppers and mild giardiniera. Even with the mild giardiniera, the sandwich packed a pronounced kick.
The Brew City Beef ($7) is Beef-E’s spin on hometown pride with its white cheddar cheese curds and bacon. The plump curds are surprisingly mild but flavorful, with a pleasing, lightly-fried outer texture in contrast to an almost fluffy interior. The bacon is smoky and crunchy, and the sandwich works well with a dip as the curds give its flavor more subtlety while still preserving some of its light heat. The dip also highlighted the bun, the unsung hero of a good Italian beef. Made at Canfora Bakery, the bun held together without fail, even after a 20-minute walk home.
Beef-E’s cart is at The Bubbler in Bay View most Monday nights.
Consult twitter.com/milwaukeebeefes or
beefes.com for up-to-date location announcements.
August 1, 2013
Palomino Bar, 2491 S. Superior St., reopened in June after some interior and exterior remodeling and with a modified á la carte menu (you pay for sides). Leslie Montemurro and Scott Johnson of MojoFuco Restaurant Group brought in their Comet and Honeypie partners, Valerie and Adam Lucks, to reconfigure the restaurant and menu.
The renovation dispensed with the clutter while retaining Palomino’s most handsome features: the well-placed chrome at the bar, the ’50s–style overhead light platform, and the vibrantly green wall murals. The new tables in the back section of the restaurant are reminiscent of north woods breakfast joints, as are the thick cloth napkins. The menu is pared down, has fewer deep-fried offerings, and is pricier.
Leaning heavily on “new wave of new wave” groups like Bloc Party, the background music didn’t jive well with the down-home surroundings, but it lent a nocturnal elegance and kept the employees in a peppy mood. The crowd consisted mainly of hip 20-somethings. My server was attentive, anticipated any needs I had, and was considerate enough to ask if it was my first time back since the reopening.
The new cocktail menu didn’t reinvent the mixology wheel, but offers subtle twists on American standards. The Old 77 ($8) has a summery citrus bite without sacrificing the earthy taste of its rye base. The Lux Old Fashioned ($8) has a perfect balance of strong and sugary, and the first sip exploded with orange and dark cherry flavors thanks to a very thorough muddle at the bottom. The beer menu includes offbeat choices from O’So, Dark Horse, and Pearl Street breweries, as well as more well-known selections from Lakefront and Furthermore.
My corn bread starter plate ($4) arrived promptly, as did my entrée and sides. The skillet plate was a nice touch and put me in the mood for down-home cooking. Each muffin had crunchy edges and a fluffy texture, though they were too crumbly to withstand the chunky apricot jam, which could have been more generously portioned.
The Smoked Pork Shoulder ($12) seemed small for its price, but in this case, appearance deceived. It was dry or tough in some sections but also yielded savory juices. There was a bit too much of the fantastically-sour Carolina-style mustard sauce, but the accompanying biscuit was just right for soaking up its excess.
The Pimento Mac and Cheese ($4-$7) follows MojoFuco’s de rigeur pairing of a mild cheese sauce that binds the pasta with a sharp cheese baked on top. It included chopped red peppers, an inspired move, though it seemed little more than a garnish. Adding more would help differentiate this offering from the nearly identical versions at Comet and Honeypie.
The heavily fried, golf-ball-sized Tots ($4-$6) were a throwback to the old Palomino. With dark, finely julienned hash inside, they possessed more of a soul food vibe than the other fare. The tangy ranch dip was a nice balance.
I had intended to finish with a Southern-style Cream Pie ($6), but there was simply no room. If you plan to include a dessert, I’d suggest skipping the appetizer. Other intriguing options I wish I’d been able to sample included Biscuits and Sawmill Gravy ($7), Grilled Shrimp and Organic Grits in Tomato Gravy ($12), Cast Iron Fried Chicken ($12), and the Smoked Duck Sandwich ($9).
The new Palomino might still have a few kinks to work out, and its pricier menu will certainly cause a number of the old restaurant’s fans to abandon it. But it has retained a sense of Southern authenticity, even if it has moved from authentic deep-fried to authentic home-baked. It remains, in its new guise, a unique, love-it-or-hate-it complement to other options in Bay View.
April 2, 2012
By Peter Lameka
I met three friends at Hamburger Mary’s around 6:30pm recently. Our ages ranged from 27 to 52. We went to sample the burgers to add a carnivore’s perspective to the this publication’s Hamburger Mary’s restaurant review.
The menu states that the burgers are made of 100% natural “humane” Angus. The owners put the quotes around “humane.” Not me. I didn’t ask what that meant.
I ordered the Sloppy Mary and was happily surprised by the burger, and the chili too. Both were great. The burger was perfectly done, medium; the chili was nicely spiced and not too salty. I didn’t think I would be able to eat the whole thing, but I did. I had a side of coleslaw that smacked of the mass produced. It didn’t hold up to the quality of the burger and chili. Rating: 8 (for burger and chili).
One of my companions ordered the Barbara-Q Bacon Chzburger. It comes with onion rings piled on the sandwich, plus barbeque sauce, cheddar and jack cheese. “The barbeque sauce had just the right amount of sweetness. The onion rings could have been a little crisper, but were still decent. The fries were average,” she wrote via email after she got home. Rating: 9.
Another of my companions ordered the Buffy (The Vampire Slayer) that is topped with a red wine sauce, Swiss cheese, and a lot of aioli sauce (garlic mayonnaise) served on a garlic toasted bun. She was a bit wary of the garlic but ordered it anyway. “It’s not too garlicky!” she yelled gleefully, above the too loud music, after the first bite. Rating: 8
The sliders were very ordinary. Rating: 2
The service didn’t hold up to the burgers. I am willing to give anyone a must-be-having-a-bad-day pass, but our service was dismal. When I ordered a beer that was listed on the menu, our waiter challenged me. He didn’t recognize it and tried to tell me they didn’t stock it. Ironically, not only was it on the menu, but it’s brewed about a mile away from the restaurant. After the food arrived, the waiter disappeared. Two requests for a glass of water were ignored. Like I said, he must have been having a bad day, or maybe he was new.
The crowd was a mix of adults of all ages, and children.
A boost in service will put Hamburger Mary’s on the map. And we all agreed we’d go back. We liked our burgers.
Also, the recycled/recyclable paper take-home container was an instant hit.
Read a vegetarian’s perspective here.
April 2, 2012
By Linda Fausel
Boffo. Campy. Kitsch. So describes the décor at one of Bay View’s newest eateries, Hamburger Mary’s. Find it on the corner of Bay Street and Kinnickinnic Avenue, in the former Omega Burger location.
Started in 1972 in San Francisco, this franchise-friendly chain has 11 locations and dubs itself “the only national franchise actively marketing to the gay community.” Activities include “MaryOke,” hamBINGO, and drag shows.
From the fringe lamps, red-tasseled curtained windows, checkered floor, plastic palm trees, and silver disco ball hanging over the middle-of-the-room stage, to the dolls in the rafters and the glitter on the floor, the environment at Hamburger Mary’s ranks high on the tomfoolery scale. Known for its burgers, there are 11 half-pounders and three “premium” burgers listed on the menu, most for $10.50 and up. They certainly sound enticing.
Not interested in beast? Diners can switch out any of the “Humane Angus” burgers for chicken, turkey, or a burger made with black beans.
Where’s the Spice?
Waiters walk around in red T-shirts that say, “Tasty Meat” and “Hot Buns.” If only it were true. The “Spicy Mary” black bean burger was anything but. The bun never saw the grill and the whole mushy mess crumbled on first bite. Sliced jalapeño and Pepper Jack cheese did little to make it sizzle.
The Big Kahuna Hawaiian burger, according to my dining mate, was big but not great. “There are better burgers in Bay View,” said this self-proclaimed aficionado, “at a more appropriate portion size and for probably less than $10.”
Around here it is not unusual to hear the words “deep fried” and “pickle” in the same sentence, so we loved ordering the “Britney Fried Spears.” And while they were deliciously crunchy with a divine dipping sauce, $5.50 for five simple spears left us feeling sour.
But there is much to choose from in this zany house of foodie frivolity.
“Sammies” on the menu include the Cran-Chicken Salad Sammie, which is Mary’s “secret” recipe: chicken breast, dried cranberries, green onion, and a “hint of tarragon” on choice of bread for $9. There is the Mama Mia Grilled Cheese (three cheeses with Roma tomatoes and fresh basil on garlic bread) for $8.25, or, the Cap’N and Taneal Fish Sammie (hand-battered cod fillets with cheddar cheese, lettuce, and tartar sauce on a brioche bun) for $9.50. The list goes on.
Aside from the Homewrecker Plate, a “rather large” smoked kielbasa, mashed potatoes, and a fried soft pretzel with sauerkraut and stone ground mustard ($12); and Loaded Mac-N-Cheese, mixed with red onions, red peppers, diced tomatoes and green peas, topped with a “pile of crispy onion strings” ($10); you will recognize more traditional entrees such as fried chicken, meatloaf, and fish-n-chips.
Desserts also scream fun. (No trans fat in the fryers, according to Mary, but OMG!) Try the Fried Twinkie Treat, three deep-fried crème cakes with raspberry sauce and whipped cream for $5 (You won’t have to wait till August!), or the Mary Tyler S’Mores, graham crackers, marshmallows, and Hershey’s chocolate melted over “Mary’s lil’ campfire.”
Dinner is over and you want the check? Peek inside the four-inch high-heel shoe the waiter just dropped off on your table.
Hamburger Mary’s is open from 11am to 10pm and offers a full bar, with a late-night menu 10pm-midnight Thursday through Saturday. Brunch is served from 10am to 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays. That includes $2 mimosas.
2130 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
Read a carnivore’s review of Hamburger Mary’s here.
September 29, 2011
By Linda Fausel Photos by Sandy Dean
A feeling of elegance envelopes patrons in search of sustenance as they step across the threshold into Chez Jacques, Milwaukee’s distinguished French bistro on the city’s south side.
Pronounced “shay jocks” for the non-Francophiles among us, Chez Jacques translates to “at or in the home of Jacques.” That would be chef and owner Jacques Chaumet, who was born in France and opened Jacques French Café a few blocks away on Second Street in 2001 before moving to the larger, current Chez Jacques location on First Street in 2007.
Berets off to the sweet lace curtains hanging in the green plant-filled windows, and blue-striped awnings on the off-white, one-floor stucco structure, formerly the Forelle Fish Netting company in the heart of what once was Milwaukee’s southernmost industrial district. But the inside of this dining destination—arched doorways, stone-tiled floors, and tin ceilings—is what resolutely fascinates the senses.
Soft beige and apricot walls adorned with twinkling lights, ornately-framed paintings, weathered wrought iron, and old photographs complement the dark wooden tables and cleverly-lit bar, providing an aura of European ambiance that inspires appetites and imaginations.
Chez Jacques delights the eyes and equally tantalizes the palate with wonderful dishes and desserts that appear to come straight from a kitchen countertop in France. Whether it is breakfast, with freshly baked croissants, savory crepes, quiches, and omelets; or lunch, Bouché D´escargots (puffed pastry with French snails), Crab Cakes à l´ancienne (crab cakes with old-style, coarse-grained mustard), Fromage de chèvre à la Provençale (baked goat cheese with tomatoes, garlic, and basil) and Moules Marinières (steamed mussels in white wine, garlic, and shallots cream sauce); or dinner, (including the spectacular Onion Soup Gratinee), you will find something amazing here.
Rich, distinctive parsley-seasoned potato soup is served in a fat ceramic cup on a delicate paper doily. A duo of tender, lightly browned spinach crepes, blanketed in creamy Roquefort and sprinkled with parsley and toasted pine nuts, proves to be divine, but too much for someone who (witlessly) devoured piece after piece of scrumptious chunky-sliced bread and butter. Coffee and delectable Mousse au Chocolat bring the meal to an oh-so-delicious close.
Stroll to the back part of the restaurant to visit the outdoor wine garden and mural depicting the story of how Chez Jacques came to be. Walk past the regal, 20-plus-seat table in a room reminiscent of days gone by. The petite, yellow chickadee sitting in a swing in a small white bird cage hanging in one corner of the room is just one of the many personal touches you will find at the magical Chez Jacques. Price range: From $3 to $14 for breakfasts; $7 to $20 for lunches; $7.50 to $25 for dinners.
1022 S. First St.
September 1, 2011
By Linda Fausel
A gooey garden medley at Hi-Fi Café. ~photo Sandy Dean
Plastic, sparkly silver window art sways to the late afternoon breeze blowing through the open door at Bay View’s Hi-Fi Café. Time doesn’t stand still here, but it appears to wane amid the Formica® tabletops, magazines, oversized plastic serving ware, ceramic ashtrays, and old records. With a fan circling lazily overhead, and the oddly familiar, mix-matched furniture, Hi-Fi feels like that neighborhood place from childhood, the one where you left your library book—or a stranger would front you 35 cents.
A few dimes and a nickel won’t buy much these days. But at Hi-Fi, sandwiches—comfort cuisine right along with the trendy fodder—are under $10, so your change still goes pretty far. (The most expensive breakfast item, for example, is Eggs Benedict at $8). While you won’t find French fries, garlic mashed potatoes are listed on the menu under “Snacks.” (They also come with some sandwiches). Like the pizza sauce, the potatoes are “homemade,” and can be ordered with cheddar, bacon, or sour cream hollandaise sauce.
With a wide variety of meat and vegetarian options, breakfast items, soups, and salads (including Japanese Ginger Salad) it would be difficult not to find something appealing and reasonably priced at Hi-Fi Café.
Beverages include locally-brewed beer, teas, specialty drinks (Rose Water Lemonade), and coffees (Turkish Espresso), and even a Sprecher root beer float.
On a recent visit, the Toasty Veggie Baguette ($8) was tasty, but it arrived sans baguette(!), instead gently blended with dill and melted on a soft, white flour pita. Creamy Havarti cheese (brushed with mayo and Dijon mustard) was smothered under ripened summer jewels: green pepper, slivers of red onion, skinny-sliced cucumber, baby spinach, topped by crunchy sprouts and ruby tomatoes. It came with a generous portion of locally-baked, crispy-thick, golden “El Sol” tortilla chips. The Butter Cup ($3.75)—espresso, steamed milk, chocolate syrup, and peanut butter (delicious!)—doubled as both beverage and dessert.
A button at the Hi-Fi counter leaves the customer with this playful admonition: “God knows when you don’t tip.”
Hi-Fi is updating its menu. The prices in this article were accurate at press time but are subject to change.
What is your favorite Hi-Fi sandwich and why? Tell us: email@example.com.
2640 S. KK
July 31, 2011
By Linda Fausel, Photos by Sandy Dean
Chips vs. Slaw
Red and green cabbage and carrot chopped wispy thin, delicate ramen noodles integrated with tiny bits of scallion and savory peanuts, infused with rice-wine vinegar and sesame oil—wholesome, aesthetically-appealing goodness in a sweet little dish for $2.50.
Both appetizers have strong followings, according to the waitress, and many customers order one-half of each to avoid choosing.
Which do you prefer, chips or slaw?
Tell us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lulu Café & Bar
July 29, 2011
By Linda Fausel
Dare to resist—salty and hot, slightly left of the center on the crispy meter, deep fried to an auspicious hue, with a kaleidoscope of delectable dipping sauces—the thin and seductively satisfying French fries (Frites—pronounced FREETZ) at Bay View’s Café Centraal are, says the manager, the bestselling item on the menu. I get it.
Despite my righteous (What do you have that’s healthy?) intentions, I devoured them all, and (disturbingly) could have eaten more. For $4.95 you get about a half-pound of these mouth-watering Idahos, served up Belgian-style in a paper cone.
A salad, (the Margherita, $8.95), helps legitimize the pick.
2306 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
October 31, 2010
By Jill Rothenbueler Maher
Parenting has redefined many things in my life and distracted driving is certainly among them. Pre-kid, I couldn’t imagine the stress of piloting while my precious cargo yells at me from the back seat, especially in that nerve-frazzling pitch that goes beyond playground banter directly to a push-Mommy’s-buttons level.
Distracted driving, especially the phone-enabled ilk, will soon get lots of attention because texting while driving becomes illegal in Wisconsin Dec. 1. A ticket will set a driver back a modest $20 to a considerable $400.
Texting is a terrible distraction, but let’s be realistic: kiddie passengers are a big distraction, too.
My buttons were pulsating when, my usual route blocked by construction, I was driving under I-94 attempting to find my way onto it. While I struggled, the soundtrack from the back seat was incessant about the blue freeway, a family nickname for the Marquette Interchange. “Blue freeway, Mommy! Where is the blue freeway? Are we going now on the blue freeway?” “Distraction” isn’t strong enough to capture my mental state while hunting for that freeway onramp. In hindsight, I realize I should have pulled over, which sounds just like the advice for people who feel they need to deal with a phone call or text from behind the wheel.
Sometimes it doesn’t take the back-and-forth of talking to reduce the amount of brain power devoted to driving—just one-way communication. She hasn’t recently, but our daughter used to cry most of the 25-minute drive home to Bay View along I-43 from my parents’ house in New Berlin. We couldn’t do anything to soothe her.
Physical distractions can also take eyes off the road. Parents might twist toward the back seat to pick up a dropped toy, hand back food, or emphasize their instructions (“I really mean it!”) as they mitigate a sibling argument. They might search for and then insert a particular CD with kids’ music, preventing them from noticing quick changes in traffic. Turning away from the road for a child can cause the same accident that looking down at a text message could.
I’m surprised this topic doesn’t get more attention. Many parents and caretakers are in the car every day with children for day care, school, or other activities. The potential danger isn’t idle worry: crashes are the leading cause of death in children ages 2 to 14.
I receive lots of warnings about putting our daughter in a properly installed car seat, and Oprah has good warnings about typing and talking while driving; but driving with kids is a less common topic. I found some tips on the Consumer Reports website. Two boil down to being firm about the child’s behavior in the car (“Make them wait” and “Set the ground rules”).
Our daughter understands fairly well that crosswalks and parking lots are “no goofing around” zones, and I think I need to establish more of that tone in the car. Of course, the time spent in a vehicle is much longer.
Sometimes I take city streets to the western suburbs instead of the freeway because I figure the lower speed is safer. If we are nailed by a distracted driver, or hit for any reason, I think the damage is likely to be less because we’re at slower speeds.
I also think about ways to minimize our likelihood of being in an accident by limiting our time in a vehicle. Bay View’s density puts us close to routine errand destinations, and we plan to send our daughter to a school that won’t put her in a vehicle for very long, if at all.
As we head into the holiday travel season and are treated to snowy roads, let’s all drive safely.
The author is a freelance writer and mother of one. Reach her with comments or suggestions at email@example.com.
October 1, 2010
By Mary Sussman
Landmark Family Restaurant serves up classic diner food with value added. At the corner of Vollmer Avenue and KK, Landmark has been in business for 16 years at the site of the old Blue Café.
Cool and comfortable on a hot summer Sunday morning, the restaurant was busy. Large picture windows, overhead fans, and strategically placed mirrors and light fixtures make the space bright, open, and inviting. But after a few busy Sunday breakfast hours, there was some stray food on the floor and a few crumpled napkins under tables. There is a counter with a half-dozen stools. Chairs and booths have practical and comfortable vinyl cushions. Service is courteous and quick.
Barbecued pork, grilled chicken breast, and gyros are among the sandwich selections. Sandwiches include a cup of soup. The deluxe sandwiches include French fries or onion rings and soup and cost a bit more. Soup just by its lonesome is $1.95 a bowl, and chili is $2.95. The soups are homemade and rotate daily.
Tuesdays feature Italian specialties including spaghetti, mostaccioli, lasagna, chicken and veal parmesan, and chicken and shrimp alfredo. Magerowski said the lasagna is very popular. I sampled the Italian combination dinner, which consisted of a massive blob of spaghetti, mostaccioli, and ravioli coated with a watered-down tomato sauce. The dish could easily have come straight out of a Franco-American can. That said, it fed my husband and me for two nights. The chicken noodle soup that came with it was flavorful.
Wednesdays feature Mexican fare including nachos, tacos, burritos, tostadas, fajitas, and chimichangas. These specials range $5.75-$8.25 and include a cup of soup or tossed salad, and are available for lunch as well as dinner. On an evening visit, the popular lasagna was sold out at 6:15pm when I arrived. Other dinner specials include spare ribs with sauerkraut, breaded pork tenderloin, or a shrimp basket. Dinners are served with rolls, soup or tossed salad, and choice of potato. Greek salad, gyros, and shish-ka-bob are also available.
Landmark is not a vegetarian heaven, but one could manage to survive on a fruit crepe, pancakes, fruit or garden salads, or the vegetarian stir fry. Carb and calorie counters may appreciate the summer cold plate menu, which includes a fruit bowl, California fruit plate, turkey and ham plates, chef salad, and seafood salad. The cold plates range $3.75-7.25.
Owner Merced “Mike” Santa Cruz made his way to Milwaukee from Zacatecas in central Mexico 30 years ago. After working at Around the Lakes restaurant in Oconomowoc for a number of years, Santa Cruz opened Landmark.
The Landmark seems to be a popular destination to eat and gather. It is a small-town diner in a big city where people chow down, visit, and relax in unpretentious comfort. Landmark Family Restaurant is user-, kid- and wallet-friendly, serving up big portions of traditional diner fare at fair prices.
Landmark Family Restaurant
3451 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 481-1300
Merced “Mike” Santa Cruz, owner
6am-8pm daily; breakfast specials served until 11am; breakfast served all day.
Main menu includes more that 100 items, half-dozen vegetarian dishes, one or two vegan items, 10 kids choices.
Not organic or locally grown food; food is purchased mostly from Sysco.
Prices: Extra value. Hearty portions. Breakfast specials: $2.75-6.75. Sandwiches: $3-5.50 (with soup). Dinners: $5.75-9.25 (includes soup or tossed salad and choice of potato). Children’s menu: 10 items; $2.25-$4.50.
Booster chairs and high chairs. No diaper changing station in restrooms.
Take Out: Yes; Delivery: No.
Owner is applying for liquor license.
No outdoor dining.
July 2, 2010
By Kristine Hansen, Photos by Ken Mobile
Our first indication that The Dubliner Irish Pub is not the typical cramped, dimly lit Irish bar was when we swung open the front doors.
Light poured in through eight-pane windows to the west. Iron chandeliers hung from the high ceilings marked by overhead beams. A stone fireplace beckoned from the back wall. A twin set of clocks hung on one wall: one for our city, and the other for Dublin.
And in another departure from Irish pubs, a smoking ban has been in effect since The Dubliner opened in February.
Owners Jerry and Cheryl Stenstrup, who own Steny’s across the street (which has been in business for 24 years), got inspired during trips to Ireland’s countryside. They opened, appropriately, a month before St. Patrick’s Day 2010.
Only dinner is served on the weekdays. On Saturday and Sunday a traditional Irish breakfast is served beginning at 11am. Nightly drink and food specials go beyond the typical two- or three-hour span to stretch until 10pm or midnight.
Aiming for a gastropub theme, the owners say, its food menu is best defined as comfort food-but with an Irish twist. For instance, a baked pretzel roll (pretzel dough rolled into a ball) arrives with some entrees. Irish cheddar-and not American-tops the Mac N Cheese.
“Pub plates” are the appetizers here. Mulling over options like Dubliner Crab Cakes ($12), Irish Twists (mozzarella cheese rolled in a wonton wrap and fried, $7) and Irish Potato Skins ($6), we settled on Gallaway Mussels ($9) with Guinness broth, parsley, leeks, and new potatoes. Although the broth was more like a pool, but deliciously laced with stout beer, we were impressed with the portion size: at least 25 mussels were in this dish. My order of the Dub Mac N Cheese ($7) was rich, creamy, and hearty, and baked with breadcrumbs on top-everything a good Mac N Cheese ought to be-but I missed that sharp-cheddar taste that often tops the noodles. A little less creamy and I would not hesitate to order it on a return visit.
The menu redeemed itself when my dining companion took that first bite of his Shepherd’s Pie ($10). Filled with parsnips, ground sirloin, peas, carrots, potatoes, and fresh herbs, it’s topped with dollops of mashed potatoes and then baked. Paired with the signature pretzel roll, its execution was perfect-lots of earthy flavors.
We also ordered a side of Irish chips (essentially French fries) with the restaurant’s signature dip. For the Dubliner Dip, corned beef, cheese, and sauerkraut are mixed together. There is also a delicious wasabi ranch-style dip that delivers just enough bite.
To end our culinary tour of Ireland, we took the waitress’ advice and ordered two glasses of Dubliner Irish Cream, which is house-made with Kilbeggan whiskey and Irish Cream, and a slice of Bailey’s cheesecake to share. As I’m a sucker for Irish Cream, I expected to fall in love with this drink-but not as much as I soon did. I love a bar that can pull off a reinterpretation of a classic cocktail. Paired with the cheesecake, which has a chocolate crust, both satisfied our sweet teeth.
- The Dubliner Irish Pub
- 124 W. National Ave.
- (414) 763-0301
- Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 3pm-bartime; Saturday and Sunday, 11am-bartime; closed Monday
- Some vegetarian options
- No children’s menu
- Bar-on site with 12 draft beers
- Street parking
- Outdoor patio
- Price range: appetizers $6-$12; entrees $7-$16