Category Archives: the MKE report

Milwaukee restaurants at their best and worst

Arugula gimlet at Odd Duck

Up until last weekend, my all-time favorite gimlet could be found at The Matchbox, and is the only drink I order at the tiny bar. The citrus-y, powdered sugar-rimmed drink is small, but packs a serious punch. But over the holiday weekend I tried out a few places in Milwaukee, and discovered the arugula gimlet at Odd Duck. It was the most interesting cocktail on the menu at the new small plates restaurant in the Bayview neighborhood, and even though the bartender described it as a “grassy gimlet,” I had to try it. With herbal gin, simple syrup, lime juice and muddled arugula, I wouldn’t say it was grassy, but more fresh and herb-y with the bite of arugula I love in a salad or smoothie, The simple syrup added the right amount of sweet, and the lime juice added the right amount of acid. It was refreshing, light and very drinkable throughout the parade of small plates we sampled, from the pork belly pancakes to maple and mustard dressed kale salad. Odd Duck, 2352 S. Kinnickinnic.

Arugula gimlet

Arugula gimlet

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Filed under boozeworthy, great for date, the MKE report

Benjy’s Deli

Matzo ball soup with noodles

Matzo ball soup with noodles


An extra long weekend in Wisconsin most certainly had me in Milwaukee, Cedarburg and Oostburg for an especially fun camping weekend with old friends, but I definitely failed on the aforementioned posts. I didn’t make it to Tomaso’s for the alleged garlic bread pizza, nor did I try out the hamburger joints that have opened up all over town. I heard of a local Wisconsin market in Oostburg, but they were closed for the holiday weekend. I did, however, hit up one of my favorite childhood delis, Benjy’s, on the east side of Milwaukee. We literally grew up eating at the 40-year-old semi-dive that used to be called Benjamin’s. I pretty much can’t not get a bowl of matzo ball soup and hot corned beef on rye when I go, even though they offer breakfast all day and other typical deli delicacies. With local Miller bread, awesome pickles, thick, juicy corned beef sliced extra lean, homemade matzo balls and plenty of Dr. Brown’s soda stocked in coolers, it’s pretty much the ultimate deli experience. Oh, and uh, note the new camera! 4156 N. Oakland Ave., 414.332.7777
Benjy's sign on Oakland Avenue

Benjy's sign on Oakland Avenue


Corned beef on rye

Corned beef on rye


It was a long weekend in Wisconsin, but this is my only cheesehead post. I almost can’t believe the eating adventures that await this week: Mixteco, Nightwood (again!), an organic trout dinner at Rushing Waters, and pork and wine dinner at Bluprint…check back for tales of the impending deliciousness.

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Filed under Best bite, eliz-a-trip, the MKE report

Water Street Brewery

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Water Street sign

I so would’ve gotten the beer tasting flight at Water Street Brewery if I didn’t have to race back to Chicago on Sunday night by Oscar time. But I still enjoyed my dinner at the Milwaukee brewery and pub that’s been around for more than 20 years. While I continue to search for good restaurants in Milwaukee, I often end up at the pubs and breweries for decent bar food, great beer and a trip down memory lane of growing up in the “Brew.” While Water Street Brewery isn’t Milwaukee’s oldest brewery (it’s been home to Pabst, Schlitz, Miller and Blatz), the place does have a fair amount of impressive memora-beer-lia. Only those who grew up in Milwaukee will remember the Green Sheet section of the newspaper (think comics, crosswords, horoscopes, Dear Abby, guess-how-the-almost-identical-drawings-are different games all printed on green paper!). At Water Street, the Green Sheet design is cleverly resurrected as the menu, and I think any beer fanatic will appreciate the wall-to-wall collection of vintage beer cans and case filled with 1,400 ultra-cool beer tap handles. Oh, yeah, and the beer, from honey lager light to raspberry weiss and brown ale, is pretty fantastic too. Besides WSB, Milwaukee’s still got Lakefront, Sprecher and, of course, Miller breweries with tours, tastings and more, so you can easily get your Laverne and Shirley on and head up there for a brewery tour day trip. But don’t race home too fast, get your designated driver to stop for a steak at Coerper’s 5 O’clock Club (2416 W. State Street, 414.342.3553), vodka and oreo milkshakes at At Random (2501 S. Delaware, 414.481.8030) and finish the schlimaazely adventure here. Water Street Brewery, 1101 N. Water Street, 414.272.1195

The "Green Sheet" menu

The "Green Sheet" menu

Vintage brew

Vintage brew

Timeless taps from a collection of 1,400

Timeless taps

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Filed under boozeworthy, eliz-a-trip, I like to eats, quick lunch, the MKE report