Oh Milwaukee, How I love Thee – Part One

We are visiting friends and family this first week of August in Milwaukee.  It’s a city that is near and dear to the heart and in my humble opinion, very underrated for all that it offers.  After relaxing on Day 1 post a long travel day, I hit the ground running on Day 2.  So many things to do, such little time and all that.

Summer in Milwaukee “happens” around the lakefront and that’s where I headed.  First stop was lunch at the beautiful Harbor House restaurant located right on the waterfront between the Milwaukee Art Museum and Discovery World.  Who said you can’t find good seafood in Milwaukee?

The restaurant serves New England style seafood commonly found on East Coast towns of Cape Cod and Nantucket.  Fresh offerings are posted on the board along with a quality selection of beers (they don’t call Milwaukee brew town for nothing you know!)

I started with fresh oysters … #1 was the Misty Point from Virginia with a teardrop shape that briny with a celery finish.  #2 was Fire River from Canada. This was meaty had a smooth texture and a nice sweet finish.  #3 was Pickering Pass from Washington.  Had a light body, simple and essentially nondescript.

My server Sharon was friendly, hospitable and lovely woman.  Thanks for posing Sharon.  You look great!

We went through a couple of menu items I was considering and she zeroed me on to the lobster roll.  Harbor House’s take on this classic was a slight twist … fresh chunks of lobster meat seasoned with celery, Old Bay mayo was piled on to a buttery slightly grilled Brioche bun.  Every bite was pure bliss.  I opted out of the fries and instead, the chef served up a nice greens salad and steamed carrots and green beans.  I washed it down with a glass of Kano Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.

The contemporary dining room and bar offer great views of lake Michigan and the Milwaukee Museum of Art.

Thank you sous chef Joseph Schreiter for discussing with me, the philosophy for the restaurant and where the seafood is procured .  I’ll definitely be back to try the cioppino chef!

Fully satiated, I head next door to the Milwaukee Art Museum.  The museum is an architectural landmark, comprised of three buildings designed by three legendary architects: Eero Saarinen, David Kahler, and Santiago Calatrava.  The graceful Quadracci Pavilion is a sculptural, postmodern addition designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.  Highlights of the building are the magnificent cathedral-like space of Windhover Hall, with a vaulted a 90-foot-high glass ceiling; the Burke Brise Soleil,a moveable sunscreen with a 217-foot wingspan that unfolds and folds twice daily; and the Reiman Bridge, a pedestrian suspension bridge that connects the Museum to the city.

Here is a closer shot …

The front lobby with the expansive ceiling is breathtaking.  This piece of the city is a cultural asset and makes for a true destination spot.  Take that Chicago!

This summer the museum is helping visitors experience three thousand years of Chinese art and culture in five exhibitions.  This ambitious series, titled the Summer of CHINA, is part of a year-long celebration honoring the ten-year anniversary of the Museum’s Santiago Calatrava designed Quadracci Pavilion.  Here is a sneak pictorial preview …

In addition to the special Chinese exhibit, the museum is home to more than 25,000 works of art.  Its permanent holdings contain an important collection of Old Masters and 19th-century and 20th-century artwork, as well as some of the nation’s best collections of German Expressionism, folk and Hatian art, American decorative arts, and post-1960 American art.

From the Milwaukee Art Museum, I walked the lakefront to the city’s best coffee shop, Alterra Coffee.  Besides providing great coffee, they are committed to sourcing their coffee sustainably and have great cafe food to boot.

A walk to Brady Street was next, the neighborhood that I lived in during my college days at Marquette.  This nine block area is filled with cool little shops, restaurants and bars.

First stop was Angelina’s Boutique.

Angelina (pictured below) is the proprietor of this cool little shoe and boot shop that is focused primarily on women’s footwear but is slowly branching out to carrying men’s lines.  She is currently stocking Florsheim and J Shoes brands for men.  If you are in the area, it’s worth stopping by.  Angelina has good style and provides great customer service.

So what did I pick up?  A pair of J Shoes Glen 2’s in Navy / Grey.  Check them out …

Wear them sockless with chinos, denim or shorts …

Next up was Glorioso’s … Milwaukee’s iconic Italian market.

A few weeks ago Glorioso’s moved across the street into the high-ceilinged space of the former Brady Street Pharmacy. In the new location, the aisles are wide and spacious. The wine selection and the cheese selection has been expanded. The deli counter has a great display of processed meats and imported olives. There is also a cafe area so customers now have the option of dining in.

Dinner plans included a home made dinner at my friend Chetan’s place so I went in search for a specialty wine store, which brought me to The Waterford Wine Company where was I greeted by store manager Jeff.  He was gracious, friendly and service oriented.  He showed me around the store, how the shelves were arranged and helped me make my final decision for the diner wine.

A great selection of specialty wines across the globe.

The store has a clubby, comfortable decor.  A spirits corner with single malts, bourbons serves the non oenophile.

Brady street has a cool vibe.  A couple of other great spots to visit … Vintage store Dragonfly, Tattoo shop Saints & Sinners and the best Mexican food outside Southern California – Cempazuchi!

Finally, Brady’s great watering hole … The Nomad.  My buddy Chetan and I have downed quite a few pints there.

Final stop for the evening is Chetan and Shari’s place in Wauwatosa for dinner.  Mediterranean was the theme for the night. We dined on made from scratch pan fried Zucchini cakes with yogurt sauce, beef kebabs with spice, tabbouleh salad washed with Hedges (a blended red) from Washington.

Thank you to my dear friends Chetan and Shari for their hospitality and a perfect end to a great summer day in Milwaukee!

More to come from Milwaukee … Stay tuned.

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