Ive been in Milwaukee quite a bit in the last couple months and have gone to some pretty great restaurants.
Some of my favorites include--- and Read all the way down to my favorite!!!
Roots - www.rootsmilwaukee.com
They have a great happy hour with inexpensive wine by the glass and $5 apps. I fell in love with their pulled pork nachos a couple of years ago and I still crave them on a consistent basis. I have only eaten in the "cellar" which is their downstairs and it overlooks the city. Upstairs is a little less casual as downstairs. Also have a great seafood cioppino.
Trocadero - www.ztrocadero.com
They have a great brunch which Ive been to a couple of times. Known for their bloody marys, great donuts, and good coffee. I think their breakfast tacos were tasty!
Balzac - www.balzacwinebar.com
Neat place with a great patio out back. Sundays is half off bottles of wine! They have small plates which I love to order a bunch and share. Tuna tartar, scallops with pernod, duck nachos, and great cheese plates
Carnevor - www.carnevor.com
I liked the space itself at Carnevor. They steaks were good but I was more impressed with scallops on the half shell. They were super fresh and had nueske bacon in them!
Swig - www.swigmilwaukee.com
Small plates as well and they had this dish I actually still crave and think about - Chicken curry wontons with walnut yogurt dill dipping sauce - sounds interesting but I will tell you - not something I would usually order but the waitress insisted. Totally worth it. Delicious. Creamy, acidic, light but filling and flavorful. Also tuna with mango chutney (good quality tuna), grilled vegetable, Tenderloin skewers, and baked brie with fruit.
Coquette Cafe - www.coquettecafe.com
Great coffee, cute place, good service. I had special omelet which was ok BUT it came with a boston bibb salad with the lightest mustard vineagrette on it - it was so delicate and delicious. I could have ate 12 of those salads. salads in general are always over-dressed and this was perfection.
Capital Grille - www.thecapitalgrille.com
I am not usually a chain restaurant person but I have been going here for a very long time. Kind of an old tradition before I fly out or when I land. I like to sit at the bar. I love their wine list selections by the glass (they are always old favorites) and they have great quality food. I love their lamb chops, their tuna, their fliet and also their salads. And I am a carb fan and the trip is worth the bread.
Crazy Water - www.crazywatermilwaukee.com
I liked the hustle and bustle, the lights, the bar, the way peoples laughter filled the tiny room and the heat from the open kitchen behind the bar made you feel warm and fuzzy. Had bacon wrapped dates first with spicy red pepper sauce - really flavorful. The wines were well picked by the owner and i liked her selections. Scallops were just ok but the flank steak was delicious, tender and flavorful. I would go back again because I think it was an off night. She also just won a James Beard Award I believe....
And for the finale and my favorite meal in Milwaukee is easily Braise - www.braiselocalfood.com
The vibe, the openness, the communal tables in the middle of the restaurant, the regular tables, the bar in front of the kitchen (which in my book was the BEST seat in the place) and the regular bar with seating. Its a pretty big small place. I struck up a conversation with the expeditier (the person who finishes off the plates of food before the server serves them) who happened to be the owner and chef. he was super nice and told me he was going to grade my meal choices. Wine list was really reasonable - REALLY reasonable. I had a crisp yet full Albarino from Edna Valley (weird huh?) and then au bon climate pinot noir (which i wish I wouldnt of had as an Italian with more acid would have been better with the food) and my friend had a prosecco and a glass of aglianico from italy that was DELICIOUS! FOod - Started with a crispy pig belly with creamy polenta and marscapone with sorghum syrup - OMG...sweet, smoky, creamy, and the textures! WOW.
Then on to pancetta risotto with pickled green beans....creamy and acidic and delicious. Then a "just ok" tart and on to dinner>>>> roasted vegetables and horseradish cream- sauteed LOCAL trout with fingerling potatoes and winter spinach. A pork loin (from golden bear farms - kiehl) with mustard spaetzle (WOW) and apple chutney. THen for dessert this gorgeous apple tart (the crust was like my grandmas pie crust) and a capuccino frothy and strong.
He tries to keep all of the food local and seasonal ingredients. I would go there every day to eat if I could. It was specatcular and the best meal I have ever had in Milwaukee. I cant wait to go back.
The Chef came up to us at the end of the meal and said he was impressed with our choices - and he couldnt believe we ate all of that food! Hey - Chef - If there is one thing I am good at- believe me - its eating and drinking...
SO milwaukee is hitting homeruns all over in the city. Good stuff