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Posts from the ‘Reviews’ Category

On The Road: Atlas BBQ Review

Hang on to your hats, ladies and gents! It’s time for an out of town special! Now, I get that this blog is Miss MKE, but let’s be honest; we’re just here for the good food. And man, did I find some good food last night in Grafton, WI at Atlas BBQ. I had been there before, but thought it would be a great opportunity to write a review.

Atlas is your typical barbeque joint. It carries everything from ribs to pulled pork to crispy ends, with a variety of classic sides like macaroni and cheese, cornbread and fries. As an added bonus, Atlas has five different barbeque sauces at every table, so you can choose whichever you would like. On their website they show the heat index of each sauce, ranging from “fun for everyone” to just an ominous picture of a skull and crossbones.

First as an appetizer, we ordered the fried pickles. They were long thin slices and beer battered. They were served with a chipotle ranch sauce and were $6.25. The pickles were still crisp even after being cooked, and I attribute that to the batter. The beer batter was light and buttery, and didn’t overwhelm the pickle flavor. The chipotle ranch complimented the tanginess of the pickle and created the perfect creaminess the pickles needed. Unfortunately, they were so good that we ate them all before I could even get a picture.

For my main course I ordered the pulled pork sandwich with a side of Brussels sprouts. The sandwich was served on a pretzel bun and topped with a tangy vinegar based coleslaw, which was a nice crisp texture to compliment the tender pork. Wait… the tender MOUNTAIN of pork! There was so much pork on this sandwich that I couldn’t even take a bite without half of it falling out! For $10.25, this sandwich was definitely worth it.

The Brussels sprouts were the perfect side to this sandwich. Because of the vinegar in the barbeque sauce and the coleslaw on the sandwich, I was craving something sweet. The Brussels sprouts were cooked with bacon and honey, and every bite carried the smokiness of the bacon, while the honey caramelized the outside of each sprout. I know many people don’t like Brussels sprouts, but these sprouts could change minds and end wars.

I will definitely go back to Atlas BBQ again, because not only is it delicious barbeque, but also it isn’t outrageously priced.

 

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North Star American Bistro Review

Recently, my mom and I decided to go on a fun night out. I was trying to think of a good spot to take her, because my mom is a pretty elegant lady (and I’m sure she will appreciate me saying that), but she doesn’t exactly treat herself often enough. I thought it would be nice to find a spot where we could sit outside with some drinks and appetizers while catching up. The North Star American Bistro was the perfect place for our mother/daughter bonding time.

 

I had never been to North Star before, and I was pleasantly surprised with my experience. Our server was very friendly and understood when we spent an obscenely long time looking at the menu. After a lengthy deliberation, we decided to split the crab cake appetizer. For $11.95, we were served two crab cakes over a bed of greens, with a tarragon aioli and horseradish dressing. The crab cakes were a decent size, and were mild in flavor. They were cooked nicely and had a crispy outside and an almost fluffy inside. There weren’t very many big chunks of crab in the cakes, but it was still good without them. The dressing was the star of the dish for me. It added the creaminess that the cakes needed, and the flavor was fantastic. Every component of the dish seemed well thought out and was well executed, and I would definitely order it again.

 

We were still hungry, so we ordered the margherita pizza. It was $12.95 and was about a 12” pie. The crust had good flavor, but it was a bit soft on the bottom. A few more minutes in the oven would have crisped it up. Other than that, the flavor was good. The sauce was sweet but zesty, and the toppings were fresh. The problems I find most often with margherita pizzas are that the tomatoes are too soggy and that the basil is burned. This pizza didn’t have these problems, and I was very happy with it. There was a lot of cheese. When I say a lot of cheese, I mean a LOT of cheese, which is definitely not a problem. It was gooey and stringy like good pizza cheese should be, but it had an amazing quality of freshness. It didn’t have that overpowering packaged cheese taste. It was very mild and almost scentless, which are key qualities of a fresh mozzarella.

North Star American Bistro was a great spot to have some good quality food and a good quality experience. I hope to dine there again, and it would be a great contender for date night!

 

Jalisco’s Review

I love Mexican food. Authentic Mexican restaurants not only give you huge portions of food, but they also do it for cheap! One of my favorite Mexican places on the East side is Jalisco’s. They have delicious and strong margaritas and mojitos, which is an added bonus to the great food.

When we sat down to eat at Jalisco’s, they served us a basket of chips and salsa. The chips were still warm and not overly oily. The salsa was a tomato based salsa with cilantro, and has a good kick of spice. I ordered the Burrito con Chorizo dinner, which came with a burrito the size of my arm, a side of rice and beans, lettuce, sour cream, and guacamole, all for $9.25.

The rice was mild and cooked well, and the only problem was that I wished there was more of it! The beans were creamy and flavorful, and they were covered in gooey cheese, which made them even better. When I was given my burrito, I spread the guacamole over the top, put some lettuce over that, and drizzled it with the house made hot sauce. The burrito was stuffed to the brim with chorizo, lettuce and tomatoes. The chorizo wasn’t that spicy at all, but had all the good flavors of cumin and peppers. I would say even if you don’t like spicy food, you would be able to eat this burrito and be just fine. I was only able to eat half of my meal, because it was gigantic. It did hold up in the fridge just fine, and was still good to eat later in the day.

I will definitely go back and try something new, like their tacos or tostadas. Jalisco’s offers “taco Tuesdays and Thursdays”, so if you are looking for a deal, they’re the place to go.

 

The Ruckus Review

It’s time I reviewed what “all the ruckus” is about. The Ruckus is a new burger shop, owned by Collectivo. They specialize in burgers, fries, sundaes (or ‘saturdaes’ as they call them) and churros. The Ruckus prides itself on using fresh and local ingredients, and the walls boast signage showing where they get their ingredients. They have about six different kinds of burgers, but you can also specify each one to your own personal preference. I decided to get the Rizo, which is $6.50, without any add-ons.

The Rizo comes with a beef and pork chorizo patty, red cabbage slaw, lettuce, tomato, salsa and house sauce, all topped with a sesame seed bun. The patty was cooked medium rare, which in my opinion, is the best way to order a burger. The patty was juicy with crispy edges, and slightly spicy from the chorizo. Atop the patty was the slaw, which was crunchy and sour. It wasn’t over pickled and added a kick of freshness to the burger. The only downfall to the slaw was that the juice soaked into the bun and made it soggy, but at least it was a tasty sogginess. The tomato and lettuce were fresh, which is always a bonus. The house sauce was kind of like a paprika mayonnaise, which helped add a creamy element, because the burger didn’t come with cheese. I couldn’t really identify the salsa in the burger, but it did have the heat that I was looking for.

The fries were $3.00, which was a deal for how many they give you. They are made from thick cut Yukon gold potatoes, and have remnants of crispy skin as well. The fries are lightly salted, and pair very well with the burger.

The Ruckus offers a vegetarian black bean burger and chicken options as well, and I will definitely be back to try those soon.

 

The Garage Review

Last night, a friend and I went out for appetizers and drinks on Brady Street. We decided to go to The Garage. The Garage is the literal garage of the Hi Hat, turned into an extension of the already existing bar.

Now, this wasn’t my first time at The Garage, but it was my first time having food there. Because we were in an establishment dedicated to alcohol, I started off with a gin and tonic, which I knew would be good from my previous experiences. We talked to the bartender and asked what the best appetizers were, and he suggested the Art Dip.

 

 

The Art Dip is a spinach and artichoke dip, loaded with cheese. It came out from the kitchen hot and gooey, and smelled fantastic. The dish was supposed to come with some garlic crostini, but we were served a small loaf of bread. The dip was creamy and salty, with good chunks of spinach and artichoke. There were a couple of things that could have made this dish better, one being the presence of crostini. The dip needed a crunchier counterpart, because the lack of a side with a crisper texture gave everything a kind of squishy feel. The second thing would be a better ratio of dip to bread. When we finished the loaf of bread, we still had over half of the dip still left in the crock, which felt like a waste. In spite of these things, the dip was still very flavorful and was made very well.

We also decided to try a more traditional bar food: fries. We ordered the Oilcan Fries, which were served to us on a big plate, sky-high with toppings. The base of the dish was a bed of seasoned waffle fries, which were crisp, and perfectly soft in the middle. On top of that was a layer of smoky pulled pork. I was pleasantly surprised with the pork, because it was still juicy and tender, but didn’t leak any juice that would make the fries soggy. There was then a layer of provolone cheese, charred onion, a fried egg, and a drizzle of horseradish sauce. The provolone cheese wasn’t dispersed very well, and ended up creating big gluey blob in the middle of the plate that we couldn’t break apart with the fries alone. The cheese did add another good component of saltiness to the dish, but I wouldn’t have been upset if it wasn’t there in the first place. I had no complaints about the onions or the horseradish sauce, but the egg was a different story. I thought the fried egg would be the perfect addition to the fries, and I couldn’t wait to break the yolk and have delicious golden goodness on every bite, but the way this egg was cooked was borderline sinful. It was cooked over-hard, and whatever yolk had existed was cooked into a chewy thick paste. It was like the consistency of play dough, and the white of the egg was not much better. It was rubbery and hard to cut through with a fork. Needless to say, I was disappointed. There were many components of this dish that worked, and the overall taste was really good, but the cheese and egg both left me wanting something more.

As for the price, it wasn’t the cheapest meal, but it didn’t break the bank either. My drink was $5.00, the dip $7.00 and the fries were $9.00. I have been told that the burgers at The Garage are very good, so I will probably give them a chance to redeem themselves some other time.

 

Beans and Barley Review

This morning I had company flying in to Milwaukee. As soon as they touched down at General Mitchell Airport, they knew where we should eat: Beans and Barley. My guests are from Florida and Rhode Island, and every time they fly out, they have to go to Beans because it is their favorite restaurant in Milwaukee. It is a great spot to have a meal, and it is also friendly to vegan and vegetarian customers. They use a wide range of fresh ingredients, and also house a mini-grocery store filled with food, drinks, and crafts. Beans and Barley has a different menu for every meal of the day, and there are specials each day as well. Today, we had the lunch menu. I decided to have the grilled chicken sandwich and a cup of corn chowder, because we all know how much I love sandwiches.

The soup came out first. Originally, I was skeptical because it had a much whiter and creamier base than I am usually used to in corn chowder. Despite this, I was not disappointed. The creaminess of the soup was very comforting, and the sweet corn kernels really lightened up each bite. It also had a good kick of spice that I was hoping for, but wasn’t expecting because of the lack of diced peppers. Along with the soup came a soft roll, which was slightly sweet and helped make the dish even heartier.

The grilled chicken sandwich was set before me and it surprised me. Usually, Beans and Barley has smaller portion sizes, but this was a colossal meal. The grilled chicken was sliced and laid on a fresh pretzel bun, and decorated with lettuce, tomato, scallions and a chipotle aioli. Most of the time, I like raw red onions on my sandwiches, but the scallions were a perfect amount of kick and weren’t overpowered by the aioli. The aioli, in my opinion, was the shining star of the sandwich. There wasn’t very much of it, but it had a very robust flavor. It was sweet and spicy, which was the perfect flavor combination for the sandwich. My meal also came with a pickle spear and some potato chips.

All in all, my meal was not too expensive. The soup was $3.50 for a cup, and the sandwich was $8.00. Beans and Barley gave me a fresh and affordable meal, as well as a fun and friendly shopping experience. I will definitely go back again.

 

The Green Kitchen Review

I love sandwiches. Any sandwich. Give me a Panini, a wrap, a sub, even just a plain white bread sandwich and I will be happy. Today I went to get my favorite sandwich in Milwaukee. I discovered the #11 about a year ago and I have never been able to go back.

The Green Kitchen is a little stand in the Milwaukee Public Market that serves sandwiches, salads, wraps and juices. It is conveniently located right by the front entrance, so it is pretty hard to miss. When I first went to The Green Kitchen, I had no idea what to get. I asked the man who was working and he suggested the #11, which was featured on the cover of the May 2015 issue of Milwaukee Magazine. I figured since it was good enough to be on the cover of a magazine, it was good enough for me. To this day, I have not found a sandwich as delicious as this one.

The #11 is listed as a “Hot Artisan Sandwich” and is served on two thick slices of ciabatta bread. It is stuffed with chicken, fresh mozzarella, arugula-basil pesto, tomato and fresh arugula and sells for $8.45. They place the giant sandwich in the Panini press, wrap it in foil, and there you have it. The bread is perfectly toasted with beautiful grill marks and has a crunchy outside and a soft inside. The structure of the ciabatta helps to make sure the sandwich keeps its shape. This is a sandwich that won’t have half of your ingredients leaking out the sides. On the inside of the bread, the arugula-basil pesto is spread generously, and acts as a glue to hold all of the fresh arugula inside. Fresh slices of tomato and mozzarella are laid on top of the pieces of chicken and together, it provides and almost religious experience. The freshness of the ingredients is what makes this sandwich great, and to me, the shining star is the mozzarella. It is so delicate in flavor with a nice light texture, but the best part is that it doesn’t melt in the Panini press. Most Paninis have the cheese melted inside to help hold the ingredients together, but it would be a sin to melt this perfect cheese, and the employees of The Green Kitchen know that. Not only is this sandwich full of fresh and crisp flavors, it is extremely filling. I can usually only finish half of the sandwich, but go back within an hour to finish the rest, because the taste is too good to resist.

Oakland Gyros Review

Today it was 80°F in Milwaukee, and that meant that the restaurant scene was almost completely barren. Whenever it is slightly warm enough to wear shorts, everyone heads to the beach all day, because as Wisconsinites, we have to savor every little instance of nice weather. I decided to take advantage of the emptiness on Oakland Avenue and head to a place that I have never seen without a line to the door: Oakland Gyros.

When you walk into OG’s, you get the feel of an old diner. The workers wear paper hats and the lobby is decorated with classic maroon booths. There is a wall of photos displaying families on their trips to Greece, decked out in Oakland Gyro’s flair, and even a picture of Usher. I mean come on, if Usher eats there it has to be good. In addition to the photos, they boast numerous plaques of achievements, even winning Milwaukee’s Best Greek Restaurant for 10 consecutive years since 2006.

When I walked up to the counter to order, I saw the gargantuan tower of lamb roasting on a spit, and knew I needed just a classic gyro.

The regular gyro sandwich consists of a 6” pita, finely sliced white onion, a few slices of tomato, and about an entire pound of lamb meat. They serve you a 4oz cup of tzatziki sauce on the side. I decided to go the extra mile and get feta cheese as well, which was an extra $1.69. They also served me a bag of fries, which was comparable in weight to the gyro itself. Let me just say, it is unbelievable how much meat they serve you in one sandwich. I actually had to take about 1/3 of it off to be able to hold the pita!

Now it’s time for what you really want to hear: how was it? The fries were perfectly crispy on the outside, and just thick enough to boast an almost creamy inside. They were so hot; it was easy to tell that they are made to order and not kept in a warmer all day. The gyro’s components meshed so well together. The pita was soft, yet chewy and soaked up the juice from the lamb. The onions were mild and sliced so thinly, that it almost tasted like a slaw instead of just onions, and the tomatoes were perfectly ripe and not too thick. The tzatziki sauce was less flavorful than other versions I’ve had, but complimented the flavor of the meat. The lamb is by far the shining star of the dish. In each strip you can see which part was closer to the outside of the spit because some pieces were more caramelized than others. Even though that lamb had probably been roasting all day, it was perfectly tender and juicy, while the crispy edges gave some nice texture. And how could I ever have anything bad to say about feta cheese? It was salty and crumbled nicely, and wasn’t too wet.

I have had other things from Oakland Gyros before, like the hamburger and the chili cheese fries, but in my opinion, the classic gyro platter is the best deal for your money and for your taste buds.