Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation

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MSPD
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2010/02/07 22:05:15 (permalink)

Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation

Well...corned beef sandwiches anyway.  I decided I would decide, once and for all (unless new contenders crop up), which corned beef sandwich I liked best in Milwaukee.  I know, I know....thousands and thousands of people have been waiting for this scientific research.  What?  Nobody has?  Oh well then...on to the photos.
 
First up was Deli 1614, a place I discovered existed after reading a comment praising their corned beef, from a reader attached to an online article about sandwiches in the Journal Sentinel.  I actually found a total of two references to the place online, none of which were from reputable sources like me (ha!) or the Sterns or ChicagoStyleDog.  Maybe the aesthetics of the joint has kept everyone from flocking in and commenting online about Deli 1614 during its 13 YEAR (!) run.  Not too bad from the outside:
 

 
I asked the attendant of the broom closet where the deli was -- turns out it wasn't a broom closet..it WAS the deli:
 

 
The menu board confirmed the availability of corned beef.  The commenter on JSOnline compared the corned beef favorably to Jake's and Benji's, but at a "fraction of the cost".  I guess 7/8 is a fraction.
 

 
When I got my bag and returned to the car, I opened the bag with great anticipation.  As I peeled back the butcher paper, I was immediately greeted with what looked like grocery store wheat bread.  Oh the horror.  What the hell happened to the rye that was advertised/that I ordered?
 

 
I peeled back the bread and was actually very pleased to find some nice, thick sliced corned beef.  I tore off a hunk and took a taste -- very nice.
 

 
The brown mustard had a good bite and wasn't overly sour.
 
All in all, it was a good sandwich, but has so much potential to be great if only from the addition of a decent bread. 
 
Corned beef:  3.5 out of 5
Bread:  1.5 out of 5
Mustard:  2.5 out of 5
Overall:  3 out of 5
 
Deli 1614 is at 1614 Walnut, just a short walk west of Speed Queen (maybe another reason nobody knows about this place...they don't get past Speed Queen).
 
(coming up next....Jake's)  
#1

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    MSPD
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    Re:Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation 2010/02/07 22:19:12 (permalink)
    I know this will be a shock, but Jake's has a huge, and maybe unfair, advantage in corned beef sandwich comparisons made by anyone named MSPD.  From the time I stumbed across the place while randomly driving around a few years ago, I've been treated to wonderful sandwich after wonderful sandwich.  Jake's is one of my favorite restaurants anywhere.

    Without too much repetition from my comments in the Jake's thread, the new owner has dressed up the menu board.  The ordering system has changed a bit as well -- now when your number is called, you go to the register next to the door, order and pay.  Then, you stand back in the crowd again and wait for your sandwich. 



    What does bear repeating from the other thread is the photo of the sandwich. 



    Besides the unfair advantage Jake's has with me personally, they also have the advantage of their high volume and their relationship with Miller Bakery.  While the corned beef was beautiful and the deli mustard just right, the bread adds a layer of flavors that sets their sandwich apart from the others in town and, frankly, any other corned beef sandwich I have access to without a plane flight or a much, much longer road trip.
     
    I'm kind of stealing the thunder from my next two posts, but Jake's is still far and away the best corned beef sandwich in existence in Milwaukee.  (Alright...I'll say it..."in my opinion")
     
    Corned Beef:  4 out of 5
    Bread:  5 out of 5
    Mustard:  3 out of 5
    Overall:  4.5 out of 5
     
    (up next....McBob's)
    #2
    MSPD
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    Re:Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation 2010/02/07 22:48:36 (permalink)


    McBob's pissed me off on a couple of levels. 

    First, and I admit I have no standing to criticize them, the place just puts off a bitter, negative vibe.  Messages about not ordering if you're on your phone (which is a fine policy, but it doesn't need to be plastered in huge bold signs all over the bar as soon as you walk in the door), and telling you you can't whine if you screw up your order (in big, bold letters on the menu), were immediately off-putting. 

    That said, I'm extremely happy-go-lucky, so I tried to focus on the fact that it was otherwise a kind of cool atmosphere and the possibility that I was about to eat a fantastic sandwich.

    I returned to the car with my pleasantly heavy bag.  As I was with 1614, I was practically drooling as I peeled back the foil.  And as I was with 1614, I was shocked and utterly depressed at the sight that appeared:



    What....in....the....name....of....God....is....that....nasty....bread?!?!!?  I think the local Wonder bread rep would have even snickered at the pathetic look of McBob's bread.  Have I mentioned that the bread looked horrible?  It was.

    What made it even more shameful is that when I peeled it back, it revealed some deep red, marbly, delicious looking corned beef.



    The corned beef looked so beautiful against the backdrop of that disgusting bread, I spent 30 seconds taking two more photos of it, trying to forget that I had to eat the bread with it.  Here...look:





    I can't say I'm a fan of the chopped delivery of the beef vs. sliced, but it had incredible flavor -- beefy, briny, and salty (maybe briny and salty are the same...anyway).  This is really great corned beef.

    Which gets back to why McBob's pissed me off.  Not only did the bread deliver all of the pleasure of a kick to the face, I can't go back anytime soon for their corned beef hash (hold the toast PLEASE!) which I imagine is heavenly. 

    Corned beef:  5 out of 5
    Bread:  -189 out of 5
    Mustard:  3 out of 5
    Overall:  2.5 out of 5
     
    (up next...one final sandwich at Benji's)

    #3
    MSPD
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    Re:Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation 2010/02/07 23:09:59 (permalink)
    I didn't take any exterior photos of Benji's because, well, it's really a horrible looking restaurant.  I remember the first time I ate there a few years ago.  I was thinking, "wow, they must have gotten a great deal on rent when the nail salon and used CD shop went belly up".

    And (see Deli 1614 above), I actually don't care what a place looks like.  I just want good food.  But, unfortunately, after my sandwich from Benji's, I was still wanting for good food.



    Just looking at the sandwich, it's not too bad.  Frankly, after McBob's, I would have been excited seeing my corned beef nestled between two cedar planks as long as they had caraway seeds involved somehow.

    The corned beef and mustard had nice flavor but after chewing the first bite for a while, I noticed that everything was dry.  I was really surprised -- they take the slab of beef out of a vat of water when you order it.  But, somehow, it and the bread both seemed past their prime.

    Also securing Benji's inferiority to the Great Jake's (sorry...bias showing through again) was the miniscule size of the sandwich.  If you look closely at the photo, even in the middle of the sandwich, the meat is barely 2x the width of the bread.  

    I left thinking I would have been better off doing a Hopple Popple comparison.  I would immediately speed to Benji's if they opened in Minneapolis-St. Paul, but the corned beef seems to have disappeared behind a bunch of other things that they do well.  Too bad.

    Corned beef:  2 out of 5 (good flavor, just too dry)
    Bread:  3 out of 5 (good quality, just too dry)
    Mustard:  3 out of 5
    Overall:  3 out of 5

    I do offer Benji's an extra bonus point for their proximity to Kopp's.  "Super Bowl of Custard" flavor (chocolate with a whole bunch of stuff mixed in...caramel, almonds, chocolate covered peanuts and more) was great:



    I also need more time to get a great photo of the cows.  I love the cows but every time I'm there, I'm disappointed how I can never get a good shot.  Damn you "Don't Climb on the Hill" signs.

    #4
    BuddyRoadhouse
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    Re:Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation 2010/02/08 00:09:24 (permalink)
    MSPD,

    The Contingent recently did a tour that kicked off with brunch at McBob's.  Not only can I confirm your assumption of "heavenly" corned beef hash, I will dispute your take on the "negative vibe".  Our experience was nothing short of joyous and celebratory from start to finish.  The wait staff and management handled our large, unwieldy group with grace and good nature.

    Maybe the fact that we were a big group with a big check influenced their attitude.  Maybe it was the fact that TV cameras were shooting the entire experience that put a kinder face on McBob's staff.  On the other hand, the place was packed on a Sunday morning and no one seemed to be mistreated or unhappy during our visit.

    Sorry you were put off by what seems to me to be just a bit of "kibitzing" (an old Gaelic word; it means "to give someone a ribbing") by the management toward their regular patronage.

    Buddy
    #5
    quijote
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    Re:Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation 2010/02/08 00:20:27 (permalink)
    Thanks for the report, MSPD. I only have a corned beef sandwich at Benji's if my craving is really strong and I'm in a pinch; otherwise it's Jake's. Benji's strong points are hoppel poppel (as you note), chicken matzoh soup, and matzoh brei. The corned beef hash is hit or miss, depending on who's in the kitchen.

    Did you go to the Benji's in Shorewood (by the Baskin Robbins)?

    The only McBob's corned beef sandwich I had was at one of the summer festivals, and the bread was more of a sturdy sourdough type. At the restaurant, I've only had the corned beef hash (with eggs, etc.) and loved it. It was even better with a bloody Mary.

    I actually thought about breaking out tonight for Kopps, but held back.
    #6
    The Travelin Man
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    Re:Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation 2010/02/08 00:39:17 (permalink)
    White and wheat bread?  Yiikes.  The folks at Katz's would be rolling their eyes.  Is there a choice of breads at these places - and, if you don't specify, you get what they have in the kitchen?  Or, is white/wheat the standard for corned beef sandwiches in these establishments?
    #7
    MSPD
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    Re:Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation 2010/02/08 01:10:39 (permalink)
    CSD, my impression of McBob's might have been way out of the norm.  I'd go back there without a doubt...it just seemed a little off attitude-wise. 

    quijote, yes, the Benji's on Oakland, next to Baskin Robbins.

    Travelin Man, all of them specify rye on the menus/menu boards.  Jake's was the only place I didn't actually recite "corned beef, mustard on rye" specifically.

    Finally, I agree that the corned beef sandwich isn't probably the most appealing thing on the menus at McBob's or Benji's.  The thought of a couple soft-poached eggs oozing all over the corned beef hash at McBob's is making my mouth water as I type.  I've also had great plates of hoppel poppel, blintzes, potato pancakes and other things at Benji's as well. 

    But...just ordering a bunch of good things at restaurants wouldn't make for a very good story.
    #8
    MilwFoodlovers
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    Re:Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation 2010/02/08 07:10:33 (permalink)
    I'm told everyone working at McBob's must start as a cook/burrito maker. If they survive the pace, they can survive most anything I guess. I have never seen their corned beef sandwich served on anything other than rye bread. Was I just lucky? That said, Miller Bakery has cornered the market on great local rye and that isn't what McBob's uses. Mrs MFL says that McBob's and Jake's are like comparing apples and oranges, both great but very different. I'm still speechless with your picture. There is yet another corned beef to try in town. It's called Mr. Pastrami 3216 South Howell Avenue 53207-2742 (414) 482-0203 but it is frustrating in it's inconsistanty.   Slim McGinn's Pub also has great house made corned beef with the bonus of almost being walking distance to the Summerfest grounds. 338 South 1st Street  53204-1601
    (414) 271-7546 Slims Fridays their ff shrimp is out of this world.
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    Re:Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation 2010/02/08 09:07:40 (permalink)
    MSPD
    But...just ordering a bunch of good things at restaurants wouldn't make for a very good story.



    I'm thinking the opposite. I really appreciate the time and effort you went through to put this together. I loved the pictures of the corned beef ( although the one from McBob's does make the corned beef look like cherry twizzler bites, which is weird). But you add in a picture of a couple of poached eggs oozing over corned beef hash and that makes it an even better trip report. 

    Do us all a favor, bring forth the pictures of the corned beef hash, the hoppel poppel, the blintzes, the potatoe pancakes and even a picture of Benjis horrible looking restaurant. If its that bad looking, I gotta see what it looks like. 

    Allan
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    MSPD
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    Re:Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation 2010/02/08 22:40:39 (permalink)
    LeadBelly

    Do us all a favor, bring forth the pictures of the corned beef hash, the hoppel poppel, the blintzes, the potatoe pancakes and even a picture of Benjis horrible looking restaurant. If its that bad looking, I gotta see what it looks like. 

    Allan

    Since you asked...
    I Googled and found a photo of Benji's....the URL is actually from Roadfood so thank you to whomever deserves the credit for the photo.
     
    http://www.roadfood.com/photos/9789.jpg
     
    Isn't it beautiful???
     
    I also did my usual morning stop at the Public Market.  Not exactly a photo of food...
     

     
    Speed Queen outside shoulder (kind of lousy photo -- camera battery was dying and I wanted to eat while it was hot instead of fumbling around for fresh batteries):
     

     
    Burger at Solly's.  Unfortunately, they hosed up my order.  It wasn't the best experience.
     

     
    That was it for the weekend, except for my coffee at Alterra on Saturday and my nachos at Buffalo Wild Wings (Not for the food....I like the feeling of superiority when I beat drunkards at trivia).
     
    Here's a photo of a Minneapolis police horse, just for fun:
     

    #11
    quijote
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    Re:Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation 2010/02/08 22:49:22 (permalink)
    Great pictures, especially that beauty from Speed Queen. Nice police horse, too!
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    LeadBelly
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    Re:Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation 2010/02/08 22:56:35 (permalink)
    Yeah, Benji's is kind of ugly. Sort of like a used to be trendy mens barbershop. The description of the sandwich actually matched the look of the building. Tired looking and tired tasting. 

     However, the chocolate custard and the BBQ shoulder were each equally sweet to look at. Thanks for the extra pictures. 
    Allan

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    buffetbuster
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    Re:Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation 2010/02/09 10:18:35 (permalink)
    MSPD
    McBob's pissed me off on a couple of levels. 

    First, and I admit I have no standing to criticize them, the place just puts off a bitter, negative vibe. 
    I have been to McBob's twice and my experiences have been the exact opposite.  It is one of the friendliest, most welcoming Roadfood places I have ever visited.  When I was there in December, the owner spent a good half hour chatting with me.
     
    I hope you get a chance to go back and try the corned beef hash.  It is fantastic!  Thanks for the report and all the great photos. 



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    Re:Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation 2010/02/09 10:21:59 (permalink)
    MSPD
    Since you asked...
    I Googled and found a photo of Benji's....the URL is actually from Roadfood so thank you to whomever deserves the credit for the photo.
     
    http://www.roadfood.com/photos/9789.jpg
     
    Isn't it beautiful??? 
    Your welcome!

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    joerogo
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    Re:Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation 2010/02/09 10:53:53 (permalink)
    MSPD, Thoroughly enjoyed your report/corned beef throwdown.  Great pics and very well written.
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    MSPD
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    Re:Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation 2010/02/09 11:01:55 (permalink)
    buffetbuster

    Your welcome!


    Ah-ha!  I was hoping the rightful owner of the photo would speak up.  Mostly so I could ask:  Is that your enormous Oldsmobile and, if so, do you have to have an extra cruise ship captain's endorsement on your drivers license to operate a car that large?
     
    I'm glad the vibe I got from McBob's is an anomaly.  The trappings of subtle hyperbole in writing is that some things come across soundling much worse than they were.  While the bread was deplorable, my comments about being "pissed off" were part of the hyperbole.  I wasn't at all pissed off and, even after the bread fiasco, left thinking I would love to return there, dine in, and down a big breakfast.
     
    I'm actually pretty difficult to frustrate.  The food at one of my favorite places here in Minneapolis (Brasa) was borderline terrible on my first visit there.  My response was to quickly go back. 
     
     
     
     
     
     
    #17
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    Re:Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation 2010/02/09 12:46:29 (permalink)
    Even having only met you once, I would concur that you are pretty happy-go-lucky & willing to give places mroe than one shot.

    Next time you are in town, let us know, I would love to have McBob's again.
    #18
    MSPD
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    Re:Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation 2010/02/09 13:13:47 (permalink)
    Will do!  I had very little notice for this trip, so I didn't make any "grand plans". 
    #19
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    Re:Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation 2010/02/09 14:04:49 (permalink)
    Hi Hamburger I think it is important for you to know that at McBob's we use Miller Bakery Rye bread.  Yes that's right that was Miller bakery bread.  We have added a marble rye from Miller because people thought it was a white bread.  What you were eating was a sourdough rye.  Since we have added the marble rye the old bread still out sells the darker rye 10 to 1.
     
    I am sorry that you were put off by our signs but we have a huge to go customer base and the phones have become a real issue.  We have been called some very nasty names when we ask people to get off before ordering.  I stand behind my wonderful employees because they put up with alot of abuse and still come back year after year.
     
    Hope to see you back and try the marbel rye because we really have some of the best corned beef around.
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    Re:Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation 2010/02/09 14:54:47 (permalink)
    McRoberts-
    First of all, welcome to Roadfood!  And thank you for the explanation about the bread used on the corned beef sandwich.  I hope you stick around and continue to post and don't be surprised if other Roadfooders have some questions for you. 
    #21
    MSPD
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    Re:Milwaukee - Corned Beef Coronation 2010/02/09 15:41:51 (permalink)
    McRoberts,

    Echoing buffetbuster, welcome and thank you. 

    I agree that you have some of the best corned beef around -- hopefully my rating it 5 out of 5 counts for something.  I've eaten a lot of corned beef and yours stood out flavor-wise. 
     
    To be honest, I'm a bit troubled if what I had (photographic evidence above) is a Miller product, much less Miller rye.  To begin with, there was absolutely no rye flavor at all (and definitely no sourdough flavor).  Further, it bore no similarity at all to the Miller rye that I had at Jake's just minutes before.  Look at the photo again...are you sure I didn't get white bread from some other menu item by accident?

    I have no reason to not trust your word -- rather, it just would mean that Miller has a wide range of quality in rye bread products and I very much prefer the stuff at the other end of their product spectrum (the stuff at Jake's).  Maybe I'll go BYOB (bring your own bread) next time.

    Again, I will be back (although I live in Minneapolis, so it won't be right away).  I hope I've clarified that the signs, "warnings" were exaggerated a bit for journalistic effect -- while that was the first two things I saw when I walked in, it wasn't that big of a deal. 

    I definitely look forward to some more McBob's corned beef!

    Thanks again, and I wish you continued success.
    #22
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