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 Weekend in Milwaukee

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Weekend in Milwaukee Mon, 01/7/08 7:43 PM (permalink)
This past weekend I flew in and out of Milwaukee, one of my favorite cities.

Friday, January 4

While waiting for my flight in Pittsburgh, I met a very interesting young lady. Her name is Jackie Rodgers and she is a local. She is attempting to make the US Olympic teams in both pole vault and bobsledding.

While we were sitting there talking, she pulled out a DVD of her being interviewed on the local sports show by Pittsburgh icon Stan Savran. It had only taken place a few days earlier and she hadn't seen it yet, so she popped it into her DVD player. It was really fun watching someone being interviewed on tv, while sitting next to them.

Needless to say, I am going to enjoy rooting for Jackie in her quest to make the Olympic team(s). She was a delightful young lady with lots of personality and I wish her the best of luck in her quest.

My plan once I landed in Milwaukee was to drive to McBob's for their fish fry, since they serve the fish until 10:00PM. Unfortunately, my flight was way behind schedule and I didn't even land until 10:00, so no Friday fish fry for me. Tired and wanting to make things easier, I drove from the airport straight to the Kopp's in Greenfield.

I ordered a double cheeseburger, which was surprisingly big for the money

Not a bad burger at all, but nothing I would go out of my way for. As for the custard, their flavors of the day were Kono Coco Mac and Midnight Chocolate Cake, which I chose.

Since it was almost 11:00, the closing time, the young lady asked if I wanted a lid. I said yes and before I knew it, my beautiful custard got smashed in. I should have asked for a lid and did it myself, since I wanted to take a photo. It was late and I wasn't thinking. I did take a photo after removing the lid in my hotel room, but it looked awful. It did taste just as good, though.

Much more to come..... (and I promise much better photos)

    RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Mon, 01/7/08 8:46 PM (permalink)
    Saturday, January 5

    For breakfast, I had reservations at Watt's Tea Room downtown. The earliest they accept reservations is for 7:30AM, which would be a late breakfast for an early riser like myself. So, I headed to Racine to get some kringles, for snacking on later that night.

    I arrived at Larsen Bakery just a few moments after they opened at 6:00AM.

    Coming to these kringle places can be very difficult, because the pastries themselves are so big, I can never try more than one flavor at a time when I am out here by myself. And they all look tempting! Having never had apricot before, I chose that and put it in my car. Here is a close up:

    Since I knew I needed lots of food to snack on later tonight, I walked across the street to Bendtsen's Bakery and bought a cherry cheese kringle.

    A couple things I noticed.....

    The kringle at Larsen Bakery is $5.00 and is more modest size, while the one at Bendtsen's is (if I remember correctly) $9.00 and is significantly bigger.

    And Bendtsen's has moved their cases around since the last time I was there in June. The sitting area is now gone, although they do still have a few seats by the window.

    The Roadfood review for Larsen Bakery:

    and Bendtsen's Bakery:

    Unfortunately, I still didn't kill enough time and I found myself a half hour early for breakfast. I did find this nice little park downtown, all decorated for Christmas.

    So, I pulled over and walked around for a bit, taking some photos.

    At 7:30, I headed over to Watt's Tea Room.

    Now this was a bit strange..... On their website, they say they accept reservations for breakfast starting at 7:30. So, I called to make the arrangements and the young lady who answered the phone, seemed confused. She said they don't open until 9:00, so I mentioned what the website said. She asked to take my name and number and a manager would call me back. Half hour later, the manager called and said they would be happy to seat me at 7:30. But since the store was closed, he gave me a number to call to have someone let me in.

    I called at 7:30 and a man (who turned out to be my chef) named Gary let me in and led me upstairs. Needless to say, I had the place to myself.

    For my breakfast I ordered the unusual sounding but delicious macadamia nut croissant french toast (which was a special) and a side of bacon.

    Watt's is also famous for their ginger toast, which I was very much looking forward to, since I love the taste of ginger. And this did not disappoint!

    The review by Michael Stern also talked about this wonderful dessert called sunshine cake. Appararently, this is a house specialty and is made fresh everyday. When I asked about it, Gary said he didn't think it was ready for the day yet. But, he did find a piece from yesterday, which he gave me for free. This photo is a little deceiving, but the piece was quite big!

    This is a sponge cake with custard filling and fantastic icing! And even though it was a day old, it was incredibly moist.

    This was an excellent breakfast from start to finish, other than the sour tasting orange juice.

    I do need to talk more about my chef and host Gary. When he found out I was from Pittsburgh, he got excited and told me that when his son is a little older, he wants to take him there to see all the bridges. (Pittsburgh has the second most bridges in the world behind only Venice). It turns out, he is Harvard educated and we had a wonderful time discussing architecture, archaelogy, travel, food and Milwaukee itself. He was an oustanding chef and host and I couldn't have been in better hands.

    I ended up leaving at 9:00, just as the store was opening and customers were arriving. Just an all around great breakfast experience!

    Much more to come.....

      ann peeples

      • Total Posts: 8317
      • Joined: 5/21/2006
      • Location: West Allis, Wisconsin
      RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Mon, 01/7/08 8:55 PM (permalink)
      Wonderful!! Cant believe you didnt ask me to join you!
        mayor al

        • Total Posts: 15059
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        • Location: Louisville area, Southern Indiana
        • Roadfood Insider
        RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Mon, 01/7/08 9:26 PM (permalink)
        You remind me of that old recruiting commercial the Army used for years..."I get more done before breakfast than most folks do all day"...or something like that. If I ate all those goodies by 9 AM I would nap til noon and be unwilling to look at food until sundown!!

        And I would have driven 50 miles out of my way, on bald tires in a blizzard, to have Ann join me for all that fun.

          • Total Posts: 503
          • Joined: 4/24/2006
          • Location: Bedford Corners, NY
          RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Mon, 01/7/08 9:52 PM (permalink)
          Great job!
          My wife's sister lives in Milwaukee, and every time we visit we make sure to go to HEINEMANN'S for breakfast. It's a real cozy (though pretty big) place, and everything they make is great.
          We love the baked oatmeal, and they were nice enough to give us the recipe. If you have the chance, go there.

            RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Mon, 01/7/08 10:16 PM (permalink)
            I genuinely feel bad for not contacting you, MilwFoodlovers and chicagostyledog ahead of time and trying to arrange a shared meal. Unfortunately, the fact that my Steelers were playing on Saturday night and I needed to be back in my hotel early to watch the game screwed up all my plans.

            Because it is so cheap and easy to fly into Milwaukee because of Midwest Airlines, I promise I will be back in town before too long.....probably with my cousin Johnny with me.

            I would genuinely love to meet you and others.

            Mr. Mayor-
            Being such an early riser can be tough when you fly west. My body won't let me sleep past 5:00 here in EST, which turns into 4:00CST! What I wouldn't do to be able to sleep a little later. But as long as I am up, I mind as well take advantage of it.

            I did make it to Heinemann's, which will be later in the report.

              • Total Posts: 2368
              • Joined: 12/1/2006
              • Location: Pewaukee, WI & Fuquay-Varina, NC
              RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Mon, 01/7/08 10:33 PM (permalink)
              Great report.

              You can do better than Kopp's for a burger, but probably not when your plane landed.

                RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Mon, 01/7/08 11:05 PM (permalink)
                Saturday, January 5 cont.

                After leaving Watt's, I walked around downtown checking out some of the interesting buildings. I also had a list of buildings I wanted to see outside of downtown, so I got in my car and drove around. Gary, the chef at Watt's, also gave me a few of his favorites to check out. Milwaukee sure does have plenty of beautiful buildings!

                While driving around, I found myself on W. North Avenue. Recognizing this as the street McBob's was on, I was on my way to check it out.

                Truthfully, I was planning on just seeing what the place looked like, but the glowing red "OPEN" sign called me like a siren and I was soon inside looking at the menu.

                I remember from the review that they are well known for their corned beef sandwiches, so I decided to get a reuben and a side of the potato pancakes. But, the waitress said that they wouldn't make anything off the lunch menu until 11:00 and it was only 10:05. I told her I would just finish my Sprecher root beer (delicious!), leave and come back later. While sitting there, I checked out the breakfast menu and saw they had corned beef hash. I called the waitress back and ordered that with some eggs.

                All I have to say is WOW! Words fail me just how good this corned beef hash was. It was lean, but not too lean. You can see the corned beef comes in big, well-spiced chunks. And there were also charred crusty parts, which reminded of the burnt ends you find in a good Kansas City barbecue joint. Absolutely spectacular! This was the best corned beef hash I have ever had and even though I wasn't all that hungry from my previous meal, I quickly devoured the whole thing. And to think, I almost walked out without trying it!

                A few notes about McBob's. The place is a classic tavern, where serious drinkers come, yet they are open for breakfast, which struck me as a little odd. The place was very busy, yet it seemed only one young lady was serving everybody and working the bar. When I saw this and the fact I wasn't a regular, I figured it would take forever to get served. But she did a wonderful job and took great care of me.


                Time to do some more sight seeing. I headed for the stately Pabst Mansion to take a tour.

                Typical of a place like this, there is no photography inside the house. I thoroughly enjoyed the self-guided tour as the house was still decorated for Christmas. I especially liked the dining room and the huge ornate corner cabinets.


                Since, I hadn't eaten in a few minutes, it was time to reward myself with some dessert. While heading north on I-43, I got off to stop at the Kopp's in Glendale

                for a strawberry custard.

                If you haven't noticed yet, I really like Kopp's!

                Much more to come.....
                  Ort. Carlton.

                  • Total Posts: 3589
                  • Joined: 4/9/2003
                  • Location: Athens, GA
                  RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Mon, 01/7/08 11:20 PM (permalink)
                  Originally posted by buffetbuster
                  I ordered a double cheeseburger, which was surprisingly big for the money

                  That is INDEED a big cheeseburger! Try as I might, I can't get my hands clear around it!! You must have been forced to eat it with utensils....
                  UnMoroccanly, Ort. Carlton in That Athens Of Georgia, Athens, Georgia.
                  P. S. There is a Morocco, Indiana (47963), but people there usually do not eat with their hands. Tsk tsk. The old country's customs die fast.
                    Ort. Carlton.

                    • Total Posts: 3589
                    • Joined: 4/9/2003
                    • Location: Athens, GA
                    RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Mon, 01/7/08 11:30 PM (permalink)
                    Seriously, for once... your writings are well worth waiting for. And don't apologize for your photographs; they're just fine.
                    Here's hoping you make it to this neck of the woods eventually, so I can take you to some of my favorites... like The Gateway Cafe on Thursday lunch for chicken mull... or Plantation Buffet on Tuesday for BBQ goat.
                    Keep your postings coming; you're keeping us amply entertained!
                    Appreciatively, Ort. Carlton in 30601-land.

                      RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Mon, 01/7/08 11:58 PM (permalink)
                      Saturday, January 5 cont.

                      My next goal was to visit Holy Hill basilica in Hubertus, northwest of the city. I tried calling ahead of time to get the hours, but the number I had was incorrect and was some guy's personal cell phone number. I decided to drive up there anyway, figuring at the very least I would enjoy seeing the beautiful church.

                      When the basilica first comes into view, it is an amazing sight.

                      As I first reached the church area, I saw a sign that said Holy Hill Cafe now open. So, I parked and went inside where it said Old Monastery Inn Cafe. But, all the signs inside said Holy Hill Cafe, so I'm not sure why it has different names.

                      The interior is obviously a school cafeteria

                      and service is a short cafeteria line. By the way, that is Frank, the cook in the photo. What happens is, they hand you a partioned paper plate and you move down the line. The young lady holds up the cover to each pan, letting you know what is in there, with you telling her yes I want some or not.

                      Here is what I ended up with. Homemade chicken noodle soup

                      clockwise from upper left - green bean casserole, bbq meatloaf, salsa chicken and specialty chicken, which I particularly enjoyed.

                      But the best thing to eat here is pie. The review from Michael focused on the fruits of the forest pie, but they were out of it on my visit. I was more than happy to get a piece of peach pie, though.

                      Really good pie, with an outstanding crust!


                      I headed up into the church itself to see the beautiful interior and I wasn't disappointed.

                      By this time, I was incredibly full and tired from the lack of sleep the night before. So, I headed back to the hotel and took a nice long nap.

                      Feeling refreshed, I headed out for a quick dinner, since I needed to be back in the hotel for the Steeler football game. I headed for Mazos on 27th for a burger and a shake.

                      I don't know if this is considered the classic Wisconsin butter burger, but you can see the pool of butter on top of the fried onions.

                      Good burger, but not as good as some others I have had, like Solly's. The milkshake was a disappointment, though. I ordered a raspberry shake and though it was nice and creamy and looked good, it had practically no flavor.

                      The item I really enjoyed here was the first rate ham & bean soup, which was delicious!

                      As much as I would have loved to walk across the street and get some custard at Leon's, I was running short on time to get back to my hotel. So, I stayed in and watched the game while snacking on the kringles. As for the game itself, the less said the better.

                      More to come.....

                        • Total Posts: 1551
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                        • Location: wheaton, IL
                        RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Tue, 01/8/08 12:10 AM (permalink)

                        A couple of questions:

                        Did you prefer Larsen's or Bendtsen's? I've only had Bendtsen's, which I think is the best pastry I've had in my life.

                        Does McBob's look like a place where you could bring kids during the day?

                          RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Tue, 01/8/08 5:57 AM (permalink)
                          Thanks for asking about kids and McBob's because it was something I intended to mention earlier, but forgot.

                          While I was eating, a group of college aged kids came in. The waitress carded them (whether they ordered a beer or not, I'm not sure) and when she found out that one wasn't 21, she told him he wasn't even allowed to be inside the bar. Disappointed, the entire group got up and left.

                          But, at another table, there was a woman dining with two kids approximately four and two. It seems they were enforcing this policy at one table and not the other. So, you might not be able to take your kids into McBob's. But, as a non-drinker and a non-bar person, I was still very comfortable and made to feel welcome there.

                          My advice would be to call and ask if you can bring your kids inside. If you can, I highly recommend going.

                          As for Bendtsen's or Larsen, I give the slight edge to Bendtsen's. But if traveling by myself, I sometimes choose Larsen, since the more modest size is preferred. Either way, I do love kringles!

                            • Total Posts: 3090
                            • Joined: 3/31/2001
                            • Location: Milwaukee, WI
                            RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Tue, 01/8/08 6:50 AM (permalink)
                            Wisconsin allows minors of any age in a tavern if accompanied by a parent. btw, my jaw is just dropping in all you've seen in a limited amount of time. Extraordinary job!

                              RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Tue, 01/8/08 7:10 AM (permalink)
                              Thanks for the info.....I should have figured that out myself.

                              I think you definitely would be comfortable taking kids to McBob's during the day.

                                RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Tue, 01/8/08 7:11 AM (permalink)
                                Milwaukee is sure a great food town ... Excellent report.

                                  RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Tue, 01/8/08 8:03 AM (permalink)
                                  Great report! We had a small mini-meet up that way the day after Thanksgiving. Larson's was closed for a 5 day weekend but Bendtsen's was opne. My plan was to do the comparison but for obvious reasons, I was unable. I'm bookmarking some of your stops for the next Milwaukee trip.
                                    mayor al

                                    • Total Posts: 15059
                                    • Joined: 8/20/2002
                                    • Location: Louisville area, Southern Indiana
                                    • Roadfood Insider
                                    RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Tue, 01/8/08 9:21 AM (permalink)

                                    I fully agree with the comments that Milwaukee is a great food town. Ourt experience a couple of months ago compliment the stops BB made. It would be very easy to go directly from place to place for several days in a quest for a wide variety of Roadfood menu items.

                                    BB, Keep the reports coming, Buddy. I am sorry you won't be able to join us in Mobile, I think you would be a great Keynote Speaker at one of the Dinner Meetings there.

                                      • Total Posts: 462
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                                      • Location: Luray, VA
                                      RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Tue, 01/8/08 9:48 AM (permalink)
                                      BB, you are THE MAN!

                                      ABsolutely great reports, the non-food pics and descriptions certainly add to the comleteness of a trip.

                                      Thanks again, and keep 'em coming, Doug

                                      (now if I can just find a cheap flight to Milwaukee)
                                        The Travelin Man

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                                        • Location: Central FL
                                        RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Tue, 01/8/08 9:57 AM (permalink)
                                        BB -

                                        Your posts, photography, zest for travel, and penchant for quality food are exceeded only by your ability to post a timely report about such!
                                          ann peeples

                                          • Total Posts: 8317
                                          • Joined: 5/21/2006
                                          • Location: West Allis, Wisconsin
                                          RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Tue, 01/8/08 1:18 PM (permalink)
                                          I will hold you to your word, BB on a meet in the near future!!

                                            RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Tue, 01/8/08 2:07 PM (permalink)
                                            It just keeps getting better ... Looking forward to more.

                                              • Total Posts: 6317
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                                              • Location: Live at Saint Clair
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                                              RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Tue, 01/8/08 3:37 PM (permalink)
                                              When I grow up I wanna be like BB!!

                                              BB - I loved the Holy Hill Bascilica pix, I love traveling to different cities and visiting their churches. I had a field day the last time I was in London. 3 Rolls of 35mm all of churches.

                                              Thanks for the great report & pix


                                                RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Tue, 01/8/08 5:18 PM (permalink)
                                                Sunday January 6

                                                I spent the early part of the morning packing and picking up kringle crumbs off the couch from the night before. Man, those things are messy!

                                                I checked out of my hotel and drove to the Heinemann's in nearby Greendale.

                                                This photo doesn't come close to showing just how foggy it was. This photo was taken at 7:30 in the morning when the restaurant opened and it never really cleared up too much as the day went.

                                                Back to Heinemann's.....this is a local chain (five locations according to their website) that last appeared in a Roadfood book in 1992. It reminds me a lot of the Eat 'n Park chain we have back home, just a little nicer.

                                                I started off with the grilled coffeecake

                                                (sorry about the blurry photo, but I took four pictures and this was the best of a bad lot)
                                                and the hopple popple (this is how they spelled it here)

                                                There was absolutely nothing wrong with the hopple popple, but it couldn't match what I had at Benji's last June. The grilled coffeecake was a winner, though.


                                                Next, I headed west to the town of Mukwonago to visit The Elegant Farmer. This is a farmer's market that should be easy to spot.....just look for the big smiling barn.

                                                I really liked the farmer on the sign, wearing his bow-tie.

                                                This must be the first Roadfood joint I have visited that you enter through a silo!

                                                The inside had many, many wonderful looking different foods to try. Here is part of the meat area (I bought some ham sticks and some bison sticks)

                                                and this being Wisconsin, they had plenty of cheese available.

                                                But what puts The Elegant Farmer on the map is their famous apple pie baked in a bag. Of course, clever me forgot to get a photo of this, but I did get a pic of a cherry pie baked in a bag.

                                                As much as I wanted to try the cherry, they didn't seem to sell them by the slice like they did the apple. So, I bought a slice of apple pie

                                                This pie was fantastic! The crust was heavy, rugged and a real joy to eat. This pie is a "must-eat" for any Roadfooder to try.

                                                To drink, this place offered several interesting options and I went for milk (being the dairy state) and some berry cider, which I didn't really care for.

                                                The Elegant Farmer gets a big thumbs up from me. I just wish I could have found a way to get much more home to try. On the way out, I noticed a truck with this interesting saying on it:


                                                I got back on the highway towards Milwaukee.

                                                More to come.....


                                                  • Total Posts: 6317
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                                                  • Roadfood Insider
                                                  RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Tue, 01/8/08 5:44 PM (permalink)
                                                  My mom used to make apple pie in a brown paper bag, and I remember it to be heavenly.

                                                  That is until one day she forgot what she was doing and the bag caught fire

                                                    • Total Posts: 3090
                                                    • Joined: 3/31/2001
                                                    • Location: Milwaukee, WI
                                                    RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Tue, 01/8/08 5:46 PM (permalink)
                                                    It's my understanding that the land where The Elegant Farmer is located has been sold and will become future condo's. My understanding is that they will relocate in some form.

                                                      • Total Posts: 379
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                                                      • Location: Rhinelander, WI
                                                      RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Tue, 01/8/08 6:25 PM (permalink)
                                                      What no Chesse Curds yet? J/K I live way up north from where you are. Rhinelander in fact so I will for sure be keeping an eye out on this thread as I have a trip planned from the first week of March to that area.
                                                        ann peeples

                                                        • Total Posts: 8317
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                                                        • Location: West Allis, Wisconsin
                                                        RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Tue, 01/8/08 6:51 PM (permalink)
                                                        I am so glad you got to go to Holy Hill and that their cafeteria is open again.When I was last there, they served a fantastic cream of mushroom soup made with sherry.Divine!
                                                          Big Ugly Mich

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                                                          RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Tue, 01/8/08 7:48 PM (permalink)
                                                          The Elegant Farmer. The best part of The Elegant Farmer is:

                                                            RE: Weekend in Milwaukee Tue, 01/8/08 7:54 PM (permalink)
                                                            We have a couple of specaility shops locally that sell the pies in the bag. The mixed berry with crumb topping is my favorite. we had two just before Christmas.
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