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 Milwaukee Trip Report

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  • Total Posts: 23
  • Joined: 4/19/2001
  • Location: Indianapolis,
Milwaukee Trip Report Tue, 05/26/09 1:42 PM (permalink)
Spent three days in Milwaukee earlier this month, a place I've visited (and eaten in) many times, mostly on business, but not in at least ten years and never for more than a day at a time. Three days afforded me a much better chance to get to know it, a really gorgeous and well-preserved city. Went with a vegetarian friend and managed pretty easily to find meals satisfying to both of us.
Got into town about 8pm on a Wednesday night and headed straight to Zaffiro's Pizza.

Charming place, sort of a smaller version of the spots in Chicago's Heart of Italy neighborhood. Very good pizza as well -- although: I'm a big fan of super-thin crust but less so super-crispy crust and this crust is about as crisp as they come. Good taste (much better than anything I can get in Indianapolis) but I'd say I definitely prefer Vito and Nick's. From there we drove through a downpour to get extra heavies at Leon's, easily my Milwaukee custard of choice. Then downtown to our hotel.

Wonderful breakfast the next morning at Beans and Barley: pesto scrambled eggs, their famous scone, carrot-orange juice, and the best cup of coffee I've had in a long time!

Great way to start a beauitiful sunny day. The Brewers were playing a day game, so off we went, opting for the $7 seats -- which were really good: high up, yes, but not that bad and along the 3rd base line. For $7! Then more Leon's.
Dinner that night was Three Brothers, a place I've eaten at several times, though, again, not in quite a while. Nothing had changed. It was my friend Gary's first visit and we were both knocked out.

We split a spinach burek but the revelation of the trip for me was their chicken dumpling soup: Very simple, just herbed broth with a single dumpling, but perfection. The dumpling had a taste close to my mother's, my personal dumpling benchmark. Afterward we went for a drink (dessert) at At Random. I had their blueberry ice cream drink, which was really good and tasted just like blueberry pie.
Spent the next day, an overcast one, exploring various neighborhoods. Had lunch at Triskele's, a neat corner spot in an otherwise residential neighborhood.

I ordered chicken sausage with mustard gnocci in a saffron sauce. The gnocci and sauce were excellent, the sausage less so and unfortunately there was a lot more sausage than gnocci involved. Toured the Lakefront Brewery, which was very entertaining, a bargain at $6 (tour included four free beers!), and ended with a singalong of the theme to Laverne and Shirley.
It being Friday, dinner meant a fish fry. We opted for Beer Belly's, a rather nondescript place near the airport, because I'd heard 1) that they pan-fry their fish and 2) that they offer bluegill (maybe my all-time favorite food).

Nine small filets were $10 or fourteen, which we opted for, were $12.50. I could have eaten twice that many. Great fish, simply coated in flour, the best meal of the trip. (Can't believe I forgot to photograph the bluegill.)
Downtown Milwaukee looked great that night in the fog.

More neighborhood hopping the next day, with lunch at Solly's. My veggie friend was not thrilled with this choice, but I'd never been and knew I had to try their butter burger.

I liked it, though probably not as much as I was hoping: a bit much, even for me.
After that, we headed back to Indy, stopping for kringles at Bendtsens' in Racine (raspberry cheese, my favorite). All in all, a GREAT roadtrip. I feel I know Milwaukee much better than I did before, love it, and will be heading back a lot sooner next time.

<message edited by Train on Tue, 05/26/09 5:24 PM>
    ann peeples

    • Total Posts: 8317
    • Joined: 5/21/2006
    • Location: West Allis, Wisconsin
    Re:Milwaukee Trip Report Tue, 05/26/09 1:57 PM (permalink)
    Thanks for the write-up.Glad you were here...we all have our favorites-love Zaffiros for their cracker thin crust-dont like Leons as much as Gilles custard...Sollys is something I grew up with; never was at Beer Bellys but would love blue gill!

      • Total Posts: 138
      • Joined: 5/11/2004
      • Location: SAVANNAH, GA
      Re:Milwaukee Trip Report Tue, 05/26/09 2:17 PM (permalink)
      Great write up and picks.
      Thanks so much and do some more.

        • Total Posts: 3778
        • Joined: 6/17/2004
        • Location: Columbia, SC
        Re:Milwaukee Trip Report Tue, 05/26/09 5:08 PM (permalink)
        Lovely pictures--don't forget the bluegill next time!  Pesto scrambled eggs sound yummy.

          • Total Posts: 3091
          • Joined: 3/31/2001
          • Location: Milwaukee, WI
          Re:Milwaukee Trip Report Tue, 05/26/09 6:31 PM (permalink)
          I too love the blue gill at Beer Bellies.
          You might not ever have a Solly's butter burger again but if someone is reading this and think they might want to try one, I'd ask you to consider having it on a "pillow", sort of a French bread type thing. The "pillow" holds together better and imho just plain tastes better.
          Pizza is so subjective. When I want a thin crust, I prefer Villa Roma, another stuck in a time warp sort of place.
          Nice pictures and kind things to say about my home town.
          Mrs MFL wants to return the favor and visit Indy some day. Besides the Slippery Noodle, (we love the blues), we'll need suggestions and I plan on asking you for tips.

            • Total Posts: 2370
            • Joined: 12/1/2006
            • Location: Pewaukee, WI & Fuquay-Varina, NC
            Re:Milwaukee Trip Report Tue, 05/26/09 7:42 PM (permalink)
            Nice report Train.

            Too bad Solly's shortchanged you on the burger.  You are supposed to have a flood of butter on that plate.
              Buffalo Tarheel

              • Total Posts: 492
              • Joined: 3/1/2008
              • Location: Royalton, NY
              Re:Milwaukee Trip Report Tue, 05/26/09 8:23 PM (permalink)
              Nice report and welcome to Roadfood.  The butter burger looks very good.  It's interesting that you mention the chicken dumpling soup.  I had not had any until last week when I had an outstanding bowl in a Chicago restaurant.  A midwestern specialty?  Anyway, sounds like a great trip.

                • Total Posts: 3531
                • Joined: 5/1/2004
                • Location: Egg Harbor Township, NJ
                Re:Milwaukee Trip Report Tue, 05/26/09 8:31 PM (permalink)

                Thanks for the write-up.Glad you were here...we all have our favorites-love Zaffiros for their cracker thin crust-dont like Leons as much as Gilles custard...Sollys is something I grew up with

                Hope to meat up with you at Solly's sometime!
                Nice trip report!


                  • Total Posts: 23
                  • Joined: 4/19/2001
                  • Location: Indianapolis,
                  Re:Milwaukee Trip Report Tue, 05/26/09 8:50 PM (permalink)
                  Ann - I wanted to try Gilles this trip (never have) but somehow didn't get around to it. It’s Kopps and Culvers I don’t care for -- their custard has an off almost-artificial taste that I have a hard time putting my finger on. I prefer Leon’s and (the gold standard) Ted Drewes.

                  MFL - Even though I was less than wowwed by Solly’s butter burger, the thing looks so good, I may well try one again sometime. If so, I’ll definitely remember your tip. Does Villa Roma have a softer crust? And do let me know when you come to Indy.

                    • Total Posts: 3091
                    • Joined: 3/31/2001
                    • Location: Milwaukee, WI
                    Re:Milwaukee Trip Report Tue, 05/26/09 10:17 PM (permalink)
                    Villa Roma crusts looks somewhat similar to apizza's I've seen from New Haven. It has spots that almost look burnt yet the crust is soft and not like a cracker. Neither of us much care for Zaffiro's. My current favorite pizza are the European types made by a Ukranian emigre at his place called Transfer. His dough proofs for 24 hours so it is very light, not heavy in the least. Another favorite, also proofed overnight, is run by a Sicilian immigrant called Filippo's, which is in West Allis.
                    If folks want flavors in their frozen custard I send them to Kopp's, vanilla and chocolate it's Leon's. I spent one year at Pius high school which is very near Gilles. I've not tried it in 47 years so I really don't remember what it's like. Back in those years I thought Kitt's and Town Pride were the best in town.

                      • Total Posts: 526
                      • Joined: 4/15/2007
                      • Location: Lake Forest, IL
                      Re:Milwaukee Trip Report Tue, 05/26/09 10:58 PM (permalink)
                      Great, great report!!!!!

                        • Total Posts: 2330
                        • Joined: 3/10/2004
                        • Location: the 262
                        Re:Milwaukee Trip Report Wed, 05/27/09 1:56 AM (permalink)
                        Awesome report! Next time you're @ Beans & Barley, try the blueberry pancakes.

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