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Watts Tea Shop

761 N. Jefferson St., Milwaukee, WI - (414) 290-5720
Posted By Michael Stern on 1/22/2008 11:22:00 AM
This second-floor restaurant above the George Watt china shop is Milwaukee's premier place for ladies' lunch or a tea-time snack. Midday, sandwiches are served on tender-crumb homemade whole wheat bread, and there is a polite menu of quiche, soup, and salad. While we adore the mixed green and black olive salad sandwich, the most remarkable thing about Watts’ repertoire its many ways with chicken. There is chicken salad of white or mixed meat, minced chicken, sliced chicken, and chicken salad Polynesian, that last one mixed with coconut shreds, pecans, and a citrus vinaigrette.

Unique Watts beverages include a Waterford spritzer (lemonade, lime, and sparkling water) and a cold Russian (coffee, chocolate, and whipped cream). And whether you come for a meal or a snack, pay attention to dessert, which is glorious. Of the several sweets available, the house signature is filled sunshine cake, made from a decades-old recipe for triple-layer sponge cake with custard filling and seven-minute frosting.

Breakfast at Watts begins when the store on the first story opens, at 9am. The menu is small, including eggs and pastries and likeable French toast, made from Watts bread and served with a sheaf of fried ham. The one wonderful item we’ve never seen anywhere before and makes breakfast here a Milwaukee must for us is ginger toast. It is like cinnamon toast, but made with ground ginger instead of cinnamon. The ginger is mixed with sugar and butter and spread across the house-baked whole wheat bread, then broiled until the topping melts into a slightly-spicy, slightly-sweet frosting all across the bread. Ginger toast is a dramatically old-fashioned taste, a perfect symbol of the fine culinary traditions that reign in the kitchen of this seventy-five-year-old restaurant.

Ginger toast is also available at afternoon tea, as is the dessert of filled sunshine cake.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Sunshine Cake
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Heaven on a plate! A fork seems so brutal when applied to this dainty slice of Sunshine Cake, three layers of tender sponge cake gilded with seven-minute frosting and layered with French custard filling.
"Heaven on a plate! A fork seems so brutal when applied to this dainty slice of Sunshine Cake, three layers of tender sponge cake gilded with seven-minute frosting and layered with French custard filling."
Michael Stern





Watts French toast is made using the kitchen's own whole wheat bread. That's ham in the center of the plate. The most recent breakfast menu we saw features
"Watts French toast is made using the kitchen's own whole wheat bread. That's ham in the center of the plate. The most recent breakfast menu we saw features "Macadamia Nut Croissant French Toast.""
Michael Stern


Sweet and zesty, ginger toast is served for breakfast as well as with afternoon tea.
"Sweet and zesty, ginger toast is served for breakfast as well as with afternoon tea."
Michael Stern


I've never seen macadamia nut croissant french toast before, but it was one of the specials the morning of my visit and was delicious.
"I've never seen macadamia nut croissant french toast before, but it was one of the specials the morning of my visit and was delicious."
Cliff Strutz


The tea room at lunch. Window tables overlook Jefferson Street.
"The tea room at lunch. Window tables overlook Jefferson Street."
Michael Stern


The gracious second-story dining area of Watts Tea Room. Tables are plain wood, but meals are served on fancy china.
"The gracious second-story dining area of Watts Tea Room. Tables are plain wood, but meals are served on fancy china."
Michael Stern


This notice of an upcoming etiquette class was posted near the cash register of the Tea Room.
"This notice of an upcoming etiquette class was posted near the cash register of the Tea Room."
Michael Stern


Watts has been a Milwaukee institution for more three-quarters of a century.
"Watts has been a Milwaukee institution for more three-quarters of a century."
Michael Stern



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