When we moved to Milwaukee after graduating from Purdue, the Allen-Bradley Company and breweries were the backbone of the economy.
Today, Allen-Bradly is just a brand within the Rockwell Automation empire, but the famous clock tower remains.
At the time, the flagship breweries were Pabst, Miller, Blatz and Schlitz. Years ago, Miller merged with Coors and still brews in Milwaukee. Blatz has apparently disappeared, and Pabst and Schlitz are brewing elsewhere. The void left by these departing brands has opened the door to a myriad of microbreweries.
Back then, the baseball team was the Milwaukee Braves. I remember watching Hall of Famers Warren Spahn (Braves) and Sandy Koufax (Dodgers) throw the white ball for eleven innings before the Braves finally scored. Today, starting pitchers going nine innings are an anomaly.
The owners of the Braves, for some reason, suddenly moved to Atlanta. Shortly thereafter, local car dealership icon Bud Selig purchased the bankrupt Seattle Pilots and moved the franchise to Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Brewers were born.
One thing that has remained constant over the years is culinary creativity. German influences have dominated for over a century, and the heritage of Usinger’s Famous Sausage is now a national brand.
Fred Usinger learned to be a “wurstmacher” (sausage maker) in Wehen, Germany, then moved to Milwaukee in the 1870s to ply his trade. He bought a butcher shop, and the rest is history. Userger’s remains in downtown Milwaukee.
Last week, we were talking about our adventure at the Sanford restaurant. An example of their aggressively eclectic menu is a dish we both ordered as part of our four-course trip – the pan-fried foie gras. This wonderfully good piece was a perfect medium-rare and served with a complexity of accompaniments. Roasted Hakurei turnip, ginger apricot jam, pickled shishito pepper, and a miso-apricot reduction were all part of this dish. The apricot flavors went particularly well with this incredible piece of duck foie gras. Other dishes are just as creative.
The Third Ward is an upscale section of downtown and, as mentioned last week, has been experiencing a renaissance. The hotspot is the public market where various vendors sell their wares, most of which are food items. One is Kehr’s sweets.
Since 1930, Kehr’s Kandy Kitchen has been a Milwaukee staple. Today, they sell the majority of their candies at the public market. So that was our first stop! Their chocolate covered cherries are as good as any found in Lake Country!
Another must stop is the St Paul Fish Company. It is a fish market, an informal restaurant and a tiki bar. After exploring the market, we sat at the bar and scanned the menu. David, the bartender, serves a nasty bloody Mary, so that was the first choice!
The menu is all fish with a few unusual items. One was swordfish bites, which my wife Gayle jumped on. For me, the lobster roll stood out. Neither disappointed! The roll was as good as any of them in the East. And the freshly shucked oysters were briny delights!
We’ve visited this lakeside venue before, and with more fresh oysters in mind, we headed to this lively New England-style restaurant for dinner.
After slamming on a variety of oysters while admiring the gorgeous view, we delved into Chef John Korycki’s extensive menu. Although they offer the usual steak, pasta, pork and chicken dishes, the emphasis is on fresh fish and caviar which arrive daily. The highlight that day was the Arctic char. Not found in these parts (unless I order it from Scott Woods at Noa Noa), I had to go. Served with fingerling potatoes and cauliflower, it was a superior dish!
Meanwhile, Gayle opted for a simple pan-fried seashell appetizer. Included were two oysters and two scallops. It was more than enough.
The next morning we went home!
Milwaukee has less than 600,000 residents but still has more treasures to explore. It really is another delightful destination. And with the high-end dining scene, it’s also a lavish place.