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MKE/Madison report (w/ question for Milwaukers)

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MKE/Madison report (w/ question for Milwaukers)

Clifford | Apr 12, 2006 01:36 AM

(I know that "Milwaukers" isn't right...I just don't know what actually IS right---"Milwaukeeans" kind of seems right...)

Spent our 10th wedding anniversary in the great state of Wisconsin, and loved it. Here's some of the haps...

Arrived Thursday (3/23) and went to Bacchus for our anniversary night dinner. Had the bone-in KC strip---the best steak I have ever had in my life (and I don't say that lightly. I also rarely eat steak when I am out, but I am a longtime grill cook, so hopefully I know a little bit).Unbelievably marbled, perfect crust and perfectly cooked. Very swank place, and very pricey, but exactly what we were looking for for a 10th anniversary dinner.

A strange thing happened at the end of our dinner there, though. The server (who was tremendous and obviously quite experienced) asked us what else we had planned for the trip. I began by telling her that we had reservations at Moceans the next night.

You would have thought I had told her that I was going to eat out of the dumpster. A look of near-horror came over her face that, to this day, I couldn't begin to explain. She all but begged us not to go there...that she had "never heard ANYTHING good about the place," "no, no, no," etc. You get the point. I asked for her thoughts, and the first thing she mentioned was Lake Park Bistro (though she did preface it by saying that it (like Bacchus) is a Bartolotta restaurant.) She also, however, recommended a couple of non-Bartolotta places, as well: Crazywaters and Zarletti.

Anyway, she talked us out of Moceans. More about that later.

The next day:
Breakfast at Broadway Bistro. We went at 10 am on a Friday, and the place was literally EMPTY. No mind though, the food was good, the portions generous, and we both left very happy.

4 o'clock: Beverages at the Hi-Hat (nice) before heading to Balzac for a few apps and wine. This was another place about which our server had little good to say, but we thought it was extremely good. We had a cheese starter that was very generous with the manchego, then moved on to a couple of scallop dishes (I wasn't journaling, so forgive my lack of specificity) that were OUTSTANDING. All of the flavors and food were flawlessly executed. Highly recommended.

Later in the evening we wandered to Moceans and had a seat at the bar. We had some wine and a cup of lobster bisque and the 16-dollar crabcake. Both were phenomenal. The crabcake was spendy, but compared to the glorified fritters you get at most places, it was more than worth it. It was almost completely crab meat, delicately seasoned. About the size of a 1/3-lb hamburger. We conversed with the staff, had a tremendous time, and ended up regretting we did not go there for dinner.

Which brings me back to my earlier point. Maybe a Milwaukee reader could help me---was our server [at Bacchus] in any way toeing a company line, or something? I noticed that Bartolotta's and Mo's seem to be competing empires. Otherwise, I cannot explain our server's almost-repulsed reaction at the very mention of Mocean's...

Anyway, went to V. Richard's on the way out of town to pick up some Hook's cheese, then on to Madison to see a show and then dinner. Decided to bail on downtown afterward (it was a double showing of STOMP, and the dining scene was more hectic than we were in the mood for, as it turned out). We instead went to a place in Middleton called Eno Vino. In a strip mall next to a Panera, we didn't expect much, but it was great. Beyond great. More scallops, petite filet, some pommes frites, and a bottle of Amador County zin were all terrific. Also highly recommended, but BUSY (it was a Saturday night, though).

We feel fortunate to have had nothing but positive experiences, though the server at Bacchus still baffles me. Look forward to returning later this summer.

I heart Wisconsin.

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