CG and I finished our James Beard Foundation Best Chef Midwest 2008 tour at Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro in Milwaukee last week. We have already dined at Restaurant Alma, 112 Eatery, and La Belle Vie, and a month or so ago we went to Bluestem in Kansas City.
The setting of BLPB is amazing, and we were seated right near the window. Beautiful view of Lake Michigan, but not distracting or detracting from the delicious food. We dined with 2 friends, and all pretty much ordered different items, some apps as entrees, and just tasted a bit of everything.
Amuse bouche sent out from chef Siegel of a duck confit fritter had some foie inside, and had a small drop of what I think was called cumberland sauce. It tasted sort of tart and citrusy, and was a perfect foil to the rich and perfectly cooked fritter.
Apps/salads included the special soft shell crab (we wanted another one it was so good), a foie gras dish that CG loved, french onion soup (I am not a french onion soup lover, but the two people at the table who had it raved), my asparagus frisee salad with truffle vinaigrette topped with a crusted poached egg (I still don't know how they managed to get the egg coating so crispy and the egg yolk still runny!) that had such an intense truffle scent when it arrived I couldn't speak for a moment. There was also a beet salad enjoyed by my friend and some Coquilles St. Jacques that didn't look traditional (not in the shell, had some asparagus in it) but still had perfectly cooked scallops and was delicious.
The chef sent out a charcuterie plate that was really wonderful, and knowing that they made the stuff in house was pretty impressive.
Two of us had the special salmon sauvage roti entree, salmon cooked perfectly medium-medium rare, and accompanied by morels and early peas. I liked that it was made with olive oil so it was lighter than if it had been made with butter, but I am not such a fan of fresh peas, as they always seem to not cook up very tender, and these followed suit with my previous experiences. CG had the mussels app for his entree, and the sauce was so creamy we all sopped it up with the extra bread. His frites came out initially limp, but he barely had commented on this to the server when she whisked them away with apologies and brought back crispy ones. I really wanted to try the sole meuniere, as the price suggests it is the real deal, but maybe next time.
The chef also sent out some desserts that were so good we wished we'd left more room-- an apple tart with cherries and creme fraiche, frozen hazelnut praline mousse, Yves chocolate mousse, coffee ice cream, PLUS a mini creme brulees for each of us. Talk about gilding the lily!
Lauren and Jessica were our servers, and we all felt the service was the right balance of attentiveness without hovering. Everyone there contributed to the wonderful experience, and we can't wait to go back to Milwaukee and try Bacchus, Chef Siegel's other restaurant.