Well… in truth, today is Don’s birthday, but we gathered on a warm summer’s Sunday evening to celebrate the event at this very cool little spot in the Bay View section of Milwaukee.
Due to a GPS error – ‘Brad’, Rich’s phone guide, had politely directed us to a light industrial facility quite a bit South in Cudahy – we arrived a bit later than we had planned, but all was well…
I was greeted with a fine martini, perfectly made, blindingly cold, and graced with plump olives. My only quibble would be that the glass, a classicly-sized cocktail glass arrived filled right up to the rim and sloshing bits of martini over the edge, so perhaps a larger glass next time? I wouldn’t even think about suggesting a smaller martini.
Oh well, libation in hand, it was time to consider the menu.
Don started things out with a crock of onion soup, with which he was most pleased. Rich and Bob both opted for a caramelized onion and goat cheese tart – a surprising choice for Rich, since he doesn’t really care all that much for caramelized onions – and I opted to try the Shrimp de Jonghe – an old-school Chicago classic.
As it turned out, the caramelized onions were just too… caramelized for Rich’s tastes, so I shared some of my garlic and sherry laden shrimp with him, and Don and I finished off the rest of his tart.
Rich bounced back for the salad course and thoroughly enjoyed the crab cake salad – a double treat for him since I do not make crab, and would not make a tarragon dressing if I did.
Martinis, appies, and salads dispensed with, it was time to think about dinner.
Rich and I opted to try dueling Côtes du Rhône wines (his a menu staple, full bodied and robust; mine a special selection, playful and fun – surprisingly accurate adjectives supplied by our friendly waiter) to accompany our dinner choices: a lamb t-bone for me, served with figs, asparagus, and potatoes Dauphinoise; and the classic steak frites for Rich, served with a lovely garlic aioli (the French version of Allioli – tho’ with considerably more judicious amounts of garlic used than in my last experiment).
Rich was feeling a touch wistful about sticking to his tried-and-true steak frites and not branching out to sample the pork mignons: thick sliced tenderloin filets wrapped in bacon, seared, and served with a Riesling and dried apricot sauce; but next time.
Bob opted to try the salmon special, and was well pleased; and Don had his most favored of all French dinner dishes: cassoulet.
Dinner done did, and everyone happy, it was time for dessert.
The birthday boy was served a flourless chocolate ganache cake that had his eyes closed and his eyelids fluttering – a very good sign. Bob went with the chocolate hazelnut tart, Rich the Door County cherry clafoutis, and I went with coffee and a bite from everyone’s plate.
Charming restaurant, small – only 10 tables or so – but not at all jammed together like so many sardines in a can, friendly, smart staff, and, once you’ve worked things out with your GPS, easy to get to. We’ll be back – mebbe on a Monday night, which is, sadly, the only time they offer another of my personal favorites: Moules Marinières.
Check out Pastiche here, and let me know if you go, I could always meet you for a martini or a glass of Côtes du Rhône.