Milwaukee Food Tour Review
November 23, 2010 Reviews (restaurant and other)
So, have you heard of the food tours that incorporate walking around a city neighborhood or town with a small group of people, with stopping at various eating establishments to hopefully enjoy some food? My husband and I participated in just such a culinary and historical adventure this past weekend in celebration of my birthday.
We drove up to Milwaukee and participated in Milwaukee Food Tour’s, “Historic Third Ward Tour”. First, let me say that I think most people who enjoy shopping in general will minimally enjoy browsing the shops of this neighborhood. The businesses, mostly independently owned, cater to a higher end market. (That of the third ward.) However, unique items can be found there as well as Goodwill’s high end resale shop, “Retique”.
Our food tour began at The Public Market, a four year old indoor farmers-market purposefully modeled after Pike’s Place market in Seattle. The Public Market was one of the highlights of the tour. The spice store inside The Public Market, The Spice House, is small but complete in it’s product offerings. They sell hard to find spices, their own blends (such as The Historic Third Ward Blend), and Himalayan salt blocks (a trendy cooking surface). We also met our tour guide at The Market, who is quite friendly and knowledgeable. (Thank you, Laurie!) The group partook of our first course there, either a lentil or curry soup provided by The Soup and Stock Shop Market, a Public Market vendor. Although the lentil soup was made of primarily black beans and could have had a more rounded-out flavor profile, the curry soup did not disappoint.
Our group then headed down to the river front where our tour guide, Laurie, regaled us with interesting historical city related trivia. Then we headed on to an Italian restaurant, Rustico. If you like very traditional Italian food, you may like Rustico. I was underwhelmed. We were served pizza margherita, which I think had been under the heat lamps for too long. We were also served a chopped salad of sorts that frankly could have been better. Something about the pancetta that was part of it didn’t seem additive, and fried pork by-products should always be additive.
Next, we walked to Spin. This trendy, play ping-pong and partake of gourmet bar food restaurant, is a fun place. It’s part owned by Susan Sarandon who, from what I understand, is currently dating somebody who is quite into ping-pong. It’s possible to buy an annual membership there so that you can play ping-pong to your heart’s desire, or simply rent a table for the night. Their sweet potato chips are simply stated, the best I’ve ever had. The music was a bit loud, a la all night dance club scene.
Tulip, a white table cloth Turkish restaurant, was supposed to be the climax of the evening. Tulip is high on atmosphere. The lighting – stained glass onion shaped fixtures, the fireplace, and the live music all contributed to the promise of an enjoyable dining experience (as did the number of patrons at the restaurant). We were served one chicken and one beef shishkabob to share (as a couple). These were accompanied by a rice pilaf. The pilaf was acceptable; the meat was dry. I could tell that the meat had been marinated – the flavoring was lemony and appropriate, but I could only taste a hint of it.
The evenings courses ended at Cuvee, a third floor lounge over an antique store. There we were served a complimentary beverage and chocolates. The art on top of the chocolates was decorative. The chocolates were not decadent. Have you ever tasted a chocolate that just wasn’t chocolaty enough? Most of the people with whom we were on the tour, chose to stay at Cuvee. My husband and I accompanied Laurie back to the Public Market area, where we went our separate ways. Laurie did provide historical and current insight into Milwaukee as a city through out the evening, which was another highlight of the tour. I would recommend taking the tour just for the overview of Milwaukee if you’re not familiar with the city, but don’t take it solely for the food. We did receive little packets of spices from The Spice House at the end of the tour as a “gift”. If you’d just like to eat good food though, I’d stick with dining at the Milwaukee Public Market or possibly ordering off of one of the restaurant’s menus (as opposed to being part of a food tour). As an aside, my favorite restaurant in Milwaukee remains, Jacques, which was not on the tour.