I could hardly call my impromptu celebratory four course meal grazing – it was more like devouring. I recently moved to Walker’s Point, a neighborhood just south of downtown Milwaukee, and wanted to celebrate the laborious task of moving being over. Walker’s Point has this up-and-coming, Brooklyn meets the Midwest vibe with great local restaurants, hipster bartenders that make craft cocktails and eclectic antique shops. When I first moved to Milwaukee, I initially looked to move into a studio located right next door to the infamous farm-to-table restaurant called Braise but another suitor rudely swept in before me to take the lease (insert eye roll here), and it has been on my #MKEbucketlist ever since.
Braise is a community leader in the farm-to-table space with over 90% of ingredients sourced locally. Even their website openly states they are dedicated to the area’s economy. In addition, Braise is also committed to bettering our environment. The rooftop patio doubles as available seating space for diners in the summer but is also home to a green roof garden which can sustain 2,000 gallons of water each time it rains. The interior is charming and rustic with exposed brick and tin ceilings. They serve their carafes of wine in old glass milk bottles and antique jars line the bar. Not only is the restaurant trendy and eco-friendly, the food is epic! Monumental! Absolutely to die for! And not to mention chef David Swanson was a 2016 James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef: Midwest.
Eugene Hutz – my classy cocktail dinner date – was absolutely lovely and almost went down too easily. The cocktail was carefully crafted of gin, pear, lemon, chamomile, ginger, sparkling wine and bitters. If only I noted how many parts of each ingredient went into good ol’ Eugene and I’d have every bartender in the city making me that drink. To chase down my beverage, I promptly ordered the small cheese plate for my first course which came with house-made strawberry jam.
For the second course I opted for the pork belly buns because at this point it is an absolute necessity to try every chef’s version of pork belly buns. While these were not the typical Asian-style buns with a thick slab of pork belly smothered in a sweet caramelized sauce, they were its delicious savory relative. Between the pillowy buns was salty diced pork belly lightly pan-fried for texture topped with a shallot vinaigrette and crushed spicy peanuts.
Next up on the shareables for one – the picada potatoes. While I expected more of a standard potato dish, what came was a Spanish-influenced delight that reminded me more of the potatas bravas found at a tapas establishment. Mixed with paprika-marinated oyster mushrooms, the dish was packed with big flavor and a pinch of heat.
For my main course (under the section labeled “Family Style for 2”) I ordered the hanger steak that came with a hearty serving of horseradish cream sauce, pickled onions and greens. The meat was tender and cooked to a rare perfection. The horseradish sauce and pickled onions were the perfect compliment to the meat and I would be content seeing this dish on the menu consistently throughout the year.
While I asked to see the dessert menu, my stomach could not handle another bite. The great thing about Braise is that is is also a bakery making their own bread, scones and cookies. An option listed on the dessert menu for those who stuff themselves to the brim like me is scones to go. A doggie bag with two frozen scones and baking instructions is brought to your table, allowing you to continue the magic of Braise in the morning for breakfast or a midnight snack.
Braise also offers a culinary school and food delivery service in which you can order prepared food or bakery items as well as fresh produce, meat and dairy products (how cool!). With Braise being a whopping three blocks away now, I am certain I will be “grazing” regularly.