It’s the first This Bites of the year. We’re gonna talk about food trend predictions of 2019.
Each week on Radio Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine’s dining critic, Ann Christenson, and 88Nine’s foodie, Tarik Moody, discuss Milwaukee’s culinary and restaurant culture on This Bites. This Bites is supported by Society Insurance.
Read more and listen to the podcast below to hear our food trend predictions for the coming year, plus find out which shuttered Milwaukee staple returns. Check back in a year and see if these come true.
In the dining world, restaurants can be considered new to the general public for longer than a year. So this list is a little more broad. It’s more like the best new-ish restaurants that we enjoyed checking out in the year 2018 (in no particular order).
Birch + Butcher
Birch + Butcher, the modern bistro and butcher shop featuring open-fire hearth cooking is versatile, delicious and it has been getting better and more creative every month since it’s been open.
Mistral is new to KK inside the Avalon Theater. It’s not your average cinema grill, but a fine dining experience inspired by the vast regions surrounding the Mediterranean.
Snack Boys‘ atmosphere, small plates and cocktails are their own genre of a fun. If we had to name it, we might call it “high-brow stoner food.”
We mostly enjoyed this new restaurant on Milwaukee’s north shore during the al fresco dining months of 2018. But Moxie’s warm, friendly bistro for artistic Italian-American standbys was the perfect comfort when it got colder too.
Third Coast Provisions
This fish and seafood restaurant with a Great Lakes touch hit its stride in 2018. Third Coast Provisions‘ contemporary oyster bar and pairings with cocktails and beer are a fresh take on seafood in Milwaukee.
Stella Van Buren
Stella Van Buren is about to be Milwaukee’s go-to restaurant. The menu can please those looking for a big breakfast, power lunch, happy hour or celebratory dinner. This restaurant can dress it up or dress it down. It goes well with everything,
This little corner cafe is curated to perfection, from the music and the drinks to the plants (the ones on the shelves and on the menu). You won’t find any Impossible Burgers at the vegan Strange Town. It is all about creative plant-based dishes, not substitutions.
Right down the street is another vegan spot, Celesta. They approach plant-based dining from a more mainstream angle, serving tofu dishes, vegan cheeses and deserts.
The Diplomat has an atmosphere so romantic and trendy you expect them to serve mostly small plates. But the menu has with impressively filling American entrees with a contemporary edge.
Newly opened or soon to be, check out this other article by Ann about 8 spots we can’t wait to go to in 2019.
“Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One”
“Solo” is not as sad as it sounds. Instead, Anita Lo, the Michelin-starred chef and “Iron Chef America” and “Top Chef Masters” contestant bring us a hilarious, self-deprecating and gorgeously illustrated new cookbook that’s the ultimate guide to cooking for one. She shows us it can be empowering, delicious, fairly quick and accessible, even if you don’t have a big kitchen or any fancy gadgets.
“Between Harlem and Heaven: Afro-Asian-American Cooking for Big Nights, Weeknights, and Every Day”
“Between Harlem and Heaven” is so much more than a cookbook—it’s a culinary journey through the African Diaspora. It has history lessons, insightful essays and original recipes that represent a larger story.
“American Cookie: The Snaps, Drops, Jumbles, Tea Cakes, Bars & Brownies That We Have Loved for Generations”
“American Cookie” is a perfect grandma recipe-type book. And like any good grandma, they tell stories. These cookies, candies, wafers and brittles reveal what was going on in America when the recipes were created, how they were created with old techniques and how they got passed down for generations.
“The Flavor Matrix: The Art and Science of Pairing Common Ingredients to Create Extraordinary Dishes”
Cookbooks are great for learning new recipes created by pros, but “The Flavor Matrix” is unique because it’s all about learning how to come up with your own recipes. It’s about the science of ingredients and flavors and why certain things taste good together and how the chemistry of recipes work. It’s perfect for anyone who has a curiosity for researching and creating their own dishes.
“Israeli Soul: Easy, Essential, Delicious”
“Israeli Soul” is sort of a continuation of Michael Solomonov’s film “In Search of Israeli Cuisine,” taking what he and Steven Cook found throughout Israel in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, and sleepy towns on mountaintops and in bakeries, juice carts, beaches, even weddings. They turned all those fascinating stories into a book and all the recipes into things you can realistically make in your own kitchen.
“I Am a Filipino : And This Is How We Cook”
“I Am a Filipino” gives a much needed understanding of the melting pot of the Philippines and the complexity and differences between its many regional foods. Written by trailblazing restaurateurs Nicole Ponseca and Miguel Trinidad, the cookbook captures the unexpected and addictive flavors of this vibrant and diverse cuisine. The techniques (including braising, boiling and grilling) are simple, the ingredients are readily available and the results are extraordinary.
“BraveTart” is for the baking geeks. It’s science-y, artsy and full of history. Stella Parks delves into the surprising stories of how our favorite desserts came to be, from chocolate chip cookies that predate the Tollhouse Inn to the prohibition-era origins of ice cream sodas and floats.
“Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse: Another Cookbook of Sorts”
“Joe Beef” is an over-the-top, but brilliant cookbook. believe readers must embrace the great food that is available to us before it happens—if it should happen—and know how to scavenge, salvage, and survive it as a culinarian in the possible aftermath. So they’ve given us nearly 150 recipes, including one for soap. (Yes, soap.) The rest of the food includes exquisite Mousse au Chocolat with Prâlines Roses, a survalist Moose Stew, homemade PowerBars and dishes from preserved foods from the cellar (or the bunker). It’s a bizarre topic, but very inventive.
The food hall trend continues. Another, called 3rd Street Market Hall, is coming to the new development taking over the Grand Avenue Mall, simply called The Avenue. On the street level, the food hall is set to feature more then 20 diverse food vendors from around the city.
The first round of vendors announced are:
There’s a new Asian fusion spot tucked away in Walker’s Point. This makes the second place in Milwaukee that serves traditional Shanghai soup dumplings. It also serves traditional Japanese yakisoba and ramen. Plus, xiao long bao, Szechuan spicy chicken wings, samosas and more. This place is definitely worth checking out for its variety—there are plenty of vegan options too. It’s open now. See the menu and location here.
Bavette’s Uplands farm cheese tasting and meat raffle
And now, let’s talk about meat. This is the sixth year that Bavette La Boucherie is doing its Uplands farm cheese tasting and meat raffle. Each year, Uplands farm buys some Berkshire piglets to raise at the farm, feeding it the whey from the cheesemaking and letting them out to pasture. They then finish the hogs on acorns. The result is delicious, nutty pork. For this event, Bavette will butcher the whole hog ahead of time, and then for three dollars per ticket, raffle off the cuts.
To start the night off, there’s a tasting of the award winning artisan cheese from Uplands farm, including the very seasonal Rush Creek. Then comes the meat raffle of this special pork. The full menu will also be available to eat for dinner while the meat raffle is happening. Get tickets here.
Uncle Wolfie’s Breakfast Tavern
Uncle Wolfie’s has done some recent pop up events at Drink Wisconsinibly and The Tandem, but the people wanted more. On December 17, Uncle Wolfie’s Breakfast Tavern will be open for business in the Brewers Hill neighborhood. We don’t quite have a full menu, but take a look at the restaurant’s Instagram for views of the delicious breakfast food and the beautiful Cream City brick building, which also holds Orange and Blue Co., a boutique owned by the same couple.
Thi Cao, the executive chef at Buckley’s, is opening a new restaurant in West Allis called Wild Roots. It’ll be contemporary American food with plenty of flavorful spins on the familiar dishes brought to you by Cao’s creativity, which includes Vietnamese, American, French, Spanish and Italian influences. He says you can also expect many “wild” elements, like local seasonal ingredients, foraged mushrooms and venison. He also plans to have a chef’s table, where he will invite those sitting there to watch him create new dishes, sample fresh ingredients and be the first to try new innovations. Wild Roots is expected to open late January or early February.
We just discovered a really delicious new thing—the small-batch cotton candy at an African American woman-owned business called Cottonmouth. Forget that artificial pink and blue nonsense on a stick that you had as a kid, Cottonmouth has flavors like caramel apple, coconut, mint chocolate chip, mocha latte, wedding cake, salted caramel, pumpkin spice and more. We didn’t know cotton candy could be so good or so artisanal. Right now, it looks like you can only find it at pop-up events and for-hire at events like weddings, but follow Cottonmouth on Instagram to know when they’ll be spinning cotton candy in a place near you.
You might have seen Kehr’s Candy shop inside the Public Market, but the factory on 36th and Lisbon is where all the magic happens. In the December issue of Milwaukee Magazine, Ann did a lengthy profile on the business for a sweet holiday piece.
Here’s the story: Pearl and B.D. Kehr met at a ballroom in Milwaukee and later married. In 1930, early in the Great Depression, the young couple decided to open a store to make and sell caramel corn and potato chips. Little capital was necessary. “All we needed was sugar, butter, popcorn, and potatoes,” B.D. Kehr said. Soon, they discovered caramel corn and potato chips alone did not produce enough income, so they began making candy.
During the Great Depression, it was common for unemployed craftsman to sell their skills. The Kehr’s bought recipes from candy makers who stopped in. These men tutored B.D. Kehr on how to cook the candy. Their first product was chocolate fudge. The selection grew from there. The Kehr’s moved to several different buildings in the city before settling in at 3413 W. North Avenue. In 1941 they opened another store on Lisbon Ave. This location has served as the main factory for over 75 years. The Kehr’s used this factory to produce ice cream and candy to supply three additional “Kehr’s Candies” storefronts. When they retired in 1960, their son William (Bill) took over the reigns and closed all but the factory store. Bill spent his whole life working in the family factory. Fun fact: Bill’s other passion was organ music. Bill mixed over a dozen records as Bill “The Candyman” Kehr and he was well known to organ music and polka enthusiasts.
Current owner, Paul Martinka, started as a stock boy in 1983. For 12 years Paul worked under Bill learning to run the factory and learning the skills needed for fine candy making. Now he owns the business and continues the family tradition of hand-dipped candy.
Blues Egg’s holiday menu
Blue’s Egg is exploring German cuisine and German-inspired brunch creations this holiday season. Through the month of December, look for Blue’s Egg’s German specials and join them for some Gemütlichkeit this holiday season. The restaurant is bringing in Butterkäse and busting out recipes for Sauerbraten, Schnitzel and baked goods. As always, you can also order from the regular menu.
Miss Molly’s pizza night
Pizza is back at Miss Molly’s on select Fridays: December 7, January 4, February 1, March 1 and April 5. These are perfectly baked pizzas with the freshest of ingredients. The pizzas change each time, but on December 7 the options include a kettle range Italian sausage, mushroom and onion pizza, a chèvre, caramelized onion, balsamic drizzle and arugula pizza and a plain cheese pizza for the kids.
Meat on the Street Flippin’ Taco Tuesday
Every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Meat on the Street is doing a Filipino-inspired Taco Tuesday for carnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike. Just look at the menu. These photos of the tacos are the only reason you need to go there. Find the restaurant in the Eleven25 At Pabst food court.
Crossroads Collective food hall
Crossroads Collective food hall on the corner of Farwell and North Avenues is almost here. After some construction setbacks, the soft opening has been moved back to December 14, but you can expect it to open shortly after that. In the micro food hall, we’ll see new East Side locations for Laughing Taco, Scratch Ice Cream, Falafel Guys, Heavens Table BBQ, Frida and the Beerline Cafe. Stay tuned for a sneak peak of the development soon.
Tre Rivali’s pies for a cause
From now until December 24 , Tre Rivali (in the Journeyman-Kimpton hotel) will be selling five-inch pies for $10 each with 50 percent of the proceeds donated to No Kid Hungry’s Chefs Cycle, a fundraising endurance event featuring award-winning chefs and members of the culinary community fighting hunger outside the kitchen. Pie flavors include dark chocolate peppermint cream, salted caramel apple and maple pecan.
Merge, a new Korean Fried Chicken spot, is now open in the former space of Yokohama on the East Side. It’s owned by the same people as Char’d in the Third Ward. They know Korean fusion—and style. Merge takes a very creative approach to the space and the menu.
Because of the lounge areas, two bars, a food window and the flow and movement all of that allows, the place reminds us of the trendiest L.A. food halls, except it’s only one restaurant. The murals and posh furniture make Merge very stylish, but not as swanky as Char’d. The food is just as good as the sister restaurant, though the owners had a bit more fun with the menu. It’s filled with fun comfort foods that match the creative and comfortable atmosphere.
From the food window, you can order kimchi mac and cheese, kimchi tacos, Korean-style corn dogs, elotés, rice cake skewers and of course, the Korean fried chicken (double fried) with sauces like soy garlic, honey mustard, sweet and spicy and volcano. There were also plenty of vegan options. And don’t be fooled by these casual snack foods, they are full of surprisingly sophisticated flavor.
About the drink menu. From the draft cocktails and beers to the playful house drinks like a “Bitter Man,” you can tell that a lot of thought went into these offerings. You have to see for yourself how much genius (and value!) is on the bar menu.
After trying all of this on the soft opening night, all I can say is that I was deeply satisfied and very certain that Merge is going to be a hot spot in Milwaukee soon.
Okay…and I had one more thought. The only thing that could be improved was the ’80s hits playlist. As your friendly neighborhood music and food expert, I would recommend a mix of American hip-hop and K-pop instead.
The Sherman Pheonix is finally rising from the ashes today. The grand opening celebration is from 5-8 p.m where you can explore all the vendors and see the space, which has such a great story. And since this is a food podcast, we’ll be paying special attention to the restaurants. We’re really excited to try Sauce & Spice pizza, Next Level Vegan, Funky Fresh Spring Rolls and the Shindig juice and coffee cafe. Check out the full list here.
Small Pie’s new savory menu
Small Pie, Honeypie’s smaller sister shop in Bay View is not your average sugary bake shop. Small Pie has expanded its menu to offer even more savory hand pies like chicken curry, sausage pizza, classic cornish beef, cheesy barbecue pork, ham and potato with three year cheddar, a Philly cheese steak and pot pies, like a lamb shepherd’s pie. The restaurant will also be offering savory scones and hot ham and rolls.
The December issue of Milwaukee Magazine has a profile on our very own Ann Christenson, called Ann-Cognito. I think everyone should read it to hear about the life of our favorite undercover food critic. Check it out in the most recent issue of Milwaukee Magazine.
With the new town square-esque space outside of the Fiserv Forum, it seems perfect that Milwaukee is also getting its first Christkindlmarket this year. With Milwaukee’s strong German heritage, the only thing that doesn’t make sense is why we didn’t have one open sooner.
At the market you can find hot drinks like Belgian cocoa and spiced wine and taste plenty of international delicacies. And if you’re so inspired, you can also shop for trinkets from Eastern Europe, craft ornaments and genuine alpaca goods.
But back to the food. Other food vendors will be offering pierogis, baked cheese, English toffee, teas, spices and more.
West Allis is also having its own Christkindlmarkt for the second year in a row, though it is very different. On Friday, Nov. 30 and Saturday, Dec. 1, about 70 specialty Wisconsin food retailers, product vendors and artisan crafters will be at the open-air West Allis Farmers Market for an evening of outdoor holiday shopping.
Jewels Caribbean is now open in Bronzeville. We already tried it and loved it. Full disclosure though—Natasha, one of our part time DJs at 88Nine, has spent the other half of her time opening the restaurant with her family. Her sister, Lennora Jules, and her mom Lucile are the official owners, though Natasha executed much of the business side of the project. Lennora and Natasha were both born and raised in Milwaukee, while their parents, Lucile and Selo, are from the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. Naturally, the restaurant’s menu incorporates both family recipes and traditional Saint Lucian dishes. Check out the menu here.
Ristorante Bartolotta’s White Truffle Festival
When we think of black truffles we think of Italy. When we think of white truffles we think of France. And the holidays.
The elusive diamonds of the culinary world, the Alba white truffles are now at the peak of the season. And Ristorante Bartolotta has them. Each year, it has white truffles, sourced by world-renowned Urbani Tartufi, flown in from Italy and on to the menu.
If you’re feeling extravagant, you can order from the special White Truffle Festival menu now through the end of the year.
If you don’t want to cook on Thanksgiving (or if you tried, but failed and now have a dry, burnt bird) here are all the Milwaukee restaurants that will be open on Thanksgiving.
Packing House has a drive-thru and will serve you a Thanksgiving meal through the window from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will also have a sit-down dinner service. On the holiday menu is hand-carved, slow-roasted turkey served with hot gravy, apple and sausage stuffing, house-made mashed potatoes, brown sugar-glazed sweet potatoes, green beans amandine and fresh whole cranberry relish, served with a side of chicken soup or salad and fresh oven-baked bread. Wow.
Devon at Bayshore Mall is doing a Thanksgiving prix-fixe menu from noon to 8 p.m. The first course is a choice of butternut squash soup, Maine lobster bisque, baby greens salad or a caesar salad. The second course is (of course) roasted turkey, cornbread and sausage stuffing, whipped yukon gold potatoes, gravy, glazed yams, green beans with pecans and cranberry-orange relish. Then you get your choice of desserts: pumpkin pie, apple croustade, crème brulee or mixed berries.
Iron Horse Hotel
Mason Street Grill
Mason Street Grill at the Pfister Hotel will have a prex fixe dinner from 1 p.m to 7 p.m. with the option of free range Amish farmed roast turkey or salt crusted prime rib with all the fixings. For the youngest members of the family, the menu also has a choice of turkey, prime rib or the famous crowd-pleaser, macoronie and cheese. See the full menu and get reservations here.
Apart from the Mason Street Grill’s event, The Pfister itself is doing a Thanksgiving brunch in the ballroom from 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
ChopHouse at the Milwaukee Hilton is doing a holiday menu alone with its regular menu from 4-9 p.m. Highlights from the menu include spiced plum soup, orange-sage brined turkey breast and pumpkin ginger cheesecake.
Sweet Diner will be open on Thanksgiving, serving the regular menu until 10 a.m. Then from 10 a.m. to close, the special Thanksgiving menu will be available. Or if a cozy night at home is your thing, Sweet Life Events, the restaurant’s new catering service is also offering a special carryout dinner for six people. check out both menus here.
Tired of turkey? Us too. Here are three other ideas on alternative Thanksgiving meals.
Try new global cuisines every year. Select a region of the world each Thanksgiving and center your feast around the ethnic foods found there. Think about it—Thanksgiving is about immigrants, so why not celebrate new cultures every holiday?
Do a dumpling potluck. We’ve talked about it before, but there are so many different varieties of dumplings found across the culinary world. Have each family member bring a different “dumpling” dish. You’d be surprised at the variety that this will bring to your table.
Have a seafood feast. Seafood is a great special occasion food that will switch things up and still satisfy everyone.
Here’s some heartwarming news from Irie Zulu. Yollande Tchouapi Deacon, the young woman who owns it, is cooking a free pre-Thanksgiving meal for 400 low-income and struggling people (about 200 families) at 8 a.m. this Saturday November 17 at Mt. Zion Lutheran Church in Tosa.
She’s cooking African and Jamaican dishes, such as peanut stew and rice, curry chicken, South African curry vegetables and plantain. These items typically cost $20-25 a plate in the restaurant. This will be the third year Yollande is doing it.
Guests have to already be registered with Tosa Cares, a Wauwatosa food pantry. All slots are filled up for this year’s feast, but the organization is also providing families with a turkey and stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, pumpkin, muffin and cake mix to bring home on the same day at Tosa Cares.
Holiday Folk Fair International
Holiday Folk Fair is back from Friday, November 16 though Sunday, November 18. Travel around the world at the State Fair park to explore Wisconsin’s multicultural music, food, dance and arts. The World Cafe is legit. It will have an assortment of time-honored recipes passed down through generations will introduce you to distinct and extraordinary flavors that will awaken your taste buds.
The grand opening of the Sherman Phoenix is coming up on November 30. Here’s a preview of all the food options we’ll see there:
Funky Fresh Fest
In other news from Funky Fresh, TrueMan McGee is also hosting an all-you-can-eat spring rolls festival on Saturday, November 10 from 7-10 p.m. to celebrate the restaurant’s three year anniversary and the opening of its second location.
Celesta Restaurant is a globally minded vegan restaurant that serves otherworldly food, always house-made, soulful and with bold flavors. It moved into the old Abu’s Jerusalem of the Gold space on Farwell on the East Side. Now, the owner, Melanie Manuel, is starting a new Dinner Party series, starting with an homage to Abu’s, whose Middle Eastern specialties included falafel, (meat-based) shawarma and tabbouleh. Abu’s, which was around from the late 1970s to late 2010, also served a rosewater lemonade that grew so popular that Celesta’s Manuel got the recipe and serves it now at her restaurant.
The homage dinner on Sunday Nov. 25 at 5:30 p.m, served family-style, includes hummus and pita, tabbouleh, spinach pie, Mujaddara (rice-lentil pilaf), Lebanese okra, falafel and (for dessert) asafiri, which is a wonderful filled pancake. Plus Arabic coffee or tea to finish the meal.
It’s a small restaurant though, so tickets are limited. You can make your reservation here.
Falafel Guys at Crossroads Collective
Food truck and restaurant Falafel Guys, known for its falafel, chicken shawarma sandwiches and more are joining the lineup of vendors of the Crossroads Collective food hall, due to open in November on the East Side.
The other restaurants lined up for the food hall include Laughing Taco, Scratch Ice Cream and Frida, a soup-and-sandwich restaurant named for Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, from the owners and chef of Tess., Chef Martin Magana, who is from the Mexico City area, is fan of the painter’s.
Tacos and tortilla making with Jesus Gonzales of Mazorca
On Sunday, November 18 from 1:30-3:30 p.m., Strange Town is hosting a rare cooking lesson with Jesus from the Mazorca taco truck. The casual, fun class will be dealing with plant-based, vegan angles on everyone’s favorite – the taco! Beginners to pros invited. Recipes will be given in physical form at the event. Strange Town is a small space without stations for everyone to cook, so this is more of a demonstration-style class, but still informative.
“Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”
We’re loving the new cooking show on Netflix “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.” It’s a four-episode series based on (and named after) Samin Nosrat’s James Beard Award-winning cookbook and it’s unlike any other food show on TV. Nosrat rejects the traditional “reality” formula and makes a show that is actually real. This is one show you won’t regret binge watching this weekend.