11.07.12 Dinner. Oscar's Pub & Grill (Clark Square/South Side. Milwaukee, WI)

Restaurant front to back
It's been a very busy time lately and Jamie and I haven't hung out in a while.  So, why not hang out?  Right?  Of course, we decided to go out to eat and catch up.  After emails back and forth trying to pick a restaurant, we decided on burgers and fries at Oscar's Pub & Grill.  We decided to head over there earlier since we had a light lunch and with us (not sure about Jamie but definitely know it's true about me) hunger does not wait and if it does, crabbiness comes out.   Anywho, we decided to head over around and get there around 6pm.  Christina met us there.   

As you enter the pub, first thing that will probably catch your eye is the bar that takes up the majority of the right side of the front room.  Across the bar are a few high top tables in the front left and then a longer high top in the front rear.  There is also a back room that isn't as hoping and busy as the front room with the bar.  The rear is filled with low top tables and another long high top in the left rear.  When we arrived, there were a few tables that were occupied and a handful of people at the bar.  During the time we were there, the crowd was very diverse which included people coming after work for a drink, a younger family, middle aged couples and college folk.  We walked toward the bar where most of the employees were and they instructed us to seat ourselves.  We decided on a front room high top.  The decor was a typical Milwaukee type bar with Milwaukee sports
The bar
gear and neon beer signs that adorn the walls.  The decor is darker with red and black walls and a tin/copper tiled ceiling.  As we looked at the menu, I noticed myself jamming to some Bob Marley... I mean who doesn't get into a slight trance when listening to Bob
The music was decent.  Was a mish mosh of top 40s from different decades.  Caters to all ages.  The music wasn't too loud that you couldn't keep conversation, which is nice.   The bar has a simple wood back bar that included a Green Bay Packers sombrero and an old school turn dial telephone. 

The server came to get our drink order within a reasonable time.  Christina and Jamie ordered diet coke and I ordered a tallboy bud light.   Why bud?  Why not?  It, along with Budweiser, was the special of the evening for $2 each.  Can't pass up a tallboy deal!... or maybe you can.  If you don't like the cheaper tallboy specials, they offer microbrews too.  They do have a full bar and a pretty decent selection of drafts and bottles/cans.  Christina and Jamie thought that their diet coke was one of the best bar diet cokes they have encountered.  That's a pretty big deal as Christina is somewhat a diet Coke connoisseur.  Typically, at a bar that serves coke through a gun, it's watery...per Christina.  But here, just right.  Jamie second the notion.  

Jamie had reviewed the menu prior to coming tonight, as both of us usually do.  But, I only had enough time to look at pictures.  I thought they looked similar to another local burger joint's burgers.  But, once I read a little review found on OnMilwaukee.com, it made much more sense.  I won't go into the details but this little review on the place provided a tid bit of history.  Also, on the website for the restaurant, finding that the owners are from Mexico and Austria helps to provide some reason for some of the flavors of the burger options.  On that note, let's get on to to good stuff.... The food!

The food menu is simple, yet inclusive.  The have apps, burgers and other delicious options.  Pricing is pretty good as the sandwiches do include home fries or Oscar's fries (sweet potato fries) for a dollar up charge.  Also, the burgers are all 8oz patties which is a hearty serving.  One item that I noted on the menu that isn't on the online menu is a vegetarian burger but can't completely remember the details of the burger.  And, they have a Friday fish fry... classic Milwaukee.  A theme that I noticed is that this menu is not super lactose intolerant friendly.  Cheese on almost everything and anything.  But, I'm sure you can request to not have it as well.  But, let's get real... This is Wisconsin.  I think we'd sometimes wonder where the heck the fried cheese curds are on the bar/pub menu.  Mmmmm cheese curds. 

Here is what we ordered!  Jamie and I pulled a half and half split and Christina got her own. 

Christina's Pick (when we asked what she was getting, she started off with "I know that it's weird to order a salad in a bar but....")
Details: Caesar Salad, hold the croutons (peanut gallery aka Jamie thought "no croutons...not a real Caesar")  and add the Chicken Littles.   Fresh romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and scallions topped with pieces of fried chicken tenders. $4 plus $1.50 up charge

Caesar Salad with Chicken Littles
Her thoughts: Mid first bite, Christina flashed a big thumbs up.  In regard to the Caesar salad, Christina is again the connoisseur.  If you know this girl, when she likes something, she likes something.  And, when I say connoisseur... I mean she eats it often.  When asked to elaborate upon what she liked about it, she noted that the dressing was very good and similar to what she had growing up.  It had good accents of garlic in the dressing accented by the grated Parmesan cheese dusted over the salad.  As I closely dissected the salad with my eyes, which I do often and people that I hang out with are probably used to by now, I asked if the chicken tenders were good and if they tasted like they were previously frozen.  She said no, and thought they were really good.  Also noted during my visual inspection, I saw a lot of larger pieces of red onion which would throw me off due to the size.  Plus, the menu said scallions which, while writing this, made me second guess my food knowledge but was confirmed by wikipedia that it is a green onion.  But, none the less, Christina was very happy by her choice of food despite initially feeling apprehensive about getting a salad at a bar.  She rated it a 10/10 on her own rating scale.

Mine and Jamie's Picks
Details:  The Big O.  8 oz. Premium Black Angus Burger, Chipotle Jack, Smoked Gouda, Hickory Bacon, Chorizo, Fried Onions, Jalapeños, Side of House Guacamole.  Prepared medium.  Side of home fries.  $7.25
The Big Hongo. 8 oz. Premium Black Angus Burger, Swiss Cheese, Sautéed Mushrooms. Prepared medium.  Side of Oscar's fries.  $6.50

The Big Hongo with a side of Oscar's Fries

Our thoughts: When they first came out to the table, I thought two things: 1. Thank God I didn't push for an appetizer because these burgers were ginormous 2. I should have worn my "I'm going to eat a lot of food" pants.  Jamie's initial thought the burgers had a great bun to meat ratio which we find very important in a good burger.  You don't ever want more of one or the other.  Your last bite should always have sufficient amounts of both meat and bread.   Every time you bit into either of the burgers, you can taste how juicy the burgers were.  The Big Hongo was the first one that I took a bite out of as it's a common burger that most burger joints offer so wanted to start with a clear palate as it could be a good comparison burger.  It had good flavor to it the mushrooms weren't overcooked but instead al dente which provided some nice texture.  The meat of both burgers weren't overly seasoned which was a great template for the flavorful options on the burger list.  The Big O burger was bursting with flavor.  You would think that with the both the bacon and the chorizo, it might be somewhat salty but it definitely wasn't.  My first bite was without the guacamole which was good and you can taste the creamy flavor of the melted gouda.  But, when you add the guacamole, it adds another layer of creaminess and cuts down on some of hot spice to the burger.  In regard to spice,
The Big O with a side of home fries.
due to the jalapenos and possibly the chorizo, there definitely is a kick.  So, spice wusses beware...this burger definitely has a spice alert.  The burger almost reminds me of having classic Mexican cuisine topped on a burger.  It had so many layers of flavor... creamy, savory, and spicy.  A nice compliment to this spicy burger was eating it with the sweet potato fries.  They are dusted with some cinnamon which adds a nice counter to the sweetness.  The aioli provided some savory flavor to
the sweet potatoes but, if paired with the Big O, probably not necessary.  The home fries were fair.  Salted just right but tasted as if they sat a little longer than we'd probably want them to... a little flat.  The home fries were even dusted with grated Parmesan... cheese love for all.  The sweet potato fries definitely trumped the home fries.  

Other things to consider: 
-Jamie noted that "It's a keeper" and possibly one of her top Milwaukee place for burgers
-Vegetarian options available and Friday fish fry option
-Both street and parking lot adjacent to the restaurant as options... plus for those that hate parallel parking 
-Appears to be family friendly as there was a family with younger children that were sitting down to dinner
-There is an option for take out and lunch delivery (M-F 11-2pm)
-Business started to pick up around 7pm with most of the tables occupied
-Come hungry because the burgers are HUGE 
-Offers some bar games options (darts, video games, etc)

To wrap it all up, this was a pretty awesome first trip to a fairly new (2011) burger joint to Milwaukee.  It definitely reflects the owners background and experience.  And if the food speaks for their experiences, it must have been an awesome one.  The food is great and we'd definitely go back again to try the other options if not eat the same thing all over again... but with some "eat a whole lotta food" type of clothes.  Check it out.  Eat, drink and be merry.  

Oscar's Pub & Grill
1712 W. Pierce Street
Milwaukee, WI 53204
 (414) 810-1820  Fax: (414) 810-1824
Monday-Wednesday 11am -12am (kitchen 11am - 11pm)
Thursday- Saturday 11am - bar close (kitchen 11am - 11pm)
Sunday 11-10pm (kitchen all day)

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