04.26.14 Dinner. Milwaukee Beer Bistro (Riverwest. Milwaukee, WI)

It was a nice productive Saturday.  While Christina and I were running errands, we drove past the Milwaukee Beer Bistro in Riverwest and decided to pick that as our dinner destination for the evening.  We arrived to the Milwaukee Beer Bistro for dinner at around 7:00pm.  We were seated right away at a table to the right of the host/hostess stand and had some good sunlight from the large windows at the front of the restaurant.  
Bar in the main dining area.

Cute wood burning stove.

The restaurant had a earthy type feel.  The colors were primarily browns and helped with minimal lighting in the restaurant itself but was supplemented quite nicely by the large windows that make up the majority of the front of the restaurant.  To the left of the entrance is a long bar with bar seating available.  To the right, there was the main dining area partitioned by a half wall.  The back section has a wood burning stove to add to the homey, comfort type feel to the area.  A couple TVs adorn the walls and are at the bar that played the current baseball game on and other walls had vine themed sconces with candles.  Along the restaurant are
One of the many classic beer shelves.
clever wood shelves with classic beer bottles and cans that add to the beer themed restaurant.  There are about 30-40 tables in the main area that seat 2-4.  The server commented on the fact there is a "private" room that accommodates larger groups of up to 10'ish.  Also, there is a basement that has a full bar, games which include racing arcade games and darts.  The tables were long banquet style tables.  Beer related picturescover the walls and there was a stage that would welcome performances.  I'm thinking this might be where they have their accordion Fridays that they advertise.  There was a bachelor party in the basement so I didn't think it'd be appropriate to go and take a ton of pics.  You will have to check it out yourself because it's a nice option for a private party.  Other than the bachelor party in the lower level, the restaurant had a good number of people present.  The people were primarily in their late 20s to 50s.  

Not too long after we were seated, our nice server, Jordan, greeted us and informed us of the drink options including the beer list and provided us the beers on tap.  The beers, what appeared to me, were mostly Wisconsin based microbreweries but, they also had other microbreweries from around the country.  Jamie and I asked for tasters.  Jamie had ordered some type of brown ale to taste, which I unfortunately, I don't remember the name of and didn't particularly care for it.  She
Bells Oberon and Central Waters Mudpuppy Porter.
attempted to order a Spotted Cow.  Yes, "attempted" because I ended up giving her a hard time for picking one of her usuals.  With the help of the server, she instead ordered a Bells Oberon, which is one of my favorite spring/summer brews. Prior to deciding what we wanted, the server allowed us to have tasters of a couple of the beers on tap.  I ordered the Central Waters Mudpuppy Porter. 
It was a nice darker beer that I'll probably have it again if it's an option.  Christina, of course, attempted to order a Diet Coke but they only have Pepsi products but she still got it and wasn't too disappointed.

When Jordan brought our beverages, he introduced us to the menu and informed us that the restaurant falls in line with the name.   All items on the menu have beer infused into it in some sort of way.  He then continued to tell us that their dinner is more of a small plate style but they do have sandwiches and burgers that can also be ordered and they come with a choice of side.  For the 3 of us, he recommended that 5 or 6 small plates would be appropriate.  We took a look at the menu to see what we'd all like to get.  We decided to get a bunch of small plates to share.   I noticed that the menu was vegetarian and gluten free friendly.  They made sure to stay true to the gluten free form by using gluten free
beers.  Definitely going along with the current trends and cater to all dietary restrictions.  Definitely appropriate for the location that the restaurant is in.  

Now, let's get into the good stuff, the food.  We ordered the food in two batches.  Didn't want to over-order as we can tend to do.  So, ordered a few plates and then ordered a couple more.  The food came out in typical small plates form, it came as it was ready.

Details:  Caesar Salad.  Crisp romaine lettuce tossed with house Caesar Ale dressing topped with garlic croutons and parmesan cheese.  $6.00

Our Thoughts: Christina is the Caesar salad connoisseur and commented that she couldn't really tell that there was dressing.  Jamie thought it wasn't too bad but agreed with Christina's thoughts.  I myself thought it was perfect as I tend to go lighter on the
Caesar Salad.
dressing.  It was actually one of my favorite small plates.  I think it was a nice balance for the heavier items on the menu.  Nothing too fancy about it, really.  The thing that stood out to me was there was a nice ratio of the white crisp portions of the romaine and the greener ends.  It provided nice texture.  Also, can't deny how good that fresh shaved Parmesan cheese adds to the salad.  

Details:  Sensational Parmesan Meatballs.  Meatballs slow simmered in light lager and baked to order in our secret creamy parmesan gravy.  $6.00

Our Thoughts:  Covered in the fresh shaved parmesan cheese that was also on the Caesar.  Added to the creaminess of the sauce itself.  Meatballs were
Parmesan Meatballs.
nice and tender and fell along the lines of a Swedish meatball in texture and due to the cream sauce versus a marinara.  Not surprising that the meatballs were so tender since it was simmered in beer.  Beer has been known to be a good meat tenderizer so perhaps when cooking it in the beer it does the same.  And, you know it adds some good flavor.  Just ask anyone tailgating at Miller Park, I'm sure they've all boiled their brats in beer at some point.  It had a great onion flavor to it and you can even see the little bits of onion in the meatball when you cut them in half.  This was definitely one of the favorites for all of us.   

Details:  Brussels Sprouts (GF - gluten free).  Tender Brussels sprouts braised in Sorghum Ale and tossed in seasoned brown butter.  $5.00

Brussels Sprouts (GF).
Our Thoughts:  We all thought they were ok but we all like Brussels sprouts in general.  But, who wouldn't?  They are considered a "hipster food" per the Huffington Post.  I found this article quite funny...check it out.  Nothing super spectacular about the dish though.  They came in all different sizes, which Brussels sprouts always do, but because of this, it caused them to be variably cooked.  The smaller ones were overcooked for my preference but the larger ones were perfectly cooked to al dente. 

Details:  Stout Braised Barbeque Short Ribs.  Melt in your mouth slow cooked beef short ribs smothered in our tangy secret recipe beerbeque sauce and served with a side of beer cheese (we ordered on the sauce on the side for my lactose sensitive tummy... sad.  I know, we have other things with cream sauces as well but you pick and choose, right? At least I do...) cavatappi pasta. $9.00

Our Thoughts:  This was the first time I have had short ribs without the bones.  It was butchered in a style that made me think of more of a beef brisket.  But, after more research, there are a
Stout Braised Short Ribs with Beer Cheese Cavatappi.
few ways that short ribs can be butchered.  The sauce was sweet and tangy, not too spicy.  I tasted a slight smokey flavor to the sauce but Christina had disagreed with that part of it.  I prefer dry rubs and to sauce my meat myself but this wasn't too bad.  The meat was super tender and didn't require much muscle to cut.  The amount of fat was perfect to provide great flavor but not be overbearing.  This was Christina's favorite of the night.  She had strongly commented that it tasted like her mom's brisket and was as good as her mom's.  You know something is legit when it's "as good as Mom's" right?  The beer cheese sauce was delicious and paired nicely with the tangy sauce.  Raw, undressed spinach was on the plate as well and provided a nice bitterness to balance out all the different aspects of the dish itself.  

Herb Marinated Sauteed Portabellas (GF).
Details:  Herb Marinated Sauteed Portabellas (GF).  Thickly sliced portabellas marinated with fresh herbs, butter and gluten free ale. $5.00

Our Thoughts:  Very flavorful and meaty mushrooms.   I was definitely able to taste the fresh herbs.  They were nicely prepared and not overcooked and soft.  Large serving of mushrooms for one of the lower cost small plates.  Definitely filling.  Obviously, if you don't like mushrooms, don't get this.  It's just a plate of mushrooms.  Due to this, it was not the prettiest  plate we were served (see picture).  Don't let the looks fool you.  Try it out. 
Honey and Porter Stuck Chicken.

Details: Honey and Porter Stuck Chicken.  All white meat chicken marinated in sensational blend of sweet amber honey and smooth porter, skewered and served fresh from the oven. $6.00

Our Thoughts: I typically don't order chicken in restaurants unless it looks like something I wouldn't be able toproduce myself at home since it's what I cook the most.  But, we decided to get this one.  It was a tad overcooked causing it to be dry.  But, the honey added a good flavor to the meat itself.  Christina really enjoyed it and thought it was pretty delicious.  May have been good if it was served with some sort of sauce on the side.  Perhaps a honey based sauce?

Details: Ice cream/custard sampler  (brought out by the chef for us to try... we didn't order that much!  but, we did eat it.) 
Ice Cream/Custard Sampler.
Unfortunately, I didn't make note of all the different types of stouts and beers in these custards, but, I do know that all of them have beer in them.  Vanilla, coffee, blueberry sorbet and caramel.  $0.00 (didn't note the usual price)

Our Thoughts: The vanilla flavor to start and finished with a definite hint of wheat/hop beer flavor that wasn't overpowering.  If we were on the show Iron Chef, this custard would have scored high for using the secret ingredient and allowing the natural flavor to come through.  The vanilla was the most creamy of the three custards.  The coffee custard wasn't as creamy.  It was one of my favorites since I love coffee and had a good texture to it with the added bits of coffee/espresso bean.  The blueberry had a very fresh fruit flavor to it.  The blueberry flavor wasn't masked by
Bread Pudding with Almonds and Cranberry.
any other ingredients.  The caramel, as informed by the chef, had a different texture from the others due to the high amounts of caramel to it.  In my opinion, it was the sweetest of the four and almost tasted like a caramel sauce. 

Details:  Bread Pudding with Almonds and Cranberry with beer infused sauce.  $6.00  (Warning from server that it was the largest piece of bread pudding that he's ever seen so wasn't going to be disappointed if we didn't finish it.)

Our Thoughts: Almonds added a good texture and the cranberries provided a tart balance to the sweetness.  Incorporated the warm and comforting spices that a bread pudding usually has.  I prefer my bread pudding to be warmed all the way through when I eat it.  The piece we were served may have been pretty large so took longer to warm.  But, still tasted good.  It had a slight crisp to the  outside and soft on the inside. 

Front of Restaurant Before Leaving.
With further investigation about the restaurant and information provided by our knowledgeable server, I found out that the restaurant is the same owners as the previous restaurant at the same location Rio West Cantina
I didn't ever try it out when it was the Cantina but, have been to their other restaurant the Twisted Fisherman in the Valley.  They are also the same company for the Hubbard Park Lodge in Shorewood which the word on thestreet says is a hot spot for awedding.  This restaurant was opened in January 2014.  Their website boasted that they arebringing French and Belgium beer infused culinary traditions to Milwaukee and feel that their food is "American Craft Beer comfort food."  Their menu sure did reflect this as it included mac and cheese, braised short ribs and potato salad.  And, after this first experience at the restaurant, it definitely had the comfort food type of feel. 

Other things to consider:
- Lots of items include cheese on the menu... not particularly lactose free friendly but, definitely wisconsin. comfort food.  They were able to accommodate by putting sauces on side or negating things as able.  Just ask.
-Chef was very nice and friendly.  Mingled with people in the restaurant.  Cleared our table.  That's what I call team work.
-Very good service. 
-Christina said it was the first time she's been anywhere that she actually liked everything she got... rare.
-Option for outdoor seating on the patio in front of the restaurant.
-Parking available. 
-Nightly specials available including $2 taco night Tuesdays and fish fry Fridays. 
-Live music.
-Per the website, there is a late night menu.   

This was a great first trip leaving me wanting to come back for more.  We were good after sharing 6 small plates and the dessert almost threw us over the edge but was worth it.  I want to go back and try out the fish fry, brunch and a burger or sandwich.  The menu had some good options for all.  This places screams Wisconsin.  It was definitely a place to bring some out-of-towners for a nice beer infused dinner.  Try it out!  Cheers.

Milwaukee Beer Bistro
2730 N Humboldt Blvd
Milwaukee, WI 53212
Monday - Friday 11am- 2am (Lunch, 11am - 4pm, Dinner 4pm - 10pm)
Saturday and Sunday 10am-2am (Brunch 10am -4pm, Dinner 4pm - 10pm)

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