Sunday, May 11, 2008

More Than You'd Expect, Part II

In my second installment on Milwaukee after another visit there this weekend, I must say the city continues to impress.

I discovered a few new spots in the Third Ward. After getting caffeinated at Alterra and contributing to the local economy next door at the Barclay Gallery (sadly, they're having a 50% going out of business sale at the moment), I wandered a bit north to check out the Milwaukee Public Market at 400 N. Water Street. The Market has a little something for everyone, with shops for artisanal bread, fresh roasted coffee, flowers, cheese, sausages, fruits & vegetables, fish, spices, and specialty foods from Mexico and the Mediterranean. I did a little damage at Sheridan's Finest Wines & Generous Spirits (2 bottles of Oregon pinot noir, if you must know...) http://www.milwaukeepublicmarket.org/

Around the corner at 316 N. Milwaukee Street, the Coquette Cafe proved a delightful spot for dinner. The French onion soup with melted gruyere cheese satisfied my craving for comfort food ($5.75). Field greens with Dijon vinaigrette ($5.50) was a light and simple palate cleanser before tucking into the pan-seared wild halibut with arugula, black olives, toasted walnut salad and grapefruit vinaigrette ($19.95). I must admit I was a bit skeptical about ordering fish in one of the country's carnivore capitals, but it was served blissfully medium-rare.

On our last night, we walked from our downtown hotel to the waterfront to admire the scenic views and the Santiago Calatrava-designed Milwaukee Art Museum. Unable to figure out how to crash the private party going on inside, we took to the streets in search of a place for dinner and stumbled upon Alem Ethiopian Village at 307 E. Wisconsin Avenue. Open just 4 months, the city's 2nd Ethiopian restaurant serves up the usual fare of tibs (meat cubes sauteed in various sauces) and wots (stews) in generous portion sizes. I ordered the tibs sampler for one ($17.75) and had to check the bill to make sure they hadn't brought me the version for 2 my mistake!

As I browsed the news stand in the airport waiting for my flight home, I noticed a cover story on the city's 25 best restaurants in this month's issue of Milwaukee Magazine. I bought a copy and tucked it into my bag...it'll come in handy for my next trip!

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