Monday, May 16, 2011

The Eatery on Farwell

On a whim I stopped into this place for brunch -- not wanting to wait in line at Beans & Barley or Hotch-a-Do. I'll say that this might be one of my new favorite brunch places, and I'll certainly be going back for lunch and dinner.

Food: 4 Beards

I started off with one my brunch favorites to drink: the beermosa. If you've never had one, try it. Any Belgian white -- your choice -- topped with orange juice. It's delicious. The waitress didn't know what it was; the bar tender hadn't thought to have it on the menu. Nonetheless, they made it anyway and gave me my choice of Belgian. That was very nice.

For food I had the hueves rancheros, one of my absolute favorite breakfast foods -- and has been since I was a kid. Tortillas on the bottom, slightly warmed, fried eggs (generally over-easy) salsa, cheese, and then bake it. It's delicious. This was slightly different, though; they put all of the rest of it on top of big tortilla chips and used a blend of mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. I very much liked both choices.

Service: 3 Beards

Our waitress was very good. Outside of the not knowing what a beermosa was being in Milwaukee, I found her quite charming and very good. It was a little slow on the delivery of our food, and it really wasn't that busy, but I let it slide, because I was in a hurry, so I might have been a little antsy.

Again, having been made a beermosa when it wasn't even on the menu anywhere, I'll give them some credit where credit is due.

Menu: 2.5 Beards

When we sat down for brunch, we were given three -- yes, three -- different menus. This was a bit overwhelming. While I thoroughly appreciate a full menu with lots of options, I was taken aback by the sheer volume. I think there definitely could have been some time spent in creating specialized menus for brunch, lunch, dinner, etc. Though the specials menu was nice, too.

As a note they do have a decent happy hour every day. It's got some nice deals, and that was just a table-topper.

Atmosphere: 3 Beards

I felt like it was a very nice upscale pub. And having looked at their website, I found that the place is being run by a couple (brother-sister or husband-wife, I'm not sure) who once ran a supper club in Muskego. It definitely feels like one, but it's been urbanized, and I think it fits well with their menu and aesthetic. I liked it a lot. Plus they've got some great pictures, and a really nice patio that's open in warm weather (don't worry, it's covered).

Price: 2.5 Beards

Definitely not a typical Farwell St. pub but that's not entirely bad. I was expecting something a little more in-tune with it being "an eatery." It's a little more upscale than that, but I'll know that for next time. I'd say to prepare to pay a decent price for your meals, but you'll no doubt enjoy them in the end.

Overall: 3 Mugs

I give this place a solid 3. I liked it, and I will definitely return. As mentioned their menu was really large, and there were a number of items on it that in my perusal I thought I might like to try. It might not be a regular brunch spot -- considering the price -- but it would really be a nice date spot for any meal.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Mayura Indian Restaurant

I am generally interested in Asian food. It's one of my favorite types of spice combinations (no matter the culture), and I love to try new things. I will say that I am pickiest about Indian food because there are often times when the spice, while tasty, can be a bit overbearing. Mayura Indian Restaurant is a good example of that isn't the case.

Food: 3 Beards

The food here is comparable to most other Indian places. It's got a diverse selection, and it was pretty easy to pick what I wanted based on my tastes.

I started off with a Masala tea, which was very well made and not too sweet. That tends to be the problem with a lot of places: too much sugar. Not so much here, which was nice. I ended up having two.

For appetizer, I had some ginger nan bread. This was very nice and -- as is usually the case -- came with the meal. I had the Kadahi Gosht (Goat). I am generally not a fan of heavy, fatty meats -- like lamb and mutton -- but this was nice in the spicy sauce. I ordered a medium spice, and it was just that (which I'll speak more to in the service section).

Service: 4 Beards

The gentlemen who served us -- we had two waiters who bounced around the dining area together -- were both very helpful. The one who took my order and my guest's was very helpful offering a direction with the spice level. He even offered to remake either of our meals if we found it to be too hot.

The meals were served very promptly, and we were looked-in after often, which I thoroughly appreciate. I did not have to ask for my second Masala tea, because they came and checked on us.

Menu: 3 Beards

The menu is very well laid-out. It's also online if you're interested in checking it out. Like most Indian restaurants I've been to the descriptions were a little lax but overall I knew what most of them were having had them before.

Atmosphere: 3 Beards

The place is immaculately clean. I truly appreciated this, and it's very well-lit and nicely decorated. Compared to a few other places on the East Side in the ethnic genre, it's a nice change, because the low lighting isn't always necessary. Also, there's no loud music, if there was any at all, which was very nice, too, so I could have a good conversation.

As a side note, I had the buffet here one time, and the buffer line and area was also very, very clean. That is a sign of a good restaurant. Everything was also very fresh and constantly looked into to make sure things didn't need replacing (not reheating).

Price: 3 Beards

Mayura is comparable to most Indian restaurants. They have lunch specials, which are very nicely priced. Their dinner menu is pretty evenly matched with most other similar restaurants.

Overall: 3 Mugs

This is a good, solid restaurant. It took the place of India Rasoi when it left the city (which I was sad about). I would definitely recommend it over Maharaja, mostly due to service issues. It's certainly worth at least a few visits to try their menu variety, as well as their buffet. Also, when Comet is too busy (as it was the night I went), it's right across the street.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Black Thorn Irish Pub

In honor of St. Paddrig's Day, I decided to try the full menu at Black Thorn Irish Pub -- having only had their sandwiches before. It sits on the corner of Jefferson and Mason.

Food: 2 Beards and a Mustache

Overall the food is very main stream. It seems very geared toward the downtown, businessman crowd that probably frequents the place during the week and during the day. It certainly did not feel Irish -- even on St. Paddy's.

For drink, I order their Black Thorn cider. I was given Strongbow and told that there was no such drink as Black Thorn -- only to find out later from another waiter that the brewery that made it had discontinued it. Minus points for the wait staff on that one, but I still enjoyed the Strongbow.

The meal was served with a house salad that I did actually enjoy. It was a mixture of field greens, baby spinach, and kale, and was not slathered in dressing, which I like. Overall, a good starter.

I decided to go all out on the Irish meal and try their corned beef & cabbage for my entrée (which they incorrectly called "Corn Beef"). The menu informed me that I would be getting said corned beef, cabbage, mashed potatoes and carrots. I'm not adverse to new things, but generally when it comes to a staple like this one an Irish holiday, I expect to be told when it's going to differ. I was given corned beef topped with a sour cream-based sauce that was very over-powering, potato wedges, no carrots, and red cabbage, which is not a similar taste at all to regular cabbage and was very bland. In the end, I did not finish the meal.

Service: 2 Beards and a Mustache

Our main waiter was very inattentive. My guest ordered Fish & Chips (or French Fries, as they have on the menu), and the waiter did not return after delivering our meals, and she had wanted some tartar sauce. As well, outside of the not knowing that the old cider had been discontinued, he did not answer questions, and he spoke over us more than once when ordering.

In delivering our food, he forgot to ask about our prefer for soup or salad with our initial order. He also did not check in on us until he brought us the bill -- and did not ask if we wanted dessert. Overall, he came off as either very ambivalent or very new.

The Beards go up, however, due to the other waiter who stopped by our table twice and was substantially more knowledgeable and helpful than our assigned waiter. This either says something for the training staff or the managers; I'm not sure which.

Menu: 3 Beards

The menu is simple with traditional Irish fare. The menu is well laid out and outside of the noticeable "Corn Beef" faux pas, was satisfactory.

Atmosphere: 2 Beards and a Mustache

This was another deal-breaker. I felt more like I was in McGillicuddy's than what is touted as "not [sic] your typical Irish Pub. We have mixed a little of the old with a lot of new Irish traditions." There seems very little in the way of tradition here; it's just another Milwaukee "Irish" sports bar & grill posing as a "pub."

Also, the music was way too loud and not at all St. Paddy's appropriate (I like Irish music, especially on St. Paddy's).

Price: 2 Beards and a Mustache

Again it felt like it was catering to a downtown businessman crowd. Appetizers are mostly $5-10 with entrées at $10-20. Other Irish places in town have equally good food for less.

Overall: 2 Mugs and a Shot

I have other favorites, and I would most likely go to any of them before Black Thorn again. Now that the cider I enjoyed is no longer there, there is little to no draw to this higher-than-normally-priced "Irish" pub.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Seoul Korean Restaurant

Seoul Korean Restaurant is in the heart of the East Side, on Prospect Avenue (right next to Izumi's). It's a neat little place with it's own parking lot -- which is a bit small -- and a good traditional feel.

Food: 3 Beards and a Mustache

The food was a unique treat, being one used to more "American-ized" Asian cuisine like Chinese, Indian, and others. This place definitely knows how to make itself stand out.

I started with an OB (Oriental Brewery) beer, which was nice and crisp.

To get a good sampling, I ordered the combination appetizer, which consisted of Korean dumplings -- which were much like any other East Asian dumplings -- friend squid and fried shrimp, both different from what one would expect. The appetizer was served with a nice soy-sauce mixture (with sesame seeds, green onions, and chili paste), and a sweet-and-sour sauce. All meals are also served with a variety of small sides, including sweetened potatoes, radish, kimchi, friend pork, and dried seaweed, as well as soup.

As my entrée, I ordered spicy squid, which was much spicier than the "medium" one of the two wait staff suggested. I was very happy for my beer when that arrived. It was a fairly simple meal of squid and onions in a spicy sauce. It was served in an iron hot place, which was neat. The spice did, however, overpower the meal a little, which was a disappointment.

Service: 4 Beards

The service here is great. I'm not sure if it was because it was a slower night or if it's just the way they are most times, but the two wait staff on duty that night were both attentive. I did not want for drink, nor did I need to ask for anything the entire time. One of the wait staff was a little hesitant on his English, but he was very nice; the other was very good at making suggestions from off the menu -- both traditional and popular items.

My only complaint was that the main entrée came out at nearly the exact time as my appetizer, which made for a very crowded table.

As a side note, I was very absent-minded and left my credit card with the bill, and the waiter rushed out to catch me, so I wouldn't leave it behind. Bonus points for that.

Menu: 3 Beards

The menu was well laid-out and easily understandable. The drink menu had an out-of-date weekend specials on it, which might have just been the way they do things. Also, the person I was with wanted to order an item off the menu and was told they no longer served it. Always a disappointment when that happens. Overall a decent menu, though, with a wide variety of soups, noodle dishes, seafood, and Korean barbecue.

Atmosphere: 3 Beards and a Mustache

The ambiance of the place was nice. However, it was a little chuckle-worthy that they were playing soft 80s rock. The place was very clean, though I imagine if it gets busy, it gets very cramped, very quickly.

Pricing: 3 Beards and a Mustache

Most things were within a good budget. Appetizers ranged from $5.95-7.95. Entrées were from $9.95-13.95. There are also some pricier items that require a purchase of two of them, which is meant for "family style" dining.

Overall: 3 Mugs and a Shot

The place definitely warrants a second trip with the variety of the menu. I would highly recommend it for anyone who wants something Asian that's a little out of the norm -- especially if you eat a lot of Chinese food.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Beardy's Food Ratings

Here is the Beardy Rating System. It's pretty simple, because I don't like confusing.

Overall Rating: The overall rating is based on the five key elements of each place I go to. It will be a 1-5 mug scale (yes mugs, because it's Brew City). 1 mug is poor; 2 mugs is below average; 3 mugs is average; 4 mugs is above average; 5 mugs is great. Shot glasses will represent half a point.

The following five ratings are based on beards -- yes beards -- with the same scale as the mugs. A mustache is a half a point.

Food: The most important rating is food. I mean, it is a food review blog after all. It will be based on quality, presentation, combination of items (sides, etc.), and any drink recommendations by the wait staff. This especially applies at places where wine is served.

Service: I grew up with a Southern mother who's aunt owned a restaurant for 30 years. I want good service. It not only means my wait staff is attentive; it means that the owners and managers are very keen on the notion that customers are business. This rating will be based on attentiveness, knowledge of the menu (including specials), and general attitude.

Menu: A good variety on the menu is nice. If there aren't many choices, then there's not much to complain about or write about. Also based on clarity of the menu, good layout, and attention to detail.

Atmosphere: A good environment is nice. Is the place clean? Is it thematic? Is it nice to be in? These things make for a nice return visit. However, it won't be as critical as the previous three items.

Pricing: Lastly, pricing. I'm not a rich guy, but I do like to eat out. If I can only go to a place once a year, then it's probably not worth my time, because I like to go to places more than once. It is also based on whether it's appropriate for the quality of the food and service.

Full disclosure: I am NOT a food critic. I'm just an average guy with a love of food and a desire to get Milwaukee's great diversity some recognition. This blog is meant to showcase not only the notables throughout the city but also to highlight some of the places that might not get the notice they deserve.

If you've got a restaurant you think I should try out, email me at, and I'll add it to my list of places to try out.