Chris and I really enjoyed the Milwaukee Food Tour we took last night, and I promise I'm not just saying that because I was invited on the tour free of charge. People tell me I'm too blunt, so you can be assured that this post will reveal my 100% honest opinion of the tour.
During the 2.5 hour, one-mile tour, we visited 4 restaurants and ended the evening with champagne and chocolates. Below is a list of the places we visited...
The Soup & Stock Market
The tour started at the Milwaukee Public Market, which is one of those places I've wondered about the past two summers as I drove past to attend Summerfest, because I had no idea what was inside. It turns out that it was modeled after the Pike Place Market in Seattle. Having been to both, I can tell you that the Milwaukee version is cleaner and a lot less crowded. Chris and I are both looking forward to going back to explore more of the market.
Our first sample of the evening was tomato bisque soup from The Soup & Stock Market, which was really good. Chris enjoyed it too, and requested that I make it at home. He also mentioned that I should suggest it to someone we know (who shall not be named) that makes terrible tomato soup...I'll let him handle that :)
We sampled our soup from the second level of the Milwaukee Public Market, in an area that is used for cooking classes. I saw this sign as I was leaving, and after perusing their class schedule when I got home, I'm having trouble deciding which one I want to try first. I think it'll be Summer Harvest on June 22...anyone interested in joining me?
From the market, we walked along the Third Ward Riverwalk, which despite the gloomy weather was a really pretty area, and looked like it'd be great spot to be in warmer weather.
From the riverwalk, we entered through the back door of Rustico Pizzeria, where we sampled a delicious margherita pizza. Chris and I both love Italian food, and I can definitely see us returning to Rustico. The owner, Brian Zarletti, stopped by our table during our visit, and it was really interesting to hear him talk about Rustico.
Our third stop of the evening was at SPiN Milwaukee, which is a restaurant/bar/ping pong club I've never seen anything like it. Chris and I immediately agreed that we need to go back when his sister visits us in July. I saw people of all ages playing ping pong, all of whom looked like they were having a great time.
At SPiN, we sampled a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich, sweet potato chips and Sprecher beer that is brewed exclusively for SPiN. With the exception of a cherry beer I tried on a brewery tour in Belgium, I have never found a beer I liked, but I really liked the Sprecher beer. I also liked the grilled cheese sandwich (made with smoked gouda and pepperjack, roasted red peppers, avocado, and siracha mayo) and the sweet potato chips.
The next restaurant we visited was Tulip, which is a Mediterranean restaurant. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but inside you're immediately welcomed with live music and gorgeous Turkish lamps.
Chris loved the chicken kebabs that he sampled and told me he definitely wants to visit Tulip again. I was given the vegetarian option of grape leaves, which I was excited about, because I really liked the grape leaves we had in Greece. However, at Tulip they were seasoned with cinnamon which tasted very strange to me. This was the only food I did not like on the tour.
The final stop was at Cuvee Lounge for champagne and chocolates. This is a space I never would have found on my own. It's on the third floor of a nondescript building that you access through an elevator behind an Asian art gallery.
Not being a fan of chocolate, I only tried the champagne, which was very good! Chris sampled the chocolate and liked both. I really liked the experience of visiting Cuvee but it's probably not a place I would return to on my own. However, I'd highly recommend the venue as a great place for a wedding reception, which is what it's often booked for.
As we left Cuvee, I noticed a flyer for 2011 Downtown Dining Week, which Chris and I are totally going to take advantage of. Ideally, the $10 lunch options! The tour ended with each of us receiving a sample of the "Historic Third Ward Seasoning" specially crafted by The Spice House for Milwaukee Food Tours. It's an Italian pepper seasoning, that I'm looking forward to trying.
In addition to getting the chance to sample food and drinks at a variety of places, the other aspect of the food tour that I really enjoyed was getting to know more about Milwaukee, and specifically the Third Ward area. The tour guide talked a lot about the architecture and history of the area, in addition to making additional restaurant recommendations such as Hinterland and Swig...both of which are part of Downtown Dining Week!
In the nearly three years that Chris and I have lived near Milwaukee, we have always told people we live in a crappy city. I'm not exaggerating when I say that Milwaukee Food Tours changed our impression of Milwaukee. The tour made me realize that we have never really given Milwaukee a fair chance.
Most of our friends are in Madison, a city that we both love, so that's where we tend to spend our free time. However, we're both excited to have places in Milwaukee to visit now that we know serve great food. We have several visitors coming this summer, so this tour was an ideal way for us to learn about places to visit with them.