Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rapid Restaurant Reviews Part 1

This past week and a half, I've done quite a bit of restaurant dining. I wanted to save all of them for one big post, but since they keep adding up, I decided to split it into two posts. So, here's the first of two rapid restaurant reviews.

This post features Pastiche and Blue's Egg.

One Friday, my friend Ann and I checked out Pastiche, a newer Bay View restaurant. Pastiche is a bistro and wine bar, featuring French food. The place is cute and cozy. It's a rather small dining room--it almost looks like it used to be an old house--with a small bar in the back corner.

We had a mixed experience. First, although we had a reservation, we still waited about 20 minutes for our table ... only to have the hostess give our table away to a couple who walked in way after us. Luckily, she eventually realized her mistake (after we gave her some looks) and made the couple get up from the table so we could sit, but still, it was a rather odd way to start things out. The service was good--the server seemed to know the menu pretty well and was pretty attentive--but it was felt rushed, and for the type of restaurant and the prices, I think they moved us a long a little too fast. Also, the place was incredibly warm. I realize it's been a hot summer in Milwaukee, and while I hate it when restaurants crank up the AC so it's freezing, this was incredibly warm. There were a few ceiling fans going, but no air was reaching our table. It was uncomfortably warm.

While the appetizer we ordered wasn't great, our entrees were very tasty. For our appetizer, we ordered pork rillettes, slow-cooked pork shoulder, shredded with cornichons and French bread. Our server warned us that the appetizer was cold, but being as warm as we were, that seemed fine. The pork wasn't bad, but it didn't have much flavor and reminded us a bit too much of tuna salad. (Sorry for the bad picture--I debated not posting it, but even though it's blurry, you can still get the idea of what the dish looks like.)

The entrees, on the other hand, were very good. Ann ordered the steak and frites, which came with a garlic mayonnaise sauce. The steak was perfectly cooked and had a tasty, sort of crispy outer edge.

I ordered the salmon, which had a leek, fennel, red wine and shallot sauce on it. It came with a vegetable, asparagus, and the potato of the day: mashed potatoes. It was very good. The salmon was cooked perfectly, and the asparagus and mashed potatoes worked well with the dish.
At the end of the meal, we said we'd try it again at some point, but wouldn't rush back.

That same weekend, on Sunday, Nate and I tried another new Milwaukee restaurant, Blue's Egg. We had heard a lot about it before, and we eagerly awaited its opening, as we live fairly close. We went for a late breakfast--maybe about 9:00--and sat at the bar since the dining room was packed. We had a great experience. The food was fantastic and the service was good, as well. (Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of anything. I didn't bring my camera, and I guess I wasn't awake enough to take pictures with my phone!)

I started with coffee (they serve Alterra) and Nate had a Blue's Bloody Mary, which came with a Miller High Life shorty. For breakfast, I ordered one of their very stuffed browns, the one with roasted mushrooms, creamy leeks and herb creme fraiche. It was basically--and this is the way the bartender described it--an omelet made with hash browns instead of eggs. In addition to the browns, I got two sunny-side up eggs on the side. It was good, and I'd like to try more of their stuffed browns.

Nate's benedict was fantastic--I think it's the best I've ever had. He got the Blue's Classic, with poached eggs, pulled ham, housemade English muffin and hollandaise. What made it so good was the pulled ham (from my experience, most benedicts come with slices of ham or Canadian bacon) and the hollandaise, as it wasn't too rich. Many benedicts are smothered in hollandaise, but this just had a dollop on the top. It was the perfect amount. For many of the meals, you have a choice of about 15 sides. Nate chose the smoothie, which was really tasty.

We will definitely going back to Blue's Egg for brunch and lunch!

Stay tuned for reviews of Hue, Marchese's Olive Pit and Alem Ethiopian.

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