Thursday, August 9, 2012

Milwaukee Weekend

This year's anniversary trip was spent in Milwaukee. It was my turn to plan and I've been thinking Milwaukee for a few years. Brewery tours and good food were my primary reason and I wasn't disappointed.

We arrived Friday evening (our drive through Chicago was horrible. I HATE driving through Chicago) and checked in to our hotel. We already had dinner but we stopped at the Branded Steer for a kick-off drink. The bartender was nice enough to give us some extra mixed drinks that she made.

After drinks we headed to the Potawatomi Bingo and Casino. We love to gamble and our anniversary trips usually feature at least one visit to a casino.

I had scheduled a boat and brew tour for Saturday. We were told to meet at Molly Cool's so we arrived early to check out the place that's right along the Milwaukee River. It was a bit humid but not nearly as bad as what we've been experiencing in Bloomington. The restaurant offers some beautiful views of the city.

We had lunch and hung out until it was time for the tour to begin. We received our schedule and cups.

We were the red team. The tour company had three tours going on that day so other groups were arriving and departing at each location. I was amazed by the number of people in each boat. It's a popular tour. Here we are on the boat, after our beer tasting at Molly Cool's.

The second stop was the Milwaukee Ale House - our favorite of the three stops.

I had the Sheeps Head (not to be confused with the Sheeps Ead).

I was also very amused by the restroom lady with no head.
A photo of our tour guide...

It was pretty hot inside the Ale House (but let's face it - I'm ALWAYS hot these days) and I was bummed that I didn't have a hair tie. Luckily, the Polack was smart enough to use the paper wrapper that goes around silverware bundles in restaurants.

While there, we picked up a root beer for the Polack's friend, Normie. Norm collects root beer bottles and he's from Milwaukee but he'd never had this root beer.

Here we are, waiting to be picked up by the boat.

And the orange boat caught up to us.

There were lots of restaurants and condos along the river.

Our group was very chatty.

Our third stop was Rock Bottom Brewery. We were a little bummed because Rock Bottom is a chain brwery - but we still had fun.

When we got inside, we went downstairs, under the restaurant, to the party room. Here's a view to the outside. Rock Bottom's patio is built over the river.

The Polack and I decided to play pool, something we haven't done in a long time.

I was solids and I did pretty well.

They also had a large Jenga game that everyone took turns playing.

After our boat and brew tour, we made another stop to the casino, had dinner, and stopped by the Big Mouth Frog for drinks. I had to take a photo of Mr. Deer to send to my friend Christy. Once when we were in college, we drove from Indiana to Minnesota with a stop at Osh Gosh to visit her friend. We didn't know it at the time, but we were driving through Wisconsin on the opening day of hunting season. So driving down the road, there were deer carcasses strapped to the top of every other car and it freaked us out.

On Sunday, I had booked the Brady Street Food Tour with Milwaukee Food Tours. Brady Street is a popular Italian/Polish neighborhood. We began our tour outside Zaffiro's Pizza.

We met up with our guide, Maria, and six others. Zaffiro's pizza was great - thin crust and cooked all the way through. Our next stop was Cempazuchi's where we had an excellent beef taco on a corn tortilla. Other diner's there had some yummy looking margarita's that I wish we would have ordered.

As we walked along Brady Street, Maria talked about the history of the neighborhood, intertwined with stories of the local merchants. Maria is Italian and appreciates Sciortino's Bakery. We each had an awesome cannoli (and some of us may have had two!)

Our next stop was the Italian grocery, Glorioso's. We walked around inside, had some awesome samples while squeezing through the aisles filled with shoppers, and then we met outside for some snacks.

We made our way through the neighborhood, leaving Brady Street and walking along the Milwaukee River. Our next stop was Brocach, an Irish Pub with THE BEST shepard's pie I've ever had.

After Brocach, we began our trek up Pulaski Street. This is where we learned about the Polish immigrants in Milwaukee and a bit about their lives in the early days of the city.

Our final stop was a stop at Milwaukee's most famous bar, Wolski's. We each had a beer and enjoyed the locals. The Polack was in heaven and decided we must close Wolski's so we could get one of their famed stickers.

Along the tour, Maria pointed out several Polish Flats. These are houses that were owned by Polish families. When the family needed more room (or wanted to add on to their houses) they raised their home and built a floor below. Usually this created a two family home that allowed them to bring their family over from Poland or rent out the top half to those working in the nearby canneries.

Here's the group shot of our group. We had a WONDERFUL afternoon and I hope that someday I can do some of the other Milwaukee Food Tours - especially the Pizza Bus or Churches and Chocolate Tour.

After our tour, we drove though the Marquette campus. I was disappointed - its fairly ordinary - but we were excited to check out the Al McGuire Center.

After our quick campus tour, we went back to the casino and then we were off to dinner. Because we didn't get any Polish food on our tour, Maria recommended Polonez in St. Francis. When we walked in, we were greeted by the owner in her thick Polish accent. The Polack said that some of the white haired customers reminded him of his family members

The food was DELICIOUS. I can't believe how good it was. I ordered the Polish Plate which is basically a sampler that included two different kinds of pieorgies, a potato cake, kielbasa, sauerkraut, and golabki (stuffed cabbage). It was all so good. I even ate the sauerkraut which I don't usually like. My favorite was the golabki which I've had before and it's always been so-so. But at Polonez, it was fantastic. I wish I had the recipe!

The Polack was happy to try some Polish beer.

After dinner, we went back to the casino (yes, it was our fourth visit there) and then we decided to go back to Brady Street for dessert. We stopped at Mimma's, a restaurant Maria pointed out to us. It's a bit more upscale Italian place and Mimma was there to great us. Mimma came to Milwaukee from Sicily when she was 16. Here's a photo of Mimma from the menu (my apologies for it being sideways.) We talked with Mimma for a bit and got to meet her dog Peepo (who apparently hangs out often at the restaurant). Mimma told us about her bout with lung cancer and then her heart attack two weeks ago. Luckily she seems to be doing better and she hopes to visit Sicily soon. She hasn't been back in eight years. She also showed us an invention by her nephew (who lives in Sicily). He invited a candle holder that collects wax from birthday candles and is movable so that the wax doesn't get on the cake.

After dessert we headed back to Wolski's.
The next day was checkout and the drive home. Before the Illinois border, we stopped in Kenosha (I love saying Kenosha) to get some cheese curds for the boys.

Then it was time to pick up the boys in Lafayette and head home to Bloomington. We stopped at the Anson El Rodeo on the way home because they had outdoor seating and we had Freddy. The boys loved sitting outside though Seeger had to borrow my sunglasses for a bit.

Our family dinner was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend. In thirteen years of anniversary celebrations, we've been to Chicago, Phoenix, Louisville, Detroit, Las Vegas, Cleveland, Washington DC, St. Louis (and some other places) but I think Milwaukee was one of our favorites. Next time we visit, we'll do another Milwaukee Food Tour, we'll stop at the Lake Front Brewery (which we didn't get to visit because their tour times conflicted with our other activities), and we'll definitely eat at Polonez.

1 comment:

Christy said...

I loved reading about your Milwaukee trip! I pretty much realized I knew nothing about the city other than it's in Wisconsin & the whole Laverne & Shirley thing.