When I attended college in Milwaukee during the early 1970s, upscale eating out primarily meant German food in one of the legendary big-three German restaurants there at the time (Mader’s, Rausch’s and Ernst’s — only Mader’s remains open today).
Other than that, there were chain restaurants downtown like Ponderosa and Perkins.
But boy, have times changed. Milwaukee this year has nine James Beard Award semifinalists.
We were back in Milwaukee recently and some dear friends took us to Story Hill BKC, whose owners are Beard semi-finalists for Outstanding Restaurateur. The food was excellent. I highly recommend it. You may find yourself going off your heart-healthy diet while there, but it’s worth a splurge.
We began with buttery biscuits that were so flaky and buttery that adding the generous dollop of butter that came with them seemed superfluous.
Dishes here are meant to be shared, although you might want to go back to have a meal all to yourself sometime.
A pasta special with hollow noodles and a light mushroom sauce was so good, we were at a local Italian grocery store the next day looking for the hollow noodles (bucatini) so my wife could try to duplicate the recipe at home.
For me, the star of the meal was a steelhead trout served on a cedar plank with a waffle. Here’s how the menu describes it: “smoked maple mustard glaze, everything potato waffle, dill creme fraiche, trout roe.”
The depth of flavor of that dish was truly special. While we shared it, I could have eaten several portions of it all by myself.
Milwaukee’s restaurant renaissance is much in evidence in trendy neighborhoods near downtown like the Third Ward or Walker Point. BKC is in a neighborhood called Story Hill, not far from the stadium where the Milwaukee Brewers play, so you may need to search for it. The trip will be well worth it.