Wednesday, June 29, 2016

June 2016

A few of my favorite things

Friends with a side of cream pie at Bay View Gallery Night.

Treating myself to a print of Katie Gamb's magical artwork

Swooning over the food at Odd Duck.

Upping my Instagram game (er, trying to).

Rubbing elbows with the spirit world at Shaker's.

Baking lemon bars for the first time ever — yum!

Shopping local at The Waxwing

Brunching on a perfect omelet at Buckley's. 

Going to fried chicken heaven.

Making oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for Dad's Day.

Eating all the falafel at Hello Falafel.

Stuff Roach Knows Your new favorite website

This is my bosom friend Rachelle, AKA Roach of

She started Stuff Roach Knows as a newsletter delivered straight to your inbox. Apparently newsletters are the new blogs (I can always count on Roach to have her finger on the pulse). But luckily for the world, she recently decided to buck the trends and start a website so that we can all pore over her bombass #content anytime we want instead of frantically refreshing our gmail on newsletter day. 

Here's an overview of some of the stuff Roach knows... 

How to survive Ikea with a romantic partner and/or passive aggressive roommate: "IKEA is the Swedish word for murder, but like a justified murder. (I think.) Let me help you get through a trip to IKEA and the construction of IKEA furniture without murdering anyone, or getting murdered." (Read more)

How to make a threatening cat cake: "I am not a cat person. Raul is. He has delusions about owning a cat someday. He will never own that cat, unless I die before him, which frankly is unlikely. But I thought for his birthday I could, out of the goodness of my heart, give him a cake shaped like a cat... 

So I had to tell a little story with the cat cake. A story of what would happen if a cat were added to my household. That story goes like this: I would smell its nastiness all the time, because we live in like a 7-sq. foot Brooklyn apartment that is not built for animals. Next, I would be the only one who would have to clean up its nasty poo, because of course I would. Lastly, it would bite me and I would die of infection from a cat bite. 

If you'd like to tell a similar story on a cat cake, here is how you can do that." (Read more)

The importance of kitchen shears: "I come to you to proselytize about kitchen shears. Maybe you already know about kitchen shears, and use them frequently. If so, you can hop right along and get back to your snipping. I'm here to talk to the people who don't already use scissors in your kitchen. Why aren't you using scissors in your kitchen? NO BUT REALLY. Give me one reason! WHY!?

...Moving on. There are a few things that will always make me feel better even when I feel like poo. They are: Golden Girls episodes, Rocky, this article about Stevie Wonder not being blind, and infomercial fail gifs. Along with making me snort laugh, they're a reminder that life is hard. But it's even harder without kitchen shears. Don't let your life be like the before section of an infomercial." (Read more) 

There's so much other stuff Roach knows (like how Yoko did not break up the Beatles, how to see where the Romanovs died, how to put chorizo on ithow to get rid of mice) that I wish I could just copy/paste for your reading pleasure and side-splitting laughter, but it's probably best if you just mosey on over to and dive in for yourself. Bon voyage to the mind of Roach! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Live outdoor music in Milwaukee

Summer tunes in three Milwaukee parks

Between weekly events, special concert series, block parties, street fairs, and festivals at the Summerfest grounds, there are tons of places to get your outdoor music fix in Milwaukee every summer. Here are just three of them that I can personally recommend!

Where: Humbolt Park in Bay View
When: Tuesday nights through August, 6–8pm
What to eat: Feel free to bring your own food & drink, or try one of the local vendors. This year's vendors include Hue Vietnamese, Babe's Ice Cream, Streetza Pizza, and Guanajuato Mexican. 
Why to go: You know you need more Bay View in your life.

Where: Wauwatosa Village's Rotary Pavilion, Honey Creek Parkway
When: Wednesday nights through August (but not every week), opening acts at 6pm & main acts at 7:30
What to eat: While I don't think you'll get in trouble for BYO, the Tosa Tonight folks kindly ask that you support their local vendors: "Your food and beverage purchases directly raise money for the ongoing non-profit operation of the Rotary Performance Pavilion and future Tosa Tonght concerts." The vendors include Maxie's, Gilles, and Belair, just to name a few.
Why to go: Consistently yummy vendors (mac n' cheese & ice cream — hello!) and they always host Irish music the week of Irish Fest.

Where: The band shell at Washington Park, Milwaukee 
When: Wednesday nights through August, 6–8:30pm
What to eat: You can definitely BYO food & drink, but they have some unique food trucks at the Shell. Last summer I tried the Jamaican Kitchen's jerk chicken and it was super yummy! 
Why to go: You'll see things you might not at other outdoor music shows, like the Brew City Fire Brigade

Do you know of other can't-miss summer music spots in Milwaukee? Please share in the comments! I have a short list of other outdoor locations I'm hoping to get to this year (Lake Park, the Botanical Gardens, and the Florentine Opera top my list), but I'd love to hear more ideas! Let's spread the musical wealth. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Milwaukee River boats & kayaks

Rentals for the water in Downtown MKE 

This past weekend was a bit of a scorcher by Wisconsin standards, amiright? I think I got a headache from being in the sun too long. Of course, like the rest of the people in our fair state, I'm quick to follow up that statement with "but I shouldn't complain!" After spending roughly nine months whining about the cold, no one wants to be caught whining about the heat. 

Anyway, to beat said heat and quit complaining, here's an idea: Get out on the water! You don't even have to go to Lake Country to do it. Here's the skinny on two ways to set sail in Milwaukee.

#1 Milwaukee Kayak Company 
With Milwaukee Kayak Company, you'll be off on your kayaking adventures in no time! They really do make the process super easy. Start by going online and making a reservation: A solo kayak is $35 for up to four hours, and the tandem kayak is $50. 

Included in the cost is your kayak, paddles, and life vests. They'll also loan you a waterproof bag for your valuables, and when we went they had coolers filled with bottled water to keep you hydrated on your journey. They'll also happily snap a pic of your group. 

#2 Riverwalk Boat Tours & Rentals
If you're looking for cruises down the Milwaukee River with themes like Margarita Monday, Tiki Tuesday, or Wild Wednesday (one for every day of the week!), Riverwalk Boat Tours & Rentals is the place to be. But more importantly (and much less Girls Gone Wild), this is also the place to rent a party barge pontoon boat

Here's the scoop: Rates vary, but all boats have a 10-person max and are self captained. To rent, you'll need a drivers license and a deposit for boat damages. Half-day rentals are four hours, all-day rentals are 10 hours. After all guests sign a waiver, you're free to cruise away down the river and even out onto Lake Michigan. BYO food, booze, tunes, and DD (aka captain) — it's a blast!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Schwabenhof

For all-you-can-eat fried chicken & fish on Fridays

I say "all-you-can-eat!" You say "fried chicken and fish!" Really it's worthy of repeating. Worthy of shouting from the rooftops. Worthy of my friend Cathy deeming The Schwabenhof "Chicken Heaven." 

Okay so when you pull up it's nothing special. Like, nothing special. A gravel parking lot in Menomonee Falls with a nondescript building and a "beer garden" that's more like a concrete slab. Inside, there's a nice-sized game room with a pool table, some arcade favorites, and a claw machine. Venture in a little deeper and there's a lounge-y bar. Chicken Heaven lies beyond. 

It's a big room that, when it comes down to it, looks like a church basement. But no one is going to The Schwabenhof for the aesthetics. You're going on a Friday night for all-you-can-eat fried chicken and fish for $12.95. You can order just chicken or fish, but I'm sorry — why say "or" when you can say "and"? 

Both the chicken and fish were super tasty. Probably made all the more tasty by virtue of the fact that both come on the same plate for the same price (it's a miracle!). But even beyond that, this is some damn good fried chicken. The sides were good, though not exceptional. You can get french fries, a baked potato, or potato pancakes — but don't get the potato pancakes, they come out of the freezer. As do the fries, I'm sure, but for some reason that's okay.

Note that even though it was "all-you-can-eat," I only ate one plateful. And no, you can't order more only to have them box it up. One other tip: Bring cash. They no likey the splitting of checks. This should come as no surprise from a spot described as "church basement." But like I said — you're not going for the hip vibe, you're going for the all-you-can-eat. Welcome to Chicken Heaven.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Lakefront Festival of Art: Artists I loved

Some of my faves from Milwaukee's LFOA 2016

There's so much to love about the Lakefront Festival of Art. It's held on the grounds of the Milwaukee Art Museum each year, typically on a hot summery weekend. 2016 was no different. The sun was beating down on festival-goers, but luckily most of the artwork is housed inside white tents that remain surprisingly cool. 

This is just a sampling of some of the artists who really caught my eye this year. Some were repeats (I remember seeing them last year, too) and others were new to me. Of course there are many more worthy creatives I could blog about, but these arty folks actually post or sell their work online. I didn't want to share any work that I couldn't include a direct link to. Now let's get to it!

#1 Kenneth Kudulis
This was the first booth that caught my eye, and not surprisingly once you check out the artist's website. That is some large-scale, vibrant, pop art eye candy! Here's a statement from Kenneth's site: "Kenneth often uses found imagery from the past two decades as source material for his work. He deconstructs and simplifies these found images down to their outline. Thus, creating a new life for an image that had become lost and forgotten."

#2 Gena Ollendieck
I remember Gena's work from last year and was so excited to see it again. I love the dimension of her pieces — the way she layers odds and ends in shadowboxes or memory albums. In one of her largest works, there's a mirrored ship's porthole in the middle that you can lift up to reveal even more treasures hidden beneath. 

She says "I have always found inspiration in old discarded objects, nature, and vintage black and white family snap shots. The beauty and mystery inherent in old and forgotten objects offers me the opportunity to transform the ordinary into something new."

#3 Clare Malloy
Don't take this the wrong way, but I'm surprised at how much I love Clare's work. Her technique is beautiful — the strong lines, the crisp colors — but I'd never peg myself as a lover of a simple farmhouse. When you walk past her booth though, you're drawn in. I could stare into these landscapes for much longer than a moment. They offer a lovely sense of stillness and calm. 

#4 Mick Whitcomb, Artifacts by Nomad
Oh my god this booth. Imagine a hundred Edison bulbs crammed into one tiny booth — that's what beckoned. What kept me marveling was that the bulbs were all affixed to various antique artifacts: fans, cameras, typewriters, movie reels, sewing machines, and the list goes on. Mick's work is utterly mesmerizing. Though he and his wife don't sell the light fixtures online (inventory is ever-changing and pieces are one-of-a-kind), you can email him to inquire.

#5 Andrew Kosten, Gum Pal Press
There's almost always something a little bizarre about Andrew's work — that's what makes it so great! I'll let Andrew use his appropriate big words to tell you a bit more: "The idiosyncratic nature of the individual has always been a fixation of mine and I seek to encapsulate that with the characters I create. My work exhibits a satirical fascination with the comically bizarre and often dabbles in sociopolitical and historical contexts." Whew! Just check out Andrew's stuff on his site or on Etsy — it's such fun.

#6 Mark & Carol Reynolds, Kaleidovisions 
Imagine you're at the Lakefront Festival of Art in a sea of works rendered in more traditional ways — when suddenly you stumble upon hand-made kaleidoscopes. I mean really, these bring out the childlike wonder in all of us. "Let me look!" "I have to try them all!" And let me tell you — each one made me say "Oooh!" 

#7 Jeff Condon
I was about to say "I don't know what it is about Jeff Condon's work..." — but I do know. It's the sheer size the pieces, the colors and color-blocking, the sort-of primitive style. See his work in person and you can't look away. The colors are too vibrant and varied, the lines so curious that you just have to sit, stare, and figure them out. Jeff's work gives me all kinds of heart eyes.

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Chewy cookies from the Quaker Oats lid

I love this recipe. If you're lucky you'll find it under the lid of Quaker Oats, either rolled or quick-cooking. But I had both kinds in my pantry and neither of them had the choc-oat-chip recipe — just oatmeal raisin. Luckily there's google and a link to the lid recipe. I followed the recipe pretty closely, but I'll still tell you my little tweaks below. You're one step closer to cookies!

- - - - - - - 


2 sticks butter, softened (I used one salted, one unsalted)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (I used light brown)
1/2 cup white sugar
2 TBS milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 and 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (optional, depending on if you use salted butter)
dash of cinnamon (up to 1/8 tsp), plus extra for sprinkling
2 and 1/2 cups oats (I used 2 cups rolled, 1/2 cup quick)
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla and beat well. 

2. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt (if using). Mix well. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture and mix until just combined. Add oats, chocolate chips, and nuts (if using) and mix. 

3. On an un-greased baking sheet, drop rounded 1 TBS balls of dough (you can fit 12 on one sheet). Bake for 9 to 10 minutes for a chewy cookie, 12 to 13 for crispy (this will vary depending on your oven — I baked mine for 12 and they are still chewy 3 days later). 

4. Remove from oven and sprinkle tops with cinnamon. Let cool on the baking sheet for one or two minutes, then place on cooling rack. Once fully cooled, store in an airtight container.

- - - - - - - 

Why sprinkle cinnamon on top? If you want a softer cookie, just the edges should be golden when you remove them from the oven. The centers are light, soft, and gooey — and not very pretty. Sprinkling them with cinnamon not only adds nice flavor, but also adds color.

Another thing to note: You can switch up the mix-ins. Use dark chocolate chips, white chocolate and dried cranberries, pecans, or M&Ms for some rainbow magic. Also, although you can use all quick-cooking oats, I wouldn't. Use mostly (or all) old fashioned rolled oats — they lend a much better texture and appearance! 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Sprecher Brewery tour

Milwaukee's micro-brewery for craft beer & gourmet soda

Confession: Given the choice, I'd probably pick root beer over beer-beer. I just love the stuff — it tastes like summer as a kid. Especially if it's a Sprecher. I remember sharing brown bottles of Sprecher with my dad, and only on special occasions. Of course one of the perks of adulting is that you can finally drink whatever you want, whenever you want — but that perk doesn't apply to Sprecher in my book. To me, the nostalgic taste is one I still reserve for special occasions — all the better if shared with Dad.

Before you think this all father-daughter bonding and flowers and rainbows, I didn't go on the Sprecher Brewery tour with my dad. In fact the tour wasn't even on my radar until my friend Joel suggested we check it out. While I knew Sprecher was of course Milwaukee made, I didn't even know where exactly it was located (turns out it's super close to Bayshore and convenient for a stop at Kopp's). You can purchase brewery tour tickets online for a specific time, or buy tickets at the door — they're $5 or $6, depending on the time of year. And for $4, you can bring the kids (anyone under 21). 

The cool thing about Sprecher is that it's family friendly. Or at least it should be, if you don't have a bunch of buzzed buffoons shouting drinking songs littered with curse words while a pair of kids sits one table over (yep). Anyway, the tour is technically family friendly, given the root beer and many other flavors of gourmet soda they bottle. Just proceed with some caution.

As for the tour itself, it was just ok. It felt intimate, as the brewery isn't very big. But when you're up against the showmen at Lakefront Brewery, you might want to step it up. Our guide was knowledgeable, but his delivery was not so great. Oh well! At the end of the tour we all had four drink tickets to use. Each one gets you a small-ish sample of a beer of your choosing. Or if you go for soda like I did, they don't even take a ticket for it. Yes friends, this is the place to taste your way through the Sprecher gourmet soda lineup, and that part is wonderful. The cute little indoor beer garden and gift shop were fun, too — as was the company.

So should you go? Don't drop everything, but if you're looking for something different for the whole family to do, I say it's worth it to do the tour (it lasted maybe 20 minutes?) just to get to the beer and gourmet soda at the end. Cheers!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Lumineers at BMO Harris Pavilion, Milwaukee

An evening at Summerfest's newest stage

Summerfest doesn't start for a couple weeks, but already the grounds are getting warmed up for the Big Gig. This past Wednesday, The Lumineers played the BMO Harris Pavilion, and my brother and I took our dad to the show for his birthday present. Ho Hey y'all!

The Lumineers were everything they are on their albums and more. Their sweet, soulful, folky tunes make for a winning concert — spirited and lively with a nice dash of quietness. My favorite thing about The Lumineers, aside from the fact that I love a good mandolin, is that they're story tellers. They sing about flapper girls, boys headed off to war, Cleopatra, and classy girls in bars. But I won't go on and on about The Lumineers themselves — I'll leave that to Piet Levy at Tap Milwaukee, who has great things to say. Instead I'd like to talk about the BMO Harris Pavilion itself, in case any of you Milwaukeeans are headed there this summer.

First, photo cred to the lovely and talented Erin Gosch, who snapped the above pic. And this is sans zoom! Yep, we were super close because the pavilion sat folks on a first-come first-served basis. I'm told that normally you purchase specific seat numbers, but we lucked out; originally The Lumineers were slated to play the Riverside, then the concert was moved. The pavilion seats 5,000 — or, if you aren't great at picturing a number like that in your head (like me), I'd say the place is not too big, not too small.

If you go, it's totally worth it to purchase covered, comfy seats in one of the front sections — or arrive early so you can snag those same spots, depending on if they're pre-assigned or not. Otherwise you're stuck in the bleachers or standing, and there are no huge screens projecting the musicians (did they run out of money?). 

While waiting to get in, don't count on top-notch service at the gates. Some people didn't know how to form a line, and the folks on staff did little to help the issue. Once you're finally inside, watch out runners — almost always teenagers. But here's one happy thing: Ladies, there was zero line for the bathroom. Amazing, right?

As for the logistics of getting there/parking: The stage is located right by the Marcus Amphitheater, so you want to go in on the south entrance of the Summerfest grounds, not the main. There's also a parking lot down that way, but be prepared to wait 15 to 20 minutes to exit. If you can, I'd suggest parking outside of the grounds. I'd much rather walk for 10 minutes than sit in a car for 20.

One final note: I've heard that the speaker system isn't the best if you're seated to the right or left side, so try to get at close to the center as possible. From where we were sitting — Row V in the middle section — we couldn't have asked for a better show! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Katie Gamb's magical artwork

A look at one of my favorite Milwaukee artists

When I stumbled upon Milwaukee artist Katie Gamb at Bay View Gallery Night, I geeked out a bit. I'd bought a print of hers, The Iris Opens at Night (pictured two below), for a friend as a Christmas present — and suddenly there was Katie's talented self right in front of me! She was rendering woodland creatures in a sketchbook as she manned her undoubtedly-enchanted booth. Never stop Katie! You're a delight. (Yeah hi, am I fangirling hard enough for you right now?)

I love Katie's technique, subject matter, and the way she plays with the scale of the creatures in the magical worlds she creates. At Gallery Night, I had to buy a little print of They Came Upon a Party (pictured above) — it's one of my favorites. Check that accordion!

Adam would argue that Katie's work is better-suited to a kid's room, and no one is surprised. But I still dream of decking my own walls with these fairytale scenes (here are my tips for injecting some whimsy into your grown-up home). Although I will of course agree that Katie's paintings would be utterly charming in a child's room.

Katie's shop, Poppy and Fox, not only sells beautiful things, but her work also comes wrapped with the utmost loveliness and care. The little brown paper gift bag is scrawled with an enchanted scene (I went so far as to cut out the image and stick it on my fridge). And the business cards: Each one has a miniature snapshot of one of Katie's paintings. How clever! You'll want to snatch up a handful of these tiny keepsakes — or at least I sure wanted to.  

Anyway, I'm almost done gushing about Katie Gamb. Just know that if you're shopping for artwork for a little boy or girl, or even if you're just a child at heart yourself, this local artist comes highly recommended by yours truly. I can't wait to see what other wonders are waiting to escape Katie's marvelous imagination. 

Buckley's brunch

A delicious Sunday brunch near Milwaukee's lakefront

Ever since I had dinner at Buckley's and let out lots of yummy sounds over browned butter gnocchi and carrot cake with vanilla bean frosting, I've been hankering to go back for brunch. Brunch at Buckley's is served only on Sundays, from 10am to 2pm.

You might recognize Buckley's by its sidewalk café seating and charming black-and-white umbrellas, and if it's nice enough I'd recommend snagging a spot outside. Unfortunately, though it was June when we went, there was a chilly breeze that morning. But dining inside is almost equally as charming — I have no complaints! 

As I was brunching with my mom and my aunt, we started with mimosas. We always start with mimosas, followed eventually by coffee. Though our drink tastes apparently run in the family, we each picked something different for eating. My mom went for her go-to Eggs Benedict. Buckley's prepares theirs the nearly-classic way: soft poached eggs, grilled country ham, tomatoes, and arugula on a toasted english muffin with hollandaise sauce. It was beautiful, and must have been as delicious as it was pretty, since she cleaned her plate. 

I ordered the omelet with portabella mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and goat cheese with a side of mixed greens. I've had good omelets in the past, of course, but this was truly exceptional. It wasn't so large that I didn't know what to do with myself — the size was just right. The fillings were so tasty, and the egg itself appeared to be cooked with just the right blend of herbs and spices so that it wasn't bland in the slightest. This is one omelet I'll be going back for! 

My Aunt Kal chose the lox and bagel: cold smoked salmon with cream cheese, chives, shallots, capers, hardboiled egg and a toasted bagel. I like salmon, but I'm not sure lox is my thing. Still, the presentation was lovely and my aunt, too, cleaned her plate. So if lox is something you crave, I'd say it's a delicious bet at Buckley's. 

To close out the meal we naturally shared a piece of Buckley's famous carrot cake between us. Of course it was gone in a jiffy and I didn't snap a photo, but you can see one from my Buckley's dinner post from last summer. The pieces are huge, dense, and moist — definitely shareable and not to be missed. Can we go back to Buckley's now? 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Lemon bars with macadamia nuts

Sweet & tart fruit bars with a nutty cookie crust

I get all swoon-y for a good lemon bar, and my cousin Kelly makes some super delicious ones. They're a popular request at Lawler family gatherings, especially from my own dessert-loving mom. So I decided it was time to finally tackle Kelly's recipe myself. Oh baby.

Before she sent the recipe my way, I had no idea there were macadamia nuts involved. They're in the crust and sprinkled on top of the lemon filling. If nutty desserts are your thing, commit to the uneven texture and chop the macadamia nuts roughly. If you prefer a smoother lemon bar, I would grind the nuts pretty finely in a food processor for the crust and possibly skip the nut topping altogether.

- - - - - - - 


1 cup flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts (or pulse 'em in a food processor)

1 cup sugar
2 TBS flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, at room temp
1 TBS lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
2 TBS chopped macadamia nuts (optional)
powdered sugar, for serving

1. For the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, powdered sugar, and butter until crumbly. Stir in nuts.

2. Press crust mixture into the bottom and a bit up the sides of an 8-inch square baking pan. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. *Note: I only had a 9-inch baking pan and it worked fine; the crust just didn't go up the sides much.

3. For the filling: Combine sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat in eggs, lemon juice, and lemon zest until light and fluffy. 

4. Pour filling over baked crust and sprinkle with nuts (optional). Bake 10–15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely, cut into bars, and sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve. 

- - - - - - - 

We were really eager to eat these, so I didn't let the bars cool completely out of the oven. As it was just my family we didn't mind, but for a party, I would definitely adhere to the cooling rule. They were kind of a mess coming out of the pan. Ideally, make the bars the day before. These tasted great and the texture was still perfect even a few days later, so you can't go wrong! 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Odd Duck

Delicious ever-changing shared plates in Bay View

You guys I finally made it to Odd Duck. I still remember when it opened a few years back and my aunt told me how phenomenal it was — and also that it was impossible to get into. No pressure. 

Well Adam and I tried our luck at the Milwaukee eatery a couple Fridays ago, and though we didn't have a reservation, luckily they were still able to seat us. A couple with a 5pm table hadn't shown up, so we could have their spot as long as we were done before the 7pm reservation arrived. Note to self: Next time, make a reservation.

Odd Duck is all about an "ever-changing small plate and shareable menu inspired by local ingredients and world cuisine with dining options for vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores alike." I like the word "shareable" better than "small-plate" when describing Odd Duck. None of the plates were especially small — we ate very well indeed! 

We started with Squash Empanadas with a black eyed pea salad, avocado, tomato, poblano salsa verde, and charred scallions. They were very tasty, though they admittedly weren't our favorite of the evening. 

That honor goes to the Oyster Mushroom Risotto. Oh how the food gods have smiled on this dish. The risotto is served in a warm stone bowl with braised greens, kale, a slow-poached egg, and chili relish. It's recommended that you break the egg into the risotto before digging in, really mixing the entire dish and all its parts so they mingle beautifully. Socks: Knocked off. Our waitress said they don't always serve this risotto, but it is in the regular rotation. It might be worth calling ahead to see if it's on the menu du jour.

While we wait for the next dish, allow me to quickly apologize that these photos do not do Odd Duck justice. The shadows were funky and snapping pics of scrumptious food on an iPhone at twilight is not ideal. But let's carry on! Next came the Korean Pancake with veggie kimchi, tofu, cabbage, soy sauce, crispy wontons, and bean sprouts. I don't seek out tofu (it's a texture thing), but I wolfed this down. This was probably our second favorite dish. Get it! 

We rounded out dinner with a not-pictured Grilled Bavette Steak with cheddar bacon potato purée, cilantro sauce, and cabbage slaw. This was good, though a little rushed. I wasn't done with my part of the pancake before they brought it out, so by the time I got to the steak it wasn't hot from the pan. Then again, they were probably rushing things just a bit since they needed the table back by 7:00.

But wait there's more! We saved room for dessert. A cheese cake situation with lemon curd and strawberry drizzle that was very yummy, and a flourless chocolate cake that was the winner in my book. But I will always choose chocolate over cheesecake. The cake was served with toasted graham cracker crumbs, chocolate mousse, whipped cream, and a swirl of toasted marshmallow. A chocolate and s'mores-lover's dream! 

Also let it be known that the inside, while quirky and cute, Odd Duck is surprisingly casual for being such a Milwaukee hot spot. You could dress up or dress in jeans and fit in just fine. Or possibly some sort of stretch pants, given all the food. What's not to love? 

In case you're wondering, it was a pricey evening, especially with drinks factored in, but so worth it. The food was incredible and while it sounds like we ate our weight in deliciousness, it really was the perfect amount. Well, we probably could have managed to split one dessert, but who ever heard of such a thing? I can't wait to go back to Odd Duck to try more of their ever-changing menu!