Culinary landscaping – Downtown Dining Week

Milwaukee is known as the City of Festivals, and for good reason. During the spring and summer, there’s a million things to do here in Brew City, many of which center around excellent (or at least above-average) food and beer. However, one event stands out among the rest as the pinnacle of making great food accessible to the masses: Downtown Dining Week.

Starting on June 4th and ending June 11th, participating establishments in downtown Milwaukee will be offering three-course meals for $12.50 for lunch, and either $25 or $35 for dinner. The website touts itself as a “culinary tour of our world-class city”; this is to say they’ll offer a limited selection for a cheap price, to try to get rubes who’ve never dined at their restaurants before to come in and sample their line food. I fully intend to take advantage of the deal.

So far, there are 46 restaurants who are participating in this year’s event:

  • Ale Asylum Riverhouse (1110 N. Old World Third Street)
  • Benihana (850 N. Plankinton Avenue)
  • The Brown Bottle (221 W. Galena Street)
  • The Cafe at the Pfister (424 E. Wisconsin Avenue)
  • Cafe Calatrava (700 N. Art Museum Drive, inside the Milwaukee Art Museum)
  • The Capital Grille (310 W. Wisconsin Avenue)
  • Carnevor (724 N. Milwaukee Street)
  • Carson’s Prime Steaks & Famous Barbecue (301 W. Juneau Avenue)
  • Club Charlies (320 E. Menomonee Street)
  • Coquette Cafe (316 N. Milwaukee Street)
  • Distil (722 N. Milwaukee Street)
  • Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub (222 E. Erie Street)
  • Indulge (708 N. Milwaukee Street)
  • Joey Buona’s (500 N. Water Street)
  • Kanpai (408 E. Chicago Street)
  • Kil@wat (139 E. Kilbourn Avenue)
  • The Knick (1030 E. Juneau Avenue)
  • The Loaded Slate (1137 N. Old World Third Street)
  • Louise’s (801 N. Jefferson Street)
  • Lucid Lounge (729 N. Milwaukee Street)
  • Mader’s Restaurant (1041 N. Old World Third Street)
  • Mason Street Grill (425 E. Mason Street)
  • Metro Restaurant & Lounge (411 E. Mason Street)
  • Mi•key’s (811 N. Jefferson Street)
  • Miller Time Pub & Grill (509 W. Wisconsin Avenue)
  • Millioke (323 E. Wisconsin Avenue)
  • Milwaukee ChopHouse (633 N. 5th Street)
  • Mo’s – A Place for Steaks (720 N. Plankinton Avenue)
  • Onesto (221 N. Broadway)
  • Port of Call Bistro (106 W. Wells Street)
  • The Pub Club (1103 N. Old World Third Street)
  • Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery (740 N. Plankinton Avenue)
  • Rodizio Grill Brazilian Steakhouse (777 N. Water Street)
  • The Rumpus Room (1030 N. Water Street)
  • Sake Tumi (714 N. Milwaukee Street)
  • Smoke Shack (332 N. Milwaukee Street)
  • Swig (217 N. Broadway)
  • Trinity Three Irish Pubs (125 E. Juneau Street)
  • Tulip (360 E. Erie Street)
  • Umami Moto (718 N. Milwaukee Street)
  • Upper 90 Sports Pub (322 W. State Street)
  • Vagabond (1122 N. Edison Street)
  • Ward’s House of Prime (540 E. Mason Street)
  • Water Buffalo (249 N. Water Street)
  • Who’s on Third (1007 N. Old World Third Street)
  • Zarletti (741 N. Milwaukee Street)

This link will take you to a massive PDF file containing the lunch and dinner menus for every restaurant on this list. I’ve glanced over it in brief, and so far, it looks pretty good; there’s some strange and interesting standouts (like Club Charlies’ “Jambon et Fromage Pâte Feuilletée”, smoked ham and havarti wrapped in a puff pastry with maple roux sauce & au gratin potatoes) alongside safe and familiar fare, like burgers, steaks, trout, chicken, salmon, and meatloaf. Everyone seems to be playing to their strengths, which is smart; given that they will have to pound these out alongside their regular fares in mass amounts, it’s not the time to improvise or do something their line cooks can’t punch out continuously for a week straight.

Luckily for us, the event is still a ways off, so we have time to review our options (although Millioke has been calling my name, with their rustic portrait of a porker and the tagline “Meat Cheese Beer” on their sign, for a while now…) Whatever we choose, it’ll be good. If it’s not, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Until next time, then.

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