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In Dining

The new O'Lydia's replaces Slim McGinn's at 1st and Florida.

O'Lydia's stays Irish in the kitchen and at the bar


When Linda Sackett was a girl, her Milwaukee firefighter father was assigned to the fire station on 1st and Virginia. He would sometimes come home complaining of a poor night's sleep.

The lack of shut eye was not due to alarms clanging in the wee hours. A noisy tavern a block away at 1st and Florida kept him awake. A few months ago his daughter bought that tavern.

Sackett purchased Slim McGinn's Walker's Point bar and eatery and is calling it O'Lydia's. Lydia is the nickname by which most people know Sackett. The O' in the restaurant's name is a signal that she is retaining McGinn's Irish pub theme at the bar and in the kitchen.

That means the menu still features Slim's signature reuben rolls ($7.25) and Irish dip ($8.95), Irish beef ($7.25) and Irish soaker ($4.50). The dip is shaved prime rib with au jus on a French roll, while the beef and soaker feature a gravy made with some Guinness borrowed from the bar.

The Irish beef is served on a toasted kaiser roll, and soaker consists of that Guinness gravy poured over bread or garlic mashed potatoes.

"Slim made a big footprint here," Sackett said, noting that he had owned the bar and grill since 1995. "Keeping it an Irish pub was a no brainer."

Sackett has introduced changes. She lowered bar prices and added menu items, including the Country Western Turkey sandwich ($8.95) and the Cuban sandwich (8.50).

The turkey sammy comes with a sweet potato spread and bacon grilled on sourdough. The Cuban's fixings are smoked pork, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, onions and Dijon mustard on sourdough.

If you're a sucker for sliders, they are served in three varieties – burgers, Irish beef and meat loaf – and are priced at three for $4.95 or six for $8.95. You can mix and match them.

Onion rings ($4.95), mozzarella rolls ($6.75) and wings (10 for $8.95) are among the offerings on the appetizer menu. Shepherd's pie ($8.25), a veggie melt grilled on the customer's choice of bread ($7.75) and a leg of lamb sandwich ($9.50), along with burgers, soups and salads, are prepared in O'Lydia's small kitchen. Danny Miller, formerly of Weissgerber's Gasthaus, is the kitchen manager.

Three or four weekly dinner specials change every Monday, a fish fry is served on Fridays, and Sackett emphasizes nightly value meals. On Wednesdays, for example, diners can choose between all-you-can-eat pasta with sausage or chicken for $5.95 and a boneless porterhouse steak for $16.75. Those deals include a side, bread and soup or salad.

"I'm a firm believer that the only way a local place can make it is by offering good value with great food and service," the new owner said. O'Lydia's also serves a Sunday brunch that will expand to Saturdays when the weather improves.

Sackett entered the restaurant business at the age of 19 when she and her late husband bought a Dunkin' Donuts on 26th and Silver Spring. She subsequently worked as food and beverage manager at the former Grand Milwaukee Hotel, and she managed the old Brown Bottle Pub.

The late 19th century Cream City brick building that is now O'Lydia's began life as a Pabst tavern, owned and operated by the brewery. Only one brand of beer was originally sold there, but Sackett has 16 on tap, and she offers a happy hour from 2 to 6 Monday through Friday and all day and night Sundays.

With a Florida room added to the structure, O'Lydia's seats 106 at tables and another 14 at the bar. An outdoor patio is open in good weather, and a second floor banquet room is available for groups.

Watch for shuttle service to Summerfest, Irish Fest and Downtown sporting events.


Talkbacks

angelamb825 | May 6, 2011 at 7:59 a.m. (report)

I didn't see any mention of retaining the all you can eat crab legs special???

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lydia63 | May 5, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. (report)

Thanks Dano and Dusty for the feed back.

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lydia63 | May 5, 2011 at 6:28 p.m. (report)

Yes, prom queen. 365 days a year. I hope to see you before Christmas though.

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PromQueen | May 5, 2011 at 4:38 p.m. (report)

Will they still be open 365 days a year? One Christmas, shortly after beginning my first job out of college, I was unable to make it home for the holidays. To lend a hand, I helped at the Salvation Army's dinner at the (then) Midwest Express Center. I was mad at myself for having a tear in my beer about not being able to go home when I had just seen so many unfortunate people. Afterward, with nothing else open, I wandered down to Slim's. There, I found a few other lonesome, yet not lonely, souls. We ate together, drank (plenty) together, played cards, and realized that the holidays really are you make of them. I always try to stop in when I'm in town!

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TheDano | May 5, 2011 at 10:56 a.m. (report)

Meatloaf sliders?...Leg of lamb sammiches?...Ohhhhh, baby!

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