Food and service fall a bit flat at St. Francis Brewery
In Milwaukee, almost everyone loves a brew pub.
How can you not? Beer, cheese... they have it all, right? Well, the answer could be "Maybe."
In St. Francis, where commerce seems to be cropping up like weeds, Cupol Enterprises, LLC, and Rick Schmidt built a beautiful, high-dollar building on a vacant corner at 3825 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. and the St. Francis Brewery and Restaurant was born.
With a menu that offers options for all palates, the Brewery is spacious, well-constructed and decidedly not all that dissimilar in scope and execution to Rock Bottom Brewery, the national chain located Downtown. The pub, which does not allow smoking, features its own, in-house brewed beers, a small wine list and outdoor seating. When you walk in, you just get the feeling that you really, really want to like this place.
But the stars haven't quite yet aligned for the Brewery, which undoubtedly has the potential to be something exceptional.
Service during three recent visits proved slow and unpracticed. The length and shape of the bar seems to be either difficult to navigate or too easy to routinely understaff. This made the wait for an initial greeting at the bar lengthy on two visits and servers on the floor seemed plagued by slow drink service as well.
Beer selections varied in success, and were troubled by a lack of a delivery tray or other option for the tasting glasses. We watched one patron on a busy night stand by the bar to sample his small, unlabeled glasses from the brew sampler ($8) while his party stood at arms' length chatting and cajoling. Reviews of the beers from my dining companions were mixed, but the overall assessment was that they wouldn't travel here specifically for the beer selections, which were ranked average; with the exception of the seasonal maibock, which got glowing reviews.
The food selections are what you'd expect a brew pub menu -- standard appetizers like wings, mozzarella sticks and nachos, sandwiches, salads, and entrees that range from $10.95 to $12.95, ribs (half-rack $15.95/full-rack $18.95) and a $24.95 bone-in-ribeye thrown in for good measure.
Wings come by the pound for $8.95 and in BBQ, plain, or Buffalo versions. We tried the BBQ version and enjoyed the sweet tang of the homemade barbecue sauce, but the wings were ever so slightly overcooked and dry, and proved a good indicator of the meals to come. The Brew Pub has not yet found alignment on its menu. While some dishes, like the chicken pot pie ($9.95) and the beer braised beef ($10.95) were exceptional, others disappointed through erratic preparation and delivery.
Beer cheese soup ($5/cup) was grainy in texture and a direct contrast to a soup of the day, mushroom leek ($3.90/cup) which was lick-the-bowl delicious. Sandwiches like the Reuben ($8.95) and the grilled cranberry turkey ($8.95) both suffered from dryness -- the turkey in particular could have been excellent if executed properly, as the concept of shaved turkey with cranberry mustard, spinach and provolone on whole grain bread sounded great on paper.
Hot entrées seemed to fare better, with slow-cooked options like the pot pie and braised beef tender, flavorful, and well-executed. Portions are good, the ambience is great, and it's apparent that no expense was spared in the décor.
With a few more months and more practiced attention to detail, the St. Francis Brewery has the potential to really make this corner a prime destination. I am personally waiting for that to come to fruition; they have a great location, a beautiful new building and a concept that could be exceptional; now they just need better execution.
lost on KK | Aug. 22, 2010 at 11:50 a.m. (report)
"Calling people in St. Francis cheap is pretty ridiculous. I grew up there and my family was anything but cheap and their friends were the same way. Maybe you're thinking of Cudahy or South Milwaukee?" No, I'm sure they are talking St.Francis, A one horse town with nothing going on. The St. Francis Brewery that I have been to several times has soapy green tasting beer, $8.00 for a chicken pot pie I could eat 3 and I'm not a big eater. St.Francis screwed up the lake view for a bunch of home owners on Lake Drive and outright lied to the owner of the Carleton Grange Pub about the parking situation that is now causing them to close. http://carletongrange.com/index.php/parking-documents St.Francis a waste of space on the shores of a great lake.
I LOVE this place! It's great to actually have a nice new place to eat in our area! If I could lick the plate clean on the beer braised beef I would- it is delicious! And my husband gobbled up the BBQ pork sandwich and said it was the best he'd ever had. Some comments on here make it sound bad- but no place is ever gonna be good enough for some picky people (its a brew pub, not a 5 star dining establishment!). Try it out and make your own judgment I guess- I know I'll be back!
Terrible!! The Beer selection is VERY boring, and they all taste soapy!! I could brew better beer with a Mister Beer kit!!
Calling people in St. Francis cheap is pretty ridiculous. I grew up there and my family was anything but cheap and their friends were the same way. Maybe you're thinking of Cudahy or South Milwaukee? Now with that out of the way, I haven't eaten here yet. But the reviews I'm seeing are the same I've heard from my friends who have eaten there. Food is so so, good portion size, beer is ok, service is hit or miss. I made a decision to wait a while before trying this place and it appears from the reviews it's not quite there yet. Shame their beer cheese soup sucks since that's one of my favorite things.
I REALLLLLYYYYY wanted to like this place, but... For the first visit, we just stopped in to try the beer sampler. They were out of one, the root beer was flat and the rest were so-so. If you are really into beer, ugh, they were truly very average. A few weeks later, we went back for dinner. Everyone in our party felt the food was comparable to something you could get at a TGIFs or something like that, which you know, if you like that, great. But it was pricey for the quality. The staff seemed nice enough, but something is missing from this place. I don't know. It's like it has no soul. It's kind of cold, the layout and lighting is weird, and personality-wise, it's kind of blah, which is unfortunate, because the concept is cool.
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