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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

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In Dining Reviews

With a year-round patio, Trocadero is a favorite dining destination any time of the year. (PHOTO: Whitney Teska )

In Dining Reviews

The restaurant recently underwent a thorough renovation. (PHOTO: Whitney Teska )

In Dining Reviews

The French theme has given way to a new look indoors. (PHOTO: Whitney Teska )

In Dining Reviews

The patios are heated in winter time. (PHOTO: Whitney Teska )

In Dining Reviews

Trocadero is loacted at 1758 N. Water St. (PHOTO: Whitney Teska )

Can change be good at "new" Trocadero?


Trocadero, 1758 N. Water St., underwent a major facelift earlier this year which not only changed the interior and patio, but pulled out much of the French influence from the menu and pulled in the trademarks that Diablos Rojos Restaurant Group has built into its Café Hollander and Café Centraal locations.

Gone are the pâté and cornichon platters and croque-monsieurs, replaced with skinny sweet potato frites ($6), blackberry turkey sandwich ($10) and a selection of Belgian beers and other alcohol options that rivals the food menu in size and scope.

The patio space is now heated year-round and seems to have maintained its status as the place to be if you're eating outside in the Downtown area. The interior has readjusted the front entrance to the Water Street side, with the smaller bar returning -- a welcome throwback to its infancy in 2001.

I had been to the old Trocadero numerous times, and while I was never totally blown away by the food, it was consistent. I have been a long-time fan of the white sangria and the open air patio, and always walked away satisfied.

So, I was disappointed with my first visit to the new, more internationally-spun Trocadero Gastrobar. The food selections are limited and many old favorites are gone, but I still believe change can be good. I'm just hoping it will get better.

I do find the daily breakfast (beginning at 8 a.m.) attractive, and something for which I would likely venture back, especially since their Frenchie Bloody Mary remains one of my favorites.

For an appetizer, we sampled the smoked trout plate ($11). Chunks of meaty trout were fanned out with too many capers on top and served with quarter-inch slabs of herbed crostini -- a bread that was far too robust for the trout and overwhelmed its gentle smoked flavors.

Chive cream cheese and apricot preserves were good pairings for the fish, but the plate would have been far more successful with water crackers, apple slices or paper-thin versions of the crostini to let the trout shine through.

Red devil chicken ($15) sounded fantastic; marinated in srichacha, seasoned with ancho chili rub and then dredged in a buttermilk batter with smoked paprika. I was expecting great things from this dish.

Unfortunately, my pieces were bone dry, so much so that the chicken actually striated with each bite. The sides of Latin slaw and Spanish rice seemed to foil each other. The slaw was great and flavorful and added some much needed moisture to the plate, but my rice was overcooked and mushy.

My dining companion tried the blue agave burger ($11), which, again, sounded phenomenal on paper. The burger was glazed with a tequila sauce, served with queso fresco, pico de gallo, avocado, chipotle aioli and leaf lettuce. It should have been spectacular, but failed to impress.

It was again quite dry, and didn't carry enough aioli or pico de gallo to quell that dryness. The frites that came with it had spent a bit too much time somewhere out of the fryer and were limp and tepid in temperature.

So went my return visit to the new Trocadero, which I cannot yet say is "improved."

Given Diablos Rojos Restaurant Group's success, however, I emphatically hope that will change in the coming months. The concept of the new Trocadero is excellent, but in my experience, the execution is poor.

I'll give it a little time to iron out the details before venturing back -- and with the patio heated all year long, I'll have plenty of time to do so.


Talkbacks

tmw799 | Sept. 26, 2010 at 10:07 a.m. (report)

I must that this place has so much potential, but I continue to be disappointed. We live close by, so it is easy to walk to Trocadero. They have exhausted all of their trump cards with us. We have been there 4-5 times since the remodel. Somehow they manage to be out of at least item on the menu that one of us wants to order and it has gotten progressively worse each time we have gone. Last night, a group of 9 of us arrived before 8 pm, but they were already out of all of their soups. We had 3 at the table that wanted Steak Frites; out of that too. Very disappointing.

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storm87 | Sept. 8, 2010 at 9:46 a.m. (report)

Me and my friends decided to go out to eat one night. It was a nice summer night a few weeks ago, so we decided we wanted to eat outside and the first place that came to mind was Trocadero. I have only been there a couple times and every time i go the service is outstanding and so helpful. I am a picky eater and they helped me decide on what to eat. I ordered the Ultimate Blt without mayo and the ranch instead and it was the best BLT i have ever had. I had the side of frites also. All my friends were happy with the outcome with their meals. For our drinks we ordered the Blood orange Margarita. I would recommend this place to everybody!!

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tosafoodie | Sept. 7, 2010 at 4:45 p.m. (report)

Tried the "new" Troc shortly after they reopened and was very disappointed in how the menu had changed and the quality of the food declined. The old Troc had much better food and more character. Very unfortunate.

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ChateauDweller | Sept. 1, 2010 at 11:59 a.m. (report)

I took my grandma there a few weeks ago. We liked it, but she was disappointed that the kitchen would not let her order a plain hamburger because she is kosher. This isn't Bacchus. I think the kitchen can find the humility to modify a burger for dietary needs.

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Idle1 | Sept. 1, 2010 at 11:42 a.m. (report)

This is what happens when a successful enterprise like Diablos Rojos expands too quickly---no more character, charm, quality---followed by no more customers.

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