Certainly Chicago is pretty close to Milwaukee and it oughta be no surprise to see some Marquette sweatshirts on Michigan Avenue window shoppers, but a recent visit to the Windy City reminded me just how pervasive the Milwaukee-Chicago connection is even in one of America's largest cities.
On a whirlwind weekend, I visited a number of restaurants and bars and nearly every one had a Wisconsin connection. (I'm not naming places here because I'm writing a story about them that will run in a couple weeks and I don't want to ruin the surprise).
On Friday night, we visited a hoppin' restaurant with a burlesque show and live music and, it turned out, the director of operations commutes to his downtown Chicago gig on a daily basis from his home in Brookfield. He moved to town to open a chain restaurant in the 'burbs before opening a place in Walker's Point.
The next morning, we had a great down-home breakfast at an Old Town family restaurant. The highlight – other than the food – was chatting with the owner, who knows Milwaukee well, thanks to his many visits to Brew City as part of a rugby team and, wait for it, a children's philharmonic chorus.
Right after, I got a tour of the hotel where I stayed. The director of sales, whose surname is Braun, showed up in a Brewers jersey with her name on the back. Her husband – wait for it – Ryan, is from Madison and studied at the Medical College of Wisconsin here.
The latest issue of Michigan Avenue magazine on the coffee table in our hotel room had a full-page photo of Chef Paul Bartolotta at a recent truffle dinner in Chicago.
Later that day we visited the Art Institute to see the "Picasso and Chicago" show and marveled at the crowds enjoying the various dining options in the museum – run by former Milwaukee chef and OnMilwaukee.com blogger Jason Gorman. And in the bookshop we saw a catalog for a small show the Art Institute did in 2007 on Milwaukee painters.
At a really awesome cocktail place that night our bartender said he visits Milwaukee pretty often. He's in a band that plays at the Cactus Club and has similarly musically inclined friends here, too.
We stopped in another place that night for a quick look around and a drink and we got a tour of the kitchen; a kitchen headed by a chef who got his start in the business as a server working his way through UW-Madison.
Sheesh, it's like we never even left town.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Bobby Tanzilo
Published Nov. 26, 2014
Big changes are on tap at Milwaukee Art Museum, where the collections galleries are closed while the permanent collection is re-installed and an expansion project is under construction. MAM's Senior Conservator Jim DeYoung is the man charged with getting it done on time, on budget and, most importantly, without damage.
Published Nov. 25, 2014
When Mayor Tom Barrett visited Highland Community School on Monday to welcome home a group of adolescent students from China, the trip -- according to the students themselves -- wasn't officially over yet. Today, it is officially complete.
Published Nov. 25, 2014
This year, Dental Associates completed its restoration of the Iron Block Building -- actually a pair of connected buildings dating from 1860 and 1899 -- and the work put a gorgeous new luster on one of Downtown's most aged landmarks. As Milwaukee's only iron-facade building, it's a real Milwaukee gem. To look at the historic Iron Block Building on the corner of Water and Wisconsin now, you'd be hard-pressed to believe it almost didn't survive.
Published Nov. 24, 2014
The photomontages created by Eau Claire's Then and Now Photography seamlessly meld images of the same place but from different eras, creating a fascinating and unique look at how familiar sites in Milwaukee have changed over the years.
Published Nov. 22, 2014
The world's most famous ice skating rink shimmers beneath what must be the most impressive urban tree, perhaps in the world, and the shop windows in the Center and along Fifth Avenue must be seen to be believed. Crowds queue to see the holiday spectacular at Radio City Music Hall and Times Square is decked out in green and red. And all America comes to check it out.
Published Nov. 21, 2014
Few likely know the idea of farm to table better than new Blue Jacket chef Justice Neal. Neal, after all, went from farm to table himself, having grown up on 40 acres near Beloit. Recently, Neal, who served as the restaurant's sous, was promoted to replace departing chef Matt Kerley, who had run the kitchen at Blue Jacket since 2013. Since he's already launched a new menu, we decided it was time to check in with him about his work in the kitchen.
Published Nov. 21, 2014
Milwaukee Public Library looks into Milwaukee's historic public schoolhouses with a small exhibit and panel discussion at Central Library.
Published Nov. 20, 2014
Thanksgiving is on the horizon and you're hosting (or attending) a family dinner. What to do about wine? How to find something that pairs well with both turkey and cranberries? How to find a wine that appeals to you, your parents and Aunt Millie? It can be challenging, but experts say a few simple rules can help guide the way...
Published Nov. 18, 2014
One of the most recent building "booms" at Milwaukee Public Schools added a handful of new schools to the city's landscape, but at least one planned project -- and perhaps more -- never saw the light of day.
Published Nov. 14, 2014
Serious music fans will relate. Though a lot of music enters my ears, very few make the kind of impression that Lucy Wainwright Roche's 2013 record, "There's A Last Time For Everything," made on me. A year later I can tell you exactly where I was when I first popped it into the CD player and sat transfixed, unable to move. Lucy Wainwright Roche comes to Milwaukee next week, and we talked to her about it.