Beer has never been my drink of choice (hear that, Wild Turkey?), and I donâ€™t know anything about craft beers. If I have three beers a year, you could say I am on a real binge. So it was with more than a little curiosity and trepidation that my wife and I went to dinner at the Milwaukee Beer Bistro.
Imagine my surprise then when I had a great dinner, including the best Brussels sprouts I have ever had. And I mean by a big margin.
The bistro, located at 2730 N. Humboldt Blvd., in the space formerly occupied by Rio West Cantina, features small plates at very reasonable prices. The menu was put together by head chef Carson Wolfmeyer, his assistant chef Brandon Julien and owner Russ Davis.
"It was a lot of trial and error," Wolfmeyer said. "Beer is part of everything we prepare, and it took some time to get it right. Sometimes a beer just didnâ€™t taste right with what it was prepared with."
No matter how many tries it took, they have obviously been successful by creating a diverse menu where anyone could find something tempting.
But back to those sprouts.
I am not a maniac when it comes to them, but Iâ€™ve always enjoyed the dish. These came after being braised in sorghum ale and then tossed in a seasoned brown butter. They were tender with a slightly charred surface. And I don't think it requires reiterating ... but they were delicious.
The sprout dish was created by Julien, a young chef making his mark in the city.
"Heâ€™s a terrific young chef, and he learns fast," Wolfmeyer said.
I paired my sprouts with stout-braised barbecue short ribs that were tender and covered with a homemade barbecue sauce. The nice thing about it was that the sauce didnâ€™t overwhelm the taste of the short ribs.
My wife had a very interesting shrimp carbonara tortilla pizza. It was a large flour tortilla with cherry tomatoes, spinach, marinated artichoke hearts, plump shrimp and mozzarella cheese. It was a real light and delicious dish.
The bistro is open for brunch on weekends and also serves lunch on beer-infused rolls they bake themselves.
"That was the hardest thing for us," Wolfmeyer said. "None of us are bakers so it was a lot of trial and error before we got the rolls perfect."
One thing they obviously donâ€™t have to work on, however, are the Brussels sprouts.
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