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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

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Big changes in store for this space.
Big changes in store for this space.

Palms Bistro to become Bourbon & Tunns Tavern

We’ve wondered for a while now what’s going on at Palms Bistro, 221 N. Broadway, and finally, the owners announced there will be a name and concept change at the Third Ward bar and eatery.

The new Bourbon & Tunns Tavern will have a different look and feel, including a dark-stained wood bar. The menu will feature comfort foods and small-plate options and the bar will focus on dark liquors, craft cocktails, craft beer and a large wine list.

The opening date is set for Tuesday, Dec. 11.

Maharaja's buffet is available from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. The cost is $12.
Maharaja's buffet is available from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. The cost is $12.

A twist on the traditional turkey day

Years ago, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving was one of my favorite nights of the year. I enjoyed going out midweek and seeing people in town for the holiday and knowing that, most years, I had an extended weekend ahead of me.

Two years ago, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, my dad died. Last year on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, my friend and colleague Tim Cuprisin passed away. Needless to say, this is no longer one of my favorite days of the year.

But this is not intended to be a depressing piece of writing, even though it's starting out that way. Instead, I want to convey how I have changed the way I celebrate Thanksgiving based on what's happened over the past two years – and I'm at peace with it.

I still go out on Wednesday night, but instead of hanging in the bars, I prefer to check out the holiday lights in Cathedral Square. The thousands of lights are majestic and festive, but what I really like the most about being in that park at night is swinging on the swing set at some point during my visit.

I'm not a religious person, but there's something about swinging towards the sky that I have enjoyed more in the past couple of years than I have since I was a kid. And my kids love that I've taken up swinging. (OK, insert "swinger" joke here if you must.)

I also plan to spend my third Thanksgiving dinner in a row at Maharaja, 1550 N. Farwell Ave. The first year, I thought I might find the experience kind of depressing – like some of my Jewish friends who go out to Chinese restaurants on Christmas Day have reported to feel. But for me, it wasn't depressing at all.

We went around lunchtime, maybe a little later, and the room was filled with diners, clearly not going turkey traditional, who were upbeat and interactive. We made a lot of eye contact, smiled, photographed each other.

We drank tall Kingfishers, stuffed ourselves on palak paneer and vegetable korma and samosas and naan and mango ice cream. (The buffet is available from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p…

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Happy Campers.
Happy Campers. (Photo: Royal Brevväxling)
Yep, this guy's real. Or was real.
Yep, this guy's real. Or was real. (Photo: Royal Brevväxling)
Owners Paul and Natalia Hackbarth: High school sweethearts, husband and wife, business partners.
Owners Paul and Natalia Hackbarth: High school sweethearts, husband and wife, business partners. (Photo: Royal Brevväxling)
The Old Fashioneds will definitely please folks.
The Old Fashioneds will definitely please folks. (Photo: Royal Brevväxling)
Camp Bar features an artistic and authentic appearance.
Camp Bar features an artistic and authentic appearance. (Photo: Royal Brevväxling)
The south end of Shorewood just got hipper. And cozier.
The south end of Shorewood just got hipper. And cozier. (Photo: Royal Brevväxling)

First look: Camp Bar

The intention of the new Shorewood-based Camp Bar, 4044 N. Oakland Ave., is to have a look and feel of an upscale Up North cabin. After spending a few hours at the soft opening last night, I can honestly say that it does.

And that's not just the Old Fashioneds talking.

Owners Paul and Natalia Hackbarth wanted to create a lodge-like bar loosely modeled after their cabin in Star Lake. Peabody's Interiors, the same designers who decorated the Hackbarth's cabin, did the work along with Wade Weissmann Architecture.

The massive logs suspended from the ceiling, the authentic signs from Northern Wisconsin establishments (not hokey knock-offs), the real antler light fixtures (all of the antlers were naturally shed), the Native American fabric patterns on the "stick chairs" and the taxidermied animals create a very cozy, classy environment.

Plus, the black ceilings give the place a jigger of the city life aesthetic, too.

Camp Bar sports four 60-inch flatscreens and one massive 80-inch TV behind the bar. "It's a monster," says Paul. "This is going to be a great place to watch games."

After months of renovations, Camp Bar opens to the public on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 4 p.m.

The specialty drink is, of course, the sweet or sour Old Fashioned and Natalia says all of their employees go through a special training to learn how to mix and muddle 'em from scratch.

Although in Wisconsin Old Fashioneds are usually mixed with brandy, whiskey versions are also available.

We tried a couple of Korbel Old Fashioned sours and found them to be entirely too drinkable. The flavors were balanced perfectly and the cherry-and-orange garnish added the ideal dash of sweet to the sour.

Camp Bar also boasts a nice beers selection, many of which are locally brewed, along with bottled wine / tap wine and a 21-ounce Bloody Mary that we'll be back for on a Sunday afternoon in the very near future.

Camp will eventually offer a shuttle service to and from the bar, as well as a "text to order" food se…

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Pizza Man or no Pizza Man? That has been a big Milwaukee dining question for almost three years.
Pizza Man or no Pizza Man? That has been a big Milwaukee dining question for almost three years. (Photo: shutterstock.com)

Pizza Man owner says a new location is almost a done deal

Three weeks ago, I spoke to Pizza Man owner, Mike Amidzich, and asked him – based on rumors – if he was reopening. At the time he said no.

Today, I received a cryptic press release announcing Amidzich signed a letter of intent to lease property for a new Pizza Man.

I find it a bit strange how much "teasing" has been going on via social media about whether or not the iconic restaurant is reopening. I really want the place to find a new home so I can order a large artichoke a la mode pizza again, but why all the hype for the past three years?

Hopefully, this time's the real deal.

According to the release, Amidzich will own and run the new Pizza Man with backing from a group of local investors. The concept will remain the same as at the original Pizza Man.

"The tentative new location will be less than a mile from the restaurant's previous home on the corner of East North and North Oakland Avenues," reads the release.

It is speculated the location will be in the former Lixx space, 2595-97 N. Downer Ave.

"After three years of searching for the right investors and the right location, we are finally starting the process to re-open. We hope to become part of this neighborhood again. That said, there are many hurdles to overcome. We know we will need the support of a lot of people, including the City and neighborhood, to make this project a reality," says Amidzich.

The original Pizza Man opened on Nov. 15, 1970 and was destroyed by fire in January 2010 along with several other businesses and apartments.