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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

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Readers Blog: Your Milwaukee Dining - Local Restaurant Reviews

Hinterland Gastropub - Eat & Repeat

Once again two of our foodies sat down for a few meals, this time at Hinterland. Here’s what they experienced..

We’ve heard nothing but positive things about Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub in the Third Ward (222 E. Erie). Naturally, we felt compelled to weigh in ourselves. Just a couple doors down from Water Street, the restaurant itself is welcoming, warm and spacious-yet-cozy. Long story short, we ordered dinner in the dining room (a popular bar menu is also available) and were blown away.  Words were barely spoken as we reveled in the cod cheeks appetizer as well as the grilled cobia and rabbit ragú entrees.

Worth trying? Absolutely. Worth a return trip a few weeks later? You better believe it.

But before we get to the follow-up visit, it bears mentioning that Hinterland changes its menu quite often, sometimes on a daily basis, which makes for a unique dining experience time after time. The restaurant has relationships with small, local farmers as well as access to fresh seafood from both saltwater coasts. The result is a menu that teems with variety and oozes quality. But enough about food sourcing—on to the important stuff.

On our second night, we ordered the following appetizers:

-Wood-Fire Grilled Niman Ranch® Maple Bock Pork Belly (with cauliflower and braised cabbage) $12 -Tuna Tartare (with jicama, jalapeno, orange and chives) $11

-Moroccan Spiced Quail (paired with almonds, carrot/radish salad and mint raita) $12

-Crispy Veal Sweetbreads (paired with kale, white bean purée and truffle oil) $13

-Charcuterie Plate (included coppa, sopressata and finochiono) $16

 

The pork belly seemed to be the favorite at the table. The flavor itself was reminiscent of bacon; the texture was meaty, fatty…delicious. If you like bacon, you’ll love this dish. The tuna tartare was so fresh, and the delicate touches of citrus were a nice match: overall, a very refreshing appetizer. When the quail arrived, it looked perfectly petite and delicious. Dark meat fans, this is the one for you. Its rich texture and the Moroccan spices were not overpowering.

Now to the sweetbreads; we’d never tried this dish before. We were pleasantly surprised at its salty, buttery goodness. We continued our escapade and decided to order the charcuterie meat plate, which was my personal favorite.  It included coppa (also known as capicola), sopressata (a.k.a. dried salami) and finochiono (another dried meat). It was beautifully presented, including pickles, bread and cheeses—a great match with my glass of red wine.

 

As if these five dishes weren’t enough, our dear friend at the table insisted we try dessert—all of them.

-Peanut Butter Tart (with caramel sauce and brown butter chocolate ice cream) $10

-Yogurt Panna Cotta (with date, almond and orange marmalade) $10

-Frozen Chocolate Mousse (with crème anglaise, raspberry coulis and hazelnut crumble) $10

-Raisin, Maple and Almond Brioche Bread Pudding (with luna coffee ice-cream) $10

These desserts were truly works of art—first in appearance and ultimately in taste. Although each of us had a favorite, all were unique and powerful in flavor. It seems strange to refer to dessert as the end to a meal when it makes up half the food—it was more like the second half in this instance. And it was a spectacular half at that.

 

The second time ‘round was just as delectable as the first. In fact, it was so great that we bought a round of pale ale for the chefs (as the menu gently suggests). And congratulations to Chef Dan Van Rite and the kitchen team for this year’s James Beard nomination. It is well-deserved. As they say: when you’re good, you’re good. And this place is great.

222 East Erie Street, Suite 100

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202
414.727.9300

www.hinterlandbeer.com/restaurantmilwaukee.shtml

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