My visit to 1033 marked the end of a long day filled with back-to-back interviews, video shoots and scurrying to meet deadlines. So when I sat down in my seat at the preview dinner, it took me a moment to fully relax.
Fortunately, 1033 is the type of place that specializes in assisting folks to hit that reset button, sit back, relax and enjoy the moment.
The new Walker’s Point restaurant, which officially opens today at 1033 S. 1st St., might be among the smallest in the city with just 12 seats at the bar and a small table for two tucked back in the corner. But it’s a spot with big personality.
The mood is set
The intimate restaurant, designed in partnership with the folks at Three Sixty, is filled with color. Orange upholstered bar stools nestle up to a bar with a combination wood and marble top and photography of colorful agates lit up in pink along its front.
Scallops of purple velveteen fabric hang above and along the windows, meeting up with grey-green tile on the wall behind the kitchen and swaths of multi-colored graffiti-esque art by Milwaukee artist Dom White (@fr33domo). Admittedly, it's a lot to take in.
Meanwhile, guests are privy to the bustle in the kitchen as items are prepared and hand-delivered with helpful commentary as they are completed.
We worked our way through the restaurant’s menu over the course of about 90 minutes, choosing selections from each category: Raw Bar; Tin Fish; Charcuterie, cheese &...; and More to Share. Our server, Tori, was attentive to questions and easily steered us toward wine selections that paired well with our meal.
The Raw Bar section offers numerous a la carte items, including oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, uni and lobster salad ($2-$4 each for shell fish). There’s also caviar service featuring mochi doughnuts with special sauce and a “Seafood Plateau” (great for two) featuring 6 oysters, 6 clams, 6 mussels, 3 shrimp and a lobster tail ($90).
The latter was perfect with a glass of Schramsberg “Mirabelle” Brut from 1033’s curated, but thorough, wine list. In fact, a few sips in and my shoulders began to relax as I allowed myself to take in my surroundings and enjoy the moment.
An entire section of the menu is devoted to tinned fish with choices like bonito, sturgeon in olive oil, sardines in spicy oil, smoked oysters and razor clams (all priced $12-$18). The sweet, toothsome razor clams were served alongside a flavorful aioli.
Charcuterie, cheese, more
From there, we moved along to cheese and charcuterie. Cured meats include Edwards Surryano (an American take on serrano ham), bersaola (dried, salted beef), mortadella and Lady Edison (country ham), priced $6-$15. Local cheeses include a cow’s milk cheddar, Cedar Grove Lambchopper sheep’s milk gouda and Humboldt Fog, a soft-ripened goat cheese from California (market price). Guests can also order bread and butter service with chive oil ($6) and anchovy stuffed olives ($12).
The salty – and beautifully funky – Lady Edison and Lambchopper were delicious alongside both a glass of fruity Giornata Barbera and 1033’s gin-based cocktail featuring Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin, Salers Apertif and Cocchi Americano.
More to share
The remainder of the menu offered some tough decisions. Keep things like with beets flavored with pistachio and vadouvan curry ($10) or whipped ricotta with preserved eggplant and chilies ($12)? Indulge in seared scallops with brown butter and capers ($33)?
After some discussion, we opted to go big. Our Barbera paired perfectly with the A5 Beef - which sported a gorgeous exterior crust and mid-rare interior – was served on a ceramic tabletop hibachi grill with flavorful maitre d butter and Worcestershire (though it was flavorful enough that it didn’t need the latter), $47.
It also played nicely with 1033's vegetarian mushroom porridge featuring maiitake mushrooms, aged kombu, onions and salt infused with spruce tips was served in a Japanese donabe clay pot ($16). It was sheer comfort food, chock full of savory umami.
We ended our evening with a lovely, and not too sweet, dessert made by longtime Ardent pastry chef Ariel Welch: a slice of beautifully textured Basque cheesecake topped with strawberry preserves and a crisp tuile. It was the perfect ending to an altogether delicious meal.
Even better, the meal offered up the ideal ending to a busy day: the chance to relax, unwind and effortlessly enjoy well-prepared fare in a convivial, upbeat environment.
Pay a visit
Dinner reservations are required at 1033 and can be made online at 1033mke.com. Walk-ins are welcome for the daily “chef’s selection” happy hour — which will kick off on Tuesday, June 6. 1033 can also be reserved for private events for up to 30 guests, from standing cocktail parties with appetizers to seated chef dinners.
Beginning today, 1033 is open for dinner service by reservation Tuesday through Thursday from 5:30 to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Happy hour will take place Tuesday through Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.