By Lisa Simonson Special to Published Sep 15, 2012 at 3:37 PM

I always know it's going to be a good night when I get every single thing on my to-do list done before heading out for the evening. This was the case when 7:30 p.m. rolled around and it was time to start the birthday celebrations for a friend of mine. I gave myself a big pat on the back and flew out the door just in time to make it to an 8 p.m. reservation at Odd Duck, 2352 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

This particular birthday excursion marks my second trip to this to-die-for restaurant. There were about 10 of us, so we called ahead for our reservation (highly recommended). We didn't have to wait long before the host guided us to our table. We were seated smack dab in the middle of the restaurant, but not once did my chair get slammed into or did I feel overwhelmed by the neighboring table's conversations.

Our server, Joe, walked us through some of the specialty cocktails and got our order over to the bar. Considering most of our group ordered from the cocktail menu, I was surprised at how quickly the drinks came back to our table.

I sipped my champagne as I anxiously waited for the food to arrive; I survived on carrots all day to justify my attempt to devour every last bite of food available. A friend and I chose to share plates, ordering salmon, stuffed peppers, spring rolls and a tomato-based salad.

There's no way to describe the ecstasy I experienced with every bite of food. I mean, if I could marry a restaurant, this would be it. I never wanted to leave, just keep eating all night, and forever.

Alas, I finally realized I was going to explode. One too many stuffed peppers maybe. At about this time, the group was ready to head over to our next destination. We split up and traveled a few blocks down the road to Boone & Crockett, 2151 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., for part two of the birthday festivities.

While leaving, our server unexpectedly sprinted out from the restaurant. Apparently the birthday girl had left a gift bag (filled with wine). I wanted to hug him and give him a thousand-dollar tip for coming to our rescue, but unfortunately for him, I'm not a baller and I don't really like to be touched.

Boone and Crockett is a sister bar to the popular Hotel Foster on North Avenue. Although a smaller venue, the overall atmosphere is similar to that of Hotel Foster, dare I say, even better. However, what makes Boone and Crockett really special is the enchanting patio. It's like being in a little enclosed backyard forest with strings of lights twinkling in the most romantic way.

The bartender, Lauren, started me off with a gin bramble and I was hooked the rest of the evening, changing up my drink only for a few birthday mandated tequila shots here and there.

With the expanding group, we easily took up a large portion of the patio and spent the duration of the evening lounging outside. The weather was perfect. All in all, it was a flawless birthday. Great food, great drinks and great friends always makes the very best combination.

Lisa Simonson Special to

As a self-proclaimed aficionada of dive bars, Lisa Simonson knows a thing or two about drinking and our city’s bar scene. She now calls Milwaukee, one of America’s drunkest cities (coincidence?), home after growing up in world-famous Port Washington (“Step by Step,” anyone?) and spending time in both Minneapolis and London.

Now, back in her favorite city in the world, Simonson blogs about her adventures in Milwaukee, one bar at a time. Although her primary focus is sampling the best the city has to offer in beer, wine and whiskey, when not abusing her liver, Lisa can be found cruising on her bike, obsessing over Adobe products, jamming to her favorite bands or attempting to teach her cat to walk on a leash.