By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Apr 16, 2012 at 11:14 AM

I was talking with my friend Richard Sternard at Fein Brothers the other day about restaurant trends, something he knows a little about.

For over 80 years, Fein Brothers has been the top supplier of equipment to restaurants in southeastern Wisconsin. Everything from napkins to huge ovens come from Fein Brothers. They've been at their location on Martin Luther King Drive for almost half a century.

I was in the store to buy a pizza peel when we got to talking about the trends.

For a while it was steak houses / supper clubs. But now those supper clubs have just about disappeared while steak places remain.

The latest trend, and you can see it everywhere you go, is the tapas restaurant.

Tapas are a wide variety of appetizers, or snacks, a native part of Spanish cuisine. They may be cold (such as mixed olives and cheese) or warm (such as chopitos, which are battered, fried baby squid). In select bars in Spain, tapas have evolved into an entire, and sometimes sophisticated, cuisine. In Spain, patrons of tapas can order many different tapas and combine them to make a full meal.

When you go to a tapas restaurant you are encouraged to talk with your table mates as you share the small plates. I know some people, however, who love their tapas so much they never share, just go after them with vigor.

I don't know how many tapas restaurants Milwaukee can support. But once La Merenda made such a name for itself, it seems like everyone wants to get on the bandwagon. It seems like the creation of tapas is almost endless. When you serve steak, you serve steak.

When you serve tapas, you can serve hundreds and hundreds of combinations, limited only by the imagination of the chef. It makes for very adventurous dining in this city.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.