For the sixth straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com, presented by Concordia University. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2012."
Less than a half hour north of the city limits on I-43, Cedarburg is a hidden gem of dining in the Milwaukee area. It’s magnificently easy to navigate since most of the best places are located on Washington Avenue, Cedarburg’s idyllic main drag.
There are plenty of great spots further off the grid, though, so this is definitely not a comprehensive guide – rather, one local’s suggested itinerary.
For the novice, a good place to park your car would be at the Cedar Creek Settlement on the north end of Washington Ave. That way you can start at the Anvil Pub and Grille, a charming eatery on the banks of the Cedar Creek River. If it’s a nice day, I recommend the patio seating overlooking the river’s waterfall. And whether or not it’s a nice day, I also recommend the Cast Iron Martini made with Absolut Citron, Triple Sec and lemonade. It will turn any day into a nice one.
The Anvil, located at N70 W6340 Bridge Rd., is a restored 1864 blacksmith’s shop. I love the ambiance that the owners have preserved with features like stone walls, hardwood floors and a wrought iron balcony. My favorite offering on the lunch menu, believe it or not, is the Veggie Forge Sandwich – it’s the mushrooms, the ever-so-light vegetable cream cheese and the pizza dough (rather than bread) that really makes it for me. But if you’re a carnivore, there are a wide variety of juicy burgers on the lunch menu and meaty entrees on the dinner menu. My personal favorite is the bacon-wrapped Anvil Chicken. One meat wrapped in another meat? I’m there. Be sure to get their oh-so-tender black and tan onion rings as an appetizer.
A close spot for dessert would be the Cream and Crepe Café, an adorable restaurant located in the Settlement building directly adjacent to the Anvil. It has the same rustic, farmhouse-dining-room feel with deep-set window sills and an endearing hodgepodge of pastoral decor. If you’re going for a meal, I recommend getting a double crepe – not only can you try two different types then, but the single crepe is a little small.
My favorites are the Dusty Miller (turkey, broccoli, mushrooms and onions) and the Creek’s Specialty (ham and cheese), mostly because I’m a sucker for the decadent cheddar cheese sauce drizzled over both of them. For dessert, my hands-down favorite is the Mocha Ambrosia crepe. The subtle hint of coffee flavor in the ice cream is the perfect contrast to the lush, rich taste of chocolate sauce and real whipped cream.
Are you full yet? Good, because there’s more. Walk up the street to Maxwell’s at W63 N699 Washington Ave. for an after-dinner drink or their 30-cent wings (on select days of the week). Or you could go to Tomaso’s at W63 N688 Washington Ave. Tomaso’s is a friendly, casual place with dimmed lights and a full bar. I prefer the deep dish pizza (so deep you really have to saw at it with your knife to cut it, but worth the effort). If you’re just in the mood to nosh, their homemade potato chips with nacho cheese sauce from the appetizer menu are amazing.
A little further south, the legendary Chocolate Factory, at W62 N577 Washington Ave. is another favorite for dessert. Their wide variety of flavors and offering of sundaes is mouthwatering. My favorite is the Dusty Road with malted milk powder on top, but more often than not I opt for a simple dipped cone with a double scoop of whatever looks best.
Next door, there's Amy's Candy Kitchen, most famous for their year-round selection of caramel apples. I enjoy their homemade fudge, truffles and candy but the Belgian Chocolate Macadamia Turtle Bark is truly outstanding.
If you’re in the mood to walk (or if you can walk, after all this food), I also highly suggest Out & Out Custard and Sandwiches at W61 N305 Washington Ave. It’s a little more than a half-mile south of the Chocolate Factory but well worth the diversion.
Since 2006, Out & Out has been catering to the sweet tooth of Ozaukee County with homemade custard and sundae options like the Peanut Butter Trophy, a succulent combination of vanilla custard, peanut butter and hot fudge (it’s my favorite and what I get every time I go there). Most of their sandwich menu items can also be ordered gluten-free.
We’ve got one more stop. Can you make it? You have to get back to your car, anyway.
Circle back and hit up Boulangerie du Monde at W62 N588 Washington Ave. This elegant bakery offers European-style artisan breads and pastries. My favorite is the lighter-than-air pain au chocolat and the floral-tasting Gibassier made with anise and orange blossom water. They also have some truly fantastic Stone Creek coffee. And since you’re already rapidly descending into a food coma, you’re going to need that caffeine.
Colleen Jurkiewicz is a Milwaukee native with a degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and she loves having a job where she learns something new about the Cream City every day. Her previous incarnations have included stints as a waitress, a barista, a writing tutor, a medical transcriptionist, a freelance journalist, and now this lovely gig at the best online magazine in Milwaukee.