Our editorial staff really does try to eat a healthy diet. That said, there's a time and a place for pigging out.
We'd be dead if we ate like this all the time, but on special occasions, certain Milwaukee gluttonous, decadent dishes are just what the doctor ordered. That is, until the doctor loses his or her license to practice medicine for prescribing these wonderful but ridiculous meals.
We don't recommend you try all these meals in a week -- or even in a month. But do try them all, and wash them down with a Brainbuster from Bryant's or a Tiki Love Bowl from At Random. Here's our list; add your own ideas using the Talkback feature below.
Molly Snyder Edler
Izumi's pagodas filled with sushi
I saw these large wooden pagodas served to other tables at Izumi's, 2150 N. Prospect Ave., and I always wondered how many pieces of sushi / sashimi must be ordered to be boat-worthy. Turns out, the small pagoda holds nine rolls -- that's 54 pieces -- and the large pagoda accommodates orders larger than nine rolls and up to 100 pieces. On a recent dining excursion with friends, for the first time, we ordered enough sushi and sashimi to fill a small pagoda. The unique serving container added a festive element to the dinner and opened the floodgates for stupid boat jokes. Next time, I'll invite a few more raw fish eaters to tag along so we can order enough to fill one of the big guys.
Café Hollander's "Build your own cobblestone"
I rarely opt for dessert when dining out, but someone at a neighboring table ordered the cobblestone and as the concoction passed by my table, I knew I had to order it. You start with what they call a "basic powdered sugar waffle," which I thought would be a hard waffle cone, but instead was a giant, fluffy powdered sugar waffle. From there you can add some or all of the following for between 50 cents and $1.25: 1 or 2 scoops of ice cream, sliced banana, red devil sauce, chocolate syrup, caramel sauce, whipped cream, sliced strawberries and sliced pecans.
Barbecue from Speed Queen or Saz's
Decadent dining means different things to different people at different times of life. In my single days, a decadent meal was anything not eaten over a sink or with a pitcher of beer on the table. As we become older, more responsible, more health-conscious and boring -- well, let's just say things change.
My favorite decadent meal has to include barbecue sauce. I love the half-and-half (half ribs and half shoulder) from Speed Queen, 1130 W. Walnut St. It's smoky and delicious. If I'm further west, I'll hit Saz's, 5539 W. State St., for a full rack of the fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth ribs and a giant baked potato.
In this context, decadent dining to me portends a splurge of gluttony. Two ideas spring to mind in this regard and I'd like to try them both.
As readers know, I'm a huge fan of burgers -- so much that my idea of a balanced meal is one in each hand. I've never tried the decadent, 4-pound burger at Kelly's Bleacher's, 5218 W. Bluemound, but if I trained long enough I could probably give it a go. The folks at Kelly's offer the burger for $19.95. It takes 45 minutes to prepare and if you can eat it -- by yourself -- in less than an hour, you get it for free.
Bring it on, I say. Let's get decadent.
Koppa's Fulbeli Deli's Fluffernutter and Whoopie Pie
Koppa's Fluffernutter and Whoopie Pie aren't particularly large, but they're definitely decadent. Each combining thick cakey bread and a heavy dose of whipped sugar, it's a fight to order both, finish them off and forgo the inevitable stomachache an hour later.
The Fluffernutter, simple as it is, has a great name. Classic Wonder class white bread sandwiching a thick layer of peanut butter and spreadable marshmallow fluff, this sandwich balances somewhere between being a meal and being a dessert.
Likewise, the Whoopie Pie wedges inches of vanilla creme frosting between two Devil's Food cake cookies. Decadently delicious and easy on your pocketbook (99 cents each), I'd argue this is Milwaukee's cheapest taste of gluttony.
Motor's Big Breakfast, Zaffiro's pizza and Hooligan's Hooliburger
This one's hard for me since I've been known to eat my body weight in both sushi and pizza, and on a good night, Scott and I have actually polished off one small pagoda at Izumi's just the two of us-so, Molly, you probably don't want us to be your guests.
My favorite three then have to be:
The Big Breakfast at Motor, which has the most amazing pancakes I've ever had in my life, paired with two eggs and some crispy slabs of applewood bacon. Experimenting in our kitchen, we still can't figure out how they get the flapjacks to be both crunchy and amazingly fluffy. This is one of those dishes you could probably share with a family of four. A beefy Mary on the side, and I'm in heaven, and don't have to eat for the remainder of the day.
Next up is a large Italian salad and large pepperoni, sausage, mushroom and onion pie from Zaffiro's, in their original location, with a Bud Light chaser. We've made an annual tradition of polishing one of these paper-thin pizzas off the day after Thanksgiving. And it usually lasts us the full year before we get a hankering to stuff ourselves like the T-day bird.
Lastly, I only eat one maybe once every five years, but little is more decadent (and messy) than the Hooliburger at Hooligan's. Who else would think to put BBQ sauce, bacon, mayonnaise AND cheese on top of a poor little (red, fat and juicy) burger? They include some olives, lettuce and tomato to try to mask the fact that your arteries are rapidly closing up with each passing bite. And still I can't bring myself to substitute a salad for fries -- may as well go for the gold.
Café Hollander "Napoleon Dynamite"
The first time, I ordered this breakfast as a dare, but you know what? It's great. A tower of pancakes layered with four slices of smoked apple wood bacon, two fried eggs and white cheddar cheese sauce, then topped with whipped cream and served with maple syrup, it reminds me of Homer Simpson's "good morning burger." Somehow, magically even, all these ingredients work together. It's like a McGriddle on HGH, and for obvious reasons, the breakfast is served without any sides.
I usually order the syrup on the side, just in case -- like that somehow makes this dish more healthy or something. It doesn't. I don't want to guess how many calories are crammed into this meal, but it's certainly in the four digits, maybe even five. Needless to say, order the Napoleon Dynamite for breakfast, and you'll be stuffed until dinner -- or perhaps breakfast the following day.