Blackwood Brothers Restaurant and Social Club has officially opened its doors at 3001 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. in Bay View.
Behind the concept is service industry veteran Sherrilyn Law, whose vision for a comfortable, neighborhood restaurant has come to fruition in a space that evokes the warmth of a rustic living space with its warm grey walls, walls hung with various farm tools and plentiful plants.
To open up the space, Law says they removed the overhead portion of the bar, giving the space an entirely new look.
The aesthetic of the restaurant was created largely with sweat equity, says Law, who built the rustic wooden planters on the Western wall and whose boyfriend Dana Nielsen assisted in building the restaurant’s tables.
“This is the comfortable place that I always imagined that I wanted,” says Law. “I’ve sat in every single seat to make sure they are comfortable. Ultimately, I want people to feel like they’re in my home… and literally, if I showed you photos of my living room, it looks pretty similar.”
Along the Southern wall, above two-top banquette seating, guests will also find a piece of the building’s history (and inspiration for the restaurant’s name) in the form of an original Blackwood Brothers Hardware Store sign, which was retrieved from storage in the former carriage house behind the building.
Law says that, in the few days they’ve been open, they’ve already received a visit from two members of the Blackwood family, who enjoyed brunch at the restaurant and shared stories about the history of the space, including that it was also home to a relative’s dental practice while the Blackwoods still owned the building.
“Our first visitors have been largely neighbors,” says Law, “Which is exactly what I wanted… for this to be a neighborhood spot and a place where people come after work. I want people to be proud that we’re in the neighborhood.”
On the menu
At the bar, guests will find a cocktail menu filled with cleverly named drinks that showcase savory, floral and bitter notes. Selections include the “Spy Plane” featuring rye, St. Raphael Dori, Cocchi Americao and lemon ($8); and “Kyuri Cloud” with Hendrick’s gin, St. Germaine, Tycu cucumber sake, Nigori sake and egg white ($11); plus weekly specials like the “Downtown Billy,” a not-so-sweet riff on vodka lemonade with mint, muddled blackberries, Rehorst vodka and lemonade (pictured above).
Beer drinkers can expect an eclectic collection of bottled and canned beer, with an emphasis on craft finds and popular quaffs like Miller High Life. On the wine side, Law says her curated list focuses on funkier seasonal selections, many of which are vegan, organic or made with minimal intervention.
On the food side is a menu that plays with both classic American and global flavors in a mix of casual meat- and plant-based items. Law says that while she’s unable to maintain an entirely gluten-free kitchen, she does have a dedicated gluten-free fryer and the menu contains a number of gluten-friendly items.
Among the options, guests will find shareable items like Orleans shrimp sliders with remoulade and Tiger slaw ($12); kimchi spring rolls with shogachi sauce ($9); skinny fries with a choice of both seasoning (hot, curry or house) and dipping sauces (vegan chive mayo, Go!Go! Ketchup, avocado creme, “Ugly Sauce,” vegan Sriracha mayo and garlic aioli) for $7.
There are also whole Korean fried chicken wings (six for $12) sauced with ginger tamari, spicy apricot or Seoul fire sauces.
Sandwich options include the Sledgehammer Burger with two house smash patties, American cheese, pickles, fried shallots, shagachi sauce and garlic aioli on a brioche roll ($15); the Choripan featuring a French roll with Spanish chorizo, chimichurri, chili crunch and fried egg ($14) the already popular Killer Tofu Sandwich featuring a French roll filled with fried Simple Soyman tofu, sambal oelek, veganaise Tiger slaw and caramelized onions ($13).
Meanwhile, simple comforting entrees include a daily mac ‘n cheese ($13) and grilled meatloaf featuring a blend of beef and pork served with smashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables and Go!Go! Ketchup ($15).
Brunch, which is served on Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. currently features a menu of options including an extravagant brunch burger swimming in house-made cheese sauce.
On the safety end, Law says that Blackwood Brothers is operating in accordance with the safety guidelines laid out by the City of Milwaukee, including operating at 50% capacity, allowing for social distancing between tables and requiring masks for both employees and guests. An air purification system has also been installed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission inside the restaurant.
Law says that the restaurant is easing into operations for now. However, in the coming weeks, folks can expect the addition of carry-out offerings as well as a “Blue Collar Happy” hour with special pricing on select beer, shoots and house cocktails Tuesday through Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m.
Blackwood Brothers is open for dinner service Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight, with brunch service on Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 10 a.m. to 3 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.