It’s nearly time to welcome one of the most anticipated restaurants of 2022: The Bridgewater Modern Grill. In fact, the riverfront restaurant located at 2011 S. 1st St. will be opening its doors to the public beginning Oct. 25 at 11 a.m.
Guests can expect a spacious industrial chic space, gorgeous views and moderately priced fare prepared with the restaurant’s custom oak-fed grill.
During its opening week, The Bridgewater is also activating their impressive riverfront patio with autumnal festivities including an oversized pumpkin carving, yard games and live music [read more here].
But that's not all. Here’s an in depth peek at what you’ll find when you visit.
Industrial chic meets coastal casual in The Bridgewater’s dining room where luxe velveteen booths line the southern wall and four-top seating is enhanced by strategically placed greenery. A mixture of warm wood flooring, tiles and textural white paneled walls gives the room a clean, modern feel.
Operable garage doors to the north offer potential for open-air dining and a floor-to-ceiling view of the river. Meanwhile, the focal point of the room is a thematic tryptic of the Hoan Bridge created by local artist John Grant whose work is also displayed prominently at the Saint Kate Arts Hotel.
Meanwhile, a private dining area occupies the eastern portion of the restaurant, separated from the main dining room by smoked glass doors.
The room, which comfortably seats 30, boasts floor to ceiling windows as well as an operational garage door creating a bright welcoming space that offers the option of open-air dining during clement weather. Meanwhile, state of the art window shades allow for full control over the bright eastern sun.
Additional accommodations include a private entrance, access to the riverfront patio and a full AV system for presentations of all kinds.
The Bridgewater’s expansive bar, located on the west side of the restaurant is surrounded by operational garage doors, which will allow for indoor/outdoor service during warm weather. Amenities include comfortable padded stools, hidden plugs for charging electronic devices and purse hooks.
Additional seating is available just to the west of the bar overlooking the restaurant's patio lounge.
At the bar, guests can enjoy seasonal batched cocktails including The Bridgewater’s gin punch, espresso martini or light, easy-drinking spritzes.
The bar also offers eight beers on tap and 17 more in bottles representing styles across the board from sours and cider to IPA and stout. A curated collection of bourbon, including rare allocations seldom seen in Milwaukee will also be a feature.
On the wine side, The Bridgewater will offer a robust selection of 40-50 wines sourced from estate or family-owned wineries across the globe, including some natural selections.
Climate controlled wine storage will allow selections to be stored and served at the appropriate temperature.
The menu at The Bridgewater was created with both quality and approachability in mind. It’s flexible enough to accommodate boaters fresh off the riverfront and casual diners; but its elevated simplicity makes it worthy of a special occasion.
At the helm is Chef Steve Gustafson, an industry veteran who worked alongside Benson’s Restaurant Group Executive Chef Alex Sazama to create a collection of small plates, salads and main dishes, many of which are prepared using the restaurant’s custom oak-fed Jade grill.
For instance, bread service featuring local sourdough bread is served with ash butter and sea salt ($7), while oak-fired oysters are embellished with parmesan butter, panko and fresh herbs ($16).
Additional small plates include tuna tartare ($16), artichoke dip ($13) and crab cake ($16) to a tostada featuring pulled duck barbacoa with ancho chili, avocado, cotija, radishes and yellow pico ($14).
Salads go far beyond simple lettuce. Oak-fired beets are dressed with herbed yogurt, dried apricots, dill and a dukkha cracker crumble ($11), while an ancient grain salad is served on a bed of miso sweet potato puree with mushrooms, avocado, charred onion and cilantro pumpkin pesto ($12).
Main dishes (priced in the $22-$45 range) showcase items from oak-fired baby back ribs and oak fired trout to rotisserie chicken and seared scallops served with corn grits and charred corn broth. There’s also oak-fired veal tenderloin with wild mushrooms and sherry reduction and oak-fired grass-fed ribeye seasoned with ancho chile rub and ash salt (pictured here with oak-fired carrots).
Housemade pastas are also a feature. Gnocchi is served with bordeaux blanc, butter and chives; and ziti is dressed with yellow tomato sofrito, goat cheese and Swiss chard.
Guests can also play it casual with The Bridgewater’s Connecticut style lobster roll featuring browned butter and chives; or The Bridgewater burger featuring 8 ounces of Waygu beef in the form of two smash-style patties topped with coal roasted shallots that have been cooked down in sherry vinegar, gruyere, roasted garlic aioli and a choice of greens or frites.
The Bridgewater’s lunch menu reflects many of the same dishes, some in slightly smaller portions, along with offerings like a rotisserie chicken salad sandwich; grilled cheese and flat iron steak and frites.
Desserts, priced at $9 each include chocolate pot de creme with candied coriander, hazelnut crunch, sweet cream, orange zest and ash; sweet potato cheesecake with gingersnap crust, walnut salted caramel and toasted marshmallow; sticky toffee pudding and honey crisp apple galette served a la mode.
And yes, The Bridgewater is also home to the city’s longest riverfront patio, which offers plentiful seating along its 245-foot expanse, river views and an outdoor bar.
The patio lounge is set up for socialization with high top tables and plentiful lounge furniture arranged in sets that are separated by attractive greenery, allowing for small groups to gather with some semblance of privacy.
Numerous sets of lounge furniture are also equipped with fire tables to keep the chill off on cool evenings.
Just to the west of the patio is a turf-covered green space for yard games and the option for a large projector screen to show movies or slideshows.
The Bridgewater will also have its very own set of riverfront docks, which will be installed next summer, complete with 10 boat slips that will be managed by Benson’s Restaurant Group.
Parking for up to 50 vehicles is available in The Bridgewater’s parking lot, but the restaurant also offers valet parking nightly with accommodations in their private heated parking garage.
Beginning Oct. 25, The Bridgewater will be open for both lunch and dinner with hours Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Reservations are highly recommended and can be made online at bridgewatermke.com.
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.