By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Oct 05, 2016 at 1:01 PM

For the 10th straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee, presented by the restaurants of Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, dining guides, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as voting for your "Best of Dining 2016."

Yesterday marked a milestone in Milwaukee. Like Minds – the brewery, taproom and restaurant from owners Justin Aprahamian, chef and owner of Sanford, and John Lavelle – opened its doors to the public at 823 E. Hamilton St.

And while brewery openings have become commonplace over the past few months in Milwaukee, this one met with particular challenges. Initially, setbacks were caused by Wisconsin's "tied house law," which prevents individuals who already possess a bar, restaurant or retail liquor license from obtaining a permit for a brewery. Fortunately, a closer look at the state statute by the Department of Revenue shed light on a provision which allows a brewery to maintain indirect interest in a restaurant with a Class B license. 

That news broke in April, offering hope that Like Minds would open this summer. But as is the case with many food and beverage venues, construction and licensure took a few months longer than expected.

But now, Like Minds is up and running. And based on a first look, it will be a brewery and restaurant worthy of its James Beard Award-winning owner.

The space is bright and sparse with a clean, modern look. Cream City brick walls sit adjacent to clean wooden tables and dark metal chairs and stools. Artwork on the walls includes pieces from artists Rob Jones and Zeb Love, both of whom have created artwork featured on labels of Like Minds brew, as well as posters for prominent musicians like the White Stripes and Willie Nelson.

Beer

The brewery houses a seven-barrel brewing system which will produce beer for distribution in Wisconsin, as well as for use at the brewery and restaurant. Sours will continue to be made at Like Minds Chicago brewery; meanwhile, Belgian forward, experimental and chef-inspired brews will be made in Milwaukee.

Currently on tap are nine beers, including "Exiled" dry saison, "Brett Saison" made with house brettanomyces yeast, wine barrel aged "Rhubarb Sour," "Archimedes" IPA, "Horehound" double IPA, "Nighthawks" oatmeal stout and Imperial Stout made with Intelligentsia's El Gallo breakfast blend cold brew.

Bites

A 15-item menu – which will feature an ever-evolving selection of seasonal options, from snacks to entrees – is focused on beer-friendly fare created by Chef Aprahamian in collaboration with chefs Paul Funk of Hinterland and Jimmy Cababa of Sanford.

Snacks include addictively flavorful fried preserved lemons with watercress aioli ($4) which are perfect alongside the Brett Saison.

A charcuterie platter showcases Chef Funk's experience in house cured meats. Ours featured pickled monkfish, pork rillette, Ukranian sausage, liver mousse, coppa, house pickles and Horehound stone ground mustard ($17).

Meanwhile, mini corndogs feature housemade frankfurters in a light, flavorful corn batter ($4). They're served alongside barley malt ketchup and Like Minds yellow mustard.

Aprahamian's Armenian roots show in dishes like lahmahjourn, crisp Armenian flatbread topped with spiced lamb, mint, yogurt and lemon cucumber ($9).

Chef Cababa's influence can be seen in Phillipine rice noodles which are light and fresh, tossed with grilled squid, fish sauce and glazed carrots and radishes ($12).

Meanwhile, achiote grilled sirloin was served up with grilled beans and tomatillos on a bed of pipian salsa verde with feta, sesame and toasted pepitas ($20).

Sweets

Two desserts finish off the menu, both sweets that are just as worthy as any of the entrees. The first is eccles cake, a British-inspired dish that combines housemade puff pastry with a filling of dried fruit, including currants and orange ($9). A bit like a fruity baklava, it's served alongside a quenelle of Clock Shadow Creamery quark with a swirl of hop honey.

Chocolate lovers will want to try the deep rich "Noma" double chocolate cookies, which are based on a recipe from the world-renowned restaurant of the same name. The lily is officially gilded with the accompanying scoop of vanilla pistachio ice cream.

The Like Minds kitchen is open Tuesday through Sunday from 4 to 10 p.m. The bar serves until midnight.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

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.