The Good Life’s Caribbean theme carries through the menu and the music, and the setting here is clean and sleek, albeit small. The restaurant, owned by DJ (drummer with Citizen King and now New Sense) and Cassie Brooks, is well-thought out, simple and solid, down to the small selection of menu items which the Good Life does, and does well.
Service is good, the food is above average and unique, and if you get there early enough to get a table, the ambience is fun and upbeat. Waits can get a bit long on the weekends, but the Good Life addresses that with a comfortable love seat in the entry area.
Appetizers include crab dip ($12), a basic medley of baked cream and Parmesan cheese with chunks of crabmeat and plantain chips, sweet potato chips and flatbread. All three accompaniments were well salted and the dip itself was comforting and very good, especially with the plantain chips; the sweet potato chips didn’t work quite as well with the flavor of the crab.
Rum BBQ chicken wings ($6) were sweet and delicious and they came with a cucumber sauce which was a nice contrast to the rum barbecue sauce. Veggie cakes ($7) were also outstanding, although they had a tendency to fall apart, but the combination of curried vegetables and minced cashew nuts is delicious and unique.
We also enjoyed the sandwiches and entrees at The Good Life.
The Good Life Burger ($9) arrived perfectly cooked and was topped with Swiss cheese, chipotle mayonnaise and an avocado salsa that was a delightful combination and needed no additional condiments. The sides of plantain and sweet potato chips were once again very good.
Mango mahi mahi ($12) was pan-seared and came in a pomegranate reduction sauce and was flaky and tender and highly complemented by the fruit salsa and sauce.
Red Stripe chicken ($10) was falling off the bone and came with a solid serving of rice and peas and Cuban corn (topped with mayonnaise, garlic, and Cojita cheese). The drunken shrimp ($11) was also good, although the shrimp breading was indiscernible in the tequila tomato sauce.
Serving sizes are not shy here, and this dish, as well as the jerk plate ($14) also came with coconut rice and that delicious Cuban corn. The jerk plate was nearly a meal for two with your choice of pork chops, chicken, shrimp or tofu grilled in jerk sauce. The chicken in this dish was just a little dry, but that I think was in part do to the inflexibility of jerk seasoning which does dry out meat just a tad.
The Good Life features a specialty cocktail menu as well including mojitos, pina coladas, The Good Life iced tea, guava mimosas, and both white and red sangrias. We were pleased to see the Caribbean theme carry through to the cocktails, and we look forward to seeing the same thing in their upcoming brunch, which will commence on Sunday, Oct. 29.
All in all, The Good Life is a great addition to the East Side, and with solid food and service seven days a week, we can look forward to enjoying a slice of the good life for many years to come.
Amy L. Schubert is a 15-year veteran of the hospitality industry and has worked in every aspect of bar and restaurant operations. A graduate of Marquette University (B.A.-Writing Intensive English, 1997) and UW-Milwaukee (M.A.-Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Writing, 2001), Amy still occasionally moonlights as a guest bartender and she mixes a mean martini.
The restaurant business seems to be in Amy’s blood, and she prides herself in researching and experimenting with culinary combinations and cooking techniques in her own kitchen as well as in friends’ restaurants. Both she and her husband, Scott, are avid cooks and “wine heads,” and love to entertain friends, family and neighbors as frequently as possible.
Amy and Scott live with their boys, Alex and Nick, in Bay View, where they are all very active in the community. Amy finds great pleasure in sharing her knowledge and passions for food and writing in her contributions to OnMilwaukee.com.