In the past it's been offices, banks and who knows what else. That's because the space had a low profile on a high profile corner and was just screaming out, "make me a place for people to go."
At Happy Hour, it's a place to get $2 beers and specials on the Grill's tasty flatbreads, which are much like Coquette's wonderful flammekuche. The bar crowd looked like 30- and 40-something Downtown workers and the diners a mix of that crowd and a slightly older clientele.
I was also reminded that as fine a restaurant as Celia was -- and it was -- its subterranean location was oppressive (I want windows, dang it).
We were pleased with the food. My wood grilled ahi tuna was nicely seared and came in a hearty portion, with fennel. The same could be said for my dining companion's scallops. We each ordered an appetizer, too, which in retrospect was unnecessary and led us to eat more than we should have; we could have shared one.
The sweet potato side was delicious but very rich and those adjectives describe the desserts, too. My companion's French fries were disappointing, however, having gone cold within minutes after arrival.
The prices are as substanial as the food, but remember that entrees come with a big house salad -- loaded with toppings (vegetarians remember to tell your server up front to nix the bacon!) -- and a side dish and therefore certainly don't seem excessive. You definitely won't be nickel-and-dimed by the a la carte system in place at many restaurants these days.
It seems that the Mason Street Grill, with its retro yet modern, casual yet upscale approach, might be the perfect fit for the corner of Jefferson and Mason.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.