By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Nov 06, 2007 at 7:48 AM

Two things that everyone is talking about nowadays are eating locally and comfort foods. Both come together on the new menu at Kilawat, of which I got a sample in a tasting menu lunch recently.

Executive Chef Robert Ash, while explaining the dishes on the new menu at Kilawat in the Intercontinental Hotel -- where the menu changes about three times annually -- regaled with tales of picking apples at Apple Holler, buying produce at the Cathedral Square farmer's market and seeking out other fresh goodies from local producers.

He stressed his passion for cooking this way -- not a rare thing these days, thankfully -- and he also displayed a pretty amazing knowledge of the area and its culinary traditions and tastes considering he arrived here less than a year ago to helm the snazzy Kilawat, which offers a great view out toward City Hall, the Marcus Center and Red Arrow Park.

The dishes on the new menu are simple, but elegantly presented and most Milwaukeeans will be thrilled to recognize them and to be able to pronounce their names.

A bacon wrapped meatloaf was so tender it melted in the mouth; it was unlike any meatloaf this diner has ever sampled. It came upon a bed of garlic mashed potatoes with a small heap of crispy onions on top.

A hot ham and Swiss cheese sandwich got a boost from a soft and flavorful pretzel roll. But the burger, oh my, the Big Boy burger. Although I'd never think Kilawat might have a contender for the city's best burger, this rich and sumptuous cheeseburger just may appear in an upcoming Milwaukee Challenge. A broiled whitefish BLT was equally good.

Desserts were even more elegant, but equally familiar and fun. There was a green apple sorbet and fun and delicious cheesecake lollipops that have, frankly, just the right amount of cheesecake. That is, two bites. Heavenly but just enough to leave you wanting more ... as it should be.

Even without alcohol, the food at Kilawat just might get you so tipsy that you'll have to be careful navigating your way down the stripey-carpeted steps.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

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.