By Amy L. Schubert Food Writer Published Sep 11, 2006 at 5:44 AM Photography: Eron Laber
It’s the time of year when Milwaukeeans begin the scramble to enjoy the last of our lovely summer weather and the outdoor patios at area restaurants. One of the city’s most interesting patios belongs to The Knick, 1030 E. Juneau Ave., which abuts Osteria Del Mondo and faces a well-used park, providing wonderful people watching.

The Knick, located in the Knickerbocker Hotel and owned by restaurateur Michael Tarney  -- of North Shore Bistro and Harry’s Bar and Grill -- and partners, offers a wealth of options for the diner that cannot pinpoint exactly what cuisine will satisfy a craving.

If you want to combine Southern, Italian, Mediterranean, Mexican and Asian options in your dining routine, the Knick is a good destination for lunch or dinner. Prices are reasonable, and they sport a fairly good wine list, but stay away from the house selections, which we found to be abysmal.

On two occasions, we were pleased with our dining experience. Service at The Knick is friendly and attentive, but tends to be a tad on the slower side, especially on the patio, where the seating area is narrow and can only accommodate two or three servers at a time. Our visits yielded meals culled mostly from The Knick’s vast selection of appetizers, which allowed us to happily sample several items at each visit.

The Midwestern antipasto platter ($11.95) was a meal for two on its own, with a delicious compilation of stuffed and sliced cucumbers, hummus, roasted garlic, kalamata olive tapenade, cornichon pickles, mozzarella and feta cheeses, olives and a tomato chutney served with toasted pita points.

Crab and chipotle pepper wontons ($9.95) were also a delight, and were large in size and flavor, stuffed with a rich crab, chipotle pepper, and cream cheese filling and served atop an Asian-influenced ginger plum dipping sauce. The wontons were generously filled, and our only suggestion was that the delicious sauce be drizzled over the wontons upon serving.

Portabella mushroom spread was also very good, albeit very rich, and had the surprise element of pecans that made it above average.

Two other appetizers, the tuna tataki ($13.95) and the grilled shrimp with two salsas ($12.95), were not as good. The yellowfin tuna had been overcooked to a medium temperature, and would have been much better rare, as promised on the menu. The grilled shrimp had lovely flavors of tomatillo and mango in the applied sauces, but the shrimp themselves were a bit fishy.

Dinner and lunch main course selections carry the same theme of International assortment. The Knick has a wide array of burgers to choose from, with toppings from a basic mushroom and swiss burger ($9.25) to a crabby bull ($12.95), topped with crab meat and bourbon sauce. A Greek style chicken pita appears on the menu ($9.95) alongside a Cuban ham and porkloin sandwich ($9.95) and a sesame crusted salmon ($9.95).

Cross-culturalization also blends into the wine selections, which include Italian, French, Californian, Spanish and Argentinian varietals.

We found The Knick to be the perfect destination spot for when no particular style of cooking jumped out at us, and also for just a great place to enjoy a glass of wine and appetizers. The Knick’s patio is available for Downtown dining until “basically it’s snowing”, which gives us several more weeks of enjoyment before it’s time to head back indoors.

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