By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Dec 16, 2020 at 1:01 PM

As families prepare for a holiday season that looks a bit dfferent from years past, restaurants have stepped up to the plate, offering heat and eat meals and other solutions that make celebrating the holidays (and, frankly, every day life) easier.

Among them is the brand new Lowlands On the Go, a carry-out and curbside pick-up program that offers family meals, Snackuterie Boxes and beverage bundles that fit the way folks eat in 2020. The new offerings, available  for brunch, lunch and dinner, will be available to order online beginning Dec. 17

To create these fresh new options, Lowlands Group brought on Chef Rebecca Berkshire, a culinary professional whose recent work with Balzac Wine Bar and the Mojofuco Restaurant Group prepared her to hone in on the changes needed.

“Cafes are these places that have something for everyone,” says Berkshire. “And as I looked at the menus for each location with fresh eyes, I felt they needed some freshening up. We needed lighter, fresher items that reflect how people eat today: things that anyone can order and enjoy butt that happen to also be healthful and maybe even free of things like wheat or meat. Ultimately, we needed items that tick off more boxes for people, whether they are vegan, vegetarian or meat eaters. So, that was the focus.” 

 To do so, Berkshire says she took time to really get to to know the concepts behind each of the restaurants, aiming to create items that would resonate with not only the venues’ customers, but the brands themselves. 

Bring the dome home: Snackuterie Boxes delivered

“Among our goals was to create offerings that not only fit the ways in which people are ordering carry-out, but also offer them more affordable options,” says Berkshire, noting that items like the new Snackcuterie options, family meals and drink bundles currently offered to guests as part of the Lowlands Winter Experiences fit the bill. 

That’s why, beginning Thursday, Dec. 17, both Snackuterie Boxes and family meals will be available for not only those taking advantage of the Lowlands Winter Experiences, but also for carry-out and delivery through DoorDash. Drink bundles will also be available to order and pick-up at the restaurants.

If you’re not familiar, Snackuterie Boxes feature shareable, interactive options that engage guests in creating their own flavor combinations with items like cheese, charcuterie, vegetables, fruits, dips and spreads.

“It’s an exciting way of eating,” says Berkshire. “There’s variety and something for everyone. It’s also a way of eating that lends itself to holiday snacking and small gatherings.” 

At Hollander, guests will find Snackcuterie Boxes like Farmers Garden, which contains roasted Brussels sprouts, pickled carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, dill Havarti, smoked gouda, lavash crackers, seasoned pretzels, crostini, kale pesto, artichoke spread, pomegranate, blackberries, spiced pepitas and chocolate.

Meanwhile, at Buckatabon, there’s the Boujee Ham & Rolls Box featuring sliced Badger ham, prosciutto, candied bacon, mini brioche rolls, swiss cheese, pickle chips, pickled onions, stone-ground mustard, smoked horseradish sour cream, strawberries and deviled eggs.

Family meals for carry-out

Guests also have the option of adding family-style meals, an option Berkshire says is well suited to both carry-out and delivery. 

“These are full-sized meals,” she says. “And they’re curated in a way that it takes all the effort and thinking out of it. Someone could order an enormous box of fried chicken and cheeseburger sliders and have them delivered to their house if that’s their mood. But, we offer a variety so that people can find the meal they want, based on their mood. 

Examples include the Modern Family Feast, a Hollander option featuring a pan of house-made meatloaf with gravy and bacon-cheddar broccoli, a large portion of the Hollander crispy chicken quinoa bowl, a pan of five-cheese mac and cheese and four mini Smash Burgers with muenster cheese and pickles ($50, pictured below). 

There’s also the “Southern Livin’” featuring a dish of Dutch Quarter shrimp and chicken jambalaya; a dish of five-cheese mac and cheese; housemade cheddar chive biscuits and two big slices of pecan pie ($60). 

Meanwhile, drink bundles offer multi-serving beverages to enjoy at home. Options include spiced mulled wine ($48); Solstice Eve sangria (with rred wine, pomegranate, apples and cinnamon ($42) and the Buckatabon Old Fashioned with Central Standarrd Buckatabon Brandy, Lowlands bitters, orange, cherries, Sprite and simple syrup ($45). There are also brunch bundles (think bloody marys and mimosas) along with biere bundles (of course).

Giving back to the front line

To celebrate the launch of the new offerings, Lowlands Group, with health and safety guidance from the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), and through generous donations made by Keith Mardak, Dancing Goat Distillery, Beechwood Sales & Service, Rinka +, and The Corners of Brookfield, will donate 1,000 Snackuterie Boxes (valued at $35,000) to frontline healthcare workers over the week of Christmas.

“Our frontline healthcare workers have been tirelessly battling the pandemic and as the months grow darker and more drawn out, we want them to know their hard work is appreciated, and they haven’t been forgotten,” said Eric Wagner, Lowlands Group CEO. “We hope to bring some comfort and joy to their day this holiday season.”

In addition to a meal, frontline workers will receive access to virtual holiday performance from UPAF, providing them with dinner and a show, or Snackuterie™ and a Show. Free streaming includes performances such as Milwaukee Rep’s "Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol," Milwaukee Ballet’s "The Nutcracker: Short and Sweet" and First Stage’s "Christmas Town Comes to First Stage."

“The restaurant and entertainment businesses have faced significant challenges during this pandemic, but through it all, our community has worked together to support each other and protect the health and safety of Milwaukee residents,” said Laura Cassidy, PhD, epidemiologist at MCW. “We are all in this together, and the Lowlands Group’s generosity demonstrates the true spirit and resilience of Milwaukee.”

Frontline healthcare workers are invited to sign up to receive a complimentary Snackuterie™ Box and a Show via lowlandsgroup.com. Sign-up starts Friday, Dec. 18 at noon. In an effort to feed as many frontline workers as possible, sign-ups are first-come, first-serve, and limited to one box per-person. Boxes can be picked up at four Café Hollander locations (Downer, Mequon, Tosa and Madison)  Dec. 21 through Dec. 24.

New menu offerings everywhere

But that's not all. Along with new carry-out options, each of the menus at Lowlands restaurants have gotten a reboot. 

Head to the Third Ward’s Cafe Benelux and you'll find new vegetable-based options. Berkshire said that among her goals was to create a veggie burger that really captured a true comfort food appeal. So she put together the walnut double smash burger featuring housemade veggie patties with walnuts, black rice and mushrooms. They are topped with sharp cheddar (skip the cheese to make it vegan), red onion, tomato, vegan ranch and avocado and served on a pretzel bun ($12.95). 

To Hollander’s multi-location menu, she says she wanted to bring flavorful, but easy to eat items. So guests will now find options like the salami levash wrap, featuring thinly sliced salami, horseradish smear, spring greens, artichoke, red onion, shredded cheddar in grilled lavash flatbread ($12.95).

“These wraps are rolled jelly-roll style and toasted on the grill to give them a really crackery crust on the exterior,” says Berkshirre. “So, there’s lots of flavor, lots of texture, some nice melty cheese and plenty of freshness in the greens.”

Centraal, long known for its brunch, has adopted some unique new brunch items like the crispy avocado benedict featuring panko fried avocado topped with smashed cherry tomato sauce and served benedict style with poached egg and hollandaise ($11.95); and Korean street toast topped with a kimchi omelette, American cheese and smoked tofu jalapeño mayo ($10.95).

Tosa’s Buckatabon Tavern and Supper Club, meanwhile, now offers the Red-Eye Strip, a bone-in New York strip treated to a coffee chili rub and served with horseradish mashed potatoes (an homage to Berkshire’s time at Mukwonago’s Heaven City in the 1980s), crispy Brussels sprouts petals and house steak sauce ($44). 

“It’s a challenge to create food that’s replicable and unfussy, but still interesting,” says Berkshire. “But this is about offering people the food that they crave or that they might make for themselves and leveling that up,” says Berkshire, noting that her experience tweaking the Lowlands’ menus has been a rewarding one.

“It’s really cool to be part of this prolific group,” she says. “I knew there would be so much to learn and so many ways to push my own culinary boundaries. And it’s been a really fun and challenging way to explore my craft. 

View full menus and make reservations for any Lowlands’ restaurants online at lowlandsgroup.com.

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.