Looking for new spots to try? During Dining Month, Lori Fredrich is dishing out must-tries in 20 different dining categories, from brunch to BBQ and everything in between. Here's what she's recommended so far!
These days, enjoying fresh, high quality seafood in the Midwest is far easier than in the past. That’s good news for seafood lovers (including me) who want to enjoy great fish and shellfish dishes in between trips to the coast. That said, sourcing matters; and it comes at a cost (as the adage states: “You get what you pay for). Fortunately, if you choose well, your experience will be well worth the splurge.
Here are five local restaurants that take care to deliver some of the best of the sea.
1033 S. 1st St., (414) 226-5754
While 1033 offers more than just seafood, there are plenty of well sourced options from which to choose at this new Walker's Point spot that's as good for happy hour as it is for a leisurely dinner.
Raw bar offerings include caviar, oysters, mussels, shrimp and lobster. Meanwhile the "Seafood Plateau" features a bit of everything, including oysters, mussels, shrimp, half of a lobster tail and a half-ounce of uni.
You can also pair your choice of wines with snacks like trendy tinned fish (razer clams, cod, mussels, sardines or squid) or indulge in shareable composed plates like seared scallops served with brown butter, capers, bread and lime.
Lupi & Iris
777 N. Van Buren St., (414) 293-9090
Unsurprisingly, seafood plays a significant role at Lupi & Iris, where the French and Italian Rivieras provide inspiration for the menu.
Enjoy starters like char-grilled Spanish octopus with romesco sauce; and PEI mussels and clams steamed in white wine with anchovy, garlic, chili flakes, cherry tomatoes, oregano, white beans and salami.
Or indulge in linguini bathed in garlic white wine sauce with mussels, scallops, shrimp, calamari, octopus, tomatoes and olives. Even the simplest dishes exhibit balance and technique. Such is the case with parchment-baked Mediterranean sea bass prepared with braised artichokes, fingerling potatoes, tomatoes, basil and persillade. It's a light-yet-fulfilling entree that delivers more in flavor than the sum of its parts.
550 N. Harbor Dr., (414) 395-4900
Pristinely sourced seafood has been a longtime hallmark at this restaurant where lake views make the experience all the more noteworthy (you might even forget you’re not dining on the coast).
As for their seafood selection, you’ll always find a lovely slate of carefully sourced fresh oysters (often varieties from both the East and West coast), along with standards like shrimp and crab cakes. Move into the entrees section and you’ll find accessible, seasonal fish preparations like Hudson Canyon sea scallops with roasted spaghetti squash, wild mushrooms, sage brown butter and toasted pine nuts; and Alaskan Halibut with winter squash, braised lentils, Honeycrisp apples and apple cider gastrique.
Third Coast Provisions
724 N. Milwaukee St., (414) 323-7434
Third Coast Provisions offers guests both an opulent dining experience (gorgeous, but not intimidating) and a menu of thoughtful, seasonal dishes including a variety of seafood options.
Starters include fresh oysters served on the half shell with peach champagne or mojito granita and tuna tartare crispy rice with nori, cucumber, yuzu kosho and chatchini.
Meanwhile, seasonal entrees are infused with global inspiration that plays out in dishes like Alaskan Halibut with golden coconut curry, crispy rice, heirloom carrots, peppers, seasonal vegetables and palm sugar vinaigrette; and Ora King Salmon with lemon orzo, baby cucumber, feta, spiced phyllo, Calabrian chilies and smoked paprika aioli.
St. Paul Fish Company
400 N. Water St., (414) 220-8383
6200 W. Mequon Rd., (262) 200-9909
If you’d prefer a more casual environs, you’ll find it at St. Paul, where you can choose between the bustle of the Public Market in the Historic Third Ward or the spacious rustic crab shack vibe at The Cannery, their dine-in eatery near the Mequon Public Market. Either way – since both locations double as a fish markets – their expertise is sourcing great fish.
Visit and you’ll find casual staples like oysters on the half shell, steamed mussels or clams and their popular New England-style lobster roll. But you’ll also find a slew of grilled fish options, along with popular items like pan-seared jumbo day pack scallops served with rice, vegetables and a choice of sauces. In Mequon, you can even get New England-style crab, lobster or seafood boils.
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.