By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Oct 19, 2023 at 11:03 AM Photography: Lori Fredrich

’Tis Dining Month, the tastiest time of year! This means we’re dishing up fun and fascinating food content throughout October. Dig in, Milwaukee! OnMilwaukee Dining Month is served up by Educators Credit Union and Potawatomi Casino Hotel

If you haven’t noticed, Hotel Metro, 411 E. Mason St., is becoming quite the “it” spot for folks looking for amazing experiences Downtown. 

And while the buzz this summer has focused primarily on Pufferfish, their tropical rooftop oasis, there are equally compelling reasons to check out the hotel’s ground floor restaurant, Oggie’s Kitchen & Bar, which is swiftly becoming a go-to for folks looking for a cool new spot to dine.

Oggie's Restaurant & Bar - exteriorX

The restaurant has experienced an impressive renaissance under the guidance of Chef Aaron Miles, who has introduced a compelling menu that’s fresh, creative and filled with playful surprises.

Miles, a Detroit native whose career has spanned work in Michigan, Vancouver, Georgia and California. After moving to Miwaukee in 2011, Miles worked at Kil@watt and opened Saint Kate, The Arts Hotel before taking on a six month contract at Oggie’s Kitchen & Bar in spring of 2021.

“I thought it would be temporary, but when six months turned into eight, I decided to stay on,” notes Miles. “We hired a completely new staff, including a good number of people who had little or no experience. And it’s been so cool to see them learn and improve. We have a really great team now.” 

Delicious bites

The Oggie’s menu offers a nod to Midwestern sensibility and a dedication to sourcing from local farms; but it also makes liberal use of global inspiration.

“Every dish is based on something I’ve eaten, somewhere I’ve lived or worked,” notes Miles. “Sometimes it’s simply nostalgic. In all cases, we are serious about where we get our food from and how we prepare it. But I also feel strongly that it needs to be fun.”

An expanded list of shareable plates makes the restaurant the perfect spot for drinks and noshing, offering delicious options like hand-battered local cheese curds with pepperoncini ranch dressing ($12); cast iron roasted broccoli with Sichuan chili crisp, tamari, mayo and fried garlic ($14); and tender roasted heirloom carrots served on a bed of goat-based Greek yogurt with tender shawarma-spiced short ribs and pistachios ($15). 

Heirloom carrots with shawarma-spiced spare ribX

They’re perfect enjoyed alongside a plate of melt-in-your mouth tender Kong Pao BBQ Pork Ribs featuring a glaze made with gochujang and lime garnished with crushed peanuts and scallions ($17).

Kong Pao BBQ Short RibsX

Entrees include offerings like pan roasted Scottish salmon with sweet corn succotash and scallion butter ($27); brown butter gnocchi with oyster mushroom carnitas, onion confit and pickled serrano ($24); and ultra-tender brick-seared chicken served atop creamy British-Indian inspired potato and cauliflower curry with cilantro chutney ($25).

Brick seared chicken with Indian curryX

Miles also seems to have a knack for capturing the essence of overlooked basics. Take for instance his indulgent take on garlic bread which hits every note with a combination of confit garlic butter, provolone cheese and Sarvecchio parmesan (though the dash of Duke’s mayo in his indulgent recipe might just take the buttery, cheesy bread straight over the top), $8.

The Garlic BreadX

I’d happily eat an entire loaf myself alongside a bowl of roasted broccoli. But it might just be perfect alongside Oggie’s cacio e pepe Caesar salad featuring Romaine lettuce, pecorino romano cheese, orzo, black pepper parmesan crisps, garlicky Caesar dressing and croutons ($15).

At the bar

Industry veteran and general manager Chris Botts heads up the beverage program, which operates with the same philosophy as Oggie's Kitchen.

“We start with great ingredients, but we’re not afraid to play and have fun with them,” says Botts, noting that the bar makes its own infusions and has been barrel-aging its own spirits, including Korbel Brandy and Campari.

Take, for instance, the Pomaretto Sour featuring barrel-aged Disarrono, Pama pomegranate liqueur, lemon, mint simple syrup and Bittercube Bolivar Bitters.

Pomegranate SourX

It's a refreshing fall drink with complex nuance thanks to the barrel-aged amaretto.

Guests can also belly up to the bar for an oak-barreled Wisconsin Korbel Old Fashioned, a Mr. Espresso martini or a New York Refresher featuring Ford's Gin, St. Germaine, muddled basil, cucumber and lime. 

But there are also fun riffs on classics like the Chicken & Waffle Old Fashioned featuring a perfectly serious cocktail made with Maker's Mark Bourbon and Blis Maple Syrup Bitters, but garnished with a stroopwafel and a Dino Nugget.

Chicken and waffle old fashionedX

Zero proof offerings include options like the Ginger Fizz with turmeric ginger juice, lime, apple and club soda; and a Lime Mule Fizz featuring lime, house spiced simple syrup and Fever Tree Ginger Beer.

Botts has also curated a list of unique wines from boutique producers to complement the menu, along with an eight-beer tap list that showcases gems from local breweries including 1840 Brewing Co., Component Brewing, Super Moon and Radix Fermentation.

Guests can pop-in for happy hour Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. to enjoy cocktails priced under $10, plus select $9 appetizers. Oggie’s also hosts live music every other Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. along with half-off bottles of wine. 

Dinners & Events

Botts says that they've also been actively partnering with other local businesses to host tap takeovers, events and dinners. 

Coming up on Nov. 11, they will be hosting a beer diner with 1840 Brewing Co. and a vegan night with the folks from Beerline Cafe is also in the planning stages.

Follow @OggiesMKE on Instagram for ticket information and updates.

Oggie’s Kitchen & Bar is open for breakfast Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Dinner service is offered Sunday through Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 4 to 11 p.m.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

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.