By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Mar 07, 2019 at 11:34 AM Photography: Lori Fredrich

The clock is ticking. In fact, it's almost time for the grand opening of Punch Bowl Social on Saturday, March 9 (Get more deets and tickets for the festivities here).

But before you head over to 1122 N. Vel R. Phillips Ave., we've got a peek at the food, the digs and the fun you can expect from the newest eatertainment venue on the block.

The diner

What's more comforting than a scratch-made diner? Hard to say. But that's the theme of the scratch kitchen at PBS. And that means there are plenty of delicious things in store.

Walk into the diner and you'll find a bright, classic environs comes complete with nods to Milwaukee's location on Lake Michigan. For instance, check out that back bar with the fish scale design. Or how about the pebble stone bartop?

There's also a bit of rustic chic in the half-log tables, which come complete with purse and/or coat hooks.

The food

Of course the best part about a diner is the food.

Among the items created for the PBS menu are shareable plates like the "A pig, a duck and some cheese walk into a bar," a board featuring prosciutto, confited duck leg, pork rillette, Point Reyes blue cheese, marinated feta, Castlevetrano olives, housemade dill pickles and strawberry jam. It's served with a Hasselback baguette ($22).

There's also the PBS classic: Chicken 'n' waffles, fried boneless chicken breast and thigh piled high on a malted waffle with a drizzle of chipotle-citrus maple syrup and fresh strawberries ($16).

Or how about The Wolf, a nostalgic sandwich featuring griddled Boar's Head bologna, shredded lettuce, American cheese, mustard and sea salt kettle chips piled atop Texas toast ($12.50)? 

You can, of course, be virtuous with dishes like the Superfood Grain Bowl featuring crispy farro, quinoa, kale, radishes, sprouts, pickled chilis, shiitake mushrooms, a slow egg  and miso ginger vinaigrette ($13). It's a favorite of Punch Bowl Social Corporate Chef Sheamus Feely.

But you'll probably want to undo all that virtue with a few warm beignets.

Of course, the gigantic circular Rice Krispies treats dipped in Callebaut chocolate is also a tempting treat.

Bars

There are plenty of these. Three, to be exact. The diner serves up everything from fresh juices and coffee to non-alcoholic or adult milkshakes like the Malted Maple Royal.

Journey upstairs and you'll find the Social Bar, a bright congenial space with a menu of cocktails, mocktails, house sodas and locally brewed beer.

There's also the 360 Bar, a circular bar where beverages abound including options created by Beverage Director Patrick Williams (pictured below) like the Chef's Cup with muddled cucumber and lemon, house cardamom syrup, cranberries and sparkling water ($7), the Barbados Tonic with tequila, falernum, lime and Indian tonic ($10) the El Macho with tequila, cucumber, cardamom syrup and fresh lime ($9) or the Two Hats Blues with rye whiskey, allspice dram and Benedictine ($12).

Quirky details

There's also a ton of quirk. Around every corner at Punch Bowl Social you'll find something new.

Take for instance the retro bobber art.

Or the custom-made socks at the bowling shoes depot (available for purchase, just in case you forgot your own).

There are also hiking fish.

And, if you happen to wander into the women's room, you'll find a group of friendly (UW) badgers.

Activities galore

PBS is a great spot to socialize with friends. But you can do that in hundreds of different ways. You can bowl.

You can play giant Jenga, darts, Bonzini foosball or wall scrabble. Or grab a few photos in the PBS photo booth.

You can also enjoy a few cocktails in the holiday lodge.

You can cheese it up in the Fromagerie, one of PBS's three private karaoke rooms.

You can grab a few friends and play a classic board game ... or spend a few hours tackling games like PAC-MAN in the '80s vintage arcade.

Any way you spin it, there's a good time waiting to be had. Cheers!

Want more?

Take a peek at our tour around the premises with CEO Robert Thompson.

Punch Bowl's hours (March 9-31) will  be Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.,  Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to midnight.

Beginning April 1, PBS will be open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to midnight. 

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.