For the ninth straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee, presented by the restaurants of Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, dining guides, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, aswell as voting for your "Best of Dining 2015."
2659 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
The Vanguard is a fun bar featuring creatively executed sausages and sides along with solid craft cocktails, an impressive beer list and a nice collection of well curated bourbon, whiskey and scotch. Open for lunch, dinner and late-night eats seven days a week (along with brunch on Sundays), there’s nary a time you won’t be able to get your fix. Be aware that, although food is delivered to your table, you’ll have to go up to the counter to order. Fortunately, friendly staff will guide you if you’re a first-timer to the restaurant and find yourself confused in any fashion.
Type of food: Sausages and sides.
Prices: Sausages run $4-11, with appetizers for $3-8.
Vegetarian friendly? Yes; and vegan-friendly, too. Vegan (seitan-based) sausages available as a substitute for any meaty sausage; vegetarian poutine and sides like burnt ginger tofu are also available.
Hours: Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Parking: A reasonable amount of street parking on KK and in the surrounding residential area.
Vibe/dress: Casual, come as you are vibe. Decor is part fast-casual restaurant, part corner bar with flat screen TV’s broadcasting amusing retro television shows and movies. Art on the walls pays homage to old school wrestlers, and signage sports tongue-in-cheek messaging that’s sure to make you smile.
Hits: Even the wildest of sausage flavors seems to be delicious. So, if you’re feeling adventurous, go for the styled sausages which include options like the Salazar with sweet paprika sausage, pineapple, basil, BBQ sauce, cheddar smear and jalapenos ($8).
Thee DVR (named for Chef Dan Van Rite at Hinterland) is simple, but delicious with its elk and mustard sausage and topping of cottage cheese and smoked herbs ($11).
The cheese curds are decent, but you should really order the mashed potato balls, which come crisp fried and loaded with Cheez Whiz, sour cream, bacon bits and chives. They’re messy, but filled with crisp potato goodness.
Likewise, the poutine is sheer comfort food served up generously smothered with house-made gravy. The maple braised duck with veal and onion gravy and fried cheese curds is good; but the vegan option is tasty too. Redolent with roasted garlic, mushroom gravy, fried basil and mornay sauce, you almost won't miss the fried cheese curds (though you can ask for them to be added, if you like).
Misses: Multiple visits have resulted in occasional inconsistencies, particularly in the execution of side dishes. We’ve run into slightly soggy mashed potato balls and lukewarm poutine.
Insider tips: Stop in on Mondays, starting at 5 p.m., to enjoy deep fried pork belly shanks with fries and dipping sauces.
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.