By Amy L. Schubert Food Writer Published May 22, 2006 at 5:42 AM Photography: Eron Laber

The initial entrance of the Weissgerber's newest restaurant addition, Rip Tide Seafood Bar and Grill, 649 E. Erie St., shows that this family is putting a new spin on its restaurant concepts under the helm of Hans Weissgerber III.

The atmosphere here is gregarious and almost a little chaotic, which gives a true crab shack vibe; and Rip Tide is the ideal venue to be franchised, which is likely the thought process the owners had in mind when designing logo-ed glassware, staff t-shirts, and the menu, which features some zingers like "Gilligan's Grouper Bites."

Rip Tide is the quintessential seafood house without pomp and circumstance, and the location at the south end of the Summerfest grounds (just past the Marcus Amphitheater) and on the Milwaukee River, will make it a Third Ward hot spot, especially in the warmer months, when patrons can order 50-cent crab claws and have cocktails on the patio.

Several recent visits to Rip Tide yielded very, very good results, but be forewarned, it is extremely loud inside Rip Tide, and they do a screaming business; expect to wait for a dining table sometimes as long as two hours during busy weeknights and weekends. The bar scene here, too, is far from serene, but it is guaranteed to be a lot of fun.

As the old saying goes, when in Rome ... do as the Romans do, and that rule applies at Rip Tide; when in a crab shack, order seafood. They do crab here better than anywhere else in Milwaukee, and in addition to basic snow, they feature both Dungeness and blue crab, varieties that are sometimes hard to find around town; Dungeness in particular is predominantly found in eateries on the West Coast.

We did find some unfortunate stumbling blocks in the non-seafood items on the menu at Rip Tide which would make us think twice about ordering more landlocked type dishes (on one occasion, we were served eggs benedict -- $13 -- minus the Canadian bacon and hollandaise!), but the crustacean selections were outstanding.

Captain Nemo's catch ($7.50) featured lightly fried calamari, which were delightfully tender and well cooked. The Commander's Platter ($35) was a healthy compilation of fresh coconut shrimp, a tender grilled 6 oz filet, and a stuffed blue crab, which was piled high with a savory blend of crab, shrimp, and a hint of cream and Parmesan cheese.

The serving sizes are so generous here that the large side of red potatoes and the 1/3 corncob that accompanied this plate were almost unnecessary. The whole Dungeness crab platter ($33) featured the same two sides and a large Dungeness beauty, perfectly steamed and absolutely heaven for anyone who truly appreciates the art and labor of eating a whole crab.

Key Lime Pie ($7.50) was one of the best versions I have had, with a creamy lime-kissed filling and just a swirl of whipped cream to balance the tartness of the pie.

Rip Tide also features a good, basic brunch, with large omelets and a build your own Bloody Mary bar with a complementary large shrimp that has been boiled in fish stock, giving it a more robust flavor that will start your day off right. We found brunch on Sundays to be our favorite time at Rip Tide since the atmosphere is a bit more relaxed and less hectic then in the evenings.

However, when the warm Milwaukee sun starts shining on the patio, Rip Tide's appeal will increase tenfold at the prospect of sitting riverside to enjoy an unpretentious seafood dinner that would make any fisherman proud.

Rip Tide is open Sunday through Saturday 11 a.m.-2:30 a.m. The phone number is (414) 271-8433 and the Web site is

Amy L. Schubert is a 15-year veteran of the hospitality industry and has worked in every aspect of bar and restaurant operations. A graduate of Marquette University (B.A.-Writing Intensive English, 1997) and UW-Milwaukee (M.A.-Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Writing, 2001), Amy still occasionally moonlights as a guest bartender and she mixes a mean martini.

The restaurant business seems to be in Amy’s blood, and she prides herself in researching and experimenting with culinary combinations and cooking techniques in her own kitchen as well as in friends’ restaurants. Both she and her husband, Scott, are avid cooks and “wine heads,” and love to entertain friends, family and neighbors as frequently as possible.

Amy and Scott live with their boys, Alex and Nick, in Bay View, where they are all very active in the community. Amy finds great pleasure in sharing her knowledge and passions for food and writing in her contributions to