She said/she said is a series of rapid reviews written by the intrepid duo, Lori Fredrich (the foodie) and Carolynn Buser (the socialite). Tune in weekly for our latest meanderings on hot spots around town.
Destination: Harbor House
Reason for visiting: Happy Hour. Takes place Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m.
Specials: $4 draft beers; $6 specialty cocktails; $5 house Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet, sparkling wine; food specials for $10 or less
Regular Pricing: $6-8 taps, $8-12 cocktails; $6-8 wine pours
Pro Tip: Head over to the patio on Sundays and Mondays for live music from 4 to 7 p.m.
Mood: Harbor house presents a quasi-casual atmosphere with white tablecloth polish and a bustling atmosphere. The space is upscale enough for business gatherings, but not so fussy that you can't hang out on the patio with friends on a casual weeknight. The large patio offers table seating with gorgeous views of the city, Calatrava and Lake Michigan.
Go here when:
Lori: I'm a sucker for the water, so this is the spot where I'll go when I need a lake breeze on my face and a bit of an escape from the noise and craziness of the city. I've also become a huge oyster lover, so if you say "fresh oysters," my immediate response is generally "where?" Harbor House happens to be a spot that does the oyster game right (meaning: oysters are fresh, expertly-shucked and there is a good variety from which to choose).
Carolynn: One of the best views in town awaits at the happiest hour of the day at Harbor House. Our beautiful lake, skyline and the Milwaukee Art Museum are the perfect backdrop for Harbor House's great fare. I'll be back for oysters, oysters and more oysters. Plus the cocktails!
Go back for:
Lori: As summer cocktails go, the Safe Harbor is the bomb as far as I'm concerned. Made with vodka, citrus, blueberry rooibos tea and lemonade, it was refreshing and bright with plenty of blueberry lemon flavor. But, it also wasn't a sugar bomb (too sweet drinks are not cool in my book). Being a seafood fan, I'd also go back anytime for the happy hour food specials which include selections like fresh oysters and clams ($0.89/each), peel and eat shrimp ($8.95), ceviche ($8.95), spicy shrimp skewers ($9.95), mussels or clams in white wine sauce ($7.95/$6.95) and fried smelt with fries ($7.95). Although you don't get your pick of the menu insofar as oysters are concerned, they always have a great selection for happy hour; we shared a couple dozen New Jersey oysters that were plump and fresh with a bit of minerality on the finish. The ceviche was also super fresh and perfectly seasoned with citrus and salt.
Carolynn: Harbor House delivers up fresh, expertly prepared seafood, inventive cocktails, and impeccable service. During happy hour, their cocktails (and delicious sangria!) go for $6, wine for $5, and taps for $4 and oysters and clams for $.89 each. The bar menu has a great selection of seafood favorites and I've never been disappointed. The oyster selection is robust and everything always seems fresh and off the boat -- though the happy hour is usually one type daily. I really want to get back and try the brunch! I've heard about the impressive build-your-own-bloody-mary bar and craft-your-own-mimosa station – what a formula for an ideal brunch outing!
Lori: I've little choice but to give them an enthusiastic two thumbs up. There's atmosphere, great food (oysters!) and delicious cocktails. The beer selection is modest, but well-curated. And the patio always manages to make me feel like I'm on vacation. The wind was chilly the night we visited, so we started on the patio, but moved inside for the last hour of our stay; but, even that was enjoyable as we were able to experience the bustle at the bar while enjoying the same great view from indoors. We slurped on two cocktails each, along with a dozen oysters, parmesan fries and ceviche, and our bill came to just under $55. Valet parking was $6, so all-told our night was just over $60, but in this case, I feel as if I got exactly what I paid for – quality fresh seafood, great drinks and a spectacular view.
Carolynn: You really can't go wrong with happy hour at Harbor House. Next time I'll enjoy more of the house-made sangria as well as more of the cocktails. Two thumbs up all the way.
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.