When Brookfield Square Mall started undergoing its facelift, it was almost as if chain restaurants from every corner of the United States began to flock to the area. Gone is the longstanding Houlihan's that fed the shoppers for so many years, and in itstead we now find numerous restaurants including Fleming's Steakhouse, Bravo! Cucina Italiana, and Stir Crazy.
With locations in nine states, predominantly in the Midwest, Stir Crazy, 15795 W. Bluemound Rd., offers an open air kitchen concept in a vast and contemporary dining area. The menu provides a mixture of just about every Asian influence. Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese and even Japanese inspired entrees and appetizers make an appearance on Stir Crazy's extensive menu, which features over 50 different entrées.
Nothing here is overly inventive. Diners will find staples such as spring rolls, pad Thai, sesame chicken and the like, but given the large scale menu, dishes are surprisingly well-executed and have a great air of freshness about them.
Stir Crazy definitely has that chain look and feel but it is actually a pretty pleasant dining experience. Service on recent visits was good, and our servers managed to share some of their personalities as well, making us feel like we were in a friendly and welcoming environment.
Lettuce wraps ($7.50) were a decent, but not overly flavorful appetizer. Small chicken chunks were mixed in with pieces of vegetables and served with crisp cup lettuce leafs. Mongolian Beef ($13.75) offered thin slices of tender beef served with crispy glass noodles in a sweet soy ginger sauce. Some of the noodles soaked up the sauce, giving them a soft texture, which when interspersed with their crispy counterparts, made for an interesting mouth feel and great flavors.
Cashew chicken ($12.75) also held its own. Like the other dishes at Stir Crazy, there was nothing brazen or bold about this dish, but it was a decent version of cashew chicken, with a generous serving of cashews.
Stir Crazy seems to be trying to make healthier dining a priority and I was pleased to see that main dishes are served with a choice of white or brown rice, and they offer a "crazy features" section of their menu for only $8.88, including a "right-sized" portion of some menu favorites like sweet and spicy chicken, teriyaki chicken, a smaller order of the Mongolian beef and five other options that come with a complimentary vegetable spring roll. Again, the flavors of the spring roll didn't pop, but it still was an at least average appetizer, and is available in regular portion size for $5.50.
Our most recent visit was interesting in that my younger dining companion was very disappointed to see that with all the options on the menu, there was no pepper steak dish. Our server assured us that the kitchen would somehow accommodate his special request, even though green bell peppers are not a regular produce item at Stir Crazy.
And so, they created a custom dish just for him with beef and strips of red and yellow bell peppers with green onions in a sweet brown sauce. Needless to say, we were very pleased, and this gesture will go a long way the next time we are in the Brookfield area and need to stop for a quick bite to eat.
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 OnMilwaukee.com.