By Maureen Post Special to Published Apr 16, 2009 at 2:35 PM

Bear with us while we explain the concept for this series of articles: we take two seemingly unrelated Milwaukee icons, then pit them against each other in 10 categories. In each category, we assign points, one through 10, then add them up and name the winner.

No, it's not scientific, but yes, it's fun. In the past, we compared the Pabst Theater vs. Pabst Beer, the Marcus Amphitheater vs. the Big Bang and even the "The Nutcracker" and Buddy Squirrel.

For this edition, we get ready for baseball season by comparing Milwaukee's long lived tradition of Brewers tailgating to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in town, Bartolotta's signature property, Bacchus. 

And ... fight!


Brewers tailgating, 8
Sure, you can find high-end items on the lot with a grill grate full of ahi tuna skewers or 10-oz. filets, but accepted pre-game staples like brats, beer and chips aren't going to break the bank. You can buy Usinger's brats for about $3.99 per pound and a 12-pack of Miller High Life for around $10. Throw in the $8 cost of parking and you can round out a full meal for about $10 a person.

Bacchus, 3
If you're dining at Bacchus, it's unlikely you're expecting to grab a bite on the cheap. Blurring fine dining with a full fledged cultural experience, there's quite a lot that goes into each and every Bacchus meal. Starting with drinks, appetizers, salads and then moving on to entrees, desserts and coffee, the bill adds up at a quick and pricey pace. Appetizers run about $8-$10 and entrees follow at $25-$40 apiece and a drink at the bar runs anywhere from $6-$20. On average, expect to throw down about $75 a person for the full five-course ordeal.

Value to the city:

Brewers tailgating, 8

The issue of tailgating was one of several top level concerns influencing decisions on the location of the new Miller Park Stadium. From the first to the last game of the season, thousands of cars line up hours before the first pitch to grill out and drink up.

Bacchus, 7
From fine dining to high-profile chefs, the Bartolottas continue to up the ante for what passes as a strong, local business in this town. As one of their flagship restaurants, Bacchus enforces the desire to maintain thriving, locally-owned businesses.


Brewers tailgating, 9
It's impossible to put an exact number on how many fans tailgate each season but it's fair to say about half in attendance each and every game set up shop at their car before the big game. With recent annual Miller Park attendance averaging 2.5 million, that's a hefty population grilling burgers and brats in the tailgating tradition.

Bacchus, 6
The Bartolotta franchise of restaurants has become synonymous with fine dining in Milwaukee both locally and throughout the nation. Bacchus is one of four well known Milwaukee establishments not to mention a well-known Bartolotta catering service and Boerner Botanical Garden's Friday fish fry.

National name recognition:

Brewers tailgating, 7

Dozens of national sports commentators and news articles have taken a dedicated and inquisitive look at tailgating in Milwaukee, primarily a Wisconsin tradition. In 2006, Major League Baseball said, "There's something different, something unique about tailgating in Milwaukee. It's not a fad. It's not a trend. It's a tradition that holds as a rite of passage."

Bacchus, 3
Bartolotta's Bacchus is probably known among chefs and foodies in the culinary world but it's doubtful that the general population outside the Wisconsin area is as clued in about this Milwaukee institution. However, in 2008, Chef Adam Siegel was awarded the prestigious James Beard award as the "Best Chef in the Midwest."


Brewers tailgating, 3
There isn't necessarily a precise design shaping the look of tailgating at Miller Park. Grills, lawn chairs, tables and food are all part of the mix and in the last couple years, games like beer pong and "bags" have added an active twist. 

Bacchus, 9
Bartolotta didn't skimp on elegant design and ambiance when they drew up plans for the Bacchus restaurant. Because it's located in the Cudahy Towers on Prospect Avenue, diners gaze out over Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee Art Museum while seated in a classic set up. Sleek leather banquettes, low-level lighting and soft white linens create classy fine dining.


Brewers tailgating, 6
The Milwaukee Brewers can't take credit for the local tradition of tailgating per se, but outside Wisconsin such extensive tailgating operations are few and far between. 

Bacchus, 7
Yes, Bacchus is a great local restaurant with an individualized take on the fine culinary world but as a concept, it can be added to a list of thousands of steak and seafood restaurants around the world. 

Economic value:

Brewers tailgating, 3
The city isn't earning much from the $8 parking fee collected as you enter tailgating lots. Outside of that small fee, tailgating doesn't employ anyone other than a friend at the grill and he certainly isn't getting paid. 

Bacchus, 7
There's inherent value in pouring your paycheck back into the local economy and it doesn't get much more local than Bartolotta's restaurants. Owners Joe and Paul Bartolotta sponsor, develop and inspire dozens of annual events throughout Milwaukee. There's local value for you.

Convenience factor:

Brewers tailgating, 6
With a season spanning at least six months with more than 80 home games, there's no reason anyone can't make it to the ballpark for a brat and beer this season. However, getting a ticket is just half the battle. Traffic jams plague I-94, Bluemound Road and Miller Park Way before and after every game killing any concept of "convenient." Yes, you can take the bus, but you can't tailgate on public transportation.

Bacchus, 8
Bacchus has just one Milwaukee location but its position just off I-94 and Lincoln Memorial Drive make it a convenient trip for diners coming from any side of the city. Street parking plus the option of valet make this a smooth and effortless experience.


Brewers tailgating, 8
The construction of County Stadium in 1953 brought a Major League Baseball team to Milwaukee and from there the tradition of tailgating took hold. Tailgaters today insist they've been grilling brats up and pouring beers back for at least the last 50 years.

Bacchus, 3
Just a baby on the city's historical timeline, Bacchus' history is much more impressive in the tumultuous and often short lived world of the restaurant industry. The restaurant opened in 2004 and has five strong years under its belt.

Quality of product:

Brewers tailgating, 10

The smell of the grill, sizzling brats plus cold local brew-a good tailgating meal never lets you down.

Bacchus, 10
On the radar of restaurateurs and foodies alike, Bacchus continuously ranks as one of the top restaurants in the city.

Brewers tailgating, 68
Bacchus, 63

Winner: Brewers tailgating

Maureen Post Special to staff writer Maureen Post grew up in Wauwatosa. A lover of international and urban culture, Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

After living on the east side of Madison for several years, Maureen returned to Milwaukee in 2006.

After a brief stint of travel, Maureen joined as the city’s oldest intern and has been hooked ever since. Combining her three key infatuations, Milwaukee’s great music, incredible food and inspiring art (and yes, in that order), Maureen’s job just about fits her perfectly.

Residing in Bay View, Maureen vehemently believes the city can become fresh and new with a simple move across town.