The Mothership, 2301 S. Logan Ave., was never meant to be an ordinary bar. And by the by, the new Bay View venue is earning its keep as one of the most unique, laid back corner taverns in the area.
Among the things which set this new Bay View watering hole apart is its little private stock of amazing foodstuffs located in the cooler adjacent to the bar.
Known as The Oasis, the cooler is filled with a rotating assortment of delicious things made by chefs from a variety of local venues.
We stopped by early this week to find the cooler had been mostly decimated by the weekend crowd. But – even then – we found some pretty delicious things.
Among them was an Italian Club Sandwich from Chef Paul Zerkel of Goodkind, a toasted masterpiece of meat and condiment goodness (mortadella, salami, pepperoni, lettuce, onion, provolone).
And there’s more where that came from. Zerkel has a long list of menu items he’ll be shuffling over to the bar, including this Wisconsin-style braunschweiger sandwich and picnic-perfect cold fried chicken wings, complete with a packet of Cholula.
Foxfire is making fancy egg salad sandwiches (with celery, mayo, Dijon mustard, horseradish and wasabi, ), addictive togarashi popcorn and ham and cheese ‘wiches spiced up with ramp pesto. And we hear they occasionally bring by a limited quantity of hot fried chicken salad sandwiches ... but those are like the unicorns of their gas-station-inspired fare (if you see one, grab it before someone else does).
Meanwhile, the folks at Vanguard are making their own mortadella (natch) and putting it on buns with vinaigrette-laced lettuce and cheese. They’re also dishing up delicious pickled carrots (you just gotta try them).
You never quite know what you’ll find at the Oasis; new things are being added to the fridge all the time. In fact, this weekend, you could be the first to try Asian-inspired dishes like spicy vegan lo mein noodles or smashed cucumber salad from industry veteran Juneil Cabreza and his forthcoming Bad English food truck (more on that soon!).
However, most of the items are priced at $5-6, so you can be quite assured that you’ll easily be able to afford your fancy "gas station style" lunch or dinner, plus a couple of drinks.
That becomes even easier to do at happy hour (every day from 4 to 6 p.m.) when New Orleans classics like sazeracs, daiquiris and brandy crustas plus classic whiskey old fashioneds and Pimm’s Cups are just $5.
Meanwhile, beer is an affordable choice all day, every day. You won’t choose your brew by brand. Instead you can choose from flavor profiles including hoppy, malty, wheat, weird, cerveza, Belgian-y in 12-ounce pours for $4 (or $9 for a 32-ounce pitcher). Hamms and PBR are just $2 for 12 ounces or $7 a pitcher.
We see pitchers of beer (and sandwiches) on the patio in our futures.
On the cocktail side, regulars are likely to notice some pretty dramatic changes moving forward, primarily due to a new partnership with Kompost Kids.
The bar has also been what Owner Ricky Ramirez calls "secretly sustainable" for the past two months. He estimates they’ve been 99 percent waste-free, chiefly because there’s no dumpster on premise (only a recycling bin). "It wasn’t something we planned," he says, "But it’s worked to really make us conscious of what we’re throwing away. We’re trying not to use anything that’s not recycleable. We’ve even implemented things like using metal straws in any drinks that require them."
Of course, since they had nowhere to go with food waste, using fresh fruit and herbs to make and garnish cocktails posed a real problem, at least until this week when The Mothership formalized an agreement with Kompost Kids, who picks up and takes care of any waste from fruits and vegetables.
"And now that we can use real fruit, we can move forward with my actual vision for what the cocktail menu really looks like…" adds Ramirez.
In any case, you should get over to The Mothership to see what all the fuss is about.
New hours are Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 2 a.m.
Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.
Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.