First impressions matter, especially when it comes to dining. So, here's a first-hand look at one of the newest restaurants on the block, through the eyes of an average restaurant-goer.
Take a stroll down South 2nd Street in Walker's Point these days and you'll see a hearty collection of great restaurants springing up on either side of the street, from long-time staples like Shakers and Crazy Water to more recent additions like INdustri Cafe, Ginger and Soup Brothers. One of the newest kids on the block is The Noble, located just south of Pierce Street.
I first became aware of the folks behind The Noble last spring at the WMSE Rockabilly Chili cook-off. They easily impressed hungry attendees with a creatively conceived chili made from a compilation of lamb, beef, chicken and pork cooked in bacon and topped off with Old English Malt Liquor. In an effort that showcased both ingenuity and quirky charm, the chili was accompanied by a cumin-corn cookie and ... a free mustache.
Although diners shouldn't expect a free mustache with dinner, it's the quintessential charm of The Noble that makes it a place worth checking out. The dining room in this cozy spot seats approximately 20, with another nine seats available along the bar.
Antiques and reclaimed materials like vintage records, musical instruments and photos decorate the walls, giving The Noble an effortlessly "old timey" feel. Highlights include an old typewriter perched on a desk in one corner of the restaurant and a plethora of used books lining a built-in shelf just beneath the counter at the restaurant's bar.
But, it's the finer details that really impress. Brown paper-covered tables hold bud vases with fresh flowers. Locally roasted Valentine Coffee is served with rustic sugar cubes and a vintage liquor glass filled with cream. And the hand-printed menus feature whimsical sketches and clever designs like a pull-out library check-out card attached to the cocktail menu, which served as a conduit for the current list of affordable wine specials (running from $3-$7 per glass).
Although not many restaurants are open on Mondays, The Noble caters to the service industry crowd by offering brunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eager to see how business was on their second Monday in business, we traipsed over to The Noble around 1:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon.
The bar was filled with patrons, so the hostess offered us a seat in the dining room. Our coffee arrived lickety split, and we sipped it as we perused the inventive cocktail menu. Brunch drinks include the classic Mimosa; the Pink Drink, with vodka, grapefruit liquor and sparkling wine; The Bee's Knees, featuring Honey Jack Daniels, chamomile simple syrup and Irish cream; and the Afternoon Tea, with cucumber, vodka and chamomile paired with bloody Mary mix.
My brunch partner opted for the Beet Box ($7), a refreshingly red concoction made with gin, triple sec and the fresh juice of beets, pears, carrots and apples. I tried out the not-so-classic Bloody Barrio ($7), a deliciously smoky twist on the bloody Mary incorporating tequila, mescal and jalapeno with house-made bloody Mary mix.
After inspecting the small-but-inclusive brunch menu, I knew I would order the classic Biscuits and Gravy ($7.50) – two herbed biscuits served with a slightly spicy sausage gravy, sauteed spinach and a side of cheesy shredded potatoes, The Noble's apparent answer to the classic hashbrown.
My dining partner opted for something a bit more adventurous, the Steak Faux Benedict ($10) – slices of house-baked bread topped with a cooked-to-order portion of beef tenderloin and two eggs smothered in herbed brie sauce with a side of cheesy potato hash. Both of our entrees were served hot, fresh and well seasoned. Portions were reasonable, and the food was so good we both found ourselves cleaning our plates down to the very last crumb.
Other items on the menu, which changes weekly, included The Sweet and Savory ($5) – a grilled pear served atop cream cheese butter cake with port reduction and a side of bacon; Egg in a Nest ($3) – white toast with an egg nestled in the center, served with cheesy hash; The Classics ($5) – two eggs, bacon or sausage, cheesy hash and house-baked country toast; a Veggie Burrito ($7) with two eggs, jalapenos, cheddar and veggie chili; and two features – an Omelet ($6) with portabella, spinach and chevre with cheesy hash; and a Breakfast Flatbread ($10) with slow-roasted pulled BBQ pork butt, jalapeno, onion and pepperjack cheese.
Service was prompt and friendly, enhanced by touches like a complimentary plate of warm buttered banana zucchini bread and fastidious attention to the level of our coffee cups. Business was steady, keeping the bar packed and the dining room pleasantly full with service professionals and curious lunch-goers. We found ourselves content to linger, sipping coffee and enjoying the comfortable atmosphere, even as the afternoon wore on.
We'll be eager to return to The Noble to check out the small but ever-changing dinner menu, which is reputed to contain tasty seasonal delights and plenty of options for both vegetarians and carnivores alike. And we'll be certain to take advantage of a few of the great (and affordable) wine and beer options, as well as sampling an inventive cocktail, like the Pumpkin Latte-Tini, the Au-Pear, the Sage Gibson and the PepperMintMocha.
Kitchen hours at The Noble are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday for brunch and 5 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Saturday for dinner, with the bar open until 2 a.m.
Stay tuned for an OnMilwaukee.com follow-up visit early next year.
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.