Milwaukee is the ideal place for anyone who enjoys living the changes of season, but as we well know, our warm weather can be fickle. So, Mike Eitel stumbled onto a gold mine when he created Milwaukee's first and largest outdoor heated patio at Trocadero, 1758 N. Water St.
Styled after a European café and tabac stocked with sundries and notions, Trocadero -- which opened in 2001 -- features a bit of something for everyone, including sandwiches, cheese plates, patés and a respectable wine selection, which make it easy to live the good life (vivre bien) even on a budget.
Food at Trocadero is consistent, but not out of the ordinary, and service is known to be slow. However, if you know you are going there to enjoy the fantastic setting, and you don't take issue with waiting a bit for your food, you will not be disappointed. Some of the best time spent at Trocadero is passed enjoying their unique white sangria or one of their trademark brunch Bloody Marys on the patio while you wait.
Trocadero features an assemble your own cheese and pate board and diners make their selections from artisan-made cheeses and pates to create a plate to fit their tastes. Offerings include everything from Wisconsin cheddar to French triple creams and armagnac (a distilled French brandy) infused and country pates, and prices range from $6 to $9 per selection.
On a recent series of visits, we tried the Mr. Crock ($8), a toasted ham and gruyere sandwich with tomatoes and béchamel (a basic French white sauce of flour, butter, scalded milk and seasonings), and the herb steak and frites ($12). The Mr. Crock was just an average ham and cheese sandwich, but the herb steak rated good, with a grilled portabella mushroom complementing the marinated steak with melted brie.
The Mediterranean chicken salad ($11) was also good, with a fresh, complimentary combination of grilled chicken in a sun dried tomato dressing with artichokes, olives, and feta cheese. The only real bump we found on the menu came with the calamari ($9), which was fried to a spongy texture and served with an overbearing lemon feta dipping sauce.
Trocadero is literally one of the few area restaurants that will feed you from morning to night. Brunch at Trocadero is a popular Milwaukee pastime; get there early and with time to spare. Brunch features a Bloody Mary for every taste, (our favorite, the Frenchie, has a kick of Dijon mustard!) and eggs, vegetarian options and other culinary treats to start your Saturday or Sunday off with a bang, or perhaps just start the healing process from your evening out at the Red Light club -- upstairs -- the night before.
Trocadero also serves a late night menu until midnight. Late night munchies can be deftly sated with a selection of tapas that feature small plates of seafood, mushrooms and crostini based dishes, and some wonders including avocado or mango mini tacos ($5.50, $6.50).
Trocadero is open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Friday 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-2 a.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Private party space and catering are available, and Trocadero has a good vegetarian selection. Trocadero's Web site is ztrocadero.com. Their phone number is (414) 272-0205.
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.