Twisted Fisherman, 1200 W. Canal St., opened on Friday night, offering the public a chance to enjoy the still-in-progress beach bar crab shack nestled in the industrial Menomonee Valley.
Imagine relaxing in beach chairs atop a bed of sand or at a picnic table on a planked patio, in front of a rippling river, with the car-filled freeway in the distance. This is the beauty of Twisted Fisherman: it's a little bit country and a little bit rock 'n' roll.
"We're a coastal crab shack," says owner Russ Davis. "Milwaukee didn't have a crab shack, and it's a perfect fit on the river."
Friday's menu was a sampling of what's to come. It featured appetizers like chilled smoke trout dip and "slap yo face" shrimp cocktail, along with a Bloody Mary Salad and a strawberry daiquiri salad. Dinner options included snow crab, baby back ribs and a surf & turf.
Davis, who also owns the Rio West Cantina, Hubbard Park Lodge restaurant, Palm Gardens inside the Lakefront Brewery and Riverwalk Boat Tours, says the expanded menu, which will be introduced next week, will include a variety of crab, fresh fish, a T-bone, more salad options and many more appetizers. Gluten-free and vegan items will also be available.
Twisted Fisherman is located inside a former boat storage building owned by Andy Mueller, who was best known, possibly, for walking his horse, Picasso, along Canal Street. Mueller retired and sold the property to Davis on April 15. He moved out on June 15, so the renovation of the space happened rather quickly.
"You should have seen the space three months ago," says Davis. "There were 30 boats out here."
The results of the renovations are top notch. The aforementioned blending of the natural and the urban work well. Davis' design is simple: lots of wood, rope, sand and water. Plus, there's a massive bar in the middle of the patio – and extends into the indoor dining area – with bright red stools around it.
The space has some nice accents, like a large crab sculpture in front of the building, made by local artist Mark Winter, and numerous hand-painted signs by Beth Bojarski that read "Hey you, eat some fish" and a piratey "All for rum and rum for all."
Twisted Fisherman seats 220 people outdoors and about 60 indoors. Davis says he is not sure if the establishment will remain open in the winter at this point.
Davis says he plans to have live entertainment on the weekends, and possibly during the week. A boat embedded in the ground near the patio will soon be renovated and offer a private, all-inclusive dining experience.
It's hard not to compare Twisted Fisherman to Barnacle Bud's. That's OK with Davis, who speaks highly of Bud's owner Gene McKiernan.
"We're not Barnacle Bud's. And we're not Horny Goat Hideaway. I really love what both of those places offer, but we're doing something different. We're a crab shack," says Davis.
Twisted Fisherman opens everyday at 11:30 a.m. but lunch service will start at the end of next week.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.