There's still time to experience Sail Loft patio
Labor Day has signaled a sea change in Milwaukee weather, with cooler mornings and nights, but Athena and Bacchus willing, there will be more opportunities to enjoy al fresco dining in Brew City before winter descends.
Look at the photo above to see why I'm about to sing the praises of the patio at Milwaukee Sail Loft, located along the confluence of the rivers and the lake, in the shadow of the Hoan Bridge at 649 E. Erie St.
We visited in mid-September, when it was cool enough to wear a light jacket, but the Sail Loft patio, with its plexiglass protection keeping the wind at bay, was perfectly comfortable for a couple drinks and dinner, even as the sun set.
The space is a sprawling one, with a large bar and indoor dining area, augmented by a patio that wraps around the south and west sides of the building, running along the water. Sail Loft is open year-'round.
Boats pulled up and disgorged hungry passengers, a party was in full swing on the south patio and charter boats went back and forth past the restaurant, their passengers often sharing a far-off salute with Sail Loft diners.
Though Sail Loft can seem a bit off the beaten path – you've got to go looking for it, as you won't likely stumble upon it unless you're looking to park for a lakefront festival – when it's rocking, it feels like the heart of the city.
The food at Sail Loft was good and though our server was a bit stone-faced, he performed just fine, taking our orders promptly and returning with drinks and dishes in due time.
We started with a basket of sweet potato fries for an appetizer and the thin-cut fries arrived hot and crisp in no time at all.
My companion ordered the pecan crusted scallops, which arrived on a bed of pasta tossed with steamed spinach and pancetta cubes in a garlicky cream sauce. The scallops were tender, with a nice crunch from the pecan crust, but they weren't especially large and there were just two atop a really, really copious heaping of pasta.
It was a satisfying entree though one that we felt was a little overpriced at $22.
For just slightly more than half that, I got the grilled fish street tacos ($13). Three tacos were filled with perfectly grilled mahi mahi, sliced cabbage, pico de gallo and aioli. Though the small side of cajun rice didn't pack much flavor, the tacos sure did.
The menu at Sail Loft is large, with more than a dozen small plates, nearly as many entrees, eight salad options, soups, sandwiches, burgers and a la carte sides like roasted shallot mashed potatoes, pancetta brussels sprouts and fresh fruit.
The menu leans heavily toward seafood, as you'd expect, but there are some chicken and beef and other options, too.
We enjoyed our meal at Sail Loft, but as in real estate, the three key words at Sail Loft are location, location, location (or you could substitute patio, patio, patio).
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