Scouting Sprecher's Pub happy hour
For the seventh straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com, presented by the restaurants of Potawatomi. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2013."
Last week, Molly Snyder was on hand on opening day to check out Milwaukee's first Sprecher's Pub, located on the main square at Bayshore Town Center, just a hop, skip and jump from Sprecher Brewery, which is also located in Glendale.
I heard the large new pub, located in the space that was formerly home to Bravo! Cucina, has some happy hour specials, so I took that as an opportunity to see the place for myself.
Interestingly, the interior hasn't changed much. Sure, there's some breweriana in there now, but the layout, seating and walls don't seem much, if at all, different. Which is fine, because it works. It's casual but nice and warm.
On the far left is the bar, which may have changed a bit, I can't recall ever visiting the bar at Bravo!, though I did dine on the patio and in the dining room at least once. There is a long bar stretching across the east wall and opposite there are high-top tables.
My server was friendly and let me know that tap beers are $3 (there are wine and cocktail specials, too) and that full-size appetizers are $6 each from 3 until 7 p.m. weekdays.
I made the mistake of ordering off what I thought were indicators of what was available, but turned out simply to be decorative posters featuring Sprecher beers. The pub was out of Oktoberfest, my first choice, and doesn't yet carry Winter Brew – even if it already feels like late November outside! – and so I tried a Pipers Scotch Ale, which arrived quickly and super chilled.
Among the appetizers on the menu are cheese curds, nachos, deep-fried stuffed mushrooms, reuben bites, Thai mussels, blackened chicken and veggie quesadillas, chicken wings and a trio of dips (spicy crab, hummus, and creamy spinach and artichoke) served with tortilla chips, hot soft pretzels and Thai lettuce wraps.
The appetizers range in price from $7 to $12 but during happy hour are $6 each for full portions.
I tried the reuben bites and the wings.
The former were eight balls of corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese breaded and deep fried and served with cups of thousand island dressing and horseradish sauce. The bits were lighter than you'd expect and were fried at just the right temperature so they weren't a bit greasy.
The wings appetizer is a pound of bone-in wings and drumsticks in a house buffalo sauce served with bleu cheese on the side. The sauce was lightly applied, so the wings weren't too messy to eat, and had a touch of spice, but not much. They were meaty, but a bit dry. The wings were OK – not bad, but they didn't have me raving.
The restaurant was doing a decent, though not bustling service while I was there from about 5:15 until a bit after 6 p.m. on a Wednesday night. But it was early, it was a weeknight and the early chill in the air meant Bayshore itself wasn't doing a brisk business last night.
With a decent menu and a hometown connection in Glendale, this fourth Sprecher's location – others are in Madison, the Dells and Lake Geneva – seems a good fit for the mall. It's happy hour specials make it a relatively inexpensive light dinner or after-work drink stop, too.
Just do yourself a favor and ignore the "for your convenience" gratuity calculation at the bottom of your check. On my $16.04 ticket, the restaurant said a 15% percent tip would be $3.68 (which is actually 23%) and a 20% gratuity would be $4.91, which is actually slightly above 30%.
(NOTE: Thank you to the alert talkbacker who noted that the tip calculation is based on the price of the dishes before the happy hour discount. Surely, that was the case (though, like me, no one I talked to about it later had guessed that was the case). A quick web search showed that I was not the first to misunderstand this, and that a debate rages on whether one ought to tip on the actual bill or the theoretical bill. Debate aside, I do wish I'd left another buck or so because I'm inclined to think one tips on the regular price. Apologies to my server.)
The gratuity was probably calculated on the full price of the items, not the happy hour price. It's generally a good idea to tip based on the full meal value.
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