Happy Pi(e) Day! In honor of this auspicious day, we are revisiting one of our favorite places for pie, Honeypie (2643 S Kinnickinnic Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207) in Milwaukee. Our two favorite things about Honeypie are 1. the PIE and 2. the fact that there is something for everyone. The restaurant is decorated with a classic Wisconsin Northwoods theme, with clapboard walls, reclaimed wooded booths, maps and vintage Wisconsin-y ephemera.
Most importantly, there is a dessert case in the back with a variety of pies, biscuits, sweet breads and cupcakes. Over the years, we have sampled a number of Honeypie’s pies, and we have never been let down. Some of our favorites include the black bottom banana cream pie (below), blueberry (below), Milwaukee mud pie, strawberry rhubarb and ginger chai cream. You can order a whole pie in advance ($29 or $32) or by the slice ($6). You can also ship miniature Honeypie pies anywhere in the nation through their Piegram service. To take the pie love to another level, they even host pie-making classes.
Black bottom banana cream pie and blueberry pie.
There is also a large food menu, with Midwestern classics like mac and cheese ($14), grilled cheese with tomato soup ($11), a classic Friday Fish Fry ($16) and – a treat unique to the upper Midwest – the Cornish pasty ($10). There is also more elevated fare like scallop ceviche ($15) and confit chicken ($24). Honeypie is an all-day restaurant and you can also get brunch or a drink off of their full menu of drinks and local beers. So whether you are in the mood for pie, a Bloody Mary or mac and cheese, you will find just what you want at Honeypie.
We definitely appreciate the boom in casual but high-quality farm to table restaurants in the Midwest. We heard nothing but praise for one of these restaurants, Odd Duck (2352 S Kinnickinnic Ave, Milwaukee, WI), so we were incredibly excited to try it. Inside Odd Duck is a cool space, with exposed brick and pottery on the walls, buzzing, casual and friendly. The menu at Odd Duck is both locally sourced and globally inspired – a combination of two of our favorite restaurant concepts.
You can find dishes spanning every continent, divided into two halves of small plate dishes: vegetarian and meat. When we visited there were 12 dishes in each half, and our server assured us that the selection changed daily. We decided to go for our server’s suggestion of at least 2 dishes apiece, and we tacked on one to share (though all of the dishes are meant to share….and we did end up sharing all of them). We had a hard time deciding what we wanted, but tried to do a sampling of both the veg and meat options. Along with the list of small plates you can also order individual portions of cheese and charcuterie including both local (Smoking Goose Meatery, Hook’s Cheddar) and global selections (Jamon Iberico).
- Brazilian cheese bread with watercress and Kolrahbi, yogurt with spinach puree.($8) This was the first dish out of the gate. Being purveyors of Pão de Queijo, I think we were expecting too much with this one. This was a chewy, slightly tangy bread roll, but did not taste like a Pão de Queijo at all and the texture was a bit off. However, had we not had actual PDQ from Brazil as a cultural reference, we probably would have liked it much more.
- Vietnamese fried trout topped with an herb salad, over glass noodles with a delicious peanut lime and chili sauce ($10) This was a real standout dish. The fried trout was delicate, and not greasy at all. It also contained one of our favorite food combinations: peanuts and lime, so how can you go too wrong?The sauce was strong and aromatic, without being overpowering, and there was a little kick.
- Charred octopus with black beans and rice cake, oyster mushrooms and scallions ($10) M really liked this one, and even for those among us who are not big fans are octopus, this was a standout dish. The octopus was tender and crispy – not chewy at all.
- Braised beef shortribs stroganoff with potato gnocchi and mustard greens ($12). This was a classic, hearty dish, with fork-tender shortribs. We appreciated the update of the classic Midwest dish, and the gnocchi were light and tender.
- Aloo Gobi curried fired cauliflower with sweet corn yogurt, potato chips and tomato chutney ($8). Despite being fried, the cauliflower were surprisingly light and crispy. This was a good way to end the meal, though it also would have been a perfect “appetizer.”
We really enjoyed the food at Odd Duck. The vibe was good, the menu was interesting and the price is right. We wish there were more of these types of places in Chicago (especially at this price point). We can’t wait to go back to see what is on the menu next time!
I had a favorite gyros place growing up in Chicago, but recently they stopped carving gryos off the spit, instead resorting to heating up pre-portioned and cooked meat. I only found out when I ordered a gyro and every piece was paper thin and completely uniform. How can that be!?! So I’ve been on a quest to find a gyro replacement ASAP. We had heard from our foodie cousin and several other Milwaukee locals that Oakland Gyros was good, and even though its Milwaukee location does not put it in our regular rotation, we knew we had to go give it a try. There are two locations, old (2867 N. Oakland Ave.) and new (9530 W Layton Ave.), and we ended up being closer to the new Layton Ave. location.
This location is outfitted like a basic fast food joint, but there is plenty of seating (you order at the counter and then your order gets delivered to you). When we stepped right in we knew we were in for some good eats right away. Behind the simple takeout counter there were two large rotating cones of meat, which obviously is a necessity for a good gyro, though not always a given. We ordered chicken souvlaki platter and a classic lamb/beef gyro. In Greek diner tradition, the menu is pretty exhaustive, including various burger permutations, spinach pie, Philly cheese steaks, soup, malts, and even Greek frappe coffee. Another great feature is that they bring you a whole bottle of tzatziki sauce with your order – not just a measly little cup.
Even though there was a bit of line we did not have to wait long at all to get our food. This gyro looked pretty darn good and certainly was generously portioned. The gyro meat was tasty and flavorful, and the tzatziki sauce was delicious, but the gyros meat did not have the crispy edge that I’ve come to expect from off-the-cone gyros. Some describe these gyros as “thick cut,” which I am sure has its backers, but I think I prefer the thin cut variety with a nice char. M devoured the souvlaki, which was piled perilously high with charred meat and onions (the fries were pretty good, too), with a nice chunk of feta on the side. It is also worth noting that the pita was also particularly light and fluffy, and left us hoping we had ordered a few extras. Oakland Gyros is a great lunch option in Milwaukee, but the quest for the prefect gyro in Chicago continues. Any suggestions?
Three Brothers Bar & Restaurant
2414 S Saint Clair St
Somehow, after following sprawling and oblique Google Maps directions through the spaghetti-highway maze that is Milwaukee, we arrived at the inimitable Three Brothers. It’s a bit tricky to get to, but you’ll know you are in the right place when you see the Victorian building with the blue and green Schlitz globe on the roof. The weather-worn corner building in fact was once a Schlitz tavern.Once inside, there are a row of formica tables and chairs topped with mismatched china and vintage lamps. A wooden bar runs the length of the rest of the space, though there are in fact no bar stools. Though it may have a humble appearance, Three Brothers is actually a 2002 James Beard winner, and has been run by the Branko Radicevic and his family for over 50 years. We were greeted by a friendly server with a slight accent, perhaps part of Radicevic clan, and we quickly placed an order for burek (more on that later). The menu had a variety of Serbian dishes including pljeskavica, akin to a type of Serbian hamburger, roast pork, cevapici (a blend of grilled beef and veal) and sarma (stuffed cabbage).We started off the meal with a Serbian Salad, which is not a “salad” in the proper sense of the word – it consisted primarily of salty feta, some green pepper, onions and tomatoes. Not that we had any objections to a salad consisting mostly of cheese. M ordered the Chicken Paprikash, which like most everything at the restaurant was completely over-sized. The dish came with 2 pieces of falling-off the bone chicken, and a rich creamy sauce, with a hint of paprika. But of course the star of the meal was the burek, which every review we have ever seen, raves about. Since we had ordered it when we sat down, it arrived right along with the other entree.
As you can see above – this Burek was no joke. It arrived at our table as big as a dinner plate, and probably about 4 inches tall. Think Greek Spanakopita on steroids. We ordered the cheese burek, which arrived piping hot with loads of feta and spinach sandwiched between layers of buttery phyllo dough. Between the 2 of us we barely ate 1/2 of the burek, which meant we had quite a lovely lunch for the next day. We think it’s garnered its glowing reputation with reason. Though it was hard to get to, making the trek to Three Brothers was definitely worth it for some delicious Serbian food in a friendly family atmosphere. We can understand why it’s been a Milwaukee institution for all these years.