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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Smooth Sailing at Milwaukee Sail Loft

New restaurant entices with fine seafood, riverfront views

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With its great riverfront location, large, open dining room with plenty of windows, outdoor seating and boat parking, Rip Tide had so much going for it. What it did not have, however, was an especially good menu. Fortunately, that flaw has been remedied under new ownership and a new name, the Milwaukee Sail Loft.

The amenities remain a selling point, with plenty of tables next to windows, booths and granite tabletops, and a revamped exterior with a new outdoor bar.

The new menu is quite an improvement. In addition to chicken, pork and steak options, diners will find Maine lobster, littleneck clams, mussels and other savory seafood. Those looking to spend less will find a selection of sandwiches.

Maine lobster roll ($12) was featured as a recent special. Lobster rolls should be very simple—with mayonnaise, celery and a roll that is little more than a hot dog bun—and the Sail Loft gets it right. With sweet, perfectly cooked lobster meat, it is the best lobster roll this side of New England. It deserves to be on the regular menu.

Maryland crab cakes, sold as a starter ($11) or as a sandwich ($12), also fare very well. The appetizer offers a pan-seared pair that is very meaty, with only a hint of binder, and served over a Cajun remoulade that is true to form. These are some of the best crab cakes to be found locally.

The New England clam chowder ($4-$6) is prepared with diced potatoes and plenty of clam meat. The Caesar salad ($8) also has merit, with romaine torn into small pieces, shaved Parmesan, a pair of herbed croutons and dressing that has just the right flavor. Anchovy fillets are also an option.

The price is very fair for the Mediterranean-style seafood diablo ($20), with its angel-hair pasta and San Marzano tomato sauce with a dash of hot pepper. The generous variety and quantity of seafood includes blue mussels, littleneck clams, calamari, shrimp, some fish, and even a pair of jumbo sea scallops.

The herb-crusted crispy skin red snapper ($25) offers a smaller serving, but it is prepared very well. The filet is served over spears of asparagus, and basmati rice rounds out the attractive presentation. The plate has a pool of lemon beurre blanc, which is delicious with the rice.

The priciest item is the Sail Loft lobster boil ($70), which combines a pound-and-a-half Maine lobster with littleneck clams, mussels, shrimp, andouille sausage and red potatoes in a dish that is meant to be shared.

The addition of the Milwaukee Sail Loft is definitely a positive. You will find quality service in a casual setting. Sit back, order some of the fine seafood, and join in the fun.

Milwaukee Sail Loft

649 E. Erie St.

(414) 223-0100

$$-$$$$

Credit Cards: MC, VS, DS

Handicap Accessible