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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chez Jacques' Beautiful Wine Garden

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As many trendy restaurants closed their doors over the last decade, Chez Jacques (1022 S. First St.) endured for its unpretentious presentation of French food. One of the bistro's secrets, kept tightly under wraps by the climate for much of the year, is the wine garden out back. Enclosed on three sides by a high wooden fence, the patio fronts the rear of the restaurant covered in a mural by Milwaukee artist Amanda Aquino. The tableau tells the life story of Chez Jacques' owner—his journey from the little French farming town of Le Puy through Paris (represented by the Eiffel Tower) and the United Kingdom (Big Ben), entering the United States (Statue of Liberty) and setting roots in Milwaukee (under the Allen-Bradley clock). A shade tree spreads over much of the patio, edged in flowers and green plants. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings find guitarist Dick Eliot strolling outside for a little Jacques Brel or a lilting Brazilian melody. Chez Jacques' wine garden is a beautiful stop for dining, drinking and conversing in an island of calm amid the hubbub of the city. It's open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.
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