Odd Duck's Tasty, Locally Sourced Food
Word is spreading on Bay View restaurant
The trend of restaurants using locally sourced ingredients, such as Braise in Walker's Point, continues to grow. Add Bay View's recently opened Odd Duck to the list. Local sources for the food at Odd Duck include Milwaukee's Growing Power, which provides organic greens; Bolzano Artisan Meats, also in Milwaukee; and Madison's Underground Meats.
Odd Duck is located in the space that formerly housed Future Green, a socially conscious shop that had a small café. The airy, uncluttered space has been transformed into an open dining room with a spacious bar. Tabletops are made of recycled wood.
Chef and co-owner Ross Bachhuber has extensive restaurant experience in this area. His menu ideas span the globe, with hints of Asia and Europe sprinkled throughout.
Charcuterie and cheese items are sold individually ($4-$5 each) or as a board ($18 for the charcuterie board, $14 for cheese). Be sure to try the Bolzano selections, including the bold, garlicky Tuscan salami. The surprisingly complex Pig Red salami relies on the flavors of the heirloom pork.
A chalkboard also lists bar snacks ($3 each). The items, which are made here, include dilly beans, dill pickles, spicy olives and pickled eggs with beet juice.
The menu changes every day, though red lentil daal ($6) seems to be a permanent fixture. The lentils have gentle Indian seasonings and are served with wedges of naan, a firm flatbread, and sprightly apple-cilantro chutney. Spring pea pistou stuffed endive ($6), topped with fresh arugula, is another starter with staying power. The endive is the Belgian variety; pistou is a French take on pesto. Also be sure to try the shiitake mushroom spring rolls ($7), which have perfectly crisp wrappers and appealing flavors. If venison carpaccio ($7) is on the menu, definitely order it. The raw meat comes in small pieces in this treat that is interspersed with micro-greens in yuzu vinaigrette.
The larger plates are very likely to change, but you can usually count on a dish of gnocchi. One evening it was a vegetable version ($14) with mint, arugula and peas in a basil cream sauce. Another visit found gnocchi with tomato and fennel on a short-rib and sausage ragout ($18). The small potato dumplings are made by hand.
An Asian-influenced item is pork belly bulgogi ($16). Bulgogi is a Korean beef dish with a marinade of soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and a hint of sugar. The slices of pork belly have flavors of brandied plums, roasted garlic and honey. It is served with rice and topped with a quail egg. It may be a departure from traditional bulgogi, but it makes for a very good dish.
Lunches offer a reduced number of small plates, but you will find some tasty sandwiches and all of the charcuterie and cheese items. Vegan banh mi ($9) is a meat-free version of the classic Vietnamese sandwich. Mushroom pate with pieces of seared tofu makes for a decent beef substitute. The marinated slaw of carrot, daikon radish and cilantro provides the necessary Vietnamese flavors. There even is a bit of a hot pepper kick. For those who want meat, there is a very beefy braised short-rib sandwich ($12) that offers pulled meat flavored with caramelized onions, Roquefort cheese, horseradish mayo and red wine jus. It's quite a sandwich.
The restaurant has only been open for a short time, but it is already filled on weekends. Word is definitely getting out. If a table is not available, sit at the bar and enjoy snacks and small plates accompanied by one of the thoughtfully chosen wines and beers.
The congenial staff is up to the task, as is the kitchen, even when very busy. With the addition of Odd Duck, 2012 is proving to be a fine year for new restaurant openings in Milwaukee.
2352 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
Credit Cards: All Major
It should have been noted in last week's review of Von Trier that the building had previously been occupied by an elegant tavern called Reider's.