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Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012

Turner Hall Reopens

Milwaukee landmark serves food again

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In 2010 the restaurant at Turner Hall closed its doors. Quite a shame as the Hall, constructed in 1882, has a lot of charm. The restaurant reopened a few weeks ago and a few improvements have been made. The wood floors gleam once again, the bar and wooden booths have been rehabbed, and the original stained glass windows look as good as ever. There is new life at the Turner Hall restaurant. The location is a prime one with the Bradley Center across the street. It’s also just a short walk from the Marcus Center.

The menu is basically sports bar fare, if a bit upscale. Think salads, sandwiches, burgers, a few entrees and the Friday fish fry, which Turner Hall has been serving for decades. On the upscale side is a Bloody Mary shrimp cocktail ($10), a serving of five jumbo shrimp with chopped lettuce and a boldly spicy cocktail sauce. A small skewer with a pickled Brussels sprout, pearl onion and mushroom are added as garnish. Wisconsin roots find their way into many items. The classic mac and cheese ($8) incorporates five different cheeses. The wedge salad ($8) of iceberg lettuce boasts a decent blue cheese dressing and meaty pieces of Nueske’s bacon. A surprise hit is the flatbread pizzas ($9), which appear on so many menus and so often disappoint. The key here is a crisp, thin crust that works with any of the toppings. Turner’s traditional flatbread, similar to an Alsatian flammekueche, has a white sauce topped with Sar Vecchio cheese, caramelized onions, bits of bacon and a sprinkling of chopped chives. This is food that calls for a good beer and there are plenty of good choices on the beer menu.

Among the entrees are chicken, pork schnitzel, filet mignon and a panko-crusted walleye. But if you arrive on a Friday, everybody will be ordering the fish fry ($12-$14). Options are beer-battered or baked cod, breaded walleye or lake perch. They have the usual accompaniments of coleslaw and marble rye, plus a distinctive tartar sauce which is not cloyingly sweet. The lake perch filets are larger than the Canadian variety, but at one visit the light batter was overcooked and hard in places. It’s an easy problem to fix. The potato pancakes, though, are on the mark.

Turner Hall’s spacious seating is built around solid wood tables with white linen napkins. Like the German beer halls it was modeled from, it’s meant to handle large crowds and the kitchen has the capacity for them. This is a Milwaukee classic that deserves to be appreciated more. Stop in and check it out.

 

Turner Hall

1038 N. 4th St.

(414) 763-1490

$$

Not Handicapped Accessible (steps)

turnerhallrestaurant.com

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