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Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014

Milwaukee Beer Bistro Serves Diners by the Pint

Brewing up tasty dishes in Riverwest

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At Milwaukee Beer Bistro the beer doesn’t just come in a pint glass, it comes on your plate. This relatively new restaurant in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood specializes in beer-infused cooking. Each dish is paired with a beer that will heighten the flavors of the dish, whether a brat roll (a play on a traditional spring roll served with a beer-infused dijon dipping sauce) or a braised barbecue rib caramelized with a dark stout.

The Bistro began as a small pasta factory storefront, and later took over what was formerly Rio West Cantina. Aside from their beer-infused meals, the restaurant has a full bar with 12 locally and regionally crafted beers on rotating tap and more than 50 bottle and can options from all over the globe. The restaurant someday hopes to live up to the tune “99 Bottles of Beer On the Wall.” The Mudpuppy Porter from Central Waters Brewing Company was dark and delicious with a creamy chocolate-like finish.

Having eaten there during the World Cup frenzy, the place was decked out with soccer memorabilia and flags and if you came in sporting a soccer jersey you received half off of your drinks. Very generous indeed, almost as much as their grand opening when they offered free beer tastings. This is definitely a place that likes to have fun, and with beer being the focal point, it’s so Wisconsin.

What would Wisconsin be without cheese, either? The Grown Up Mac and Cheese ($8) was rich and delicious. The added pilsner wasn’t the only thing that made this dish adult. Shredded chicken slathered in white cheddar cheese and sprinkled with roasted red peppers added a sense of sophistication to this comfort dish.

The menu of small plates makes trying many things possible, and is perfect for sharing, as the portions are generous. The Honey and Porter Stuck Chicken ($6) came with six skewers of lightly charred chicken coated with honey with a hoppy undertone from the porter. The Sensational Parmesan Meatballs ($6) lived up to their name.

Despite the meat-laden possibilities of beer-infused cooking, the Bistro had ample vegetarian options, all made with gluten-free beer. The Lemon Grass and Ginger Tofu Cakes ($7) made with a sorgum ale offered a light, tangy, refreshing option, and the Herb Marinated Sautéed Portabellas ($5), were hearty and flavorful.

The prices are reasonable, with some plates as low as $4, including the Braised Root Vegetables, a colorful medley of vegetables sautéed in rosemary brown butter and gluten-free ale. Most expensive is the Beerbeque Duck Tortilla Pizza ($9), a restaurant favorite drizzled with house-made “beerbeque sauce.”

The menu changes seasonally and the lunch menu includes similar options, but in sandwich form. The bistro also offers a daily late-night happy hour, Friday fish fry and brunch on Saturday and Sundays (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) that features a beer-infused breakfast, including Beer and Bacon Pancakes ($7), Heffe Weiss Waffles with Beerberry Syrup ($8) and Root Beer Pancakes ($7)—the O’Douls of brunch options.

The current menu was a bit on the heavier side, but that’s because they hadn’t switched over to their summer menu yet despite the fact I am writing this in July; nonetheless, it was a pleasant surprise and food upgrade from the Cantina and an innovative food technique for Milwaukee, fitting for the Brew City. Make sure you don’t order too many plates and skimp out on dessert—those are beer infused too. Your taste buds will leave drunk with satisfaction. Milwaukee Beer Bistro

2730 N. Humboldt Blvd.

414-562-5540

$-$$

milwaukeebeerbistro.com

Handicapped access: Yes