Never a Dull Moment
Specials at The Social
Some of the former touches remain, including the massive wooden columns and exposed brick. But the newer Social is more spacious, with a sunlit bar and a large dining area that features a comfortable red sofa for relaxing. The much larger kitchen is still in view, but the bartenders now have the bar to themselves.
menu now offers numerous appetizers and raw bar selections, although
raw oysters are not always available. This prevented an opportunity to
sample one of the three oyster shooters served with gin, vodka or sake.
When this location first opened, the grilled naan bread pizza proved to
be a work-in-progress, as the dough was very underdone. Now, however,
the pizza is worth ordering at lunch ($9.95) or dinner ($10.95). Naan
bread is a bit of a loose term. The dough may be made from the same
ingredients, but it’s thinner, firmer and even crisper—all of the
hallmarks of a good pizza.
Dinners offer one daily special while lunches have a few choices. A wise pick, and a very nice vegetarian option, is the pizza with marinated portobello mushrooms and onions. The marinade adds a hint of tartness, and the mild mozzarella and thin coating of marinara on the crust quietly fades into the background. Shrooms ($8.95)—a large bowl of button mushrooms poached in marsala and served with slices of toast—is definitely an appetizer for sharing. These mushrooms really belong on top of a thick steak. Unfortunately, the pierogies ($9.95) are a failed attempt at Polish food. The stuffing of wild mushrooms and caramelized onion is perfectly fine, but one is overly tough as a result of frying and the other is far too chewy despite being steamed. Order these only at Polish restaurants.
There is one item on the pierogies that does stand out, however: the topping of fried kraut. The sauerkraut is fried like haystack onion rings and brings an addictive tart tanginess. The kraut appears on one of the entrees, beef stroganoff ($15.95). The kitchen takes some liberties in the preparation of this stroganoff. It is served over a bed of spaetzle, which is good, if a bit Bavarian. The beef is perfectly tender, but sour cream is served in large dollops—and what are chunks of carrot doing here instead of mushrooms?
Do not give
up, though, for there is a good grilled escolar ($18.95), a firm-fleshed
fish that has just enough char. Accompaniments include a fine goat
cheese mash, fired arugula and drizzles of white balsamic reduction—a
delight with the fish. Then there are the chanterelles, those superb
mushrooms that are more expensive per pound than the fish. While I
always enjoy a fresh morel, chanterelles, especially the golden
variety, are equally tempting and deserve to be on more menus.
The Social is showing signs of maturity. The menu, while not perfectly consistent, keeps its edge with a spirit of playfulness. There’s rarely a dull moment here. It is a casual setting that doesn’t lack for style, making it the perfect spot for a glass of wine and some shrooms.
THE SOCIAL 170 S. First St. (414) 270-0438 $$-$$$ Credit Cards: MC, VS, AX Smoking: At bar Handicap Access: Yes
The Social | Photos by Tate Bunker