Welcome to EatWisconsin, the blog formerly known as Undelicious. This blog will focus on the food, the people, the history, and restaurants in the State of Wisconsin. Though we will focus primarily on the State of Wisconsin, there will be occasional forays into other Cities.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Riverwalk Bistro Review

Last Friday we attended the Jazz Festival in Milwaukee’s Riverwalk Bistro which is the third restaurant to occupy the space at 223 N. Water Street. This restaurant is hoping to break the failures that caused the demise of Onyx and Borrego’s before it. With the exception of some very minor service glitches, this one may finally take hold.
Upon entering the interior is long and narrow and it kind of reminded me of a darker version of Sauce, one of my favorite restaurants in the City. We were promptly seated and were given the choice of outside, bar, or dining room seating. We chose the dining room. I love the wine list at this place. It is simple and very inexpensive for those seeking a bottle. Many of the wines are priced at $22 a bottle, with the most expensive being 30 bucks (sparkling wine excluded) The descriptions of the wines really help people like me who are not wine experts. I chose the Altos Malbec, which was perfectly described as “A wine of extraordinary charm, featuring wild cherry, red berries, anise and tropical spices of nutmeg and cinnamon. It has intense purple-violet color with soft, appealing tannins” The wine was excellent. Let me confess that I rarely match food with wine the way you are supposed to. I love deep, dark, spicy red wines like Zinfandel. I knew I was going to order a light and delicate fish, but I still chose a bold red wine. Our appetizer was their Bruschetta. It was very mediocre. It featured olive tapenade and goat cheese, two things I absolutely love. The problem was that there was barely a hint of goat cheese and the dish was completely overpowered by the tapenade. I love olives, but I had hoped for a great balance between tomato, bread, olive, and goat cheese. The tomatoes were very average and given that tomatoes are in season now, I was disappointed at the bland ones featured in this dish. If I wanted shitty tomatoes, I would go to Pick ‘n Save and buy them myself. This dish was a complete disappointment and as you read on, it is somewhat surprising giving the greatness of the full entrées. According to some recent reviews in and in the Shepard Express, we should have chosen the calamari instead.

My fiancée had the Bourbon Street Crab Cakes, which is misleading because there was no crab in there (we asked before we ordered). Instead they are made from Crayfish and are drizzled with a Cajun Remoulade. Why they don’t call them Burbon Street Crawfish Cakes is lost on me. Despite the misleading name, they are awesome. There is a significant amount of breadcrumbs, but it is needed because the crawfish tails are almost wholly intact. Plus the breading is perfectly seasoned. These really remind me of my favorite crab cakes in the City, which are served at Scotty’s Crab House. My fiancée was a bit leary of ordering these and only did so because I offered to trade dishes if she hated them. She really enjoyed them, so I had to eat my own entrée, which was the special of the day, Grilled Halibut with a basil apricot butter.

Each of the entrees came with the starch of the day and the vegetable of the day. I really like this concept because you could end up with different things each time you visit. The potatoes were excellent mashed (or is it smashed) with garlic and some other spices (I couldn’t quite put my finger on it and our waitress really didn’t know. I believe some paprika was in them. The veggie of the day was perfectly cooked broccoli which tasted even better when I placed some of the basil apricot butter on them.

Service was so-so. I think our waitress was new and she had to deal with this whiny couple next to us who we could overhear making tip deductions each time she served them something. “Oh that’s a dollar off her tip because she handed the bill to the wrong person” “She gave us the wrong bill! That’s another dollar.” I was so glad when they left. It took a long time for her to get our wine orders even though there weren’t a ton of people there.

If you are in the Third Ward and are looking for someplace with reasonable prices and good food, the Riverwalk Bistro would be a great choice. I am looking forward to trying their Sunday brunch. They have the crawfish cakes featured in their Eggs Benedict dish.

Décor/Ambiance: 7/10 The décor is modern and stylish, yet it feels really warm and cozy. I imagine the bar would be a great place to stop for a drink to escape the chill of winter.
Food: 6.5/10 The Bruschetta is what is dragging this down from a 7.

Service: 5/10 The service was ok, I am sure with time it will get better.


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