Rapid review: Brown Bottle Pub
For the 10th straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee, presented by the restaurants of Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, dining guides, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as voting for your "Best of Dining 2016."
After having been closed for a while – and serving for a time as home to a different restaurant, too – the legendary Brown Bottle Pub reopened in 2014 with a renewed focus on Wisconsin-themed pub food. That surely explains why the beer cheese soup is not to be missed.
Now, the Brown Bottle is again a go-to place for Schlitz Park and other area workers at lunch and for after-work drinks. It's also got a respected Friday fish fry, and earlier this month, Brown Bottle's wings (the sweet and spicy variety are pictured above) was the judges' overall pick at Milwaukee Wingfest.
There's a patio (in season), happy hour specials, a beer club and the inimitable old world vibe of this subterranean eatery.
Type of food: Bar food, sandwiches, burgers, salads.
Prices: Bar bites run $10 and under. Entrees are priced roughly $10-16.
Vegetarian friendly? Yes. There are numerous salads, though some have meat. The quinoa salad is perfect for vegetarians, as is the grilled veggies flatbread. There is also a veggie burger, a mushroom dip sandwich, and kale and artichoke dip on the menu.
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m.
Parking: Street parking available in Schlitz Park, including spots directly in front of the restaurant's entrance on 2nd and Galena Streets, as well as on King Drive and to the south on Cherry Street.
Vibe/dress: Casual, but because it's a popular stop for lunch and after-work drinks with the many office workers in Schlitz Park, so business casual is good, too.
Hits: As mentioned above, the wings are quite good. Meaty and juicy and available in a variety of styles, including barbecue, hot, garlic parmesan and the especially satisfying – if a tad messy – sweet and spicy.
I also enjoyed the poutine (pictured above), which I described to my fellow lunch diner Andy Tarnoff as "clean," meaning it's not insanely over-gravied and, therefore, a mushy mess, as is sometimes the case with this hearty dish. Instead, the fries stay mostly crisp, but with a few that are satisfyingly bathed in sauce, and the curds are tasty and snappy.
Andy had a burger and said the burgers are big and cheap at only $10, but the star here is the brioche bun. It's kind of like a gourmet Big Mac with its thousand island dressing.
(PHOTO: Andy Tarnoff)
Misses: The fries are so-so, Andy says, but you can upgrade to the sweet potato fries for a bit more.
Insider tip: Andy adds that you have to try the beer cheese soup (pictured below) if you're up for an appetizer. This soup really tastes like beer, and it offsets the cheese flavor nicely. The croutons are a nice touch.
(PHOTO: Andy Tarnoff)
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