In Dining

JC's is subdued and chic, with warm, rich wall colors, dark table linens and an upscale Downtown vibe. (PHOTO: Lori Hennes)

In Dining

Owner Jonathan Cervero calls his debut venture a "nice, affordable restaurant and bar in the heart of Milwaukee." (PHOTO: Lori Hennes)

In Dining

Its location at intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Water Street is designated by the Milwaukee County Historical Society as an "historical corner." (PHOTO: Lori Hennes)

Water Street's new JC's does pub food with flair

Barely a month had passed since Edgar's Calypso, a Caribbean-themed restaurant at 628 N. Water St., closed and new tenant JC's Pub & Grill moved in.

But by the look of the place now, you'd never guess that just weeks ago it was decked out in vibrant island colors, complete with a tropical thatched roof over the bar area.

The space now is significantly more subdued and chic, with warm, rich wall colors, dark table linens and an upscale Downtown vibe.

Owner Jonathan Cervero calls his debut venture a "nice, affordable restaurant and bar in the heart of Milwaukee." Its location just south of the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Water Street is designated by the Milwaukee County Historical Society as an "historical corner," which explains why it reads "Come Make History" on JC's front door.

And once inside, your eyes gravitate toward the series of enlarged black and white prints capturing vintage images of the same corner when a large welcome sign greeted early 20th century visitors as they passed the newly constructed City Hall via cable car.

The city's past is important to Cervero, who made sure to incorporate a few Milwaukee-themed items to his menu, including a beer-battered, deep-fried hamburger, the Miltown martini and the occasional brat special.

Cervero cut his teeth as bar manager of Miller Park's 300 Club and spent six years working at Harry's Bar & Grill. He says his time spent under the N Star Corporation (Harry's, The Knick and North Shore Bistro) served as a major influence for the type of environment he'd wanted to create at JC's.

Earlier this week he welcomed new executive chef, David Engel formerly of Harry's and The Knick, just in time for Friday's grand opening party where he'll introduce himself via ample complementary appetizers and entrees.

"His attention to detail is exactly what we needed," says Cervero, who is planning a big bash for the opening night, complete with live music from The Pink Flamingos.

The restaurant's specialties include a wide selection of burgers done any which way, from stuffed with jalapenos and pepper jack cheese to topped with garlic mashed potatoes to trusted favorites like mushrooms and Swiss.

Cervero's personal favorite dish, however, is on the lighter side. He prefers the grilled salmon salad -- a fillet on a bed of lettuce, diced tomatoes, avocado, cucumber and balsamic vinaigrette.

Overall, the menu pulls classics from American tradition and fuses them with European bistro favorites.

You'll find the pizza fabuloso made with herb-infused olive oil, the grilled chicken panini and the hummus platter. Cervero calls it "pub food with flair."

JC's is open Monday through Saturday at 11 a.m. and serves food until 9 p.m. during the week and 10 p.m. on weekends. Tuesday is karaoke night starting at 9 p.m.


Talkbacks

downtown luncher | April 27, 2009 at 10:08 p.m. (report)

I have to admit that I was interested in JC's when they opened - until I saw their menu: Appetizers - who doesn't have calamari, wings, artichoke dip, chips and salsa, and a quesadilla? Sandwiches - buffalo chicken wrap, "corned beef Reuben" - a little redundant, chicken caesar wrap, Cuban and a Pulled pork sandwich? The only thing original on the entire menu is a beer battered deep-fried burger...which doesn't sound like a good lunch option to me. Didn't they look around and try to do something that was NEW and exciting? I am not impressed by anything on the menu - show me a dining experience that is different and I will try to find parking on that crazy block!

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herbivore | April 26, 2009 at 5:03 p.m. (report)

Absolutely nothing to eat for vegetarians. Sorry- I won't be there!

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foodguy19 | April 26, 2009 at 10:37 a.m. (report)

My wife and I stopped in at JC's on Saturday night. The food was great. I had a burger and my wife had the Buffalo Chicken Tortilla wrap. Great new place to grab a bite!

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bee | April 24, 2009 at 6:04 p.m. (report)

I have always thought Harry's was a little gem- everything there was always superb, so I'm glad to hear that JC's is has brought on their chef.... I'm sure with his help JC's will be amazing. I've already been in twice since he opened and thought the place was great. Definitely a great place to start the night before going out about town.

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guy678 | April 24, 2009 at 1:38 p.m. (report)

Yes, perhaps just another pub, however as we know, it's more of who you go with and the company which make the experience. The staff is very focused on each customer's request and it's a pleasure to actually get the attention/service in a restaurant for once. I have been there a few times already and enjoy the happy hour specials!

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