In Dining

Metro Bar and Cafe is in Hotel Metro on Milwaukee Street. (PHOTO: Eron Laber of Front Room Photography)

In Dining

Metro Bar and Cafe also offers full breakfast, brunch and dinner menus. (PHOTO: Eron Laber of Front Room Photography)

Metro Bar and Café a classy, fun Downtown dining destination

In Milwaukee, it is rare that one equates good food and playful, yet classy ambience with a hotel restaurant. Yet Metro Bar and Café, 411 E. Mason St. at the foot of Hotel Metro in the heart of Downtown, has created just this with a great mix of fun, flirty atmosphere and good menu selections that make it a destination spot for Downtown diners.

The tables in Metro Bar and Café are a meld of plain two tops and four tops and tables paired with red, loungy couches that give the small café an intimate feel, and the layout of the furniture makes every individual table feel secluded. The small bar at the front entrance calls to a large happy hour crowd, especially on Thursday and Friday evenings when they offer a complimentary buffet and $5 martinis, respectively.

On two recent lunch visits, we found the small café bustling with Downtown workers. Seating is prompt and the service is above average for lunch, you can be in and out in under an hour, and Metro offers a revolving daily special menu that offers a specialty sandwich and soup or salad combination, and omelet, fish and pasta selection of the day.

Metro starts each meal with a basket of soft rolls and crunchy cheese breadsticks that work wonderfully with the soups. Corn chowder with andouille sausage ($3.95) was particularly creamy and delicious, and needed no additional seasoning. The wraps at Metro are also a success, and at $7.95 feature soup or salad and a tortilla stuffed beyond capacity; on one occasion, it was a chicken Caesar wrap overflowing with tender, juicy slices of chicken, another time, roast beef and provolone with horseradish mayonnaise. Both were above average, but I was looking for a little more flavor in the horseradish mayonnaise that was just missing.

The Hawaiian fish sandwich ($9.50) featured flaky grilled Wahoo with grilled pineapple and chipotle island dressing on ciabatta bread and was delicious. A daily special of salmon ($9.95) was average, as the salmon begged for some sort of a sauce to be drizzled over its light breadcrumb finish. We also tried the Italian omelet ($7.95), which, while good, just needed a little something else to give it some more flavor. A special of Chicken marsala ($9.95) was a very good version on the old classic with creamy sauce and tender pieces of chicken over al dente pasta.

Metro Bar and Café also offers full breakfast, brunch and dinner menus. Diners -- made up of a healthy mix of locals interspersed with hotel guests -- can expect to find a pleasant mix of items on all three menus. The traditional selections of omelets, pancakes and French toast are brightened by some fun items like oatmeal brulee and seafood crepes Newburg. This theme of the common peppered with something one step better carries through to dinner, where standard steak and chicken dishes are complemented by paella and a vegetarian risotto.

Metro Bar and Café also offers a good selection of wines and martinis, allowing it to cross the fine line between hotel bar and hip nightlife destination spot, and their bright open windows and sidewalk dining options give visitors here a great place to people watch and see all that happens on the rest of the city's happening Milwaukee Street, while still allowing for a comfortable environment with good, solid food.


Talkbacks

OMCreader | Oct. 26, 2006 at 12:44 p.m. (report)

Well said: I went last night (Wednesday), a couple that I know rave on the Wednesday Wine Flight special...I went with them and I was so disappointed. The service was slow...the fruit, cheese, and crackers was thrown on a plate and served to us with no presentation...the cheese was very cold, tasted like inside of a refrigerator that was not so fresh...we asked the waitress for some fresh cheese and she replied "it is fresh we cut it this morning and it's been in the refrigerator". If you know anything about cheese when it is not stored properly it will keep a hard outer texture, almost dried out. They were not in anyway accommodating or willing to prepare a fresh plate of cheese and cracker. Sadly to say we left and went directly across the street and had a wonderful experience and food.

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OMCreader | Sept. 2, 2006 at 2:56 p.m. (report)

Bernadette said: We spent the weekend at the Metro Hotel and also enjoyed breakfast at their restaurant and several $5 martinis on Friday night. The hotel was perfect, art deco hip with a great spa/gym on the top floor that no one but us used. The Bar had a nice vibe to it, although we were only their during the afterwork crowd. The fries with sauce were super yummy! Next time we come back to town (from Chicago), we'll definitely stay their again.

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OMCreader | Aug. 29, 2006 at 8:28 p.m. (report)

Micah R. said: My wife and I actually had our wedding reception at the Metro (back in 2003). The food and service was absolutely superb. Plus the location is great. I haven't been to the spa, yet.

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OMCreader | Aug. 29, 2006 at 4:57 p.m. (report)

Courtney said: I love the Metro Bar! I spent a few hours there before my wedding rehearsal dinner with all my family and friends from out of town, everyone stayed there the night of the wedding, and we all had breakfast there before departing. It was a part of the reason why the wedding was so wonderful! Great atmosphere and service and good food.

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OMCreader | Aug. 29, 2006 at 3:58 p.m. (report)

Definitely Desserts said: Metro has good food, better than most in Milwaukee. A tad over priced for what you get. But Metro has awesome desserts, best place in the city. We will often go to dinner at other restuarants and then go to Metro for dessert. Mmmm good.

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