Friday, July 17, 2015

Milwaukee: a road trip to remember

Last month the three of us decided it was about time we went on another road trip. Picking a destination wasn't hard - at all. Milwaukee had been on our bucket list for quite some time and is only a short drive away from Chicago (well, depending on traffic that is of course...). So we booked ourselves a cute little rental car, made hotel reservations and hit the road! 

Our Sunny Car, a Fiat 500 

The initial reason to visit Milwaukee was a visit to the amazing Milwaukee Art Museum, but this stunning Calatrava building is undergoing renovations and will reopen this fall. And since we are not the very patient kind, we decide to go anyway and focus on what we love most: food and drinks.
After all, we can always come back for the museum, right ...?

Brew City 
First things first: beer! After checking in at the Intercontinental hotel, we meet Margaret, PR coordinator at the Visit Milwaukee tourism office, at the Old German Beer Hall. In a city built on German heritage, this place represents the spirit of the Hofbräuhaus München. The beer is brewed in Munich according to the over 400 year old Bavarian purity law. And it is served in giant glasses, containing a half or whole liter of the stuff. Perfect to quench our thirst and get ready for our visit to the  Lakefront Brewery.

Nestled along the Milwaukee River,  this brewery is home to award-winning beers. Two home-brewing brothers founded this microbrewery in 1987. The tour is interesting to say the least, and involves a lot of beer. Our favorite: Kyle, a Belgian style Tripel! Unfortunately it looks like it is only for sale in Milwaukee ...

Michael enjoying a beer at Benelux Café
'frietjes' at Benelux Café
The next day we have brunch at the Café Benelux (part of the Lowland group) in the Historic Third Ward area, a neighborhood that kind of reminds us of New York's SoHo but on a much smaller scale. We loved everything about the place: the Bloody Mary's, the food, the beer and the decor, which included photos of places close to our home town, the cathedral of Antwerp and many more Belgian hot spots. This place even has a small shop where you can buy (expensive) Belgian beers and travel guides.

Let's eat! 
Wisconsin is the dairy state, so cheese is a very big thing in Milwaukee and we happen to LOVE cheese, all three of us. Entering the Wisconsin Cheese Mart feels like entering sheer cheese heaven. And for our almost 6 year old it seems to feel like entering an upscale version of Toys r Us. It really does. People here are so friendly: they insist on preparing us some samples of grilled cheese and mac & cheese. Everything tastes delicious. Or as our little boy would say: very yummie!

Wolf Peach 

Since we are spending two nights in Milwaukee, we have dinner at two completely different places. The first night we dine at Wolf Peach, a farm to table restaurant close to the Lakefront Brewery. This wonderful place pays homage to rustic European cuisine, with local and regional ingredients. We simply love Wolf Peach and will definitely go back there.

On Day 2 we decide to go to Mader's, voted the most famous German restaurant in North America and home to a $3 million collection of medieval Germanic weaponry. It is a completely different place, but with famous patrons such as a whole bunch of presidents, rock stars, actors and many other VIP's, this place is not to be missed. The food is German,  not really our favorite cuisine, but everything is very well prepared and tastes good.

After spending three amazing days in Milwaukee, we drive back to Chicago and start planning our next trip to the Brew City.

To be continued!

A special, heartfelt thank you to Margaret at Visit Milwaukee: you ARE amazing! 

Photography: Michael Slowack/Leentje De Leeuw