Sunday, June 8, 2008

Food Stop: Mader's Restaurant

Sunday June 8, 2008
Approximately 6:00 P.M

After exhibiting at so many shows, we've streamlined our breakdown process. There is a certain way all the items have to be packed to fit properly and distribute the weight. I had to readjust everything anyways later so we broke down in less than 2 hours. This is actually not bad for a corner booth. Nick was in charge of running back and forth to the room THREE times while I packed.

We were excited to find that outside it was NOT raining. Nick was going to get the umbrella but after realizing he left it in the car, we decided to take our chances. We "thought" that the rain was behind us because it was SO beautiful outside. We both took our own cameras out and I'll share some of the architecture photos in the next post.

So we had been flipping through all the tourist magazines and saw an ad for Mader's. Hey there is a coupon too. Nick had wanted badly to try a German restaurant and he had been such a good sport throughout the entire trip. We decided to enjoy the city so walked the seven or so blocks to Mader's. As you can see by the photos, it WAS sunny when we entered Mader's.


(from their website)

Not many restaurants in the Milwaukee area have as much history as Mader's. You’ll dine amid a stunning $3 million dollar collection of art, suits of medieval armour and antiques dating back to the 14th century.

Mader's has been voted the most famous German restaurant in North America. Some years ago, in 1902 to be exact, things weren't quite the same. An ambitious young German immigrant, Charles Mader, poured his life savings into a speculative venture: he purchased a small building on 233 W. Water Street (now Plankington Avenue) and hung out his sign. "The Comfort," it read, was comfortable, with it's "soft" wooden chairs and Oaken tables. Today's $3,000,000 collection of Medieval Germanic weaponry hadn't arrived, but you could find a few dozen wall pegs on which to hang coats.

Young Mader only served the best of food and drink so he felt warranted in charging well for his fare. Dinner, including tip and beverage was 20 cents and big steins of "Cream City" beer were 3 cents each, two for a nickel. If you spent 5 cents on beer your lunch was free.

This was the era when "bucket boys," toting a board dangling a half dozen pails of frothy beer, made the rounds through office buildings. Their refreshing goods were passed around to all - the early beer capitals natural answer to today's coffee break. The "Comfort" restaurant fared well and soon moved to its present location, 1041 North Old World Third Street. Then, after 18 years, a crushing blow struck the establishment: Prohibition threatened! Charles Mader hung a large sign in his window: "Prohibition is near at hand. Prepare for the worst. Stock up now! Today and tomorrow there's beer. Soon there'll be only the lake."

When Prohibition struck in 1919, Mader turned full attention to his big kitchen which yielded his now famous rustic German dishes. The sauerbraten, wiener schnitzel and pork shank were called on to meet the challenge and hold the trade without the compliment of the traditional stein of beer. They held up well, all the way to that jubilant, cheering night of April 7, 1933. Mader's was there to serve that first legal stein of beer in Milwaukee and it was announced from Mader's on the city's only radio station on that historic midnight.

Times changed when the depressed early thirties passed. Mr. Mader's two sons, George and Gustave, began helping the aging Charles. The famous restaurateur passed away in 1938. His two sons took over and continued the work. World War II came and Mader's de-emphasized its German theme but otherwise fared well. People often lined up hungrily awaiting their chance to indulge in a crispy pork shank, tender wiener schnitzel or tangy platter of sauerbraten. Gus and George celebrated Mader's 50th anniversary by adding a new dining room, the"Jaeger Strube" In 1958, George Mader died, leaving brother Gus had to shoulder the entire burden. He proved to be a capable owner and succeeded in maintaining the Milwaukee restaurants tradition. Read more...


So for dinner, we kind of went crazy. We started off with the Reuben Rolls which is corned beef, cabbage and Swiss cheese wrapped inside spring dough served with fresh crispy fried spinach and Dusseldorf mustard sauce. It was like eating eggrolls and I would have to say the filling was delicious but I found the flour dough on the heavier side to my preferences. The mustard was the perfect condiment and was a very tasty addition to the flavors.

When in a German restaurant you CAN NOT not order the potato pancakes with sour cream and apple sauce. So yes, we did but only was able to eat ONE pancake. It was delicious but we were getting filled and dinner hadn't even come yet. Geez.

For dinner I had to try the FAMOUS Mader's Pork Shank. I am NOT a big fan of sauerkraut so asked them to substitute mushrooms. Well, unfortunately the cook forgot or the waitress forgot, because my pork shank came with a bed of sauerkraut under it. Uhmmm, I would have given the pork shank FIVE stars but the sauerkraut, in my opinion, confused the wonderful apple demi glaze flavors. It was the MOST succulent pork shank I've ever had and I tried my best to scoop out the sauerkraut for Nick, who is a fan and ate it all up. Because of this confusion, the waitress offered a free dessert. Not being one to refuse a dessert, even if I can't have it, someone else could. Nick ordered a chocolate raspberry creme brulee. I had a itty bitty bite and started feeling it in my system. Wow, what a lethal sweet dessert. Bad Lisa, truly that small bite was not good for this diabetic. I watched as Nick spoon up every bit of chocolate heaven, flaky off the extra sugared crust and ate most of it up.

Dinner was GREAT and despite the confusion with the pork shank, I give Mader's three YUMs for the ambiance and delicious wine. Not sure what Nick ordered for me but it was a sweet white wine.

And then, we walked outside. It is amazing what 2 hours can do to Milwaukee weather. The skies were dark and the rain was beating down on the pavement. I saw a family with a baby carriage one block away from the restaurant. I looked up and then across to see the sporadic store/window coverings. Thank goodness for those purple Diesel shoes. I flipped on the hood of my Puma jacket and before you knew it, I ran to the next covering. Nick had offered me his baseball cap but like that is gonna help! I waited at the next stop until the rain slowed a bit. Then ran for it. We did this for several blocks until we spied the Hyatt. "AHA, the skywalk to the Hilton" Nick suggested. We paced ourselves and timed the lights - then ran for it. Panting we made it but there was a price to pay later for running in the rain. Nick, as the consummate good husband, had offered to run back to the Hilton to get the car then pick me up at Mader's. I didn't want to be a wimp so refused the offer. Thinking back, maybe I should have said "yes". Well I paid for it by getting extremely sick upon coming home.

In the next and final post, I will feature a few of the architectural highlights I was able to capture on this trip. Normally I take 500-1000 photos every trip but this time, mother nature stopped me. Better luck next year.

Eat up and Drink up

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