Sunday, October 27, 2013

Milwaukee Restauranting: Meritage Review

We recently tried Meritage for the first time, a "new American" cuisine restaurant in the Washington Heights area of Milwaukee that has been open since 2007.  After I responded to the question of "What do you feel like tonight" with a careful response of "American fusion," the hubs did some research to find a lesser known restaurant of that type that we hadn't actually been to yet.

Meritage is led by Chef Jen Kelly (a less common female chef) who has held chef positions at several other Milwaukee restaurants after originating in California.  The Meritage menu focuses on local, but particularly seasonal ingredients.  The menu available was full of fall inspired dishes with kale, spinach, apples, pears, and cider.  Here is what we ordered:
Roasted Pear and Fennel Crostini: Buttermilk blue cheese, pears, fennel and shallots on crostini with red wine rosemary reduction.  Good flavor, but since crostini is so hard to eat in a clean manner anyways, I would have liked to have had the toppings sliced a bit smaller.
Fried Chicken and Waffles: Potato waffle with fried chicken, spicy coleslaw and red pepper jelly. In-cred-I-ble!  Best dish we had all night.  The flavor was incredible in the chicken, the waffle wasn't too sweet and the slaw really balanced the dish out.  I would totally go back and order three of these.
Fried Chicken and Waffles
Via yelp review
Toasted Farro Salad: Autumnal vegetables and toasted faro with maple syrup apple cider vinaigrette, walnuts and asiago cheese.  This was a very "fall feeling" dish, and a good vegetarian option with healthy ingredients, so it was not heavy at all.
Braised Pork Shoulder: Pork shoulder braised in apple cider and milk with sage rice and sautéed spinach (from the specials).  I thought the milk and cider sauce was delicious, but we would have liked it just slightly thicker.  The rice and spinach had good flavor, and the pork was very tender.

Click here to check out the Meritage menu.
Other restaurant thoughts:
Pro: Quality wine list and craft cocktail menu
Pro: Attentive service from the entire house staff
Con: Ambiance and décor were underwhelming, bland, and seemed less fancy than the food

The experience overall was very good, but the décor in the restaurant seemed unfocused and uneven compared to the food.  Luckily, I was too busy going nuts about the fried chicken and waffles to spend too much time noticing.

Across the street from the restaurant is a Valentine coffee shop (one of Milwaukee's best micro roasters) and a gelato shop that looks amazing as well if you are looking to round out your Washington Heights night out!

Bottom line? We would go back for the chicken and waffles, the cocktail menu and wine, and for all the other things on the menu that look great but we didn't get to try.

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