Archive for the ‘Restaurant reviews’ Category

Noodles & Company Tasting

If you haven’t been to Noodles & Company in awhile, you may not recognize the place. On Saturday, Brittney invited us to an exclusive VIP tasting. Her husband Ryan won it after putting his business card in the fish bowl (and yes, you can win with those things. I won 10 burritos once from Chipotle — lucky me!). They have TONS of new offerings on their menu, which we happily gobbled up and critiqued.

In college, Brenton and I went to Noodles All. The. Time. My favorite dish was their mushroom stroganoff, which they have now “upgraded” to steak stroganoff. I much prefer just the mushroons, and I’m so sad they changed it! Other than that, everything was delicious.

We started off the night with an array of appetizers, such as edamame, Chinese chop salad, the med salad and cheesy garlic bread (which our table gushed over). The first pasta course was even better.

That plate of goodness on the bottom is one of their new menu items, pulled pork mac and cheese. It sounds so wrong, but it was a definitely one of the top favorites of the night. We also tried the penne rosa with shrimp (middle – Brenton’s favorite). The plate on top is the steak stroganoff.

Ryan kept saying how great the pad thai was, so we requested that as part of “Pasta Round 2.”

I’ve made Asian noodles with peanut sauce before but I’ve never had pad thai (what kind of a food blogger am I!?). I felt like such a rookie asking Ryan what type of noodles they were. “Pad thai noodles,” he said. Um, Duh! I liked the Japanese pan noodles even more (bottom) with Parmesan-crusted chicken. I will definitely be ordering that the next time I visit Noodles.

Brenton and I kept saying how cool the whole event was (even two days later). Noodles & Company is definitely one of my favorite fast food restaurants, and I’m so glad we got to try some of their new (and old) favorites.

Stay tuned for another Noodles post in the next week (and a giveaway!).

Question: If you could have a VIP tasting at any restaurant, which would you choose? Brittney mentioned Panera, which I wholeheartedly agree with….that or Pastiche :)

MKEFoodies at Lake Park Bistro

If you’re a foodie in Milwaukee, you’ve heard of the Bartolotta’s restaurants. One of the most well known is Lake Park Bistro. I’ve always wanted to dine here, and I finally got my chance Tuesday night at the MKEFoodies event.

MKEFoodies is “the” food blogging community in Milwaukee. They do monthly get-togethers at some of Milwaukee’s best restaurants, plus charity events like Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.

Karis, Chris and Lisa. Photo courtesy of Joe Laedtke,

At first I was a little nervous about going because all my food blogging friends were brining their hubbies (Karis with Chris, Lisa with Craig, and Molly and Mike), and I was showing up solo. Thankfully Molly and Mike got there before me. Speaking of which, Mike is actually my coworker, but I had never met him because our company is so big. What a small world!

Me being caught on the fly. Photo courtesy of Joe Laedtke,

Molly and Mike. Photo courtesy of Joe Laedtke,

My last MKEFoodies event was at Roots in Milwaukee about 2 years ago. My, have things changed! Now only was the crowd about 5 times bigger, but there was much more of an emphasis on food. We tried wine, escargot, pate, steak, crème brûlée and a lemon tart. Everything was delicious and cooked to perfection (especially the escargot). And the atmosphere of Lake Park Bistro was just gorgeous. If you ever needed to plan a special date (anniversary, birthday), this place is perfect.

Just some of the delicious eats at Lake Park Bistro. Photo courtesy of Lisa.

Wining and dining with Molly and Mike. Photo courtesy of Lisa.

Question: Is there a restaurant in your town that you’ve always wanted to go to?

Besides Lake Park Bistro, I’ve always wanted to dine at Ristorante Bartolotta in Wauwatosa, Sanford in Milwaukee and Thai-Namite on Brady St. in Milwaukee.

Friday Things

Happy Friday! Why not celebrate with some “things”? Here goes!

1. What I’m disappointed with:

The Melting Pot. I know. I know. Me at a chain restaurant. Who would have thought? It was the Groupon and I can’t resist a sale. To make a long, 1 1/2 hours to be exact, story short, we can make better fondue at home. Also, our waiter was completely awkward and kept giving Brenton googly eyes when we went on Tuesday night. The whole process was so long that I almost fell asleep. Ok, rant over.

2. Package that made my week:

The power of Twitter is amazing. I won a 24-pack of Premier Protein a few months ago and it finally came! I first tried their protein shakes and bars through a blogger giveaway. I LOVE how their drinks taste. When protein is usually so chalky, theirs is smooth and delicious sans a funky aftertaste.


3. What I’m making with my copious amounts of squash:

Olive Oil Roasted Butternut Squash Salad. I tend to love salads with roasted veggies on top and this one is no exception. With Brie cheese, drizzled balsamic vinegar, chopped rosemary and a drizzle of olive oil on a bed of spinach, I felt like I should be eating this salad at a restaurant (not the Melting Pot :)  instead of my own table.



Question: Chain restaurants: Love ‘em or hate ‘em? And which ones do you love or hate the most?

Adventures at Odd Duck

Last night, a few former coworkers and I headed to Odd Duck in Bay View for Happy Hour. My friend Julie got a new job so we needed to celebrate.

At Odd Duck, you’ll find an ever-changing menu (seriously, it changes every day) focused on local, in-season ingredients. They also encourage sharing, which seems to bring the whole table together even more.

In addition to $5 glasses of wine, we started the night with a tomato salad. When someone picked this, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was easily my favorite dish of the night. The tomatoes tasted like they were picked 5 minutes before we sat down. It was garnished with fresh herbs, pesto and shaved cheese.

Next came the black bean enchiladas. I really liked how they used just a sprinkling of cheese instead of dousing the whole dish in it, which is what you usually find with Mexican dishes around Milwaukee. My only suggestion would be to kick up the spices just a bit.

The last dish we shared was a chevre & spring vegetable terrine, arugula, and aged balsamic crostini. I absolutely adore chevre cheese, but I liked it even more with the tangy balsamic vinegar on top. I think I need to head to Oro di Oliva so I can make this at home (It would look great on top of the cheese board that the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board gave us on our Madison cheese tour).

On the reading front, I just discovered a new author I just love. Jane Green’s writing reminds me a lot of Sophie Kinsella. I just finished “The Other Woman,” which is about Ellie and her relationship with her mother-in-law. Ellie’s mom was an alcoholic and died when Ellie was 13. When she married her husband Dan, she thought her mother-in-law would be the mother she never had. Linda (which is my mom’s name) is the mother–in-law. She tries to make Ellie into her daughter. Although you’d think this would drive them together, Ellie drives Linda away and it almost ruins her marriage. In the end, Ellie comes to understand Linda and finally able to accept her for the woman she is, not the woman she wants her to be.

Since my commute is pretty long, about 30 minutes each way, I read this on audiobook. The story is based in London and the most lovely British woman was the narrator. I loved her voice. I think I may start using “loo” in everyday conversation now.


Question: Do you have any book suggestions? Is there an author you just love? My other favorite author is Emily Giffin. I have read all 6? of her books. Although I love to read a bunch of random things, it’s rare that I find an author I like so much where I have to read everything he/she writes.

Wauwatosa Food Tour

For those of you not from Wisconsin, I’m sure you’re reading the title and going, “wa wa, what!?”

Wauwatosa is a western suburb of Milwaukee. Its name means “firefly.” That was one the facts I learned last weekend on our Milwaukee Food Tour.

Last year we went on a Bloody Mary Brunch Tour for Brenton’s birthday. Ironically, his birthday is today. Another ironic fact is that I won the tickets through Married in Milwaukee. And if you know me, you know I’m obviously not married!

The tour started at the Wauwatosa Farmers Market.

We checked out Bolzano Meats first.

Then came Purple Door Ice Cream. Holy mother of diary. I am obsessed with this stuff. It’s made locally in Milwaukee and would put any pint of Ben & Jerry’s to shame.

We tried chocolate, peanut butter and strawberry wine. I have got to pick up a pint (or heck, a gallon) of the strawberry ice cream. It was so fresh, flavorful and creamy.

Next, we visited Cafe Hollander. This place is always busy, and it’s easy to see why. When we lived on Milwaukee’s East Side, we would visit there frequently, and their food was always amazing (especially the portobello mushroom burger).

Striking a post with my Valentine’s Coffee.

The first tasting was meatballs with a curry ketchup. I think Brenton was in heaven.

Their benelux salad was amazing. I could eat this salad every day for lunch.

Next, we visited Oro di Oliva to taste premium vinegars and olive oils. I’ve seen places like this before but never actually stepped into one. Although their products are more expensive than oils and vinegars in the grocery store, this is one case where you really get what you pay for. Everything I tasted (from the mushroom and sage olive oil to the raspberry basalmic vinegar) was intensely flavored, clean tasting and the best quality I have ever had. If you need a gift for someone who loves to cook, I highly recommend buying from a store like Oro di Oliva.

Afterwards we ate pizza and drank wine at Pizzeria Piccola. We tried the four seasons and the margarita pizzas. I loved the four seasons because it had olives, mushrooms and artichokes. Bring on the veggies!

The One Way Cafe satisfied my sweet tooth. Their lemon bars was so citrusy. And that crust…to. die. for. For the chocoholics, there was a brownie alongside that was rich, dense and fudgy (is there any other kind?!). The lemon bar was my favorite though. I’d drive the 20 minutes to Wauwatosa just for that.

The tour ended at Niemann’s Candies where we sampled their caramels. I’d hate to admit, but they blow our homemade caramels out of the water. Maybe I can trade my firstborn child for the recipe.

All in all, we had a great time on the tour. Milwaukee Food Tours offers a variety of tours throughout the Milwaukee area. I’d love to take my mom to the Cedarburg tour. We love shopping and having girls’ days in that town, and what better way to explore it more than through food?


Don’t forget to enter my West Bend Giveaway! One lucky She’s on the Run reader will win a 5-piece home canning kit. To enter, check out the post here. You have until Saturday morning!

Dinner at Pastiche

Last weekend we visited Pastiche in Bay View. It was by far the best meal I have ever had in Milwaukee so I didn’t want to waste too much time before getting the review up. The restaurant has French influences and focuses around local and seasonal ingredients. But beware, Pastiche only has 10 tables so if you are planning on going there, make a reservation at least a week and a half in advance.

For an appetizer, Brenton and I split Potato Batonettes with Aioli. I HATE mayo but I was gobbling that sauce up. It was so good!

I’ve also disliked beets since as long as I can remember. I think it’s because I had never tried a fresh beet until a few years ago (the canned stuff just isn’t the same!). B’s mom ordered this Beet and Chevre salad. I loved how fresh and flavorful it was.

Like father, like son. Enjoying some Riesling.

B’s dad ordered the crab cake salad. I tried a few bites and proclaimed it was the best crab cake ever. Give me a plate of these please.

Brenton ordered the duck breast with chorizo. I had to convince him not to order the rabbit (we grew up with them as pets). He loved his dinner so he was glad he listen to me (like I would ever steer him in the wrong direction…ha!)

B’s mom ordered the tuna atop Israeli couscous. She loved it.

I filled up on bread, appetizers and wine. So by the time my entree came around, I wasn’t terribly hungry. I wish I would have saved my appetite because this fish was cooked to perfection. It was a pan fried halibut with a lemon butter caper sauce. The green beans were buttery and crisp. And the scalloped potatoes were super creamy. Although it was the special of the day, I hope they put it on the menu permanently.

Needless to say, we were all stuffed to the brim. Magically I gained some of my appetite back when the dessert menu came. We split Angela’s Lemon Tart for the table. The plate was drizzled with caramel sauce and adorned with fresh strawberries, blackberries and blueberries. It was heavenly. Just give me a slab of this and a glass of white wine and I’ll be a happy girl!

Your turn. What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?

Date Night at La Perla

This weekend Brenton and I did something that we hardly ever get to do – date night! I bought a groupon a few weeks ago for La Perla in Milwaukee. I’ve been there a few times, and I swear they have the best Mexican food in the city. The area is a little sketchy, 5th and National, but the food makes it worth it.

Our $25 Groupon got us a dinner for two – one appetizer, two entrées and one dessert. Our appetizer was their steak quesadilla (Brenton’s favorite thing that entire night). The steak was super flavorful. (Please excuse the black and white photos – I was playing with the photo filter on my phone and can’t get these back to color!)

For his entrée, Brenton chose chicken chimichangas. They were the best chimi’s I’ve ever had in my life!

I opted for shrimp fajitas, which were super good except the shrimp weren’t deveined.

I love fried ice cream at Mexican restaurants, but this teaser for Banana Nutella Chimichangas featuring Milwaukee’s own Purple Door ice cream pulled us in.

The live version did not disappoint. The vanilla bean ice cream was creamy and rich, pairing really nicely with the chocolate oozing out of the hot chimichangas.

I know this looks like a ton of food, but Brenton and I brought two nearly full boxes home. We even had enough of the fajitas to both eat it for dinner the next night. And we used some leftover rice and beans to make a separate quesadilla on the stove (I added some Swiss cheese from our fridge). Brenton also ate a leftover chimi for breakfast the next morning. Next time I go to La Perla, I am definitely ordering those.

Question: Do you like bringing leftovers home? Do you ever adapt them into another dish?
Personally, I do that quesadilla trick all the time with leftover rice and beans. I’ve also used leftover rice from Chinese takeout in enchiladas.

Welcome to She's on the Run! I'm Alysha, a copywriter and food writer living in Milwaukee. I live to run, write and explore wonderful food - this blog is how I find balance while constantly being on the run. Feel free to reach me at with any questions or comments.
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