Patrick Murphy fell in love with French cuisine without even leaving American soil. In fact, he barely left the Midwest. Ever since his apprenticeship with award-winning chef Sanford D'Amato, Patrick's been dedicated to crafting French cuisine with gigs at Coquette Cafe in Milwaukee and Café Boulud in New York City. At Le Rêve, he draws on those experiences, using seasonal ingredients to craft his own take on French classics. Cooking for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, he whips up everything from crepes with mushroom, gruyère, and basted egg to pan-bagnat sandwiches with grilled chicken and roasted-caper aioli.
For Carol Deptolla of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "It's not a trip to Le Rêve without one of the intricate pastries for dessert." Pastry chef Abelardo Guadarrama whips up these sweet treats, which range from tarts filled with housemade caramel sauce and chocolate ganache to gluten- and nut-free options such as crème brûlée. Along with housemade breads and croissants, daily and seasonal desserts fill the tempting glass display inside Le Rêve's dining room.
"Milwaukee, rolled in a sweet topping of Paris chic." That's how Milwaukee Magazine describes Le Rêve's interior, which aptly mirrors the two geographic influences of Chef Patrick. A former bank, the more than 100-year-old building sports classic café touches such as a terrazzo floor, exposed brick, and leather banquettes. To top it off, bartenders serve wine, spirits, and cocktails from behind a zinc-topped bar, which supplies 700% of your daily zinc intake with just one quick lick.
Chateau De Pere's French-country theme pays homage to the adventurous spirits of Wisconsin's first known European visitors—17th-century Frenchmen such as Jean Nicolet, Nicolas Perrot, and Toussaint Baudry. The hotel's visitors, however, find much more elegant accommodations than the French explorers did. Built on the foundation of a 19th-century mill, Chateau De Pere houses 36 suites, all with queen or king beds, a seating area, flat-screen TV, and wireless Internet. In king suites, which overlook the Fox River, guests can slip into single whirlpool baths, snuggle beneath rich, floral-printed covers, or cozy up next to the see-through fireplace that divides the bedroom and living-room areas.
In accordance with the France-inspired theme, executive chef and Provence native Sebastien Amoruso serves up French dishes, such as a pesto-slathered panini provence grilled with goat cheese, within Chateau De Pere's restaurant, Café Chanson. In addition to sandwiches, crepes, and burgers, Amoruso and his team also craft traditional French dishes, such as beef bourguignon and a slow-roasted, herb-crusted rack of lamb with rosemary cream sauce. Additionally, beret-clad roosters wake travelers each morning for a complimentary breakfast.
In 1961, Bob Terese and Corinne Owen opened a small pet shop in downtown Chicago. Part of their mission: to employ workers with developmental disabilities so they can lead productive and fulfilling lives. That little pet shop has since relocated and expanded into a 70-acre campus called Lambs Farm, which has a variety of residential and vocational programs that continue to help those in need. Nearly 250 individuals live here today in group homes and individual apartments; they have access to employment opportunities and a number of recreational services, such as camping and hobby clubs. In addition to the expansive pet shop, the campus also has a farmyard, a bakery, and assorted shops that sell goods handcrafted by Lambs Farm residents.
A colonial-style brick mansion with two stories of picturesque wraparound porches and balconies greets visitors as they approach Tony & Mia's. Once inside, they’re met by the smell of pizzas, pastas, risottos, and steaks along with the approachable familiarity of homestyle Italian meals. Framed prints of famous Renaissance paintings fill the walls. And the warm glow of antique chandeliers evokes memories of sharing a Thanksgiving meal at the grandparents' farmhouse, or perhaps of stealing the neighbor's chandelier.
Head Chef Camille DiNicola wills into existence stone-baked, mozzarella-topped pizzas, slow-braised beef ravioli, and marinated Cornish hens. Her husband⎯manager Randy Piering⎯ensures the comfort and satisfaction of each guest. Diners relax with glasses of fine Italian wine and small plates as they listen to professional crooners sing Sinatra standards, or gather on the lawn to watch the expert spheroid-flinging of the neighborhood bocce league.
The menu at Pancake Cafe is impressive—almost as impressive as their nine straight awards for Best Breakfast in Madison Magazine’s Best of Madison. For breakfast, the staff serves home-style meals such as oven-baked omelets or house-made biscuits and gravy. The eatery’s namesake comes in unexpected varieties, including an award-winning apple pancake that’s baked for 20 minutes with fresh fruit, baker’s sugar, and Sinkiang cinnamon glaze. Pancake Cafe also whips up gluten-free versions and an old-fashioned potato pancake capped with applesauce or sour cream. They even squeeze fresh orange juice by wringing out a traffic cone as aggressively as possible. At lunch, servers put the waffles down for a nap and begin presenting plates of white-albacore tuna melts, Angus burgers, and Chicago-style italian beef sandwiches.
Owner Lance Ratze named Yola’s Café for his Grandma Yola, a sensational cook who hoped to own a cafe but passed away before realizing her dream. She did come close, though. In addition to filling her kitchen with restaurant equipment, she piled her basement's ping-pong table high with roast beef, waffles, and pies so as to serve as many people as possible.
Today, Yola's aims to recreate its namesake's hospitality by filling stomachs with baked goods. By lunch, artisans dole out sandwiches, salads, and soups to sate midday cravings. As they dine, grownups peruse a rotating selection of local artwork, while kids play with the cafe's toys, board games, and an old tin can.