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.
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.
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.
Carlos and Debbie Nieto?the proprietors of the once-famed Carlos' restaurant and its successor, Nieto's?took inspiration from the bistros of Paris when they opened Cafe Central in 1995. Today, Adam Nieto and his dedicated team craft a variety of contemporary, French-inspired food. Salads feature poached chicken or traditional ni?oise toppings, and roast duckling comes drizzled with peach sauce. They also offer risotto that changes weekly along with their long standing grass fed beef cheeseburger.
The dining room also cultivates an ambiance based on the City of Light. Black-clothed tables topped with natural butcher paper reminiscent of a quaint caf? play host to dishes of country pat? and center cuts of Black Angus filet mignon. Colorful artwork accentuates the butter-yellow walls. A classic black-and-white checkered floor makes the whole place pop, and requires you to checkmate your waiter before they will offer you dessert.
In large Old-World style letters, August Weber Haus declares its name on its red sign, followed by the telling addendum "Est. 1865." The restaurant preserves much of its vintage charm while serving a modern menu of fondue treats, more than 100 wines, and more than 30 craft beers. Fondue comprises most of the menu, from appetizers to desserts, but only some of it revolves around cheese. Entrees come with hot sauces or flavored oils, with the uncooked morsels following a certain theme. The Sea entree, for instance, boasts bites of scallops, Canadian lobster tail, ahi tuna, and salmon alongside flavors ranging from garlic butter to wasabi soy.
Melthouse Bistro elevates a favorite childhood classic with its innovative roster of gourmet grilled-cheese sandwiches. The menu lists handcrafted creations such as the Maliblue whose country fresh bread is stacked high with Wisconsin blue cheese, alongside smoked turkey breast, pecanwood smoked bacon, avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, hard boiled eggs crumbles, and roasted garlic mayo. Each crispy medley of veggies, cheeses, and meats?which range from The Brasserie's braised short ribs to the hand-battered fried chicken of The Buffalo Bill?sidles onto plates tucked between locally baked artisan bread from Breadsmith. The bistro looks to local farms for its produce as well, prizing the down-home vibe of made-from-scratch meals over the artificial hum of fluorescent-light hoagies. Suggested wine and craft beer pairings whisper under each item listed on the menu, fleshing out the gustatory revelry.
The Melthouse's merger between modest and stylish cooking has garnered praise from OnMilawukee.com, the Journal Sentinel and A.V. Club Milwaukee, which praises the "delicious sandwiches, solid sides, and stellar service." Its decor mirrors the edibles, walking the line between rustic and modern: wood reclaimed from a century-old granary decks the walls, while floor-to-ceiling windows and metallic stools flaunt crisp edges.