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.
Miramar Bistro pleases patrons with a high-concept menu that straddles French, Cuban, and American sensibilities. Dive in with herb-marinated olives ($6.50) or an artichoke terrine ($9.95), or opt to start with a crab, scallop, and lobster cake ($14.50), the preferred cake of birthday parties all over Atlantis. Sandwiches include Cuban ham and cheese ($9.50) and pressed chicken pesto ($8.75), as well as croque monsieur ($8.95) and croque madame ($9.95), often called the Mork and Mindy of cuisine. Steak au poivre ($25.95) is the stuff meaty dreams are made of, while a duo of short ribs and rack of lamb ($32) means cowboys and shepherds can finally break bread without also breaking into a blistering freestyle rap battle. A lunch menu is available to quell daytime appetite insurrections, and a Sunday brunch buffet helps pack maximum pleasure into precious weekend hours.
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 niçoise 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 café play host to dishes of country paté 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.
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.
Featuring a culinary team that boasts training in kitchens from Italy to New York, D Mo's Pasta & Chop House stimulates salivary glands with an alluring array of Italian-American dishes. From their perch atop dark-chocolate-leather chairs, dinnertime diners can staunch growing hunger tides with orders of crispy fritto misto––calamari and shrimp with marinara ($9.50)––before plunging face-first into any number of enticing meat or pasta entrees. Unstuffed raviolis jump through hoops of spinach and ricotta to become ravioli di ricotta e spinaci ($12.50), and a steaming bowl of brodetto alla veneta––a seafood stew in a stewed tomato and pinot grigio base––treats taste buds to a grounded tour of the ocean's most popular speakeasies ($17). Hand-powered knives can hew 14-ounce New York strips ($21.95) or double-cut pork chops ($17) into bite-sized morsels before hiding them in a choice of side dish, inciting teeth-led search-and-masticate missions.