Bluemound Gardens’ kitchen staff whips up a diverse array of offerings including homemade soups and pastries, and puts its twist on American classics such as ribs, burgers, and baked and broiled seafood. The eatery prides itself on a casual family dining atmosphere with a focus on customer service. Flat-panel big-screen televisions in the bar area showcase football games on Sundays, and the staff hosts a Mexican-themed night on Wednesdays. The Wauwatosa icon is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Located on the second floor of the former Woman’s Club of Madison building, Samba Brazilian Grill bursts at the seams with history and a generous salad-bar buffet and rodizio-style meats, carved tableside. The meat selection changes regularly but often features a beef such as tenderloin with sake-soy marinade, porkables including the intricately flavored spicy linguiça pork sausage, delicious chicken snacks, and the baharat leg of lamb. A waiter brings the protein-heavy entrees to the table intact before slicing away right before your eyes, expertly dropping steaming pieces onto plates and tucking napkins into shirts. The salad bar stocks its surfaces with multiple salads, fresh vegetables, cheeses, olives, pickled savories, and plenty of mashed- and bean-centric sides. The eatery possesses a darkly lit interior with rich, dark woods throughout.
Overlooking the Fox River, The River Room Restaurant appeases appetites of all sizes with a mouthwatering menu of succulent delicacies. Inaugurate a dinner with friends, coworkers, or a selection of porcelain dolls with the chilled shrimp martini, which drenches skinny-dipping crustaceans in a horseradish cocktail sauce ($7). The potato-crusted cod ($14) halts hunger with a flavorful barricade, and the chicken 'n' bacon alfredo ($14) entrances taste buds with the hearty harmony of an edible Sonny & Cher concert.
The faint melody of blues music and the aroma of smoking meat drifts out of the imposing white brick façade of the former American Bank & Trust building. It can inspire the occasional double take from passersby who don't know that the opulent space is now occupied by Gerald’s Smokehouse. Inside, where bank tellers once counted cash, there's now a meat smoker that roasts ribs.
Restaurateur Gerald Bester has striven to preserve the building's old-fashioned bits of grandeur. The former deposit slip column has been upended into a long table, and the bank vault serves as the centerpiece of the dining room and as a time-out room for fussy dining companions. Sunlight pours through the service window at the end of the bar. Mr. Bester has also updated the space by transforming the second floor into a VIP lounge furnished with flat-screen TVs, leather couches, and an outside smoking patio.
Mr. Bester, who has a background in entertainment and promotions, strives to lure in international musicians, comedians, and poets to the restaurant’s stage. “I knew from an early age I wanted to be an entrepreneur," he says. "Comedy, bands—I just wanted it all in one location, with good food and good drinks.”
In contrast to the oft-elaborate décor, Mr. Bester keeps the food casual, offering southern-style barbecue. His chefs smoke ribs atop beds of apple-pecan and hickory wood and serve the meat alongside heaping sides of fried green tomatoes and collard greens.
Savory scents beckon diners to the 14 hibachi tables inside OSAKA Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi. Like gymnasts tired of the same old floor routine, morsels of steak, chicken, or seafood tumble atop sizzling teppan grills as personal chefs prepare each meal. Alternatively, tables in the traditional dining room fill with fine pan-Asian fare, from pad thai and General Tso’s chicken to a wide selection of sushi. Osaka also boasts a full bar, a carry-out menu, and a private party room, and caters to families by offering kids their own exclusive bill of fare.
• For $20, you get $40 worth of Asian fare and drinks during dinner. • For $10, you get $20 worth of Asian fare and drinks during lunch. The skilled chefs at Meiji Cuisine, which serves Chinese and Japanese dishes, sear entrees over hibachi grills, roll fresh sushi, and craft Chinese specialties. Prepare for midnight Battleship games against an old sea captain with the War Bar dinner combination, a maritime medley of shrimp, scallops, crabmeat, and squid ($17.95). Hibachi entrees serve up Japanese-style grilled eats with a choice of vegetables and meats, including chicken ($16) and swordfish ($21). During lunch, sample maki sushi combos ($9 for two rolls, $11 for three) that include the eel cucumber roll, smoked eel wrapped in a blanket of eel sauce and lounging on a bed of sticky rice. Or feast on a plate of Chinese-style sweet-and-sour shrimp ($12.75), which leaves diners sweet on their lunch and sour on their afternoon return to work.