Drawing a lot of cool from the fact that it was literally a neighborhood of burned out buildings 15 years ago, Fifth Ward can boast another foodie destination right off of Bruce and Second Street. That’s right. Across the street from Clock Shadow Creamery and Purple Door Ice Cream, and behind Milwaukee Brewing Company, sits Anodyne Coffee’s new roasting factory and cafe.
F- the Bar
It has hit the soft spot between Stone Creek’s Fifth Street facility downtown and the mega-Colectivo on KK. Having multiple full bore, fair trade, exclusive batch coffee roasters in town is an absolute luxury and distinguishing factor Milwaukee has over even its largest peers. It was astounding just how bad, or hard to find, good coffee was in cities I traveled recently. I actually can’t imagine the same isn’t true in nearly every American town. Especially, Louisville, Hiene Brother’s should just say its a murky hot water shop. I guess we’re spoiled.
Humble, Humble Better
Anodyne‘s red brick one-and-half story warehouse, takes up a low-key corner and has a low key footprint to match. It barely looks touched, other than a little pressure washing and red trimmed large framed hybrid-sash box windows. A heavy wood stained door looks respectably salvaged, above it a three dimensional iron decal blazes Anodyne complete with its signature capital “A” and red banner.
Pacing a couple stair walk up, or ascending by accessibility lift, you’re greeted by exceedingly spacious and thoughtfully designed common space. From floor, to the vaulted ceiling must span twenty feet.
Looking as though sliced from recently felled trees, wooden conventional camp cabin and bar height tables glazed with a hard glossy lacquer, cover the deck of the matching wood floor. Tucked beneath the table surfaces, custom manufactured aluminum chairs sit light and sturdy, with an “A” for Anodyne branded on the seat.
Lights hung in domed clear glass utility fixtures, appear like they could run on argon gas. The shaded lamp stands lean back casually, both powered with intensely red cords.
Anodyne’s uniqueness even shows through its service counter, which more resembles the ultimate Irish pub bar. It reaches at least 70 feet from the register to the wall, used both for service and patrons.
Brewed Awakenings, Unwindings
Anodyne’s current roasts traveled from Costa Rica, Kenya, El Salvador and Tanzania, some roasted in completely original small batches like the signature Snake Oil Espresso Batch No. 2 blend. When its past coffee time, Anodyne also offers a few taps of Milwaukee Brewing Company brews.
Anodyne is a remarkable coffee destination and open daily.
If you heard a rumor that there was a giant coffee cup being hoisted atop a building you can confirm that just by heading east down I-794. The giant rooftop cup, a beacon to all wayward coffee drinkers, signifies you can now sip Stone Creek Coffee slowly at their shining new Factory Store on 5th and St. Paul.
Stone Creek Coffee Factory Store serves up quality and well sourced grind all week, very early on weekdays opening at 5:30a, then 6:00a on Sat and 7:00a on Sun.
Spacious, comfortable and modest, the Stone Creek Factory Store retained the old world charm of given by original building architects Burnham and Root, with vintage cabin completeness provided by Kubala Washakto (a slightly style-cramping choice of architects considering they also designed Alterra’s corporate headquarters). Not moments after entering Stone Creek’s vestibule, do you experience l0arge glass panels beckoning you to enter the cafe to see just how nice inside looks.
At the Factory Store opening, Stone Creek’s renewed industrial interior, formerly just their headquarters and roasting facility, provides a ideal setting for coffee consumption and bustles with activity. It feels like an unpretentious resort suitable for Stone Creek’s typical patronage, a pleasant and seemly crowd not quite spanning the cultural spectrum the way Alterra does. Friendly, knowledgeable Barristas have a marked presence, as well as ample seating at big tables suitable for accommodating feasts in ancient Saxony.
Method to the Cup
Stone Creek still has a Barrista school where its employees hone their craft of brewing and cupping. A kind fellow stands at the coffee bar practice area ready to demonstrate the traditional drip method of brewing. The mock Barrista station captures the intensity of a chemistry lab. Several glass vessels rest on top of digital scales consecutively, cradle ceramic drip cones in their openings. A tea kettle holding water heats up with a digital thermometer monitoring its temperature. In grave detail, the fellow explains that preparation of a single cup of coffee using the drip method suits his personal preference. An emphasis on the precise weight of beans and type of grind, ensures that what the vessel captures, when water brought just below a boil slowly soaks through the coffee and filter, impresses the pallet of those with discerning taste.
Further leaping into maturity, not that Stone Creek hadn’t outdone itself with the primary features of the remodel, baked goods now come in-sourced fresh from its newly christened commercial backing facility. Goodies make it from oven to plate, pipping fresh, and quicker than ever. Stone Creek’s coffee couldn’t be happier.
Stone Creek’s flagship store get tons of credit for adding a little commerce to an otherwise bleak area for retail business of any kind. Sitting at the footsteps of the Central Post Office and Intermodal Station, and a stones throw from We Energies, an obvious captive market will inevitablely tip their cups. Let’s hope that some spillover from the Third Ward Association’s innovations in pedestrian experience and attempts to heighten awareness of activating dead spaces like Brighten the Passage, can meet West Town and the City halfway and alleviate the bleak walking conditions from surrounding areas to make an even greater success story for Downtown.
Just past 84th and National Avenue, we weave through some barricades placed in the middle of the road to ward off through traffic. We get one maneuver closer to having some Peruvian food from an obscure three month-old niche eatery called Chef Paz. A bunch of construction shouldn’t stop from you from going anywhere now should it? Especially, not West Allis.
I could talk about how enamored I feel driving through West Allis, a.k.a Stallis, and marveling at the shear volume of corner and mid-block pubs and windowless bar and grills enjoying above average patronage on a weekday night. Throw in my pleasant dining experience at Chez Paz, and my work week becomes a little more bearable.
A decorative iron gate encloses the patio seating just outside the entry-way. Entering Chez Paz, a minimally repurposed diner layout holds some continuity from the restaurant’s previous occupants legacy, spheroid lunch counter and all. A layer of mint green paint covering the stucco walls makes an impression on your eyes.
Chef Paz’s cuisine fuses hearty comfort food we know and love Stateside, with preparation uniquely South American. The menu emphasizes interpretations of rice and bean based dishes found throughout the world and the venerable combination of steak and seafood. Traditional American, Asian and Italian recipes get an Andean make-over for those looking for something more familiar.
Way Down Home Cooking
A meal for every appetite, the opening courses glanced Tex-mex favorites like empanadas and “tamals” done with a Peruvian spin, served with a memorable creamy salsa verde. For the main course, I chose a hefty portion of paella loaded with shrimp, calamari and mussels, complete with a shell-on whole-head shrimp garnish. The closing courses will help you indulge further as you manically scoop sinfully rich mousses or custard-y deliciousness from small glass cups.
Chez Paz fires up the kitchen Sunday through Monday just before the lunch hour and closes at 8p weekday and 9 on the weekends. Prices correlate directly with the amount of food ordered, with superb flavor held constant and weekday dinner specials for $6.99.
Two new Peruvian restaurants open on National Avenue by Damien Jaques, OnMilwaukee
Growing legend and proprietor of Growing Power Will Allen delayed the grand opening of the Growing Power Deli and Market to pay small token of respect to his neighbors in Oak Creek. Just another reflection of the thoughtfulness that lends soulful heartiness to Growing Power’s most recent effort to sew seeds where they are most needed and might take. MLK is ready to add a handsome crop to its mixed yield of previous development plantings; across the street lay the hulls of Stella’s Restaurant, which before that was a Ponderosa Steakhouse.
In partnership with the King Commons development in the Harambee neighborhood, Growing Power now offers fresh produce and dry goods in a retail market storefront located on Martin Luther King Drive just north of Center Street. To make it even better, there is a modest but appetizing menu of sandwiches and salads salads available from the cafe’s kitchen. MilwaukeeMag did a taste test of the chicken and dumplings, jumbalaya and the Cucavo (cucumber and avocado) sandwich. Then there is every grill’s old reliable: the burger.
The Great Burger Debate
Much ongoing talk is uttered concerning the where-to for a great burger in Milwaukee. Growing Power can safely join the shortlist. For a flat $6, you get a thick grass-feed lean beef patty that you can have with your choice/combination of fixings and bread. The great part about grass-fed beef, in similar way as with free-range chicken eggs, you are reminded of how accustom to com-agra products you are as to find adequately raised and prepared meat and vegetables surprisingly full of unfamiliarly delicious flavors.
I choose to have my burger with pepper jack cheese, Growing Power’s famous mixed-green lettuce, tomato and fried onions. Half-way through my meal, it didn’t cross my mind to rip the corners off of my mustard packets. Don’t bother asking for fries, the menu is designed to fight unhealthy food choices. Instead Growing Power’s produce refrigerators have many choices to accompany any meal. I chose a handful of fresh and crispy green beans for fifty cents.
Growing Power Deli and Market’s friendly service and nice causal atmosphere comes with all the great food Monday through Saturday from 7:00a to 4:00p, serving coffee, bakery and breakfast sandwiches, and a variety of other lunch fare.
Growing Power Aims to bring fresh produce to food desert by Lori Friedrich, OnMilwaukee
The Growing Power Cafe by Chris Christie, MilwaukeeMag
The Growing Power’s Deli and Food Market open for breakfast and lunch by Carol Deptolla, TapMilwaukee
It hangs out on a block best known for the grizzly working-class pub Steny’s, smushed-up next to Fat Daddy’s. Making use of the sign design made famous by Southern used car lots, coin-sized dots spell “Lo Cash”, shimmering flecks of silvery sunlight off the side of the building.
The interior decor although not brand-spanking new has yet accumulated the drinking hours to adequately absorb the savory juices that amply flow from the kitchen, a dive in the making. A neon sign couldn’t even bring it attention. Lo Cash Live keeps the low-key atmosphere of the 5th Ward strip, still adding flavor to recipe. Lo Cash Live is a Barbecue Joint, South by Mid-West.
I sit down at a table near the wall with my dinner mate. Swinging into the tall seat I nod at Al Jarreau, who poses behind the glass of the frame that holds an old promo portrait. Other crooning singers from various eras and genres nudge corners with him. I’m hard on BBQ so I’m ready for disappointment. Nothing beats the backyard and down-home secrets that make it atop the briquette heated grill.
Lo Cash’s menu makes the right first impression, short, easy to read and to-the-point. Each main dish of either BBQ pork, chicken or brisket and comes with a side, picking from sweet corn, slaw, baked beans or macaroni and cheese (with is technically a vegetable south of the Mason-Dixon). Sandwiches of the same fill also for your fancy. The house adds variety with a fried shrimp po’ boy and a Wisconsin inspired option called Three Little Piggies: a brat patty with pulled pork and bacon, ‘tween a bun. Not one of the meals or sandwiches cost more than ten bucks.
Packing it In
I hone in the brisket meal, it’s even tough to cook-up outdoors. In fifteen minutes a sawed-off tin water pale comes out lined with red and white checked wax paper, table cloth inspired. On top of it, steaming slices of tender beef brisket lay naked, with a perfect amount of edge fat, and covered in vinegary BBQ sauce. The fork goes in, the brisket disappears, mighty delicious on a cool spring evening.
One added note, this 5th Ward diner will soon have the distinction of filling the void left by the closing of Sil’s Mini-Donuts on North Avenue. An appetizer called Corn Fritters comes out looking like a basket of traditional hushpuppies, however, sugared and thoroughly fried, the cornmeal balls come with a tub of molten butter sauce for dip. Goodness!
For Your Listening Pleasure
The food should draw you in and Lo Cash keeps the good times going with cover free live music. I got a fortunate treat hearing a solo set from Annie B who rocks lead for group Annie B and Vagabond Company. They actually just jammed the pre-game show with Icarus Down for the Bucks game Monday night.
Of hard Americana cast and heart made, sometimes mellow vocals belt from Annie B’s lips in front of her acoustic guitar on her two recorded albums Fancies of a Random Heart and a solo project The Kiwi Cafe, sounds well suited for live performance.
Lo Cash Live is located on 2nd and National and open serving great food and music daily.