French Restaurants in Milwaukee

The gritty, bratwurst-and-beer-loving city of Milwaukee does not exactly resonate with French character. Yet sprinkled throughout the town are a few well-regarded French restaurants serving everything from lunchy fare like a croque madame to more sophisticated meals like coq au vin. And of course, what would a French be without wine? Check out these four French restaurants in Milwaukee.

French Restaurants in Milwaukee: Coquette Caf�©
316 N. Milwaukee St.
Milwaukee, WI
414-291-2655
http://www.coquettecafe.com/
A Third Ward establishment with a simple, refined bistro dÃ?©cor, Coquette has been welcoming diners since 1999. Must-haves are the onion soup with gruyere cheese and the navarin d’agneau, a lamb dish with turnip and rutabega. Diners can complement their meals with a selection of pates and wines to round out the French food experience. Popular for pre-theatre and pre-opera dining, Coquette tends to attract an enlightened yuppie set – the financial advisor types who also fancy themselves patrons of the arts.

French Restaurants in Milwaukee: Trocadero
1758 N. Water St.
Milwaukee, WI
414-272-0205
http://www.ztrocadero.com/ (note their attempt to be witty with the URL)
If the Hipster Handbook had a Milwaukee appendix, it would feature a photo of Trocadero. Just off the western edge of Brady Street near the new pedestrian bridge, a tidy “Tabac” sign beckons East Siders to the two-story restaurant/bar, which also includes a popular patio. Despite my tendency to dismiss places like this as merely “see and be seen,” Trocadero really does offer superb French food (along with some not-so-French food, too). Try the goat cheese turnover, the vegetable crepes, and the blackberry duck. The entrees do change a bit by season, but the cheeses and pates are quite consistent.

French Restaurants in Milwaukee: Jacques’ French CafÃ?©
1101 S. 2nd St.
Milwaukee, WI
414-672-1040
http://www.footspot.com/jacquescafe
Surrounded by the strange mix of industrial buildings, dusty residences, and gay bars that dot Walker’s Point lies the unassuming little nook known as Jacques’ French CafÃ?©, one of the more affordable and causally comfortable French restaurants in Milwaukee. Ideal for a mid-morning nutella crepe, a lunchtime croque monsieur, or even a hearty helping of bouillabaisse, Jacques’ CafÃ?© should not be missed. It’s a hybrid light fare cafÃ?© and small restaurant with an authentic streak that says “We’re not trying to be French; we just are.”

French Restaurants in Milwaukee: Elliot’s Bistro
2321 N. Murray St.
Milwaukee, WI
414-273-1488
http://www.elliotsbistro.com/
I ate one of my most memorable meals in Milwaukee at Elliot’s Bistro:
a) the server clumsily dropped another patron’s plate in my lap;
b) the steak au poivre was tragically subpar, skimpy, and anything but subtle;
c) the atmosphere was lacking, with lighting that conveyed a sense of transience
d) the tab was far too high for a mismanaged attempt at wannabe-foofiness along the North Ave. corridor.
Given the number of superb restaurants of all types in Milwaukee where diners can drop $40 or more a head, a visit to Elliot’s should be avoided.

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