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 CafÃ?Â©
316 N. Milwaukee St.
A Third Ward establishment with a simple, refined bistro dÃ?Â©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.
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?Â©
1101 S. 2nd St.
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?Â©, 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?Â© should not be missed. It’s a hybrid light fare cafÃ?Â© 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.
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.