For Butterflies and Grasshoppers – The Social, Milwaukee

the social, milwaukee, wisconsin - grasshopper
LAX 2 ORD, no. 15

Blogging does weird things to your life. I won’t enumerate them all, for I could take an entire day to list each and every way The Delicious Life has changed things for me in the last year, but I will mention one thing. Food blogging has affected the way that friends, family and I dine out. We can’t just be “in the mood for,” identify a place, and go eat. Not that going out to eat is as simple a task as that in the first place. It usually involves first locking down a time and date that jives with everyone’s schedules, then taking into account allergies, preferences, psychosomatic “allergies,” driving distances, and whatsuch, creating a multiple choice list that gets progressively shorter as restaurants get knocked off with each Reply-All email, until finally, we end up at…the same place every time. LOL! But now, now we add another stipulation to the mix – will it work for the blog? The blog? THE blog, as in…duh, is there any other blog? LOL!

The funny thing is, I am never the one who brings it up. My friends and family do.

“Let’s go to Chameau since you haven’t blogged it yet.”

“Ooooh, Sasaya is way too dark. We should try somewhere that has brighter lighting so the pictures will come out better.”

“You are going to love the uni spaghetti at Blue Marlin. It’s soooo The Delicious Life.”

I won’t even begin to write about what it’s like once we actually get to a restaurant – seating arrangements, ordering process, etc. It’s all so funny.

the social, milwaukee, wisconsin
great big sign to remind you where you are

For the last night of my entire Midwest vacation, after a full day of Rachael-Raying it around Milwaukee, friends picked The Social for dinner. The Milwaukee-ans knew I blogged about food and restaurants and even stopped over to read my heavily LA-based blog every once in a while for a little funshine, but not until dinner the night before at Milwaukee’s The Swig, when they actually saw me in action with the camera and taking notes on the menu, did they understand what I did. Afterwards, Pugslie’s (a very um, healthy pug) Mom (our friend) said that if she had known what I was doing, she would have made a reservation somewhere else. I thought The Swig was perfect. No, she wished somewhere better. So the next night, it’s The Social.

When I started my Midwest vacation, the phrase I heard quite often was “unseasonably warm.” The beginning of November in Chicago and Milwaukee was unseasonably warm, but it sure felt pretty cold to me! LOL! But what made it worse was that it was raining. In unseasonably warm weather, precipitation is not soft white fluffy fragile snow. It’s just plain sopping ass nasty wet pouring rain. *sigh*

the social, milwaukee, wisconsin - interior
retro sha-wan-kay
the social, milwaukee, wisconsin - open kitchen
food. (but no gas, no lodging)

But it was no matter once we got inside The Social. The somewhat industrial warehouse-like space with exposed beams and ducts is dark and warm. Décor like turquoise ovals strung together from the ceiling like a giant adult playpen mobile and a knife and fork icon above an open kitchen that looks like a ‘50s diner give The Social a slightly retro-swanky vibe. ;) In fact, like its name, the place is less of a restaurant and much more of a social scene, with a very lively bar right up front. After traipsing through the cold, pouring rain, I needed a cocktail. Something warm and sweet sounded tempting, but I resisted and instead, ordered an Absolut Citron and soda as my appetizer, reserving the sticky sweets for after dinner.

It took a little bit of time for all of to get assembled, but once we did, we balanced our cocktails in one hand (some of us on our second), clutched jacket and/or umbrella in other hand, and followed the hostess through a small front room to our table in the main dining area. She handed us our menus. The Swig might have been a cocktail party at Richie Cunningham’s house, but The Social is an after-hours lounge at Arnold’s Diner – fancy schmancy all-American comfort foods for the martini set.

the social, milwaukee, wisconsin - Kumamoto oyster on the half shell
sucked down raw and nekkid

Back in Chicago, no one had been brave enough to go for los ostiones from la marisquería ecológica with me at Frontera Grill. I had to beg, but finally we ordered a half dozen of my favorite – teeny tiny sweet Kumamotos on their sparkling little half shells. Mignonette, horseradish, cocktail sauce (what the fuh? cocktail sauce?) lemons, and Tabasco. None of it for me. I just sucked those shucked babies down completely in the raw and totally buck-nekkid (the oysters, not me).

The Citron and soda must have been stronger than I thought, or maybe I drank two and hadn’t kept count, because I ordered a salad. Ordering salad is a bit boring, but it isn’t surprising. It was the “Warm Duck” part that is absolutely shocking. I don’t love duck. *ahem* I don’t even like duck. I know, know, what kind of food freak doesn’t like duck?! This delicious freak right here. Perhaps when my tastes mature I’ll be able to love duck along with lamb, fois gras, caviar and crème brulee. Until then, I will be a Jell-o girl.

the social, milwaukee, wisconsin - warm duck salad
musta been buzzed to order duck
the social, milwaukee, wisconsin - royall with cheese
in france, it’s a royall with cheese

I tried one slice of the duck, which wasn’t bad, but I traded the rest for a few bites of the Royall with Cheese and French fries across the table – a hearty half pound of Kobe beef, Stilton blue cheese, and caramelized onions on an herb bun. Bloody rare, bloody delicious. The burger was part of the sandwich menu, which also included a BLT, Sloppy Joe made of braised beef shortrib, and a Knuckle Sandwich, made from lobster claws (knuckle). The dish called Meat N Potatoes, a beef tenderloin served with horseradish mashed potatoes was also bloody rare. I didn’t get a taste, but the entire plate was spotless by the time it was cleared from the table.

Most of the menu is just like that – elementary school cafeteria, kitschy diner, and old school cruiseship foods with cutesy names drawn from pop culture that have been “fancy-schmancified” with Ina Garten ingredients (“very good”). Some of the appetizers that caught my eye before I decided on the oysters were the gougeres served with a basil aioli, crabby tater tots made with blue crab and served with a tarragon tartar sauce, and the pu pu platter. I wanted to order the pu pu platter not only because I wanted to say “pu pu platter” out loud, but also because the pu pu platter had all those kinds of hors d’oeuvres that Mom used to serve at her dinner parties when we were little – skewered shrimp, pot stickers (Koreans call them mahn-doo), fried wings, bacon wrapped chestnuts (Mom wrapped bacon around smoked oysters) and egg rolls. Pupu platter. Pu Puplatter. Pup uplatter. I love saying it. :)

the social, milwaukee, wisconsin - meat n potatoes
gotta love a meat n potatoes man
the social, milwaukee, wisconsin - mac n cheese
better than the blue box

The vegetarian in our party ordered Butternut Squash Risotto, but I am going to guess that it wasn’t very good, as she hardly touched it. There was also an order of Mac N Cheese, made with goat cheese, and instead of cut-up hot dogs that I have just learned in a popular add-in to the instant blue box, The Social puts roast chicken and rosemary. It looked creamy delicious, but I think at that point, I was ready for another cocktail. By the way, if you pay $10 more for the Mac N Cheese Part Deux, you get lobster. ( I don’t love lobster either, LOL!)

After the regularly appointed dinner hour, The Social turns into…a social. Late diners are welcome to linger at their tables until midnight on the weekends and order drinks, and the bar crowd bleeds into the dining room. We moved to a larger table after dinner to accommodate straggling, we’ll-see-you-for-drinks friends. The server had mentioned some desserts, but all of us, yes, even I, passed on the likes of s’mores and other homestyle desserts that, in every way, fit right in with the rest of the menu. Dinner had been good, but it hadn’t been light.

Of course, we still had plenty of room for cocktails. Make mine a creamy after dinner mint! A grasshopper was made as it normally is, with crème de menthe and cream, though I should have asked for vodka instead of cream. The bar garnished my grasshopper with a maraschino cherry, but I forgave them for that since I mean, I am the one who ordered a very obnoxious grasshopper in the first place. LOL!

The Social
114 E. Pittsburgh Ave. (@ 1st Street)

Milwaukee, WI 53204

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 sarah December 7, 2005 at 8:15 pm

i could eat a dozen of those teeny tiny kumamotos all by myself! but the big fat ones, i have some trouble. just too big, you know? LOL!

and about THE blog…haha! no imposters. just that there are LOTS of blogs out there in the blogosphere ;)


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