Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
THERE ARE THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF
FOOD BLOGS, BUT ONLY ONE CULINARY NO-
It’s that time of year again.
Downtown Dining Week in Milwaukee begins this Thursday and runs through June 13.
It’s a terrific concept. Milwaukee’s downtown boasts a great number of outstanding dining establishments. Dining Week provides a tremendous opportunity to sample what they have to offer.
Forty-two restaurants participating in Downtown Dining Week will have, in addition to their regular, complete menus, three-course meals for $10 at lunch and $20 or $30 at dinner. New restaurants this year include Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub, Kanpai, Karma, Lucille’s Piano Bar & Grill, The Safe House, Turner Hall Restaurant and Upper 90.
Before our lovely Kyla was born, Jennifer and I frequented Downtown Dining Week. Most of the restaurants we had visited before but we also tried a few new ones. The promo that “it’s a deal too delish to resist” is absolutely true. So we hit places like Karl Ratzsch’s, Kil@wat, Mader’s, Milwaukee Chophouse, and the old Yanni’s.
I highly recommend you venture downtown and explore.
However, given the nature of this blog, there is a “but.”
One of the restaurants we chose during a dining week was Coast.
We smartly attained reservations (an absolute must during dining week) and were looking forward to a pleasant experience. What we got was a bigger bust than Dolly Parton.
Jennifer and I are not the nicest, friendliest, easiest couple to wait on, but we’re in the top two.
Our Coast evening began with a wait, a short one, but a wait nonetheless even with reservations. When we were seated, it was quite apparent our young waiter was skittish, soft-spoken and very nervous. Attempts to loosen him up failed miserably. He was shaky and void of smiles.
Remember, patrons enjoy a three-course meal. Each of our courses took anywhere from 20-30 minutes to arrive. You do the math. Each time, our 20-year old Don Knotts of a waiter disappeared after taking the order and didn’t show up again until he brought our plates.
Jennifer and I each had the misfortune of having to send our main entrees back to the kitchen. No choice since they were both still frozen.
After a 30-minute time warp between our order and the arrival of ice cream, sauce and some fruit, I finally asked Mr. Scaredy pants, what gives? He sheepishly said he was sorry but offered no explanation. Why? He had none. Some other diners had come in after us and were long gone while we were waiting to see if our waiter had fled the country.
Three simple courses, well over two hours. Not good.
On our way out we just happened to run into a manger-type at the exit who just happened to ask me, “How was everything?”
99 times out of 100 I would have simply ignored a discussion, said ok, and gone to my car. Not that night.
I calmly, politely, respectfully explained what transpired and my disappointment having dined at Coast in the past and knowing what a good place it was.
His response? Excuses. They had no idea how popular this endeavor would be. They didn’t plan properly.
My response? How could you not know what a great response you’d receive? I would expect a place like Coast to know how to plan, prepare and manage for this special event. Please don’t blame a large crowd because I’m sure you’re not suggesting you can’t handle a packed house any other time. And this had never happened at any of the other downtown dining week participants.
Deer in headlights.
Mea culpa? In no way, shape or form.
I barely got a goodnight.
We’ve never been back to Coast since, and that was five or six years ago. Coast is not a participant in this year’s Downtown Dining Week.
If one West Coast chef is correct, then Coast failed miserably and is making the right call to stay out.
“We’re not going to do this for free, but we’re not making anything on it, either,” said Cathy Pavlos, chef-owner of Lucca in Irvine, California. “The whole point is to show the public what we can do. It’s show time.”
Read why some restaurants hate restaurant week.
Finally, to be clear, Jennifer and I thoroughly enjoyed our many downtown dining week experiences, save one. Please take part. Just make sure you have reservations, and realize because of the popularity the kind of night you might be in for.
CULINARY NO-NO BONUSES
Get off your lazy butt and pick up the pizza yourself.
Never, ever argue over fried noodles.
Eating a cheeseburger might be healthier than running a marathon.
Some folks aren't happy about this.
Make sure you check out my wife's yes-yes blog #31. It's decadent.