Distil, the first think I think is not "Ham Sandwich!" but "Mmm, cocktail." Preferably something distilled and not brewed, even though the latter is my preference. However tonight, during Milwaukee's Downtown Dining Week (DDW), we decided to give Distil's food a try.
We were not disappointed.
Before I get too detailed, let me tell you that previously I thought Downtown Dining Week was misspelled -- it was usually more like Downtown Dining "WEAK," and after 7 years, I was surprised this was still a thing. Oh sure, the idea behind DDW is a sound one, but normally good restaurants would often deliver sub-par food, portion sizes, and service. Participating establishments' staff -- well-suited for normal Wednesday night business -- became overwhelmed with a surge of value-minded customers.
We had a enough bad experiences to consider shelving this year's DDW altogether.
Fortunately, Distil did not cut back and, unlike of some of their competitors, really delivered the goods.
My wife and I both ordered from the pre fixe menu (the norm for DDW). She ordered the Chilled Asparagus Soup with lemon creme fraiche, Roasted Chicken and Bread Salad, and Huckleberry Pie. I had the Marieke Gouda and Strawberry, Croque Madame with Nueske's smoked ham, Gruyere, local fried egg, finished with a deconstructed Tin Roof Sundae. We shared, and we were not disappointed with any course.
Both appetizers were exquisite. The soup was fresh and bright, while my Marieke Gouda and Strawberry (salad) was perfect. If you're not familiar with Marieke's products, you need to be. They're always SO good. Wisconsin cheese crafts(wo)manship at its finest! (http://www.hollandsfamilycheese.com)
Our entrees rocked. Neither was complicated, but they were both done perfectly. And again, Wisconsin's very own Nueske's bacon was on my Croque. Lots of it too! Let me say this, you could put Nueske's bacon on a old running shoe sole and it would still taste better than most fast food. I love that stuff, and Distil's use of it was divine. (http://www.nueskes.com/)
Lastly, dessert -- an area where lots of DDW participants fall flat -- was awesome. We both sounded like a couple of n00b foodies: Mmm, mmm. OMG! OMG! Wow. Is this good. Is yours good? 'cause mine is really, really good!
For heaven's sake, if I was sitting near myself, I would've punched me. "Shut up already! We get it ... you like the dessert!"
So congratulations Distil, you aced the DDW test and made believers of us. We will not only think of your establishment as a place to go for a good cocktail, but we will also think of it as a fine place to satisfy our appetites with a crispy, eggy, bacony ham sandwich!
(Side note: great ambiance music too!)