We are firm believers that eating out should be almost equal parts food and ambiance. This, of course, is not to say that one cannot exist without the other, but to truly enjoy a restaurant experience we like both. Milwaukee’s Trocadero Cafe has mastered the art of destination dining; creating a fun and vibrant atmosphere that is grounded by the solid food and drink offerings. This is not a place to take Grandma and Grandpa for a nice meal. This is a place to bring your out of town friends when you want to show them that Milwaukee is an up and coming city that knows its food.
Located on Milwaukee’s hip Eastside area, Trocadero’s European cafe theme stands in stark contrast to the industrial setting that surrounds it. Inside, the sectional layout of the restaurant creates the sense that it’s much smaller than it really is, resulting in a sense of intimacy when dining. The cafe has two standout areas; its Terrace area, centered by a fountain, that in the warmer months is usually packed and plays host to live music and the see and be seen crowd. Inside, the bar area dominates the largest room of the cafe. Minimalist in design, the bar centers the restaurant and with it’s paired down shelving, chalkboard menus and exposed brick, conveys a bit of a coffee shop vibe that fits in perfectly with the cafe theme of the restaurant.
A great setting is nothing without the food to compliment it, and the Trocadero knows how to do food. The menu is heavily French cuisine influenced with options like the Burger D’Alsace; Angus beef, gruyere cheese with a garlic aioli, and three different versions of steamed mussels. Some of the items are hit and miss (we love the burgers, the brie, tomato and basil sandwich was only okay), but the upside is that for the price ($8 to $15 for most items) you can eat well without killing your wallet.
Lunch and dinner aside, the Trocadero is known for its Brunch, which packs the Terrace on the weekends and forms the backbone of the cafe. The crepe and quiche heavy menu is balanced by more traditional items like Eggs Benedict and a variety of omelettes. The stuffed french toast special is always one of our favorites, as is the Fromage Omelette. Our only complaint with the brunch is the price point; a bit on the expensive side for the amount of food you get. The brunch crowd packs the Terrace on the weekends, so if you want to get a seat outside get there early and not with a large group. Complimenting the brunch menu, and really the main reason why we love Trocadero’s Brunch, is the bloody mary menu; 5 different versions, each of which is outstanding and worth exploring. Our favorite is the Southsider; Absolute Peppar, extra Tabasco Sauce with the Trocadero’s house bloody mary mix and garnished with jalapeno stuffed olives, pickles, beans and asparagus. Almost hearty enough to serve as the only brunch item you need.
Befitting most of Milwaukee’s East Side bars and restaurants, the waitstaff is young and attractive, and are, for the most part, fast, friendly and competent (some are “oh my God please let me look awesome right now” attractive – making starting the day that much better). Every now and again, when the place is packed, service lags a bit, but the wait staff is good about letting you know when the kitchen is backed up and make sure your cups are full to ease the grumbling stomachs.
Overall, we like Trocadero for its decently priced food, Brunch and menu options. We love Trocadero for its bloody marys, ambience and Terrace area. This is a place that needs to be explored when you are in Milwaukee; take a friend, take yourself, take the girl (or dude) you brought home last night. The Trocadero’s combination of good food and better atmosphere showcases Milwaukee’s young and vibrant side, fills your belly and keeps your wallet mostly full.
Location: 1758 North Water Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Hours: Open weekdays at 11am, Saturday and Sunday Brunch starts at 9am
Price Point: Lunch and Dinner range from $6 to $20, with Brunch ranging between $8 and $13.
Menus (in PDF format): brunch, lunch/dinner, wine, beer.
Contact: (414) 272-0205, firstname.lastname@example.org