Say what you will about Wisconsinites – like calling them Cheeseheads – but they know their cheese. As it turns out after following Anthony Bourdain in Milwaukee and doing a bit more research beyond only what’s shown when he filmed there, Wisconsinites also know a whole load of other delicious, local ingredients.
Anthony Bourdain visited Milwaukee once, in season 6, episode 15 for No Reservations; he didn’t visit again during any of his other shows.
I’ve actually been to Milwaukee before, and loved all of my meals there. From savory comfort foods to high-end multi-course meals, Milwaukee has a lot to offer, probably even more than when Bourdain visited in the late 2000s. While the one place visited by Anthony Bourdain in Milwaukee is still open, there are any number of other great places to add to your must-try list too.
Where Anthony Bourdain Ate in Milwaukee: Bacchus
The only place visited by Anthony Bourdain in Milwaukee is a restaurant called Bacchus. Part of the Bartolotta’s family of restaurants, it is still in business today, which is rare among restaurants featured in the U.S. Heartland episode of No Reservations (just look at how many of the restaurants featured in Minneapolis or Columbus are still open, for comparison).
There, Tony had a meal with restaurateur Joe Bartolotta prepared by Executive Chef Adam Siegel. It included Wisconsin beer cheese soup with maple glazed pork belly; crispy egg Mollet with saffron curry potato salad, creme fraiche, and caviar; foie gras with French Toast and wine-steeped Door County cherries; bone marrow braised in red wine atop sweetbread and topped with black truffles; and a Wisconsin cheese plate for dessert (gouda, 12-year cheddar, etc.).
For having ony one meal, this one does a nice job of demonstrating how Wisconsin classic dishes can be elevated, and the quality of local Wisconsin products.
Bonus: 5 Spots Filmed for Anthony Bourdain in Milwaukee
Part of the reason the ingredients are so good in Bourdain’s meal at Bacchus is that the No Reservations crew actually filmed Siegel shopping for the meal, at locations across the city (source). For that reason, I wanted to include those places: if you find yourself hungry in Milwaukee, you may want to do a shopping trip to one or more of them to prepare your own meal.
- Larry’s Market – Where the cheese featured throughout the meal was purchased.
- Strauss Veal – Where much of the meat in the meal was sourced.
- Sprecher’s Brew – A local brewery whose beer was used in the soup as well as for Wisconsin-style “molecular gastronomy.
- Spice House – A locally-owned spice shop that flavored the meal.
- Solly’s Grille – A Milwaukee-area institution where the crew ate in Glendale as part of their day filming the shopping trip. (And also home of the famous “butter burger” which sounds like a must-try!)
Hopefully adding these spots too will give you enough incentive to visit Milwaukee. Since the options strictly based on the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Milwaukee are limited, I’ll open it up: share your best recommendations for Bourdainian style dining in Milwaukee in the comments!