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In Dining

Innovation is in the Crowne Plaza Hotel at the Milwaukee County Research Park.

In Dining

Luke Miller runs the kitchen as executive chef.

Tosa's hidden eatery


Thousands of cars pass through the nearby intersection of Mayfair and Watertown Plank Roads every day, but the full service restaurant only a few hundred yards away remains unknown to most. That's because Innovation is inside the Crowne Plaza Hotel, itself something of a stealth sleepery in the Milwaukee County Research Park.

"People tell us, they don't even know this is a hotel," Crowne Plaza director of sales and marketing Patrick Palmer said during a recent interview. The Crowne Plaza opened four years ago.

Innovation exists first to serve the overnight guests with breakfast, lunch and dinner, but it also seeks to reach out to the residents of Wauwatosa, Elm Grove, Brookfield and West Allis as an affordable option for casual fine dining. It offers a full pound slab of prime rib with starch and its extended salad bar for $17.95 on Saturday nights.

Sunday brunch with sliced prime rib, smoked salmon, shrimp, made-to-order omelets and breakfast breads is offered at the same price. An all-you-can-eat cod Friday fish fry ($11.95) comes with the traditional fixings as well as soup and the extended salad bar.

A new Innovation menu emphasizes diverse tastes because the research park, along with Froedtert Memorial Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin, attracts international visitors, and some stay at the hotel for longer than a few nights. "Our challenge is to have something for everyone," food and beverage director Eric Hill says.

Appetizers range from steamed edamame topped with kosher salt sprinkle ($6) and a selection of Mediterranean tapas on grilled flatbread ($7) to blue crab cakes ($11) and good ol' Wisconsin beer and cheese soup ($4).

Nine salad offerings include a warm portobello with red onions, tomatoes, feta cheese, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar ($7), a steak with spinach, arugula, red onions, tomatoes, corn, blue cheese crumbles and blue cheese dressing on the side ($13), and an Asian chicken salad that features almonds, mandarin oranges and a sesame ginger dressing. ($11).

Half-pound Angus burgers get a lot of attention at Innovation, with 10 varieties on the menu. The Brie ($9) features bacon and fig relish along with brie cheese. The Islander ($9) consists of grilled pineapple with bacon and a choice of cheese.

The Sicilian ($10) comes with pepperoni slices, melted mozzarella and marinara sauce. The Brunch Burger ($10) adds a fried egg to the Angus patty, bacon and choice of cheese.

Sandwiches run the gamut from a veggie served on focaccia ($9) and a grilled chicken caprese on toasted ciabatta ($9) to a grilled ahi tuna with cucumber jalapeno slaw, wasabi and Sriracha soy sauce ($10) and a molasses slow-roasted shredded beef topped with coleslaw on a toasted bun ($9). Diners have a choice of a side with all burgers and sandwiches – potato chips, sweet potato chips, fries or coleslaw.

The restaurant also offers a weekday lunch buffet for $11 that rotates among different cuisines, including Asian, Italian and Mexican.

Dinner brings four pasta dishes, priced from $10 to $18, and two platters – tempura battered fried shrimp ($13) and a half or full rack of barbecued pork ribs ($16 and $24). Other entrees include grilled mahi mahi with mango cilantro beurre blanc ($15), seared walleye fillet ($19) and coffee-rubbed Angus ribeye ($26).

Innovation's bar features 15 beers from Wisconsin micro-breweries as well as a selection of American and imported beer standards. Although the wine list offers a bottle of Dom Perignon for $225, it is heavily tilted toward wine by the glass priced at $8 and $10.

Minnesota native Luke Miller is the executive chef in a kitchen that services the 70-seat dining room. An additional 28 persons can be accommodated in the bar, and an outdoor patio substantially increases capacity in the summer.

Innovation also does a sizable wedding and corporate meeting business in the Crowne Plaza's ballroom, which seats 350.


Talkbacks

K9vin | Feb. 14, 2012 at 10:12 a.m. (report)

You didn't even review it - is it any good? You just say what they have which I can see on a menu.

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jakkalope | Feb. 13, 2012 at 8:31 p.m. (report)

Good call HLM. He clearly is not doing his job correctly.

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High_Life_Man | Feb. 13, 2012 at 4:33 p.m. (report)

"People tell us, they don't even know this is a hotel," Crowne Plaza director of sales and marketing Patrick Palmer said during a recent interview. Hey Patrick, you're fired.

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danno | Feb. 13, 2012 at 12:25 p.m. (report)

How about the word "Hotel" on the Crown Plaza sign and "Restaurant" on the Innovation sign??? I have driven by that so many times thinking it was part of the tech center in that area!

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