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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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In Dining

The Historic Red Mill's barroom, with its old pressed tin ceiling, is part of the original structure built in 1847. (PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling )

In Dining

The Red Mill's exterior offers no hint that it was once a stage coach stop and a brothel. (PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling )

In Dining

Antiques match the Red Mill's history. (PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling )

In Dining

A half dozen beers are on tap in the barroom. (PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling )

In Dining

Tablecloths dress up the dining room in the Red Mill's rustic, supper clubbish interior. (PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling )

Historic Red Mill's modern menu comes with a colorful past


A mere 10 miles from Downtown Milwaukee, a former stage coach stop and brothel offers diners a rustic supper club ambience with an ambitious contemporary menu. Surprised?

Hiding behind an unremarkable, easy to ignore exterior at 1005 S. Elm Grove Rd. in Brookfield, the Historic Red Mill is an anomaly in upscale suburban Brookfield.

The core of the building, which houses the kitchen and most of the barroom, was built in 1847, before Wisconsin became a state, as a station for the Milwaukee to Madison stage coach. While that mode of transportation became obsolete, some activities never do, and for a while the structure was home to the world's oldest profession. Adding to the Red Mill's colorful lore, ghosts are rumored to inhabit the place.

The building, which was substantially expanded over time, evolved into a restaurant more than 80 years ago. It has had many owners, and for a while it was a major Milwaukee area jazz venue. The current operators, Brian Normoyle and the Grant family, veteran Milwaukee barkeeps, moved into the Red Mill in 2008 and did some serious refurbishing.

Among the finds was a pressed tin ceiling above the bar. A dropped ceiling had covered it.

"We get a lot of people who come in here and say, 'I ate here 30, 40 years ago.' We say, welcome back," front of house manager Ed Koehl says.

Rough-hewn and rural are the words that spring to mind when entering the restaurant through the front door. The old wooden floors creak, and the barroom and adjoining lounge are plain and functional. A few arcade games join table seating in the lounge.

Six tap beers include Guinness, Franziskaner and Fat Tire. Bloody Marys employ a house-made mix and a touch of Guinness. Cocktails, including a featured cucumber and sake martini, are priced from $4 to $8.50.

An adjoining dining room is more formal, with tablecloths and antiques dressing up the space. The bar, lounge and dining room seat a total of 99.

Executive chef Andrew Niay updated the Red Mill's menu at the beginning of the month, and it contains some intriguing items. A 22-ounce Porterhouse steak ($29) would seem to be standard supper club fare, but he tops it with a vanilla ice cream and sour cream sauce melted over the meat.

"The sauce gives the dish a sweet and creamy flavor," he says. Like most entrees, it is accompanied by candied carrots

Three jumbo mushroom caps stuffed with shrimp, crab and lobster, and finished with a light Newburg sauce, sells for $21. Pot roast is offered for $13.95, and a mac and cheese entree with blue cheese crumbles and panko bread crumbs is priced at $10. Shrimp or bacon bits can be added for an additional charge.

All you can eat baby back ribs ($15.99), featuring a house-made sweet and tangy sauce, is the Thursday special, and a traditional Milwaukee fish fry is served on Fridays. Cod is $11.95, perch sells for $15.95, and baked fresh cod is $15.99.

Appetizers include mini BLT's with a side of sour cream pesto ($7), Tuscan bruschetta with a balsamic glaze ($9), and crab and shrimp cakes with a chipotle aioli dipping sauce ($13).

The eatery is open for lunch only on Fridays, with its fish fry being the attraction.

Acknowledging its tradition as a place for jazz, the Red Mill has an open microphone for jazz musicians from 6 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays. It also offers karaoke from 7 to 11 on Tuesdays.

The restaurant is closed on Sundays and Mondays with the exception of Packers game days, when it opens with a special buffet and drinks package.

Talkbacks

madtowner | Sept. 26, 2011 at 10:57 p.m. (report)

Viewed Packer game at Red Mill. The a-y-c-e buffet was worth more than the price paid. The bar is a friendly and the wait staff attentive. The bruschetta pasta is definitely worth a second trip- and a third and a fourth!

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madtowner | Sept. 26, 2011 at 10:54 p.m. (report)

The entire family had supper on Saturday night. There was something for everyone- all delicious. The ribs (Sat. special) were the best I have ever eaten, tender and meaty. The hamburger and fries were also wroth the trip.

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Hammer | Sept. 22, 2011 at 4:42 p.m. (report)

Milwaukee's best fish fry (which is saying a lot). Appetizers are good, too. Always a great dining experience.

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millerparkway | Sept. 17, 2011 at 1:12 a.m. (report)

Decided to check or the Red Mill tonight with my girlfriend and her parents and business was booming. After a short wait during which we got a couple drinks at the bar, we got a table and the food was excellent. A couple fish frys, the bruschetta pasta but by far my favorite at the table was the Spinach and Cranberry Stuffed Shrimp. Very pleased with our decision tonight.

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naturekid1 | Sept. 14, 2011 at 4:41 p.m. (report)

Am I the only one who thinks melted vanilla ice cream and sour cream on a steak sounds horrible? why would you do that to a nice steak? weird. I know, don't knock it till ya try it, but at $29, I'm not rolloing the dice.

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