If Byron Kilbourn is going to watch me eat lunch, I wish he'd at least try to look a little happier.
Amid the maritime decor adorning the interior of Port of Call Bistro and Beer Garden, 106 W. Wells St., hangs a stern portrait of Kilbourn, who founded his Kilbourntown west of the river.
His face reminds us we're in HIS Milwaukee and the menu at Port of Call keeps reminding diners they're in Brew City, too. While the menu draws from a variety of cuisines, from the deep fried cheese curds and the Wisconsin cheese plate to the bratwurst reuben and beer cheese soup, Port of Call is rooted in its hometown.
I visited for the first time this week as part of my ongoing rediscovery of Downtown lunch spots. I took my co-worker Andy Tarnoff along on a dreary day, when the empty riverwalk patio was wet and chilly.
The dining room, with its portholes on one wall, and big windows out to the river, a giant mirror and lake-faring memorabilia, was warm and welcoming enough, despite the fireplace sitting idle.
I ordered that bratwurst reuben with onion rings, Andy got an avocado burger and we decided to share a plate of those cheese curds.
The reuben, at $10, has two Usinger's brats on pretzel rolls, topped with thousand island dressing, sauerkraut and melted cheese. Pure Milwaukee and really good. I might've preferred one brat for $6, but, hey, now I have tomorrow's lunch here in the work fridge.
The onion rings were of the giant variety, with generous slabs of onion inside. They weren't too greasy, though I can't say the same for the cheese curds, which came with two dipping sauces – ranch and marinara. They were tasty, but I'd prefer them with considerably less oil and wouldn't likely order them again.
"The avocado burger was really, really good," says Andy. "I found it a touch greasy, but the pretzel bun more than saved it. I was pleasantly surprised to find yet another great burger in Milwaukee."
Not sure if it was the weather or the fact that we arrived at about 1 p.m., but Port of Call wasn't doing much lunch business the day we dined. There was just one other two-top.
Hopefully that'll change, because there are good options on the menu, which also includes a handful of salads ($9-13), sandwiches and wraps ($8-12), burgers ($10) and a range of starters ($9-12).
Dinner entrees are not available at lunch. There's a kid menu priced at $5 and Sunday brunch is served, too.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Bobby Tanzilo
Published July 25, 2015
One of the Milwaukee area's most interesting parks is a bit off the beaten path, but it's worth making tracks to Lizard Mound County Park in Farmington, just north of West Bend in Washington County. A wooded path twists and turns through 28 Native American effigy mounds, including the one shaped like a huge lizard which gives the park its name.
Published July 24, 2015
Green Lake is a place of superlatives. Here are eight of the many reasons to fall in love with Green Lake, which is an easy 90-minute drive from Milwaukee.
Published July 24, 2015
What a long strange trip it was. While theaters like the Downer and Oriental have venerable histories as long-running cinema houses, consider, if you will, the the more varied history of the now-dilapidated State Theater, 2616 W. State St. Originally a movie theater, the State has served a number of purposes - rock venue, prudish dance hall and strip club - in its nearly 100-year history.
Published July 22, 2015
There were about 500 people on hand to watch U2 at The Palms on April 15, 1981. The show was part of the Irish band's first U.S. tour. Here's a look back...
Published July 21, 2015
Come with me to see the progress on the restoration of The Pabst Mansion's third floor and also peek into the basement and attic, and experience the view from the roof of this Milwaukee landmark.
Published July 17, 2015
Milwaukee neighborhoods were once awash in movie theaters, as hard as that may be to imagine these days when you can count the number of non-googleplex cinemas in the city limits on one hand. While many are lost, a few remain. At 3804 W. Vliet St. is a former longtime carpet store that's been closed the past few years. But, originally, the building was home to The Lyric Theater, which operated from 1917 to 1952.
Published July 14, 2015
In 2012, I toured the surviving Alexander Eschweiler-designed Agricultural College buildings on the County Grounds, when their roofs gaped open to the stars - and the elements - and weeds encircled their exteriors. Despite talk of tearing them down, and an ongoing battle to save them from demolition, four of the buildings survive, even as six new apartment buildings are rising around them.
Published July 14, 2015
The WMA managed to get an alternative teacher-licensing track included in the omnibus that allows graduates from a program accredited by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education, (MACTE) to apply for a Wisconsin state teaching license to teach in a public or charter Montessori school.
Published July 13, 2015
Last week, Milwaukee lost a talented, dedicated, hard-working historian. But when former Italian Community Center president Mario Carini died on July 7, at the age of 78, Milwaukee's Italian community lost a force of nature.
Published July 12, 2015
After nearly 30 years in its current home and 65 within eyesight of it, National Ace Hardware, 1303 N. 4th St., is closing. The building - put up for sale in 2013 - was sold to a developer on Wednesday and a plan for its redevelopment is expected to be announced this week. Meanwhile, National co-owners, brothers Bill and David Rotter, will work to liquidate the current space, which must be vacated by mid-November.